TV / Sugar n’ spiceAlan Sugar is as ‘notoriously hard to please’ as ever, in the new series of The Apprentice, writes Lisa Lavelle.BBC’S BAFTA AWARD winning show, The Apprentice is back on our screens and into its fifth season. The idea of a television programme charting the desperate struggle for a job has taken on somewhat of a new meaning since it was last on our screens and speaking for myself, it’s nice to be able to put my feet up and watch somebody else slogging away.The new series doesn’t disappoint. The first episode panned out much as expected, with a boardroom full of jostling egos giving daggers to each other and pretending to laugh at Sir Alan Sugar’s jokes. The introduction to the new faces featured many overconfident people in impressive suits building themselves up, à la Muhammad Ali, only to be brought spectacularly down to earth with their first task.The task in question, which involved each team washing cars and shining shoes, fulfilled the quota of being humiliating enough to satisfy the audience. The producers of the show seem to think, rightly enough, that what the viewer wants to see is these high powered-professionals tarnishing their suits and more importantly, their self esteem.
“What the viewer wants to see is these high powered-professionals tarnishing their suits and more importantly, their self esteem”However, the competitors weren’t daunted by this loss of dignity and if you’re planning on watching the season, prepare for the usual mix of buzzwords, clumsy power plays and cringe-worthy negotiation techniques. And of course, competitiveness that’s not very far off outright bitchiness.The new contestants for series five have already started to get on each other’s nerves and the cattiness, amongst the girls and the guys, has already reached such heights that viewers may not be surprised to see Alan Sugar replaced by Tyra Banks.The first elimination of the show was prefaced by a round of arguments on the girl’s team that looked as though someone was going to lose an eye until Sir Alan intervened with his inimitable brand of Cockney autocracy.His ire was raised further in the second episode, when the aspiring apprentices once again demonstrated their Olympian incompetence, while this time working in a kitchen. These individuals’ perpetual ineptitude reminds us that the show ultimately seeks to provide entertainment value rather than rigorous insights into the corporate world. Hence, hopefuls are obviously chosen on the basis of personality as opposed to business acumen.Despite the high calibre of the catfights, one of the high points of the show is still the appearance of Nick and Margaret, Sir Alan’s personal winged monkeys, who follow the candidates throughout their disastrous decisions. Instead they silently sit in the midst of the chaos and raise their eyebrows at the appropriate moments.Anyone who is feeling depressed by the times we live in, my advice is as follows: make yourself a cuppa and watch The Apprentice. Because, lets face it, we all watch this show for the same reason: the shameful satisfaction we derive from watching people with shiny prospects rolling up their sleeves and being brought down to the level of ordinary mortals.Series five of The Apprentice can be seen on Wednesdays at 9pm on BBC One