Image: Flickr / TaylorHerring

Is it time we showed The Apprentice the door?

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Oh joy, The Apprentice is back. Alan Sugar’s business-‘em-up has returned for a twelfth series – but it seems the viewers have not. The opening episode was down by 900,000 viewers on last year, and the enthusiasm shown for previous series just isn’t there.

The Apprentice is a really interesting sell – it purports to be about business and claims to feature some of the sharpest business minds in the country, but we all know that the show’s value is in the completely lack of ability on show. And furthermore, demonstrating skill at business is not enough to get you very far in the competition, so you kind of wonder what the point even is. A complete business novice would get the impression that the entire business world depends entirely on hard sells on the day.

Since first airing in 2005, the show has retained exactly the same format this year: just imagine that of the previous series, with a different bunch of bland wannabes. The contestants are all from the same block of bland humanoids, differentiable only by a monobrow or grey hair. In the opening episode you can enjoy little talking heads introducing them claiming as ‘a pocket rocket’ or ‘the Tasmanian devil’ as you choose which contestant you dislike the least.

Everybody has got fed up with the stage-managed rows and useless wannabes

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Image: Flickr / Taylor Herring

All these blunt business knifes are marshalled throughout the tasks by Claude Littner (a kind of inflatable, evil Ben Kingsley) and Baroness Karren Brady, but the star of the show is of course Lord Alan Sugar. In case you’re unfamiliar, imagine the angry lovechild of Sid James and a pork scratching, and you won’t be far off. It’s his job to scold the candidates and get rid of the least telegenic ones, before giving the winner the prize of a failed start-up business and lifelong obscurity.

Much the same problem is occurring with shows like The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent – it’s the same old familiar and tired format, and it simply doesn’t have the exciting draw it previously possessed. Everybody has got fed up with the stage-managed rows and useless wannabes, and the show’s central anchor is an unlikeable cantankerous old git. So how could the show re-energise itself?

New challenges could be an option – the same old ‘running about markets trying to buy and sell random things’ has long since lost its lustre, and even the interview week fails to be cringe-inducingly funny as it once was. But I think it’s about time to accept that The Apprentice has run its course. Tune in for more weeks of mind-numbing inanity if you want (and if you do, why?), but the only person who should be fired is the guy who keeps re-commissioning this rubbish.

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