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Archive for November, 2010

“There are two types of people in the world – winners and… I don’t know how to say the word, I can’t say it, and I won’t say it.”

– Ian Stringer, Series 4 contestant, who didn’t even make it past the third week. LOSER.

“The spoken word is my tool. I’m a terrific conversationalist and raconteur with incredible charisma. I’m priceless, absolutely priceless.”

– Raef Bjayou, Series 4 contestant, offering a masterclass in honesty. Raef was last seen serving undercooked venison to 90s R & B has-been, Michelle Gayle, on Celebrity Come Dine with Me.

Of all the reality entertainment vehicles that have sullied our television sets in recent years, The Apprentice serves up the most consistent stream of inspired goon-comedy; a yearly round-up of delusional gobshites hell-bent on charming a craggy old man with little more than their falsified CVs, and a breathless ability to talk bullocks on demand. Now in its sixth series, the Alan Sugar vanity juggernaut shows no sign of losing its relentlessness, with a BBC2 spin-off show following each weekly episode, a regular features magazine and – I shit you not – an official soundtrack (killer tracks include “The Boardroom” and “You’re Fired”). Simon Cowell eat your todger off.

Shut your faarkahn maarf

Donald Trump working his sex face

 

The Apprentice started its immortal being in America under the stewardship of touped business icon Donald Trump. As soon as the ratings showed Trump was on to a winner, opportunist BBC commissioners clambered aboard the band wagon and swapped a dodgy barnet for a shoddy beard in the form of professional grizzler, Alan Sugar. Not content with one sour-faced bandit, the Beeb allocated him two pessimistic wingmen: Nick Hewer, a vacuum-faced Widow Twankey, whose timeless pursing of the lips is able to convey a thousand double entendres; Margaret Mountford, a bushy haired prude who thinks she’s one step above the Daily Mail, but secretly reads it on the bog when no-one’s looking. The current series of The Apprentice has seen Mountford leave to pursue a Ph.D in papyrology, thus prompting rabid fawning in the broadsheet press over her assumed colossal intellect, when the reality is that she’s got no mates.

Hewer exhibiting his tight Widow Twankey game

The secret of The Apprentice’s longevity is its ability to appeal to the middle-classes, with those who would usually shun The X-Factor regularly tuning in to see Frances suggestively inform the contestants that “Sir Alan is ready to see you now” (“lord” doesn’t trip of the tongue quite so nicely). While the tasks occasionally require a modicum of intellectual acumen, the savvy production team retain an eye on superficial titillation, personified by ‘Frances’ herself. A little research reveals Frances to be a sexed-up version of Sir Alan’s authentic secretary, Frances Penn, who, according to the oracle that is the Daily Mail, is “not really front of house material”, or, to use the vernacular, is a bit of an old munter. Despite the physical charms of the new Frances (a blond young actress called Samantha), Sir Alan insists that she use the name Frances on the show, apparently so he didn’t get confused when making that crucial two second phone call, or – more likely – because girls with free bus passes give him the horn.

Even when I’m sleeping, I’m not really asleep

As much as I enjoy Nick Hewer’s edgy off-camera eye squints, The Apprentice truly comes to the party when the contestants have license to freestyle into the camera about their egos, and there is no finer opportunity to do this than at the beginning of each series when the audition tapes are replayed in all their unflinching horror. While some canny long-game operators exercise admirable restraint and refer only to their killer drive and unquenchable hunger, the majority serve up a barrage of outlandish boasts and self-congratulatory hand-jobs. Despite the colossal volume of knob-jockeys that have appeared on the show since its inception, the prize for the biggest bell-end in the history of bell-ends goes to current incumbent, Stuart “The Brand” Baggs.

Stuart "The Brand" Baggs - possibly the greatest tool in the world

When I think of Baggs, I like to think of a fat snotty kid in a school blazer getting beaten like a ginger step-child outside the school lockers, with the action set to a backing track of raucous children chanting “Ballbaggs” over and over again. At the end of the beating, the young Baggs will struggle to his feet and goad his tormentators with petulant proclamations that he’ll one day be a millionaire, before being sent tumbling again with yet a further flurry of impeccable knuckle action. In my historical utopia, this would happen to Baggs every day of his life, in some sort of poetic justice Groundhog Day set-up. Why the loathing, I hear you cry? Roll the tape:

The problem with Baggs is the absence of a redeeming feature: if he were simply an earnest caricature who comes across as a tosser, I’d just add him to the list of annoying reprobates that dominate the legal profession. However, Baggs clearly relishes being a wanker – check out the moment at 0:03 where he snorts the air triumphantly, utterly captivated by the process of packaging the next diatribe of bullshit to be delivered from his cakehole.  He looks like a cock, too, a kind of devilish mash-up involving a hedgehog and Peter Jones with just a suggestion of a young Jim Broadbent. In his audition tape, Baggs waxes lyrical about how phenomenally interesting his life is, but fails to expand on what exceptional activities he gets up to in his spare time. On closer inspection, Baggs was right to gloss over the detail, as all he does is masturbate excessively. Check out this effortless early morning hand-shandy:

Get on your knees and tell me you love me

Bodger

The sight of Baggs rustling away beneath a duvet gave me an idea to revolutionise The Apprentice boardroom experience: instead of a formal suited firing squad, why not an early morning raid into the contestants’ bedrooms? Imagine the possibilities: Ruth Badger spread eagle over her inadequate single bed hideout, comatose and waking only to hear Sugar’s parting cry of “you’re a total shambles, you’re fired”; Raef proudly waxing his eyebrows only to be rudely interrupted by Hewer’s piercing gaze from around the bedroom door; and, of course, Baggs frantically trying to retrieve his M&S y-fronts from the carpet floor, while simultaneously masking his raging boner. I can almost smell the ratings.

Badger

Amongst the corporate buzz words, one-upmanship and ego joisting, The Apprentice does supply moments of comedy gold. My personal highlight remains Michael “I’m a good Jewish boy” Sophocles getting a verbal spanking from the former Spurs chairman. Sophocles’ first error, apart from having a ridiculous surname, was to go full retard on his CV, describing himself as “a good Jewish boy.” While Sugar took umbrage at the blatant pandering to his genetic make-up, Sophocles dug himself an even deeper hole by displaying a blissful ignorance of the Jewish methods of food preparation:

I’m conscious that I want people to read this while Ballbaggs is still in the house. With Sugar frothing with excitement at the prospect of firing him, I have to concede that time is of the essence, so on that note I will sign off. In the spirit of silliness and little more, I have put together a few spin-off suggestions for Apprentice alumni (see below) and left you with Raef ‘s best bits. Hate Baggs, love Raef. I can sense a T-Shirt campaign.

The Assprentice

1. Margaret Mounts Ford – Fed-up with the emotional trauma of the menopause, Margaret decides to recapture her youth with a bold page-3 style calendar, featuring images of her riding a range of Ford motorcars from yesteryear.

2. Hewer or lower – old school Saturday night entertainment where Nick wears a smoking jacket, pouts into a camera and asks game show contestants whether his next move will be to purse his lips higher in seductive approval, or lower in abhorrent disgust.

3. I’m a Jew, get me out of here! – Controversial race-led focus on the popular reality TV show. Michael “I’m a good Jewish boy” Sophocles joins the other camp members as the series begins its miserly occupation as the nation’s favourite watercooler topic. To make matters interesting, however, instead of saying “I’m a celebrity get me out of here” to end the horrors of a bush tucker trial, Sophocles has to drop his pants and prove his Jewish credentials.

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