It is enough to make you bawl like a baby.
The Apprentice is hurtling towards yet another finale and this year’s weekly theme looks like being: the less crap team will win.
So does that translate to a conclusion that the less crap candidate will eventually land the £100,000-a-year top prize working for Sir Alan?
If these people do genuinely represent the brightest of British business talent then we are in big trouble. But they genuinely and clearly don’t represent the next generation of business leaders – if they did, they would be too busy being successful to go on a reality TV show.
Last night’s task – identifying baby products to sell at a major trade show – provided yet another display of mediocrity on a staggering scale.
It was enough to make you scream out loud.
There is a fundamental flaw in The Apprentice format. The programme makers want the candidates to function as a team, yet they are competing hard for the top prize.
If they were actually helping to run a business, differences and rivalries could be put aside and a project team would attempt to function to achieve the best possible results. But this is rarely (if ever) evident on The Apprentice.
Instead you get two candidates (Howard and Kate) whispering: “We have our excuse (if we fail),” after finishing a call from their less than convincing project leader Lorraine, who made some pretty appaling basic mistakes. And yet her team still won the task, so Howard and Kate can save their plotting for another day.
Or you get the poisonous viper Debra insisting on going for the most ridiculous, over-priced product to try and sell in one day and rely on basic selling techniques which have largely been absent throughout this series.
Debra has done a great job so far of upsetting everyone – all the candidates, the blessed Nick and Margaret, the viewing public and Sir Alan himself.
How long would that be tolerated in the workplace? Nowhere near as long as it is on reality TV, where the entertainment value is far more important than the level of antagonism.
Debra survived yet again, despite showing a complete lack of business sense and bullying to get her way.
Sir Alan has form in this regard, he has allowed others like Debra to prolong their stay on The Apprentice. Or, more likely, the programme makers have asked him to grant a stay of execution as they keep a watchful eye on ratings.
It has got me writing about her and the show yet again, so it is obviously a tactic that works.
A tactic that doesn’t work, however, is invisibility. Noorul got found out fairly early on, but now it is Howard who is treading a dangerous path.
He does stand up from time to time to get noticed, but he doesn’t actually contribute anything remotely worthwhile or impressive when he does become visible. His principal contribution so far appears to be supplying questionable shirt and tie combinations.
Howard is clearly conniving to win this competition by any means necessary (his whispered plotting with Kate is further proof) and at least he is doing it in a far more subtle way than others.
But he will get found out unless he starts to show some sort of creative business spark. Won’t he?
Looking back at previous winners, you could safely argue that Howard is possibly in pole position at the moment.
I realise I haven’t written much about last night’s task itself, but that is because apart from some more glaring mistakes and prime comedy moments – losing project manager James trusting Debra’s judgement and his triumphant counterpart wrestling with an easy fold down pushchair – there was nothing of worth to say in this latest business failure.
The team that made less crucial mistakes and which were marginally less useless won. Great business, Sir Alan.
At least the bearded multi-millionaire made one good decision this week – he fired Ben Clarke.
Baby Ben’s immaturity provided yet another boost for the ratings, but would have seen him shown the door far more swiftly in the “real world”.
He showed some typically juvenile get up and go – all action, yet little in the way of substance – and told us endlessly about his army officer credentials. But this was a wannabe boy soldier who would think that sophistication was represented by the joke “Where does a major keep his armies?” *
It was way past Ben’s bedtime.
On The Apprentice website, Ben showed his true colours by declaring: “To me making money is better than sex.”
But he proved he doesn’t know how to make money, so by that token he is clueless about the other too.
What a cock.
(* Answer: Up his sleevies)