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Donald MacInnes: The Apprentice is just the job for a novice punter

In The Red

While I take some pride in telling people that I'm not a betting man, there are one or two exceptions to my abstinence from that kind of perilous financial speculation.

First, the Grand National. For the vast majority of the sporting year I have little or no interest in horse racing and personally find the whole Grand National thing rather distasteful, given the doom awaiting any animals that happen to break a leg as they negotiate the fearful mountains of leylandii punctuating the Aintree circuit.

As US comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said, if the horses were aware that, should they come a cropper their fate would be a bullet behind the ear, you would see some mighty careful stepping down the home stretch. He imagined the lead horse would soothingly tell his fellow nags: "Eeeaaasy, fellas. No sense getting hurt. You win, I'll place. It's all the same oat bag. The most important thing is your health."

Having said that, if someone waves a hat under my nose containing bits of paper with horses' names on them, saying I could win whatever the pot is, I'm in. Yes, I'm aware I'm a hypocrite. Hypocrisy is a nasty character trait. But not as nasty as some of the personality flaws displayed by most of the runners and riders in that other annual galloping bloodbath: The Apprentice.

The BBC Nutjob Selection Department has done us proud again in its corralling of 15 of the country's most delusional business fantasists. I suspect you would get a more reasonable commentary on the state of Britain's entrepreneurial acumen from the end of the horse which doesn't go neigh. That's its bum, if you were wondering.

You may recall last year, when I was part of an Apprentice sweep in the office with Jamie and Warren. Although I won the pot (£15), the fact that we managed to pick three of the final four contestants means there were no real losers. Well, apart from Jamie and Warren.

So, our money is on the table again, but this year my wife wants in. And, of course, we would be delighted to admit her. Not only will her £5 swell the pot, but I can hopefully manipulate her choice, by starting a whispering campaign on our couch, extolling the virtues of one of the more unlikely candidates.

Mind you, the horse I picked for this year's Grand National is, I think, still trotting around the course, so what do I know?