The Apprentice – the usual mix of arrogance and melodrama

This week has seen the return of one of the best entertainment shows to grace Britain’s television screens in the 21st Century.

This week has seen the return of one of the best entertainment shows to grace Britain’s television screens in the 21st Century. Yes ladies and gentlemen, our Wednesday evenings can once again be filled with sarcastic taunts, calamitous decisions and, of course, Nick Hewer’s judgmental looks. No, not Countdown… It’s The Apprentice.

The show that captures the imagination of Britain’s (supposed) top business minds, as they battle it out to earn a £250,000 business investment from the straight-talking Lord Sugar, is back on BBC 1 for the next 12 weeks. This is the second series since the shift to this new format. Last year’s winner, Tom Pellereau, launched his range of curved nail files this week. With the success of last year’s winner and the troubling financial time, the stakes are higher than ever.

16 hopefuls have left promising careers to enter the toughest interview process possible, as Lord Sugar pits them against one another to prove who is worthy of his investment. On first impressions, it seems like the candidates fit the bill for the show. With many watching just for the drama, we have the usual arrogant and melodramatic characters that previous series’ have dealt us. They have the arrogance, but do they have the business acumen?

Lord Sugar split the candidates into the usual boy’s and girl’s teams and tasked them with creating a printing business, adding designs to blank products. The boy’s team quickly decided on the name ‘Phoenix’ (which they then decided to shout every two minutes), but struggled on electing a project manager. After nobody volunteered, 25 year old Nick Holzherr stepped up to the mark. The girls didn’t have the same issue. They opted for the name ‘Stirling’, before Gabrielle Omar (who runs a print company) offered her services as project manager.

The two teams went for very different tactical approaches. Nick and the boys of ‘Phoenix’ took a very calculated strategy, focussing on the margins of each product, but neglecting the design. The classic red bus template was decided, which left Karren Brady shaking her head in disgust. The girls at ‘Stirling’ seemed to neglect the finances of the business all together. 29 year old business development manager Jade designed an excellent brand of children’s clothing for Stirling, yet there seemed little strategy behind the team.

As the day of the sales came round, despite having the worse products, Phoenix began picking up a few sales of their over-priced products to unsuspecting tourists. For Stirling, business was booming at Greenwich market. However, the second team were not having the same success. Bilyana, Jane, Katie and one other, who made such a minimal contribution I’ve forgotten her name, got stuck in traffic going to London Zoo and continuously bickered. Lets just say, their sales weren’t too great.

However, as the day came to a close, both teams became grossly negligible. Firstly, it was Phoenix who annoyed paying customers. Azhar Siddique sold 20 bags to a shop to clear his stock, only for the customer to discover the extremely poor condition they were in. Lord Sugar was not pleased. As Stirling pushed for some final sales, the second team found their way into a small shop. They pushed their products so strongly at the owner, she felt extremely intimidated by what Lord Sugar described as, ‘A screaming pack of hyenas.’ Both terrible business moves.

As they reached the boardroom, it was revealed the boy’s greater margins had given them a win- by £400. A bit of a trouncing, proving that the best product doesn’t always win. Stirling team leader Gabrielle brought Bilyana and Katie into the firing line with her. As Lord Sugar was lining up to fire the extremely quiet Katie, Biliyana made the fatal error of not keeping quiet enough. She ignored Lord Sugar and continued pleading. She was quickly fired. Sugar summed up the sentiment perfectly, ‘Sometimes demeanour can be their demise.’ I have to say I can’t comment on Lord Sugar’s decision. It is far too soon to tell the potential of the candidates and they were equally negligible for the failure of the task.

To end the show, we were treated with a delusion and some truth. Very naively, Nick commented on ‘the strong bond’ between the boys in Phoenix. Pfft. Lets see how long such a ‘bond’ lasts when you lose. You will turn your backs on each other quicker than Nick Hewer can raise his eyebrows. Katie was extremely honest in the cab home, as she admitted that Bilyana saved her from getting fired and that she ‘probably owes her a drink.’ Kudos for your honesty.

Well the scene is set for another 12 weeks of drama, back-stabbing and Lord Sugar quotes. Some may lose faith in the show, but I never will. Top TV on the BBC!