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On the week The Young Apprentice is launched we see yet another one of Sir Alan's previous senior Apprentice winners has left his employ, the blonde 2010 winner complaining in the press that she never had a defined job at his company and felt like a spare part. Considering how many 'tools' you get on the show she could have been tucked away in the same components tray in the factory. The question now is if Sir Alan is such a good head-hunter for talent with his 14 week televised interviews then why have seven of his eight apprentices left his employ? Time to get the management consultants into Sugar Enterprises me thinks. I'm afraid you have no real idea how to treat or employ staff sir!
But, of course, it is just a TV show and employing some pleb for a year on a six figure salary will see Sir Alan get that money back five times over through media work through that exaggerated and contrived publicity. The old East End boy is even having plastic surgery to stay young and telly friendly to keep The Apprentice job going, the show clearly as tired and worn as his 'canister'(cock-e-ney slang for face) these days.
He is now rather pompously addressed by the contestants as 'Lord Sugar' instead of 'Sir Alan' as he tries to build his grandiose. To keep the media work coming he and his production team have created the hybrid called The Young Apprentice, which was Junior Apprentice last year but the name changed to something slightly more mature so the men at home don't feel guilty ogling the 16-year-old entrepreneurs. They are another precocious lot this year and clearly coached by the production team to ape the grown up contestant by wearing oversized suits and delivering cheesy sound bites on their business skills. The older readers should think 'Minipops'! We have also lost the Comic Relief aspect and so unclear of the motives here.
The first task was for the kids to develop, make and sell a frozen food product, a typical task you see in the grown up show. The boys lost the task even though the girls couldn't do their maths. Little wise guy Mohammed was the first to be evicted, his selling style of ice cream on Southend seafront equal to that of the scallies in Hackney. In fact his over-sized shiny suite and chunky gold watch looked like he had picked those up for nothing on Tottenham high street last summer. Mohammed was the youngest boy in the show and way out of his depth, only cast to be a comic turn. The girl's prize for wining was a days 'Zorbing', being rolled down a hill in a plastic ball until you puke. The girl's brutal winning strategy included charging customers a separate 20p for the ice cream cone! Alan's eyebrows loved that scam.
The kids are aged between 15-20 this time and mostly middle-class and some well spoken. Cocky Scouser Lewis Roman is not posh in any way and stepped up to be team captain in week two, the task to create baby hygiene products.
Brash British Nigerian Gbembi Okunlola captained the girls although none of her team would be single parents any day soon. In keeping with the controversial adoption debate going on in the national press the girls product advertising had a baby that wasn't the same colour of either of the parents, backing up their dim credentials by inquiring if babies need to change their nappies every time the babies do a poo or a wee?
There are two Harrys and two James on the boy's team, all officer material, but a second defeat in the row for the boys. The girls won the chance to learn street dance with Ashley from Diversity whilst the boys went to that empty cafe. Ben was fired for the boys, a quiet chubby faced Brummie not grasping the shows ideals of being entertaining to stay on the show. Harry 2 is the arrogant toff and the star of the show so far.
Week three and the task is again suspiciously female orientated, this time to design and sell flower displays to corporate customers. Sir Alan mixed up the girls with the boys for new teams and off they went to central London. The social class barriers between the groups are rubbing together nicely now like rutting stags and the posh boys and girls raising their voices to express that breeding. The team captained by a girl won again, but only by 12 quid, but the losing team also captained by a girl, Alan's plan to level things up. The prize was a slap up chocolate meal at Fortnum & Masons but for likeable Hannah it was game over, the two public school boys and girls either side of her in the boardroom straightening their backs and posture and seeing her off. The haughty Harry is being kept in the show just to stir it up.
As far as entertainment goes there s no doubt the whole Apprentice thing is watchable but for all the wrong reasons. For kids that are supposed to be bright we are not seeing that. They may have a will to do well in life but they are only on the show because they are precocious and irritating and so we want them to fail. We have to then ask if this exercise is purely about humiliating kids, again making Sugar look uncouth to be involved with it. Without that Comic Relief tag it feels cynical.
'Shorty' Sir Alan Sugar (he is 5, 5") is beginning to cut a rather sad figure in his big chair and when the more entertaining Margaret Mountford was cut for being too old, so SAS could be flanked by sexy young totty in the conniving and nefarious Karen Brady, I think the show crossed over into mainstream bland and exploitative television territory, why it flipped from BBC2 to BBC1. Like the X-Factor and Big Brother the contestants are clued up on what to do to progress in the show and none of those ideals are to do with making money or business, just slag the other contestants off and then deploy your back story card, like the Joker in It's a Knockout. These formats are dead in the water now and being flogged to squeeze the lost drop of cash out of them. If Sir Alan is so bloody good at business then go fix the Euro! I can't think of a boss I would least like to work for, an angry, irritable short man who bullies people and needs to be admired to hide his height and personality deficiencies...