You know if you have a business, and it's going quite well, right? So you need to hire a new person, yeah? How would you go about that? Recruitment agency? Ask around a few friends to see if they know anyone? Scrutinise the CVs of several dozen hopefuls, and choose the one with the most appropriate skills for the job? Or throw open the doors to any dingbat who seeks fame and fortune, and bring in the cameras to watch?
Yeah. So apparently this year, the winner doesn't get a job with Lord Shugagh; they get £250,000 to sod off and leave him alone. Well, at least someone's learned something from the first 6 series. Thankfully, just the one person, though. It appears that the candidates haven't wasted their precious time in any kind of introspection, learning from the mistakes of Baggs & co, or developing basic social skills; instead they've been brushing up on their business jargon, giving 200% to buying cheap suits, and waking themselves up every morning with the mantra 'you are a success. Today, you will do great things. Even more wonderful than the things you did yesterday. You can only go up. The sky is, truly, your limit'.
And so, without further ado, we introduce the 16 Wonders of the Business World, who will be gracing our screens with their brilliance for the next couple of months.
Alex Bitrez Cabrel
Describes himself as 'Mr Realistic Guy', a previously unseen character in the unfolding drama in Shugagh Towers, and does not make mistakes. He says he loves being unpopular, and he says it in a voice that sounds like the little kid lying under the swing saying "I meant to fall off".
Prognosis: Meh. Massive feck up in week 3, and he's gone.
The Northern Irish one. And yet, surprisingly, quite watchable. He claims to be "too good to be true", "more than anyone will ever need" and "too sweet to be wholesome". I'm thinking James from 2 series' ago; the one who peed himself in the boardroom and was so astounded to reach the interview stage that he basically sat there and gawped.
Prognosis: The kind of affable chap who'll fly under the radar for a good bit, before a spectacular attempt at project management proves him to be as capable of running a business as a frog is of performing a saxaphone recital of Beethoven's Fifth.
Melody describes herself as "more than average", much like approximately 50% of us. She was once kidnapped, and has worked with the Dalai Lama.
Prognosis: Too competent to be interesting.
Edna is a psychologist, who likes to 'unravel things' and speaks with weird hand gestures.
Prognosis: Smacked round the head with a banana in week 1, by Helen (of whom more presently), limps along for a few more weeks, until we all get bored of mocking the hand gestures, and is then sacrificed to keep someone more entertaining in.
Describes herself as easily amused.
A girl who describes herself as 'nice', and knows quite a lot about the things she doesn't like (dole dossers, people who don't give a million percent, etc.), Ellie is the one you don't want to get stuck next to at a dinner party. She says she admits to mistakes, though, which is a new thing for The Apprentice.
Prognosis: One of those ones who goes out around week 4, and no one really notices.
Kind of looks like an oil painting, and once fell out of a tree; Leon is a fast food marketing entrepeneur, which doesnt sound to me like an actual Thing. Seems to be a mixture of Rupert Everett and someone that you can't quite put your finger on. He hates 'gimicky salesmen who believe they can sell ice to Eskimos', because "they probably can't", and also, "why would Eskimos buy ice?" Because, like, they've got ice all around them, so they could just go and get that for free, and not have to buy it. Also, he COULD beat everyone else to a pulp if he wanted to, but he doesn't really want to.
Prognosis: I'm either going to love him or hate him. I cannot yet tell.
A soap fan and actress who looks a little like Lorraine from two series' ago. Felicity likes to turn negatives into positives, and gives 110%, which is more than 100% and not as much as 200%, because she reserves 200% for things that make all the money for her.
Prognosis: Coming soon to a Channel 5 talk show near you. Most likely to cry in the boardroom.
Helen Louise Milligan
Absolutely terrifying woman, who changed career from 'law' to 'waitress' and will make you believe that that was an excellent thing to do. I cannot emphasise enough how scary she is. Money is the most important thing to her, and she hates people who don't work 24/7. At least Debra Barr was sometimes funny.
Prognosis: May force the quarter of a million quid from the wounded, dying Lord Shugagh's clenched fist, take out Nick and Karren with a couple of swift stilletto swipes, and run, screaming, across the table and into the first stage of her plan for world domination.
Describes herself as being like a switch. She knows when to turn it up, and when to turn it down. When she's not modelling her life on a Bucks Fizz song, she manipulates people.
Prognosis: The one who lasts waaaaaaay longer than she should.
A fine example of what professional make up artists can do. In the interview, sports a beige moustache that a 14-year-old boy would be proud of; in the official photo he's upgraded to flicked-out hair, a valiant-but-not-quite-there try at (presumably) a sexy sneer, and darkened facial hair. He descibes himself as 'best of breed' and claims he's been "shortlisted as sales personality of the year". Which breed, and by whom, we are, respectively, not told.
"I'm not easily intimidated," he claims, before pausing slightly, going a bit quieter, looking at the floor, and repeating "um... not easily intimidated".
Prognosis: An early scapegoat, we won't get to see as much of him as we might like. Ultimately, this is probably a good thing.
A definite candidate for the new Pantsman, I can almost guarantee you that Edward Hunter will, if he gets that far, make a massive, hilarious error of judgement in The One Where They Have To Make An Advert, causing a diplomatic crisis and forcing the BBC to broadcast an apology. Aged 14, he subcontracted his paper round to the local 10-year-olds; he claims his first job was as a gardener, aged 12. Presumably this means he earned his pocket money by mowing the lawn. He accidentally fell into finance, and now wants out.
Prognosis: The irritating one who's not cringeable enough to care about keeping him in, but not incompetent enough to be fired.
A geek who loves starting companies, Tom says that if a team goes bad, it's the leader's fault.
Prognosis: the team will go bad, and he'll be gone. Probably in week 1.
The most interesting thing about her is that when she was 12, she fell off a horse.
Prognosis: Another early sacrifice.
You know those motivational books that tell you that you need to build your self-confidence by standing in front of a mirror and reciting "I am an intelligent person, with interesting things to say" for 5 minutes every morning? Gavin Winstanley talks like that. He may be this year's Alex Epstein.
Prognosis: May self-combust in week 1, or, by a twist of fluke, be on the winning team for several weeks, until he dies a glorious, monumental Apprentice death.
Despite looking like a jellied eel seller, got a 1st at uni. Took apart a computer, and rebuilt it, aged 8. "Pretty great".
Prognosis: Will go down in a blaze of unglory.
And there you have it, folks. The Apprentice returns to our screens next Tuesday & Wednesday at 9pm, on BBC1. If I don't speak to you before then, see you some time next week, once I've had a chance to watch both episodes.