Not the business… the women in The Apprentice boardroom. Photograph: BBC
Not the business… the women in The Apprentice boardroom. Photograph: BBC
lucy-bellerby-byline-photo-bwWhere does Alan fan his shrill, inept contestants, asks Lucy Bellerby?


bellers-on-the-box-logo-200What is it that The Apprentice (BBC1) winner wins? I think it’s something to do with a career holding a clipboard and moving ancient Amstrad computers about in the back of a black cab.

Which invites the question… why does anyone still want to win it? Why, year upon year, do a bevy of fake tanned PR idiots and shiny-shoed car salesmen descend upon Alan Sugar’s boardroom of broken dreams, ripe for frantically selling orange juice outside King’s Cross? Please note that I will be calling him Alan throughout, and not “Lord Sugar”, as he is like a precocious child doing a tap-dance, and needs no more encouragement.

Like the broken salespeople of yesteryear whose bodies lie littered under a pile of Alan’s discarded sovereign rings, all of this series’ contestants are shrill, socially inept Birmingham versions of Del Boy. The women’s matted hair extensions get stuck in their candy pink lip-gloss, which has seemingly been applied all over the “eyebrow to knee” area. Since when has businesswoman become code for Katie Price? It almost makes me long for Ruth “The Badger” Badger, with her no-nonsense Clarks slip-ons and cats bum mouth.

If any of the men were to be lost (misplaced in between an industrial estate and a pocket-square outfitters) then a replacement could be found by entering any All Bar One, closing your eyes, spinning around and pointing at the nearest urinal.

It’s basically the same tried and tested Apprentice recipe of grim fascination and compulsive embarrassment. They sold a crap product, they all looked thick, shouting ensued, and someone got fired. Repeat each week until the end of time, or until Alan’s stubby little firing finger falls off.

Tom Jones is fired up by another singing talent. Photograph: BBC
Tom Jones is fired up by another singing talent. Photograph: BBC

Talking of Alan Sugar, has anyone ever seen him and Jessie J in the same room? They certainly share the same strong brow and grating voice. Apparently we’re now at the second stage of auditions on The Voice (BBC1), which the BBC have optimistically called the “battle round”, as if an exciting name will rub off onto the flailing (and failing) show.

Tom Jones sits in his chair looking a lot like the stoned caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland, bored to tears, mind off thinking about Cerys Matthew’s arse as yet another pair of middle aged women sing Hero by Mariah Carey in an off-key vibrato. The aforementioned “battle” is mainly about who can fit 5,000 notes into each line, as the audience secretly slips on their noise defenders and hopes for a quick death.

Will.I.Am is probably the most bizarre thing on the show, as he seems to think he is slowly turning into a robot. I think someone’s stuck a visor and some scrap metal on him and left him in Mother Shipton’s Cave.

But if tiny rap robots and shoddy sopranos aren’t enough to put you off The Voice, I‘ll leave you with this final thought. This week‘s episode featured Jessie J, forehead swinging pendulously, as she coached her “funky” shirted hip hop act with the words (take note, Oxford English Dictionary) “I’m gonna be bluntally honest, yeah?”. Pass us the pipe, Tom.