The Apprentice review: A recap of the new series of Lord Sugar’s show
Welcome to our weekly recap of the latest season of The Apprentice. We’ll be following the 18 young business people hoping to get an investment of £250,000 from Lord Sugar. But can the show keep things fresh after 17 seasons?
This week’s show’s rating: 2/5
There is something unbearably heavy about the prospect of a new series of The Apprentice. Tuning in to see this nightmare unfold yet again is like watching a battered old walrus drag itself back up the same beach year after year, ungraceful, wheezing, a shadow of its former self, the light in its eyes dimming a little more with each repetition. Soon the ocean will take it. Soon we will be free from this senseless dance.
“I’m the James Bond of the business world,” says one young hopeful, delivering the line with just enough self consciousness that it suggests a kidnapper may be been standing behind the camera, forcing him to read a prepared statement.
“I’m always getting compared to being the Kim Kardashian of business,” ventures another – a line as banal as it is obnoxious, so crushingly predictable that it can’t possibly have come from a script writer, which is a sobering thought.
Then we’re treated to several shots of Lord Sugar’s finger – in whose direction shall it be thrust today? Who wants my cash then, you slags?
The chatter before the release of this, the 17th series of the show, was that any veneer of it being about business has long since rubbed off, revealing the desperate reality TV show lurking beneath. This first episode does little to disprove that theory.
The casting process uses the same method as the police in Casablanca – round up the usual suspects! The result is 15 identikit gobshites, a couple of quiet ones who won’t last beyond episode four, and one adorable weirdo who may be the only human being among them, or may be an actual serial killer.
Like many a TV series that’s lost its way, the first episode takes the action abroad, dropping the 18 candidates in Antigua, where they must flog guided tours. Girls vs boys, same as it ever was.
Accompanying them are Claude Littner, the buzz-cutted attack dog whose demeanour is somewhere between an off duty copper and a doberman ashamed at itself for eating its own faeces; and Karren Brady, who spends all of her screen time reacting to innocuous statements as if a person standing beside her in a lift had just explosively soiled themselves.
This, indeed, is the real magic of The Apprentice. Someone says something – it could be anything, from “nice morning, isn’t it” to “I’m the James Bond of the business world” – then the camera cuts to a series of horrified reaction shots, the kind of expressions you might give to someone who had just casually dropped into conversation that they own a Bored Ape.
The boys were tasked with selling history tours, which they did reasonably well despite being oblivious to even the very basics of profit and loss. They somehow relied on the specialist subject of antiques expert and possible psychopath Gregory Ebbs, which is firing cannons. Did I mention there is a former “professional cannon firer” on the show? There is. Has be ever fired one of those cannons at a live victim? Given them a head-start of, say, 20 seconds before he takes his shot? Who’s to say?
The girls, meanwhile, squabbled like battery hens from dawn till dusk, trying to entice passersby to join them on a boat for an afternoon, which I would have paid the £135 asking price to have avoided.
The editors do their best to dangle the possibility of a bait-and-switch in the final moments, but it generally plays out exactly as you’d expect. The walrus ends up on the beach – it’s loud and aggressive and not very nice to look at.
Still, there is an undeniable tension when the action is brought back to Lord Sugar’s boardroom: which of these people you hate will you get to see doing a cry-walk with their little suitcase? I won’t ruin the surprise, but it’s no spoiler to say the biggest disappointment is that he didn’t fire them all, and himself.
• The Apprentice is on BBC iPlayer now; read about The Apprentice’s most ridiculous moments