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The Apprentice (2) – Discovering the Bin


I'm just a girl named Maria - say it loud.....



The Apprentice (2) – Discovering the Bin

I’ve never believed the claim that if you give an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters an infinite amount of time they will produce the works of Shakespeare. However measured against the likelihood of this year’s batch of apprentices coming up with a worthwhile idea that can be turned into a worthwhile product someone will want to buy – my money’s on the monkeys.

Team Sterling – or the Fatuous Few laboured long and hard, pondered prettily and managed to come up with two products each about as useful as a chocolate frying pan. As Hugh Dennis laconically observed on You’re Fired, a 100% ecologically sound, technologically simple device to prevent getting an ear’ole full of bath-tap is to lie the other way round in the bath. Sorted. Perhaps for ex-Apprentices, G. W. Bush and judging by this week, Francis Maude and George Osborne, the FF should have gone for waterproof stickers for the bath reading ‘head end’ and ‘feet end’.

It was priceless to see these at times feral-seeming coiffy, groomy girls misapply their intelligence earnestly discussing the ‘technical’ difficulties of the ‘tap-cosy’ instead of realising its utter pointlessness: unless of course they have more exotic sex-lives than most of us and need to facilitate a ‘head-at-both-ends’ bathing configuration. In that case the range could include waterproof handcuffs, face-mask and submersible leg-irons. Not sure Mothercare would be the best retailer to pitch to though.

The splash-screen definitely had the edge: for whereas the Tap-cosy was just stupid; the splash screen was stupid and cheap. As last week’s show proved this can be a winning combination, especially where the buying public are concerned, but this utterly useless piece of bendy plastic looked as Hugh Dennis pointed out on YF, like a child’s riot shield. If Amazon did indeed place an ‘order’ of 7,500 for this tat I’m gonna send my Kindle back before it falls to bits.

I hope you’re seething ladies: the F(emale)FF are busily confirming all the worst chauvinist assumptions about women in business: can’t work together without bitching; foolishly trying to be alpha-males instead of alpha-females; are hopeless without men on the team; and of course are all crap at maths. It is perhaps indicative of the decline of The Apprentice franchise that a woman with some common sense and graciousness was fired in the first week. This week’s exitee ‘gobby’ Maria O’Connor, appearing on YF clad in what looked like a re-enforced concrete pelmet, captured the spirit of the class of 2012 – “if I can’t get my way – I just can’t be arsed.” Methinks the contestants are revolting.

If only Phoenix – or The Cretinous Crew, were any better. Abrasive rubber gloves were booted into touch by the Eco-Composter which ticked all the boxes of modern manufacturing: doesn’t work, stunningly pointless – but looks absolutely great. If they can only escape the clutches of the patent-holders for the Cafetiere, the soft-hearted buyers of 13,500 of these little gems may be able to flog them off as executive, desk-top wine presses. Recalling Muhammad Ali: these guys think like butterflies and sting like butterflies.

This week’s show was very much a low point from a programme with more than its share of them. We expect Apprentices to do stupid things, that after all is why they are selected, and how they are manipulated to behave; but they are not supposed to do stupid things boringly: that draws attention to the fact that Emperor Baron ‘Barley’ Sugar actually has no convincing business clothes. ‘BOOBS’ management (Bowing Obeisance and Obedience to Baron Sugar) was strongly in evidence this week with our Little Emperor addressing his would-be acolytes from on high on a balcony at the V&A. The Jimmy Cagney of the Mile End Road – “Made it Ma – top of the world!” (White Heat – 1949).

These young people so far aren’t just bad at what they are supposed to be good at – they are excruciatingly, embarrassingly bad. Trying to pitch a first order of 1m units with a company you don’t know and which doesn’t know you is almost a definition of fatuous. When you don’t know the RRP or the cost price and can’t multiply the difference it’s less than impressive to refer the question to your ‘financial team’ who return glazed stares as if they had been asked to solve Fermatt’s last theorem without pen or paper. The looks on the faces of the professional buyers in response to both teams were a picture: a non-plussed blend of astonishment and disbelief.

The dire nature of the main programme has left You’re Fired with no option but to take the piss out of it. YF is far more entertaining now than the show it feeds off, which is soon going to be beyond mockery or parody.

Biggest disappointment this week was next week’s trail: I thought the task was to come up with a new type of condom – which offered a cornucopia of potential riches. Condiments simply do not have the same richness of comic possibilities.

And someone really should remove that dead rat from Nick Hewer’s lap: his nose is going to get wrinkle-fatigue.


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