Steve Braunias: Terrible ideas and boundless energy save The Apprentice


Love is after hours, work is 24/7. A startling difference between desperate dating show The Bachelor (and The Bachelorette) and desperate wealth creation show The Apprentice is that the desperation to make money is a lot more serious. Tonight’s episode saw the apprentices and apprenticettes go at it with real commitment to the ideals of late-period capitalism, and it provided fabulous entertainment.

But even fabulous entertainment needs to bring it down a little bit. Shakespeare created scenes of exquisite boredom to lull his audience before shocking them with executions, wailings, and acts of madness. Mike Pero brings it down more than a little bit as host of The Apprentice. He makes every effort to talk and breathe at the same time, but fails the test, and puts in a performance so wooden that you start looking at his face for signs of borer.

No matter. The contestants are full of terrible ideas and boundless energy, and ran around tonight competing to design, brand and sell a summer robe. There were two teams. Nicola and Bari stepped up as respective project managers. You could just tell that Nicola was poised for success the minute she took control but it was just as obvious that poor old Bari would waste no time in immediately plunging into a sea of failure. He duly made that immediate plunge and spent the entire show drowning. It was excruciating to watch, which is to say it was compelling to watch. “Have some respect for me,” he begged, as the sharks circled.

Nicola’s team decided to design robes for women. The only problem was that the robes were basically mini-skirts, and had limited appeal. Bari’s team decided to design robes for men. The only problem was that men don’t wear or want robes, and they had an appeal somewhere between minimal and non-existent.

But no one had a better idea. Every one of Bari’s team had to shoulder the responsibility. They lost the challenge to Nicola’s team and the first thing they did was shirk the responsibility. “I need you to know I haven’t reached my full potential,” gabbled Kennedy. His anxiety was plain to see and Bari should have pounced.

That was really his last chance. Bari had to choose the two team members who he thought were the weakest performers, and sit with them in front of Pero to see which of the three would get fired. Kennedy might have lost his nerve, lost the plot, and lost his place.

But Bari chose two other guys who stood up for themselves. Bari wailed to no avail. His methods from start to finish were acts of madness, and he gave Pero no other choice than to point a wooden finger, and order his execution.

It was neither shocking nor unexpected but it was sad to watch him trudge out of the room and join the ranks of those more wretched than the loveless: the jobless.

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