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The Apprentice Returns, Complete with Budding Set of Sociopaths; Lord Sugar Would Rather Have a Dog Than a Friend

Posted on the 22 March 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost

The Apprentice returns, complete with budding set of sociopaths; Lord Sugar would rather have a dog than a friend

The Three Fates. Or rather, Karen Brady, Lord Sugar, and Nick Hewer. Publicity photo.

Lord Sugar’s often excruciating, mostly compelling tv show, The Apprentice, is back in the boardroom, with Lord Sugar of Clapton ably aided by  his henchmen, Nick Hewer and Karen Brady. Last night was the first show, and saw the wannabe investment partners – who stand to win a £250,000 investment from the baron – split into two teams, boys and girls, and selling “blank” merchandise by adding their own prints. The boys, Team Phoenix, came up with teddy bears and bags with “This is a bus” on them; the girls, Team Sterling, were a little more imaginative, with t-shirts for babies. However, the boys won, by a large margin, as the girls managed to get lost in Regent’s Park and get told off by shopkeepers. Boys’ team leader was Nick Holzherr (a Swiss from Birmingham); girls’ was Gabrielle Omar. Risk analyst Bilyana Apostolova got fired.

“I’m looking for a partner. The Marks to my Spencer, the Lennon to my McCartney.” Lord Sugar.

“When it comes to business, I’m like a shark,” said Ricky Martin (not the singer. A contestant.)

“I would call myself the Blonde Assassin,” said Katie, another.

“They call me the master puppetteer,” said Azhar, yet another.

Trainee sociopaths. Hang on a minute, said Tom Sutcliffe in The Independent, referring to Sugar’s quote above. Does Sugar “really think he’s the sentimental, melodic one, the kind of man who would produce the corporate equivalent of ‘The Frog Chorus?’” More likely he’s “looking for a Burke to his Hare.” The candidates, “as usual, were very happy to run through their qualifications as trainee sociopaths.” The challenge was good, easy to understand, but allowing the teams to show their “incompetence.”

Never argue with a Cockney about London. Michael Hogan in The Daily Telegraph said that this year’s crop of candidates are as “compellingly vile, over-confident and ego-crazed as ever.” A great joy of the series is the editing, which undercuts those egos: all those “perfect puppeteering lion-shark assassins” soon got “lost in London zoo” and failed “to sell teddy bears to toddlers.” Nick Holzherr said he ran his life “ ‘like a spreadsheet’”, “as if that was somehow a good thing.” Candidate Maria O’Connor “looked like she’d applied her bright blue eyeshadow while driving over a speedbump.”  It’s a shame Apostolova got the heave-ho, though – Hogan “particularly enjoyed her squabble with Sugar over the proximity of Camden Town to Regent’s Park. Never argue with a Cockney about the capital’s geography.”

A bit contrived? Andrew Billen in The Times said that Sugar had “varied” his “rhetoric a little.” He wasn’t “looking for a friend. If he were, he said, he would get a dog – a statement, you might think, that speaks a complete set of encyclopaedias about his love for the human race.” Though he said candidates couldn’t hide, he “reprieved Katie, a contestant whose profile was so low … it might as well have been subliminal.” But then Sugar’s never been consistent – “ask anyone who bought the Amstrad 2386.” In the boardroom, far from the lioness she claimed to be, Gabrielle “yelped like a tigress about to lose her whelps.” There is a suspicion that “the producers leave less to chance than it seems” – who coaches “those opening soliloquies”, for instance? But it’s still “high-octane fun.”

You’re fired! Sam Wollaston in The Guardian said there was “something quite depressing about all of it.” It was that “they’re all so utterly ghastly. Mostly all talk, too.” Wollaston “like Bilyana … she answered Sugar back in the boardroom, spoke over him even.” But there’s “no glamorous gleaming London skyscrapers for you, Bilyana … You’re fired.”

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