Welcome back to The Apprentice.
When the last series aired it was hard to find someone who hadn’t heard of Stuart ‘The Brand’ Baggs. Will this series generate a similar figure? We look at the first week to see…
After a delay induced by the elections last year, the Apprentice has once again returned to our screens to entertain and cringe in equal measures. Series 7 kicked off this week and was immediately back on form, with the initial opening sequence of quotes containing gems such as
“Don’t tell me the sky is the limit when there’s footsteps on the moon” (Melody Hossaini)
reminding viewers just how full of yourself you have to be to try and get on the programme.
This year there is a mild improvement from the last couple of series’. The changing of the prize from a six figure job to 50% stake in a £250,000 job was meant to have removed the random variety of previous jobs contestants had (e.g. in series 6 one contestant happily called himself unemployed, not a massive selling point in my eyes…), with many of the contestants in this series already successful in their own rights.
To start the series BBC have treated viewers with two episodes in one week. The opening episode is once again a basic selling challenge, this time a fruit and veg company with £250.
First amusing moment is the team names. As usual the traditional rubbish is trotted out, names like Agility, Logic and Venture batted around with barely a raised eyebrow. However a superb name, Leon-trepreneur, (get it?) was raised by a member of the boys team called….. Leon. I for one would have loved to have seen Lord Sugar’s reaction to that one!
As usual for The Apprentice, the task itself was watched in a state of constant amusement. It is often hard to not want to shout at the TV as they make stupid mistake after stupid mistake. However there are several moments of laugh out loud humour, such as Team leader Edward encouraging his team with “Lets make soup as if we’ve never made it before!” at which point his team tactfully reminded him that they hadn’t ever made it before anyway.
Once back in the boardroom it was obvious that Lord Sugar was ready with all one-liners, such as “we’ve heard the melody now’s time for the chorus”. And the heart warming moments as contestants happily stab each other in the back. One excuse heard on Tuesday night why a contestant shouldn’t be fired was that they were “the shortest contestant there”. Yep that’s right, they were trying to claim their small stature should save them. With the dreaded finger being pointed it was the end of the first episode, luckily there wasn’t too long to wait as the second episode was aired Wednesday.
After a brief recap of the stupidity experienced yesterday it was immediately onto the next task. It was the first sight of early morning contestants and resulted in a view of Tom Pellereau answering the door looking like he had slept in his suit, accentuated by the fact he had to wake up the other contestants!The new task was announced where the teams must wade into the market of that known by any student bored in a lecture, APPS!!
Initial comic moments came in the cars to designers, with the boys coming up with app related jokes such as ‘app-solutely fantastic challenge’ being met with raucous laughter (they’re inventive in the boys team) before a fantastic fail of a joke; ‘did you have an app-le’ which fell flat as a pancake. You almost wanted producers to add the desolate space sound to the backing track to make the humiliation complete.
Both teams then designed their apps, both opting for soundboard ideas. The boys being offensive to anyone that wasn’t English and the girls creating an app that I still don’t quite have a clue what it was (and neither did any of my housemates). Nick even waded in, announcing he was ‘perplexed, maybe i’m too old to understand’ in the driest of humours that he is so well renowned for.
In pitches to large internet magazines we saw the first freeze of the series, as “ladies man” Vincent Disneur was full of bravado to the camera before entering the room… and proceeded to panic and freeze within about 30 seconds of starting the pitch. The girls fared little better, attempting to praise a magazine about their 37,000 unique monthly visitors, only to be told coldly that the correct visitor numbers was in fact much closer to 1.7 million. An awkward silence understandably followed.
Team Venture project manager Edna Agbarha talked to a room of bloggers and gamers around half her age, wearing leather gloves like a dominatrix and talking down to her audience as though they would love an app to play practical jokes…. (Seriously who does that?) and Team Logic went to the other extreme and tried to bribe people into downloading by giving donuts to the first 50 downloaders.
After another golden boardroom section, with back-stabbing here there and everywhere from both winners and losers, a superb backtracking moment on who to bring into the boardroom and a Lord Sugar quote in ‘cautious carols’ it was the end of the episode.
Next week is possibly mine and my housemates favourite type of task, the scavenger hunt, always inducing fantastic moments of cringe inducing TV when contestants often look completely ridiculous to the viewer without being aware, as well as giving Lord Sugar’s sidekicks the perfect opportunity for dry sarcastic observations which make the show so watchable.
At the moment the series doesn’t look like it quite has a Stuart Baggs figure, a couple of characters are starting to grate (does Melody speak that ridiculously on purpose?) but as a concept, the attempt by the BBC and Lord Sugar to make it less ridiculous and more business based seems to be paying off right now, if only in making me think, ‘I could bloody do that, a million times better as well!!’