The twenty boisterous candidates of this year’s The Apprentice made their television debut a couple of weeks ago, showcasing their business aptitude and proving themselves as a profitable investment for Lord Sugar. However, with drama and tension running high throughout, the candidate’s personalities outshone any skills relevant to winning the programme. The competition aspect of The Apprentice has always given the programme more substance than standard reality television, and the BBC categorizes it as both a ‘talent’ and ‘reality’ show – but is it now leaning more in the direction of the latter?
The advertising team has adopted a different approach for the tenth cycle of the programme, and it is significantly more satirical than previous years. Most notable is Matt Edmondson’s Meet The Candidates video, a short comedy sketch that features clips from the candidate’s auditions, clearly mocking the ostentatious personalities that the show attracts. Matt Edmondson has done entertaining spin-offs of The Apprentice in the past, but they have never been released before the show aired. The BBC seems to be pioneering mockery, making the candidates the focus of the show as opposed to the competition. Admittedly, this tactical change will be in response to audience feedback, but the show is feeding our celebrity obsessed culture and losing integrity as a talent show.
The first episode provided ample material for Edmondson style mockery. It was dramatic, sprinkled with bickering and entertaining fluster, with Alan Sugar’s renowned one-liners completing the show. The number of contestants has been increased from sixteen to twenty, making the first episode a competition for screen time. The camera focused on a couple of candidates in particular, those whose alternative attitudes would generate publicity and a reaction from the audience. Although entertaining, the show’s opening was rather Big Brother-esque, and not the foundation for a prestigious business talent competition.
Previous candidates have used the fame generated from the show to further, or even begin, their celebrity profile. Louisa Zissman was thrown into the public eye through The Apprentice, and received a lot of publicity and attention when rogue pictures of her were released whilst the show was on television. Subsequently, she pursued a career as a reality TV personality, posing for a number of lads’ magazines and signing up to Celebrity Big Brother last month. She has shown the show has the capability to do this, and when the contestants seem more concerned with cattiness than winning, it begs the question of whether an ulterior motive is often involved. And who can forget previous contestant Katie Hopkins and her numerous appearances on day time television? Her renowned gobby mouth has secured her her own column in The Sun.
The Apprentice is certainly leaning more towards the ‘reality’ genre of television, and can evidently act as a springboard into fame. The celebrity obsessed culture we are submerged in may mean we support this, and these changes in The Apprentice, albeit small, are significant. We have all witnessed the evolution of The X Factor, and The Apprentice is following suit.
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