Review: The Apprentice 5×1

Where's the hate?

The Apprentice - series 5

In the UK: Wednesdays, 9pm, BBC1

Huh. That’s weird.

Normally, it’s very easy to burble on about the hate-inducing business slime that puts itself forward to be Sir Alan Sugar’s newest puppet in The Apprentice. Well, that’s how they appear at first – by the end of the series, you get to quite like some of them.

This year seems different somehow. Okay, there was the requisite bigging-up by everyone at the producers’ request at the start, with the usual “there’s no joy in taking part, just winning” spiel being spewed out by all and sundry as though they’d had a 100cc injection of pure evil into their veins.

But if you overlooked all that, there was no one truly objectionable. Everyone seems a bit dull. I kind of liked American woman, even if she did seem to say the bleeding obvious a lot; trainee stockbroker was a little annoying; Mona moaned a lot; Phil the geordie seems to be stuck on ‘negative’ the whole time.

Where’s the hate, I ask you?

This year’s task was cleaning. Clean whatever you like, as long as you make money, was Sir Alan’s instruction.

So that’s what they did. Surprisingly enough, a bunch of people who don’t clean cars for a living weren’t very good at it and overestimated how much time it would take to do each car. But compared with last year’s pointless first task, this was fine; there was nothing much to roll your eyes at, beyond a bunch of people who don’t know each other and are competing with each other finding it hard to agree how to do things at first. Oh, and business people who hadn’t heard the expression, “The customer is always right.”

Basically, everyone was just a bit average, with no one desperately competent and no one desperately rubbish.

Even over on The Apprentice: You’re Fired, the formula seemed to be wearing a bit thin, with Adrian Chiles and co having to fill half an hour with more or less nothing, since nothing too much happened. No big stand-outs, no madness, no bullying: this isn’t your daddy’s Apprentice. Even worse, the talking heads (including the seemingly surgically altered Carol Vorderman) were already highlighting the artificiality of the show’s boardroom when it comes to its relevance to actual business.

No! Don’t poke holes in it! It’ll fall apart.

As a result, I feel oddly unmotivated to watch next week’s show for once. Anyone else feel the same way?

You can see the whole thing on the iPlayer or YouTube if you look hard enough, but here are a couple of clips for your enjoyment, together with an exit interview with the unlucky loser.