Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Apprentice: 9 out of 10 cats

The second episode of The Apprentice was on last night, along with BBC Three's new accompanying programme "You're Fired!", presented by the excellent and occasionally very cutting Adrian Chiles. It seems that the candidates themselves have not been allowed to see the finished footage until the same week as the viewing public, and the "You're Fired!" show is then filmed the day before the broadcast, rather than back in the autumn when the core series was produced. This adds the benefit of hindsight but retains some of the surprise value when the candidates see what the others have been saying about them. I strongly recommend this additional half-hour for further chances to see gobby Saira babbling happily (she seems to suffer a serious loser-denial complex), and for the hilarious psycho-analysis of the flopped candidates.

So, a synopsis of Episode 2. Each team had to prepare and pitch a Great Ormond Street charity fundraising calendar, to Harrods, Virgin Megastore and the Calendar Club. The girls, led by Nargis, chose a cat theme whilst the boys, led by Sam, chose a baby theme. The boys won, despite only being picked up by one buyer against the girls' three. Cue crying from Jo, Sam and Tuan, and the startling realisation on watching "You're Fired!" that Nargis is actually quite fit, when she's not flustered and exhausted.

My view is that the boys won by default because the idea of choosing a cat theme for a children's charity was obviously flawed, and then Nargis's delivery of the presentation was so painful that is was clear the biggest sale she had closed until then in her day job as a pharmacist, was flogging some paracetamol to go with someone's prescription. The normally impassive Nick Hewer rolled his eyes each time she delivered the excruciating "did you know that there are 6m cat owners in Britain and 1/3 of them are in London?".

Better still was the halting delivery of each dull statement and the barking of "I haven't finished" at the poor buyers. And I actually paused the show to wet myself laughing at the showdown staring contest when she demanded that they name a price, after they had asked her how much the calendars cost.

Other highlights included the tantrums of the infernal Jo, and the un-macho weepy moments of Tuan and Sam, and Ruth's hilarious statement in thick Brummie about how "people in Birmingham won't be buying it just because it's Great Ormond Street, they will be buying it because its got kittens in there." Good to see their priorities are right.

I will hold back on my criticism of Jo until she gets fired, which cannot be too far away. In the meantime, as someone who spends about 70 hours a week working in business, I think the show's cast is totally unrepresentative:

A. Business is vastly male-dominated, except in the HR function, which is chock-full of women like Jo.
B. Sadly, it is also much whiter - out of 14 people there are 3 Asians, 1 Black and a Vietnamese, ie more than a third.
C. There are only two Jews (Alexa and Sam), whilst everybody knows that in the real world Jews control everything. Of course this is offset by Sugar himself...

Please, please, please, can I finally get some conversation going on Freedmanslife - any views and feedback on the show is welcome here - let's get a proper forum going. And then I can fire one of you each week for the most inane remarks.

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