The Apprentice 2009 – Episode 1 The Stradivarius and bongo drums

Another series of The Apprentice kicks off for more common sense business lessons and back-stabbing. But it’s the sound bites wot will win it.

26th March 2009 at 12:09 am

Let the pantomime begin.  Sixteen (minus one) new candidates like lambs loitering in the middle of the Limehouse Link road as Sir Alan’s Roller hurtles towards them.

As the fifth series of The Apprentice kicked off, it was obvious the production team had done the usual by selecting a motley array of business no-hopers and sociopaths.

The script writers on the other hand had excelled themselves.

Sir Alan’s opening salvo was classic Suralan.

“Someone’s already bottled it”,  “Pressure is what business is all about” and the hilarious:

“I’m as hard to play as a Stradivarius.  You lot are as easy to play as bongo drums.”

It’s as if you’re witnessing a whole new business vernacular evolving before your eyes.  A cross between buzzword bingo and  White Hart Lane terrace banter.

The Apprentice 2009 episode 1

Sir Alan, the Stradivarius with his bongo backing band

But it wasn’t just Sir Alan who had the good lines.  The candidates had clearly polished their sound bites too.

The trailer had already given us “Business is the new rock ‘n’ roll and I’m Elvis Presley”, from estate agent Philip Taylor, and “To me making money is better than sex” from ‘rebellious stockbroker’ Ben Clarke.

But there were more gems tonight.

Kimberly Davis quipped “I’m a rough tough cream puff from New York”, immediately endearing herself to me and dooming her to failure.

While ruthless Debra Barr came up with a phrase that could, even at this early stage, mark her out for the final three:

“If she doesn’t take me to the boardroom, it’ll be a waste of a good suit.”

The challenge, setting up a cleaning business with up to £200 to spend on kit, was a remarkably dull affair.

Business lesson of the week: keep your costs down.

The girls’ team, Ignite, spent nearly all of its ‘budget’ and the passive lawyer in charge of the calculator, Anita, copped it for, well … being a lawyer and playing the ‘I was only following orders’ card.  Never a good option with a Spurs fan.

Empire project manager, Howard Ebison, was weak and doomed, although the boys won.

Ignite project manager, Mona Lewis, was disorganised, but despite her avowed integrity played a blinding divide and rule card in the post match analysis at the Bridge Street café before heading back to the boardroom.

All in all a low key start to the new series, but with some memorable lines.

My early bet on the final three: Rocky Andrews, Debra Barr, Yasmina Siadatan.


Alex is the founder and editor of SmallBizPod, the UK's first podcast dedicated to small business, start-ups and entrepreneurship. Alex writes about topical small business issues, entrepreneurs and anything else that catches his eye here on the small business blog.

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  1. jonathan says:

    When the task finished, I looked at my watch and it was barely 9:30.

    I then realised that all the aftermath takes up nearly as much time as umm watching people wash cars (badly) and clean shoes… and is more interesting

    Interested if in the early stages, its possible to guess who is fired because the action tends to focus on them a little more?

  2. I did exactly the same thing Jonathan. The boardroom is always the best bit anyway.

    The way it’s edited, I think it’s very, very hard to work out who are likely winners.

    Having said that, Sir Alan goes on gut and just reading the profiles and looking at their pictures, I reckon you can get down to 6 possibles, reasonably accurately.

    My predictions are, of course, now doomed!

  3. jonathan says:

    Yes, they sort of gave the game away with the editing when suralan said something like “we have been sat here for half a blady ‘our” when the final three were in at the end.

    This task reminded me of a previous one (but I can’t remember which) where they were selling food (cakes and buns I think) and ordered enough to feed half of London and ended up giving most of it away.

  4. Web Business says:

    I can see the apprentice going the way of big brother, with the contestants becoming more & more outlandish to satisfy a more demanding audience.
    The problem is that whilst these are supposedly ‘reality tv shows’, the contestants are so far removed from reality that the whole thing loses it appeal and turns more into a comedy!

  5. I thought comedy was its appeal!

  6. Bill says:

    It beats me how both teams failed to follow the everyday car cleaning example that many of us have already seen: Tesco car park, car cleaned (outside only), while you shop, £8. I used to use this once a month at Tescos in Twickenham, and there was always 4-5 cars before me, all cleaned half an hour later.

  7. Bill, you’re right. Sir Alan values common sense and there didn’t seem to be much in evidence last night.

  8. It’s very frustrating to see these future Captains of industry, lack the business acumen and leadership skills, even on such simple tasks.

    That said as a show it is really good entertainment value and gives some great examples as to ‘how not to’!

    Yes, Sir Alan! classic!

  9. Web Business says:

    “I thought comedy was its appeal!”

    I don’t know – I tend to like these shows when they start of quite serious as there is arguably an education value to them but that gets lost in the drive for more pompous contestants!

  10. […] my hot tip to be dodging and weaving his way to the final bout of The Apprentice in ten week’s time, has […]

  11. […] in week one I predicted who would be in the final three: Yasmina, Rocky and […]

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