The Apprentice Episode One Review: That’s Show Business

THE APPRENTICE: Wednesday 21st March, BBC1, 9pm

Lord Sugar, between merry bouts of abusing Piers Morgan over Twitter (“and you kissed how many bums?â€? is a recent favourite), has thankfully taken the time to make an eighth series of his annual festival of cruelty, sweat and general ineptitude.

Yes, the first episode of The Apprentice series eight is marching, high heels clicking across Millennium Bridge, back to our screens, and happily nothing about its familiar format has changed a jot, from the yearly batch of sad clowns sky-lifted to Canary Wharf (a hangar in West Acton) to the dodgy drop-shadow WordArt title graphic. Although look out for when we do get an exclusive glimpse of the mystery receptionist for the first time.

Its predictability is wonderful. We almost feel as joyful as the Sugar daddy himself, whose glee is palpable in the line: “this is my boardroom, and by the way, this is my moneyâ€?. He truly has come up with reality telly’s most lucrative business model. He smells wot sells.

Again, we are treated to observing the crème de la crème of hopeless yuppie mediocrity battle it out over vital hard-nosed commercial tasks – in this episode, painting some t-shirts and running around a zoo – in order to earn the reputable accolade of being the business partner of a little manic mogul, mass-producing obscure products to vociferous strains of Prokoviev somewhere in Essex for the rest of their days. Probably.

Firstly (and throughout the rest of the series, presumably), the sixteen candidates have to trot out increasingly imaginative boastful taglines so that they can publicly humiliate themselves before viewers when Dara O’Briain airs them to a cynical studio audience after their inevitable firing. “I can be like an animal, and I will literally roar my way to the topâ€?, should make this series the most colourful yet if “literallyâ€? is meant literally, especially if in conjunction with the bizarre “I’m like a sharkâ€?.

Then the task begins, branding, printing and selling products on the street. The boys – team Phoenix – are led by Nick, who appears as a rather wayward work experience boy, and wacky Gabrielle leads the girls (team name Sterling, by the way, displaying a rare and cheering confidence in Britain’s currency), but manages to rile some team members up, one of whom makes the insightful critical judgment: “as an architect she can draw, that’s it, she can draw buildingsâ€?.

Aggressively suited and booted, our new worst enemies for the next twelve weeks proceed to get themselves into all kinds of business-based, skill-set-dependent scrapes, so we should perhaps leave this episode with the fittingly prophetic words of Stephen “sales basically is what I doâ€? Brady: “I do believe business…is made complicated by idiotsâ€?.