Last Night's Viewing: The Apprentice, BBC1
Bankers, BBC2

 

I think The Apprentice may have peaked a little early this year. I'm not convinced we're going to get a better mission statement than the one delivered in the opening episode: "We're going to run like hell to sell those ukuleles", a line that to me cries out to be set to music.

And since the format is beginning to show its age, it's really only the hope of similar verbal absurdities that keeps you going back week after week. The weary familiarity of the programme's storytelling – the almost liturgical way in which each episode is stitched together – raises another problem. We've seen these rituals so often – the taking of the telephone call, the pitch for retail orders, the doleful tramp to the Loser's Cafe – that there's not nearly enough juice left in them to distract you from the fibrous matter, and when you start thinking about that you start asking awkward questions.

Why are they always so surprised to get a call from Lord Sugar, for example, running around the house squealing in their pajamas as if the very last thing they could have imagined was being called on to perform in a reality-television show? More pointedly, when the "major retailers" that Lord Sugar is always boasting about laying on as potential customers make their bids for product, are they just spending imaginary money? One assumes that none of them are stupid enough to part with real cash for the half-baked monstrosities they're required to judge, but if that's the case, what's the point? Everyone knows you can't play poker for matchsticks. What makes it real is the risk of losing.

It may explain, anyway, how the men's team last night got a staggering order of 2,500 units for a rather clunky table/chair hybrid – their response to being challenged to come up with a new piece of flat-pack furniture. Either that or the buyers in question were still dazed by the abysmal quality of the opposition, a "multi-purpose" piece of furniture that the women had dubbed the Tidy-Sidy. It turned out to be a box on wheels, multi-purpose only in the sense that you could store things inside it or on top of the lid, though it did also perform the function of goading Lord Sugar into action in the board room.

There's always a moment, he told its rueful-looking inventors, when the prototype turns up and "you know – either this is a right lemon... or we're on the right lines here". And you're the man who signed off on the Amstrad E-mailer, you thought, a product so fragrantly citric you could have made lemon curd out of it. But humility is not Lord Sugar's strong point. He dubbed the Tidy-Sidy the "Wishy-Washy Poxy-Boxy" and fired the person least responsible for bringing it to market, because his gut had told him to. My gut is decreasingly inclined to watch The Apprentice, I find.

At least the apprentices aren't losing vast amounts of our money, unlike the self-regarding sacks of bombast at the heart of Bankers, which this week detailed some of the catastrophes that followed the debt crisis, in a period when you might think that prudence would have reasserted itself. In fact, such was the hubris of some of those who'd come through relatively unscathed or spotted an opportunity among the piles of financial carrion, that several of them did it all over again.

The qualities that The Apprentice encourages in its participants – win-at-all-costs competitiveness and wild over-estimation of their own talents – is precisely what delivered the financial crisis, only magnified a thousand times by the deregulation of the financial markets. And instead of the Poxy-Boxy we got nation states on the brink of bankruptcy. Still, some of the big bankers were so chastened they cut their bonuses to just $10m. Think of that.

twitter.com/tds153

Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
books
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
film
Arts and Entertainment
Go figure: Matt Parker, wearing the binary code scarf knitted by his mother
comedy Mathematician is using comedy nights to teach and preach sums
Arts and Entertainment
Ryan Gosling in 'Drive'
filmReview: Ryan Gosling is still there, but it's a very different film
Arts and Entertainment
Urban explorer: Rose Rouse has documented her walks around Harlesden, and the people that she’s encountered along the way
books Rouse's new book discusses her four-year tour of Harlesden
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Franco Zeffirelli's production of 'Aida' at Milan's famed La Scala opera house
operaLegendary opera director in battle with theatre over sale of one of his 'greatest' productions
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Juergen Wolf won the Young Masters Art Prize 2014 with his mixed media painting on wood, 'Untitled'
art
Arts and Entertainment
Iron Man and Captain America in a scene from
filmThe upcoming 'Black Panther' film will feature a solo black male lead, while a female superhero will take centre stage in 'Captain Marvel'
Arts and Entertainment
The Imperial War Museum, pictured, has campaigned to display copyrighted works during the First World War centenary
art
Arts and Entertainment
American Horror Story veteran Sarah Paulson plays conjoined twins Dot and Bette Tattler
tvReview: Yes, it’s depraved for the most part but strangely enough it has heart to it
Arts and Entertainment
The mind behind Game of Thrones George R. R. Martin
books

Will explain back story to fictional kingdom Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Dorothy in Return to Oz

film Unintentionally terrifying children's movies to get you howling (in fear, tears or laughter)
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robert James-Collier as under-butler Thomas

TVLady Edith and Thomas show sad signs of the time
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Dad's Army cast hit the big screen

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge

books
Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning?
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
music review
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

    Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

    Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
    The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

    Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

    Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
    Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

    What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

    Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
    A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

    Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

    Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
    Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

    'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

    A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

    Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

    The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
    Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

    Paul Scholes column

    Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
    Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

    Frank Warren column

    Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
    Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

    Adrian Heath's American dream...

    Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
    Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities