So it’s here again, after just 5 months of waiting The Apprentice is back on our screens. For me personally it’s an odd sensation watching it now, and somewhat bittersweet as it only feels like yesterday I was doing the same thing myself. No longer do I find myself looking forward to it purely as an entertainment spectacle, but rather I’m now observing from a point of perspective as a previous candidate, knowing how the show is put together, and annoyingly analysing the editing and reading between the lines.
Before we’ve even started the show feels different in some way given the new format. The candidates opening statements are not quite as outlandish, there’s no mention of brands or first words, and Lord Sugar is seen pensively gazing out at Canary Wharf. Ok there was some talk of the Dalai Lama that is clearly nonsense, but other than that generally they’ve come through the first hurdle with relative dignity. Already the show feels a bit more grown up, edgier, and oddly more credible than our year. I’m sure as the weeks unfold however some characters will prove me wrong on this point.
The candidates then get that first boardroom experienced and naturally look absolutely terrified, which I can assure you is quite normal as the opening encounter with Lord Sugar is an utterly surreal experience. Straight away they are told that the expectation has moved away from mere salesmanship (but yet I have no doubts sales will as ever form a large part of the criteria on which Lord Sugar will make his decision). They’re given £250, told they will set-up a fruit and vegetable business, and sent on their way.
The time comes for the teams to find their new names (Logic and Venture they decide upon, both rather dull it must be said) and more importantly decide who the PM will be. It must be said that a lot of people say you deserve credit for putting yourself up at this stage, yet if you ask me there’s a very fine line between bravery and stupidity. After all no one has ever won the Apprentice in week 1, yet many have fallen as this early stage. Edward puts himself up for the boys, much to the dismay of Gavin, who then proceeds to question the logic of picking him as PM, without realty wanting it to be him. I find myself screaming at the TV ‘shut up you fool’, as when placed in a similar situation I was more than happy to hand Dan the noose last year which he seemed so intent on hanging himself with. The girls on the other hand come across rather bullish at this point, with Edna, Helen and Melody all giving good cases for their election as team leader, with Melody eventually wearing everyone down with one of the weirdest accents I’ve ever encountered.
So they set off, the boys naively plumping to make soup and juice without any consideration over the sheer wastage of volume it takes to make both out of their raw ingredients. The girls on the other hand have a more sensible approach, making fruit salads which really tap into the breakfast market, and healthy pasta. In buying their ingredients, some of the candidates already shine, particularly Jim, who strikes a nice deal on some tomatoes, peppers and onions, and in the process exhibits some admirable culinary knowledge of what makes a tomato soup. At this early point that’s probably already enough to deem him safe from the firing line.
The chaps have a disaster on the production line as Leon operate some juicers with about as much finesse as a labourer making cement. Edwards’s response seems to be to speak in a cryptic dialect that no one finds particularly impressive, and congratulates everyone for rolling with the punches. Already I get the feeling he’s going to get fired.
The girls don’t feature as much which in all honesty is a reflection of the fact they performed a lot better. OK they did produce a pasta sauce that resembled the after effects of a chicken bhuna, but generally they identified a need at breakfast time for metro sexual city boys to eat a healthy meal, and used their charms to bring in a lot of cash.
Upon getting back in the boardroom unsurprisingly the girls discover they’ve won, and the writing is on the wall for accountant Edward. Upon discoing why they lost, Edward makes the fatal mistake of re-introducing his habit of not finishing sentences properly, as well as arguing he should be cut some slack for the vertical challenges he faces compared to the giants around him, almost making Lord Sugar laugh, a task I can promise you is extremely difficult. He misses a trick however when Lord Sugar and Karren give him a lifeline. They highlight that Alex, a man with as much charisma as a shrivelled up dog turd, has spent the last two days cutting the crusts off a loaf of bread. Clearly Lord Sugar likes Edward as a person, and quite rightly respects his background with an ACA from a top four accountant practice, even if Edward does seem to loath this achievement himself. As such, if he had taken the rather obvious bait and brought Alex back in, I feel he would have saved himself, but instead he makes the remarkably frequent Apprentice mistake of ignoring all logic, and brings in Gavin, who’s only misgiving was to question his leadership.
After this point the result was obvious, and Edward can have no complaints that he was dismissed, given that he seemed intent to prove he was more than an accountant, and in the process betrayed all of the strengths that got him selected for the show in the first place. A great first week, a lot of serious business people it would seem, and a new format that has breathed fresh life into a tested formula. For Alex the bread cutter though, his card is clearly marked, as in my experience the wrong activity is better than no activity as far as Lord Sugar is concerned!
Week two review to follow!!