“I’m the James Bond of the business world,” says Joe, one of the candidates in The newbie (BBC One). Hmm. Joe, according to the internet, is a University of Exeter safari guide with a start-up business selling organic lip balms. I can’t see the connection, unless he does those things while he’s wearing a tux and trying to infiltrate Spectre. Lord Sugar doesn’t think so: “Your CV isn’t so much Thunderball, it’s more like Thunderb——s.”
Joe doesn’t believe in these things either and has the decency to look embarrassed when being read aloud in the boardroom. This year, the guys (we should always refer to them as “boys” and “gals”, even when some of them are in their late 40s) seem to be a nice enough bunch, including a jolly Lib Dem councilor named Gregory who worked as a “professional cannon shooter” in Malta, which is a really cool thing to put on a resume.
The girls, however, sheesh. “I’m filthy competitive,” says Emma, who seems to mean it. “Because I’m so friendly, everyone thinks I’m best friends with her, which can be very awkward because I don’t have friends in business.” says another person whose name I didn’t catch because the girls’ team is just a tangle of moans, mutterings, and inflatable pouts, and it was hard to tell them apart at times.
The teams were sent to Antigua for their first assignment, apparently with no time to change because they were wearing the same outfits they had worn in the boardroom. All those tight vests and newscaster dresses looked even more ridiculous than usual when worn at the beach. It’s a quirk of The Apprentice that the contestants look more dated than the format.
If nothing else, the challenges vary slightly each year, and Lord Sugar gets a new batch of scripted pranks. The candidates just trot out the same hackneyed slogans and wear the same Karen Millen dresses, and it’s hard to care about any of them. Although Joe and Gregory have my attention.
This year, the producers spiced things up by setting the first assignment in the Caribbean, where teams had to race and sell excursions to tourists. The boys did well, in part because they chose a historical topic that involved talking about cannons, and they had just the right guy for it.
Back in the boardroom, things dragged on. We may need a couple more episodes to get into the swing of things, by which I mean finding the characters we love to hate.