Has The Apprentice become the campest show on television? The candidates wear outfits which look like the Strictly team have launched a businesswear line.
Candy colour suits in cobalt blue, fuscia pink and mint green with matching shoes. Huge scarfs tied ostentatiously in a way that you only ever see in adverts. Luscious hair glossed, straightened or waved to perfection. Waistcoated men with kerchiefs?
There’s a touch of sauciness with bedroom shots of bare-chested young men and innuendos as Gregory Ebbs vows to “put my support in for Bradley’s meat”. We get pantomime slapstick in the kitchen and Greg in an inflated chef outfit.
The show even has its own comedy musical score. Tiddly pom pom music when the candidates are being stupid, threatening “coming storm” music for drama in the boardroom. Even the taxi has its own signature melody.
It’s an extraordinary technicolour, larger than life, low comedy affair which is fun but bears little resemblance to anything like the real world of business, or the real world of anything.
For instance, we laughed at some of the girls’ poor maths skills, but while Rishi Sunak may have felt vindicated with his plans for A level maths for everyone, a simpler solution would have been to allow them to use a calculator. In this time-locked Apprentice world, the internet doesn’t exist, nor it seems do adding machines.
If there was any real drama this week, it wasn’t in the exit of Kevin D’Arcy in the taxi. He was no less deserving than any of the others.
It was in the surprising moment when Simba Rwambiwa started talking in Mandarin to a restaurant owner in Chinatown. We didn’t have that down on our Apprentice bingo card. Well done Simba.
The other moment was in the low-key, dignified exit of Shannon Martin, who decided she’d had enough and booked her own cab. In a show where the candidates appear willing hostages, happy to be bullied, coerced and humiliated for our entertainment, it was a useful reminder that as individuals we have agency, that we can walk away if we are unhappy and that we can do so gracefully.
This was the most important real-life business lesson of the show.