We’ve arguably reached crunch time in The Apprentice.

Forget the final show when the £100,000-a-year wannabe hears the two words they’ve dreamt about: “You’re hired”.

Tonight’s show will go a long way to deciding who will win the glittering prize.

The interview stage has always proved quite decisive in exposing the fundamental flaws of the remaining candidates and identifying the little spark of potential that SirA is apparently looking for in his apprentice.

SirA’s carefully selected panel of interviewers manage to burst bubbles very easily and very quickly.

We’ve had some truly classic moments in recent series. My favourite remains from a couple of series ago when the arrogant, boorish, rotund, alleged cheeky chappy Paul went into one of the interviews and proclaimed: “I’m a good guy, everyone likes me.”

A deathly pause as SirA’s trusted interviewer fixes the hapless candidate with a disconcerting stare and responds in the best way poissble: “I don’t like you.”

Trailers for tonight’s show suggest we’re all set for a few more moments of brilliance – partly satisfying as the poncing show ponies finally get their comeuppance and part cringe-worthy. You can’t help feel a fleeting pang of sympathy for the humiliation these people are putting themselves through, but then you think back to the last couple of months and start shouting encouragement to the interviewers to really start twisting the knife.

For example, one trailer suggests that the wannabe Lynx model (otherwise known as ineffectual eye candy Alex Wotherspoon) gets told his CV is the most boring his interviewer has ever had the misfortune to read.

I can’t wait to see how Alex handles it. He may prove me wrong and come out all guns blazing in an impressive show of defiance and balls, but then again he probably won’t.

What has intrigued me in the last week is that Alex is apparently viewed as good PR material.

His former university released a press release proclaiming that Alex’s success (sic) in The Apprentice so far has led to a large increase in student applications for the course he graduated in a few years ago.

Applications for the BSc in Management and Strategy (MAS) at Aston Business School in Birmingham are up 27 per cent on last year, while the number of students making it their first choice is up by a staggering 150 per cent. We’re told that one applicant even phoned the Business School and mentioned the television show as the reason for her choice.

The Business School informs us that Alex symbolises some of the core values of the MAS course it runs, namely “his entrepreneurial flair to deal with complex situations, achieved with a balance of individual leadership and a team focus.”

Have they been watching the same series?

The story has been picked up by a few media outlets – The Birmingham Post for one – but I’m not convinced Alex offers good PR value.

If he does get ripped apart during tonight’s interview stage and discarded, then what does it say for his brief career to date and his academic background – he only graduated in 2005.

Obviously, the Business School might have got an inside track and know he is set for the final – he could possibly even be a winner – in which case, interest in who he is and where he has come from will increase significantly.

Piggy-backing on his success will offer some PR value, albeit for some pretty short-term gains if previous series and winners are anything to go by.

But is any PR actually good PR?

[Edit: I’ll be posting a review in the morning of the interview episode – including the dinosaur impression – and why SirA is having to play it safe.] 

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2 responses »

  1. […] Does The Apprentice offer good PR? […]

  2. Rick says:

    Paul,

    We live in a very fluid, 24/7 world. As a PR practitioner I’m inclinded to say “no, not all PR is good PR”, but I’m basing that on the assumption that some people are still familiar with the concepts of shame, dignity and decorum.

    Even a cursory glance at shows like The Apprentice show that not to be the case.

    People won’t blame the school if the candidate flames out, they’ll balme the candidate, figuring they would have done better.

    It all depends on how you want people to view your brand. Personally I’m not sure I would want to associate with it, but (short-term at least) I can see it providing a benefit. But beware the backlash.

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