Sir Alan, You’re Fired

I would truly like to know how the latest series of “The Apprentice” managed to get such adulatory coverage right across the media. The winner seems to be getting more attention than Prince Harry did for going to Afghanistan, the only thing missing was The Drudge leaking the result before it was officially announced. And this for a tired programme that over the years has turned itself into a send-up of “Wacky Races” with Sir Alan Sugar himself becoming a cartoon character of a businessman. If that’s how he treats people who work for him I certainly wouldn’t set foot inside his boardroom for a paltry £100,000.

When I started watching the first series it was in the hope of seeing bright young people showing ingenuity and business acumen, a showcase for British entrepreneurial talent. Instead, we see Dick Dastardly, Muttley the Dog, Penelope Pitstop and a whole cast of others compete in a series of wacky challenges with ever more emphasis given to celebrating failure. I appreciate that the exercises are little more than scenarios to let a group of people work together to see how they perform. They are just like team-building exercises where you have to cross an imaginary river with a piece of rope, a plank that’s too short and a lot of shouting at each other. Success, therefore, is not whether you get across or not, but how well you work together and how well one of you leads the team.

What we end up with is a “boardroom” meeting where skill at passing the buck is what gets you through to the next round. It doesn’t matter how useless you were during that week’s challenge as long as there was someone else you could make look more useless than you. The formula could have been used to accentuate the positive and in the early series that’s the way I tried to view it, open minded and optimistic. But the producers, as is so common today, have felt the need to go down-market for audience share, to compete with “Big Brother” on it’s own territory, to show us contestants disintegrating before our very eyes. It has not been a happy spectacle.

So Sir Alan, I’m sorry but, “You’re fired.”