It's baaaaack. For two nights in a row, we've been given a double dose of the new series of The Apprentice. Series seven has launched with a new look, new candidates and a brand new format…..well sort of. This year, instead of a lucrative £100,000 job, Lord Sugar is now looking for a business partner and the prize is a £250,000 investment in their business.
It's clear he'll be looking for a new sort of candidate, someone who can bring more than just great sales skills to the table.
Like most people, I was expecting another group of "muppets" that leave us shouting at the TV. But I'm surprised (though there is plenty of time to prove me wrong) to find quite a few solid and credible candidates.
Could this be the series that brings credibility back to The Apprentice brand?
Two episodes in and, while there has been some friction, there has been no fighting, no cattiness, and no blaring egos and stupidity. Heck, we're even lacking in the one-liner department.
Now I might be biased, but I'm going to go on a limb here and say it's because there are a lot more entrepreneurs in this series who bring a full skill-set and greater understanding about all the facets of business. In fact, at last count, I clocked five entrepreneurs and I'm starting to wish I was one of them!
In fact, I think I'm actually getting excited about The Apprentice again.
I'm getting excited because I'm seeing glimpses of The Apprentice that got me hooked 10+ years ago. The first series in the American Trump version, where instead of trying to make car crash TV, the producers truly did bring in the best of the best. They knew the level of manipulation, control, and strategic game-playing by high level people would be far more interesting and entertaining than watching people make idiots of themselves. And it seems we might be getting closer to our roots with this group.
So who do we have?
So far we've lost Accountant Ed who made it clear he didn't want to be an entrepreneur and quiet Alex, who committed Apprentice suicide by simply laying low on the radar.
Susan and Gavin are our Moaning Minnies who will act as kryptonite to their respective teams going forward.
Leon's been in the board room twice and been told the next time he's there he's out. Surely any project leader who loses and has him on their team will receive a "get out of jail free" card if they bring him in.
Melody led her team to victory on the first task. She seems to have an impressive background, but I'm curious how much of it is fluff and how much is real. Either way, I think she may be a contender.
Felicity came up with a horrid idea for her team's ap and was crucified for it in the boardroom, but no one else came up with any other ideas. I'd like to say I like her, but being a creative, I'm not sure she will connect with Lord Sugar.
Edna is ballsy. She's not bad, but she's not great. As the project leader in week two, she missed some fundamental business lessons and got off with a lucky win due to the default support of an online magazine.
Ellie seems to very switched on and is speaking well in the boardroom. This is one of the most important skills you can have on The Apprentice. How many times have you seen someone perform poorly but stay in the game thanks to their ability to connect and persuade in the boardroom?
Helen is a cool, calculated, business machine. She has a look in her eyes that says she will do anything to get this investment. It's that kind of focus that get the win. I get a very strong vibe from her and think she may go far.
Natasha hasn't had a chance to show her skills so far. We will see if she too might get called out on laying too low. The same is true of Glenn and Zoe.
Vincent is this year's ego maniac, though I'm not sure he will up to the insanity of Baggs The Brand and Sandhurst Ben. Though I would love to see him with a curly mustache, sword and Three Musketeers costume.
After last night's episode, many people are pinning Jim for the win. He used his Jedi mind tricks to get himself out of the boardroom. In a move that clearly shocked Lord Sugar, Jim insisted that Leon change his mind and take someone else in the boardroom, and Leon obeyed. It was amazing.
Being a marketing man, and seeing how much Lord Sugar hates marketers, I can't imagine Jim will win it. But I'm confident he's scared off the competition and no one will dare to bring him in. He has no product to invest in. He's the perfect candidate for the old format of The Apprentice, but I suspect he'll run people the wrong way and find himself in a cab, but not until the final four.
If I had to make an early bet, I'd put my money on Tom The Inventor. More than just an entrepreneur, he has the ability to bring new and original ideas to fruition and he has the track record to support it. He's a "scientific creative" which is something Lord Sugar will be able to relate to a lot more. Surely if you had £250,000 to invest, this is exactly the sort of person you're looking for?
But with The Apprentice, you never know, and we will just have to wait until next week to find out who is next to be fired…