The Apprentice, BBC1, TV review: 'Self-aggrandising nicompoops' return

Ten years after it first aired, The Apprentice is still the best business show on television

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The Apprentice is ten this year, which meant a few celebratory changes to the new series' format. Not that Lord Alan Sugar is much given to misty-eyed nostalgia. After nearly a decade of telling garrulous young Business Studies grads to shut it, he seemed more gruff than ever - exactly as we like him, in other words.

Four extra candidates also meant extra opportunities to extend his iconic sausage finger across the boardroom and shout “You’re fired!”, so they ought to have been on their best behaviour. Were they? Of course not.

Early standouts included the girls’ team manager Sarah, whose sales strategy amounted to looking pretty (sample sales patter: “Most people will buy from females because they’re more attractive to look at.”) On the boys’ team Robert wore loafers with no socks and insisted they spent a fortune on gourmet hot-dog toppings (sample sales patter: “We went to Shoreditch, which is a very edgy area...”) There was also Felipe, the Columbian lawyer who habitually referred to himself in the third person (sample sales patter: “Felipe is a dreamer who believes that everything is possible. Felipe’s strategy is to be Felipe”) and Steven, a highly-strung Canadian social worker with a bad case of verbal diarrhoea (sample sales patter: “It’s not gonna be just a potato, it’s gonna be an experience.”)


It was Steven at the centre of this episode’s major upset. His teammates singled him out as a disruptive influence, but shrewd Sir Alan was quickly able to see the situation as it really was. Steven was “an irritant, no doubt about it”, but on the matter of project manager Charles’s poor decision-making, Steven also happened to be right.

The Apprentice boss Alan Sugar

After ten series, The Apprentice is still the best business show on television because it isn’t just about entrepreneurship, it’s also about the hell that is other people - and everyone who’s ever had a job knows something about that. As another candidate, Daniel, almost said, there’s no ‘i’ in team, but there are two in ‘self-aggrandising nincompoop’.