I can usually take reality TV or leave it. I have long since tired of the parade of egotistical idiots imprisoned in the Big Brother House, or the Z list celebrities camping out in the jungle and subsisting on live insects and foul-smelling vegetables.
But The Apprentice is in a different league. There is something totally addictive about watching these candidates screw up in the most magnificent ways, with tasks that in reality should be a pushover for anyone with a degree of business acumen.
The problem [and the whole point of the show no doubt] is most of them do not have even an ounce of business acumen.
And those that do are so busy trying to shout over each other they always miss the obvious, lose the task, or win by making less of a loss than the others. Then they face the wrath of Sir Alan and that is when the fun really starts.
I really enjoyed the episode where they had to create a marketing campaign for a breakfast cereal. It was perfect for me and my marketing background.
The team that created the Treasure Flakes campaign did a very good job considering the time they had to produce a TV ad, packaging and strapline.
With a Pirate Parrot character and the idea of making the fruit into pieces of treasure their brand really appealed to the kids.
The other team, however, did 'Pantsman'!
Yes, believe it or not, the reason that you should buy the cereal, according to the losing team, was that it would prevent you from sleepily putting on your Y-fronts over the top of your trousers.
What on earth were they thinking? How could they let Phillip talk them into it? The idea was utterly stupid, totally inappropriate for the product and gave Sir Alan a gift-wrapped opportunity to tell them exactly what he thought of it - pants!
I just wondered what the group would have produced had they been asked to promote a protection product.
As daft as the 'Pantsman' campaign was, the winning group managed to produce something quite reasonable in that pressured environment.
Sometimes pressure can be the focus people need in order to come up with something rather special. Sadly, even under pressure, I suspect that if the product had been protection they would have devised a campaign that protected people's income when they were sick, so that they could carry on spending their money on dodgy underwear from a well-known high street store - 'Protect your pants with income protection.'
At the moment there is an industry wide initiative sponsored by Tom Baigrie of Lifesearch to come up with an idea for a generic marketing campaign to raise public awareness of protection policies.
No doubt the group won't be under as much pressure as the potential apprentices were and will come up with something that, far from being pants, will actually hit the spot both creatively and financially.
Perhaps Sir Alan himself could front the campaign, pointing his finger out at the public and declaring, "You're covered!"
Roger Edwards is proposition director at Bright GreyIFAonline
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