The latest installment of The Apprentice threw up a few more crucial moments, some pithy but insightful asides and the odd slice of incredulity.

It could be argued, however, that above all week eight was characterised by the description of the advertising campaign devised by the two teams as having more style than substance.

It was a criticism levelled at Ghazal Asif, the latest wannabe to be fired by Sir Alan Sugar, who was dismissed with the observation that her young age was not an issue but her consistent failure to deliver proved her downfall. The supremely self-confident Ghazal could certainly talk the talk, but despite such long and elegant legs was simply unable to walk the walk.

As far as Ghazal was concerned, the criticism hit the nail on the head. She was the youngest of the wannabes but that was not her downfall.

Ghazal failed because she was all show and no go, all flash and no dash, all…you get the idea – plenty of style, but a complete absence of substance.

But worryingly for Sir Alan and the programme-makers, it is a criticism that can still be levelled at every single one of the remaining contestants strutting their stuff to try and win the prized £100,000-a-year job.

We had a winning team and a losing team in the latest challenge – to devise a brand and advertising campaign for a new range of trainers – but yet again the task was lost in a pitiful way rather than won with an outstanding flourish.

Neither team got a complete grip of the task in hand, neither came up with a really impressive “big idea” and the sorry truth is that Jadine Johnson’s team won by default rather than by eclipsing their rivals.

Ghazal’s team imploded thanks to the on-going bitching between Katie Hopkins and Katrina Grimes. To say the acid-tongued, snobbish, smug and patronising Katie’s card has been marked by Sir Alan is an understatement – her fluttering eyelids might have gone into overdrive in the boardroom, but it proved as effective as the “Jam” trainer campaign.

Katie has only survived in recent weeks because first off her besotted suitor Paul Callaghan failed to take her into the firing line with him, then she was up against two obviously weaker opponents – Adam Hosker and Ghazal Asif. It can only be a matter of time before the Wicked Witch of the South-West gets her comeuppance, but in the meantime she remains the pantomime villain of the piece.

Kristina came through this week largely unscathed and so continues to impress in a dubious kind of way.

Naomi Lay emerged from the shadows and failed to impress, she stood her ground in the boardroom and outshone Ghazal (which wasn’t too hard), yet her overall lack of assertiveness and substance is a glaring problem she seems unable to address.

Jadine led her team solidly, if unspectacularly and at least they came up with a brand, idea and advertising campaign that wasn’t as useless as Ghazal’s However, I cannot help thinking that if Jadine’s gang had entered a sixth-form business competition they would have fallen at the first hurdle – apologies to sixth-formers everywhere for dragging them down to such a depressing level.

The “Reclaim the Street” line was something to build around. Yet the team failed to deliver on the spark of an idea.

Tre Azam did deserve some credit for trotting out a few worthwhile ideas and concepts, but once again the immaturity and arrogance of his approach did him absolutely no favours at all. There could well be the nugget of something good within Tre, but there is far too much baggage surrounding him – the biggest problem facing him is that not only does he lack the substance but he has failed to even deliver on the style front.

He is too confrontational, too narrow-minded and too reluctant to embrace anything other than his own ideas. You can praise his single-minded determination, but there has to come a time when he stops, listens, absorbs and understands. At this particular moment he is a long way from such a realisation.

In some respects, the same sort of criticism can be levelled at Jadine. She has a strong personality but is not adaptable enough to put it to good use.

Lohit Kalburgi floated effortlessly and stylishly through week eight, much like he has throughout the series, but yet again we were left wondering: “What is Lohit for?”

There is no evidence of anything substantial behind that cool, aloof and engaging personality. He may well be far less arrogant, confrontational or smug than many of the other wannabes, but Lohit is just as lacking in “drop dead shrewdness” as the rest of the sorry bunch.

Which brings us to golden balls himself. Simon Ambrose emerged as the dubious “star” of week eight and we have the wonderful Margaret to thank for his new title.

The “rapping acrobat” certainly proved himself to be versatile and adaptable and willing to throw himself (literally at times) headlong into a task.

But his shameful white boy rapping, his less than supple gymnastics and his all-round goofiness are a long way short of my image of a £100,000-a-year senior executive. Sir Alan and others often seem to be engaged by his approach, but I find Simon a know-it-all, condescending and irritating personality.

Tre hit the nail on the head when Simon complained that he wasn’t get enough credit for the quality of his rap: “Yeah, but you also think your jokes are funny too.”

That is the crux of the matter. What the wannabes think of themselves is a long way short of what we see, think and arguably know about them.

Style over substance is a winning formula these days – look at many of the “celebrities” we are now exposed to by the media.

But shouldn’t it get cruelly exposed in the boardroom?

We are fast running out of time and all the remaining wannabes are in line for the chop next week simply because no-one has emerged Teflon-coated and weighty enough to be regarded as a front runner.

The fact that Katrina and Simon are the two favourites, despite their many and varied faults, says it all.


3 responses »

  1. […] keep hoping that next week’s challenge will see someone really shine for all the right […]

  2. Swineshead says:

    Jadine to win.
    I’ll say it again.

    Jadine to win.

  3. […] painful rapping and break dancing to help “reclaim the street” in the sneaker episode could easily have seen Simon shouting and shuffling his way to failure – but it […]

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