Have you been watching The Apprentice New Zealand? It's not too late. The most psychologically and socio-economically profound television show of 2021 is racing towards what will likely be psychologically and socio-economically profound finale. It screens on Monday nights. There are three contestants left. They are grasping for a chance to invest $50,000 into a business that they hope will bring them financial security and lasting happiness. You, too, could do with financial security and lasting happiness; to watch the reality series on TV2 is to watch yourself as you navigate the mazes, the trap-doors, the burial grounds of the rat race in late-period capitalism. "You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them": athlete Michael Jordan.
You should watch The Apprentice New Zealand. It's a portrait of Auckland. You really couldn't set it anywhere else. A show about entrepreneurs running around the streets of Reefton or Morrinsville would kind of lack a bit of credibility. They have their eye on the prize and they want to succeed and they want to follow their dreams, and Auckland is where it all happens. Slowly. The contestants have spent quite a lot of time stuck in traffic. One episode was about taking a bunch of old people on a bus to a vineyard out in Kumeū. It took forever to get there. They had to part the old people from their money – the challenge was selling them bottles of wine at the vineyard – but the clock was ticking, slowly. There was so much at stake and one of the golden rules of business is that sometimes there's no Plan B. Plan A is yourself. "A real entrepreneur is somebody who has no safety net underneath them": businessman Henry Kravis.
Me and the kid watch The Apprentice New Zealand. We never miss an episode. She watches as someone about to begin her journey into the workforce, I watch as someone hanging on by my fingernails at the bitter end of a 40-year project which I entered into with a single dream, with one ambition: to avoid unemployment. A threat is carried out at the end of every episode, when host Mike Pero points a finger at someone, and hisses: "You're fired!" Such terrible words. Every show ends in tears. And then blame, and resentment, and a barbed comment about the wickedness and falsities of the other, unfired contestants. "Every time a friend succeeds, something inside me dies": author Gore Vidal.
The National Party's caucus, or what's left of it, should watch The Apprentice New Zealand. In an age of liberal sentiment and be-kind, the show holds a candle to the traditional values of wealth creation and be-tough. It's pure. It's inspirational. It's not interested in social engineering and the betterment of all; it's about hard work and reward, initiative and resilience, working together and failing alone. It's about performance. It's about being judged. Two observers are hired to keep an eye on the contestants at all times; they're not there to encourage, or offer assistance; all they do is watch, and report back to Pero. They don't miss a trick. They're HR from hell. "Business is war": businessman Jack Tramiel.
Please make sure to tune in and watch The Apprentice New Zealand. The three contestants left are Stephen with the staring eyes, he-man Michael with a dark past, and the beautiful Vanessa. My daughter is #TeamVanessa. She's frankly adorable. I'm firmly #TeamStephen. He's a kind of genius, an ideas man, different – he hasn't cut his hair in three years, and he's from Invercargill. But both me and the kid think it might be won by #TeamMichael. That guy is good. He has a way about him. He goes right up to people, and seals the deal over a handshake. He knows that we only have one life and we may as well make the best of it while we can. "You're on Earth. There's no cure for that": Samuel Beckett.