Tuesday, April 03, 2007

the apprentice

There really is no reality TV show which is too brain-scorching and lowbrow to reduce me to tears of sentimentality or cries of embarrasment, so it isn't that surprising that tonight, despite resisting for years, I relented and watched BBC1's Alan Sugar vehicle, 'The Apprentice'. My enthusiasm for non-ITV, non-Gillian McKeith/Nicky Hambleton Jones reality TV is embarrasingly keen, so I'm sure I'd have watched it a great deal earlier, were it not for the moments in my teenage years where, despairing at the eras of Gerry Francis, Christian Gross and George Graham (Spurs managers, all), I brightened up Saturday afternoons with chants of 'Sack The Board', all directed lustily at the man who was then less cheeky-cockney TV darling and more Tottenham Chairman and hate figure to the blue and white half of North London.

But Ali's post today, where she noted that there's nothing more reassuring than watching a bunch of self-confessed commercial boffins make "heinous business error after error", finally persuaded me to tune in. She's right, and it was well worth it. "I'm no bright spark", Ali says, wrongly, "so watching a quantum physicist fumble her way through basic common sense calculations whilst the rest of the team stood around and nodded was great". It was. In fact the sheer idiocy of the teams was priceless.

The mix-up over the milk quantities was particularly hilarious. Charged with selling coffee to the good people of Islington, the teams raced off to London's most, er, capuccino-y borough and, well, got off to a ridiculously ill-informed start. It didn't occur to them for a moment to seek out someone who actually knows about coffee, or knows about selling it. Brilliant. So one team buys the wrong coffee, the other the wrong quantities. No market research at all, brilliant.

The sales techniques are hilarious. Having bought much too much milk, they start selling it by the litre. "It's one litre for 50p", they say. "Or, two litres for a pound". Noticing that the prospective customer looks unconvinced, the sales monkey tries to think of another angle. "Or, four litres for two pounds". Genius. Battered, the poor guy buys some milk. "Have a fun milky evening", the seller shouts, as he shrinks away across the square.

Sugar should have sacked the lot of them, because if there was one person there with a sound business head he would have denounced his colleagues as cretins after about seven minutes, but instead they all charged cluelessly on, like blindfolded children. In the end, Sugar ended up seeming like he was being cruel to be kind, a cowboy putting down a horse with a broken leg.

I like his malevolent zombie sidekicks best. I fancy that they are undertakers, ready for when the team mates do turn on each other. They'll be on that corpse like greyhounds after a whippet.

As fun viewing as the show is, I'm glad I don't have much more than an ounce of the competitive desperation that all these business-muppets seem to thrive on. Ali could be voicing my own feelings when she notes that:

"This is an unadulterated forum for blame, backstabbing and humiliation to try and save your skin. In life you'll rarely bear witness to people stooping so very low for their own personal gain. In some ways, I admire their absolute dogged perseverance, but in others it's truly terrifying. I'm such a softy when it comes to work, 'ambition' and general 'go-gettery'. I have no qualms when people younger than me overtake me at work and it makes me feel queasy just thinking about putting myself in a situation where I'm pitting myself against someone so self-assured."
Actually, I don't mind the idea of going up against brash go-getters, but only cause I know I could wilt 'em with my passive, world-weary refusal to give more percentage of effort than is mathematically possible.


Anonymous said...

There really is no end to the brilliant blogging opportunities this TV presents us.

I've just discovered somewhat amusingly in an over dinner conversation about the Apprentice, that Michelle Dewberry, winner of last year's programme, shagged one of my good male friends a couple of years ago.

Infact, she lived with one of them for several months in a flatshare in Clapham, where she so unabashedly slept around that they actually kicked her out. And they were no saints.

The friend in question, called 'Dave' has just told me, 'She stuck her finger up my a**e in the pub the night I met her'. Brilliant business brains? I think not.

Lets hope this year's candidates are more impressive...perhaps they are just off to a VERY slow start.

jonathan said...

Ha ha - I like the way you left your name off that comment so that when Ms. Dewberry sees this post she'll sue me for that libellous statement and not you!

Ali P said...

It wasn't deliberate :) I am happy to attribute my name to such an awesome piece of slander, am also happy to name in full the guy who she sh*gged. David Hompes. Fitness instructor/playboy.