Two years ago when I reviewed The Apprentice Australia I wasn’t particularly taken by its fake secretary in a fake office foyer or the awkward first steps by the local version of Donald Trump, Mark Bouris.
But as the series progressed Bouris improved a lot and viewers began to rally behind some of the finalists (Real Estate auctioneer Andrew Morello was the eventual winner). Mark Bouris told me in an interview he was keen for a second season, but it’s taken the success of the Celebrity Apprentice in the US to fire up a second shot at the franchise here.
While the US had Joan Rivers, Cindy Lauper, Sharon Osbourne, David Cassidy, Gary Busey, Meatloaf and Dionne Warwick, somehow we got lumbered with the likes of Wendell Sailor, Max Markson and Polly Porter (now you’re a celebrity just for entering another Reality series).
With any Reality series I look for an end-point, ie. does the show offer an outcome (recording contract, publishing deal etc.) or is it purely about cash? With shows like Celebrity Apprentice and Dancing with the Stars I reckon the end point is about elevating your profile. It’s thinly attached to the virtues of charity of course, but that’s largely incidental. Damien Leith’s announcement as host of New Idea Test Kitchen following his DWTS final being a case in point.
Mr. Bouris is back with his two executives, Deborah Thomas and Brad Seymour.
Now with more confidence, he fires off some questions to his boisterous participants, many of whom seem to be taking it all pretty casually. I guess you can afford to relax when you don’t really have much at stake. A few egos chuck in a few bold claims. If we’re supposed to be stirred by the level of malevolence, I’m already beginning to feel like it’s either phony or there’s more than a few tossers here.
Mr. Bouris divides the teams by gender and they are assigned the task of coming up with their team names ahead of their first challenge: a car wash to raise money for charity.
Cameras focus on disagreement and comedy in these preliminary sessions. Noisy Max Markson dominates over his team with ideas, claims, gags. Warwick Capper constantly reminds us of his own vanity. Pauline Hanson is given a marketing role, but collides so awkwardly that she will probably prove a great casting choice. Her contribution to her team’s marketing strategy is a car wash sign using “Please Explain” because she is constantly asked by the public to say it. “It resonitates with me,” she insists. Gold.
The afternoon at the car wash provides much of the opening 60 minute premiere. The two teams argue, work, prank, fret, sleep, and more or less prostitute themselves in the spate of 3 hours. I felt like I watched 2 hours and 50 minutes of the thing and I didn’t even get a car washed. It’s just too long.
By the time Mr. Bouris turned up in the board-room I was happy for the change of scenery. Surmising their performance he was direct and authoritative. It resonitated with me.
By the end of the episode I wanted to slap Max Markson (or more easily, just turn the show off). At least Julia Morris provided a bit of self-deprecation, which is pretty hard amongst this lot.
After the success of The Block, Nine is stripping Celebrity Apprentice Australia across its weeknight schedule. It means after the first 60 minutes we have to come back the next night to see who will be fired. Maybe Trump would fire the story producer. Another challenge and firing will follow on Wednesday and Thursday.
But The Block introduced us to 4 unknown couples, allowing us to get to know their characters as episodes unfolded. We also weren’t stuck with several unlikeable contestants whose principal purpose for appearing “out of their comfort zone” is to be back in the media spotlight.
At 60 minutes this format normally ticks off the necessary turning points for a diverting dose of Reality television. At 3 hours I worry it will just tick me off.
Oh well. At least there’s no fake secretary this time round.
The Celebrity Apprentice Australia airs 7pm weeknights on Nine.