I really don’t want to make a song and dance about it, but since I know for a fact that a surge of new people seem to visit the blog on Apprentice day while it’s on TV, I have to announce that I am not going to be watching the rest of this series. Which means, self-evidently, I’m no longer going to be writing reviews of it each week. I appreciate your kind comments but if I’m not tuning in, I’ll have nothing to review. I apologise for any inconvenience caused by this rash decision.
It’s not that the programme has become predictable – its predictability was what I used to love about it – but I feel its time has passed. All the talk this week of “city slickers” and “high flyers” rang a hollow note for me. And yet, again, the producers have recruited a bunch of twats, and I think I’ve just had enough of watching twats. Perhaps this time next year, when the recession has really bedded in, twats like these will become harder to find. Perhaps not.
I think the very fact that Portobello Lofts seems to be sitting virtually empty, like so many other luxury penthouse newbuilds thrown up during the insane boom of the last decade and snapped up by “buy-to-let” landlords bent on a quick buck exposes The Apprentice and all it once stood for as a giant, empty sham. I don’t have the time for it. Plus, you can read detailed dissections of last night’s Apprentice on a hundred other blogs and in every daily newspaper, all mocking the idiocy of the candidates, just like I’ve done for three full series. I’m not doing this to generate ego-massaging calls for me to carry on. I’ll leave it to the industrious and diplomacy-free Watch With Mothers and the witty and devoted Anna Pickard at the Guardian blogs.
I interviewed the genial Theo Paphitis last month – like Sir Alan, a multimillionare businessman turned TV star who also once ran a football club – and he said that the recession offered someone like him bags of opportunities. That’s because he’s the boss, having worked his way to the top by putting in 100-hour weeks and never coming home from the office, something he still does. Then again, he sold two profitable high street lingerie chains at their peak to private equity firms and has the money, in “cash”, squirreled away in “clearing banks”, whatever they are. His story is pretty typical. So much money was made during the boom by buying and selling and borrowing and investing and moving money around. (Sir Alan’s portfolio is mostly property, not electonics; he sold Amstrad in 2007, again, when it was worth something.) Stuff was not manufactured in this country. Skills were not learned. Trades were not valued. We became a nation of shopkeepers and landlords, playing the markets, spinning the wheel, leaping through loopholes. And look where it got us. The candidates on The Apprentice – children of this money-for-money’s-sake revolution, with their 110%, Porsche-driven fantasies and balls of steel, going forward – actually make me feel a little bit sick in my stomach today, whereas once they were fair game for sport.