The Apprentice – As ruthless as ever?

It’s that time of year again. Back for its twelfth series, eighteen business tycoons are suiting up to battle it out for the chance to win a £250,000 investment from Lord Sugar, and, as ever, this year’s contestants aren’t exactly shy and retiring…

“I’m going to be the prime minister of the UK one day, but before that I’m going to be a millionaire” was the bold claim made by IT consultant Karthik, the same man who is also filmed walking past a mirror mouthing ‘‘I love you’’ at his own reflection. Karthik isn’t the only one brimming with confidence. 32-year-old ex-karate champion, Frances, provided some competition when it came to embarrassing himself in the form of one sentence, as he compared his energy to a nuclear explosion, which is, in itself, pretty terrifying.

Having invested £1.25 million in winners of the show since the change in format in 2011, Lord Sugar is clearly keen to add another successful business to his collection. As always, he won’t be messed around and his horrifically bad humour was on point as he asked for all moaners to send all their complaints to ‘lordsugar@idon’’.

Week one kicked off with the aspiring entrepreneurs being separated into boys vs. girls, becoming ‘The Titans’ vs ‘Nebular’. 38-year-old Aleksandra, who came up with the unique girls team name, is quick to insist that ‘Nebular’ refers to a cloud of gas and dust in outer space from which stars will emerge, but Lord Sugar isn’t impressed, telling the girls ‘‘You might as well have called yourself smog’’.

As usual in week one everyone is keen to shy away from being project manager, apart from Paul who persuades the boys of his leadership skills with a somewhat unusual technique, telling them “I like bargain hunt”.

The task begins with both teams being sent to a lock-up garage filled with a mixture of antiques. Here they must suss out what’s valuable, before flogging it to traders and members of the public. Simple, surely?

Lord Sugar’s advice is clear; ‘Don’t rush out like lunatics selling it too quickly. Think about where the value is’. But the girls don’t seem to hear him, selling random items left right and centre for any price offered. The boys don’t do much better as Mukai comments on how ‘‘It feels like we’re flogging a load of shit’’. Not exactly pulling in the punters.

So, The Apprentice is back. If you’re worried that it’s been on too long and the format’s beginning to flag, fear not. The contestants are as self-centered as ever, their enormous egos begin to clash within minutes, and Lord Sugar is ready and waiting to take them down a peg or two.

Following a desperate boardroom battle, in which the aspiring business partners are quick to turn on each other, there is even a refusing-to-hug-before-getting-in-the-taxi snub which, this early in the series, can only suggest that the candidates are going to be a ruthless bunch.

Irenie Forshaw

Image: BBC


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