The Apprentice reviewed by a career coach: TV shopping seemed to morph into adult viewing

Kathryn and Stephanie try out the massage gun, under Akshay’s stage direction (Photo: BBC)Kathryn and Stephanie try out the massage gun, under Akshay’s stage direction (Photo: BBC)
Kathryn and Stephanie try out the massage gun, under Akshay’s stage direction (Photo: BBC) | BBC

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Massage guns, swear words and innuendo - The Apprentice candidates seemed to think they were on a different kind of TV channel, writes Corinne Mills

We might have thought that Brittany Carter’s ambition was to win The Apprentice and if she could help save the planet along the way, that would be a double-whammy.

However, this week it became clear that she’d throw both Lord Sugar and Sir David Attenborough overboard in an instant, for the chance to present on a TV shopping channel.

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She was besides herself with excitement. She loved these channels, just as her mother did before her and this opportunity was both an honour and a privilege.

“Don’t mention the inflatable pink flamingo"“Don’t mention the inflatable pink flamingo"
“Don’t mention the inflatable pink flamingo" | BBC

And she made the most of it. She didn’t care about Harpreet Kaur and Akeem Bundu-Kamara shouting nonsense in her ear, she was living her best life, wiping fluff off a tanzanite ring, whooping at price drops and cavorting with an inflatable pink flamingo. I expect her CV is with their HR department right now.

The rest of her team struggled in the chaos. Harpreet, who is usually emotionally self-contained, was extremely prickly, with both Akeem and with the products she pretended to like but clearly thought were tat. She ended up hollering angrily at the presenters with barely suppressed rage.

Akeem, meanwhile, seemed initially confident in finding product USPs. After all, it was his day job. But his unique selling points were largely mundane. The fact that a pink blow up flamingo can be deflated and moved was never likely to lead to them flying off the shelves.

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Aaron’s come-to-bed quip

At least Aaron Willis kept his good humour despite his obvious discomfort. Awkwardly selling the features of a new bedding set, he chimed “the only thing you’re not getting, is me in bed with you”. Well played Aaron.

On the other team, different dynamics played out. Following their sullen museum tour together last week, Stephanie Affleck and Kathryn Burn increasingly seem like two sparky ladies keen to extinguish each others flames.

They were functional but charmless. Filming a promotional trailer for an air fat fryer, Kathryn directed Stephanie mercilessly, trying to motivate her but leaving her with all the upbeat energy of a cold chip.

When these two leggy, long-haired blondes started massaging each other with a hand-held, vibrating gadget and discussed its different head attachments, we all sniggered.

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But their deadpan seriousness at this obvious comic set up felt less like professionalism and more like peevishness as they continued to rub each other the wrong way.

Akshay’s last chance

Akshay Tharkar knew that this week he was in last chance saloon. As project manager we had an opportunity to see at closer range what appear to be his greatest skills: self-belief, an easy charm and an ability to be gently manipulative when he needs to be. All fantastic business skills as it happens.

He wanted the girls to flog snail beauty cream to the gullible viewers.

“It has a back story,” he said without irony, regaling them with tales of farmers in Chile and their fairy tale like smooth hands, presumably moisturised by yukky slime trails.

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“It’s vegan friendly!“ he declared, before being forced to issue a correction with an “er well….. it’s friendly!”. And “it doesn’t smell of snails” a product feature that’s not often celebrated.

Akshay was back in the firing line (Photo: BBC)Akshay was back in the firing line (Photo: BBC)
Akshay was back in the firing line (Photo: BBC) | BBC

I’m not sure if Akshay managed to sell any snail beauty cream to Lord Sugar but I wouldn’t have put it past him.

Lord Sugar clearly had a soft spot for him despite his impressive consistency in being a loser.

“You’re not a bad fellow. Keep in touch!” said Lord Sugar as he pointed the finger.

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I’m not sure he’s ever said that to any other candidate so it’s entirely possible that there is a whole other side of Akshay that we’ve missed. I’m sure Akshay will be in touch with his mate Alan in the future.

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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