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The Apprentice 2016 UK – Heaven Help Us All!

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The Apprentice

The Apprentice is possibly my favourite TV show ever – but for all the wrong reasons.

The Apprentice is a show I have been watching for many years.

It is my weekly dose of Sugar. Alan Sugar is the only form of sugar I can take and not fall asleep half an hour later.

Alan Sugar is the only form of sugar I can take and not fall asleep half an hour later. Click To Tweet

Back in 2014, I wrote a blog post about The Apprentice in which I was pretty scathing about the candidates.

I opened that post with these words:

‘The Apprentice is back on our screens and already I am in despair over the glaring discrepancy between the candidates’ ludicrous self-puffery and their actual abilities.’

I went on to warn that if parents of tiny children insist on telling little Oscar how clever he is every single time he does the most mundane things, he will grow up to be like the most annoying candidates on the Apprentice.

There is a major discrepancy between the candidates’ ludicrous self-puffery and their actual… Click To Tweet

Everywhere in life we encounter people who believe they can get by in life simply by banging on about how great they are at everything without actually being obviously great at anything.

The Apprentice still appears, in 2016, to be populated with people who don’t understand the difference between being brilliant and telling people they are brilliant.

They big themselves up before a task, only to look completely baffled (and hurt!) in the board room when Lord Sugar bigs up their total incompetence, in simple tasks they have failed at by a million miles.

When I see the baffled looks, I think of all the witless parents I have seen praising their kids to high heaven for being able to draw a crappy ‘circle’ on a piece of paper.

If the ‘circle’ actually looks like a lopsided chicken, it is probably best that you don’t start yelling, “clever boy! You made a circle!”

He may end up on the Apprentice one day believing that lopsided chickens are suitable substitutes for actual circles.

And he will look crestfallen when Lord Sugar ridicules his ‘circle’ and fires him.

It’s much kinder to say, “well I can see you really tried with that and if you were going for a lopsided chicken, it’s brilliant! But if you were thinking ‘circle’, little Jimmy, it’s a bit shit. Try again and try harder.

The Apprentice
We need to be careful and realistic with our praise of children’s achievements otherwise it becomes meaningless.

As I said in my post from 2014, the Apprentice is, in my opinion, one of the most entertaining but disturbing shows on TV today.

Since I wrote it, I have watched last year’s show and am halfway through the 2016 one and, my opinion has not changed at all.

To quote from my last article:

‘Every year we see a bunch of youngsters bigging themselves up to bursting point. They all say the same stuff – “I’m passionate, I’m the best there is, I could sell ice to Eskimos, I’m like a young Lord Sugar” etc etc etc.’

And then they totally screw up the simplest of tasks.

It is deeply disturbing to me that out of all the candidates who applied to go on the show, these ones were chosen as the best of the bunch. Is this the kind of business talent our country has to offer?

Are these people Lord Sugar’s best hope for turning his £250,000 investment into £250,000000? I hope not.

I hope that the producers, or whoever chooses the candidates, are selecting them based on how entertaining they will be rather than how astute they are in business.


There is rarely any substance to back up the grand claims these candidates make about themselves and I am still firmly behind my belief that people like this come from the “wow! Well done, clever you!” generation who fail to understand that what grandma has always said about your abilities may not be true.

Grandmas are biased.

I am very careful in my praise for my grandchildren, I make sure it is honest and encouraging. I don’t tell them their ‘circle’ is brilliant if it looks like a lopsided chicken.

It is effort and tenacity that I praise and when the circle loses its chicken-like appearance, then I start to praise that too. We need our children to grow and persevere so that the self-belief they take into the world is realistic.

Last week, the Apprentice was slightly more encouraging to watch.

We saw 25 year old Frances Bishop lead Team Nebula to a spectacular victory in Episode 7, the boat show task.

However, the rare but glorious financial success achieved by Team Nebula on that task was counterbalanced by the spectacular fail brought home by Team Titan, lead by Karthick Nagesan.

Karthick, is now famous for an extremely disturbing quote about his abilities as a project manager. During the boat show task autopsy, prior to his unprecedented firing, before the final boardroom showdown, he tried to impress Lord Sugar with this:

“I even project managed the conception of my baby boy. I know the exact hotel room in the exact country on the exact day he was conceived. How many parents can give the gift of that information to their kids?”

Say what? At some point in his life, I can see Karthick’s son with his fingers in his ears singing la la la la la. No-one wants that information from their parents. No-one.

So, thus far through the Apprentice 2016, I stand by the advice I gave parents about praise back in 2014.

Encourage your children by all means. Be supportive but don’t throw praise around like cheap confetti. Save the ‘wow well dones’ for genuine achievements to help them learn the difference between mediocrity and excellence and to give them something to aspire to.

Be a supportive parent but don’t throw praise around like cheap confetti. Click To Tweet

If mummy jumps up and down and says “good boy! Clever boy! Look daddy, Oscar made a dot on the paper! Clever boy!”, then you aren’t going to develop your mark-making skills beyond the dot because the dot you did was obviously the best thing ever.

That is where, I believe, self-delusion begins, unless you have sensible parents or teachers who save the really lavish praise for achievements of substance.

The Apprentice
Do you fancy yourself as a business partner to Lord Sugar?

If you’ve ever thought about going on the Apprentice… I beg you – if you have any genuine business acumen, creativity and common sense, please apply and make the next Apprentice, whenever that may be, a year when we in the UK can say, wow, these people are our future.

Next time, I don’t want to sit and cringe at the dreadful ‘viral’ video ideas that supposedly clever and creative young people are coming up with.

I want to feel confident that there are young people out there with common sense and abilities that could make this country prosperous (or failing that, just Lord Sugar).

Keep up with the programme here on Facebook.

What is your view on the Apprentice (either lead by Lord Sugar in the UK or President Trump in the US!)

Is there a version of the Apprentice in your country – what is it like?

12 thoughts on “The Apprentice 2016 UK – Heaven Help Us All!”

  1. Oh dear, I cannot watch shows like this. I always feel ashamed for the contestants. So very ashamed. I can’t help it. The only competition reality show that doesn’t drive me nuts is the Australian MasterChef. 😀 😀 😀

  2. I’ve never watched the Apprentice and would love to follow it. The problem is that we don’t have TV right now and not sure whether we’ll reverse our decision not to reconnect it.
    Happy New Year, Gilly. Sending love and blessings to you and your family. Praying that your parents keep well in 2017.

    1. Hi Corinne – many thanks for this comment and your blessings. Not having TV is a very good decision. We teeter on the edge of getting rid of ours and don’t watch very much at all – I could easily live without it as long as I still have music. And all the best to you and your family for 2017 – may it be a peaceful, healthy year for us all. xxx

  3. This reminded me of a time when my oldest daughter was about 5 years old. She had drawn a few really good pictures. She had spent time working on them and they were cute and I told her that. But each picture came faster and faster and sloppier and sloppier. So finally I said, “You can do better than this.” My mom, who was at my house at the time, was mortified!! She couldn’t believe I said that but it was true. Why would I tell her it was great when she only spent a minute scribbling on a piece of paper?

    1. Sorry Jen – I just saw that I never responded to this – how rude! That’s good parenting – makes children more realistic about their abilities and makes them strive to be the very best they can be instead of settling for ‘mediocre me’. Thanks for your visit.

  4. We don’t get the UK Apprentice here, but I have seen snippets of it. I think we have our own version here in Aus, but I have never watched it. We have a version of the Dragon’s Den here, called Shark Tank. Pretty similar really – everyone believing that their idea is wonderful, most of them unprepared believing their sheer ‘genius’ oozes out of their pores and deserves credit (and financial reward).

    I have a couple of thoughts about this:

    1. Do the producers actively choose these kinds of participants in the name of ‘entertainment’? I really hope so because if someone seeing his ability to ejaculate as a form of project management is all we have to look forward to, then truly we are doomed!

    2. I agree that in our attempt to overcome the ‘awful’ childhoods we had, we tend to mollycoddle our kids, who get mortally offended if we tell them they are less than brilliant. As a result, we have bred mediocrity in various forms, which is now rife in every facet of life you can imagine.

    I find I am drawn to X-factor or Idol or So You Think You Can Dance for the same reason. Parents telling their less-than-talented children that they can sing or dance sets them up for failure and then Cowell is vilified for calling them out on that, laughing all the way to the bank I might add whilst we all laugh at said offspring on the show he owns.

    It would be very refreshing, would it not to have a panel of participants who WERE brilliant and each week we were devastated as they fell one by one. That would be refreshing, and life affirming.

    Great article Gilly, as always.


    1. Thank you Sarah for such a well thought out comment – especially as I know where you are right now (unless that have sent you home?). Yes – I absolutely agree about the X Factor too! We call them stage school brats. It is so sad when parents have been so delusional about their children’s ‘talents’ that they set them up for such massive falls. Sadly, the really talented ones always get voted off! Weird. Hope you are ok and are being treated well. Let me know. xxx

  5. God help British Industry in the future,but aren’t they entertaining i love it even if they make me cringe at times.
    They are all stupidly pompous but i love them all.
    Gilly I will be in touch about the writing course.

    1. Hello Tarquin – how lovely to see you! Yes – God help British industry indeed! Thanks so much for stopping by and reading. Will call you.

  6. ‘circle’ is brilliant if it looks like a lopsided chicken.- that’s so funny!!
    “I even project managed the conception of my baby boy.- WHAT???? Is he for real?? No, just NO!!
    I watched a few episodes of Apprentice years ago. Nope, couldn’t handle it! “Reality” TV has very little reality!

    On another note, I tried to comment on your pumpkin cake, but it wouldn’t let me cuz I had to sign in. Then, I couldn’t figure out where to do that.

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