Life & Culture

Apprentice Watch: So dull, I didn’t care who got fired

Michael Sophocles on the new series.


On the odd occasion I can prise myself away from my hectic schedule, I like to go to the movies. My favourites are the made-for-Oscar dramas — being an emotional type, I like nothing more than seeing feelings running high in characters who are fighting for something they believe in. I’m much the same when it comes to real life, being drawn to people who lead with their hearts rather than their heads.

Unfortunately, this approach tends to jar in the cold, calculating world of business. Which is why The Apprentice was a godsend for me. The series effortlessly combined drama and commerce and I got to show off my entrepreneurial skills (or lack of them, as it turned out), but also my capacity to be emotionally truthful. What a great shame it is then that the drama seems to gone missing in the current series. I have reached the series mid-point without seeing the kind of tears and tantrums that were commonplace last year. And after this week’s episode, I doubt I ever will.

The task itself seemed intriguing. Sir Alan set the teams the challenge of re-branding the jaded seaside town of Margate to attract some well-needed tourists to its empty beaches. This was an opportunity for the remaining candidates to exhibit their creative sparks and I was expecting a feast of entertainment and calamity. What I got was a low-key affair filled with tired performances. I know first-hand how draining it can become when you reach this stage of the competition — even to the point that you find it difficult to string a coherent sentence together and forget how to function normally. But despite the exhaustion, the likes of Raef, Lucinda, Claire and myself always gave the viewers what they wanted — passion and excitement.

Here, both teams were lead by strong women with the usually ferocious Debra Barr losing out in the end to the competent Yasmina Siadaten. Debra’s idea to attract more gays and lesbians to the town was bold but the execution did not do it justice.

Sometimes a contentious boardroom confrontation can breathe life into a boring task, but not this time. The conversation between Sir Alan and the boardroom three was like a teatime chat at the women’s institute.

By the end, I could not care less who Sir Alan fired — in fact, for a moment while writing I could barely recall who got the bullet. It was only when I remembered her piercing voice and her peculiar social etiquette that the name Mona Lewis came to my lips.

Maybe the lack of histrionics stems from the fact that the candidates this year are just more competent than I and my colleagues ever were, but I know who I would rather watch.

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