I have to admit that The Apprentice is my TV guilty pleasure. The only ‘reality TV’ I can watch without getting so angry I want to destroy the television, my eyes and everyone else who may be watching plus their families and close friends and milkman. I am, after all annoyed very quickly and very often. Most things annoy me intensely - children, cats, other humans, and shit telly. But The Apprentice isn't shit telly. It just about keeps its little bare toes dangling perilously above the toxic shitstream of shit telly by getting the balance right between giving egomaniac oxygen thieves airtime and parading them in front of us like circus freaks to mock, smug in the knowledge that we're so much better people than they are.
But the contestants on The Apprentice aren't murderers, they've not committed crimes – though it doesn't take too big a leap to imagine the words ‘rape trial' cropping up in the life of at least one of the lads somewhere down the line - they're just a symptom of the moral decay that's gnawing at the heart of the country. To quote Matt Johnson.
"The blokes are made up of a degree of hairgel, big tie knots and lack of self awareness that screams paint-balling weekend and Prague Stag do."
The 'C' word has been used so much in the last two Apprentice reviews to describe them, and OK, it may be right but forgive me if I don't even try to compete on that front, I'll just say they’re certainly the type of people that the phrase: “Wouldn't pay them in washers” was invented for. The blokes are made up of a degree of hairgel, big tie knots and lack of self awareness that screams paint-balling weekend and Prague Stag do, whilst the lasses are brim full of the false confidence of an 11-year-old who's been dressing up in her mum's power suits and make-up. I mean there's a £100k job at the end of the line for one of these people! One. Hundred. Thousand. Pounds. Per. Annum. It might even be more, I can't find the figure anywhere. Presumably they're too embarrassed to tell us.
Anyway, episode three and it's more Generation Game style antics. Surely they'd be better off getting Stuart Hall to narrate by now. Lord Sugar appears in person this time as opposed to the Cyber Sugar that greeted them in episode two. On a side note, and I wish I could claim this, someone Tweeted last week that they can't wait until series 7 when he becomes Darth Sugar. So, Ldalun tells them the noble trade they will be insulting this week will be that of the baker. A skill it seems you can simply learn in a few minutes, with the aid of a fully equipped bakery somewhere in London.
The blonde bird, you know, the one who's just been on Junior Apprentice but is back under the name Melissa, becomes team leader and immediately celebrates by dressing like David Byrne. The other team, with whatever shit name they've given themselves nominates Doctor Shabby, who actually seems very likeable.
Melissa is a food service manager, whatever that is, so there's only going to be one winner here. Sadly, whilst pitching, she spends 15 minutes frantically punching into a calculator, possibly trying to remember how to do that Boobless joke, and is shown to be quite clearly absolutely fucking useless. Quarter of an hour of frantic fingering has her come back with a figure of £1.82 for a bread roll. Brilliant. Her number two - Alex - who despite his 11 A star GCSE's (you know it's desperate when you've got to refer back to your GCSEs) and looking like he should be in The League of Gentlemen seems equally inept.
"Over at team Shabby, however, their kitchen looks more like Bobby Sands' prison cell."
Doctor Shabby on the other hand, gets a great order of 2000 items. That he can't fulfil. And knocks back another one. That he can't fulfil. Immediately Polenta - is she Australian or something? - covers her arse by saying he's made the wrong call, but, and did I mention he's likeable, he seemed to play that one pretty well. What does baffle me here, is everyone sat pretending that this is some kind of proper business pitch and not just a bunch of cunts talking shit. If the 'customer' does place an order, who are they expecting to fulfil it?
So it's back to the bakeries, and whilst it was going tits up in the sales with Melissa and Alex, on the shop floor soldier Chris seems to have things going like clockwork. Over at team Shabby, however, their kitchen looks more like Bobby Sands' prison cell and annoying Asian bird moans a lot whilst seeming to do nothing.
Inevitably, both teams sell some of the shit they've made to tourists and people who think they might be getting on telly, we get to see some of Karen Brady's cellulite, Nick keeps an unusually low profile and Stuart Baggs is yet again an annoying prick who seems destined for either a market stall or the next series of Celebrity Come Dine With Me.
Back in the boardroom, it seems both teams have somehow done pretty well - which obviously Ldalun ignores - and incredibly, despite ineptness of special needs proportions, Melissa somehow guides her team to victory. Shabby's back in, Asian lass suddenly comes to life albeit with dead staring Manga eyes, Polenta does the old 'told you so' routine and Ldalun fires Shabby. Who seemed quite likeable.
If there's any justice in this programme, then Melissa will be packing her oversized men's suits into her tiny wheelie case at the end of next week's episode. It is viewing that's both gripping and depressing in equal proportions.
The only upside to this whole sordid TV fucktardery that I can think of, is that should aliens wishing to invade earth happen upon The Apprentice, as the TV signal speeds it’s way to the edge of the universe, they'll be so blasé about invading a planet who's inhabitants can neither hold a book in their hands nor know the price of a bread roll that they'll come perilously ill equipped for an invasion and be easily fended off back whence they came. And I think that's something that we can at least, all take a crumb of comfort in.