Is Lord Sugar and The Apprentice out of touch with start-ups?

This year sees sixteen wannabe entrepreneurs go head to head in the desperate bid to become Lord Sugar's business partner and secure £250,000 investment in the process. . . It may be difficult for start-ups to raise funding right now, but there's no way times are this desperate, surely?

The show opened with each candidate pitching to the camera as if they were Mohammed Ali in his pomp. The self-belief and self-promotion intolerable yet annoyingly infatuating at the same time.

"My intelligence is like a machete in the jungle," was one quote from Jason Leech. While Zeeshan Shah says he takes business inspiration from Napoleon. Yep, that's right. Forget Branson, Jobs even Lord Sugar himself - Shah's most favorite entrepreneur is a warlord.

Predictably the candidates were split into boys v girls and sent to Tilbury docks where there are two containers full of tat for them to sell - bottled water, lucky Chinese waving cats, toilet paper, leather jackets and cat litter. . .Why Lord Sugar's investment hinges on the candidates ability to sell plastic cats we're not sure.

At the start of the show the candidates revealed their business ideas. Jaz Ampaw-Farr's sounded interesting, "an online learning platform" while Neil Clough mentioned how he might "revolutionise the estate agent industry." 

Fast forward and Jaz is trying to sell plastic Chinese cats to a Chinese tourist shop owner, who points out the obvious, "I can buy these direct from China at half the price." While Neil's ended up at Battersea Dogs home doing his most to get the best price from a man who looks after vulnerable animals - nice one. 

At the end of all the chaos, it's the girls who lose out, with team leader Jazz Ampaw-Farr bringing Sophie Lau and Uzma Yakoob back with her to face Lord Sugar in the boardroom. The girls fall into a backstabbing frenzy, while Sugar looks on gleefully before telling Jazz she's fired.

We love entrepreneurs at Smarta and Lord Sugar's an inspiration, but we can't help feeling let down by the Amstrad founder. Why's he judging the business ideas of the so called brightest bunch of entrepreneurs around on their ability to sell rubbish? Also, a business partner should be looked upon as an equal. We're struggling to see how Sugar can respect someone enough to be their partner, when for weeks before he had them jumping through hoops. The candidates would probably go and force a shopkeeper to sell them tartan paint or a long wait if he asked them.

These candidates have been plucked from thousands and supposedly they've got great business ideas. If that's the case, then we'd like to see Sugar being the lackey in a bid to work with the fresh ideas and talent.

Maybe this is what's wrong with the start-up world as a whole. We're always talking about how great the past is, rather than paying more attention to the ideas that'll make money in the future.


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