The Apprentice is back (for the ninth time). And yes, the dramatic music has become irritating rather than exciting, and we’re all a bit bored of hearing that Lord Sugar is a self-made businessman who succeeded without any qualifications, but the excellent London skylines plus the simultaneous arrogance and surprising incompetence of the competitors are still very enjoyable.
My favourite part of The Apprentice is the indisputably ‘creative’ (misguided, ridiculous and factually incorrect) ways in which candidates manage to praise themselves. The first episode in the series always provides some classics and this one was no exception. A couple of favourites: “I take inspiration from Napoleon, I am here to conquer”; “I am business perfection personified”; “I am prepared to fight to the death to become Lord Sugar’s business partner” (literally?) and lastly “I am prepared to do anything to win; cheating, manipulating, I will do it”. Sadly, the last one is probably the most honest. Perhaps my favourite statement actually came from Alan himself: “I’m not a man, I’m Lord Sugar” – professed when he mistakenly thought project manager Jaz’s expression ‘man’ was directed at him, rather than being a sign of general annoyance.
The task was a standard first episode – a boys versus girls sales challenge. Specifically, this meant staying up all night unloading a container in the docks full of items with absolutely no link to one another (water, toilet roll, cat litter, Chinese lucky cats) and then selling them at any location in London. With this in mind, it was quite amazing that one team decided the best place to sell Chinese cats would be in Chinatown. One team lost, one person got fired. Unfortunately, Lord Sugar was not very rude.
I always find it a bit hard to remember all the candidates in the first episode, as there are too many unfamiliar faces (sixteen) and everyone talks at once. As usual though, there’s one that’s even louder and more controlling than everyone else (Neil), one that’s academic and struggles to get their voice across (Jason), and one who actually seems pretty competent (Leah). There is also one who was correctly identified as resembling Dracula (Alex – it’s the eyebrows).
The Apprentice’s appeal is the same as it’s always been. I continue to enjoy watching arrogant people struggle, while thinking that I could do better than the competitors on these tasks, simply because I’ve watched them so often (#modesty). All in all, it’s still very watchable, despite having been on our screens for so long.