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The Apprentice Episode 1 – the circus comes to town

The Tinker

The Apprentice Episode 1 – the circus comes to town

After she’s got over an ear-bending from the owners of The Dragons’ franchise elsewhere on the Beeb, for plagiarising their format, the Producer of the Apprentice must be spitting blood. Doesn’t the Good Lord! Sugarlump get it yet? We schadenfreudians, devoted, long-serving crew of the Apprentice-Ship, know as Little Al should by now, that entertainment-wise the MG’s (Mouthy Gits) always give better value than the UMOA’s (Up-My-Own-Arsers). In that expression just made for the show – it was a no-brainer. Li’l Al how could you! And poor old ‘Roll-With-The-Punches’ Ed Hunter got chopped off at his already disturbingly, to him, low-flying knees before he’d even warmed up. Came up short as we might say. Bad thinking too m’lord: here was the perfect candidate to stand next to you in the photoshoots without lowering the angle. As decisions go – this was pretty short-sighted I’d say. Oh God – Shortism’s a bit like the ‘don’t think about a pink elephant’ psychological game.

It really is most frustrating: Li’l Ed promised to be a real prospect to be measured against the giants of the past; Stuey Baggs-I-First or Bigmouth Ben I-Went-To-Sandhurst Clarke. But even these two past stars in Galaxy Apprentice did manage to convey their obnoxiousness in complete sentences. I can understand that Li’l Al got frustrated trying to construct a meaningful utterance from the sparse, single-word clues Hunter Ed offered him. But what potential this double act had: in a dialogue reminiscent of the classic Two Ronnies Mastermind sketch where Corbett’s answers matched the question before, not the one just asked; Little Game Hunter’s Delphic non-sequiturs had the nation and Li’l Al struggling to get even an inkling of what the f**k he was trying to say.

I’m surprised Al was surprised that Accountant Ed couldn’t add up: I shared a flat a few years back with a succession of accountants and not one of them could score a game of darts. As life-skills go, pretty indispensible I’d say. In fact the clue to unlocking the code of Ed’s twitspeak was simple: just imagine that every question he was asked was prefaced with “as you’re a boring, weedy accountant……” Then “broke the mould” “it’s all there” et al make perfect sense. Realising perhaps that he’d made a bum decision, Al tossed Ed a bone of comfort at the end saying he really shouldn’t feel bad about being an accountant. He could have added, but didn’t, that it could have been worse, he might have become an Actuary i.e. someone who finds Accountancy too exciting.

Sorry to go on about it but I think we have been denied one of the great MG’s: I mean “is this an orange?” and “when I was producing, that was production” promised so much. And it’s astonishing Al didn’t appreciate Ed’s penetrating business insight that the dazzling light of his entrepreneurship was fatally handicapped by his being not just the youngest, but the shortest. RIP ED.

Moving on: we really do have some great UMOA’s in this year’s crop. And some of the SSBS’s (Sweetly Smiling Back-Stabbers) are also full of promise. Connoisseurs of the show will know that SSBS’s on The Apprentice are usually girls; and fellow sexists will not be surprised to find that this apparently natural law is further reinforced this year. Thus when the egoist-unchained Melody was being over-praised for her Project Management skills, budding SSBS Susan Ma got in a few very promising trial knife-thrusts to the back. Watch this one girls: no really, watch her, don’t turn your back in the shower.

It always takes a while when assessing a new crop of Apps for some of them to let their true colours be seen. So what follows must of course be provisional and based upon first impressions. As a mere male I am not the best guide on this but Grouchy Glen Ward might be this years LEC – Ladies Eye-Candy. He even managed to ask an intelligent, useful question in the usual undisciplined verbal brawl that is known in the Apprentice as a team talk. Mind you GG – the innate magisterial authority your question deserved is going to be enhanced if you don’t, like a novice member of the Question Time audience, hold your hand up for 5 minutes before you ask it; and leave it up while you’re asking it. I know, it’s early days for such specialist advice but in Apprentice-world you’re never too young to start. Unless your name is Ed.

If GG might be this year’s LEC, Monsieur Vincent Disneur believes he is. With a chat-up style oilier than the Gulf of Mexico, Vince, or should it be Vaaannss – the jury’s out, did give us cynical guys a moment to relish this week. Looking as if she was sucking a mouthful of “are these lemons?” Karen Hardy couldn’t conceal her contempt for the sheepy city girls lapping up Vincey’s banana oil. Don’t fret KH: being f**ckwits is gender neutral; plenty of guys, even Presidents are just as dumb.

Of the Girls, Zoe, Natasha and Felicity are playing the Fibinacci opening for the show: say bugger all, do bugger all and keep your head down. Elegant, swan-necked Helen Louise Milligan looks either imperiously above all this unbecoming scramble for attention; or as if she will be better once the poker is removed from the indelicate part of her anatomy up which it appears to have become lodged.

I don’t know about the rest of you but Edna scares the sh*t out of me: definitely not of the “come in lets have a nice chat” style of HR managers; more the “clear your desk, your P45’s in the post. And do stop snivelling” school. Ellie is as Ellie does and in that endearing way Northern lasses often have, looks as if she’s going to smack someone round the head when they do something daft.

Of the guys Alex Britez Cabral is probably still wishing his dad had given him a break and named him ‘Sue’. But perhaps Britez will be as Mr Britass does. Should be fun. Tom’s impersonation of a young Jean Luc Godard promises much in the creativity department: less in the squeezing oranges side of life. Gavin Winstanley sounds as if he should be defending the Khyber Pass but couldn’t grasp the complex business concept that cleaning out the sales area was better achieved by selling the food than washing the van. Jim ‘Jimmy’ Eastwood looks likely: steady, strong-willed, determined. Probably takes after his Granddad Clint. Leon looks permanently bemused: not so much at having been randomly dragged in to the Boardroom in Ep1; but as if he thought he’d auditioned for Strictly Come Dancing. Cowering back in his seat at the towering, er…glowering presence of the Good Lord! Sugar one could almost hear him whimper – “that’s not Bruce Forsyth”.

And so the circus moves on the Ep2. Double bubble this year – successive Knights, sorry nights.

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