Suspending reality by selling fake products on The Apprentice

Or #isanythingrealthesedays

Imagine panicking after spending £500,000 on a new product for your store just because you liked the cut of the salesperson’s jib.

Then try to remember where you last saw the word jib used in a sentence and whether it happened this century. Then relax and realise the £500,000 you’ve spent is safe because it is the equivalent of Monopoly money.

Alan Sugar and his The Apprentice contestants
Alan Sugar has to decide which one of the 16 hopefuls is going to be the lucky winner. (Picture from The Apprentice Instagram account because the BBC Pictures account is too difficult for little people like me to access.)
The official trailer for this series of The Apprentice is worse than the adverts the candidates will inevitably have to make at some point during this series

If this scenario has happened to you then you must have been a business expert on The Apprentice.

For the first week of this series in the UK the two teams had to design an electric toothbrush and app and pitch it to high street businesses like Superdrug.

Last week’s episode involved them trying to get Asda and other drinks buyers to purchase their non-alcoholic drinks.

Each week the business representatives criticise the products and ask them questions about packaging, ingredients and design.

Each week I wonder in what world do these business people live in that they have time to spend a day filming and pretending they care about a fake product that will never get to market.

They must get paid a lot of money to participate because the level of disbelief needed is so much more than is involved at a pantomime when a pumpkin turns into a carriage and some beans grow into a beanstalk.

Logo of toothbrush company
Superdrug and the other businesses did not like the logo nor the design of the boys wizard toothbrush (Picture from The Apprentice Instagram account)
The many faces of Karren Brady
The many faces of Karren Brady (Picture from The Apprentice Instagram account)

Do they do it because they want to get on TV or do they think they are judging some kind of young enterprise scheme at a secondary school?

I was never part of young enterprise so cannot remember the products the groups made but I do remember they were proper things people could buy.

They weren’t just wasting their time by inventing a new variety of sausage that will never see the light of day (pineapple, sage and duck anyone?).

The thing I’d really like to know is how do the businesses decide how much of the fake product they are going to pretend to purchase.

The boardroom is full of smiles as Alan Sugar announces Superdrug really likes the product by Team Whatever the Fuck They are Called and has placed orders for 25,000 thingabobs.

But why would Superdrug stop there? Have the buyers actually done a proper assessment about the viability of the product for their store?

Pharmacist Navid Sole - The Apprentice
Fired: Pharmacist Navid Sole thought he was better at The Apprentice than Alan Sugar did (Picture from The Apprentice Instagram account)
Nursery owner Shama Amin left The Apprentice on health grounds
Nursery owner Shama Amin left The Apprentice on health grounds (Picture from The Apprentice Instagram account)

If so, why? It all seems like too much effort for a product which doesn’t exist beyond a prototype.

Why don’t they go all in and decide they like the cut of one of the salesperson’s jibs so buy 80 million units? It would be the biggest sale in Apprentice history but would also remind the viewer about the artificiality of most of the process.

Hopefully filming amidst the global pandemic hasn’t affected the format too much because the best challenges from previous years are when they have to sell a real product to members of the public.

These Covid times do seem to have affected the ambitions and ability of the contestants to come up with new ideas for a business.

After being kicked out last week Navid Sole announced his business idea was to open a chain of pharmacies. Spoiler alert but the UK already has pharmacy chains.

And, after leaving on health grounds, Shama Amin told the spin-off show The Apprentice: You’re Fired that she wanted to open a nationwide chain of nurseries. I’m not sure if there are any nationwide ones, but there are definitely already nursery chains.

Alan Sugar Karren Brady Tim Campbell
Karren Brady and Tim Campbell help Alan Sugar to decide who should win The Apprentice (Picture from The Apprentice Instagram account)
Comedian Matt Edmondson meets the candidates – in a way

Hopefully the winner will come up with a much better and much more original proposal for a business. If not they should all be fired.

Stay safe for another week!