It’s time to fire The Apprentice (Thursdays, BBC One, 9pm). I still like the show, it still gets laughs – but it’s been going so long that the format has lost credibility. It no longer even tries to pretend to be a serious competition. It’s a sitcom.
There’s Karthik Nagesan, this season’s face of capitalism made all the more unacceptable by a unibrow. You just know that he owns a signed copy of Donald Trump’s Art of the Deal. Jessica Cunningham has an unhinged laugh that says: “I’m doing fine. I’m living in my car, but I’m doing fine.” Courtney Wood probably thinks he’s the best-looking member of the cast because his mother told him so. Glaswegian Natalie Hughes was sacked in week two and asked who, if anyone, she liked. She replied: “I didnae learn all their names.” She also said that she’d never actually watched the show and was on the verge of jumping before she was pushed.
Does this explain why every task goes wrong? Have none of the contestants ever seen The Apprentice before? After watching the show for more than a decade, most of us have figured out that when you make an ad about jeans you should remember to mention the jeans – or when selling a priceless vase not to open negotiations with “How much do you think it’s worth?” But time after time, season after season, these are the elementary mistakes that they make. The boasts (“Everything I touch turns to sold”) are no longer funny, they’re sad. And the business plans (“I want to bring squid farming to the mass market”) just desperate. Maybe capitalism is imperilled because we’re now overeducated but under-skilled. Jargon has replaced common sense.
Not that I can talk. I wouldn’t make it past week one because I ain’t getting up at five in the morning to get shouted at by Lord Sugar in a car park. Idea for a programme: The Apprentice vs Collective Action. Candidates have to win decent hours and a pay rise from Lord Sugar by forming a union. And if he dares fire anyone, I’m calling a strike. I’ll see you on the picket line, comrades.
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