Alan Sugar is back with The Apprentice, a totally realistic employee selection process, or investment partner process as it is now, with Alan investing £250,000 in the series winner’s business idea. The candidates for series nine (nine?!) have all, obviously, been selected entirely on merit, and not personality, because this is a realistic process, and not at all an entertainment programme. The candidates all look the same as those from every other series of The Apprentice, and fit into the same regular categories; some working class people, a posh guy, a salesman, an icy woman and someone who isn’t English.
Episode one starts with an introduction to some of the contestants – sorry, candidates – who, coincidently, are the ones who are most prominent throughout the episode. Neil is an estate agent. He seems like a nice guy. He isn’t. Two team leaders are selected; Jaz, whose business idea is about helping out the community or something so she won’t win, and Jason, a posh student of Greek literature whose intelligence is like a machete in the jungle apparently, which is a shit simile for a supposedly intelligent student. Must do better.
All the candidates are a bit weird looking. A lot of the guys have crazy eyebrows. One guy, Alex the Welshman, looks like a villain from Thunderbirds. Or Dracula, someone suggests. Maybe Jason can help us out with some better similes.
The teams – men and women – are given a standard Apprentice task: take this crap and sell it. Jaz gathers her team together but, uh oh, here comes the music that indicates someone is being incompetent. The girls don’t like Jaz’s patronising team talk and roll their eyes throughout. Meanwhile, the guys are all silently screaming about how big their balls are. ‘Jason you need to control this,’ says one, who is deliberately being a dick. Oh, it’s Neil. You will be this series’ twat I see.
They’re all twats of course. That’s the point. Put a whole bunch of obnoxious people on the screen so we can all sit back and laugh at them. Britain’s Got Talent does the same thing, but with extra meanness. It’s quite cynical television.
Anyway, the girls decide to sell water in bulk to a pub, pubs being renowned for their water-thirsty clientele of course. The bar owner says he doesn’t sell much water. ‘Okay, I’m fully hearing you on that,’ says one of the team. ‘So, uh, we’re looking at…£15?’ Score.
The guys have more luck and manage to sell their water and plastic crap. ‘High five,’ suggests one. ‘Really?’ replies Neil. Good god, stop being such a cunt Neil. They strike a deal to offload some cat statues to a pet shop, and after setting the price too high and going away to confer, they get the deal, which shows that if you just stumble around like an idiot you’ll get there in the end. A candidate called Tim suddenly shows up on radar, yapping away like an excitable dog. Most of the rest are forgettable. Here’s a handy list of them, for those trying to keep up.
The girls meanwhile are running their business using the tried and tested method of driving around in a car aimlessly while flicking through a copy of the yellow pages. Microsoft use the same method actually. A girl with huge eyes who looks like an anime character tells us she’s not just a bimbo with fake boobs. ‘I love blowing their assumptions to smithereens,’ she says. If I was a less mature writer I would have put some ellipses between the words ‘their’ and ‘assumptions’ in that quote.
‘It doesn’t faze me not to be in the limelight all the time,’ says another girl fazed at not being in the limelight all the time. They finish up their sales and head back to the boardroom. ‘You can go through now,’ says a secretary who is definitely a legitimate employee and not at all an actor.
The guys all jump on their project manager. ‘His attitude was more Vicar of Dibley than it was market trader,’ says one. What does that mean? That he is a funny, fat, religious woman who upsets the conservative townsfolk with his unconventional ways? What kind of simile is that? Help him out here Jason.
The guys win though, despite being a bunch of childish twats, and off they go to their fancy apartment. ‘Nice to see Lord Sugar put his hand in his pocket,’ says one of the guys. Did he though? Am I paying for this? Are we paying to house these fuckers in a central London luxury flat?
The girls lost, because half of them didn’t sell anything, so they head back to the boardroom despondent. Jaz starts her defence, and picks out two people to bring back into the boardroom, having alienated everyone by being annoying. She is really sarcastic, which is not an attractive trait at all. Sarcastic people are awful.
‘Lord Sugar will see you now,’ says the same perfectly plausible and not at all fake secretary from earlier, and the girls step in to face Alan. ‘You’re the logistics girl,’ says one. ‘I’m a business woman, darling,’ is the reply. Ooooooh. One of them isn’t an expert on lucky cats, I forget which one. Alan’s not having any of it. Selling Chinese cats in Chinatown is like selling coal to Newcastle, he says. Alan would get on well with Jason. Lots in common.
Jaz is sacked, obviously. She jumped in too quickly. ‘Fuck off ladies,’ Alan says, or words to that effect. And episode one ends, with all our contestants, minus one, back at home, in their massive licence fee funded flat in London. Yay, The Apprentice is back.