Those who can, do.
Those who can’t, go on The Apprentice to try and get in through the back door.
And if they don’t succeed, at least they get their 15 seconds of reality TV fame to catapult themselves onto the motivational speaker circuit or maybe even another reality-style programme on a little-watched digital channel.
Sir Alan Sugar isn’t fooling anyone. He doesn’t have the cream of young British business talent to chose from in the latest series of The Apprentice on BBC1 – let’s face it, he never has in any of the series to date.
The simple truth is that the cream of Britain’s young business brains are already snapped up or are building their own empires.
So what is the appeal of The Apprentice?
Like any reality TV series, the appeal lies in watching others in the raw. It is warts and all telly, there is little (if any) hiding place and if you are taking part then all your failings, foibles and flaws are there for all to see. Not only that, but we the viewers get to dissect, deconstruct and offer judgement on complete strangers based entirely on a carefully edited few minutes.
This is entertainment of the most dubious kind.
And, at this point, I’ll admit to being a complete hypocrite.
I loathe reality TV with a passion. But I love The Apprentice.
I’m hoping that by the end of this series I’ll have finally nailed exactly why I do think it is one of the best programmes on TV, but in the meantime I’m happy to just go with the flow.
So what should we make of the newest crop of wannabes paraded before Sir Alan?
His trusted sidekicks – the blessed Nick and Margaret – are already looking a little glum at the prospect of sharing so much time with this gaggle of egomaniacs.
Even the gruff millionaire’s omnipresent and unflappable PA seemed less than impressed and there was an air of resignation in her familiar catchphrase – “Sir Alan will see you now” – which was delivered with a hint of a sigh.
Indeed, it is telling that Sir Alan himself continues to appear less than impressed with the calibre of candidate. His observation that too many of them seem to view The Apprentice as a TV audition than a step up the corporate ladder is accurate and just a little naive. What else does he expect in our celeb-obsessed society?
If he’s looking for a genuine apprentice then this is not the right formula, as the three winners have proved so far. The first two left his employment to set up their own companies without making any noticeable impact, whilst last year’s winner Simon Ambrose hardly gets a ringing endorsement from his boss towards the end of this same interview.
The early signs this time are not great. First to leave was wet fish Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, a barrister singularly unable to put his own case across.
No-one stood out for positive reasons and they all went OTT in their fawning over Sir Alan and the house he’s deigned to provide them with – are they interested in the job or the superficial trappings of the corporate lifestyle?
At this stage I’ll stick to my initial thoughts on each of the candidates, based solely on a single quote taken from their online candidate profiles.
It is still too early to pick a winner, although the no-hopers and those who believe in superficial style over substance are already standing out from the crowd.
No doubt they’ll all be giving 110% over the coming weeks to land that six-figure salaried job.
I’ll be more interested to see a lot less flash and a lot more dash…and an answer to why I’m so hooked on this programme.