Ah, ‘The Apprentice’. Don’t you just love it? I do. In fact of all the mildly addictive reality/competition/life wasting programmes on the telly it’s almost certainly my favourite. I can’t be bothered with baking enough to truly like ‘GBBO’ and I wouldn’t touch any of it’s derivatives with a barge pole (that sewing sh*t springs to mind). Anything involving music is a total turn off because it’s not music as we know it; it’s synthetic music, someone else’s music, bad karaoke (as if there is any other kind) at a scout hut fundraiser off the A303 on a damp Saturday evening. Worthless. Pointless. Soulless.
Chuck in a few crushed, bewildered, rehab familiar, chain smoking celebrities and my interest perks up a bit. Given sufficient exposure to it I usually get won round by ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ (conversely the normal one is about as appealing as tertiary syphilis) even though most of the ‘contestants’ push the limits of the celebrity definition awfully thin. I am also now a convert to ‘Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls’, a show and concept so sadistic and needless that the thrill is simply in seeing who is desperate enough to endure it (or not) for an undisclosed amount of cash and a short lived vapour trail of empty publicity. And that leads to ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’, which this year will feature a pale, sweating, apologetic version of Mr Anthony McPartlin, his life (in theory) no longer a fog of prescription drugs and self-loathing. I can’t wait.
What ‘The Apprentice’ has to offer on the other hand is non-celebrities who already think that they should be celebrities. They turn up with their sharp suits and appalling business ideas and worst of all their self-belief and try and convince Lord Sugar (a title that never ceases to be rubbish) that their lives are worth taking an interest in. Most fail, but that’s the beauty. And the really interesting thing is that celebrities, people who have already found ‘fame’, are riddled with doubt whereas ‘The Apprentice’ lot couldn’t be more assured of their importance.
And there lies the rub. I once went through a phase of life where I watched ‘The Jeremy Kyle Show’ just to make myself feel better. Knowing that there are others far less fortunate yourself is nothing to gloat about but seeing them be morons on TV has a perversely positive effect. And now I watch ‘The Apprentice’ for exactly the same reason: no matter what my substantial flaws are I will never be as bad as some of the worst in that show. It’s awful enough to be talented and arrogant but to have no trace of talent whatsoever and still think the sun shines out of your arse almost makes me sympathetic. But not quite.
The opening show last night was nothing special and certainly nothing new but it did confirm that whilst the format is beyond stale the contestants are always abysmal in their own refreshing way. For a start too many of them had decided that wearing novelty glasses is a definite bonus if you’re trying to creep up the business ladder and cosy up between Lord Sugar’s hairy buttocks. As someone who wears glasses almost all the time I actually started to feel a little insulted. Surely there can’t be such a high proportion of people in this series who have serious visual impairment! And if so why would they combat the problem by wearing glasses specifically designed for dicks?
One girl from Bolton wore huge man glasses that looked like she’d pinched them off her grandfather’s corpse at an open coffin funeral. I suspect she was trying to look 70’s retro cool and just hadn’t contemplated failure as a realistic option. Another chap by the name of Charles Burns (sadly not ablaze) had a face resembling a badly shaved testicle and wore a preposterous pair of circular frames that made him look like a combination of Elton John, Penfold from Danger Mouse and a total c*nt. He barely scraped through on the first task, chiefly because the guy who was fired was able to display a slightly more enhanced level of stupidity. And that person was called Danny Grant, who proudly claimed at the start that he didn’t “get on with people with a stick up their arse”. Does anyone? Leadership material he was not.
Following on from the bottom/stick scenario was posh sod Elliot Van Emden, whose philosophy was -“sometimes to get to the top you have to grease the pole behind you”. This of course doesn’t make sense at all unless he was referring to his Polish line manager. Harrison Jones must have broken a record in manifesting himself as a complete prick from the get go, a process which included this much imitated and thoroughly redundant cliché – “I am always willing to work to full capacity to reach my goals”. If his goal was to be astonishingly easy to hate then job done.
A special mention must go to Sajan Shah who displayed concerning levels of confusion. “I am like a Chinese dish – potent, deliciously driven, full of flavour and I sure do sizzle”. Perfect, apart from the fact that he’s not Chinese and he’s not applying for Blind Date or MasterChef.
The women were no better. Elizabeth McKenna was wearing her mother’s dressing gown and as a result looked ever so slightly peculiar. She was also blessed with all the charisma of a fisherman’s glove. Then there was Siobhan Smith who had a chin she’d modelled on Desperate Dan’s, was devoid of any subtlety and claimed that a lot of people call her superwoman. I was thinking more superman, but tastes vary. Our friend from Bolton, Michaela Wain, declared: “In business I am like a bulldog. If you mess with me I have lockjaw”. I’m not sure she really meant that.
Anyway, the whole series seems to have an embarrassment of deluded idiots which makes for a fun run up to Christmas in our house. And in case you’re still not sure what kind of people we’re dealing with I’ll leave the nearly last words to Ross Fretton, a master of humility who said of himself – “I’m usually the smartest person in a room and I’ll make sure people know that”. Which begs the question: who on earth would want to be in a room with someone like that?
G B Hewitt. 05.10.2017
I must say I do fancy Karren Brady a bit, which helps. Not a patch on ‘the wife’ of course.