Two Sugars? That's not everyone's cup of tea

May 12, 2011
Lord Sugar with sidekicks Karen Brady and Nick Hewer. The Apprentice was his second TV appearance of the week

Lord Sugar with sidekicks Karen Brady and Nick Hewer. The Apprentice was his second TV appearance of the week

The Apprentice
BBC1, 4/5

Lord Sugar Tackles Football
BBC2, 2/5

Can there be anything better on a spring evening than settling back on the sofa to peruse a brand new batch of Apprentice contestants? The series has returned for its seventh outing, and within a few minutes of the first episode this week, we discovered that these apprentices had the same qualities as the last lot - they power-dressed, had the egos of Gordon Ramsay and the business acumen of Homer Simpson.

For us, this show may be pure entertainment, but for Lord Sugar it is more of a personal mission. He wants to encourage entrepreneurs in the same way that Jamie Oliver promotes healthy eating, and The Apprentice is his way of accomplishing this.

Before sending the contestants off on their first task he told them that they could still do in 2011 what he did in 1967 - start with a good idea, a few quid and a market stall, and make a healthy profit. It could be that Sugar succeeds in making Britain a nation of entrepreneurs, but not in the way he imagines. The lesson one takes from this collection of boneheads is that, if they can make money in business, anyone can.

The task was classic Apprentice. Buy fruit and veg at the market, add value to it and sell at a profit. The girls' team was led by the hilariously over-confident Melody whose idea seemed to be that if she did not spend all of the £250 that Sugar gave her, she could not lose it. She appointed passive-aggressive Edna to look after the money without bothering to ask her whether she had any financial skills (she hadn't).

It was a measure of the incompetence of Edward, the self-appointed project manager of the boys' team, that Melody came out on top. Edward was an accountant who seemed determined to go through the task without making a single calculation. Rather, he preferred boxing metaphors - he would "roll with the punches" and then "the gloves will come off".

The boys decided to make orange juice and soup, but completely missed the breakfast trade for orange juice because they could not squeeze fast enough. Oh, and not one of them had ever made soup before.

Even then, Edward could have saved himself. Teammate Alex had managed to sell only nine cups of soup all day and was mentally packing his suitcase to leave, but Edward made the schoolboy error of not inviting him back to the boardroom. Instead, he took Gavin, who had done well on the task, and Leon, whose only mistake was that he was a less-than-expert juicer. So it was a taxi for Edward but not before Sugar had pleaded with him to get back in touch with his inner accountant - a speech which would bring a warm glow to thousands of Jewish hearts.

Less welcome was his lordship's other TV appearance of the week. In Lord Sugar Tackles Football, he followed the well-worn route normally taken by Gary Lineker of interviewing players, managers, agents and owners of football clubs. All of whom told him exactly what all football fans already know - that there was a shedload of money coming into the game and it was all ending up in the pockets of players and their agents while the clubs racked up huge debts.

Still, there was an entertaining interview with Spurs manager Harry Redknapp who, despite having a reputation as a wheeler-dealer, admitted he knew nothing of the club's finances. I wonder if he has considered auditioning for The Apprentice?

Last updated: 11:30am, May 12 2011
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