When The Apprentice burst onto our screens seven series’ ago, it was a revelation. Watching wannabe entrepreneurs beg, borrow and steal to win a coveted spot working for Lord Sugar (or Sir Alan, as he was then known) was the highlight of the week’s TV. But years down the line, the formula is thin, the contestants are thick and the entire programme is just a bit of a shambles.
To be fair to the Beeb, they have tried to shake things up by changing the prize this year. Instead of becoming a member of Lord Sugar’s workforce, they will go into a ‘joint business partnership’ with the Amstrad creator. They will have to create their own new enterprise, receiving a cash injection of £250,000 in order to get them started.
But why this change has been made isn’t entirely clear. Of the many problems with the programme, the prize has never been the issue. The show is called The Apprentice – and yet they are no longer looking for one. And then there’s the contestants. Oh lord, the contestants. Where they find these dim-witted, arrogant nincompoops is truly beyond me. The sheer lack of common sense amongst them is astounding – particularly given the fact that most of them claim to have started their own business at 12/paid off their mum’s mortgage at 15/been taught enterprising skills by the Dalai Lama. None of them have the first clue about – well – anything, and the incompetence that dominates every episode makes for cringe worthy viewing.
I’ve been invested in The Apprentice since it began seven years ago, and to be sure, our relationship has had its rocky patches. I’m getting to that point, however, where I think it may be time to cut the cord. Each series recycles the same tasks, the same catchphrases and the same egos all dressed up a little differently, and it’s got to the point where they’ve tired the formula. There are so many highlights I can pick out from the first three series, but trying to even remember the candidates past that is near impossible.
The tasks are another of my big frustrations. Whilst the mobile phone application challenge set in Week 2 was original (for once!), the others are literally just repeating what we’ve seen before. Making food to sell at a market, locating a number of items from a list – it’s been done over and over and over again. How the contestants have failed to strategise beforehand what they would do when given tasks that have appeared in every single series beggars belief. Apparently having to look in a phonebook is challenge enough for these cretins.
The show has reached a stage now where it’s not even amusing when the candidates fall flat on their faces. The only saving grace is that Nick Hewer, Lord Sugar’s aide, is still lurking in the shadows offering hilarious critiques of their ridiculous shenanigans. I’m still waiting for at least one contestant to show the slightest hint of some business acumen, but with this current bunch, it’ll be a long time coming.