We have many reasons to be thankful to The Apprentice, but surely the greatest is that they take 16(? sometimes it seems like a lot more) egotistical, self-aggrandising twits, and remove them from the job market for several months each year. Then they put them on tv so we can all point and laugh.
The first few episodes, of course, are about giving us a broad overview of what we can expect once things really kick off. Now it is clear that, in many ways, what we can expect is much of the same, and yet, with every passing minute, we see new methods for executing the same old idiocy. Not initially, naturally, because we start with the usual string of twits saying things like 'I'm the whole package', 'I'm the best', 'I'm just totally unique'. There are some variations on the theme, as you would expect: we're treated to a guy with a posh accent and the eyes of the dead gravely telling us that he's hilarious; another proclaims himself to be 'Stuart Baggs - the brand' and says that 'everything I touch turns to sold'; a third warns 'My first word wasn't mummy - it was money'; Alex Epstein (a chap who talks like he's reading the news and looks like he's just seen a wasp land on your head) sticks with the obvious, basically saying 'I'm mental, me'. Charmed, I'm sure.
Not that Lord Shugah helps, as he brings them into the boardroom and bigs up the metaphors... 'You have to sink or swim, and I don't do lifejackets'. He also declares 'You all look good on paper. But then so does fish and chips'. I've no idea what he's getting at here, since fish and chips are also good when you lift them out of the paper and eat them, but it makes everyone shift slightly in their seats.
And so, into teams, boys and girls, and off you go. The task is to make and sell sausages, starting RIGHT NOW. So they all head off, with Nick and Karren-with-two-arrs in tow, to bicker about team names and who'll be project manager. The girls start by briefly considering 'Winning Women', before ditching it in case, like, boys join the team some week. After some discussion, they plump for 'Apollo', because it went to the moon and they're shooting for the stars, or something. A blonde girl talks about how she knows loads and is brill, and says she doesn't want to project manage, and eventually Joanne says she'll do it, at which point blonde girl basically takes over again and starts wittering about costs.
The boys, meanwhile, are listing Christian nightclubs: "we could be called 'Fusion'"; "I like 'Synergy'" (I can't be sure, but I think both those options were mooted and rejected by the Junior Apprentices earlier in the year). I think they eventually go for 'Synergy', but I wouldn't swear to it. Dan becomes project leader, and quickly sets out his stall: 'I'm going to lead, and you lot will do all the work'. I seem to be able to see further up Dan's nostrils than would be considered normal; I also cannot decide who or what he looks like: I think it's some kind of root vegetable with the facial features of a Muppet. A mupnip, if you will.
Anyway, off to Smithfield market, where they try out their bargaining skills and buy loads of meat. They have different strategies: the girls (after speaking with, and actually, in a departure from The Apprentice norms, listening to a butcher) decide to make gourmet sausages, with flavours like 'lamb and mint'; the boys buy a load of sawdust and mix it in with the legal minimum amount of meat which is required to be allowed to call a sausage a sausage. Or, as StuartBaggsTheBrand says, 'we're pushing crap'.
And so to the sausage factory, where it's a mixture of The Generation Game, The Weakest Link, and Lord of the Flies - on the boys' side at least. Dan The Mupnip (in blue shower cap) is yelling and swearing, and the rest of the boys are making tubes of sawdust, badly. The girls fare a little better, and two of them even have the nous to do some sums to figure out what they need to charge for their sausages to make money. Blond girl, though, is already fecking me off by calling them 'sauce-aaaah-jis' (rhymes with 'badges', but more drawn out). One of the girls is called Paloma.
Onwards and upwards, and off to market. StuartBaggsTheBrand (in jaunty blue boater) starts pinning down passers-by and jamming sausage down their throats, yelling 'finest locally produced sausages!' (what happened to 'pushing crap', huh?), and annoying Jamie The Sensible, but, admittedly, selling stuff.
The girls are finding that trade is slower, I'm guessing partly because they didn't bother making any samples, and partly because at least half of them are still wearing the boiler suits they wore in the sausage factory. After a time, they take the hint from Nick's eyebrows, and fire up the griddle so people can try before they buy.
For reasons I miss, both teams also decide to start hawking their wares in the general localle as well. The girls go to pubs; in one, they meet a chap called Dan (I think), who is interested enough to come back to the stall to see for himself, and then gets caught up in a row between Joanne and blonde girl, over who gets to 'close the sale'. Girls. Please.
The boys are marvellous; one of them tries to flog the sausages to a florist; Mupnip Dan goes door-to-door, knocking and then shouting through the letter box 'Want to buy some sausages?'. As Dara O'thingie says in the 'Point and laugh at the person who got fired' show afterwards, it is quite probable that there is no product one would be less likely to buy door-to-door than sausages; even magic beans would be more appealing. They then head off to local offices, because office workers are quite likely to buy raw sausages in the middle of the day, ho yes they are. Oh, no they're not, apparently.
Back in the boardroom, and after some squabbling girls and then Lord Shugah telling Dan to sit up straight (guess who's getting fired now), the girls are pronounced winners by £15 (presumably it would have been more if they'd taken into account people who will sue because they ate the crud the boys sold them, and died painfully).
The boys are off to the Losers' Cafe, to be told again by Dan how great he is; the girls go and shriek at the marvellous house they'll be staying in.
Boardroom Mark II doesn't take place till the next morning, and the boys are all feeling rather buoyant. StuartBaggsTheBrand hasn't even bothered to pack, so confident is he that he's not going home today. Presumably the plan is, if the Shugahmeister fires him, he'll throttle him with the sausages and take over immediately, because, based on his performance thus far, he's going home today.
The boardroom is great. Alex is basically an arse, and shows it. Raleigh (? - the ginger one) talks sense, but in a voice that makes you want to slap him in the face with a wet fish; rather delightfully, however, he talks about Dan's bullying and arsing about and then declares, in a suddenly grown-up, serious voice, that 'It was SHAMEful'. I tell you, if we ever need to declare war, we have our voiceover man RIGHT THERE. However, Jamie The Sensible describes StuartBaggsTheBrand as 'cringeable', and the nation is united once more.
Boardroom Mark III is Dan, Alex and StuartBaggsTheBrand. It goes like this:
Dan: I was brave, I said I'd lead the team
SBTB: Yeah, but you sold... like... (types on imaginary calculator, the tube, the STUPID STUPID FECK TUBE)... nothing
Dan: I was brave, I said I'd lead the team
*shot of Alex, looking like he's seen a wasp on Nick's head*
SBTB: Yeah, but you sold (whips out imaginary calculator)...
Sugahmeistah: Shut up StuartBaggsTheBrand
(repeat for 20 minutes)
Shugahmeistah: why shouldn't I sack you?
SBTB (probably now wishing he'd packed): If you hire me and I feck it all up, I'll give you a refund. I'm unique. I'm 21 (umm... note... pretty sure that's not THAT unusual). I'm a grafter. I'm the whole package. I'm not a cliche (probably he'll also give 110% and he's not afraid to get his hands dirty. I'm guessing).
Alex: fires off some soundbites and watches the wasp
Dan gets fired, thankfully. I mean, they're all three of them absolute twits, but on balance, Alex and StuartBaggsTheBrand offer better viewing, which is essentially all I'm asking.