Tag Archives: alan sugar

The Apprentice: the reality behind reality TV

28 Jan

Shibby in the aftermath of his three weeks of reality TV fame.

As a fan of The Apprentice, I wanted to test my interviewing skills on Sir Alan – sorry, Lord Sugar (why does that sound like the name of a porn magnate?). However, apparently my journo credentials aren’t up there yet, so I ended up with Shibby Robati.

“Who?” I hear you ask. You know the guy – the one who got fired in Week 3 for turning up to a client with only 16 bread rolls instead of the 1,000 ordered. The one whose level-headed response to this crisis was: “Tell them to go on the Atkins diet”. The one whose soundbite – “My first word wasn’t ‘mummy’, it was ‘money’” – was replayed endlessly, perhaps as a warning to other budding reality show stars that, if it sounds witty in your head, it will probably come across as moronic on TV.

When I actually meet Shibby in the lobby of the Guildford Spectrum leisure centre (it’s a glamorous job), I encounter a down-to-earth guy who doesn’t fit his mildly ludicrous on-screen persona. Turning up in football kit in preparation for a kick-about with his old school chums, the 27-year-old former surgeon is keen to emphasise that he and fellow Apprentice candidates were “credible business people from a credible business background”.

“No-one goes in there thinking they’re just going to be on TV”, he says. “I approached the whole thing as a job opportunity. There’s a thorough criteria and selection process that can fish out the bad apples pretty quickly”.

Shibby is vehemently defensive of the show’s integrity: “Obviously you’re under extreme pressure and you’re quite vulnerable in the house. But the camera never lies. No-one was coerced into saying anything.”

He does admit, however, that while it is “fundamentally a business programme”, The Apprentice does have “TV obligations”:

“The balance was to find credible business people who also fit the role on TV.”

Of the controversial episode where a strong-but-dull candidate, Liz Locke, was fired, allowing a more ratings-winning character, Stuart ‘The Brand’ Baggs, to stay in, Shibby says: “You could argue it was a TV decision rather than a business decision”.

The manipulation for television was also evident in how the BBC played up Shibby’s northern roots. Despite having moved at age three to Guildford where he still lives and works today, he was described on the show as being from Leeds because the programme-makers didn’t want the candidates to seem like a collection of Southerners.

Each series of The Apprentice films two versions of the final results show, so that no-one knows who the actual winner is until the finalé is aired. The winners also tend to leave the job after six months or so, in spite of gushing in the boardroom about how they want to work for Sir-alun/Lord Sugar of Battersea until their dying day.

So, as with the Deloitte graduate scheme, you pretend that your life-long dream is to get the job, but once you’re hired, you whack it onto your CV and scamper off to do something better.

Shibby is in no doubt that the experience boosted his CV. “Since The Apprentice, I’ve had three promising job prospects from big organisations.”

Maybe this is just as well. His hopes that the show would raise his profile enough to land a more prominent role within his community – such as speaking in schools or business seminars – have not been realised. The faded reality TV ‘star’ who confesses to a “short shelf-life” is already past his sell-by date: even the Guildford local press consider him “old news”. Still, he made it onto this blog, which must count for something, right?…

By Luxmy Gopal


The Apprentice: has the world gone mad?

9 Dec

Now, we understand that a 12-week “job interview from hell” must take its toll. But does that really explain the madness of last night’s Apprentice? Yes, it seems no-one was beyond the realms of insanity in the latest tour bus task.

Tourists were not in the mood for a Cockney knees-up (Credit: BBC)

Liz tried to pull off Cockney impersonations (as we’ve established, she is in fact Footballers’ Wives Susie Amy and acting was never her strong point). Jamie thrilled tourists with his inside knowledge of Westminster Abbey: “It’s a church”. And Chris broke away from his trademark monotone to shower Stuart with expletives. Even level-headed Stella was reduced to singing a degrading rendition of Old Mother Brown.

But, as always, Stuart stole the show. Yes, after wooing tourists with lines such as “have a bite of my jellied eels” and charging them £35 for the privilege, we thought his time was up. This was, of course, before the boardroom speech of a lifetime.

“I’m not a one-trick pony. I’m not even a ten-trick pony. I’ve got a field full of ponies” – wise words from Stuart Baggs

Yes, the 21-year-old brand pulled out all the stops to secure his place in next week’s interviews. He regaled Sir Alan with tales of horses, declaring he was not just a one-trick pony but a “field full of ponies”. Even his shameful yo-yo antics came out of the closet, as he revealed the only money he’d ever taken from his parents was for yo-yo stock. Oh, and he’s going to start up a new company for Sir Alan (clearly not a fan of dodgy Amstrad electrics, then).

It was enough to leave us all feeling a little bemused. But while ponies and yo-yos may have confused us mere mortals, he was clearly talking Sir Alan’s language. “It makes sense to me,” he told Stuart, as Liz faced the full force of the tycoon’s index finger.

So, as Stuart survives another week, we’re left wondering if there’s anything the young whippersnapper can’t do. If his bewildering patter does make him the next Apprentice, here are a few suggestions of what his next venture with Sir Alan may involve:

  • Translation service: As we’ve seen, Stuart is the master of many tongues. Whether it be French, German or Cockney, the brand can adapt himself to any given situation with a simple “Das ist wunderbar” or inconspicuous beret.
  • Diplomatic relations: Stuart’s diplomacy skills may be a little on the unusual side, but we can’t help marvelling at how his management style hasn’t incurred so much as a black eye. Reverse psychology proved to be his forté last night, as he told Chris, “Go on, hit me then,” and asked the tourist information office to report him to the police. Remarkably, neither happened. We believe he could use these skills to achieve feats such as Middle Eastern peace and a ceasefire between X Factor feuding couple Simon and Louis.
  • Horse racing: Livestock is one area Sir Alan hasn’t dabbled in, but Stuart has a field full of ponies to offer. Plus his canny intuition and knack for triumphing against the odds mean he will always back the winner.

Of course, all this will come under Stuart’s unmistakable brand trademark. Unfortunately, previews of next week’s interview suggest the Baggs brand is still not recognised by everyone…

The Apprentice – even when they’re shit, they’re good

2 Dec

It was the quote that summed up Stuart Baggs’ entire stint on The Apprentice. Last night’s edition of You’re Fired saw ‘the brand’ tell the house: “How great is that – even when we’re shit, we win!”

Yes indeed, even when Stuart is aimlessly driving around race tracks, confusing Germans and telling them he has a white sausage, Stuart always manages to pull it out of the Baggs, so to speak. Which left the whole nation wondering: how? Is he just plain lucky? Or is he covertly using hypnosis on Karen and Nick (with Stuart, any skill is possible) to fiddle the figures?

Either way, he’s becoming compulsive viewing. Last night being French emerged as one of his many hidden talents, which so far have included a surprising number of voice-over personas and a complex German vocabulary. Then, on his trip to Paris, he stunned us once again by ordering wine with a suave “s’il vous plaît” and skipping around Paris in a beret. It’s times like this when we wonder why Anglo-French relations are so sour.

Footballers' Wives Chardonnay

But while we could wax lyrical all day about Stuart’s talents, a far more pressing matter has come to our attention. Yes, it seems boardroom favourite Liz is actually an impostor. According to our sources (by sources, we mean us) Liz is the exact body double of Susie Amy, best known as Chardonnay in landmark trash TV series Footballers’ Wives.

We believe Susie is hoping to escape her shameful Footballers’ Wives past by reinventing herself as business-minded “Liz”, a serious contender in Sir Alan’s boardroom. Only this will ever win back the respect of her colleagues, who reportedly shunned her after the end of her on-screen marriage to Gary Lucy.

The Apprentice's Liz Locke

The question is: will Sir Alan still champion “Liz” after he discovers her X-rated past as a Footballers’ Wives glamour girl? He doesn’t seem the type to approve of her character’s antics, which have included not-so-tastefully-done bondage sessions and several brushes with plastic surgery. Still, only time will tell.

Stuart Baggs: the man behind ‘the brand’

26 Nov

So another week, and it’s another eye-wateringly embarrassing moment for Apprentice candidate Stuart Baggs. Yes, the one-man brand – a self-confessed “adrenaline junkie” who frequently reigns in his “extreme masculinity” – this time took his dubious talents to Germany. And what talents they were.

Yes, anyone who doubted his claims of superior memory and intellect were soon proved wrong. No sooner had the entrepreneur learned to count to zwanzig, than he showed his ability to insert the classic German GCSE phrase “Das ist wunderbar” into any given situation.

Are there brains behind 'the brand'? Credit: BBC

Despite his past grumblings, Germany appeared to bring out the optimist in Stuart. Failed appointments, communication breakdowns and sheer bewilderment were all met with an enthusiastic “wunderbar”. (Sadly the same couldn’t be said for Chris, who proclaimed “I hate the Germans” before even beginning the task. Cheer up Chris – whatever you’ve got against the Germans, surely exporting the Baggs brand is enough retribution.)

And finally, Baggs capped it all off with a rare moment of self-awareness: “I’m sure I look like an idiot to them.” Yes Stuart, das ist truly wunderbar.

Still, these powers of perception prompted us to look further into the enigma that is Stuart Baggs. Who is the man behind the brand? Could his powers of memory really render the written form redundant? And how does he respond to the rumours of his dodgy yo-yo selling past? This is what we found:

  • Stuart started wheeling and dealing as a young nipper, selling yo-yos in the playground. It was the beginning of a career full of ups and downs (sorry, it had to be done)….
  • His classmates clearly didn’t take kindly to his yo-yo peddling, as one of his school pals described him as an “egomaniac”.
  • At the tender age of 18, Stuart set up Isle of Man’s BlueWave Communications, which describes itself as “THE Island’s Communications Company”.
  • His antics on The Apprentice have prompted Ricky Gervais to brand Baggs the new David Brent. Does this mean we will see the boardroom’s first robot dance? We sincerely hope so.

Reluctantly, we have to admit a telecoms company and a David Brent comparison isn’t bad for a 21-year-old. So is there method behind Stuart’s apparent madness? Perhaps, as fellow 20something professionals, we should all take a leaf out of his book? Here’s our guide to doing business the Baggs way:

  1. Don’t write anything down: For Stuart, lists are a sign of weakness – the entrepreneur claims to store all

    Ignore facts and notes: business the Baggs way

    the information he needs inside his head. If colleagues doubt your powers of memory, simply show your pity for their writing habits by throwing around words such as “corporate” in a disparaging fashion.

  2. Facts are overrated: Facts, like lists, are for the weak. As Stuart said, he didn’t get where he is today by listening to information. All he needs is a strong sense of intuition, at its most acute when driving around Brands Hatch for no apparent reason.
  3. Talk about yourself as a brand: Stuart is no mere mortal, but a brand in his own right. When in work situations, talk about your superior qualities as if describing a product. Note: when you start using phrases such as “smooth taste” or “sparkling shine”, you’ve probably gone one step too far.
  4. Tuck your clothes in: Never one to neglect his appearance, this week’s Apprentice saw Stuart start a one-man campaign to bring back the anti-fashion of tucking clothes into jeans. When confronted by Stella for his unusual choice, he retorted: “Well, I’ve got to make an effort, haven’t I?” Our thoughts exactly, Stuart.

Disclaimer: Life in your twenties does not accept any responsibility for “accidental” injuries inflicted by colleagues while adopting the Baggs business model.