So, The Apprentice is over for another year. Sigh. The winner was announced on Sunday evening as Ricky Martin, beating favourites Tom, Nick and Jade to the post, as business plans were both championed and ripped apart. Interviews have always been my favourite stage of the show. Claude never disappoints when it comes to giving some cocky candidates a much-needed put down. Margaret, too, puts in a comedic performance, eyebrows ever-aloft as she looks in astonishment at the sometimes deluded, sometimes arrogant candidates in front of her. Strangely enough, most of this year’s raised eyebrows and put-downs were aimed at 2012 winner, Ricky Martin, his application suggesting he was some kind of God, and that he would teach an old dog (i.e. Alan Sugar) new tricks. However, what saved him from their scorn was a surprisingly good, simple, and comprehensive business plan, namely a recruitment agency for Science-specific job searchers.
What has become increasinly evident since the show’s format change, looking for a business partner rather than an employee/apprentice, is that the winner is not based on performance throughout the show, but on the business plan. It begs the question: What’s the point in all those weeks of tasks when, in reality, all that you need to win is a good business proposition that appeals to Lord Sugar? Jade is a prime example, a favourite to win, well-liked, good performance throughout the show, but fired because her business plan was essentially a call centre, something which Lord Sugar was not willing to risk his repute on. The same happened last year. Helen, winner in all tasks but one, strong candidate on all measures, lost out to Tom because her secretarial business plan did not appeal.
Of course, from an entertainment and televisual perspective, the tasks are a great way of getting to know the candidates, see their journey and how they progress throughout the show. However, when this does nothing to add to the final outcome, to who eventually gets to hear the words “You’re hired”, is the inclusion of those tasks, that journey, somewhat problematic and futile? Does it not undermine the entire premise of the show?
Now, I love The Apprentice as much as the next person. However, I can’t help but feel its magic could eventually be lost as audiences become disillusioned and disinterested in a show’s winner being based on a singular episode rather than an entire series.