The Apprentice

Another year, another remarkably serendipitous job opening at Amstrad. Rather strange how essentially the same position with the same salary keeps appearing at the same time at a supposedly valid company. Luckily, this means that The Apprentice (or alternatively Lord Sugar’s Theatre of Pain) has returned for yet another dose of malignant-narcissism-in-poorly-fitted-suits. Surely it would be utterly remiss for us not to critique this most beloved of televised melees? Actually, it wouldn’t as, irritatingly for the lazy TV columnist, the BBC effectively review their own programme through a matey epilogue with a curiously scornful title, The Apprentice – You’re Fired, which hoovers up all the best observations before the average journalist has even noted down, “Contestants seem unpleasant”. Well, fuck it, there’s going to be a review anyway and, what’s more, we’ll review their review as well, purely out of spite.

As Lord Sugar sagely notes over the opening credits, these are tough economic times (thereby displaying the piercing analysis that ensured his shiny new peerage). Clearly, then, in this climate of straitened prudence, it’s the perfect time to launch an extravagant, televised 10 week job interview, gradually whittling down the mindlessly brash before a toss-up between the barely competent. In fact, barely competent may be too ambitious a remit this year, as, in these difficult economic times, a surprisingly large proportion of even the best and brightest business minds are actually unemployed including recent graduate, Raleigh, demonstrating that The Apprentice is a viable alternative to pulling pints at Wetherspoons.

The first task of the new series, a standard sales task featuring sausages (presumably selected out of a hat), was an odd combination of amateur butchery and sleep deprivation. This necessitated a distressing amount of footage depicting low grade meat being forced through a mincer, which strikes one as a fairly apt metaphor for the show itself. Defeated project leader, Dan, whose management style seemed to have been modelled on a bullish mob boss with a peptic ulcer, was the first to go, specifically for being too aggressive, which is akin to being removed from America’s Next Top Model for being too bulimic.

However, arguably even more unlikable than the erstwhile Dan was his executioner, Stuart Baggs ‘the brand’, who at the tender age of 21 has achieved a level of sheer obnoxiousness normally associated with history’s top dictators. Other apprentae of particular note include sociopathic pixie, Melissa, grindingly persistent moron, Joanna, and investment banker, Chris, who insisted on delivering a series of bizarre pitches consisting of banal yet minutely detailed vignettes acted out by other Chris (who looks like an Afghanistani soapstar). In any case, all managed to resist karmic justice this week, leaving near-silent ditherer Joy to face the finger, possibly because her every moment on screen was somehow inexpressibly (and ironically) depressing.

As for The Apprentice – You’re Fired, things are much the same, save for the replacement of former BBC presenter and Morlock poster-boy Adrian Chiles with Dara O’Brien, a comedian who actively aspires to mediocrity. This renders the whole show a tad more watchable solely through the absence of Chiles’ face, which always looked as though it had a fourth dimension that the camera was struggling to detect. Frankly, O’Brien’s not much of an aesthetic improvement. He’s not so much a tall man as a freakishly short giant, but at this rate the presenter should at least look vaguely human by 2020. Perhaps they could cast the role through some sort of televised competition…


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