The Apprentice Steps Up To The Plate

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Autumnal television is usually dominated by two catchphrases: “Keeeeep dancing!” and “It’s time. To face. The music.” But now, the truly killer slogan--“You’re fired”--has elbowed its way into the schedules. Lord Sugar’s role in the Labour government meant that BBC concerns about impartiality during the general election delayed transmission of The Apprentice. And we hadn’t realised just how much we’d missed “the job interview from hell.”

The levels of delusional self-belief among the candidates are still pleasingly high, as are the ludicrous quotes: “Everything I touch turns to sold,” “Where’s my glass ceiling? I don’t have one” and the highly dubious “My first word wasn’t mummy, it was money.”

The stunning aerial shots of London are all present and correct, as is Frances, the receptionist. Lord Alan’s silent assassin Nick Hewer is still there, narrowing his eyes and coming out with killer lines: “Now I know what pecking order means--they’re all pecking at each other.” Karren Brady also seems to be a strong replacement for fan favourite Margaret Mountford, who impressively quit TV for academia.

The task: to produce and then sell sausages, sounded simple. But kicking off at midnight and working until the afternoon quickly ramped up the tension. The ‘girls’ team, Apollo, decided on their name quickly, and mostly co-operated in a focused manner. (Apart from tension between team leader Joanna and our early favourite, feisty blonde Melissa). They were also responsible for one of our favourite quotes, when selling chicken sausages to a chef:

Chef: “What breed of chicken is it?”
Apollo: “Free range.”

The ‘boys’ took forever to decide on a team name--Synergy--and team leader. Their interactions were aggressive and testosterone-fuelled, with the phrase “smacked it” being bandied about with disturbing regularity. They made a profit, but gratifyingly (for the viewers) lost the task by a £15 margin. Horrendous team leader Dan thankfully kept his promise not to go in to the boardroom with his balls on the table.

We thoroughly enjoyed Lord Sugar telling him to sit up, and the sight of Stuart and Alex ganging up on him. We were worried he’d be kept in for television purposes, but sanity prevailed and Dan was given his marching orders.

Going from Sir to Lord hasn’t dampened Alan Sugar’s grizzly bear act, or his penchant for terrible jokes. “On paper you all look good. But then again, so does fish and chips.” (Cue sycophantic tittering from the candidates). The thoroughbred of reality TV beasts is back, and we couldn’t be happier.

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