Who says business doesn’t have a sense of humour?
Week six of the third series and we were treated to The Apprentice sit-com.
There were more incidents of genuine laugh out loud hilarity as the teams attempted to sell high quality British food to the French, not least in watching former Army officer Paul Callaghan make bad decision after bad decision and then point the finger at two of the strongest members of his team.
It was no surprise to me that he heard the dreaded words: “You’re fired!”, although some seemed to regard hm as a serious contender on some fairly flimsy evidence.
There was always the possibility that week six would descend into farce. Brits abroad inevitably provide plenty of comic material, albeit unwittingly.
So we were treated to the spectacle of British people attempting to communicate in a foreign language, sweeping generalisations and racial stereotyping and the general cluelessness about the culture of other countries.
It did provide some great comedy, but once more it hardly helped to prove the business credentials of the wannabe executives.
The pressure is certainly rising in the race to secure the £100,000-a-year job located some unspecified distance from Sir Alan Sugar’s right-hand. That is why the verbal viciousness is reaching new levels with one stand out star – Katie Hopkins – now taking the lead pantomime villain role.
Paul Callaghan deserved to be fired. He had singularly failed to shine to this point – other than when canoodling with the aforementioned proto-Sloane assassin – and his unsuitability for the top job became painfully apparent from the moment he marshaled his troops (sorry, gathered his team for an initial brainstorm) and then set out to impress his second-in-command rather than lead a winning team.
Mercifully the unpallatable Paul and Katie double act has been taken from our screens. But Katie can count herself very lucky that she didn’t have to face up to Sir Alan in the boardroom.
Once more she sniped at fellow team members and fluttered her eyelids at Paul, smiling sweetly for the camera whilst wishing an unfortunate demise on Kristina Grimes for daring to criticise her beau’s lack of leadership qualities.
This is familiar territory. Previously she wished the much maligned Adam Hosker an unfortunate accident in his own car sales forecourt.
Adam was once again cast as the weak link, yet Paul’s decision to take him into the firing line with him was a massive misjudgment. Using Paul’s own words against him, he simply did not have anywhere near enough ammunition against Adam.
Although Adam did make a mistake in the marketing, the major errors were the result of Paul’s erratic decisions and Katie’s ineffectiveness in anything she was asked to do. Adam appears to be suffering for his slow start and his obviously dour personality, but the fact is in the last two weeks at least he has carried out every task asked of him with his own understated version of aplomb.
I’m still wondering whether there is a north-south bias that is also affecting Adam? As well as Katie and Paul’s attempts to undermine him, the apparently Teflon-coated Simon Ambrose did a hilarious (sic) impression of him shortly before Adam reappeared after escaping the sack once again.
Simon is a mystery. He seems to have emerged as the golden boy, but apart from thinking he is a charming ladies’ man with an engaging personality – no, Simon, it isn’t engaging, it is hugely irritating in a business environment – he really hasn’t stood out as possessing star quality.
Yet, there is little doubt, that Simon remains one of the clear favourites. What must be worrying for Sir Alan is that he doesn’t seem to have too many challengers.
Lohit Kalburgi was more conspicuous this week, but as team leader there really wasn’t anywhere to hide. He managed his team and task solidly without doing anything too outstanding, other than using schoolboy French to ask a clearly dazed and confused French couple: “Are you interesting?” rather than “Are you interested?” as he thrust some British produce towards them.
Ghazal Asif was largely anonymous again. Her less than impressive stint as team leader some weeks ago, despite winning the task, appears to have dealt a major blow to her self-confidence.
Kristina Grimes was singled out by Paul for being disruptive and yet she asked the right questions, made correct decisions and worked tirelessly to try and turn around a failing project. I’m still unconvinced and she has yet to redeem herself for some previous dodgy selling tactics, but she remains one to watch.
Jadine Johnson and Naomi Lay were peripheral figures in the winning team. It is fast becoming time for both of them to show what they have to offer, particularly Jadine who started with a bang but I believe has since become far more negative and demoralising than Adam.
Which leaves us with the fantastic Tre Azam, who once again provided the best one-liners in this latest show. His business skills and experience don’t match his self-confidence or his opinionated attitude, but he continues to provide unbelievable VFM in this latest series.
His levels of arrogance and self-delusion continue to reach new heights. But they are so extreme they have become the stuff of belly laughs not anger and irritation.
Tre will be a success in some form or another as a result of his time on the show, but can he realistically challenge for the glittering prize in this series with such a lousy attitude?
Next week promises to be just as entertaining, as the teams attempt to haggle their way to the best price for the items on Sir Alan’s idiosyncratic shopping list.
But without Paul by her side to surround her with butterflies and fluffiness, will Katie’s viciousness bubble to the surface in front of her fellow contestants? She needs to turn things around in a big way, although she hasn’t faced trial by boardroom you suspect her card has been marked.
We’ve had plenty of laughs this week, but we still seem to have far too many jokers and few (if any) aces in the pack.