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The Apprentice (3) – A Cause Without a Rebel

Copped Out


The Apprentice (3) – A Cause Without a Rebel

That intelligent, successful young people check in their brains on entering The Apprentice and pick them up on the way out is so clear that we are no longer surprised by it. More disturbing is that most leave behind their pride, their self-respect and any sense of fair play, self-knowledge or ethics. That the producers of the show promote and provoke this modestly corrupting process is no excuse: or does the £200K end justify any means? Is slagging off your fellow team members, shifting blame anywhere you can, evading responsibility, what the unspeakable Claud Littner, acolyte and apologist for Lord ‘Barley’ Sugar, would call being ‘tough enough’ to succeed in business?

Although not an unconditional rule, even Primary School children and siblings in good families learn that you do not ‘snitch’ on your mates. Part of growing up is to develop one’s own understanding of the exceptions to this rule: which makes the weekly, weakly unseemly ‘it wasn’t me guv’, ‘sack him/her guv’, don’t sack me cos my Mum’s got a wooden leg’ psychodrama in the worst boardroom on the planet, a process now drained of its unintentional, witless as we may say, humour. If the Apprentices had been on the Titanic they would have thrown all the people overboard first and then still be arguing about the lifeboats as they sunk beneath the waves.

Apart from the tense moment when, as he later put it, his ‘heart dropped into his hand’ (wrong organ, right limb) Ricky ‘Vida Loca’* Martin’s boardroom performance was right down there with other sneaky bests. The tone of this process, driven by the wishes of the producers and Barley’s natural instincts, was set when ‘loadsa-it’s-my-money’ asked “who’s the waste of space in this team then?” Is even £200K really worth being obsequious, obedient and the regular butt of gratuitous insult and vindictive sarcasm by Baron Barrow Boy?

A perfect opportunity for rebellion this week: when Nick, Jade and Gabrielle were asked to pitch their Chutney to buyers of an up-market Delicatessen, for the first time in history as their listeners proclaimed, without a product to show them: someone should have said ‘no! – comedy has now become farce.’ But no, this carefully orchestrated con went ahead so we could all have a laugh. At least they didn’t take the piss as the royal hatter did by offering a 1p discount to earlier negotiating genii.

Whatever one’s attitude to snobbishness sellers can’t be choosers and I cannot help but wonder what the chances are of selling to a posh deli with a negotiating line of “what if we was to meet you in the middle?” This from “I’m better than unique” firee Michael who self-confessedly wasn’t tough enough and needed to be ‘more tougher.’ Rightly or wrongly, but predictably, virtually zero trade sales ensued.

To be fair to perhaps the least interesting bunch of Apprentices in 8 series were set up to fail on this faintly ludicrous, totally unrealistic task. What reputable food retailer is going to buy products whose provenance they don’t know? How were the Apprentices supposed to concoct, under ludicrously short time constraints, a sample with label, misspelt or not; and presumably no details of food or energy values, storage advice, sell-by etc etc? No retailer would buy it and nor, I suspect, without the BBC cameras around, would anyone in the street.

The message is typically Sugarist: never mind the product, any crap will do, just get it out there and sell. Good salesmen are those who can sell crap products at inflated prices. As a degraded concept of business this takes some beating. It’s a good thing the Apprentices have parked their intelligence and consciences to take part.

It’s hard to like Katie and apparently no one does, but she did most things right this week especially in the Apprentice meta-tactics which can be summarised as ‘sod the task, how do I win the show?’ Wisely staying completely away from the inevitable disaster of production by delegating it to ‘Dick’ Martin Special Agent, when confronted with the inevitable screw up of half the product required, she rightly changed tack, set up the Trade sellers to fail with unrealistic wholesale prices, and flogged what she’d got retail. If she survives the general hostility for another couple of weeks, she might win it. She’d drive Barley nuts – so go Katie!

Stephen is a salutary warning about becoming a salesman: having come up with the to say the least Delphic InFusion as a name for chutney, he became so enamoured with his own genius that he told us all ‘this name is going to win for us’. Bugger the product – get the marketing right: this guy would get on well with the Good lord! Mercifully Jenna didn’t have much today this week so I didn’t have to turn the sound down. Gabrielle continues to enthuse in a jolly-hockeysticks kind of way. Lady Macbeth McEvoy is just waiting to shiv someone when the time is right and advantage looms. Adam is such a naive unreconstructed, unwitting chauvinist that he could find himself speyed and used as a doorstop in Katie’s flat. Duane Bryan suffers from the curse of two first names but did provide one of the moments of the week when he tried to tough out tasting the toxic, paint-stripper that was their first batch of In-Fusion only to virtually expire in spasms of uncontrolled coughing.

In a less than fun week I suppose the best comments do sum up my ‘brains-in-the-cloakroom’ thesis: McBeth McEvoy in a moment of dazzling insight suggesting the revolutionary chutney thought “perhaps we ought to taste it”; and morose Mike struggling to play a game he shouldn’t have tried to join in with, haplessly trying to blame Katie because she didn’t tell them to “make as much as you can”.

No contest Mike: when this smooth piece of work says she can manipulate men – she’s not kidding.

* crazy life

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