“Australia, meet Lord Alan Sugar,” Nine’s Celebrity Apprentice tells us.
The British billionaire has been FIFO’d into Australia for a revival of the reality series last seen on Nine with Mark Bouris in 2015.
Overlooking the fact we’ve already met him when Seven screened his British series between 2007 – 2010, he’s a very good get for Nine. Lord Sugar knows this format intimately and how to bark the lines and point his finger.
“I haven’t got a bloody clue who you lot are,” he tells Nine’s 12 celebrities. Don’t worry Lord Sugar, it’s a common complaint with reality shows.
Amongst the famed names here (in no particular order) are Anthony Callea, Ross Noble, Michelle Bridges, Shaynna Blaze and The Veronicas, who curiously compete as a single entity. Alas Lord Sugar isn’t so impressed with influencers Alex Hayes and Martha Kalifatidis and who can blame him? This could be fun.
Also in the mix are Boost Juice boss Janine Allis (Shark Tank) and activewear founder Lorna Jane Clarkson who borrow from Undercover Boss to spy in the ranks without anybody realising they are Lord Sugar’s advisors. Sneaky.
The format, which was Trumped up by US producer Mark Burnett, divides teams into two competing to raise funds in a group challenge. First up, sell your own brand, which sees the contestants create artworks for auction. This entails agreeing on challenge captain, team name and plan of attack. There is already some dissent, but it wouldn’t be reality without it…
As the challenge unfolds, The Veronicas quarrel in a master interview, celebs lose their shirt, perceptions of ‘art’ vary wildly and advisors question leadership decisions. Lord Sugar makes a silent visit to proceedings to see things for himself but the look on his face says it all.
Edited plentifully throughout the episode are golden Sydney skylines (cleverly used in the opening credits) which match the very bling boardroom and champagne-popping green room. Has anyone paused to think that while celebs are raising money for cancer research, women’s shelters and various good causes that less extravagance might be in order?
By the time boardroom rolls around I’m still waiting for some celebs to get enough camera time to explain what they did during the challenge. I guess that will expand as the series continues.
In the boardroom Lord Sugar methodically carves this lot up, which is what we’re here for. Egos are chopped at the knees and -finally- as the axe is hovering over a handful scrambling to survive, they begin to turn on one another. Celebrities eat their own after all.
While conflict is light on in the first episode I suspect the claws will really come out in further episodes (refer: Deni Hines). It’s what makes the format a guilty pleasure.
But the unanswered question in my mind is also whether nasty TV is right in a time of COVID? Sure, it didn’t hurt MAFS at all, but that’s probably an exception rather than rule.
If the celebs can turn up the heat fast, Nine may be in with a chance.
Celebrity Apprentice airs Sunday – Tuesday on Nine.