Monday 20 November 2017

Last Night’s TV: Property Crash/The Apprentice

If the children are our future, Diarmuid Doyle has decided we should head for the airports

The young, according to one of the more optimistic contributors on RTE1’s Property Crash: Where To Now?, are our best hope for the future.

Educated, enthusiastic, talented and numerous, they will be the people who will surf the next wave of prosperity, helping to undo the damage done by the previous generation.

Then again, maybe not. Anybody watching The Apprentice on TV3 last night, in which a team of younger contestants were pitched against their older counterparts, will have concluded that if our youngsters are the future, perhaps we should head for the airport immediately.

They make emigration seem like the only viable option.

Rarely in the history of The Apprentice anywhere in the world can a team have made such a spectacular mess of a task. Rarely can it have been obvious so early in the task who would win. Rarely can it have been so immediately clear who the candidates for dismissal would be.

The oldies in Team Zest weren’t perfect but they were decisive, intelligent, collaborative and mostly calm. The younger ones in Team Spirit were panicky, self-obsessed, and self-destructively competitive. They even seemed to find it hard to use a mobile phone properly.

On The Apprentice’s après match show afterwards, Yinka Rahman, who had eventually been fired by Bill Cullen’s wagging finger, described her fellow contestants as mad. It might be more accurate to say that they are as dim as a bag of mice.

They seemed to have no capacity for reflection or composure. Everything was kneejerk and thoughtless. They were slaves to jargon and enemies of action.

On the bright side, however, it made for terrific television.

The task was to create a cd to be given away with an English tabloid, choose the music (from up and coming Irish bands), pick the title, design the cover and pitch the idea to a group of the newspaper’s executives.

The newspaper had shown no previous interest in young Irish bands, something which appears to have confused the members of Team Spirit, who reacted as though they had been asked to create a perfume to be given away with The Farmers’ Journal.

Their biggest mistake, the one that killed their chances from the start, was to call it Toe Tapping Talents, a name which conjured up images of an ICA talent show rather than young Irish hopefuls.

Success has many parents but failure is an orphan and by the show’s end, members of Team Spirit were running from responsibility for the fiasco of their cd’s title and of their task in general.

Although Yinka was fired, the task’s “project manager” (the show is obsessed with silly business jargon) Chris Harold was the main problem.

Far from being the sharpest tool in The Apprentice shed, his great attraction from a viewer’s point of view is that he thinks he’s fantastic, and refuses ever to engage with the possibility that he is the problem rather than the solution.

His chronic failure to delegate, communicate or inspire was bad enough, but his one real talent – to patronise – was what really shone through. “It’s not personal, you’re a lovely girl”, he told one of his team members during a heated exchange.

For that remark alone, made in front of Bill Cullen, he should have been fired.

Property Crash: Where To Now? had been painted beforehand as a surprisingly optimistic picture of the housing market, but it was anything but.

A follow-up to 2007’s Future Shock, arguably the most courageous Irish tv programme of the last 10 years, it had none of its predecessor’s grim certainty about the destruction ahead, but very little good news either.

Property prices will bottom out over the next few years and stay flat for another few after that before rising again.

Some places in the country (Dublin, Meath, Wicklow, Kildare) will fare better than others (Wexford, Waterford, Carlow Sligo) when the turnaround comes.

Those people who bought at the height of the boom will take another 11 or 12 years to get out of negative equity.

A lot of money was spent on the programme (presenter Richard Curran visited Japan and Finland to look at property crashes there), but it was a mostly disappointing rehash of information we knew already with a few colouredy maps thrown in to illustrate the points being made.

It had the usual OMG statistics about the correction in the property market (the house in Fairfield Road, Glasnevin which sold for €840,000 in 2006 and the similar but slightly better property on the same road which sold for under €300,000 a few weeks ago), but those figures are old hat by now, subjects for water cooler conversations rather than questing tv documentaries.

It was a decent analysis of already available information, but no more than that. To get a real sense of the country’s problems last night, The Apprentice was the only show in town.

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