The Apprentice - back in business

The nation's favourite ego-parade has returned, so who's in the firing line?

Joseph Caddick
7th February 2022
Image credit: Jonas Leupe - Unsplash
After a long wait, The Apprentice finally returned to our screens earlier this year. As always, this meant being introduced to a batch of aspiring businesspeople, most of whom are arrogant, unpleasant, or most commonly, both. This year though, they’ve dialled that up to 11.

I’ve been a huge fan of the show for years, so I’m glad to see it back after it was understandably put on hold during the pandemic; it’d be a lot less engaging to make a show about selling things on eBay during quarantine than the typical market stall chaos we’ve grown to love from The Apprentice. A couple of the tasks this series have been more focused on technology, which is refreshing, but the classic tasks like “make some food and sell it on the beach” have happened too.

In terms of the contestants, it’s immediately apparent that the men are a particularly dim bunch. Week one saw them create a cruise ship brand whose logo was a green and brown wave, which obviously led to them sinking like a stone. And then, against all sane logic, the next week they made a toothbrush that was, you guessed it, brown and green. Not only that, but they called the toothbrush’s mascot Wiffy the Wizard. Unsurprisingly, the product stunk, and they lost again. The men have been so bad that, for the first four weeks, it was exclusively men that got fired.

Whilst the men may have floundered from the start, the women really haven’t been much better. Their cruise line was called Boujee Cruises, a term even they couldn’t define. I will say that their toothbrush, though the app was a bombardment of images that made no sense, at least didn’t look like faeces, and looked like something a kid might actually be interested in. After this point the teams were mixed up, and since then I’d say the women have still been consistently more impressive, though none of this year’s candidates seem particularly outstanding.

A particularly shocking moment this series was when Shama quit due to medical concerns. She was by far my favourite at that point, because she was the only one who seemed like a normal human being. The only other one who I’m currently rotting for is Harpreet because she makes some reasonable points every now and then, which is more than most of them are able to say. Even she was dodgy as PM though, but all PMs so far have adopted a rather dictatorial approach.

It wouldn’t be right of me as a gaming sub-editor to not mention last week’s task. The candidates made their own video games. Even though I knew there was no chance you could create anything close to a competent game in such a small time, this was a very enjoyable task. Disasters were inevitable. One team produced a game called Artic Saviour. Yes, they had a misspelling of Arctic in their title. It was a shoddy platformer where you save penguins, seals and polar bears. It was a statement about climate change, a statement that’s weakened by the fact that penguins don’t live in the Arctic. The other group made the terribly-named Time, which reminded me of a PS1 game’s idea of cool and edgy. The gameplay was pretty mundane, but decent enough to the point where I was kind of impressed that they’d quickly cobbled it together. A crossover between gaming and The Apprentice is something I’ve wanted for years, and it delivered. As a side note, the series frequently uses music from The Sims, once you know you can’t stop noticing it.

If there’s one part of The Apprentice that has really taken a hit since the pandemic, it’s the humour. Alan Sugar’s terrible Covid-related jokes at the start of the each episode are particularly dreadful, and I audibly groan at them every week. At this point, he’s nowhere near as crucial to the show’s success as he thinks he is. If he were fired, nothing of importance would be lost.

It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the series plays out, as next week's episode marks the halfway point. Hopefully by the end I’ll actually like at least a couple of them.

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