The Apprentice: Welcome Back my friend, I’ve missed you.

We’re not looking for Lord Lucan”

Said Lord Sugar as he embarked on another 12 week process to find his next Apprentice.  Lord Sugar and the viewers all have a pretty good Idea what he’s looking for already. He likes a nice man/woman with a decent knowledge of business but not one who shoots their mouth off or one who sits idly by while they’re teammates come up with the ideas. He likes a smartly dressed, polite not too much in your face candidate who will nod in agreement and smile at him when a smile or nod is deemed appropriate but not someone who behaves like a crawler and comes across too eager to impress him. He can spot those sort a mile off. And to be fair after seven series so can we.  So you may ask yourself if think we know the final outcome so well  why would we waste 12 weeks of our lives watching?  Well the answer there is simple and to the point: (just the sort of answer Lord Sugar would approve of) we love everything about The Apprentice. Everything.

Now in its eighth series the format magically manages to still be interesting and exciting. There are elements you’ve come to expect like the arrogant nature with which every contestant addresses the camera and the over excitement when they first set  their gawping eyes on the house but it doesn’t matter that everything about is so farmiliar because its fantastic.

The opening task was to print up merchandise with a branding of their choice  and unleash it on the unsuspecting general public who would in turn spend their money on some tat that they’d no doubt  forget about days later. As is usual in the opening episode it was Lord Sugar split the teams into Boys v Girls and we were off and running.  The first big decision each team is faced with is choosing a name. The name is important as it will stay with the team for the rest of the process. Pick a bad one and you’re stuck with it. On previous series this somewhat simple task has resulting in early arguments, disagreements and hours of deliberation but this series the decision was reached seemingly quickly.  The boys went with Phoenix and the girls with Sterling which came to one of them in a dream and therefore must be a sign of some kind. Names decided the next task is to choose a Project Leader. Any Apprentice fan worth his salt will tell you that  it’s a  bad, no terrible, no disastrous idea to put yourself forward as the first Project Manager. You’ll be fired before Lord Sugar has had time to talk to your colleagues. It’s a death sentence. It would be quicker to walk to the gallows yourself but of course someone has to do it. The boys seemed more than aware of this pitfall and kept their hands firmly in their pockets when the subject was raised but on the girl’s side architect Gabrielle bravely (or stupidly) volunteered.

To their credit Sterling’s design for their kids clothes and bags looked promising but when they were left unsure of how much stock they wanted the wheels of disaster were set firmly in motion.
Don’t get me wrong the boys weren’t much better. They went for generic, stereotypical and shoddily produced bags and Teddy Bears that looked as poor as some of their suits.  As is quite usual in this opening round, at no point did common sense prevail. I mean would you buy a teddy bear for 15 pounds? No?  Thought not.  The efforts of both teams were horrendously poor, cheap looking and uninspired.

Back in the boardroom and I hoped the girls with their cocky, pushy sales techniques would flat on their faces.  Phoenix (not a bad name commented Lord Sugar) left Lord Sugar unimpressed with Jack the Teddy bear and the imperfect bags with smudged double decker busses.  Sterling on other hand received some praise for their design on the bags but the joy there was to be short lived as they found themselves completely and utterly trounced  when Karen and Nick read out the total profits.

I’m not going to spoil it by revealing which of them got the boot first but the answer will probably be staring you in the face once the bitchfest that is the final boardroom kicks off. As an opening episode to a series I’ve seen better. I wasn’t able to pick out any characters this early who I think have a shot and either being someone I love to hate or someone I’d love to win but I’m sure that will come with time. People have moaned and groaned about the Olympics but just think if it weren’t for London 2012 we wouldn’t be seeing this series so early in the year. Thanks Olympic committee! As I say it wasn’t the strongest of opening episode but I had a smile on my little face for the entire hour just glad to be back in the boardroom with Lord Sugar, Nick and Karen and after all its the simple pleasures that make life bearable isn’t it?

Meet the Candidates Here

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