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The Apprentice

Nicola Mostyn has her doubts about the tycoons of tomorrow

Published on April 8th 2008.


The Apprentice

Was there a point where The Apprentice was actually about finding Britain’s brightest business people?

Because the game’s up. We can’t pretend any more that watching two teams of blethering, bitching egomaniacs attempting to sell fish and hawk laundry has anything to do with finding the next Alan Sugar. Finding the next Alan Partridge, maybe…

The girls lost people’s washing as well as the plot, largely due to their atrocious team leader Jenny Celerier (aka the new Katie Hopkins), a frightening cross between Bree from Desperate Housewives and a shark.

Like Big Brother with power suits, The Apprenticeis all about the characters, which is why we tune in to spend an hour with people who, if we met them on a company training course, we’d fake our own deaths to avoid.

It is very compulsive TV. It’s only week three and already the candidates are as familiar and nauseating as our own colleagues. Sir Alan is reprising his suffer-no-fools barrowboy role and adding to the pantomime are his hilariously deadpan advisors Margaret Mountford and Nick Hewer, who look like they’ve been lifted straight off a Bond film. Or the balcony of The Muppet Show.

I’d love to know the details of the selection process for Apprentice candidates - I’m assuming a slappable face and an ability to talk fluent business-bollocks is a must. Listening to the candidates’ self-aggrandising soundbites was enough to make you want to prise off your ears with a teaspoon but it was even more excruciating hearing them squirm out of their claims when it came to deciding who would be Project Manager, a role which could put them in line for the chop.

In week one - the fish-market challenge – it was Bolton’s Alex Wotherspoon who finally “stepped up” to become leader of boys’ team Renaissance whilst Claire Young (aka this year’s Badger) became the girls’ Project Manager. Then the teams put their best business brains to the task of flogging fish, vastly under-pricing and wrongly labelling their stock and generally ballsing the whole thing up.

The boys lost and the first candidate to be sacked was Nicholas de Lacey-Brown, the man responsible for pricing lobster at £5 a pop. An amateur dramatics fan whose interests includes sunbathing and reading in the bath surrounded by candles, the trainee barrister added the ‘de Lacey’ to his name to sound more sophisticated. It’s a shame Brown was fired since I’m sure he and Alan would have become firm soul mates.

In the second week the teams had to turn a profit doing people’s laundry. While the men somehow gathered themselves into a workable team and got on with some homoerotic male bonding in the steamy laundry, the girls lost people’s washing and then lost the plot, largely due to their atrocious team leader Jenny Celerier (aka the new Katie Hopkins), a frightening cross between Bree from Desperate Housewives and a shark.

Celerier, by her own account, is an amazing salesperson, which makes it all the more amusing that she decided to charge £4.99 per washed item, making their potential client’s usual £200 bill tot up to five grand. His face was a picture. Shame he didn’t think to call the 24-hour hotline the girls had ingeniously devised to encourage sales. “So someone is going to call up and say, “Hello girls, how’s my pants doing?” asked a disbelieving Sir Alan. Actually, I think they may have found a niche there, as long as they charge a premium rate and advertise in phone boxes.

Like the ridiculously posh and pompous Raef Bjayou who was almost sacked the week before, Celerier is gold to a programme like The Apprentice. Bullying, stupid and with no sense of her own ridiculousness, her finest moment was in the boardroom when, faced with a potential sacking, she started making up crimes to pin on her fellow team mates. If she’d been on The Titanic, she’d have thrown you overboard. And nicked your scarf while she was at it.

Celerier also came out with quite the worst business simile I’ve ever heard, telling fellow potential sackees Shazia Wahab and Lucinda Ledgerwood: “I felt like I had to breastfeed you.” Another way of maximising profit for that 24 hour hotline?

Jenny, let’s make no bones about it, is evil. Anyone with half a brain cell can see that and Sir Alan is a savvy sort, what with that Amstrad business and all. So how come - shock horror! – Jenny was kept on and Shazia was fired? It’s a travesty! The wrong decision was made! We demand a recount!

Well, actually, we don’t. Because this isn’t a job interview, remember? It’s an entertainment programme. And who is going to provide more gripping viewing - mild mannered, rational Shazia whose worst crime was to leave a few piles of laundry unlabelled or dead-eyed, sociopath Jenny who may very well push twittering, fragile Lucinda into suicide before Week five?

There’s no contest. I’m with Jenny. 110% percent.

The Apprentice, Wednesdays, 9pm, BBC One. You’re Fired, Wednesdays, 10pm, BBC Two.

Nicola Mostyn writes a weekly column at dearkittycolumns.blogspot.com/

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8 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Patty O'HeeterApril 8th 2008.

Hilarious feature which has brightened up my dull, dull day. Loving this series of The Apprentice but I think this time round the influence of the producers is far more obvious, namely the instigation of the Toff Boys v Tough Boys clique and the mercy shown to the vile Jenny, so obviously the worse candidate last week. I hear on the grapevine that next week's task sees Raef being sent to Miles Platting to sell Faberge eggs door-to-door (the bed in North Manchester General A&E was reserved in advance, apparently...)

too many shoesApril 8th 2008.

This series of The Apprentice is providing some very entertaining TV. The reason it's such a ratings winner is because the producers have succeeded (yet again) in assembling an assortment of exhibitionist, mentalists who will quite happily sell their soul, reputation and anything else Sir Alan can find for them to flog. And all for the grand prize of being appointed as his stooge. Does anyone honestly believe that this bunch of misfits is the elite of the UK business community? I'm sorry, but I'm not prepared to suspend my belief that much. Rather, I think they're just another bunch of "famous for 5 minutes" chancer's who don't fancy grafting for the next 30 years to build a solid, business reputation. Nope, these are the type of folk who want something for nothing and would rather make a tit of themselves on National TV in the vain hope that they'll be his chosen one at the series end. In the reality TV food chain these so called "professionals" are on a par with the type of person who eats bugs in the jungle, or gives someone a blow job under the duvet in the Big Brother house. The only difference being that the wannabe Apprentice’s wear a suit and talk about profit margins whilst they humiliate themselves.

paulipipsApril 8th 2008.

Hehehehehehheh !!!! An absolutely spot on chuckletastic post mortem of the show so far. However I would also add that this show goes back even beyond Panto and has its roots in the same sort of mindset that got people wandering around Victorian Lunatic Asylums having a chuckle at the inmates. Humanss always have and probably always will want to watch other 'oddballs' entertain us.Sir Alan Sugar - The Ringmeister.

LisaApril 8th 2008.

I did go through the audition process and am glad to say that I didn't make it through as I wasn't prepared to be one of these egotistical pompous candidates that make the programme compulsive viewing. Sir Alan rants about wanting the candidates there for the right reason, so why does he allow the TV producers to choose lime-light seeking self-promoting reality wannabes to succeed at the selection process?

Jeremy ProfessionalApril 8th 2008.

Lisa, please tell us more. Why did you want to go on the show? What did the audition process involve? Love to know.

paulipipsApril 8th 2008.

Yep Faberge eggs in Miles Platting wouldnt sell well but do a quick rebranding and call em Nike Eggs and watch those boogers sell like Greggs Pasties ....

Mark Garner The PublisherApril 8th 2008.

Nicola, funniest thing written on the site all year. Have a lollipop.

Jim SymcoxApril 8th 2008.

I think the first series managed to get one or two seriously interested and interesting candidates. However, since then its been for entertainment value all the way. When I reviewed last weeks tasks I gave up listing all the issues with Jenny as project manager. I expect further project manager issues as we skip lightly through the next few "easy" tasks until they all know how really awful they are at doing stuff!

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