This review contains spoilers.
So then, just a quick ground rule. Whenever I’ve covered The Apprentice in the past, I’ve generally been greeted by a comment along the lines of ‘why is Den Of Geek covering The Apprentice?!?! WTF’, or something of that ilk. It’s a fair question, and my reasoning has always been that it’s a show that’s really interested me from day one, both in its US and UK formats.
That said, it’s hard to shake the conclusion that it’s getting less and less interesting. I’ll come to that shortly.
Of course, these reviews eventually descended into tales of my adventures with the cheap wine section of my local Spar shop, which I’m pleased to report is remarkably well stocked. Sadly, the Chilli Heatwave Doritos big bags cost over £2, which put them well over the budget for this website. But still, a bottle of Merlot from a country incapable of growing grapes, and three packets of Space Raiders? That’s change from a fiver, and a night in front of the telly sorted.
The return of The Apprentice, though, was the only letdown. I’ll come to the ending shortly, as it seemed to add some spice to an episode that was routine even by the standard of series openers. If you were playing a drinking game that involved you downing some of the much we were drinking every time someone made some ridiculous statement about how brilliant they were, you’d have been sloshed within 15 minutes.
The whole thing seemed so tame. Perhaps the biggest frustration with last year’s series of The Apprentice, which got gradually less and less interesting, was that the change in mechanic – Baron Alan looking for a business partner, rather than an ‘apprentice’ – didn’t seem to affect the recruitment process. Granted, there were a couple of really interesting tasks, app development and making money from rubbish standing out, but when it got to the boardroom, it was the same old same old.
Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be much variance from the formula here. The task? To print on things, and sell them. The point of the episode? Seemingly to find some new cover stars for celebrity weekly magazines, who won’t have been disappointed with what they saw.
“I truly am the reflection of perfection”, barked out one, having been thoroughly schooled on the previous series of the show. “I will literally roar my way to the top”, spat out another. “The blonde assassin”, “like a shark”, “master puppeteer”: it was like fridge magnet bullshit.
To be fair, Baron Alan was more than happy to join in the fun. This time, he’s looking for the Lennon to his McCartney, which in itself inspires numerous puns that my booze-soaked brain can’t come up with. Perhaps you’ll help me out there. “I’m not looking for Lord Lucan”, Baron Alan assured us, putting the minds of the public at rest.
So, who were the everyday business types, with the potential schemes that interested the Baron? The professional wrestler is presumably going to be the headline grabber, but he seemed quite level-headed to me. The rest? Well, they tend to all blend in across an opening episode, with just the cannon fodder bubbling to the top.
That cannon fodder looked, for most of the episode, to be Katie, only because she was quiet. And Baron Alan doesn’t like people who are quiet. He told us that. As it turned out, he didn’t like people who were noisy this time either, providing a genuine surprise at the end of the episode when Bilyana got the bullet. Did she talk herself into the firing? Probably, but it barely matters. I’d be shocked already if Katie won the programme.
The task itself wasn’t particularly interesting. Shouting at a shop keeper? Selling hard to the general public? Editing that’d make even the most rational human being appear like a banshee at least two of three times a series? It’s all there, and so slick and well oiled is The Apprentice machine, that it’s going to take some intriguing tasks to shake the suspicion that the business lessons aren’t quite the priority they once were.
There are merits to the show, and some of the upcoming tasks look quite interesting. But I hope to see a real migration in the way the show looks for its winner, rather than it over-relying on the whims of a bearded man with a very pointed finger, without always the editing to help us understand how he arrived at his choice.
And one more request: no more bladdy treats. I beg of you.
A solid start, then, albeit, until the end, not a particularly interesting one. And with that, like Bilyana, I’ve talked myself out of The Apprentice. So to answer that question I got every year, ‘why are you reviewing The Apprentice’, a simple answer: unless something more interesting happens later in the series, I won’t be. I’ll still be watching, and I’ll still be wishing I’d spent a few extra quid on the beverages. But with the programme going through fairly familiar motions, with fairly familiar demographics of candidates, I think I might just have run out of things to say.