The Apprentice reviewed by a career coach: Lord Sugar’s trawl for rotten fish puns

If people keep being nice to each other, the whole format of The Apprentice could implode, writes Corinne Mills

This week we saw The Apprentice candidates catch crabs. I guess it’s an occupational hazard when you’re sharing a bathroom with colleagues.

The task was to catch and sell fish and provide Lord Sugar with a trawl of rotten fish puns. And yes, it was a load of old pollocks.

He dangled his puns like bait to see which minnows would laugh the heartiest. What would happen if one of them turned round and said your jokes are terrible? Would he admire their guts? Or would they end up as anchovy toast?

Perhaps the most surprising thing is that all things considered, both teams made decent attempts, despite this being an exceptionally difficult task.

Harpreet took on the project manager role (Photo: BBC)Harpreet took on the project manager role (Photo: BBC)
Harpreet took on the project manager role (Photo: BBC)

Francesca the fisherwoman

Harpreet Kaur’s winning team included Supergirl Francesca Kennedy Wallbank, who just happens to be a seasoned fisherwoman – we didn’t see that coming.

She not only amazingly collected a tub load of fish but showed her team mates how to do the same. Teach a man to fish… and all that.

Harpreet seemed highly organised, if a bit manic, clicking her fingers and talking to herself to help her focus. She clearly thrives when she’s in charge and as an owner of a dessert café did at least have an understanding of food presentation, costing and logistics.

Francesca was an adept fisherwoman (Photo: BBC)Francesca was an adept fisherwoman (Photo: BBC)
Francesca was an adept fisherwoman (Photo: BBC)

Alex Short on the other hand was a reluctant project manager. No-one in his group wanted to do this task. Kathryn Burn gamely offered to do it even though she’d been PM before.

However, her colleagues were smart enough to realise that would give her another chance to shine while they looked cowardly.

So top marks to Amy Anzel for using her considerable influencing skills to persuade Alex that negotiating cleaning contracts was just like being a fish merchant. He fell hook, line and sinker.

Despite Alex clearly being well out of his comfort zone and making some errors, he seemed solidly capable. So It was surprising to see Lord Sugar choose to send Alex sailing off into the sunset rather than Akshay Thakrar, who has consistently been on the losing team.

A strange bout of bonhomie

What was interesting this week were rare sightings of generosity. Arran Willis acknowledged that while Francesca may behave like a North Korean dictator, she was actually pretty impressive and got things done. Not sure how Arran might have voted in the last election.

Kathryn also defended Alex in the boardroom by saying there was shared responsibility for some of the errors.

The losing team (Photo: BBC)The losing team (Photo: BBC)
The losing team (Photo: BBC)

If people start being nice to each other, the whole format of this show could implode.

It’s built on ruthlessness, maximising profit, cheap-skating costs, slagging off your competitors and bull-sh*tting customers, and if that means hiding inferior fish so the customer doesn’t see then that’s fine as long as you win.

Ethical business behaviour and respect is as absent in this fictional business world as their mysterious lack of internet. Let’s hope that aspiring entrepreneurs understand this is a game show, not a template for business success.

Corinne Mills is a career coach with Personal Career Management and author of best-selling books on CVs and career change.

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