Posts in: lord sugar

Apprentice 2013, The Final: Never mind the botox …

The tension in my living room is electrifying. Well, it’s not every day you find out you have a bumblebee colony in your back-garden, is it? Only an hour to go, and I can go back to watch them woozily float in and out of their nest, paralytic on nectar, and quietly congratulating myself on allowing them to live in harmony with nature. A quick whizz through The Apprentice Final and I can go back to doing something positive about sustainability …

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Apprentice 2013 Episode 1: A Catty Affair

And so, painkillers and pizza in hand, to Episode 1. It’s midnight in the boardroom. (Thankfully no-one overdubbed the horror movie strings, but the timing screamed ‘artifical tension’ regardless.) The plucky candidates are, in their self-effacing fashion, dressed for the dodgier kind of Moscow nightclub. Lord Sugar, meanwhile, is speaking for the nation when he says that he’s fed up with “All those usual clichés”. But he’s sadly undermined by his scriptwriter when he tells us that “Actions speak louder than words”. Not for the first time, I glance at my watch: we are 9 minutes in, and all we’ve had are words. Hundreds of them, and all as empty as outer space. Words were in plentiful stock, and only the BBC were buying them. In more ways than one.

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The Young Apprentice: Rhinestone Cowboys at the OK Corral

Plainly, the rumblings of the Blessed Duodenum have announced that Patrick has something more than waspish remarks and rhinestones left to offer. Doomed by selling almost nothing all day and for his deluded pomposity in talking up the role of ‘organiser/director’ at a car boot stall, Max must stumble off into the darkness and return to ignominy, hugging his beige jacket round him for warmth. Patrick may have failed, but at least tried and tried hard. The thing Max tried most was Lord Sugar’s patience, and that’s always a losing gambit.

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The Apprentice Final: Does Sugar Take Him?

The title never really belonged: whatever the programme has ever been, a structured learning programme with constant mentoring isn’t it. The task format worked while it was about picking an employee, but has not been amended now that it’s about identifying a partner to invest in. As The Telegraph pointed out, this year and last year’s eventual winners were both the candidate in the final who had been on the losing team the most often. (Although this criticism also overlooks the factor that annoys me: the worst or weakest performance can easily be on the winning team, while someone else must be fired.) The selection process may introduce a ‘reality tv’ level of suspense into the series, but as a model of business selection criteria it needs a stern word in its ear. (Claude, do you have a moment?) As models for assessment centres go, It’s A Knockout is an unusual choice. Interestingly, the ‘The Final Five’ and the ‘Why I Fired Them’ programmes gave the viewer rather more beyond slapstick and buffoonery than the actual episodes: they had moments of a sober reflective quality that reviewed business strengths and personal qualities in ways that the tasks themselves have not. And as Lord Sugar reminded us in them, the process is also about the person: as well as an investor, Lord Sugar will be a business partner with the eventual winner. Good luck with that, as they say. And are you sure you didn’t want that dog?

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The Apprentice, Episode 10: I’ll be right with you – just polishing my petard

One of the central conundrums of the last two series – and we’ve said it before too – is that the prize is an investment in a business plan. Not only are the candidates not apprentices (a title that should have its cab phoned before the first series got commissioned), they’re not candidates either. They are suitors, each wooing Lord Sugar for the opportunity to invest in their prospective enterprise. I can see a link to the ability to build and market a brand, but the ferreting about in scrapyards and the flogging stuff that’s beyond your ken has to stop. Who goes into a new business to sell something they have no knowledge of? Especially when the business’ product is something they have designed.

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Money for old rope: The Apprentice, Episode 6

Without Sugar, the BBC, a free van, a pile of folders and some handy contacts pre-set up, would an Executive Assistant to CEO, a Sales and Marketing Manager, an Inventor, a Global Youth Consultancy Director and a Divisional Recruitment Manager have done quite so well? And wouldn’t one of them have at least realised you could get a couple of people normally described professionally as ‘blokes’ or ‘geezers’ in for half the price and twice the muscle power? If you turn down the margin business and go all out for risk, you’d better have those costs nailed down tighter than a vampire’s coffin.

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What’s the difference between a barrow-boy and a daschund? Ask The Apprentice …

Well, well, something new on The Apprentice. Who would have thought it? This time around Lord Sugar isn’t hiring them; he’s going to be their business partner and invest £250,000 in a venture with them. (Which makes the series title a misnomer, surely, but since when was this series about giving a realistic education in any aspect of business?). Novelty and innovation were quickly restored to their usual levels as we met another 16 hopefuls – on second thought, make that boastfuls (these people don’t hope: they believe global success is their birthright) – and Lordalun duly sent them to flog fruit and veg. I, meanwhile, recalled an old joke about the difference between a barrow-boy and a daschund. (If you don’t know it, click here.) But the punchline doesn’t work when the only thing a bunch of dogs wears out is the viewers’ patience …

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