“You seem to have gone from anchor to wanker!”

Tuesday, February 7, 2006 by

Oh yes, The Apprentice returns to BBC2 on Wednesday 22 February, hence today’s press launch, which even prompted the broadsheet writers to attend (Caitlin Moran in her dumpy boots).

“I don’t have any popcorn,” whispered Sir Alan noisily as Lorraine Heggessey squeezed into her seat beside him in the viewing room. Then, Roly Keating got up and made a breezy speech by way of introduction to the first episode, imploring the press not to reveal who gets fired, and admitting that this, in fact, was the first time even he was going to see who’d be taking that lonely cab ride to oblivion.

The Beeb are really throwing everything at the show this year. “I can’t remember a programme that built like The Apprentice did,” said Roly. Before the series starts, there’ll be a catch-up show bringing us up-to-date with last year’s winner, Tim Campbell. Then, alongside the regular episodes, there’ll be a BBC3 spin-off - You’re Fired - helmed by Adrian Chiles, and the opportunity to watch each episode again, plus new clips, on a broadband BBC site.

As for the episode itself? Well, as per Roly’s intro, they hadn’t tinkered with the format at all, other than to linger more in the final boardroom scene – apparently something viewers requested more of last year. The show itself is, thankfully, still ace.

No spoilers, just some quotes: “I’m a business bad boy.” “I just don’t know if you’re a bloody nutter!” “All that rolls intoThe A-Team.” “Go back inside and see if you’ve got any more money.” “I’ve got your card marked!” And, of course: “You seem to have gone from anchor to wanker!”

In 2005, Sir Alan didn’t like schmoozers, this time he doesn’t like folk who are intent on raising their media profile (in the Q&A afterwards, he admitted, “Last year it was evident a few people were there for the wrong reasons”).

As the end credits rolled, the assembled journos broke into an unprompted round of applause. “The last time I heard the press clap,” dead-panned Sir Alan, “it was when I announced I’m leaving Tottenham”.


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