The teenage contestants of Young Apprentice (BBC One) have pulled off a few feats this series the adult stars would struggle to emulate, working their wide-eyed charms to squeeze prices and reel in reluctant customers. But it is hard to imagine Lord Sugar’s internet ban, imposed during tonight’s customary haggling episode, causing such a flap among their more seasoned counterparts.
Charged with buying a list of ten items with which to outfit Madame Tussauds’s new waxwork celebrities, the young hopefuls were all at sea in a world with no Google Maps, eBay or any other of the hi-tech tools they’ve never known a world without.
“I banned the internet, and I know for a lot of you that was like cutting off oxygen”, Lord Sugar noted. Only such a state of delirium could explain one group driving two hours across London to buy a solid gold pocket-watch while their rivals happily bought a cheap knock-off from the pawn shop round the corner.
Some debate emerged in the boardroom over who’d had the brainwave of phoning a library to find out what on earth a “dashiki” might be, though the poor librarian sent off to check through her own reference section must have been wondering why they couldn’t glance at one of those old-fashioned dictionary things themselves.
Meanwhile the curse of being on tousle-haired toff Harry Maxwell’s team struck yet again, as the far-too-nice Hayley began politely thanking Sugar for the wonderful experience almost before his finger had jabbed in her direction.
In fairness to her, Hayley did launch a last-gasp counter-attack on Harry, observing that his ability to cause whichever team he finds himself on to lose, usually heavily, was at least a bit worrying. Harry was indignant: “Hayley, that is an unfair comment. I know I have lost every task, but…”
There seems to be a common consensus that Harry is surviving only because of the sincere, heartfelt and wonderfully amusing level of contempt in which the rest of the cast hold him.
I have to disagree – he’s pulled off some impressive deals in the series to date, and anyone who can tell a warehouse owner he needs a long strip of Oscars-style red carpet for a small family event and still get a hundred pound discount deserves to progress.
Still, it was rather priceless when, thinking he was succeeding in deflecting everyone’s distaste onto the domineering Zara, the other Harry suddenly turned on him: “I’d have brought you back because you were the weakest person there.” His familiar jaw-drop suddenly felt less affected.
Apparently he’s not the weakest of the bunch, at least for now, but one imagines he’s rather enjoying all the attention. He’ll certainly enjoy Googling himself when it’s all over.
This article first appeared in the Daily Telegraph on Monday 28th November 2011 – see here