The Apprentice

Wednesday, April 12, 2006 by

So here we are – another week of watching the unhirable being vetted by the undesirable. Because, really, who would want to work for Sir Alan Sugar? £100,000 – sure, it’s a lot of money but it probably averages out at a pound for every time he calls you a “muppet”.

Kicking off the instalment by paying a surprise visit to the contestant’s house, the far-from-noble knight carries himself with all the grace of a hirsute Mitchell brother. Waking up to find the arsey Amstrad boss on your doorstep must be a bit like hiring a babysitter only to have Stalin show up. Sugar then proceeds to set out this task, which involves selling independent designs (concrete lamps, hat-stands resembling something from Blake’s 7) to trade. “I used to do this,” he barks, which is useful since it’s rather unclear how Sugar amassed an £800 million fortune. I mean, do you have anything in your house made by Amstrad, apart from perhaps a crappy PC gathering dust in your loft?

From here, the episode plays out along predictable lines. Indeed, this series of The Apprentice has produced so few surprises the evictees ought to have been issued numbers on day one indicating their order of imminent eviction. That said, there are pleasant distractions along the way, such as watching Syed become the most objectionable man on the planet. An incredible mix of ill-founded self-confidence and shticky slickness, it was worth weathering the hour just to see him try and flog “the future” in petrol cans to a string of increasingly unimpressed buyers.

Better still were his efforts to peddle his wares to a major supermarket – this in spite of Sugar having told him it was waste of time, and the constant objections of the increasingly frustrated Tuan. Not that Tuan’s objections amounted to much more than tutting, “Honestly!”

Elsewhere, Paul continued to prove he’s the one contestant you wouldn’t mind having a pint with, while Ansell showed that successful selling isn’t dependent on clichés and tactics that would shame Gordon Gecko. Yep, that’s right – it’s the fat blokes who came out of it best. Because everyone knows that fat blokes are the best. Okay so they might not be much good at cross-country, but you know where you are with a big chap. Admittedly this argument comes a bit unstuck when you get to Idi Amin, but for the most part, the fat are a font of happiness.

Having an acute pie-addiction is certainly preferable to being a whining whippet like Sharon who got the boot this week in spite of being part of a final three which included the invisible Tuan and Syed, the incredible bullshitting man. With Syed having cost the task by arriving late – “There was an accident, all the roads were closed” – he ought to have been sacked quicker than a kilogram of King Edwards. That he constantly interrupted Sugar, even on the rare occasions when his boss gave him the benefit of the doubt, ought to have secured the outcome. But instead it was sulking Sharon – “the whinger” rather than “the liar” (Syed) or “the planner” (Tuan) as they are in matronly Margaret’s book – who got the chop. For only in Sir Alan Sugar’s world is forethought on a par with complaining or telling porkies.

Next week the teams are leasing properties which will leave five of them a step closer to a life of embarrassment and underemployment, and the reminder clutching the poisoned chalice that is a year spent working for Sir Alan.

As for last night, while Adrian Chiles pawed over the last sacking as if it was the Zapruder footage on The Apprentice: You’re Fired, BBC1 celebrated a young ambitious Britain worth devoting time to. Earlier this year, Monty Panesar became the first Sikh to play cricket for England. Loved by team-mates and countrymen alike, the modest immensely gifted young man was a great advert for selling yourself through application and accomplishment rather than self-promotion and slickness. And that’s why he got hired. On the other hand, Syed and co ought to be fired. Out of a cannon. Into the sun.


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