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Friday, 20 October 2017

The Apprentice: JEFFRII or Siimon?


After thirteen series The Apprentice can't help but feel a little stale. There are elements of how each hour is put together that have started to grate on me in recent years. Their continued instance on showing the sixteen of them racing around at some godforsaken time in the morning as the cars will be there in 'thirty minutes'.  I live with three other people and we couldn't be up and ready in that time so why they insist on keeping up the pretense boggles the mind. Then there's all the boardroom business with a woman posing as Lord Sugar's receptionist who is there just to tell the candidates when they can access the boardroom. I suppose these are elements built into the show's DNA but, if like me you've never missed an episode they just feel old hat and unnecessary.

One thing the team behind the scenes should be commended is the inventiveness of the tasks this year. Last week's interior design and this week's robotic task had never been done on the show before and they help it feel fresh and timely. 

This week the teams were tasked with creating their robot to pitch to a department store and electronics giant Maplin as well as selling a robot already on the market to retailers for a profit. Michaela was plucked from her team in order to breathe new life into the failing boys team. The team quickly decided to target the over sixties market with their robot. I'm still not entirely sure why.  My folks are in their sixties and they sat bemused as the boys (under PM Michaela) set about programming their bot to perform yoga poses, recite recipes and setting reminders to take medication. I knew from there on they'd lost the task and that was confirmed later when Michaela made a fatal flaw just before the pitch to the retailers. More on that in a sec.

Meanwhile, the girl's team led by Jade had settled on E-bot. The educational robot was programmed to teach young children languages. The girls were on to a winner but were plagued by infighting as 'negative nancy' Siobhan locked horns with Sarah-Lynne on numerous headache inducing occasions in the car, after the pitch and even in the boardroom as Lord Sugar looked on confused. Their bickering nearly derailed their pitch to the department store with each girl talking over, cutting off the other as they tried to explain their product. The girls may' have shown themselves to be befuddled and unprofessional, but lucky for them Michaela and her hapless gang of lads were waiting in the wings.


If focusing on the over sixties market hadn't already given them a one way ticket to Sugar's boardroom the sub team's  decision to name it JEFFRII was another nail in their coffin. Why the double II? Well as one of the boys was quick to point out, "all electronics have I in them nowadays." When Michaela and her boys saw JEFFRI'IS name written they couldn't make sense of it and set about trying to rebrand their bot. Michaela and co settled on Siimon (deciding to stick with the double ii for reasons only they can justify) which would've been fine if the other half of their team hadn't already programmed their ill fated creation to introduce itself as JEFFRII! Faffing about with The information the team managed to produce was embarrassing and by the time their creation reached the dreaded pitch rooms their fate was sealed. The retailers were understandably confused by a robot named Siimon addressing itself as JEFFRII and placed no orders. Another magnificent loss for the ailing male team.


Michaela decided to bring back Harrison and Elliot back with her to face Sugar's wrath. As is tradition in this process Michaela and Harrison quickly formed an alliance and pointed the finger at Eliot for not doing anything during the task. Whilst Elliot wasn't exactly a constant presence throughout the task, the idea to target the over sixties market coupled with the abrupt brand change should've seen Michaela on the receiving Sugar's firing finger, instead it was Elliot who was sent packing as the boys team lost another casualty.   

I'm not sure what has kept me watching year after year but I think it's the fact I can't believe the ridiculous decisions these supposed business supremos make and I get some sort of perverse joy  out of seeing their ideas crash and burn when they pitch to those actually in the know.

Next week's task to create a private function at football stadium looks to be more cringe inducing.

The Apprentice Continues Wednesday at 9.00pm on BBC One

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