I love The Junior Apprentice. Interestingly, this particular iteration of the business-themed reality-gameshow seems to almost parody the original, making the adults' childish petulance and hard-nosed cliché all the more ridiculous when it comes from the mouth of a sixteen year-old.
The new format has several advantages. Firstly, all the apprentices look like they are wearing their dad's suit. Secondly, the awkward interactions between the nerds and the cool kids, the different age groups, and between the boys and girls, is something to savour. This makes is SO much more difficult than the normal series: Ruth Badger never had to deal with raging hormones during her tasks, apart from testosterone obviously.
The boys are my favourites, because teenage boys are completely retarded at the best of times, and their broken-voiced bitching in the boardroom, or their stilted attempts at charming customers, makes me super super happy. Nevertheless, there was also some petulant cattiness from the girls and even more tears. WINNER.
The production team have made some great decisions, as always. Karren Brady is like the Junior Margaret Mountford, so that works beautifully. (She is "a very shrewd lady" and, as Lord Sugar went on to paratactically imply, so is Nick Hewer.) But my favourite moment of self-parody is in the selection of contestants, each an uncanny double of former apprentices.
First example, the loser of the first task - proving the old axiom that you should never "step up" early in the contest, and certainly not in the first episode - was a duplicate of Nicholas de Lacy Brown. (If you haven't seen NDLB's website, it is sort of like the sketchbook of a serial killer, something to be unravelled by Morgan Freeman in order to work out who the next victim will be.)
Kirsty Cleaver is clearly this series' Ruth Badger, being almost preternaturally capable and supersonically gutsy.
Vapid, hair straightening pretty boy Tim is either Alex Wotherspoon or Philip "Dance in Your Pants" Taylor:
(Gratuitous picture from Alex's subsequent modelling "career". I know. If that picture of Alex doesn't say "Coo-ee, sailors!" I don't know what does.)
And the only real difference between Emma Walker and Jennifer Maguire is the colour of their metallic shirts. Oh, and an aura of jaded bitterness, but that's nothing twenty years of bad relationship choices won't solve.
Can we just take a minute to remember Michael "Half-Jewish" Sophocles? Thanks.
Finally, my favourite of the bunch has to be the unparalleled Hannah Cherry, an almost entirely vacant ball of inertia.
This week she stropped about whining that nobody was taking the trouble to motivate her. She finally pulled her finger out in the boardroom where she droned "I'm passionate about business, Lord Sugar." Ours is an age where the currency of the word "passion" has depreciated quicker than Lehmans' balance sheets, but Cherry is surely its nadir.