Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Apprentice: So who's your favourite so far (and by favourite we mean irritant)?

Do you have a favourite contestant on The Apprentice yet? Or are they irritating you in about equal measure so far?

Yeah, us too.

It's a particularly difficult one to call this year, admittedly - but an early favourite (and by favourite we mean irritant) for tv-ooh is 33-year-old sales manager Stephen Brady, if only because he wears one of those nose stickers to stop him snoring at night, and then when he jumps out of bed he sort of pretends to air-box, before realising he can't.

Stephen Brady: We like it when he air-boxes
Oh. He's also got a nice upside-down frown-smile, and is spot on in terms of the comedy business-speak too, an essential possession for all self-confident-on-the-outside candidates on the show.

He tells us: "Enthusiasm is a huge asset of mine and I believe it’s caught and not taught."

Add to that a vaguely empty expression that suggests he's forgotten something important and you've got tv gold. Will he win? Who can say - look at bumbling court jester Tom from last year, who began the series barely able to wear his own tie straight. But so far Stephen's shown focus and a good pitching technique that could see him finish, ooh, fourth?

Meanwhile, Jane McEvoy, a 28-year-old 'co-founder of a food manufacturing company', could be one to watch.

She made some good observations in week one and spoke up against the bossy Bilyana, but on the negative side she tried to kick off a planning meeting in week two with the question "What problems are we going to solve in the bathroom?".

Later, after ignoring the findings of her team's market research, in her pitch she got her figures wrong, and offered potential buyers a deal for a million units, at a cost for £9m, before they pointed out a mistake with her calculations and confusion ensued.

As fellow competitor Katie Wright said, "I don't want to be laughed at."

Too late.
Jane McEvoy: "I'm a good business woman!"
And as Lord Sugar's mentor Karren Brady later added: "I was cringing."

Unsurprisingly she ended up losing the task but fortunately for Jane, sleepy Maria O'Connor was fired instead.

But how can these be Britain's most promising business brains? Do the contestants not know that their every mistake will be shown to a laughing, baying nation and mocked by Dara O Brain?

To be fair, we ask this question every year - and this is the show's eighth run, so the contestants must know the score as well as we do. Do they ever think about how they might come across as they're filmed standing on a tall building in London's Docklands describing themselves as 'panthers', or 'naturally gifted in business', or saying things like ''I don't have any annoying habits', when we're all sat at home thinking they're totally ridiculous?

Probably - but despite all that, the prize of  'a 50/50 deal with Britain's most demanding businessman' must still be a prize worth being made a fool for.

Still, that's good news for us as viewers, even if also slightly irritating.

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