Why do we really watch The Apprentice?

It’s October, which means that it’s that time of year again: Apprentice time! Wrap up in your blankets, grab a hot chocolate, and get comfortable because, as ever, it’s set to be another year of fantastical farce to keep us all entertained until Christmas.

To say that The Apprentice is actually about finding Lord Sugar’s business partner is now a shame-faced lie. Clearly it is not. For the past few years, the contestants have been dim, arrogant, confrontational, oblivious and – most importantly – hilarious. Though Lord Sugar has had his fair share of catastrophic business failures in the past (does anybody even know what an Amstrad is?), surely even he must know better than to think that any of these contestants have close to an iota of business sense. This year, Claude has definitely given up on the idea of doing anything but laughing at them (the man can’t keep a straight face on spin-off show You’re Fired!). Karen returns to frown immensely at every decision. Every year, it seems as if one of the contestants should just turn around and gauge Karen’s reaction to see how they’re doing.

Nobody is watching it under that pretence, anymore, either. The Apprentice is the antithesis to The Great British Bake-Off: We are just watching to laugh at a group of awful people make bad decisions, shout at each other, and generally embarrass themselves in front of London corporate elites, and then the Great British public. While the measure of a contestant on Bake-Off is how likeable they are, picking a favourite on The Apprentice consists of finding the most reprehensible, argumentative, or dim-witted contestant and sticking staunchly by them as they sink deeper and deeper into the hole of terrible decisions. It is a stupidity contest, and as an audience we absolutely thrive off it.

To speak of this year’s Apprentice, we’re only two episodes in and it’s already been a radical ride. The first episode involved capitalising on the tourism boom in South Africa, and for a moment it looked as if the girls’ team were going to have to burst into a rousing rendition of The Wheels on the Bus to inspire some modicum of enthusiasm in their customers. The boys opted for The Lion Sleeps Tonight (which, might I add, seemed to work?). Classic Apprentice mistakes were abound, such as the boys’ team promising that they’d see the ‘big five’ (they did not see the ‘big five’).

The second episode, where the task was to create a premium ice lolly product, went as well as you could expect. Disgusting flavours, presentation worse than a Mini Milk, with all shuffling out of the room for price negotiations that didn’t happen: between these and watching Claude and Karen eat ice lollies, it was a corker of an episode.

But of course what keeps the series alive and well is the contestants’ genuine beliefs that they are the next big thing. They all think that they are genius experts and can never be at fault, while making mistakes that a ten-year-old could probably avoid. Their delusions of grandeur as they prove themselves to be absolutely inept is what’s worth watching the show for. So, get your blanket, get cosy, and prepare for another series of belly-laughing at business disasters.

 

Image Credit: Rajasekharan Parameswaran via Wikipedia Commons

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