The Apprentice seems to have lost its way. The relentless bickering of pseudo-business sods and arbitrary tasks has taken its toll, and while this eighth series is belligerently thundering on, it’s entertaining us less and less. The only changes over the last 8 years have been minor: Now, rather than a job with Lord Sugar (which it seems mandatory for them to quit after a year), it’s the chance to be his business partner. And not, er, an apprentice. But what is it that’s bothering us?
First up, The Candidates. Mitchell and Webb’s excellent parody of the candidates is now years old, but captures exactly what we already know: They’re not Britain’s Brightest Business Brains, they’re a bunch of fucking idiots. And that’s fine, we’re watching to see them make a mess of things and have a row about it.
But even that’s losing its lustre. As funny as it is to watch Thicky McDuh failing to do adding up in front of an eye-rolling Nick Hewer, we’ve been there and done it. Repeatedly. Likewise the hapless, stuttering presentation and bullish, amateur negotiations with wary market traders. We’ve been there, we’ve seen it.
We suggest: Keep the catchphrase spounting bell-ends, but surround them with actual people. Put them in the real world, and see how they get on then. Also, don’t swap people around week by week, but start with four teams. If it’s someone on their own against three teams of four – tough. There’s your business lesson.
The Tasks themselves are variations on exactly the same basic “buy and sell” theme. Despite Lord Sugartits’ insistence that he’s not after a salesman, every week he’ll bring up individual sales and use them as a stick to beat people with.
“Oh, you spent the whole day ensuring that a minimum hygiene level was reached, as well as working on stock control and making sandwiches? That’s fine, but you didn’t make any bladdy sales. You’re fired.”
Each task is set within careful parameters, to ensure that there’s as many ambiguities and unanswered questions as possible, and with the contestants unable to go anywhere near Google or phone a friend, leaves them stuttering and looking stupid from the off. Is it really that much more entertaining to see them continually make a fist of finding out what a yarmulke is, than actually performing a business task well and showing us something interesting and entertaining?
Also, this grates on us every week – when Lord Sugartits congratulates the team on making £1000 profit, he acts as though anybody could be him in his barrow, turning a profit on any old toot. Disregarding, of course, that they have a stall in the middle of Westfield laid on for them for free, and will be ferried around London in private cabs all day. Oh, and the buying department from a Top Online Retailer have a meeting set up, just like no other small businesses get. It’s as much a proper representation of business as Big Cook Little Cook is about running a branch of Nandos.
His lessons are rubbish as well; because of the short-term nature of the tast, there’s no point building relationships with customers, just squeezing every penny out of them. This came to a head a couple of weeks ago, when beaky twat Stephen harassed a woman at a car-boot sale, for the sake of shaving a quid off her price. In other weeks, they’ve been asked to leave shops, hassled store-holders to knock a penny off their price and upset more members of the public than a Russell Brand phone call.
We suggest: Shake up the standard mixture of buying, selling, and buying and selling tasks, and show other areas of bladdy bizness. Have them all sit in an HR department for an afternoon, aimlessly cancelling people’s paycheques and updating Facebook.
The Editing of the show is bloody awful. Of the hour, the first ten minutes are recaps of last week and Sugartits dragging them to a vaguely related location to explain what to do. With half an hour of boardroom, there’s only twenty minutes of actual task.
The focus of the show has switched from “here are some idiots titting about at Spitalfields Market” to “who do you think’ll be fired this week? Who? Who’s gonna go??!!!” The task is shown in an intentionally misleading way, emphasising one team over the other so that it’s a shock when the result is revealed.
Does anyone really care though? The teams are switched around so bloody often that it doesn’t matter which team is Hammock and which is Apartheid. Does anyone have a real attachment to either of them? And are you even that bothered who gets fired? Oh no! The gobby one who can’t pronounce “appetite” properly has been fired. Boo hoo.
We suggest: Sod it, announce the firing at the start, and have the rest of the show as an explanation. Why not, eh? Why not?
The Boardroom has evolved from a short discussion of the task into a monster. Half the show is in Lord Sugar’s unconvincing office (and that manky café), and yet nothing is ever resolved.
They’ll sit and bicker, rowing over technicalities, jump from “Best Project Manager EVER!” to “Useless arse” as soon as it’s revealed that the task has been lost. This week, even the subtitler gave up, announcing “THEY SHOUT OVER EACH OTHER”, as any semblance of being actual adults is lost in favour of being loudest to proclaim their own achievements.
There’s no attempt to make any constructive points, just screaming at each other, pointing out the most minor of mistakes as though they’d have made an extra £500 if only they’d painted the sodding shop red.
Screaming at each other about these technicalities, without being able to provide any evidence is rubbish. Presumably the production team have seen all the footage and use it when they decide who will be fired, but it looks like they can get away with saying whatever they want, as long as they say it with conviction.
We suggest: Let them use video evidence in the boardroom. Watch the horrible sods squirm as they’re caught in a lie. Everyone staring at them as it’s proven that they refused to reduce the price. Get out of that one, smarmy bollocks. And fire anyone who cries. Immediately. Grow up.
We’re still enjoying the Apprentice, but it’s becoming a show to watch while dicking about on the laptop, rather than getting our full attention. Same old, same old, refusal to adapt – it’s like Sugs hasn’t learned anything from Amstrad.