It’s that time of the year when a dozen or so monkeys in suits stride past various London landmarks and into the waiting arms of
Sir Alan Lord Sugar. It’s a job interview from hell where there’s no room for bullshitters. Or at least it might have been at some point. These days The Apprentice is basically a drinking game with deluded fools shouting management bingo business phrases that are beyond parody. It’s brilliant.
I’m sure this year’s intake have names but they’ve completely passed me by. There are 8 boys with stubble and wild eyes and 8 girls with ice cold eyes and sharp make up. Their parents must be so proud although I don’t know if any of them claim their first word was ‘money’ and not mummy. Some terrible quotes from them have already made their way onto the internet in advance as the BBC went in to full-on pre-launch last week revealing both jaw-dropping lines and ‘facts’ that the candidates have put forward about themselves in a bid to make us all hate them just that little bit more.
The task in the opener was to grow £250 into profit and unlike last series both teams managed it although the only thing any viewer will have learnt is how much mark up there is on those fruit salad bowls you get at stations. The girls – called Venture apparently – had something resembling a plan (not an actual plan but close enough) and so walked over the boys, led by an accountant who chose to avoid adding up and planning, who did not. The boys failed to recognise an orange, then bought 1400 of them and then broke the machines that were to squeeze them. Out of a potential 450 bottles of juice they managed to make about 160. They probably all have MBAs.
The girls prize was champers back at the house which means their prize was the equivalent of a Saturday night at a Home Counties retreat – although the house in Richmond does actually look quite nice. The boys stirred tea in the losers’ cafe but it was never really in doubt that the accountant – I think he was called Edward – was on his way out. Then they all went back to the house to toast each other’s magnificence whilst ‘possibly Edward’ bitched about it all. They could probably just have repeated last year’s and we could all play spot the difference.
I’m sure when The Apprentice started the contestants weren’t morons from the off. The tasks demeaned the brains on display – and the catfighting in the boardroom was a little bit shocking as it often came from the mouths of smart people. Tim in the first series was genuinely bright and he only just edged it in front of three or four worthy competitors. Now, we’re at a level where entire teams don’t even have an understanding of how soup is made or how to spell vegetable. No wonder Margaret’s left to write a PhD on something baffling and wonderfully esoteric.
It’s still fantastic and evil television of course. And the lines and delusion that spews forth is delicious in its stupidity, as is the delight you can take in realising that these people are degrading themselves on national television for the right to work with the man who gave the world the Amstrad emailer and an endless feud with Piers Morgan.