Posts in: the apprentice

Apprentice 2013, Episode 8: Open Heart Sugar-y

And somehow, Luisa survives. Having presented us with an hour of some of the least charming behaviour I’ve seen on television short of serial killer dramas, she lives to torture another day. I shake my head at the screen: anyone who behaved that atrociously to colleagues anywhere I’ve ever worked would have been frogmarched to a door and told to pay for their own blaady cab. But her card is now clearly marked: Karren firmly requests that she be allowed to follow her next week. Is it too much to hope that the budget might stretch to a blowtorch or a crossbow for Ms Brady?

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Apprentice 2013, Episode 7: Hitting the Road

The team were, if anything, lucky that only two of them were fired. The question is who will make the final with Neil, who currently seems unstoppable. But then their next challenge is to promote an online dating site, and Mr Clough may need to show a little more romance under the stubble. The teaser trailer hints that the course of true love - and of flogging some grim approximation of it in a browser - will not run smoothly.

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Apprentice 2013, Episode 6: Shambles Incorporated

The Business Away Day sounds like a discount railway ticket, but rarely delivers anybody to a worthwhile destination. And the journey – to use my nomination for the century’s most over-used word to date – can be pretty lacking too. Yet this is their task. Lord Sugar has lined up two clients, who will provide a budget, and the contest will be judged on profit and customer satisfaction. (Mindful of the importance of establishing clear evaluation criteria at the outset, I wondered how that might be measured, but I’ll avoid a spoiler: the answer is too obvious.)

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Apprentice 2013 Episode 3: A Box Of Frogs

The most startling moment of this episode - officially called, with blinding insight, Flat-Pack - happened a few minutes in, and I’ve been trying to have my retinas repaired ever since. Earlier in the series than usual, The Apprentice played the ‘everyone was relaxing at home on a day off, with a camera crew – as you do’ trope, and the remaining 14 contenders (I use the word loosely) suddenly found themselves with thirty minutes to reapply the bling. Girls scampered along luxury corridors, hectically searching for trowels so they could re-do their eye make-up. Meanwhile, not content with flashing his abs at us in a towel last week, Myles decided that the most appropriate way to behave on camera in a men’s dorm is to wiggle across our eye line in a thong. In a programme with no audience voting, I was left wondering which bottom line he was most eager to demonstrate familiarity with. His own, possibly? Fundamental mistake there, Myles. Oh well, maybe he was just showing us his best side …

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Apprentice 2013 Episode 2: A Barrel of Laughs

The one with the brewery. There’s no need for a spoiler, is there? Lord Sugar even utters the immortal line, although you’re made to wait about 47 minutes for it. It doesn’t constitute either suspense or surprise. And given that most of us recognise the human ability to make a fool of ourselves over alcohol (this is a blog, not a confessional, let’s keep things general …), mixing fifteen idiots and a brewery was always going to be a little predictable. Oh well, down the hatch …

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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 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 Semi-Final: Sugar, all things nice and puppy dog’s shaving balm

We’ve introduced you to the runners and riders for this penultimate hurdles challenge of the season, and let you review their form in the paddock. So let’s get the cameras rolling and take you to West London for the Burlington Arcade Handicap Chase. And who better to set the scene than contemporary business’ very own Burlington Bertie from Bow? Lord Sugar, for it is he, sets up the challenge to create affordable luxury items. Roll up, roll up, get yer entrepreneurs ‘ere, ladies and gentlemen. (One of the candidates makes a remark about the final heat being the one to sort the men from the boys. I’d man up if I were you, Jade. Or cuff someone.)

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The Apprentice: The Final Five

As a programme that showed all five candidates in less comical/critical lights (it was far more sober and reflective than the task episodes, much to its merit), all emerged as more likeable, personable human beings: it is hard to dislike any of them. Ricky and Adam have the most to prove in terms of overturning impression already created; Tom and Jade must show their strengths and avoid falling prey to their downsides. Nick must actually create an impression. Were I a betting man, my fiver would probably be on one of the latter three, although the interview round can always spring surprises. (Think who is least likely to have oversold themselves on paper, and can give the best verbal account of themselves in a tight corner without resorting to aggression.) The prize is as much for four of them to lose as for one of them to win, and – unlike last year – I don’t feel myself rooting for one of them.

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