The Apprentice (UK): General Review

Another experimental Pick! Let’s see how it goes!

This week was fairly dull in regards to my free-time. Most of it has been spent learning lines for The Crucible or doing university preparation. The joys of my last year of school. Anyway, while I did revisit the whimsical The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and watch WW2 epic The Bridge on the River Kwai, none of these really took my interest enough to review them.

So in a single moment of genius, as I absent-mindedly stirred gravy for my Sunday Roast, I decided on a wild-card for my review.

Before I go on, two things. One, I’m reviewing the UK version and not any of the others, and I’m not focusing on a particular season, although I might run parallels to the most recent. All clear? Good! Let’s get hiring!The Apprentice is a reality TV show based around twelve contestants, all battling to become Lord Alan Sugar’s business partner (pictured above). Each week, they are put into two teams, electing a project-manager to complete a particular business-related task. Whichever team wins, usually down to the highest number of sales or profit, are through to the next round, receiving a treat. The team who do not win, return to Lord Alan Sugar, who asks the project manager to bring back two people who “are responsible for the failure of the task”. Between these three people, one (or in some cases more) person is fired.

In the first few series, the prize was a chance to work within one of Lord Sugar’s businesses, but that’s now been changed, so that each contestant now has a business plan, which Lord Sugar will invest in at the end of the season.

Despite sounding like you’re watching a business meeting, The Apprentice actually is a very interesting watch. Let’s start with the contestants:

When the series starts, you already get an idea on who you like and hate. That adds to the tension when the teams return to the boardroom. At this point, you and your family should commence screaming at the television violently, labelling the contestant who didn’t listen to the focus group as the Anti-Christ.

Rule number one of The ApprenticeALWAYS LISTEN TO THE FOCUS GROUP!

You can see these are real people on the show. If Lord Sugar tells a contestant to get their act together, you don’t know whether they’ll become goody-two-shoes or stay the stubborn grump they are. Most of the people are generally the latter, granted, but there are a few that are nice… they are usually the ones who are fired.

One of the problems I see is that there is a lot of focus on the (I want to say negative) ruthless values that an entrepreneur needs. In the end, it is all for the job, so don’t be surprised when your favourite gets fired. It’s all business.

The tasks have become more interesting in the current season. Usually, the tasks are very focused on sales: make a product and sell it, sell these items within the time limit, create a market stall and sell. However, I’m growing more fond of the new tasks. One made the contestants make a YouTube account and see who gets the most views (linking it to advertising revenue). Another had them to make a coach tour and one which took them to New York to advertise their own soft drink. The ideas are stepping up, and are proving to be difficult for the contestants to handle.

One of the things you have to be aware of in The Apprentice is the editing. I get the impression that there is heavy editing to make situations seem over-dramatised, making the boardroom scenes seem more tense or making contestants look like they have the IQ of the people who thought a solar-powered jacket would be a good product. Yeah, that happened.

Lord Sugar makes the programme in the end. You see him at the start of the task, explaining to the contestants why he got them up at four in the morning to go to a cactus farm:

“Yes, well. Cactuses are usually found in deserts, where it is very hot. So that’s why I want you to make your very own hot-dog stand.”

Ok, that didn’t happen, but you get the gist. In the end, it’s him in the boardroom where his talons show. Using witty articulation as he abuses the contestants on their CVs and performance makes for good entertainment. Is it horrible for the contestants? Yes. Is it morally questionable? Most likely. Is it fun to watch? Ohhh, you bet their overpriced suits it is!

I would suggest at least watching one season of The Apprentice if you can. It’s one of those shows you can watch any season and have fun with it. Each season is twelve episodes long, with twelve contestants (until the horror of the twelve in Season Ten where another eight join the fray) and all hold their own interesting episodes. From Stuart Baggs “The Brand” to Emergency-Biscuit, they will make you laugh and cringe at the same time… that doesn’t sound like a pleasant image to have on your Wednesday night, but at least it’s something for you to do. I mean, you’re reading this post, so you must be pretty desperate.

Episodes are every Wednesday on BBC One, usually on during the summer (this season was set back due to the FIFA World Cup). In the end, The Apprentice is a very unique show that portrays an unseen world of business, and one that you will probably not find anywhere else… except for the hundreds of other shows from The Apprentice franchise. For once, we stole the TV show off the USA.