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Why Doesn’t The Apprentice Have Smart People Anymore?

The Apprentice has been one of my go-to favourite television shows for quite some time now, and as ashamed as I am to admit it when I can’t get my (Alan) Sugar-fix I have been known to dabble with the American Apprentice. Suffice to say I’ve seen a whole bunch of hopefuls trying to prove they’ve got business acumen and what it takes to be … The next apprentice.  

However one thing is undoubtedly true, just as the X-Factor has become less about people who can actually sing over the years (Honey G… Really?) The Apprentice has become less and less about proving you’re sensible enough to run a business and more about throwing a bunch of idiots into a high-pressure situation and watching them capitulate as they make more and more of a fool of themselves. Just look at Donald Trump.

But honestly as entertaining as it is to see a group of grown women, who all allegedly have some form of business success, clamber their way through an antique selling task by selling all of the antiques for a fiver despite being explicitly told that the task was completely about finding the value in objects and getting the right price for them. Especially stupid when they could have just googled the items right? Anyway, my point is that it just isn’t any fun when you don’t expect anything different.

That’s why in the very next episode, I received absolutely no joy, or entertainment, in seeing the same, aforementioned, group attempt to shoot an advertisement for jeans, having forgotten to bring the jeans with them. I wasn’t shocked, I wasn’t surprised I was irritated. I will, however, admit that a reaction was provoked when the rest of the women all stood there gawping instead of immediately going to get the damn jeans. I wanted one of them to go and get the damn jeans.

Is that really the kind of reaction you want to elicit in your audience, the kind of self-indignant, narcissistic idea that ‘I can do better than these idiots’? Self-superiority is entertaining for some I guess, but for me personally, it’s not sustainable. I want to watch shows like the X-Factor and The Apprentice and be impressed. I want shows that are presented as competitions to feel like competitions where anyone could win, and anyone deserves to win. Not Kangaroo courts set up for us to laugh at everyone with someone getting handed a precious life changing opportunity at the end having forgotten to take jeans to a jean advert.

I don’t want to see fame hungry, hand-picked people to antagonise each other with opposing personalities like Big Brother, I want to see genuinely smart business people outdoing each other. I don’t want to see people making absolutely ridiculous, yet effortlessly quotable, sound-bites in pieces to cameras like ‘I’m the Leonardo Di Caprio of business’. I want to see people actually walking the walk, rather than talking the talk.

The first Apprentice winner, Tim Campbell, worked for Alan Sugar for two years before leaving to found the Bright Ideas Trust charity, aimed to help young entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground. He was awarded an MBE for his work. This year’s cast of the apprentice boasts someone who genuinely provided us with the following quote “If I wanted to be like everyone else, I’d have waxed my monobrow.” It’s like night and day people, night and day.

Honestly. When did this start happening? When did television become about seeing a bunch of idiots doing stupid things all of the time? Why doesn’t the Apprentice have smart people anymore? Answers on a postcard people.