Season nine of The Apprentice kicked off last night. There were all the usual trappings: Prokofiev’s Dance of the Knights, contestants striding purposefully round Canary Wharf, over bridges, wheeling their little suitcases and the narrator reminding us to marvel at Lord Sugar and how he clawed his way out of the East End into a life of wealth using nothing but a wrench, a broken bottle and a dream.
If it’s possible, the candidates seem even worse this year. Sixteen businessmen and women all vying to win £250K investment from Lord Sugar himself. ‘I’m prepared to drown the others if I have to’, ‘I just won a ‘coldest heart’ competition for stamping on a child’s ice-cream’ – I’m paraphrasing but you get the idea.
The first thing to note about this year’s candidates is they all had utterly lunatic eyebrows. Monobrows, brows drawn on with a biro – this group have every type. It was distracting initially, but then we were into the first task.
Leading the girls there was Jaz who describes herself as ‘half machine’ (I couldn’t work out which half) and leading the boys was Uri Geller lookalike Jason who proclaimed, ‘my intelligence is like a machete’ (whatever that means).
Each team had to shift a shipping container’s worth of tat including: union jack mugs, Chinese waving cats, ukuleles and toilet paper in just one day. Cue lots of shouting into phones, taxi rides and massive amounts of ‘I’m talking, I’m TALKING, let me finish, I’m the best, I’m the tallest, my eyebrows are drawn on!’ and so on.
Jaz’s project managing style could be summed up as ‘hyperactive holiday rep’, with a demented smile and motivational speeches shouted into the faces of chilly, sceptical looking team mates, who clearly just wanted her dead. Whichever half of her was a machine, it went on the blink fairly early doors.
They got off to a bad start, with ‘ruthless’ Rebecca selling two cases of water for £15 and as the day progressed the team ended up wandering hopelessly around a boarded up China Town, trying to flog Lucky Cats to bewildered shop keepers. The in-fighting didn’t disappoint either with classics like Luisa exclaiming to Leah, ‘I’m in sales and you’re just a doctor’. Ah the topsy-turvy world of The Apprentice.
The boys team weren’t much better. There was Welshman Alex, owner of the most demonic eyebrows of all and who bore an uncanny likeness to Dracula. After accidently dropping and smashing a lucky cat on the pavement, he expressed concern that they shouldn’t carry the ukuleles into appointments, to avoid looking like ‘purveyors of tat’. Sorry Jason but I think that ship had already sailed. Neil wasn’t too bothered about the smashed cat, exclaiming ‘I despise cats to be honest’. Wow, who despises cats?
At the end of the task, each team had made a few quid, but had unfortunately spent over £4 million each on taxis.
Winning by £58 was Uri Gell…sorry Jason and the boys. Desperate to be noticed, Tim made a full-body cringe, self-promoting speech, as the underwhelmed panel (Nick, the newly coiffed Karen and Sugar) looked at him in violent disgust before Shugsy silenced him with a, ‘shut up, you won’.
The girls were sent to the losers’ café to snarl and point fingers at each other over polystyrene cups and then back to the boardroom where it was inevitably project manager Jaz who got the chop. She did admirably try grabbing around, like a drowning woman, momentarily getting hold of Sophie who, being Chinese, she insisted had portrayed herself as an ‘expert on lucky cats’. I wish I had that on my CV don’t you? Also, I don’t think I was alone in wishing Lord Sugar would give a lucky cat wave as he said ‘You’re fired’, but he didn’t.
First published by Cambridge News