At a meal the other day with some people I didn’t know very well, they were talking about the TV show The Apprentice. I haven’t watched the programme very much (I usually find myself catching bits of it and finding it difficult to understand why Alan Sugar’s seen as this successful businessman – doesn’t most of his money come from property now rather than active business?), but not necessarily knowing what I’m talking about doesn’t usually bar me from passing comment, as this blog actively demonstrates.

Which is why I asked the following question: “Isn’t The Apprentice just a middle-class version of Big Brother?”

That remark rather bought the conversation to a halt, I’m proud to report, but I rather suspected there it was more than just me being snide. And when I watched The Apprentice last night (for the first time – and it’ll be the last), I couldn’t help but think there was indeed many a true word spoken in my semi-jest.

Points of similarity being:
– The contestants live together
– They’re set tasks which dictate whether they remain in the game or not
– Much of the show focuses on the personality clashes and ‘characters’ (as does the conversation about the show)
– They have to pack their bags when they’re at risk of being kicked out
– The results are decided in a capricious, borderline cruel, way (one by a public vote, the other by Sugar and his two colleagues)
– The outcome is prefaced by a good deal of padding and reiteration, which I guess is meant to produce tension
– Let’s face it, both programmes attract the kind of contestants you wouldn’t really want to know in real life

So I won’t be watching it again (same for Big Brother this year, I suspect). Interestingly enough, the original US version, featuring Daniel Clamp*, has been axed due to lack of interest, whilst the UK version rattles on, a bit like the way ‘The Upper Hand’ outlived its transatlantic parent.

And anyway, it featured loads of padding – oh, sorry, I mean panning – shots of Canary Wharf and Docklands, which I can see from the balcony of my penthouse flat any time I choose. Tch.

*Not seen Gremlins 2? You really should, John Glover is brilliant in it, as is the Fire Alarm. See it, and see what I mean.