Does Young Apprentice Highlight Everything That’s Wrong With Britain?

YOUNG APPRENTICE: Mondays, BBC1, 9pm

I have fond memories of my teenage years. Consigned to the dusty archives of my grey matter are stolen evenings with close friends supping on my dad’s 25 year old whisky; trying to get into local pubs where my teachers were drinking and obviously, fancying everyone who wore aftershave/had to shave.

These experiences are not unique to my spottier teenage self, nor are they remarkable in any way. Along with thousands of other teens my time and effort were spent not giving a flying doodah about where my next fiver was coming from, as long as it came. This MAY have necessitated the odd shift waitressing at a local pub but it certainly included zero chat of profit margins or bottom lines. The only turnover I was worried about was the apple variety sold at McDonald’s.

But this slovenly attitude is thrown into sharp perspective by the latest series of the Young Apprentice; Lord Sugar’s bid to make a pint-sized replica of himself. Tonight’s episode followed the hapless crew as they attempted to design and sell new products to the parent and baby market.

This week’s task was particularly effective at highlighting the somewhat disconcerting youthfulness of these aspiring entrepreneurs. The age gap was nowhere near significant enough. One young “businessmanâ€? asked the mother of an eight month old what said babe’s interests are? Err…dribbling, trying to walk, crying. Meanwhile the girls enquired whether you could leave a spoiled nappy on “for a bitâ€?. Talk about being born yesterday.

These precocious young wannabes might have all the right chat and be extremely able when it comes to talking in personality attribute triplets (innovative, enthusiastic, motivated etc), but they are missing some vital ingredients which are particular to the innocence of youth. Is it really right to be so preoccupied with outsmarting friends and generating profits? This is the generation who will have to cope with the errors of their forefathers. Surely their impending 50-year slog through the gruelling wilderness of the working world should allow them some frivolity in their teenage years. Should the BBC of all channels really be encouraging such unashamed greed?

I love The Apprentice but when its goals, messages and expectations are placed on the shoulders of fledgling adults it all becomes rather sickening. Watching a pack of money-hungry teens devour each other in a bid to win £25,000 renders the programme becomes more akin to a school for the fat cats of tomorrow. The escapades of a bunch of fat kittens, if you will.

Perhaps there is also a need to raise an eyebrow at the stark simplicity with which Sugar and his cronies present the business-building process: Here’s a fully equipped design studio, some designers and three pre-organised pitches with three of the top baby product stores in the UK – go see if you are business person. Really? Is that how it’s done ladies and gents?

Lord Sugar wear his own atrocious school record as a badge of honour when he talks to these hopefuls. To a school-hating 16-year-old Young Apprentice is dangerously close to presenting the alternative to academia as a smooth, suit-clad taxi ride to success.

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