The Apprentice

Long delayed because of political impartiality concerns around this year’s General Election, the new series of The Apprentice starts tonight on BBC One. There are a couple of obvious changes. Suralan is no longer Suralan, but instead the boring-to-write “Lord Sugar”. The Dark Lord. This time in HD. Which could be scary. He’s the guy who shouts: “Ya lost me manny!” His faithful companion Margaret Mountford has decided to leave the show, so unfortunately are her world-beating sighs and eye-rolling are no more. She’s been replaced by Karren Brady. Luckily the ever-reliable Nick Hewer remains to cast his beady eyes over the candidates as Suralan’s – sorry, Lord Sugar’s – other helper. He’s a man of few words, but when he does speak it’s always bang on the money and fantastically cutting.

The Apprentice is super-glossy and entertaining, and manages to make utter mugs out of most of the candidates, who all think they’re God’s gift to the world of business. Often you want to hide behind the sofa and shut your eyes, as what’s happening on the screen is too cringeworthy to stand. There’s always one woman who delivers important presentations to clients like she’s just forgotten her lines in the school nativity play. And there’s always a guy who showcases the motivational range of David Brent after being appointed Project Manager. You can practically see the rest of his team gleefully tattooing the word “scapegoat” on his eyeballs at this point. The boardroom bust-ups, extreme duplicity and hilarious attempts at arse-covering are all great pieces of television.

One of the best bits before the series starts is trying to figure out which of the candidates is going to win and which is going to be the most awful twat. For the latter I vote for this guy, a certain Mr Raleigh Addington:

And who’s going to win? Well, based just on the official photos, I’m going for Chris Bates:

Who knows? I could be completely wrong. The Apprentice has a tendency to surprise us, after all. 9pm, BBC One. Don’t miss it.

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