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Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Apprentice loses its bite

The Apprentice, UK version, has moved to mainstream television on BBC1 and, regrettably, is running out of steam.

What was unmissable TV for the first two series is now formulaeic and tired. Clearly, most of the challengers were chosen simply to create good TV rather than be taken seriously as talented businesspeople. I'm horrified at the low standard. The guy who was evicted last week was a car salesman: nice enough but with no strategic vision or leadership qualities. The bankrupt entrepreneur Rory, who was evicted this week, was a prissy lecturing headmaster who was so obsessed with reining in the show's inevitable loudmouth Tre that he forgot about winning the task. Meanwhile another contender evicted this week had kept quiet about the fact he was a product designer because he was "having an off day" and missing his family. He should have resigned rather than been fired, having deprived someone else of the opportunity to take part.

The problem with Sugar and the UK format is that he's nothing more than a box shifter and what he's looking for is someone who's tactical, a salesperson and mild-mannered. Someone like Tim, who won series one after being invisible for most of the show. Any candidates with a marketing or legal background are there just for TV impact, because Sugar is not looking for impressive brains or marketing acumen.

The tasks are mostly sales focused and becoming dull: sell coffee in central London? I watched the US version when it was shown late at night on BBC2 recently and the tasks were more interesting because Donald Trump is looking for more of a visionary achiever. There were fewer of these "sell as much as you can in 10 minutes" type tasks and more around marketing and advertising.

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