First, we had The Great British Bake Off. A tent in the English countryside, full of lovely, humble, mild-mannered amateur bakers. They all supported each other and the worst thing anyone did was accidentally take someone else’s ice cream out of the freezer.
And now that’s over, and in its place, we have The Apprentice.
For anyone not familiar with the concept, this reality show is about ‘some of Britain’s brightest business brains’ competing for an investment from entrepreneur Lord Alan Sugar. Each week they’re given bizarre business tasks and on the losing team, someone gets fired. Meanwhile Lord Sugar makes weak jokes, which everyone pretends to find funny, and occasionally loses his head completely and starts firing everyone in sight. It really shouldn’t be enjoyable to watch people being ridiculed on TV, and yet somehow it is.
This is possibly because the contestants couldn’t be more different to those lovely bakers in the tent – they’re all portrayed as out for themselves, willing to back-stab and pass the buck to get their fellow candidates kicked out. They’re also apparently pretty useless, and this is really what makes The Apprentice fun to watch. Now I’m not saying I could do any better – probably I couldn’t – and I’m sure a lot of it is down to the editing. But considering some of their wild claims (my personal favourite: ‘I was one of the top 100 Colombians elected by the Colombian government. It was an honour because I was with people like Shakira’), you’d expect these people to be able to do anything – and they really can’t. Mostly what they do is run around London in a panic, shouting into their mobiles, ignoring market research and trying to sell random objects to alarmed passersby.
Series 10 is on TV now and is already proving just as entertaining – and horrifying – as usual. A few highlights from the series so far (and I use the term ‘highlights’ quite loosely considering I was cringing with embarrassment through most of them):
– When Sarah tried to sell a bucket of toilet brushes to London Zoo for £250. I still don’t understand why she thought this was a good idea.
– Meeting Felipe (one of the top 100 Colombians), who likes to talk about himself in the third person. ‘Felipe did a good job. Felipe is happy.’ It’s funny, but also quite weird and slightly creepy.
– This gem from a sales pitch by Steven: ‘It’s not just a potato; it’s an experience.’ (Can anyone explain to me what a potato experience is, and why I’ve never had one?!)
– And this quote from Daniel, who was pitching a jumper that his own team had designed – ‘I wouldn’t wear it out in public.’ Funnily enough, they got no orders.
– When the girls decided to name their team Decadence, because it’s the tenth series of The Apprentice (Decade, get it?), and because nobody bothered to look up what decadence actually means.
– And finally another one from Sarah, who singlehandedly set feminism back about 100 years in week 1 by suggesting her all-female team’s sales strategy should be to wear short skirts and put on lots of make up… Cringe!
And it’s only week 4 – with eight weeks still go, there’s plenty more fun to be had.