Experience these potatoes – The Apprentice is back, and its got more swagger than ever
Since time immemorial (2004) besuited young bucks have gathered amid the phallic symbols of London to compete for the love of “Lord Sugar”. Lord Sugar, formerly Sir Alan, is again “on the hunt” for new talent, though this hasn’t yet degenerated into a Running Man scenario where he pursues them through the streets on horseback.
What is the collective noun for thrusting young go-getters in suits? A swarm? A herd? A flock? I’ve decided on “a swagger” (as in: “Jaysus! I was just down the IFSC and saw a magnificent swagger of goons”). This season’s “swagger” differentiate themselves the only way they know how, via boastful gibberish.
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams,” says wide-eyed Ella, who clearly doesn’t have dreams where she’s drowning in cheese or being chased by huge babies.
Another says: “Felipe is a dreamer who believes everything is possible.” That’s nice. Which one is Felipe? Oh. He’s talking about himself in the third person. Like the Incredible Hulk.
Mark, whose head is rectangular, gets “the job done”. Specifically: “I walk the walk. I talk the talk and I dance the dance.” If there isn’t a scene in which Mark “dances the dance”, I will quit television forever.
“I am an alpha male,” says Dan . “I can make women do what I want and some men too.” He’s not a subtle man. I imagine the way he gets men to do “what he wants” resembles those Bugs Bunny cartoons where Bugs dresses as a lady bunny to confuse Elmer Fudd.
They enter the boardroom, where Lord Sugar sits flanked by Karen and Nick, “his eyes and ears”. He means this figuratively, though the rich are different from you and I, so it’s probably only a matter of time before he’s naming his actual body parts (“And my left arm is called ‘Dame Edith Henderson’”).
“Hello Lord Sugar,” say the apprentices in unison, like the Midwich Cuckoos. Sugar toys with them. To Steven, a social worker who spent time in the Arctic, he says: “What were you doing, counselling penguins?” Everyone laughs, not because this is funny, but because he’s a terrifying, mad monarch (he’ll be King Sugar, next series). He decrees that they must sell barrows of random goods – T-shirts potatoes – to strangers .
They choose team names. The women pick “Decadence” which sounds like an apposite, self-aware reference to late capitalism and cultural decline, but in fact represents the fact they don’t know what “decadence” means (in episode two, they change to “Tenacity”). The men argue between “Dynamic” and “Viper” but then settle on “Summit.” Then Dan says: “There’s no I in team, but there’s five Is in ‘individual brilliance’.” I have no idea what this is meant to signify, other than the fact that Dan can both spell and count. Business, I’ve learned from
The Apprentice, is largely done on speakerphones in the back of SUVs with dozens of people shouting. And business-folk are easily spooked, like wildebeest. At one point, five apprentices (coincidentally the number of Is in “individual brilliance”) run aimlessly down a street. “We don’t know where we’re going,” one wails. Also, instead of sending two people to sales meetings, they pile in like the Keystone cops. They’d have more authority if they got onto each other’s shoulders, wore a long coat and pretended to be
Business-folk are easily spooked, like wildebeest. At one point, five apprentices run aimlessly down a street. “We don’t know where we’re going,” one wails
one really tall person.
What else happens? Dan dresses like an angry hotdog. Steven sells a potato by saying: “Look at it gleaming in the sun. It’s not just a potato. It’s an experience.” Mark does not
dance the dance , but it’ll happen. “Decadence” win and get champagne. “Summit” bicker. “Gentlemen I am fed up discussing T-shirts and hotdogs,” says Lord Sugar, which is unfair as he’s who demanded they sell T-shirts and hotdogs in the first place. Then he fires sad-eyed Chiles. Chiles is taken outside to be humanely destroyed. The others survive to sell “wearable technology” in the next episode. Sadly, this doesn’t degenerate into the comically unintentional bloodbath you might expect.