The Apprentice returns

Not so sweet Sir Alan Sugar returned to our screens on Wednesday night, putting another group of 16 hopeful ‘high-fliers' through their paces, competing for the ‘prize' of a six-figure sinecure as one of Amstrad's finest.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Here at MT we've had a fair amount to do with Sir Al over the years (you might even say we knew him when he was still ‘only' one of the nation's most successful entrepreneurs). And while you can't argue with the fact that - as the angry badger himself pointed out to one recent, rather less-moneyed critic - ‘I'm the one worth £800m', there is plenty wrong with both the show and his role in it.

For starters, three series in, it's increasingly clear that what the wannabes actually wannabe is less his highly paid flunky and more a presenter on some tier 2 Freeview channel with a sideline in opening supermarkets and leisure centres (although, given the recent less than stellar performance of Amstrad, this may well be good sense on their part). This can be entertaining but fails to deliver any kind of genuine insight into what it takes to succeed in a real business career. Nor does Sir Al's extremely user-unfriendly TV persona do the wider cause of business many favours, preferring as he does to use more stick than carrot pour encourager les autres.

Perhaps we're just being naïve to expect reality TV to bear any resemblance to reality reality. At least Sugar seems finally to have given up trying to flog his e-mailer phones via product placement on the show. The last series was notably mainly for the appearance of this doomed piece of apparatus in almost every shot. But the gadgets remain resolutely unsaleable - there are some things even TV can't make us want to buy.

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