I have been watching the latest series of BBC businessdrama The Apprentice (now in its tenth year) with a growing sense of despair. These candidates are, surely, the worst group of self-styled 'businessmen' and 'businesswomen' ever to grace Lord Sugar's Boardroom! Everything which can go wrong has gone wrong, and I'm left wondering whether these sorry individuals are really the best and brightest business minds in the UK – if they are, we are all royally screwed.
That said, the floundering candidates are not the most frustrating thing about The Apprentice – that particular accolade falls to the show's star, Lord Sugar. Brilliant business mind he may be, but the more I see of Lord Sugar the less I like him and the more convinced I become that I would never want to work in partnership with him.
It is easy – indeed, it is practically mandatory – to make fun of the Apprentice candidates for some of the ridiculous lines they come out with when they're trying to 'sell themselves' on camera. The terminally verbose Steven Ugoalah (fired last week) described himself as 'perfect in every way' – and then went on to say 'I'm not arrogant, because everything I'm saying is all true'. Wow.
It is telling, therefore that the worst thing you can do in the Boardroom, as a candidate on The Apprentice, is not to lose a task, lose money, or even attack another candidate personally, but to compare yourself to Lord Sugar. This is the one thing which really makes Lord Sugar bristle. 'You're not like me. Don't ever compare yourself to me!' he will snap. Well, why not? There's no doubt that Lord Sugar is a very successful man, but he's not so special and wonderful as to be completely unique! Somebody is going to be like him - and, for all he knows, it could be one of these young wannabes sat across the table from him.
It is in moments such as this that Lord Sugar's own arrogance shows through. He has little time for the candidates' bizarrely hyperbolic self-aggrandisement – and rightly so – but he is not immune to this puffed-up mindset either. The irony is, of course, that he may be more mature, and more experienced – and he may have earnt those bragging rights, to an extent – but by putting himself on a pedestal in this manner, Lord Sugar reveals that he is actually quite a lot more like the candidates whose comparisons he abhors than he might like to admit.