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Monday, 8 June 2009

The Apprentice Final, BBC1


How did everyone fare?

The BBC. “TV at its best” was how the announcer heralded the show. Now, we love the Apprentice, too, but to proclaim it as “TV at its best” is absurd as giving cattle the vote (although they may have a greater knowledge of politics than the hordes of bestial hate who voted UKIP).

The Apprentice is too sculpted by editorial necessity to manipulate a narrative where none exists – for instance Yasmina’s complaint that she was mangled in the edit of the previous episode – and as such render the programme pirouetting between “the job interview from Hell” and the fraudulent melodrama of MTV’s The Hills means that it can never truly be “TV at its best”.

Adrian Chiles introduced the show as a precursor to You’re Hired, which featured the awful Michelle Mone, as “a very special evening here on BBC1”. Yes, it was the evening that a potentially momentous political election was cast out of the celestial heavens of BBC1 to the grimy netherworld of BBC2 in favour of two women competing for the business job equivalent of peeling spuds for a vindictive viscount.

Yasmeena. Her victory once more accentuated the obsolescence of the final task. Sure her ‘electric’ box for Cocoa Electric was pretty but her chocolates tasted awful, and if such a blunder had occurred in an earlier episode, Sir Alan would have fired her and been f-ing and blinding (or rather he would have been until the profanity censor emerged in about episode 10, filmed, we imagine, around the time of Andrew Sachs’ bid to rejuvenate his fame that’s lain stagnant for about 30 years).

We’re not sure exactly what the purpose of the task was as based on it Sir Alan would have chosen Kate. What did win Yasmeena the series was her determined desire to work for Sir Alan, as during his summation she spoke as if she was clawing her way out of quicksand, grabbing at any tree root in her vision to prove that she was the “best apprentice ever”.

Kate’s first stratagem was to secrete Philip aboard her opponent’s team as a fifth – or perhaps filth – columnist to sabotage her chocolates (and he almost succeeded as we suspect he was in charge of flavour selection).

Kate, and Yasmeena for that matter, was proud of her innovation as she was certain that a his ’n’ hers chocolate box with a tray “to share” had never been done before. Both seemed oblivious that it was perhaps it was because it was a terrible idea rather than imaginative.

And it was perhaps her lack of imagination and rather trite willingness to adhere to sterile concepts that made Yasmeena the more appealing candidate. Firstly, in her presentation she claimed that “Staying in is the new going out”, which isn’t a problem in itself. What is corrosive is the use of ‘something is the new something else’, which is the sort of notion endorsed by corporate folk whose brains have crumbled into a wasteland less verdant than the Sahara, where you can dip your hand unobtrusively into their skulls (try it on a commuter they won’t mind) and your fingers will sink into grainy wasteland from which, other than sand, you will retrieve nothing other than the occasional remains of a synaptic camel that succumbed in the brain’s last few months of worthwhile activity.

Kate also claimed that “French is the brand of love and sophistication”, this sadly is little more than a false impression fostered to compel stupid people to buy products that they might otherwise not bother with. The French are no more exclusively ‘romantic’ than the Germans are ‘efficient’, the Welsh ‘short’ or New Zealanders are to woo sheep.

Philip tried his damndest to thwart Yasmeena, but was undone by Sir Alan’s ignorance of the task in deciding his winner. He took charge of the dancers opening Yasmeena’s presentation encouraging them to perform with all the grace and dexterity of a phalanx of severed limbs en route to the hospital incinerator by way of a bumpy conveyor belt. He defended Pants Man with the same resolute ignorance of a Holocaust denier, dressed up for the presentation like a camp Adam Ant that made his eyes resemble the sort of receptacle into which you may only drop litter, and consciously evoked the ghost of Lee McQueen with a little “That’s what I’m talking about”.

Ben contributed little other than squint when he had to entertain more than one thought at a time as though inverting his vision inwards and trying to read the distant, faint ideas on his cerebral cortex like someone trainspotting after being forbidden entry to the station on the grounds of national security because they were carrying their lunch in a Tupperware box.

Rocky was like a small child who, after being put to bed halfway through the grown-ups dinner party, steals down in his pyjamas and listens at the door of the living room, bewildered and confused by all the adult talk and the humour that they share, as his early exit had left him bereft of and excluded from all the in-jokes that Sir Alan shared with the candidates.

“The woman with blonde hair” in the audience who fastidiously pointed out the literal displeasure of receiving an electric shock in Yasmeen’s advert, which is perhaps symptomatic of the advertising industry where creativity is regarded with the same suspicion as Herod had for children and, upon evidence of its presence, it is rounded up at 5am and tortured until it switches its faith from its current heresy.

As Sir Alan deliberated between Yasmeena and Kate, he spoke in cold, hard facts until he dealt with Yasmeena’s restaurant. “I was nine years younger than you when I started the business,” he reminisced, and from this point we guessed she would be the favourite as the one quality Sir Alan values above all others, including omnipotence, is to be reminded of himself. Sir Alan later vilified the media for criticising the candidates seemingly oblivious that much of it is instigated by his own directionless ranting, and that the programme is cut in order to make the candidates appear as incompetent as possible.

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