Thursday, July 14, 2011

Honking Box Preview: The Apprentice

Another series of The Apprentice, another nation of sofa cushions raised in excruciating discomfiture. From episode one, with the genuinely frightening, near-psychotic tendencies of Edward “DON’T FIT THE MOULD” Hunter, it was pretty clear this was going to be a classic series.

Since then, we’ve had semi-racist iPhone apps, illogical refuse collections, opera gloves during business presentations, Hip Replacement magazine for the over-60s, the most unappealing biscuits ever created, June Sarpong being robbed of her title of World’s Most Annoying Voice by Melody, and a few hundred thousand superfluous uses of “yeah?” courtesy of Natasha. So what are we left with?

Susan Ma

Who she?
The whiny little one with the eternal woe-is-me complex.

Background: Susan set up her own business at 17. “JUST LIKE YOU, LORD SUGAR! We are THE SAME! HIRE ME!” Susan’s particular specialism, however, was cosmetics. A darn sight more lucrative than The E-M@iler.

Series highlight: Questioning whether the French love their children. In fairness, we understood what she meant, but it didn’t half come out ham-fisted.

Specialisms: Buying; selling; shiny things; ‘putting ingredients together’; being shouted down by her teammates; acting as a human doormat; a general victim mentality.

Likely business venture: Given Susan’s ongoing insistence that she’s a successful businesswoman already, perhaps Lord Sugar sees something lucrative in the skincare market. And anyone who’s watched The Apprentice in HD will know he could certainly use a staff discount.

Jim Eastwood

Who he? This season’s strongest contender for the Katie Hopkins/Alex Wotherspoon passive-aggressive poisonous bitch role.

Background: Having started out in his dad’s fish and chip shop, Jim’s success later came in one of those stupid business sales solutions management e-nonsense jobs no-one (a) understands, or (b) gives a flying fuck about.

Series highlight: Sounding like a one-man Punch & Judy show as he flogged an array of cheap, nasty merchandise to the good folk of Shepherds Bush Market.

Specialisms: Argument-diffusing; massage; talking utter shite to an often-successful end; worming his way out of trouble; blame-shifting; being an eel in human form.

Likely business venture: A consultancy that works with new businesses to create imaginative, dynamic company titles. Titles like Everydog and Caraca’s. Then, when said businesses flop as a result of Jim’s awful name choices, he’ll liquidise his consultancy, set up a new one and do it all again. Repeat ad nauseum.

Helen Louise Milligan

Who she?
Silent-but-successful Sugar-bot with a near-perfect win record.

Background: Executive Assistant to the Grand High Overlord of Greggs the Bakers. Much has been made of Helen’s absence of drive or independence in the workplace, but which of the other contestants can boast they play a part in bringing steak bakes to the masses?

Series highlight: Smashing the existing boardroom sales record by flogging kiddie seats to the French, thus also answering Susan’s question about whether the French actually like their kids...

Specialisms: Pitching; strategising; spray-tanning; keeping any form of emotion well under wraps.

Likely business venture: Assuming that Lord Sugar doesn’t have any interest in investing in the greasy pastry market, Helen could make a fortune opening a training academy for the next generation of silent, stealthy business ninjas.

Tom Pellereau

Who he? The Michael-Sheen-a-like boffin with the missing bottom jaw.

Background: An inventor who supposedly came up with the idea of a curved nail file. Cos, y’know, they haven’t been available from any bogstandard pharmacy across the world for decades, or anything.

Series Highlight: ‘Qype’ into ‘Mypy’ – the beautiful mistake that saw a dim-witted misreading of a sign turned into a successful, pie-shifting takeaway brand.

Specialisms: Being right; being ignored; losing; sighing; skin-shreddingly bad roleplay.

Likely business venture: We’ll rule out Tom setting up a drama school following his shambolic BixMix presentation, so perhaps a new branded exercise program, a la Zumba or BodyPump, which strengthens, tones and conditions entirely from nodding techniques.

The probable winner? The smart money is on Helen: professional, intelligent, and – let’s face it, she’ll be working for a forceful megalomaniac with a Napoleon complex – subservient. But honestly, we’d quite like it to be Susan. As annoying as she has been, there’s a real underdog quality to her, and Lord Sugar appears to have seen something in her that perhaps the cameras haven’t yet picked up on.

The final, which sees the interview round promoted to final task and once again invites back Her Majesty Margaret of Mountford, airs this Sunday (that’s Sunday, not next Wednesday) at 9pm. And hey, if Lord Sugar wants to use it as an opportunity to announce his retirement and put Margaret front-and-centre next series, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

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