I swear by the example no-hopers set

IT'S a pity the candidates on BBC's The Apprentice swear so much. The series could be a prefect life-skills-cum-careers lesson for every high school pupil.

IT'S a pity the candidates on BBC's The Apprentice swear so much. The series could be a prefect life-skills-cum-careers lesson for every high school pupil.

What not to be when you grow up.

Sir Alan Sugar's nursery of regional sales managers are identikits of what not to aspire to, how not to behave and how not to treat your colleagues.

Forcing every child over 10 to watch them might promote some much-needed self-awareness in tomorrow's twentysomethings .

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Actually, screening the series, swearing and all, would reinforce just how thick, inarticulate and bigheaded grown ups can look. Swearing, children, is neither big nor clever.

If the current crop of hopeless wannabe entrepreneurs - is the title of sales manager really the holy grail of every inflated young ego these days? - were the brightest of the bunch of 10,000 applicants, heaven help the future of “bizniz”, as they're all so fixated on pronouncing it.

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My 11-year-old is allowed to watch - he hears worse language in the street, on the bus and from the Carrow Road crowd, unfortunately - as an educational experience

It didn't take him long to cotton on they were all mouth and no trousers.

“They all keep boasting they're the best and winners and they're absolutely stupid,” he said incredulously as the men's team - empty vessels, the lot - sold lobsters at almost £20 below the market value.

Even he, still at primary school, knew that charging £4.99 to wash a pillowcase was beyond stupid. And this 'bizniz' decision came from a 36-year-old graduate and sales manager who truly believes she is the best. I rest my case.

What The Apprentice proves is that self-awareness and hard work to achieve a goal is way down the list of pushy young guns' desirable attributes today. If they tell people they're so wonderful and they end up believing it, why need anything else?

No doubt they've been told all their lives by doting parents, they're little princes and princesses blessed with good fortune to deserve everything in life, and thereby lies the problem.

But The Apprentice is addictive viewing, exposing the crass ignorance of those who truly believe they're really worth £100,000 a year. As Sir Alan might say, they're having a laugh.

Poor Sir Alan facing the prospect of choosing a protégé from this shower of dim nincompoops.

But they have no problem believing they're gifted highfliers. Top of the tree experts at self-delusion, this lot.

Even failing tasks by rank incompetence doesn't dampen their ardour for their own - invisible - talents.

In the first week, the arrogance of barrister Nicholas De Lacy Brown - pray he never turns up as your brief in court -knew no bounds.

An academic genius who believed a B at GCSE to be a failure, he had no idea to mix in a team and viewed himself, arty and cultured, to be on a higher plain to his less privileged teammates. The worst possible advert for a public school.

Academic A grader but a big F for common sense.

Then there's the hideous Jenny Celerier, another sales manager whose people skills make Sir Alan look liberal and politically correct. She's a rude ignorant bully. If she harangued and intimidated colleagues in the real world like she does on the show she'd have been frogmarched to HR and shown the door long ago.

She headed a team who saw nothing wrong in asking for tips from customers - almost as bad as the women's team last year selling kisses. Then there's Matt Lucas lookalike Kevin - sneaked in as a joke character surely. He's supposedly a bank manager but last week he couldn't even do simple multiplication.

And Lindi - all mascara, sparkle and lip-gloss - whose talents would be best served standing behind a counter or showing diners to their tables.

The Apprentice is fabulous television but what it tells us about the calibre of future senior managers - if these CVs are to be believed - is terrifying.


Never, ever boast about being “the best”. Confidence is very different to bigheaded bluster. Last week's “loser” Ian Stringer will rue the day he boasted he was a winner and couldn't even say the alternative that started with an 'l'. He didn't have to say it - he was one. Loser.

Never lie to the boss - especially when you've been filmed as evidence. Durr.

Never blame other people for your mistakes. Own up. The boss will think more of you for honesty and taking the rap.

Barking at and isolating team members is bullying - not team management. It's nasty.

Never say you can do something if you can't. Be honest. You'll always be found out.

KIDS love children's TV presenters. They're like big brothers and sisters bringing fun, laughter and high jinx into their homes.

SMart presenter Mark Speight's suicide this week brings awkward questions from children demanding tricky answers from parents and equally difficult ones about the earlier drug-related death of his fiancée, Natasha Collins.

Stars like Amy Winehouse, Pete Doughty et al are expected to be bad boys and girls with drugs and drink problems. Children's TV presenters are not.

The deaths of these two talented young people were such a waste, with the roots in the misnomer of “recreational” drugs use.

In Mark's words, on the night of Natasha's death they had been “partying” at home with booze and cocaine. Natasha died in a scalding bath while he slept it off. He took his own life because he couldn't live with the guilt.

Shiny and bright, squeaky clean and adored by children, Mark and Natasha couldn't be more different to the seedy image of drug users. Yet drugs was the root of their deaths.

Their tragic end should be used as the perfect anti-drugs message to impressionable children. Drugs are never harmless “party” stuff, a “recreational” wind down, whatever the rich and glamorous say.

Mark and Natasha's party came to a tragic end that night and they both died because of one thing - cocaine.

NOT many things can bring a hush to our sitting room, especially on a Saturday night.

But the family babble and chitchat was instantly silenced when 13-year-old Andrew Johnston sang his first note on Britain's Got Talent.

The show had long lost us before Andrew, with spiky hair and hoodie, shuffled on to the stage looking petrified. Another wannabe singer. Groan.

Then he started to sing. A cathedral chorister's voice was the last thing we expected to come out. Andrew's voice was spine-tingling beautiful as he sang the choral piece Pie Jesu.

The show might be pap, but without it boys like Andrew would never get a chance. This boy has such little self-confidence; he couldn't even watch himself. But stardom so young often comes with a price. The last child described as having the voice of an angel was Charlotte Church. Say no more.

LAST year, girls in my younger son's class - he's eight - were giggling about their bras.

The boys mustn't see them, they said - loudly so the boys would hear - when they were getting changed for PE.

My son wouldn't notice a girl's bra if it was in Day-Glo flashing lights - unless his brother was wearing it for a joke.

The girls knew that bras had something to do with titillating males and wanted the boys to know they were wearing them. Bras at that age? It must be where they keeping their tissues - and their PE kits and packed lunches?

Little girls have always played dress up but wearing bras younger and younger, however sparrow-chested they might be, for school is too far. Now Tesco has jumped in with 'pocket money' padded plunge cleavage bras - for just £4, sold alongside vests in the seven to eight-year-old Cherokee range.

Bras for seven-year-olds makes me feel more than a little queasy. Sexualising girls to early to view underwear as provocative is more than inappropriate - and hardly something you want to consider doing your weekly shop.

NO wonder we're all confused dealing with the police these days.

Instead of working to make us all feel safer on our streets, they're doing something far more inventive - coming up with the Ministry of Silly Names.

Those people who answer our calls in at Norfolk Police aren't in the control room as we think - they're really in the Citizen Focus Command. No stripes for that ridiculous moniker.

But Suffolk Police gets the most ludicrous prize for its titling senior officers Head of Protective Services, Director of Criminal Justice Change and, my personal favourite, Director of Knowledge Architecture.

I suppose they protect the incumbents from accusations they're not doing their jobs properly - no one knows what the Dickens they're supposed to be doing.

I HAD to titter about the travel writer for the Lonely Planet series who admitted he copied or made up large sections of his book.

Lonely Planet is favoured by those most irritating of travellers. Those who don't holiday - holidays are for plebs - but those who journey to feel the country and its people. Real travellers

Tip: Always avoid anyone on a train, boat or plane carrying a Lonely Planet guide. They'll bore you to death with their self-satisfied ramblings about their globetrotting experiences.

So the thought that Thomas Kohnstamm's observations about places he'd never been - he worked on guides including Brazil, Columbia, South America, Venezuela and Chile - were a load of old cobblers is a hilarious titbit.

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