First Night: I'm sick of clichés, says Lord Sugar as the The Apprentice returns

3.00

They were sent to take delivery of loads of toilet paper, bottled water and waving Chinese cats

Summoning the latest assortment of 16 to the boardroom at midnight – a tactic which smacked more of the Mafia than modern business practice – Lord Sugar announced that he was “sick of the clichés”, before duly unleashing one of The Apprentice’s favourite clichés - the roll-call of insanely delusional braggadocio.

Luisa’s “I have the body of Jessica Rabbit and the brain of Einstein” and Jaz’s “I’m half-machine” were probably topped by somebody’s (sorry, but the blokes all looked the same, like estate agents who believed they were CEOs or Calvin Klein models) “I took my inspiration from Napoleon”. Presumably that was the Napoleon of Austerlitz and not of Waterloo.

His lordship was having none of it. “Actions speak louder than words”, he continued, as if he’d just coined the phrase, but unintentionally bringing to mind his recent employment tribunal victory over 2010 winner Stella English, after she’d complained about being “an overpaid lackey”. Better overpaid than underpaid, Stella, and anyway you can’t say she wasn’t warned about the lackey part. Take this latest bunch of Stella-wannabes – they were sent to the Essex port of Tilbury at the crack of dawn to take delivery of container loads of toilet paper, bottled water and novelty waving Chinese cats (if I’d been a customs officer, I’d have taken a saw to a random sample of those cats). Then they had to flog the lot by tea-time and drag themselves to Sugar’s lair for a verbal monstering.

Divided along gender lines into teams Evolve (the women) and Endeavour (the men – make of the sexual semiotics what you will), Jason (“I feel my effortless superiority will take me all the way”) and Jaz (“half machine” – see above) pushed themselves forward as team-leaders – Jason’s effortless superiority struggling to assert itself and Jaz’s half-machine quickly going on the blink. “She’s a teacher and it shows”, snarked restaurateur Sophie, before being dragged back into the boardroom as a potential human sacrifice for Jez’s losing and rapidly devolving Evolve.

Other contestants to watch are Neil, a John Simm lookalike who stands in the boardroom because it’s easier to knife his seated teammates in the back, and Leah, a young doctor from Northern Ireland, with the hair, lips and glassy expression of a Barbie doll. Anyway, Jaz it was who got Sugar’s stubby forefinger and a black cab back to Milton Keynes and her day job as a Literary and Education Company Director. Good luck with that.

So it was very much business as usual at The Apprentice, a global franchise that probably has no option but to stick to its winning formula. Nick Hewer certainly had no intention of changing his repertoire of grimaces and scowls, while the boys and girls still have that odd, chin-height way of talking into their mobiles. More worryingly for the long-term prospects of the show is that the contestants are beginning to be indistinguishable from earlier series, and frankly I give the whole thing two more years.

Any alterations were cosmetic, including a posh new receptionist (sounding oddly like Katie Hopkins from series three – perhaps she needed the temping work) and a new ‘luxury house’, styled like an oligarch’s pier-a-terre, in Holborn. “Which is where all the lawyers and barristers hang out”, explained Sugar. If that’s a recommendation, then I’m Napoleon. Or half machine.

Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape