Now in its eight series, has the UK version of The Apprentice become tired, predictable and boring? We say yes.
There was a time when a night spent watching The Apprentice was assured to result in thrills, laughs and the opportunity to swear at and mercilessly mock some genuinely infuriating ‘business’ characters. Alan ‘Sur Alan/ Lord Alun/ the Fluffy Walnut’ Sugar was entertaining and unpredictable and sidekicks Nick and Margaret were dependably astute and withering. TV gold.
This latest series initially had promise; the pretty-but-unhinged Bulgarian Bilyana looked like she could provide laughs, bizarrely-eyebrowed ‘ex-wrestler’ Ricky Martin promised to develop into a stone-cold nutter and there was a supporting cast featuring the usual mix of middle management halfwits any one of which could have taken a left turn into slavering delusion at any moment.
But within a couple of episodes it was obvious that things were not going to pan out. Bilyana was fired in the first episode (which was a wasted opportunity), Ricky failed to fire up and all the rest were just dull. The tasks have been the same as always and there hasn’t even been any good lines from Sugar and his henchmen. How many of you have recorded episodes and deleted them without watching them? Or not bothered to seek them out at all? Lots, we’ll wager.
Perhaps the show has now run its course? Maybe we’re so used to the formula that there are no more surprises to be wrung from it? Maybe the production team have become complacent? Or maybe they just picked a bad bunch of contenders this time round?
The only bright spot is Dara O’Briain on sister show The Apprentice: You’re Fired! who somehow manages to mine laughs from the otherwise dull material.
Whatever the reason, the BBC needs to rethink what was previously a jewel in their crown and shake things up before there is a mass switch off.