The Apprentice: A touch too much sequinned glitz, and an order short of real business, we suspect

I actually think he did quite well last night - sure, he forgot the layout of his hometown, but that happens to the best of us (doesn't it?). He brought a feisty injection of initiative by hijacking a spot on the shopping centre's TV internal advertising screens, and he did make really rather pertinent points about the layout of the shop - namely, that if you're selling clothes, it's quite a good idea to actually have some clothes on display, where customers can see them. To me, he's like a cuddly toy hedgehog with a bowlful of milk-and-business-nous - he sips from it occasionally, and the rest of the time looks endearing, even if the others don't want to get too near him.

As for Paloma, the one-woman venom factory who took it upon herself to become Lord Sugar's personal, er, personnel consultant - blimey, she's like a viper that woke up on the wrong side of the snake hole. I'm sure it's heated in that boardroom under the hot lights of the production crew and the snarly semi-comical asides of Sugar, but, really, you're in a job interview! A JOB INTERVIEW. It doesn't matter how book-smart you are - if you don't have the emotional intelligence to realise that slagging off and ferociously blaming colleagues for everything that ever went wrong, ever, especially when you're in a job interview - well, those brains count for nothing. No one wants a meanie on their team.

Cue cheery Liz, whose persistently bright-eyed Bambi smile lit up our screens and kept everyone in the retail equation happy: happy shoppers, happy clothes makers who were happy to let Liz and Co sell their product range, happy team who were happy to prance around in shiny micro-dresses to make sales, and happy Lord Sugar, who might just have a winner on his hands.

We're not quite sure what happened to Stella. The usual Boudicca of business, all strong character and incredible leadership skills, last night was unfortunately slipping about on stilettos and sofas as part of a window display, nigh on flashing her pants at the punters. Nick wasn't wrong when he compared the scene to Holland's most notorious adult playground. But perhaps we dost judge too soon - for after all, Stella was taking one for the team, she was doing what her team leader wanted, and she did it all with a smile on her face.

As a general note, though, we'd like to see less of the women having to strip each week (every series seems to demand some kind of bikini shot at some point, with a fellow male contestant looking pervily over his teammate in a manner almost as leering as the camera shots) - and we think it's a little demeaning to women in business, frankly.

What else from last night? Well, the clothes made from old suits and ties were clearly revolting, and did Paloma's team no favours at all, but you could see all that for yourselves. We thought the world of retail wasn't quite exposed for the non-stop hard slog we know it to be (where were the wrangling with suppliers over costs, the fractious realisation that margins have been compromised by marketing over-spend, the desperately difficult assessment of market trends, the 1am espressos at the desk to finish the merchandising in time?), but there's only so much you can show in a one-hour slot. We're just a little concerned the show may be becoming more entertainment jollies than real enterprise insight. We'll have to wait until next week for Lord Sugar to prove us wrong.

 

 

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