“ Genre: Television - The Apprentice / Theatrical Release: 2004 / Actors: Sandy Ferreira, Kevin Allen (VI), Kendra Todd, Ivana Ma, Maria Boren ... / DVD released 2004-08-24 at Universal Studios / Features of the DVD: Box set, Colour, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC „
Long before the BBC asked a certain Suurrr (ok Lord) Alan to get involved, the Apprentice format was already making big waves in the USA.
Unfortunately, those whacky folk at the BBC decided to schedule the most recent re-runs at the less than ideal time of 11.15pm on a Monday night. As they were showing 2 episodes at a time, this meant a work night finish of 12.45am. Testimony to my quickly established levels of addiction that I ended up watching every single one.
For anybody unfamiliar with the format. Essentially it represents an extremely tough 13 week interview process, where week by week two teams of candidates take on a series of heavy duty business challenges, and at the end of each episode one or more unfortunates from the losing team are unceremoniously fired and removed from the proceedings. The prize is a premium job with Property developing Tycoon extraordinaire (or is that hair) Mr Donald Trump.
Another common denominator between both shows in the UK and US is the remarkable propensity of the contenders to come out with some appallingly poor attempts at their own brand of business wisdom.
To give you a taste of what's in store, after a particularly spectacular failure the project manager came up with this classic desperately looking for the positives load of nonsense in the highest traditions of the show.
"I think we did a great job rowing together, just not sure we did it in the right direction, or that we had the right boat or even the right oars!"
But there are so many other appealing features of the US version.
~~~~The Trump Card~~~
I find myself constantly mesmerized by the Trump flick over, his blond tinged hair carefully swept across his head.
Mr Trump doesn't also always seem highly in tune with the real world. When the subject of being gay comes up, his attempt at positive enforcement falls perhaps a little off message "I guess you don't find these lovely two ladies attractive, that's why they have menus in restaurant - it's a great world!"
In one episode where one of the teams achieved the classic "miss the point entirely" during a selling task. Mr Trump wasn't having any of it. Rather than letting the losing project manager pick two for the boardroom and all those niceties, he brings the whole team back in.
He lets a couple go, and then as the remaining four desperately bicker between themselves he just waves the finger and fires the lot of them - classic!
What's also very different is the way they pick on something being depicted in the show like "get to the point" and we get a sort of mini business advice trailer from Mr Trump himself - somehow I can't imagine Sir Alan sharing his pearls of business wisdom like that, but then again in many aspects he does show similar traits.
He just wants quick decisions, no messing around and he certainly doesn't have any time for unnecessary waffle.
~~~~Selling the dream~~~~
I love the fact that they call their teams - "Corporations". Definitely a case of Vice President syndrome creeping in - everybody thinks big and it's all about following the American Capitalist Dream to the extreme.
As if to underline the importance of being seen to reflect democratic principles, each week the winning team gets to vote whether or not to grant an exemption to the project manager.
I love the catchy theme tune and the title sequence is like something out of Dallas or Dynasty with them all flashing their million dollar wannabee smiles atop a display of market indices.
Another contrast from the British version is the high standard of presenting confidence that exudes from the majority of the candidates. Yet rest assured, there are still all those searingly awkward moments for all to see .
The inquest for the losing team is certainly not held in a backstreet café. It's all in "Trumpton" hotel, with all those dark-woods and deep red carpeting making it feel like you are stranded in Marriott Hotel country.
Unlike the Nick and Margaret permanent fixtures, Trumps team seems fairly interchangeable. There's old George, Caroline , Bill , even Donald's son and daughter Donald and Ivanka occasionally make an appearance.
I love the final sequences when they are whisked away in a big yellow taxi - The oh so subtle "Yahoo hot jobs" neon pink advertising board on the top just makes it for me.
Just before they go in to the boardroom for the final showdowns, the collective of the Trump national percussion orchestra fire into frenzied overdrive working the triangle and the timpani to dramatic perfection.
~~~~The Live final~~~~
As you would expect everything is just that bit grander scale for the US version of the final showdown. No extra moderator required here (sorry Chilesy), it's Trump, centre stage, directing proceedings in a giant theatre.
Another difference over the UK version is that he hasn't yet made the final decision and he does it live in front of the audience and the watching TV millions. Pure class.
I heartily recommend the DVD - taking you back to the very first series - I admit I only rented it - but well worth a look!