Tag Archives: Dara O’Briain

The Apprentice 711: Columbus at the Coliseum

Gratuitous pic of Tre from Series Three

In the normal run of things I don’t generally miss an Apprentice candidate once they’ve felt the wrong end of the pointy finger. I think back to the start of this series and can barely recall those who fell early. Alex? Felicity? Edward? (I had to look them up.) Even ones I thought I’d miss like Ellie (too normal for her own good) and Edna (off her head; leather gloves) are gone from my affections. Watching The Apprentice makes Roman emperors of us all. We sit on our comfy thrones watching funny little people doing crazy things for our amusement. If one of them gets gored by a lion, or whatever it was that went on in the Coliseum (why should I be expected to know this when other people think Columbus was the potato guy?), we just say ‘Who’s next?’ The Apprentice juggernaut is far bigger than its candidates.

Very occasionally a personality impresses itself so indelibly that it is remembered after its sell-by date. Stuart Baggs from the last series for instance; and I’ve always had a soft spot for Tre from Series Three because he was so stroppy and interesting. I might have to face up to the fact that actually I just really fancied Tre. But generally I don’t miss anyone after they’ve gone, except Margaret.

All that said, this week I did find myself missing Melody and her over-defined enunciation just a bit. I would have loved to have seen her in Helen and Tom’s team, insisting that ac-tu-ally it was Charlie Raleigh who liked to smoke potatoes and Byron studied poetry at Yale with Al Gore. I would also have been interested to see if Helen and Tom still decided to choose a nodding BNP bulldog equivalent of a restaurant with Melody present. Say what you like about Melody, go on, you know you want to, but she certainly didn’t look ‘100% British.’ Which was the best thing about her.

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The Apprentice news: No final task this year

The interview round is always the most pleasing episode of any given series of The Apprentice because we get to see our hitherto cocky contestants brought down to size under the withering scrutiny of Baron Alan’s industry bigwig chums. With bullshit detectors set to maximum strength, the fearsome foursome rip CV’s to shreds and reduce grown men and women to quivering wrecks.

This year’s interview episode is also set to be the series finale, as apparently the traditional final round, where the two remaining finalists go head to head to do a spot of ninja-level events planning, has been scrapped. Instead, four people will remain at the interview stage, where they’ll be delicately grilled by scary business types Claude Littner, Mike Soutar and Matthew Riley, as well as the marvellous Margaret Mountford. Baron Alan will listen to their opinions and then ignore them and make his own mind up before peeling £250,000 from his wallet to enable the winner to start up a business with him.

The previously fired contestants usually get to return in the final show to help (or hinder) the finalists, but this year they’ll have to be content with a banquette in the You’re Fired! (or Hired!) studio for the final episode, which will be screened on 20 July.

Posted by PLA          (all our Apprentice blogs can be found here)

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The Apprentice: Taking the biscuit

It’s week nine for our entrepreneurial elite, and a relaxing Sunday in Apprentice Towers is disturbed by a late night knock on the door. It’s his Lordship himself. They must have edited out the swearing that this surprise visit would have generated amongst the inmates.

What possible task couldn’t have waited until Monday morning? Were our heroes required to parachute into Palestine and secure a lasting peace with Israel? Or fly to Africa and design a lifesaving mobile water purification unit? No. Their task was create and sell a new brand of biscuit. There was some travel involved though – Lord Sugar had laid on a trip to a development kitchen in Wales, or ‘Wows’, as he calls it. It’s not all bad then.

Venture, this week, comprises Natasha, Helen, and Darth Jim. Jim must have been delighted as Helen has proved unstoppable so far. Also, he likes Helen, as she’s ‘passive’. Goes with his ‘passive aggressive’ then, as diagnosed by Karen last week. In any event, passive or not, Helen puts herself forward and no one feels like arguing. This is a guaranteed cert with her form.   Continue reading


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The Apprentice 708: Unchained Melody

Melody, you're fired

I never feel entirely comfortable with The Apprentice until we reach this point in a series, when there are only eight contenders left and they all get a seat in the boardroom. It makes me edgy that until then, some of them have to stand. I don’t know why it makes me edgy, I’m not a psychologist or anything. Oh god so I am. Okay well I still don’t know, I just like it better now they can all sit equally, okay? Although of course there’s nothing equal in The Apprentice, not when you’ve got hilarious self-parodies like Melody Hossaini, whose claims to have worked for the UN and with Al Gore, the Dalai Lama and Mother Theresa hold water right up until the point when you think, hang on, you’ve swapped that for a chance to appear on a tawdry – if compelling – telly show?  Hmm. Something doesn’t quite add up here.

Anyway clearly Al, Mother Theresa and Jesus all breathed quiet little sighs of relief when Melody skipped on to her next global achievement, for she is the walking talking embodiment of the phrase ‘would try the patience of a saint.’ Her insanely high levels of self-confidence mean she has no room left for any of the more likeable human traits: a sense of irony, a sense of fair play, humility, and a theory of mind (the understanding that not everyone thinks exactly like oneself. Told you I was a psychologist). She is so pushy she makes the showbiz mother in Gypsy look reticent; so big-headed, Jeffrey Archer is a relative model of modesty. In short, she is Top Telly.

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The Apprentice 704: Bullshit in the Bull Ring

When poor old unusually honest Felicity Fluff appeared on You’re Fired last night, Dara asked her if it had been awful watching the programme. ‘Actually,’ said Fliss Fluff, ‘it wasn’t too bad. It was condensed, so they didn’t show all the mistakes we made.’

You want some mooooore spray tan?

I don’t know about you, but when I heard that I thought: there were more mistakes? Imagine I am saying ‘mooooorrre?’ like Harry Secombe when Oliver requests seconds of gruel and you’ll get the outrage and the rising intonation. Cripes O’Reilly, how could there have been any more? They’d already chosen to offer a treatment devised by Chris Morris – being rubbed by a boiling hot conch shell, yep that sounds relaxing – and the worst hair-pieces since Brucie’s toupee heyday on The Generation Game. They’d decided to locate their treatment room in a different town from the stall; they were lumbered with a dopey crew who waited three hours to mention they hadn’t done any massages (I honestly think they must have been shagging that whole time, there is no other explanation); and Jim and Tom who are normally reasonably cute both turned into mad-eyed maniacs who rubbed their thighs whenever a woman, or in some cases man, wandered into their ambit. On top of this they only had one treatment room, so when they finally started taking bookings at what seemed like midnight, naked people being massaged were forced to share the space with chavs having bonkers fringes attached to their mullets.

So blimmin’ heck Fliss, what were the other mistakes? Did you give some nice Brummie lady third degree burns on her bottom with the conch? Was Jim sued for sexual harassment? Did Tom disgrace himself by getting overexcited while plaiting someone’s hair? Did Ellie put on an SS officer’s uniform with which to conduct the massages? C’mon, now I’ve said it, you can totally see her wearing one can’t you? And if you find that thought appealing you had better go and wait over there by that escalator; I’m going to get Tom to rub you down instead. That’ll curb your enthusiasm.

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The Apprentice 701: Return of the twonks

Ah! There’s just nothing else like it. It’s just utterly glorious Top Telly. An intensely wound-up woman, neck muscles about to pop, tells you she has no life outside work; but before you can tell her how sorry you are to hear it, you realise she thinks this is a good and clever thing. Then an earnest chap takes off his specs and says, ‘Underneath  these glasses is a core of steel’ and you immediately say, ‘No there isn’t sonny, there’s a pair of slightly mad eyes and a shiny nose, get back to make-up for another go with the powder puff.’ And then you relax into the sofa, safe in the knowledge that you have weeks – weeks! – of sheer joyous twonkery ahead of you.

The first week of the Apprentice is always a blur of twonkishness, with sixteen similarly-suited people vying to be edited in the least favourable light. This makes it hard to work out who’s who, but here are my fleeting impressions, divided, as is the Apprentice way, along gender lines.

The women:

  • Melody is the one who did everything and wants us to know that. She is reminiscent of Cleopatra, though with far higher levels of insane self-confidence than the comparatively self-effacing Queen of the Nile.
  • Edna has an expressive face which she mainly uses to express the belief that her team-mates are twonks. Which, fair play to her, they are.
  • Susie is being played by Tina from Glee and is enjoyably un-sycophantic to the Monstrous Melody Ego.
  • Helen resembles Mrs Tweedy from Chicken Run – not an original observation alas – and is as tightly strung as a free-range fowl suspended from a butcher’s hook. She’s the one who says she has no social life, though we had already kind of guessed that from the visuals.
  • There is a very young-looking blonde woman whose only contribution so far has been to suck up to Melody.
  • There’s a woman who ‘isn’t from round here’ [eg she is Northern], and alternates between looking terrified and terrifying. Could be a contender.
  • Two dark-haired women of whom I have no other memory whatsoever also appeared.

As a seasoned campaigner of five of the previous six series I must point out that the ultimate winner is always somewhat invisible in the first episode. So one of the ones I can’t remember properly will win if the winner’s to be a woman, which it won’t be because Shugs will be appointing a male business partner. You heard it here first.

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The Apprentice: Your (brain’s been) fired

You might think I'm going to be sweary on You're Fired but I'm effing well not.

Yes! I am Mystic Meg. I knew Laura would be the next Apprentice to stare down the wrong end of that hairy pointing finger (like there is a right end?) Mind you, everyone else knew it too. Alvin Stardust or whatever his name is, the urbane guy who pops up on You’re Fired to witter on about selling techniques – he knew it. Dara O’briain knew it. You knew it. The only person who didn’t know it was old heart-shaped face, Laura herself, who moments before getting the chuck smiled confidently, crinkling those slitty cat’s eyes and said, ‘I can’t wait to hear the result!’ Pride always goes before a fall on The Apprentice, except, oddly for Sultan Sugar, who continues as full of himself and his salt of the earth homilies as ever.

Anyway, as predicted by a wise person (ahem) in an earlier post, Laura went because she was a whinger. Shugs hates whingers. And bullshitters, cautious types, grafters, idlers and everyone really. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m not even here to talk about Laura; I’ve already forgotten her. What I want to talk about is the bizarre sausage factory of You’re Fired: the way they all, without exception, turn up on that show completely changed from their former individual selves into the same single anodyne tailor’s dummy. One minute they’re on The Apprentice, swearing and shouting and sweating and bitching and crucially having no self-awareness what. So. Ever. Then they turn up on You’re Fired, chock-full of humility and wry self-mocking humour and ‘I’ve learned so much from the experience.’ Well hie me to the vomitorium and pass me the boring bucket will you?

Looks-wise they are glossy and neat, all in exactly the same Hello! style which suggests there is just one harassed make-over person working that show who’d rather be styling the Crown Princess Victoria Ingrid. Then they’re all calm and smiley, slow to anger and quick to praise. This is particularly irritating when you’ve excitedly anticipated a right old earful of moan and bile.

I know they’re media-trained to within an inch of their lives to prepare for going on You’re Fried. (Yes, I have mis-typed it but I rather like it.) The Evil Amstrad Robots must zap the Apprentices’ poor little brain-washed heads with these rules before they’re allowed to shake Dara’s bear-like paw:

  • No proper bitching about anyone. Not even about Stuart Baggs. You want to look nice, don’t you?
  • Admit all your mistakes, perhaps add a few that weren’t your fault. You want to look humble, don’t you?
  • Say how much you gained from the experience, several times. You want to look mature, don’t you?
  • Say anything negative about Tsar Shugs and off with your head. You want to live, don’t you?
  • Don’t get cross, resentful, bitter or sulky. You don’t want to look as childish as you appeared on the last task, do you?
  • Don’t reveal anything about the film-making process, eg comment about how you were edited. You don’t want to have your hands cut off, do you?
  • Don’t say anything of any interest on pain of death. You don’t want to look interesting, okay?

I was going to say that occasionally someone slips through and says something noteworthy, but I can’t think of anyone. Not even Katie Whatsit who was a bee-atch and shagged some other Apprentice. Not even Michael Sophocles. The promise they show in the programme proper is always a mirage by the time they get to You’re Fried. Okay, there was one chap who had a bitter and very interesting exchange with his father in the audience, but Adrian Chiles pretended it hadn’t happened and moved swiftly onto the montage of his funniest bits instead. Then the chap was quietly clapped in irons and dispatched to Brentwood for re-programming.

The thing I don’t understand is why they have to be so shiny and boring. It would such good telly if they were allowed to say what they really thought.

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The Apprentice: Das ist nicht wunderbar, Dummkopf

I have to kick off with an apology to Germany: entschuldigung, meine Damen und Herren, on behalf of the British nation and crisp eaters everywhere. You thought I was that famous ‘bilingual’ candidate, Stuart Baggs, for a minute then didn’t you? Equally fluent in bollocks and twattery. But no. I too can blether semi-literately with a bit of crap German thrown in too.

I know the twitter world was shocked when Christopher was Abgefeuert last night, but I’ve not forgiven him for the cleaning ad sexist crap, and neither was I impressed with the obnoxious and racist ‘I hate the Germans’ line last night either. It’s all very well pretending to Dara O’Briain that it was to do with football, but it wasn’t, and actually, he’s a dummkopf.

The critical point has arrived in the series when I’m almost (with some simultaneous text coaching by Qwerty) able to name most of the remaining fools, sorry, contestants, in The Apprentice. And I’m startled that the one person whose name I did remember, and not for good reasons, Stuart is still there. Mysterious, and not, we later discovered, a man who is much fun to go shopping with – in response to picking up a pair of £300 boots in the winning team’s shopping trip  ‘You could buy a car with that’! You could buy a brain too, Herr Baggs. The most cringey moment of the show was when we saw a shot of some pale sausage in a bowl that looked all-too-much like pickled penis and Stuart said ‘I’ve got a white sausage too’. I’m sure you have young man. Just keep it zipped up.

But back to the task. There they all were, off to Germany to sell their own spectacularly unpleasant sounding crisp flavours. Stilton, curry wurst, goulash (and hello Hungary, sorry to you too chaps for how unrepentantly thick some of my fellow countrymen and women are), they all sounded pretty grim really, but both teams did pretty well at selling deep-fried potatoes to a country as fond as our own of eating potatoes, fat and salt.

But Stella’s team won, Chris and Jamie mysteriously avoided relegation in the boardroom, and it was Christopher who went, apparently for being ‘popular’ (oh how Lord Sugar gives away too much about his own messed up psyche at these moments). This programme, remarkably, put me off eating crisps (Gillian McKeith has the opposite effect)

I’m thinking Stella or Liz to win now.

For past blogs on The Apprentice, click here

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The Apprentice: What a Bee-aach

I've had two years managerial shouting experience.

There’s no need to have seen an episode of the Apprentice in order to discuss it. Just say any of the following:

  • ‘Oh my god it was such an easy task and they still blew it!’
  • ‘My five year old could do better.’
  • ‘That team leader was an absolute twonk of the first order.’
  • ‘Why can no-one ever do a pitch that doesn’t make the nation pee itself in embarrassment?’
  • ‘I watched through my fingers.’
  • ‘Surely these can’t be the finest business minds in the country?’

 This episode there were some new phrases to add to this useful compendium:

  • ‘Who says no to BOOTS?’
  • ‘What has happened to Boots if they think that crappy plastic thing is worth a second glance? It’s Superdrug all the way for me from now on.’
  • ‘Did Lord Sugar of Alan fire Joy because she wasn’t quite as easy on the eye as the others? Because there seems no other explanation?’
  • ‘Talking of eyes, how does Sandeesh get hers to be that big?’
  • ‘Is Stuart Baggs the most appalling specimen of Apprentice manhood since Michael Sophocles?’
  • ‘Has anyone ever seen a bikini with tassles outside of a strip club?’

 Yes, it was as dreadful as ever. Marvellous! I’m afraid that as so much of the show is formulaic, and designed entirely to service the God of Good Telly, I now tend to switch off a little from the goings on. Unfortunately this means that I am focusing instead on everyone’s clothes and knees and noses. My goodness the women are a fascinating-looking bunch. In profile at the boardroom table they looked like Greek statues, except statues obviously don’t all scream, ‘You’re just TOTALLY AGGRESSIVE’ at each other. That Paloma, what is she doing here? She has the splendidly imperious look of a  Peruvian princess. She should be hanging out with polo players and married to a viscount, not elbowing for tv airtime with a bunch of  undignified Yahoos.

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