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The Apprentice Hops the Pond

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I'm always very curious to see how shows from one country get ported for another country. Last night, BBC America started airing The Apprentice UK, which is pretty much the same show we know and love to hate here, but produced locally (for them anyway, for us it's kind of international). Sure, the show aired on the other side of the Atlantic several years ago, but we're slow in catching up here.

Taking the place of Donald Trump (did you see him on The View yesterday, the man was positively orange), the UK version has Sir Alan Sugar – self-made rich guy who fought his way up, yada yada yada. He's far more gruff than Trump, and after two episodes of the show (BBCA did back-to-back ones last night) his reasoning for firing people seemed far more logical. Trump always seems to want to figure out which way the wind is blowing and to try to calculate the ratings he'll get in future episodes when eliminating a candidate. Sir Alan didn't seem concerned.

As for the rest of the show, it pretty much played out as we've come to expect The Apprentice to play out (save that at the end of the second task the client told Alan which team should lose on air rather than the show cutting away before we heard that bit). The first task was a traditional first task – going out and selling something small on the street (in this case it was flowers), and the second was the design a toy task that we've seen the candidates on this side of the pond do.

This second task was absolutely fascinating – not for the toys designed, but because of the crazy candidates. Over on the women's side a lady named Lindsay was running the show. She desperately wanted her insanely boring toy to be produced – it was a set of mini-flags kids could hold up to send one another messages. Lindsay was so convinced this was the right toy that when she had her team vote on what to produce and the other toy – a robot with fly-away parts – won, she insisted they produce both. Then, when her kid focus group voted for the robot, she insisted that her team still come up with presentations for both.

Finally, she had her team sit down for one last vote. She gave each of the six members 100 points, and asked that they assign a value to much they wanted to present each toy (so someone could be 70-30 in favor of the robot or 80-20 in favor of the flags). The final tally there was 340-260 in favor of the robot.

That's not actually as close as it looks. Let's think about it — we know that Lindsay felt strongly about the flags. Let's say she voted 70-30 in favor of the flags and pull her score from the total, giving us 310-190 in favor of the robot. That's not all that close (and later in the episode we found out that the presenter had voted 50-50 because she didn't want to bias herself, which is a whole different brand of crazy we won't be talking about). Lindsay, insanely but not surprisingly, went with the flags.

Lindsay's team lost badly, the toy company didn't like the flags, and she was fired. Even then, however, poor Lindsay couldn't admit she'd made the wrong decision and that Sir Alan was right to fire her. She figured that she'd made her mistake and that in a real job she'd never be fired – that it would be a live and learn thing. I guess she'd never seen a reality show before and didn't realize how she wasn't in a real job.

See? Crazy candidates, confronting boss, the same tasks you've already seen, it's just like The Apprentice here, but this UK version not only features great accents, but it's the first season of the show and so people haven't figured out the rules of the game yet. And that makes it much more fun.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • http://questrade-coupon.blogspot.com Michelle

    The Apprentice UK is a great tv show. I am Canadian and ahve been watching it for the past 5 seasons (err, 5 Series for you UK fans). I have watched Donald Trumps (american version) and i found it dull (after the 1st 2 seasons) but was totally blown away by the UK version because Alan Sugar is sooo genuine..he fires because of a strong reason. I loved 2 seasons back where he talked for what amounted to about 30mins in the boardroom to convince one of the 3 finalists that she was doing it more for fame and SHOCKINGLY she revealed it that she was and took herself out of the running..It was incredible theatre and the amazing gut that Sugar has about people. Its a great show to watch..and for anyone i encourage you to start with Season 1 because although they are all very good Season 1 is there best: you will Love Sarah Khan and Paul …the feud between them was incredible!

  • http://questrade-coupon.blogspot.com Michelle

    Forgot to add that it was a total surprise to me how so different Apprentice UK is from Apprentice US…the UK version takes a documentary style to it which is the perfect formula and what Apprentice SHOULD be. ~Michelle