What will Lord Sugar make of the new batch of candidates? (Picture: BBC/PA)
One would think after almost 20 years of The Apprentice, viewers would start to become fatigued by the BBC series, amid the constant barrage of new TV shows that it’s competing with across multiple channels and streaming platforms.
However, there’s a reason the programme has lasted this long, helmed by Lord Alan Sugar and his trusted advisors – it has a simple formula that works, as long as the candidates are magnetic and business savvy enough to warrant them earning a whopping £250,000 investment from the tycoon.
In recent years, some of the line-ups have been sorely lacking on the business savvy front, instead featuring comedic-relief-contestants who felt more like budding reality stars than actual aspiring entrepreneurs.
Fortunately, after watching the first episode of the 2023 season, this doesn’t appear to be the case with the cast to the same degree this time around… although don’t get us wrong – there’ll be plenty of mind-boggling gaffes for audiences to laugh at from the get-go.
Let’s start with the candidates bios, released before the first episode airs on BBC One this week. Already, we have comparisons to James Bond and Kim Kardashian, as well as several self-assured assertions of grandeur that are bound to result in Lord Sugar knocking them down a peg or two in the boardroom.
Everyone who’s watched any episode of The Apprentice since 2005 will know that if a candidate is going to act as though they’re the best of the bunch, then their actions need to speak far louder than the words on their blush-inducing CVs.
Right from the off, Lord Sugar puts the candidates to task in the boardroom, where he’s joined by his aides Karren Brady and Claude Littner, who’s due to appear in two episodes of the show after recovering from a bike accident.
As usual, the contestants laugh at every word that comes out of Lord Sugar’s mouth – even the insults made at their expense – in a bid to brown-nose the business magnate and make a strong impression during their first ever face-to-face meeting.
Their jaws are left on the ground when they find out that they’re jetting off to the Caribbean island of Antigua, where instead of lapping up luxuries, they’ll have to suit and boot up as they attempt to sell bespoke tours to holiday-goers for their first challenge.
Karren Brady and Claude Littner are back by Lord Sugar’s side (Picture: BBC/Fremantle Media/Ray Burmiston)
Straight away, as the respective boys’ and girls’ teams have their first group meetings, strong characters emerge from each team, while other shyer characters begin to fade almost instantaneously into the background.
But as per usual, the loudest voices are not always the wisest, and brash decisions will come back to bite the candidates in the backsides.
The first task of the competition does shine a spotlight on some promising contenders, who manage to flourish under pressure and earn glowing feedback from Lord Sugar when they return to the UK.
However, needless – albeit highly amusing – squabbles lead to the typical chaos and mayhem that The Apprentice fans have come to expect and hope for every series, as the contestants continue the tried and tested technique of simply shouting loud enough to drown out any other opinions in their vicinity.
Viewers will undoubtedly be left yelling at their TV screens, defiantly exclaiming that they could do a million times better if given the opportunity.
With 18 candidates in total at the start of this year’s process and several weeks ahead, it’s difficult to predict whether the strongest-looking contestants will remain frontrunners, or if the more reserved of the lot will burst out of their bubbles to make their mark.
Nonetheless, we reckon viewers are going to be in for a rib-tickling ride along the way.
The Apprentice returns on Thursday at 9pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.