Hopeless, but they give great meetings
Sir Alan Sugar: The Apprentice 10.30pm, Seven
IT is entirely possible that in the future, when humanity is toiling for our ant overlords, it will become clear that the coining of the term brainstorming marked the beginning of the end. The business meeting highlights our limitless capacity for devising ways to achieve the exact opposite of our stated aim. They’re supposed to ensure people are working with a coherent purpose but, really, they’re an exercise in talking about work instead of doing any.
Nowhere is that more apparent than on The Apprentice UK, a reality show in which two teams compete on challenges, with the last contender standing given a job working for an eccentric billionaire businessman.
Give this lot a task and they spring into action, workshopping ideas to fast- track a result- driven paradigm that proactively synergises best practice with their core competencies. They use phrases such as ‘‘ a quick blast on the flip- chart planning upfront’’ without irony.
They have meetings to decide the meeting agenda. They even have meetings to agree that they don’t have time for a meeting.
That the most meeting- driven team in a given episode invariably loses is no deterrent.
Speaking of meetings, I would like to have been present at the one where it was decided to dust off this series now. ( This, the second season, aired in Britain in 2006).
You can see the logic. Seven let go of the low- rating Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares only to see it become a phenomenal success years later on Nine. Maybe this is another show whose time has come. But Alan Sugar, the man who founded Amstrad computing in the 1980s, does not have the sweary charm of Gordon Ramsay or, for that matter, the mercurial personality and comprehension- defying hair of Donald Trump, host of the original US Apprentice .
And Kitchen Nightmares , a reality show in which a world- famous chef turned around floundering restaurants, was something new. Not only have we had seven seasons of the The Apprentice ( plus the failed Martha Stewart spin- off that never aired here), there were a host of imitiators, such as Mark Cuban’s The Benefactor , Tom Hilfiger’s The Cut and Richard Branson’s The Rebel Billionaire . Trump’s version was popular for 10 minutes in 2004, the rest barely registered. Which is not to suggest this isn’t a decent version. Tonight’s challenge, in which the teams need to procure a list of items as cheaply as possible, is not only entertaining but highlights the shortcomings of some contestants, by which I mean, demonstrates who is completely bonkers.
In real life, you usually have to sit through multiple tedious meetings before you suss that out.
Not so sweet: Alan Sugar makes a point on The Apprentice UK