The Apprentice is Back in Business | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

The Apprentice is Back in Business

TV critic Dan Alcock reviews the return of the nation's favourite business reality show to see if Lord Sugar's The Apprentice has still got it

It is that time of year again. The nation’s favourite business show is once again gracing our screens, providing hours of entertainment as sixteen new ‘entrepreneurs’ throw themselves at tasks of varying complexity in a bid to win Lord Alan Sugar’s favour and a subsequent £250,000 investment into their business plan. Last year, the show ended with a shock double-win as around eight million viewers watched James White and Sarah Lynn both take home the prize money. Following such an unusual end, many will watch this year wondering if The Apprentice can stay fresh and retain the public’s interest as it enters its thirteenth year on air.

Many will watch this year wondering if The Apprentice can stay fresh and retain the public’s interest

In an attempt to maintain variety, the show often opens with a twist, and this year was no different. Not only was there a return to the format of sixteen starting-candidates rather than eighteen, but the first task was also a fan-favourite that is not usually seen so early in the process. Lord Sugar, with his two trusty advisers Karren Brady and Claude Littner, announced that the sixteen hopefuls would be following a list of items to find at the lowest price, but then they were unexpectedly told that the task would take place in Malta. This added a welcome layer of complexity as the candidates were not on familiar territory and faced a potential language barrier.

On the one hand it may seem brutal to throw the aspiring tycoons in the deep end like this, but it did provide some first-class entertainment for the audience. Despite a few good purchases, for both teams the task was mostly a disaster. The boys struggled to understand what an octopus with a ‘forty-inch hose’ was, opting to buy a real octopus instead of the swimming gear that was expected. A seemingly pointless negotiation in a supermarket also provided light comedy, as Alex Finn convinced the clerk to trim a €59 collection of wine to €58.99.

However, the opposing team struggled even more since they lacked the strong leadership and team chemistry of the boys' team. The girls crumbled over arguments about where to go next and who should negotiate what, although these were primarily instigated by Sarah Byrne and the slightly terrifying Jackie Fast. One incident involved both halves of the team buying a hasira blind, wasting money. Ultimately, both teams acquired just seven out of the nine items, but the girls arrived at the finish line over an hour late.

It did provide some first-class entertainment for the audience

During the intense boardroom session, it was confirmed that the girls lost, but not by a huge margin. It was good to see Lord Sugar showing his disappointment in both teams’ performances, demonstrating that there are no excuses, even in week one. Sadly, Sarah was the one who was fired this early in the process, and perhaps unfairly. Some could argue that Jasmine sat back and did not contribute positively to the task, but ultimately it was probably the right decision as Sarah was a consistent disruption, often not listening to the instructions of Project Manager Jasmine.

This early on it is hard to pick a potential winner. There was promise in several candidates, such as the boys' PM Kayode Damali, but it will be interesting to see the quieter ones have their moments in the spotlight in future episodes. Despite the slight disappointment that there are sixteen candidates over eighteen, meaning fewer multi-firings, this year The Apprentice has come back strong. With the trailer for next week’s episode showing the candidates designing a comic book, it is safe to say the show is continuing to find ways to engage the British public.

Second Year Geography Student (@dan_alcock)


16th November 2018 at 7:00 am

Last Updated

15th November 2018 at 11:59 am

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