The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - PATRICK FREYNE -

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.

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