Is The Apprentice good for business?
It is a question some are asking again as this latest series goes down to the wire.
The answer really hasn’t changed since last year’s series. It wasn’t good for business then and given this year’s paucity of quality candidates it has arguably been even worse this year.
It is a bit of a bogus question really. You may as well ask is X-Factor good for singer-songwriters, is Wife Swap good for marriage, is Big Brother good for society as a whole?
Clearly the answer is no in each case. The irony of Reality TV is that it often owes little, if anything, to the real world.
What The Apprentice does prove is that stereotypes not only die hard, they positively flourish in the world of business.
Last year, SirA caused by a minor storm by showing just what he thought of such concepts as a work-life balance. This year he’s shown little indication he’s learned from the criticism.
Why should he care when the candidates themselves quite happily conform to each and every stereotype known to man and are prepared to do their would-be master’s bidding?
In recent weeks it has been the gender split that has been most obvious. During the wedding show programme and the tissue debacle, we were reliably informed that the women should take a creative lead as they know best about such things as dresses, cakes and tissues.
Little wonder, therefore, that the men came to the fore this week when the challenge was to hire top-of-the-range sports cars to people, mainly men, with more money than sense.
At least the constant, macho and unnecessary revving of the engines drowned out a lot of what Lee McQueen was talkin’ about.
Even Claire became an honorary bloke for the day – or “blerk” as she would have probably put it.
She attempted to show she had more balls than Lee, Alex and Michael put together. Come to think of it, that Smurf in the car has probably got more balls than those three put together.
With Lucinda and Helene providing their own brand of feminine charm – Lucinda’s efforts usually accompanied by floods of tears, which was useful as it helped provide plenty or fluids so she didn’t always look like a fish out of water in a sales task (just 99% of the time); and Helene being, well, dull and useless – we were down to the final six wannabes.
That in itself is a blessing as I’m rapidly losing the will to live as regards Michael, Alex, Helene and Lee especially. Claire and Lucinda are irritating and unworthy, but those other four are just maddening in the extreme.
Team leaders were Mr Shouty (Lee) and Mr Sulky (Michael). Lee’s gamble on picking the costliest car paid off, Michael wanted to stay in bed.
He was in full-on sulky teenager mood for this task, completely disinterested in everything and anything. When he did kick in to try and sell he veered wildly between stalking (that poor man in the market) and the bully-boy tactics that failed him at the wedding show.
A successful salesman, allegedly, Michael’s effort was a pitiful as his choice of locations.
Over on Mr Shouty’s team, Lee and Alex effectively excluded Lucinda again – just like they did last week – but any degree of sympathy I might have had for the kooky blonde evaporated as she seized on trivialities to try and argue the toss. When all else failed, her bottom lip quivered and the tears flowed.
Despite spanking Mr Sulky in the task, Mr Shouty should have been carpeted for effectively splitting his team. SirA alluded to it, but then turned squarely on Lucinda and castigated her for being ineffective.
Should we expect anything more from someone who helps to preserve gender stereotypes almost every time he opens his mouth? That fits both SirA and Mr Shouty.
But Mr Shouty, Mr Pouty and Ms Lousy got to enjoy a spot of wine tasting as their opponents got to go to the cafe around the corner.
To be honest, after the verbal fireworks of recent weeks, the boardroom showdown involving Michael, Helene and Claire was a bit of an anti-climax.
Claire was always going to be safe. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if both Michael and Helene went for offering very little.
Thankfully, SirA’s patience with Mr Sulky had finally run out and we waved a welcome farewell to Michael.
Good riddance, about two or three weeks overdue.
Helene’s card is marked. Her corporate background is seemingly doing her no favours, although it is her bitchiness and googly-eyed vacant stare I can’t stand.
Of the other four, Claire, Lee and Alex are clearly the favourites. Yet you cannot discount Lucinda simply because she offers something different – whatever it actually is – than the remaining business world stereotypes.
With two weeks to go, who is my favourite?
None of them. They’re all useless.
I don’t care who wins.
My only hope is that next week’s interview stage lives up to previous series and truly exposes the remaining candidates for the no-hopers they obviously are.
And the trailer suggests we get to see Lee’s dinosaur impression again.
I can’t wait.