The Apprentice’s descent into bullying

Mark is considering jacking in The Apprentice, after the bullying that has marred the fourth series reached new heights...

Sralan Sugar and his two trust aides...

While watching last night’s episode of the ‘interview from hell’, I had to turn away. It wasn’t for the usual reason – chronic embarrassment at the candidates’ latest task. This was something different, and something that has left me more than a little perturbed.

As I alluded to in my review of episode five, the spectre of bullying is hanging over this series like never before. In previous episodes, it’s been poor Lucinda getting it in the neck. This time round, it was Sara. Her treatment by the remaining candidates on her return to the house was nothing short of shocking and genuinely made me question whether I can continue to watch this year.

I’m all for the candidates getting on each other’s nerves of course, and the odd scathing comment here and there is part and parcel of reality shows such as this. But things have been upped a notch this year, and it seems pretty clear who should take the blame.

Like in last year’s Celebrity Big Brother ‘scandal’, the producers appear to be letting quarrels and quibbles spiral out of control until someone gets it royally in the neck. I’m seems to me that what was happening last night was fuelled by a few drinks here and there – I’d certainly hope so on the part of Lee who turned from decent, bloke-you’d-like-to-have-a-pint-down-the-pub-with to I AM LEE, HEAR ME ROAR! If that’s the case, it only makes it worse that they allowed the situation to come to a head as it did.

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The programme makers are making it very clear in the editing suite that Jenny and Helene are not especially nice people and perhaps in a later episode, Alan will give them all a massive rollocking. That still doesn’t excuse allowing this behaviour to carry on however, just because it makes ‘good TV’.

I appreciate the candidates put themselves up for a show like this and no one’s forced them to spend weeks in a house with a bunch of strangers but incessant bullying isn’t what I tune into the Apprentice for. If I wanted to watch a bunch of aggressive, fame-hungry people attack each other in a house, I’d watch Big Brother.

I just hope this show isn’t going down the same road in the hunt for ratings