In the run up to the new series of the £100,000 ugly business beauty contest that is The Apprentice, the programme-makers were keen to stress the “greed is good” mentality of previous years would not be repeated.
Even Sir Alan Sugar, top dog in the showcase of mongrels, made it clear that in these recessionary times the show had an obligation to reflect the harsh realities of business in an economic downturn.
So we were told the excesses of previous series would be toned down and the 2009 crop of incompetent idiots – sorry, high-fliers who represent the cream of Britain’s young business talent – would compete in pared-down challenges that will focus on boosting British businesses.
Fair enough. Alas, no-one saw fit to ensure the facile fifteen stayed on message.
From the utterly meaningless or egotistical statements the candidates used to sum themselves up, to the excruciating and immature squeals of delight at their “home” for the next x-number of weeks, each and every one of the Apprentice wannabes is still only interested in one thing – the pursuit of wealth and the trappings of the corporate world they see in glossy ads, glossier film and TV shows and in their idol himself.
Still, it makes good telly. Doesn’t it?
I guess the fact that I’m back watching, back blogging about a programme I profess to despise suggests the answer to that question is “yes”.
It is a definite love-hate relationship – I love getting wound-up by The Apprentice candidates and I hate everything just about every single one of them represents.
Needless to say, I’m not disappointed by the 2009 version.
And the bearded wonder has set a high standard already.
In his opening bit of blarney to the gormless brigade he went waffling on about his upbringing (yes, really) and then off on various tangents. We had stuff about lumps of coal, diamonds, pressure cookers, playing the violin and something along the lines of doing a dirty in your own hands (although I admit I had stopped listening by that stage).
Suitably inspired, the two teams went off and emerged as Team Empire and Team Ignite. But inspired to do what?
Mainly, to fall into the same pitfalls as virtually every other set of candidates that has gone before them.
The lack of common sense and basic business acumen, the supreme bitching and back-stabbing, the pointless bragging and boasting, topped off by a pretty poor return on the task itself – this time, to try and clean up by cleaning up – means we’ve got a large dose of the same old same old with the 2009 vintage.
Some of the candidates have already slipped into the trap of trying to stitch their colleagues up, rather than win the task – power dressing Debra and mumbling estate agent Philip step forward.
Plus we had some new gems to mull over. Haranguing a potential client and all but calling him an idiot is slightly at odds with the old adage the customer is always right – I half expected the girls’ team to start a rendition of that football stadium favourite: “You don’t know what you’re doing!”
As ever, I was left to conclude that the candidates should be grateful for the presence of the camera crews following their every move.
In the real world they would have been shown the door long before they got to grips with any of the car cleaning jobs they lined up. If the businesses they dealt with had been charitable enough to let them loose on their vehicles the chances are they wouldn’t have seen a penny because of the poor quality service both Team Empire and Team Ignite displayed – there’s been little evidence of any emperors or bright sparks so far.
But in the unrealistic bubble created by reality TV, these chancers are indulged and given the sort of leeway they wouldn’t enjoy in the recessionary world Sir Alan insists The Apprentice is now mirroring.
First to go – not counting the fella what bottled it big time even before he got to meet Sir Alan – was Birmingham lawyer and ineffectual, habitual frowner Anita Shah.
She didn’t do much, apart from miss the point about being on a business orientated reality TV show. And for being nothing worth shouting about, Anita was shown the door.
Her Apprentice website biog includes: “My CV is strong. I am articulate. I can deal with questions and make impactful statements. Many lawyers can’t. People want to chat with me.”
Unfortunately for Anita, she heard the impactful statement no-one wants to hear: “You’re fired!”