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The Apprentice: Too much sausage, and not enough sizzle...


It's finally here. The long awaited new series of The Apprentice sees 16 candidates battle it out to secure the dream job of joining Lord Sugar's business empire with a six-figure salary. The first episode of 'the toughest job interview' did not disappoint with Lord Sugar making his mark in classic style. He described the candidates' CVs as good on paper, "but then so is fish & chips".

Keeping with the culinary theme, teams Apollo (the girls) and Synergy (the boys) were tasked with producing and selling their own sausages. Sugar set the task at midnight requiring the teams to work through the night. Although questionable under the Working Time Regulations (the teams had to embark on a 17-hour shift presumably without the requisite rest breaks), it enabled the teams to purchase vital ingredients from the famous Smithfield market.

 Apollo, headed by cleaning company owner Joanna Riley, opted for gourmet sausages and targeted hungry city workers. Synergy, led by sales director Dan Harris (the oldest candidate), went for bargain basement bangers.

 Obviously (!), the quality of the sausages had no bearing on the result, with Apollo winning by just £15. The real recipe behind Apollo’s success was Joanna’s cohesive management style. Aside from a cameo power struggle involving food business manager, Melissa Cohen, for whom the task was all about "prooofeshhhhhionaaalism" and her concern at Joanna’s distinct lack of it, the girls worked well together and displayed more ‘synergy’ than their namesake rivals.

 By contrast, Dan can only be described as a human resources nightmare, believing that leading a team and barking orders are one and the same. Within minutes of his appointment, Dan alienated every one of his team members due to his aggressive "I’ll lead the team; you do all the work" approach. If ever there was an advert as to how not to treat staff, Dan delivered. It was "chaotic" (the most overused word in episode 1).

 In the boardroom Dan’s team members unleashed their pent-up frustration to great effect returning a negative 360 appraisal, or rather stinging attack, on Dan’s performance. Dan’s leadership was emotively described as "shameful" and "like a bull in a china shop". Synergy raised several grievances concerning Dan’s bullying behaviour and the clear consensus was that "Desperate" Dan should be fired. Sugar duly obliged. He upheld the boys’ grievances and then subjected Dan to a quick-fire disciplinary and the added ignominy of being reprimanded for slouching. Was his age a factor? Only Sugar knows.

 Of the ones that got away, Alex Epstein (one of two unemployed candidates) "didn’t do very much", according to the newly promoted Karren Brady. And Stuart "The Brand" Baggs provided some memorable moments with this "cringeable" sales technique. Back at the (luxury West End) ranch, the surviving candidates seemed to agree.

 Next week, teams Apollo and Synergy compete in a beach-related task. One thing is clear: it promises to be no holiday.

Ray Wann, Sheridans – Media Lawyers