Welcome To The World Of Business – The Apprentice

the apprentice 2013
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‘My effortless superiority will take me all the way’. It is that time of the year when The Apprentice graces the nation’s TV screens.

Last week we were treated to a double helping of self-centred contestants. In the first episode it was clear that this year’s candidates are possibly amongst the most arrogant we have seen to date. ‘I’m half machine!’ cried an over-enthusiastic education entrepreneur in the opening scenes of the premier, inevitably signalling a downturn in fortune for the contestant. Year in, year out, we are normally given one or two contestants who cross the line of confidence to the dark chasm of arrogance. From this we get our villain. This year however, there may even be a battle for this role.

This year the one thing that doesn’t shove arrogance and egotism down our throats are the team names. The girls chose to go for Evolve, suggesting they may not actually be ready for the competition, and the boys went for the equally lacking in confidence, Endeavour. So at least we know they may not succeed, but they will have given it a good go.  The candidates have been, and are clearly, selected because they have some capability of working with Lord Sugar, though even that wouldn’t take much. However, the aim of the show is no longer to produce and sculpt budding entrepreneurs. Instead it provides a form of mockery for the public. It is like a modern form of the stocks in which social networking is the rotten fruit. The contestants are no longer that likeable, and now the show seems to be just a way to mock some of the deluded candidates.

Lord Sugar himself described several of the contestants as nice people whilst on The Graham Norton Show, and a handful of them most likely are. However, antics on the show would suggest otherwise. Not only are this year’s contestants arrogant, but they are even willing to go to any length to win. ‘I’ll do anything to win. Cheating, manipulating, I will do it,’ offered up Neil Clough, a contender for this year’s villain role. For people who are supposed to be successful they go the wrong way about showing it, squabbling over the smallest of things like a bunch of school children. Due to their success and the setting that these ordinary people are in, they have a right to be confident in their abilities and they need to exude that confidence. So an overflow of arrogance and narcissism is perhaps inevitable and partially welcomed, but it is a vastly irritating side effect.

The second episode offered up yet more squabbling, whining and cockiness. In a task that saw the candidates having to create their own beer, a task that I would happily do for fun, we also managed to see how cut throat some of the contestants could be. Rebecca who looks like a silent assassin and is also a contender for this year’s villain, seems to have ruffled more than a few feathers already. Half of the girls seemed to be ‘passing the buck’, a phrase which graces the show far too often, on to her and then in the board room she wasn’t too shy on broadcasting just how she felt. Why is it that grown businessmen and women resemble a bunch of squabbling school children so much? Going off the first two episodes alone it is possible that we may have the most arrogant and cut throat series so far. Expect a lot of ‘buck passing’ and ‘throwing under buses’.

Not only are the contestants egotistical, but year on year they seem to be getting more and more glamorous. I’m all for taking pride in your appearance, I mean these people are going to be on national TV.  There’s no room for an ill-fitting suit anywhere in my eyes. However, ‘I have energy like a Duracell bunny, sex appeal of Jessica Rabbit and the brain like Einstein’ claimed this year’s most glamorous contestant, who is a little TOWIE-esque but definitely one to watch out for.

The Apprentice gives us a little snippet of what these business folk are like, and while you have to be aware that the situation they’re in will involve a lot of playing up to cameras and feather ruffling, the show has lost what it once had. The contestants are now more deluded that ever and this can only be put down to the arrogance and drive that they have to succeed. In a world in which starting up a new business is incredibly difficult, these candidates seem unable to accept responsibility or behave with a sense of humility and an appropriate amount of confidence. If that is what the world of business is like you can count me out.