It seems like only yesterday that a craggy-faced old misery guts chose another self-obsessed lunatic to be his
Apprentice business partner. I was sat eating a boiled egg watching this unfold when I thought; I could really do with two hundred and fifty grand to fund my stupid ideas. So I decided to apply.
To my shame I do avidly watch the Apprentice every year. Although I’m better than reality television I’ve nevertheless sat through countless series – I wept as Margaret and Nick were rightfully dismissed for the crime of being too old and I laughed merrily as Lord Sugar steadily degrades before my very eyes. Through this watchery I’ve acquired a vast bank of knowledge and (I sincerely believe) can perfectly balance lunacy and business acumen – a combination that makes for the ideal exploitative reality television star.
The application process is surprisingly simple. I had initially expected some form of weeding out and then I remembered some of the specimens I have had to sit next to before, during and after job interviews.* All it took was a few clicks, the odd cliche and some imagined achievements. At this point I should confess I thought the initial application would be substantially longer and provide far more delicious content.
I opened my laptop, found the website, read the following horrific term and condition:
wondered briefly how one could possibly review someone’s sexual orientation as part of an assessment of a job application, and began.
The first page was fairly self-explanatory. All I needed to fill out were the basics – name/contact information/occupation/salary. Having been habitually been unemployed for much of my life this looked easy. After briefly toying with using my own identity I decided to opt for one of my many online aliases. Many, if not all of these, were created for an art project I was working on which sadly never came to fruition. Now they are merely masks – alternative realities if you will – where I live out various fantasies online and wind up the social media pages of morally reprehensible businesses.** The account I used was in the name Colin Goosewary. Colin is a chartered surveyor, he’s been divorced twice and is rarely contacted by his adult children. In his spare time he organises dog fights. For the purposes of this application he is a big business twat.
Once that was decided I was ready to go. For current residence I used the address of a Burger King in Southampton that I think may have once been rude to me (I can’t really remember, I do definitely have ill will towards them anyway and it can’t be for no reason). For the number I used a friend’s mobile.*** The question ‘For what do you do for a living and for who?’ naturally irritated me as it broke from the format of ‘Name:’ and asked a question when it would have been much easier and consistent to have written ‘Job Title:’ followed by ‘Employer:’.****I put ‘Self-employed entrepreneur; myself’ after toying with the idea of answering in a full sentence. I did also consider putting murderer or charterer surveyor and a fictitious or real company but decided that was too easy to trace.
Next was State all qualifications, giving details of establishments attended. I again debated putting something stupid like Byker Grove but, after finding out that show was actually named after a youth club and not a school, I opted for Thornhill Community Academy which is the school from exploitative reality TV show Educating Yorkshire. Despite all the preceding idiocy I am actually reasonably well educated on paper so included all 19 of my qualifications and an extra A* in the imaginary Social Media Studies. I then changed my degree to Genetic Engineering and my university to the University of Toronto. My salary was of course set at £100000+.
After effortlessly clicking next with my mouse, the next page appeared. It should be noted here that I am an idiot and as such I forgot to screenshot this page. I can assure you though that the following is based on a true story. At this stage I will hypocritically break from the format I’ve already established.
Have you ever been on TV before?
This is true. In my mind Colin has been pictured picketing in favour of fox hunting on no less than five terrestrial television stations.
Do you know anyone that works for the BBC or Boundless [production company that makes the Apprentice]?
This is untrue regarding myself but is probably true for this ill-baked pseudonym.
Have you yourself ever worked for the BBC or Boundless [production company that makes the Apprentice]?
I now remember why I didn’t screenshot this section.
This was almost certainly the end of that page. And good riddance. On the next page there were fewer yes/no questions and a chance to flex my Apprentice knowledge.***** For the next few questions I had to use all my limited cunning and logic to appear just mad enough to be exploitable for viewing figures and sane enough to not be considered a threat to anyone. I also had to make writing this interesting. I used an amalgamation of stupid things I’ve read, seen or thought to do with the Apprentice and its various candidates. By chance I often socialise with a wide variety of boastful yobos whenever my common-law wife prevails in our ongoing struggle as to whether I should leave our flat or not. Those experiences also came in useful.
Have you ever lived and/or worked outside of the United Kingdom?
This will be expanded upon shortly. I couldn’t work out if this was usual practice or if they were trying to weed out EU nationals, who will of course have been long Brexited****** come November 2019.*******
Have you ever lived/worked outside of the UK before?
I went to Prague for a weekend on a poorly organised stag do last month. I also studied at the University of Toronto for three years.
After the preceding yes/no ordeal I was inexcusably bored and tried to add some interest for myself as much as you – the (presumed) reader. I think someone may have told me an (unsolicited) anecdote about a stag do in Prague at time of writing. I don’t know why I chose the University of Toronto.
Have you ever worked in journalism or broadcasting in any capacity?
Not for want of trying. I maintain this question would have worked better on the previous page (see footnote ****).
Why should you be Lord Sugar’s business partner?
I”m a big business bastard like Sir Alan and I don’t take no for an answer. I guarantee I will make more money than any business partner he’s had in the processes thus far. My ideas are unique and with my business plan Sir Alan will finally have a legacy to be proud of.
This is the sort of shit you hear year after year on The Apprentice. I’m pretty sure most of this was in fact absorbed via osmosis from watching the show (TV’s The Apprentice); a giddy mix of the creepy and boastful who’s true subtextual horror will only be revealed when, inevitably, read aloud to a jury. I am particularly proud of the phrase ‘I’m a big business bastard’ and believe this to be the modus operandi of every candidate ever. I also like calling Sugsy ‘Sir’ instead of ‘Lord’ because if you do set any store by such nonsense, a knighthood is a far greater achievement than a lordship. Whoever heard of buying a knighthood (see end of footnote *******). There is also a hidden insult and a bizarre use of the word thus.
What makes you different from everyone else applying?
I’m a big business dog and I’ll bite off the opposition’s face to get ahead. I’ll give 110%, 8 days a week. I don’t do weekends, I don’t do cliches and I don’t do women. No one will work as hard and no one will give as much as me. I’m a business superstar who need a Sugary push to become a billionaire.
This is a potent mixture of half-remembered quotes from Apprentice candidates past and my own philosophies on life. I am particularly pleased with the business dog simile as I believe it could easily have been said by a candidate. You might, incorrectly, believe that repetition of I’m a big is lazy. If that’s the case then I pity you. Blind repetition is a key tenant of any Apprentice star. The same is true of me using I’m particularly pleased with. You might also believe that saying I don’t do cliches is me being stupid, in which case you yourself are the stupid. I don’t do women may seem unrealistically aggressive and sexist. In which case I can point you to Paul from a few series ago who, if he didn’t necessarily say those exact words with his mouth, he certainly said them with his eyes. Paul once threw a box of boiled sweets to the floor which such righteous fury that I had to hide behind the sofa. Sugary push has the structure of a pun but in no actual way is one. This will appeal to Sir Al who, as the light noticeably dies, misremembers worse than ever the jokes his team of unpaid******** interns write him.
What’s the most interesting thing about you?
I once held a terrapin at Whipsnade Zoo.
Now this is not true but it has been a long held ambition of mine and, if I am to live vicariously through Colin G, I may as well tick off some stuff off the bucket list. I did, however, once hold a small crocodile in a game reserve in Zimbabwe and that scene was immortalised on a coffee mug. I have also fed red pandas and annoyed the zoo keeper by asking if we got our money back because one of them wouldn’t come down from the tree. Additionally I once spent a Valentine’s Day at Monkey World in Dorset. Alone.********
What’s the most impressive thing you’ve ever done in business?
I started my own business at 19 and last year It paid me a salary of over £100000. My latest business idea has been described as “one of a kind” by old family friend Timothy Spall.
By this point I had actually convinced myself I would at least get an interview and so played it fairly safe (and at no point had I seen the need to prove any of these achievements). As such, I tried to come across as a strong candidate. Timothy Spall is an odd one. I can’t remember when he moved into my every waking thought but I believe my friend, an idiot, once mentioned him apropos of nothing and it made me laugh. See also Toby Jones before he started getting parts in films that weren’t just Harry Potters. Knowing Timothy Spall would almost certainly be deemed more interesting than holding a terrapin. Actually no, it wouldn’t.
How did you hear about the process?
I can’t remember the available options.
Who did you hear about the process?
A man told me.
This distain comes from a very real place and is twofold. First of all the word ‘process’ is stupid and illogical in the context of the Apprentice. I believe this comes from all BBC competitions being made illegal by the government. You can’t win a process, the use of the word is stupid and reminds me of Excel and therefore the long drawn out death of individuality. Secondly, asking where I heard about one of the longest running and most watched shows on UK television is also stupid. **********
I then hit next page and it turns out that was it. Which is really annoying as I put quite a lot of work into writing a 20 page business proposal for a venture I’m currently exploring called ‘Soft Lad Gyms’.
Soft Lad Gyms or SLGs are an ongoing passion project of mine. The original premise came from the idea of having a gym I could walk into and not want to cry. It was only when I spoke to a friend, a habitual fanny, that I realised I was not the only one who could benefit from a gym where you are allowed to mock. Soft Lad Gyms: Bring me your blobs and your weeds; no judgement, no photography, no laughing. If there are any potential investors reading it’s actually a great idea – a gym where people can come and learn how to do everything at their own pace – with no angry men who look like cysts and no women who are Instagram models.
Now there is nothing to but wait. I’ve asked my friend to let me know if he has an unusual phone calls and I check my emails on the hour. Hopefully I get to the next stage (and more hopefully still the people at Boundless won’t contact the University of Toronto or Thornhill Community Academy. If nothing comes of it then I’ll be quite annoyed. And I’ll be even more annoyed if my own, serious application using my own achievements is also overlooked as i’ve long had the idea to create a home delivery service for prescription medication (Speedy Meds, a subsidiary of Soft Lad Gyms inc.).
So I enjoyed writing this and far more people than I thought read it and, hopefully, also enjoyed it. Then last Friday I routinely checked my 11 fake email addresses.
Now, carried away with my own cleverness though I was, I never really expected anything to come of this. But incredibly the above email was in my inbox. I don’t know on what planet someone considered that application worthy of being considered for the next stage.
I was genuinely stunned that the person who wrote “I’m a big business bastard’ / “I’m a big business dog” / “I don’t do women” / “I once held a terrapin at Whipsnade Zoo” etc. was being actively invited to interview for a television show. I can only think there is some formula at Boundless HQ that searches for key words and phrases like “bastard”, “business”, “sugary push” and “8 days a week”. To my eternal chagrin the rest of the email put an end to my dreams:
If I had the facility to conjure up fake passports I would have long since utilised this to better effect (see footnote ******). If that wasn’t enough,as previously mentioned, I had at best a love-hate relationship with the Burger King who’s address I’d used. I read even further and realised, although doubtless competitive, I was only at most four stages from appearing on The Apprentice. I can now add not using my own name on this application to my ever growing list of regrets.
I did consider emailing with a list of ridiculous requirements to be able to attend the interview (“as you must have noticed from my name my family has reason to be incredibly wary of geese” and so on) and also desperately sought a Colin Goosewary to borrow their identification.
After plunging back into the metaphorical bath of self-loathing that I live in, I realised that I shouldn’t beat myself up. Just by getting to this stage I had won. I had proved what I had set out to – that The Apprentice is stupid and that I could perfectly replicate yobbery and arrogance to mock their system.
I’ve got to finish here ’cause I’m filming an application for Channel 4’s Hunted with my friend (an idiot).
*I was once interviewing for some vague IT consultant job. In the atrium I was sat behind a fellow candidate who passed the time by sardonically scrolling through pictures of dead rabbits on his iPad. There was also an argument after a group task when someone read the interviewers notes and shouted “I am NOT argumentative and potentially difficult to work with.” I was actually taken to the next stage of the application process but declined. In response I received an email that ended “please do not think the candidates on the day reflected the company and its values.”
**I was considering catfishing a friend with one of these accounts after it took them four days to reply to a text message but at time of writing have not bothered
***I would advise learning a friend’s number off by heart. It can also help to know their email. This has got me out of all manner of scrapes but has, unfortunately, seen him banned from filling out Pizza Express feedback cards,
****This feedback was emailed to the Apprentice team, the BBC enquires inbox and OfCom. I attempted to tweet it Sir Al but he’s blocked me. It is available to read upon request.
*****Flex, verb. (As of muscle) contract or be tensed. No putting a picture of a watch your happily married parents bought you on Instagram, you teenage twat.
******Or as my mother calls it ‘Britex’. This is one of the main reasons why I have campaigned tirelessly to have her sent back to her own country.
*******There’s a good chance this year’s winning business plan will be selling stockpiled tinned food to the starving masses (satire, noun).
********This is an assumption
*********Emotionally, if not physically.
**********As is this.
***********This is poorly cropped because I’m ashamed to be on mobile network giffgaff: the Mobile Network Run By You. Turns out, I don’t know the first thing about running a mobile phone network. When I first signed up they swapped my old O2 number with a girl from Stevenage. When I tried to explain what had happened they sent me an email saying “Hi Catherine, we believe that you have updated your name to Tom Ratcliffe and are currently using this email rather than firstname.lastname@example.org.” Those are my asterisks.