Forest Gump’s momma famously said that ‘life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get’. Well she’d obviously never watched The Apprentice, because after 4 series of Sir Allan’s job interview from hell, last night I sat down to watch this years chocolate-themed final with a pretty good idea of what I was, ‘gonna get’.

All Apprentice finals are anticlimactic and last nights was no exception. Using the same formula as the past few years, we saw former aprenti return to prove that they are not irredeemable bastards by helping out their former opponents. The problem with the final has always been that the squabbling, backbiting, and cold-faced bitching that made the previous episodes so much fun has to be replaced by uncomfortable hand-holding and a final collective circle-jerk in the boardroom, where the ex-contestants gather together to sing the praises of the remaining finalists. This year was another case of survival of the dullest as the winner Yasmina (and I just had to look her name up because I thought it was Alexa) was perfectly nice, but overall was the human equivalent of a brown paper bag.

But let’s not get down on The Apprentice, it’s given us hours of guilty pleasure over the past 13 weeks, and I for one will be watching series 6 of Sir Allan’s annual trawl of Britain’s aspiration middle-management for the following reasons.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big Margarett Moutford fan and I’ve still not quite come to terms with the announcement that she won’t be returning for series 6. But nothing compares to the shriveled face of Sir Allan’s right hand man. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then one quizzical look from Nick is worth a whole book of the best, and most cutting put-downs you could ever imagine. The way he hovers on the edge of the group, silently observing like Zeus from Mount Olympus, then descends to deliver his critical lightning bolt which smashes the contestant’s best laid plans to dust…well it’s an absolute joy to watch.

Where else could someone say ‘I’ll bite their bloody teeth out’ as if  they think it’s a positive thing? The interviews to camera that these swaggering cocks are forced to give contain levels of arrogance that make me feel genuinely nauseous. I think the only way the producers get the contestants to speak this way is to make them do a gram of coke, stand them in front of a mirror, and then force them to shout ‘YOU THE MAN!’ at themselves for 20 minutes before giving the interview.

This year the king of arrogant banter was Ben (see the above video) who, with his contrast collar shirt, braces, and ridiculous accent looked a lot like a city boy action figure that you might find hidden in the depths of a Toys R Us bargain bin.

The contestants in The Apprentice are essentially 9-5 office drones who sit over their morning coffee dreaming of what might have been. Whether they’re used car salesmen, frustrated city boys, or licensing development managers (that was Kate’s actual job title and I’ll give you £5 if you can tell me what it actually means), in real life they all have shit jobs and will jump at the chance to show their “creative side”. The problem is that each year the 16 contestants have the collective creativity of a hole punch. They openly use the word ‘funky’ as if it’s OK, and spew out clichés like a bad football pundit on SETANTA. This season, my favorite repressed soul was estate agent Philip, who’s northern dad obviously told him at a young age, ‘no son of mine will ever do bloody drama!’

Let’s get this straight, The Apprentice is a TV show, a very entertaining one but a TV show none the less. I don’t see Richard Branson running up and down Hoxton Street Market with a rug under his arm shouting, “big rug, anyone want to buy a big rug”, do you? No, because he’s a proper businessman and not half of a Laurel and Hardy tribute act. Where did you think the winner would actually be working? Amstrad Computers?

The Apprentice is business on steroids for a TV audience, everything must be done in 24 hours and every task is a sales task. Also, if we’re getting pedantic, which we are, The Apprentice is ‘a job interview from hell’ and you can’t technically be fired from a job interview. So in the real world, instead of saying ‘You’re FIRED’ and waving his finger around, Sir Allan would have to say the less dramatic but more accurate, ‘you are no longer part of the selection process’. But that’s TV for you, drama beats truth every time and in real life business is very very dull.


If you are suffering from Apprentice withdrawal symptoms check out Cassetteboy’s bloody hilarious video which is too funny to even begin to describe.