The first thing I thought when I saw this was, why? Why, why, why? Is this the next stage for reality TV: giving us sociopathic and insufferable teenagers instead of giving us insufferable or sociopathic adults?
I know modern childhood comes under a lot of scrutiny these days. If we believed what we saw on the news or TV alone, we’d honestly believe every child was an overweight; ASBO holding; sweary; under-age-sexed; stabber-hoodie. Let’s face it, childhood innocence has been worn away by scare stories, so with that in mind, I assumed something like the Junior Apprentice would be the final nail in the coffin.
Similarly to the adult equivalent the 16-17 year old contestants are set business style tasks – albeit horribly unrealistic, given the lack of time and resources available to them – by Lord high grand poobah (formerly Sralan) Sugar. Although this time, instead of winning a chance to have a job with the jowly scowler himself, the kiddlies can win £25,000, but unfortunately the catch is the use of this prize fund is controlled by Lord Sugar.
That does seem a little lame a prize, as how would you feel having to go up to Lord Pinstripes and his heavies in the boardroom and beg for your pocket money? It’s like a meeting with a bank manager for a loan, but one hundred times scarier.
The strangest thing about this whole exercise in reality TV diversification is seeing these precocious individuals dressed, and dolled, up as if they are adults. Yes indeed, it’s puberty in bankers clothing. Also funny, is that at their age the contestants sometimes look as young as 13 and as old as 20. This is something I had forgotton about being that age: that everyone advances into adulthood at different stages. This is especially the case with the boys, where some look like they are barely out of short trousers and still have breaking vocal chords, whilst others look like they’ve been through uni or beyond.
The lack of mature voices is a bit of a problem however, as I can see myself slowly losing patience with their screechy bleating, which is like listening to nails on a chalkboard.
The first episode made for interesting viewing. It began with Master and Commander Sugar telling the contestants how the next few weeks are going to work, whilst cracking poor jokes, which should hopefully see his gag-writers sacked.
After that the pubescent gang were carted over to the contestant house, which is the usual affair for The Apprentice: i.e. a plush London town-house with some quirky interior design. Of course there was no time for relaxation, as it’s down to business right away and the teams set about coming up with a name. Naturally they picked something punchy and pretentious: Instinct in the case of the boy’s team and Revolution for the girls. So it looks like I still have to wait for Apprentice candidates to pick something more evil sounding like: Sinister, Crush, or Obliterate.
So having watched the first episode I have drawn up some pros and cons of the Junior Apprentice:
· When the kids screw up, they screw up royally.
· I was genuinely curious to see how a more muzzled Sugar would behave.
· I am curious to see how long before the teenage instincts take over in the house, and a tempestuous teen relationship begins.
· It is still as entertaining as the normal Apprentice.
· It is harder to criticise candidates of their age, as you can’t say they know better. Every time they screw up it’s all a lesson in experience for them, rather than a reminder they are cocky so-and-sos with no real talent except for dreaming up delusional attributes (like in the adult equivalent).
· The fact that Sralan has transformed into Lord Sugar. It is truly the end of an era for psudonoms.
· It is genuinely eerie seeing people that young in well turned out suits and acting this maturely despite their physical immaturity.
· We have already seen tears and I expect more to come, which is quite difficult to watch at times. After all, watching a reverse Father Christmas berate a young person to the point of tears, seems unnecessarily cruel.
So basically, it has to be said the Junior Apprentice is worth a watch. I also hate to admit it, but the teens selected for the show do a respectable job for their age. They are comparatively more pleasant than their adult counterparts, and probably have far more potential and competence.