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The Apprentice

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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.

The Apprentice
My weekly dose of Sugar

If you want to see what the trend for over-praising children has done to the rising generations, watch The Apprentice closely and see what empty adults over-indulged children make.

And parents of tiny children take note, if you 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. I am talking about the ones 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 outside their own world of experience.

The Apprentice is, in my opinion, one of the most entertaining but disturbing shows on TV today. 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.

However, once the action starts, we see there is no real substance behind many of the bold claims and I really do blame the parents and teachers of what I call the “Wow! Well done!” generation.

I saw a lot of this kind of empty praise going on in schools when I worked with under-achieving children in mainstream education. The idea was to praise, praise, praise to break through low self-esteem barriers but it doesn’t work, it just creates young adults who think they don’t have to do much to get high praise. Then they discover the real world where actual results matter and empty claims get found out very quickly.

Encourage your child or pupil 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.

If your mother 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 the self-delusion begins, unless you have sensible parents or teachers who save the really lavish praise for achievements of substance.

Quite how the producers of The Apprentice go about choosing the candidates I do not know, but I feel sure there must be an element of picking people for their potential entertainment value rather than any true hope that they could be Lord Sugar’s next business partner.

I mean, did anyone look at former PA Sarah Dales and seriously think for one minute that her child-like petulance and obsession with getting business through wearing shorts skirts and make-up would be a good match for Lord Sugar? Did anyone really think handing her £250,000 of his money would be a good idea?

Anyone with Victoria Beckham as a role model would have rung alarm bells for me. Not because I don’t like Victoria Beckham – I don’t know her, but because I don’t think that is an intelligent thing to say when you want to get into business with Lord Sugar.

There are so many female entrepreneurs that have got where they are today without pouting moodily from the pages of Hello magazine, that she could have picked someone more known for business balls than for tits and teeth or being a footballer’s wife.

It is hard to believe that whoever selects the candidates is not on the ball enough to pick up on people who are, in my opinion, whiny, spoilt and emotionally immature. I mean who has stand up petty arguments on the street, in front of potential customers? Who struts around saying “I’m the project manager” every two seconds instead of actually project managing? Great TV though.

If the producers also look for entertaining no-hopers to pad out the show as well as genuine potential business partners, then they have done a sterling job this year.

Otherwise, it would be scary to think that this lot genuinely are the best the UK has to offer in the year 2014 and I would dread to think what the rejects were like.

We are only into the third week of The Apprentice and already Nick Hewer and Karen Brady seem to be despairing of some candidates and their antics. Quite how Karen Brady kept her cool over Sarah Dale’s inappropriate instructions for her team to wear short skirts and make-up to get sales I’ll never know.

Nick Hewer’s disgust at candidate decisions and actions always comes across so well during filming without the need for words. He is a master of using his facial muscles to communicate his thoughts to the watching public and Karen seems to have the same talent. They both make great TV and although I hate the term ‘he doesn’t suffer fools gladly’, they certainly don’t and it is very entertaining.

Whilst they seem annoyed and bemused in equal measure by what some of the candidates do, there does also seem to be an underlying desire for them to do well at the tasks and their reactions sometimes seem as if they are genuinely frustrated that some people are not doing better.

There are a few promising candidates in The Apprentice this year though but sadly, one of the best left last night after realising she was totally out of her depth with the load of deluded wannabes she found herself with.

Swimming academy owner Lindsay Booth may be one of the most real and likeable candidates The Apprentice has ever seen. While perhaps not right for the cut-throat world of business at Lord Sugar’s level, I believe she showed herself to be an absolute gem amongst a load of pea shingle.

We hear a lot of talk from youngsters these day about ‘keepin’ it real’ while they are doing anything but – however, Lindsay did just that with an enormous amount of humility which showed her true worth as a grounded human being.

She seemed genuinely bemused at the embarrassing, erratic antics of her fellow candidates when they were trying to sell candles. I don’t think she was incapable of doing it – I just think she was knocked off centre by the noisy din of the empty vessels around her.

It seemed like the first time she had encountered such self-absorbed people with unrealistic ideas about their own talents. I am glad for her that she is out of the pool of sharks because I think she is better off in a pool with the children she teaches to swim. I hope her academy grows and grows – she deserves it.

But what of the rest? Roisin Hogan seems very capable at this point and is one who does not seem full of empty promises. She has poise and humility and is articulate, unlike many of the other candidates who seem to think fast repetition of a word shows managerial skills as in:



“woahwoahwoahwoahwoahwoahwoah” .

We used to do that in primary school to get the attention of the teacher when we knew the right answer as in:

“MissMissMissMissMissMiss!” It didn’t work then either.

Another irritating habit is this modern tendency of showing what an ‘emotionally intelligent’, ‘assertive’ person you are by saying “I’m talking now, be quiet. Will you let me finish?” over and over again while the other person talks over you. Or sometimes, “When I’m finished talking, you can have your turn. That’s called a conversation.” Really?

Oh how mature these people are. And they never seem to learn, you just don’t tell Lord Sugar how much like him you are, especially when you have also said how much like Del Boy you are. Those two comparisons do betray a certain level of confusion about successful men that isn’t likely to impress Lord Sugar.

And then there are the ‘Lord Lickers’ as I call them who utter Lord Sugar’s name every three words as if he is royalty. “Yes Lord Sugar. I really want this Lord Sugar. It won’t happen again Lord Sugar. Just give me a chance Lord Sugar. I’ll show you what I can do Lord Sugar.” Shut the f*@% up!!!! There is enough sugar there to make a bloody cake big enough to feed London for a week!

Don’t get me wrong, I think Lord Sugar is to be respected for the business man he is, but he doesn’t strike me as someone who likes backside lickers who bow and scrape to him while repeating his name every two seconds. It’s so uncomfortable to watch – he is just a successful businessman/celeb, he isn’t God. We are all equal in our humanity, which comes before race, financial status and breeding – so cut it out guys and have some self-respect!

Anyway, the more irritating the candidates on The Apprentice get, the better viewing it is. This looks as if it is shaping up to be one of the best yet and this year’s ‘You’re Fired!’ twist is making it compulsive viewing.

Thank you Lord Sugar. You’re great Lord Sugar. The Apprentice is the best Lord Sugar. Jesus! Much more sugar and we’ll all be sick!!!!! Actually, that is the only complaint I have about The Apprentice, all joking apart, there isn’t enough of Lord Sugar in it – his blunt witticisms and straight-talking are refreshing in this stupidly politically correct world.

Apart from that, I’m happy for the next few weeks as the firings continue…

Visit here for all the official BBC stuff about The Apprentice because this, as you will have guessed, is just the view of a viewer.

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