It's a new series of The Apprentice. Advisors Karren Brady and Nick Hewer are back. Yet again, 16 over-confident and mouthy new candidates are vying for a single prize; only this time it's a joint venture with Lord Sugar himself, backed with his own cash and launched off the back of a highly successful TV show.
Perhaps it's because this series is hitting our screens only six short months since the last instalment, but the feeling of deja vu, nay, common-or-garden sameness, persists from the start. You have the boys' team versus the girls' team. The foolish, hyperbolic team names (Logic and Venture respectively). Even the Apprentice candidates have started to look the same.
The chaps in the editing suite have lost their spark too. The fast-paced chopping and changing attempts to hide an obvious conclusion with very little artistry. Admittedly, I watched the thing on iPlayer and am now writing this at 1am, so my outlook may be bleak - but couldn't someone have suggested a slightly more ambitious overhaul for a show that has essentially done the same thing with a trite recipe for seven helpings?
Call me jaded but wasn't it obvious, when the juicer stopped working and there were still 1,000 oranges to be squeezed by hand (and the editors neatly skipped away from the fatal mistake to keep the cat in the bag) that the boy's team were doomed?
That said, there were some highlights. Melody is a bright spark. She has been trained by Al Gore, Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama, apparently. Wonder which one of them gave her the line, "Don't tell me the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon."
Edna, or evil Edna as I shall henceforth dub her, had a killer scowl. A brilliant TV grimace. That was rather entertaining - especially as her background is in HR. God forbid she ever gives me an appraisal. She took her job as 'finance function' on today's task rather too seriously. As the girls attempted to buy stock for their fruit boxes and vegetable pasta, she nearly killed a cut-price deal, refusing to hand over the cash because she had not been sufficiently consulted.
Ah yes. The task. Lord Sugar gave each team £250. They had to make some products and sell them for a profit.
End of, as the great man would say.
The boys team decided to create two wet wonders: tomato soup and orange juice. Most of the team members were much of a muchness, except Jim, whose wheeling and dealing in Covent Garden Market (nabbing all the tomatoes for just £40 at the eleventh hour) and general diplomacy make him a hot favourite. And there was Scouser Gavin, the second best salesman on the task and a bit of a mouthy bugger, which we like.
Unfortunately for team Logic, they were led by Edward. The only accountant in the world that seemgly can't count. "Let's roll with the punches," he said repeatedly. Perhaps he has aspirations in bare-knuckle boxing because he sure as hell has no hope in business. The boys lost because of his chronic mismanagement. Final totals were £432.13 for Logic and £592.33 for Venture (despite only making £37 on their ghastly pasta).
In the boardroom, Edward, Gavin, and some chap called Leon (who broke the juicer) faced the irate Hackney Highness. When called out for his poor performance, Edward chose an unlikely defence: "I'm the youngest guy on the competition," he said. "And the shortest."
The girls quaffed champage back at the house while the trademark taxi swung away from Sugar HQ, short stuff in the back.
Ed's dead, baby. Ed's dead.