For 10 years now, audiences have sat and watched in entertained frustration, as terrified blobs in suits bumble around trying to impress a man who once owned a football club; that’s right, The Apprentice was back, and bigger than ever.
With The Apprentice, there have always been questions left unanswered, such as “During the show, why do they always show long shots of The Gherkin (and later The Shard), expecting the audience to believe that that’s really where the boardroom is?” (We see them come out of the real building at the end of each show, don’t play games with us). There’s also the increasing likelihood that the contestants will be saying “Yes, Lord Sugar, Duke of Croydon and Viscount of Bromley” in the very near future. Despite this, audiences don’t appear to be dwindling, with an average of 7 million viewers this series. There’s are two reasons for this: The Apprentice is one of the best edited reality shows you will find, and it’s also hilarious.
Being the 10th anniversary, everything in this series was the same, but a little bit bigger. There were more contestants than ever before, which meant more had to be fired in a shorter space of time. The memorable episode in which all three quivering, but admittedly atrocious, contestants were shown the door would have been more outrageous had it not been precisely what would have happened in a real business situation.
“Despite all its faults, The Apprentice is actually one of the greatest advertisements for a career in business.”
The contestants themselves were also bigger, brasher and stupider than ever before. Daniel Lassman was the self-proclaimed sales extraordinaire, Solomon Akhtar was the “kid with ideas” with excitement levels turned up to 11, and in Sarah Dales the BBC have found an idiotic gem. From her unique annunciation of the title “climb online” to her unbroken belief that cutting lemons in half and selling them would generate profits unknown, Sarah was a special case. Sadly, she fell at an early hurdle, overtaken by forgettable, cleverer people.
For the rest of the series, we were told to focus on the apparently “titanic” battle between Mark Wright and Daniel. In reality, Mark was almost consistently the far stronger candidate, but Daniel’s determination and the standard underdog story meant that everyone was sad to see him finally eliminated in the penultimate show – although we’ll never want him to mention hot tubs again. That brings us neatly on to the Interview episode, now cemented as the best show in the series, every series. For 9 weeks, the contestants display levels of arrogance that would make Kanye West’s eyes widen, and every series, Claude Littner and co give them the verbal dressing down they really deserve. This time around, without revealing any names (it was Bianca), even tears flowed this time around.
As for the winner, it was actually fairly clear to see that Australian seller Mark was one of, if not the strongest candidate from the beginning. Perhaps it was for this reason that comedy characters like Daniel, Sarah and loudmouth James were pushed to the fore. Mark was only ever truly matched by token Irish candidate Roisin, who filled the “professional accountant” quota rather well until her weak business plan was chewed up and spat out by corporate dragon Claude. Bianca Miller was a worthy runner up, and even threatened to win with a company plan with genuine potential, but to an audience that had watched Mark’s ego-fuelling battle with Daniel for weeks on end, a win for Bianca would feel like a book with an unexpected, less interesting conclusion.
Despite all its faults, The Apprentice is actually one of the greatest advertisements for a career in business. Apart from portraying business as something that thoughtless buffoons can struggle through without being too heavily punished, it very much succeeds in making the business world entertaining. The art of pitching, the 5 minute brainstorms and the constant trips out and about make starting a company look less an ordeal, and more a rather unusual activity holiday. With applications already open for the next series, it’s safe to say The Apprentice will carry on going as successfully as ever for some time now.
P.S Next series Lord Sugar will have to come to terms with the loss of the true star of his show. With Nick Hewer finally hanging up his enquiring spectacles and brilliantly expressive eyebrows, the team on The Apprentice will have a tough job finding a replacement that will please the Hewer-loving public. My early suggestion is Dapper Laughs – his new use of turtle necks is perfect for the faux-professionalism of the show, and besides, he could do with a break.