Why are we still watching the Apprentice? That said, actually, are we still watching the Apprentice?
Speaking to other students about their TV watching habits, it would seem not, with Netflix beating iPlayer as their viewing platform of choice. But for the purposes of this article, I sat down and watched what used to be one of my favourite programmes. With the demise of Bake Off (sob sob!) and the new licensing laws for iPlayer, I’m not surprised that fewer of my friends are watching it, but it remains a programme which is somehow enduringly popular: or, at least popular enough to keep churning out more series!
As with Bake Off, the Apprentice remains loyal to its format. In the opening sequence of the series, the contestants start with the typical ridiculous claims about their ‘business acumen’ (I can’t imagine ever saying that in a real job interview and being taken seriously). Some personal favourites from the first episode include: ‘my business acumen would be like a bouncing puppy’, the totally sincere, ‘all I’ve ever been interested in is having as much money and as much power as I can’, and the really quite disturbing: ‘the sheer energy that I am going to bring is going to mimic that of a nuclear explosion.’
I don’t know what it is, but something about the format is feeling somewhat tired these days. You know what’s coming: the terrible team names (‘Nebula’ and ‘Titans’ this year), the good looking young man who gets a bit bullish, the on-screen flirting that turns into a tabloid romance, the cattiness from the women’s team, the terrible adverts and the Brits-abroad humiliation of the international task. Plus, it might all be a bit pointless anyway, we all know that Lord Sugar’s business investments don’t always turn into a long term partnership. Back when they won a job, not a partnership, Stella English (winner of the 2010 series), described her job with Sugar as being like an ‘overpaid lackey’. She handed in her notice and is now suing him.
Maybe it’s a bias against the somewhat unrealistic format of the programme, (who needs to prove they can buy halal chickens to ace a job interview?) or maybe it’s the knowledge that Trump presented the US Apprentice way back when he wasn’t a genuine threat to world stability, but I’m not feeling excited about the Apprentice this year.
That said, I will give the series a chance. The contestants’ incompetence is always entertaining and there have been some amazing moments of banter between Lord Sugar and the contestants. These include, ‘if you need to moan, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org,’ and ‘You manufacture Cumberland sausages do you? I like Cumberland sausage, I have to say.’ Top class sass, Alan.
And hey, there’s always the week where they get ripped to shreds at interview: that’s always fun, and a disturbingly familiar situation for Oxbridge or grad scheme applicants. We need a programme to watch to fill the void of Bake Off, before they introduce something numbingly tedious like the Great British Sew Off or something – oh wait, they already did that.