If you are a fan of The Apprentice you will know that we have had to wait a long time for its return. Earlier this year it was superseded by a much bigger, and some would say equally entertaining event – the general election. But finally we are able to see what happened last autumn when Lord Sugar got 16 more aspiring entrepreneurs together to compete for a job in one of his companies.
This year’s contestants, like most years, are full of cocky alpha males and females who seem more intent in wrangling to become top dog rather than impress Lord Sugar with their business acumen. In fact when asked if any of the new recruits had learnt from the last five series, Alan Sugar’s no-nonsense adviser Nick Hewer replied with an emphatic “No!”.
And we see a new adviser this year in the glamorous businesswoman and Vice Chairman of West Ham, Karren Brady. Karren has both proven herself as a business woman being the first female managing director of a premier football team at just 32 years old and she also won the Comic Relief Does The Apprentice in 2007. And Karren is very clear about what her job is for Sir Alan with the candidates. “We are not their friend, we are not their mentor or their adviser,” she says. “our job is purely to observe and be Sir Alan’s eyes and ears.”
“We’re very frosty,” says Nick to which Karren agrees.
And the candidates are still full of the kind of clichés that Sir Alan hates such as “thinking outside the box” and “giving 150 per cent” but he admits that he tunes out to those sort of comments. “They become a drone which I ignore,” he says. He is also not very tolerant of those who like to network their way to the top saying: “You schmooze, you lose.”
Having seen the first episode I think we are looking at one of the most entertaining series of The Apprentice to date. Stuart Baggs, a 21-year-old from the Isle of Man, quickly stands out as a man full of clichés and catchphrases which also winds up his fellow male contestants. While argumentative Melissa Cohen and feisty Joanna Riley go head to head from the outset.
And the first task is not an easy one. The candidates are told when they first meet Lord Sugar, Karren and Nick that rather than go to see their new home they were going out to start their first task that would take part all through the night and they would report back 24 hours later.
The candidates first task is making and selling sausages on the streets of London under the strict scrutiny of Nick and Karren. They must head straight out to plan their strategy and then it is off to Smithfield’s all night meat market to purchase their meat supplies. The following day, without any sleep, they must make, market and sell the sausages. Whether they opt for gourmet creations or cut-price, bargain bangers, only one factor will be considered in the first boardroom showdown – profit.
This is where we first get to know the personalities of the contestants as some standout (not always for the right reason) and some are a little more considered preferring to take a back seat this ear;y on. But watching the two teams trying to cooperate while trying to outdo each other and prove they are a ‘born leader’ is very entertaining.
But a word of warning, “never think you have got the winner in the first two or three episodes because you will be wrong” Nick says.
Regardless of who wins, this is going to be one of the best series of The Apprentice providing office chatter on a Thursday morning, so don’t miss out.
Spin-off show, The Apprentice: You’re Fired!, will also be making a welcome return to BBC Two immediately after the main show with new host Dara O’Briain taking the chair. Each week the fired candidate is interrogated by business experts, celebrity fans of the show and a studio audience of viewers which should be interesting as it has been almost a year since each of the candidates found out their fate and have [hopefully] learnt from the experience.
The Apprentice, Wednesday 9pm, BBC1. The Apprentice: You’re Fired! follows at 10pm on BBC2.