TUESDAY night, the boardroom. Alan Sugar fluffs up the six cushions on the seat of his spinny chair and roars: “I am not man! I am Lord Sugar!”
Quite possibly the best line you’ll hear on TV all year.
But there’s every likelihood it’ll be bettered somewhere down the line by one of the resident bozos on The Apprentice, series nine, which has started like a turbo diesel steamroller.
And it’s an almighty relief to say that.
Because this time last year the writing looked on the wall for Britain’s best reality show.
The candidates had become worldly-wise to the executioners in the editing booth and uttered precious little bone-crushingly idiotic to fling back at them at Mach eight.
The only hope was that the malaise was down to poor casting.
One glance at the class of 2013 and... bingo!
To a man, and woman, they’ve got it bang on the money.
The boasts are punchier, the contestants more punchable, starting with Zeeshan who declared: “I take my inspiration from Napoleon.”
Which by rights should make him a short-arse, garlic-eating tyrant with an inferiority complex.
Also inadvertently making a grand comparison was Tim: “I’m not a lone ranger, in any sense of the word.”
You mean you don’t wear a black eye mask, hang out with a Native American named Tonto or ride around on a horse to the William Tell Overture?
He didn’t stick around long enough to answer, sadly.
Neither did “half-machine” Jaz who made the mistake of asking: “Could I have some feedback on my project manager...ship...ism?”
Certainly, Jaz. Stop making up words like managershipism.
Of the girls – the sexiest line-up this programme’s had – only Uzma looks like a potential winner.
Rebecca’s an employment tribunal waiting to happen, “Duracell bunny” Luisa’s a high-maintenance nightmare, and I’m fairly sure Francesca was in Prisoners’ Wives.
She was responsible, on the brilliant flavoured beer task, for ruining 150 pints of Team Evolve’s rhubarb and cameral (no, really) ale, which Lord Sugar seized on: “This is simple multiplication. It’s not rocket science.”
Maybe not. But it was rocket fuel, judging by the horrified reaction of the brewery boss: “Guys, this is not safe to drink.”
Then again, he was in a Banks’s brewery so, you know. It’s all relative.
But for the title of prize twazzock, look no further than the boys.
Neil Clough commits the punishable-by-firing-squad crime of referring to himself in the third person, Jason’s intelligence is: “Like a machete in the jungle,” (blunt), and Alex, a Welsh version of Star Trek android Data wearing Alan Partridge’s fat mask, may never top the moment he felt compelled to insist the toilet roll he was selling wasn’t reused.
Cantankerous old sod Lord Sugar, however, is on sparkling form, ordering Alex not to slouch and tearing into the self-imploding girls’ team: “I don’t want to waste my time talking to a load of dummies.”
Which begs the question, why did you turn up for this series?
And he’s making a big deal about his £250,000 investment.
Not that I blame Sugar, even if Simon Cowell gave that to a dog last year.
The early evidence suggests he might as well do the same, with the candidates embroiled in rows, backstabbing and insults, like Jason branding Zeeshan and Alex: “The most intolerable, moronic people I’ve come across in a long time.”
And now, as the narrator would say, just 14 of them remain.
This week’s Someone Hand That Bald Snooker Commentator an Abacus award goes to...
BBC2’s Willie Thorne at the world snooker final: “Barry Hawkins is only one point behind Ronnie.
“So he’s scoring exactly the same.”
Warning! Warning! Amanda Holden’s ovaries on overload! Exceeding safe threshold!...
Week five of the Britain’s Got Talent crèche, which began with a procession of kids sending Holden gooey and ended in a roles reversal – Simon Cowell kissing her backside.
The talent’s drying up, but Ant and Dec are on fire and at least chubby singer Rosie O’Sullivan can claim a stage name.
Whole Lotta Rosie.
This week’s Couch Potato Spudulikes...
Dara O’Briain’s The Apprentice: You’re Fired and Stephen Mulhern’s Britain’s Got More Talent standing shoulder to shoulder with their main shows.
Dan Snow’s The One Show report on “Britain’s Schindler” Nicholas Winton.
Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen’s screen presence on Sky Living’s Hannibal.
World snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan pointing out to BBC2’s Hazel Irvine he can’t take back the phrase: “I’m up and down like a whore’s drawers,” because: “It’s live, Hazel.”
Steve Bruce, on Sky Sports News: “Alex Ferguson is such a big, big, big hole to try and replace.”
And the innocent choice of music that learning difficulties sufferer John chose to lose his virginity with an escort to on C4’s Sex On Wheels...
Westlife’s You Raise Me Up.
Talent shows. You think you’ve seen it all.
And then soap actress Alice Barlow blubs into Danny O’Donoghue’s shoulder: “I’m used to putting on a persona and not being me.”
Yes, as of The Voice’s opening battle rounds, “I’m in Hollyoaks” officially enters the definition of “sob story”.
The fact it lost to: “I’m blind,” makes it no less astonishing.
Some sense prevailed last night – will.i.am announcing: “Nu’tana and Cleo(patra coming atcha) sound like pterodactyls from a volcano,” and Jessie J in the ash-strewn aftermath: “I have a headache.”
Welcome to my world, Jessie.
May 23, 2012, ITV’s This Morning. Celebrity psychic Jayne Wallace predicting Holly Willoughby’s future by holding her wedding ring: “The ring picks up a lot of your energy.
“I’m seeing big changes for you on an intimate level. It’s telling me about new babies, more children.
“By March of next year you will be pregnant. She will be a shining little girl.”
Any news, Hol?
No? Didn’t think so.
Helen Mirren’s tirade at being interrupted on stage by noisy drummers outside the theatre prompted Loose Women’s Andrea McLean to recall her panto days: “It got quiet after Christmastime and people were using the 10am showings as a crèche.
“There were kids running up and down the aisles shouting and screaming. It was a little bit off-putting.”
Well I certainly hope the judges take that into consideration when you’re next up for an Olivier Award.
This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates...
The disappointment that BBC4’s latest Scandinavian crime drama Arne Dahl isn’t set in a Manchester shopping centre.
ITV thinking they can get away with Caroline Quentin caber-tossing in the Trossachs (sounds painful) as primetime telly, on National Parks.
BBC3’s dire Sweat The Small Stuff giving Celebrity Juice a reason to exist.
EastEnders’ neverending child custody battles.
Jimmy Carr shrugging for forgiveness while explaining his pitiful 10 O’Clock Live gags. (Yes, thanks, I got it and didn’t laugh the first time.)
And Watchdog’s voice-of-the-common-man investigation into the misselling of show-jumping horses which no doubt struck a chord with all viewers struggling to make ends meet.
But only if they’ve actually bought a Findus lasagne at one time.
Peter Kay Live: The Tour That Didn’t Tour – Tour?
Peter Kay Live: The Show I Didn’t Watch – Watch.
Research king Matt Baker struck another blow for doing your homework before a live TV interview, on The One Show.
“Is it right that your hubby was a lifeguard?”
Caroline Quentin: “No.”
The solitary positive from ITV gay sitcom Vicious is that it challenges discrimination.
Exhibit A from episode two, Ian McKellen: “Ash was asking for advice about women.”
Frances de la Tour: “Then why did he come here?”
McKellen: “We don’t like those kind of jokes.”
Remember though, this show challenges discrimination.
So it’s not just those kind of jokes.
It’s any kind.