The best TV show of 2021, week in, week out, continues to be that wildly entertaining analysis of wealth creation and the Auckland ratrace, The Apprentice. Monday night's episode zeroed in on the weakest link – a mental health worker. Good. Those sorts of people have no place in business.
Unlike the various iterations of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, which concerned themselves with the tepid pursuit of love, The Apprentice sets up a prize all the contestants really, really want: money. Love is vague. Money is tangible. It's a chilling lesson but that's the way it plays out on these reality shows, which are more real than we like to think.
The task on Monday night's show was to sell things at a charity auction. "They're a tough crowd," the contestants were told, but that wasn't true. The crowd looked so faithful to the National Party – white, rich, happy - that some of them probably even voted for Judith Collins. They spent more than $21,000 at the auction and clearly enjoyed the thrill of throwing their money away.
Some of the contestants were very good at encouraging the fools to part with their money. Gabe, the mental health clinician, sucked. "I belong here," he said. No he didn't. He got the sack from Mike Pero at the end of the episode and it was a case of good riddance to a good person who had no idea how to act like a bad, bad rat.
Business is exhausting. It's intense, it's ruthless, it's sport. All the contestants on The Apprentice get their energy from cliches. The number of times someone said "I stepped up" on Monday night's show: 15. The number of times someone said "I showed up": 11. The number of times said "I gave 100 per cent": eight. Much of everything else they said were advertisements for themselves. "I've grown ... I've learned ... I've got so much more to offer ... I crushed it ... I owned it ... It's my time to shine." God almighty. Language on The Apprentice is a stick you use to beat a drum about how awesome you are.
Four of the five remaining contestants really are awesome: Stephen with the staring eyes, beautiful Vanessa, he-man Michael, and beautiful Kennedy. Any of them could win. There's also Erna. She hasn't stepped up. She's operating on maybe 67 per cent. Mike Pero's finger is itching to point at her and give her the sack. It's surely only a matter of time. That's the truly exciting thing about business: you measure success by the failures of others.