So, after 16 months away, during which time we’ve arguably seen the runner-up of the last series, Kate Walsh, more on our screens than the winner, Yasmina Siadatan, The Apprentice is back, with the boss having a new title of Baron Sugar of Clapton, and already I love it! Dara O’Brian looks like a great replacement for Adrian Chiles, who is running the roost at ITV now, on You’re Fired, Karren Brady is more involved than Margaret Mountford, and all in all the series looks like it’s back with a bang. Now obviously for anyone who is reading this without having seen the first episode of the Apprentice – if so, you’re reading the wrong article! – this is going to contain massive *SPOILERS*
This series was pitched as a credit crunch beater, with the contestants including a recently-unemployed communications manager, a graduate struggling to find a job and a handful of self-made entrepreneurs. Already the public will be deciding who they love and who they hate, and no doubt somewhere near the top of the list will be Stuart ‘The Brand’ Baggs, who immediately introduced himself as an salesman so good at selling that “everything [he] touches turns to sold” and generally came off as an arrogant piece of work. As a result he ended up in the last 3, with Sugar admitting that he nearly got sacked along with Dan Harris, who did himself a favour by “putting his balls on the line” and volunteering to be the first Project Manager of Team Synergy, but that’s probably all he did right. He introduced himself as a candidate with a “JFDI business style – Just F****n’ Do It” but it seemed he didn’t bring this into play during the first task, when, ordered to make and sell sausages, he sold a pitiful £14 worth of produce. Now his justification for such was that he was managing, not selling, but if he had taken another £15, his team would have won, so it puts it into perspective. All in all, a good decision by Sugar. The rest of the Synergy team did not really stand out, but they include unemployed Alex, who was the third person in the board room, Chris, an investment banker from Surrey, Raleigh, an unemployed graduate, Shibby, a surgeon whose negotiation skills were less than impressive, Jamie, a property developer, and Christopher who is an ex-Royal Marine Commando now working as a mortgage broker. As far as I was concerned, Synergy looked like the best of a bad bunch, but their sales reflected that I was, in this case, wrong.
Apollo were the opposing, or, as it currently stands, the female group, and they came out of this meat fiasco victorious. As is usually the case with the beginning of any series of the Apprentice, the Project Manager, Joanne Riley, who seems a lot older than her 25 years, given that she is fairly business-minded and owns her own cleaning company, but she was overshadowed by two of her team members, 24 year-old Investment Banker Liz Locke and Stella English, 30 years old and a Head of Business Management from London. These two shone because they didn’t get into the arguing that consumed Joanne and 27 year old Food Business Manager Melissa Cohen, who both decided that they wanted to close a particular deal, and as far as I’m concerned almost lost the deal, and instead concentrated on formulating an impressive pricing strategy, prompting Nick to commend them in the board room, saying they were “hot on their figures.” I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them was suggested to be the next Project Manager. The rest of the girls didn’t really stand out, but often the editing procedure on The Apprentice means that they highlight certain candidates more than others, but they are: well-travelled Joy Stefanicki, the oldest candidate at 31 and is a Marketing and PR Director from Birmingham, Paloma Vivanco, who is 29 and a London-based Senior Marketing Manager who also likes to travel, Sandeesh Samra, 26, who made her name in recruitment and is, according to her profile at least, very customer driven, and Laura Moore, one of the youngest on the show aged just 22, and a Business Development Manager from Warwickshire.
Hopefully next week’s task, where they are tasked with designing a new beach accessory, is as eventful as both this episode, and the main holiday-themed task that sticks in my mind, where the previous candidates had to revamp the coastal town of Margate, and they failed miserably. I wait with anticipation!