Lord Sugar’s reality TV show, The Apprentice, is back with its ever dramatic pan-shots of Lord Sugar gazing over the skyscrapers of London, the sassy “you can call me Karren” Baroness Brady and the imposing newcomer Claude. Of course the top “entrepreneurs” are usually absurd and over dramatic, however, this time they seem to lack any business skills, possibly only chosen because of their eccentric personalities. So with the lowest profit ever recorded on the show (a stunning £1.87 or 20p per person for a whole day’s work) is this reality TV show just getting a little bit too ridiculous?
300,000 viewers down from last year, The Apprentice’s popularity is starting to wane; no longer is it the family show of the mid-week but instead a ridiculous reality TV show, filled with the most eclectic characters in a drive to make “interesting” television. From Ruth’s outrageous pink suit to April’s doughnut bun placed precariously on the top of her head, it was clear from the start that these candidates are not very conventional people. Despite their overzealous claims, there seems to be a distinct lack of business sense from the group. From Richard saying that he is “a Swiss army knife of business skills’” to Joseph’s casual claim that he is “the godfather of business”, there is no end to the unsupported cockiness. Perhaps the winner of the most ridiculous statement should go to David who clearly does not believe in sucking up to Lord Sugar, instead stating: “Sugar’s got the age and I certainly am beautiful.”
Dan, unfourtunately the first to go, was at least honest, stating that “a lot of people laugh at me.” Indeed his final pleas in the boardroom were laughable at best: “I’m good at addition, I’m good at maths, I’m good at figures” – not the most versatile set of skills. In fact, Dan seemed to pre-empt his firing from the beginning; the first thing he told the camera was “I’ve made every mistake in the business book” including nearly losing his parents’ pension! His inability to sell “to the public” as he told Lord Sugar (because who cares about that small demographic) was probably a subtle hint that these candidates are not chosen on skill.
Even though other candidates were able to sell, they did so through interesting and rather unconventional methods. As Baroness Brady put it, Ruth’s methods of attracting customers was rather “creepy”. Her slightly predatory nature as she ran up to men and stroked their biceps claiming “gosh aren’t you solid, aren’t you lovely” was quite alarming.
Common sense was most clearly lacking when one group (surprisingly the winning group) led by Mergim went into a vegan restaurant and attempted to sell fish. Their insistence as they left, pressuring “and there’s nothing that can change your mind?” was concerning, suggesting they were still clueless as to their mistake. With that sort of ignorance it will be a surprise if Mergim can live up to his aim: “I don’t want to be a millionaire. I want to be a billionaire.”
Whilst having mixed groups on the first task was a brand new idea for 2015, it immediately revealed the casual misogyny within the group, starting with Brett’s belief that “the task itself is going to be a bit problematic” because of the way women would react to fish. Also, despite Mergim’s claim that he “loves working with women”, he is bitter over losing his chance to prove “men sell better than women”.
So, although certainly not dull, this year’s The Apprentice is simply redoing what it has done before every single year, but with far more eccentric and over dramatic candidates. The ridiculous mistakes made on the first task already and the dismal ‘profit’ from Team Conexus does not bode well for the rest of the series and the emergence of one suitable candidate with a half decent business plan.