Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Sunday, 17 July 2011

TV Review: The Apprentice

The mystery of the year: how did Tom win?

How on earth did Tom win The Apprentice? I have no inkling as to how he did it, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t either, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Lord Sugar woke up the morning after and was pretty miffed himself.

When this nice, ineffectual, geeky man turned up in week one, on his bike, I gave him two weeks tops. Then, he proceeded to be in the losing team for the first five tasks. He was obviously bright, but didn’t seem to have any cutting edge at all. He was the epitome of amiability, and he was loved by all, but that was never going to be enough.

And then, something inexplicable started happening. Tom kept on being spared by Lord Sugar. Frankly, I thought it was because Tom was so nice that his Lordship kept on firing the other person who hadn’t performed that week in order not to upset him. However, that glimmer of hope which we all saw in Tom shone somewhat brighter for the boss. This wasn’t uncharacteristic Sugar-sentimentality.

In all honesty, we know it should have been Helen, the incredibly efficient businesswoman who had won every task but one, but let herself down with a crummy business idea. Even then, if she was guided to a different business for which she was more suited she would have been a very able business partner for Lord Sugar. This almost happened, but the mad inventor prevailed.

Then again, we all know that it could never have been Helen, because she was so far ahead of everyone else that it was nearly a no contest. The show needed a twist of some kind. If Helen was going to struggle, that left the door open, but it needn’t have been Tom. I had a feeling it would be Susie, who had shown a Sugar-esque entrepreneurial streak, and was loathed by everyone I spoke to about the show. However, despite Sugar’s statement that we would hear from her in the future, she was fired.

It was Tom who triumphed. Why? It was a lacklustre year, but the poor competition had nothing to do with it. Sugar said that it was a “gut decision”, but £250,000 is a lot to gamble on such a feeling, and the Lord also highlighted Tom’s credentials as a “product man”. The man has talent and brains, but I do think that one thing really counted for him. He is supremely nice and well liked and that counts.

Tom had an edge to him, namely a will to win and succeed and to get his product noticed; a trait which many Apprentice candidates have had, but none has been so nice with it as Tom has. The story of Tom forcing his product into Walmart by pretending to be a delivery boy so he could meet the relevant buyer demonstrates that edge, but it’s also utterly charming, which has been much rarer in candidates.

So, maybe all the “nice guys come first” comments have not been misguided. In this instance, I think they’re true. People love Tom and will do much for him, but they are more fortunate in that endeavour than I would have guessed. It turns out, he’s not hopeless after all.

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