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Michael O'Doherty: I've got Apprenticitis -- stop making these wannabes look nice

It's appropriate that the new season of The Apprentice should begin on the exact day that Wall Street 2 was having its world premiere in New York.

Because gathered together in Dublin's Carlton Hotel were 16 Bud Foxes -- desperate wannabes trying to get on to the first rung of the corporate ladder by winning the favour of Ireland's own Gordon Gekko, Bill Cullen.


And immediately there was an air of familiarity, but with everything turned up to 11. The contestants were similar to previous years but all a bit better looking, and each appearing more of a bollox.

The team names -- Elevate and Fusion -- were a tad more ridiculous than before. Bill's hair was a tinge darker, Brian's was a bit more streamlined, and Jackie looked a year younger again.

From the boys' side, it looked, as usual, like a Tesco middle managers' think tank, but in the tall, swarthy Will McCreevy, the show has unearthed a candidate that the audience's love towards is eclipsed only by the love he has for himself.

There is, tragically, no obvious heir to the Breffmeister, but that may come.

The girls look even more promising, with eye-candy Caroline and Michelle offset by this year's Geraldine-alike Niamh Humphreys, and Aoiffe-alike Tara Lee. The latter, in particular, with her incessant yakking, cold-blooded stare and willingness to hang anyone out to dry to save her own skin, Tarra promises to be the star of the series.

But there's more, with the addition of the Big Brother-type tag on, the Apprentice At Home show. The danger, of course, is that through being force-fed too much of a good thing, we'll catch that most dreaded of ailments -- Apprenticitis.

The main show will pick up steam and have the nation gripped within weeks.

The You're Fired follow-up will, likewise, settle down and find its rhythm once Anton stops flashing his gnashers like a poor man's Craig Doyle.

But the Apprentice At Home strikes me as a show too far.

Seemingly farmed out to a separate production company with just a couple of handycams, a torch and no budget, it aims to be gritty, but comes across as something that sounds dangerously similar.


One of the joys of the Apprentice is the two-dimensional nature of the contestants, the fact that they came across as cold-blooded cyborg selling machines willing to flog their grandmother, just to get ahead.

In going behind the scenes, however, the 'At Home' series reveals most of them to be normal. And that's a fatal mistake.

We don't want to know that underneath her tough-as-nails exterior, Tara is has a heart of gold.

All we want is for her to be a yakky, infuriating little machine, so that every time we see her face, we want to smash the bloody telly in.

Debt-riddled RTE has got some nerve

THE contract to print the RTE Guide is up for renewal, and as part of the tender process, companies not only have to give a competitive price, they also have to provide audited accounts, proof that they're not in debt to the Revenue, and cash-flow forecasts for future years.

All of which is designed to show that RTE is not dealing with a dodgy, debt-laden company.

Anyone notice the irony in this?

The broadcaster that lost €26m last year, despite receiving €200m in licence- fee money from the taxpayer, refusing to deal with companies that are as bad at running a business as it is...