Posted by: Paul | May 11, 2011

The Apprentice 2011 – Week 2, ‘Apps’

Two shows for the price of one this week! After yesterday’s mad fruit n’veg scramble, we’re into the world of technology, with the two teams having 24 hours to develop an iPhone app. Except they can’t call it that. Tonight’s Apprentice is brought to you by Apple.

Having been on the inside of the creation of a couple of apps in my professional life (albeit in a very small way), I knew in advance their apps would be total and utter cr-app. A good app is weeks in the design, months in the development and weeks again in the testing, and so with 24 hours our Logical, Venturing telepuppets were left with only one thing they could realistically make – a very simple soundbank. It’s so transparent that they were handed this on a plate – if the developers were going to be all smiles, politeness and can-do attitude, there would certainly have been a producer behind the scenes guiding the teams on this particular course. ‘No, you can’t do that. Or that. Or that. You can do this. Tough. These people have real jobs, very little time and they’re costing us MONEY.’

So, left with very little room for manouvrement (thanks Melissa), the brainstorm for both teams led to utterly brainless and even faintly offensive ideas. Clearly enamoured with the Fonejacker app in a very similar vein, the boys elected for a regional insult generator, ‘Slangatang’, while the girls created an ‘annoying sounds generator’, ‘AmpiApps’. If that was all they both wanted to achieve, they could honestly have just set up a recorder in each of the brainstorming sessions and captured the very essence of each team.

The Apprentice is a funny old show, and becoming more formulaic all the time, unfortunately. You can basically tell the team which is going to win from about 15 miuntes in – it’s the one the editing of the show is telling you is going to lose. With the girls’ execrable application falling flat at every user test, by a fluke of chance (the boys blowing their most important pitch by offending one of the most important technology websites in Europe), they basically defaulted their way to their second win in a row. If not for the downloads thanks to the TechCrunch coverage, the boys would have crushed them, I feel.

This led to an extraordinary boardroom exchange in which project manager Leon changed his mind several times about who to bring back, even at one point asking Sugar ‘if’ he should change his selection! A flip-flop worthy of the most heinous politician. But in the end it was weak link Alex, who has basically done almost nothing during the first two tasks. I watched the final scene thinking ‘how can they make a ‘You’re Fired’ about this guy, there’s no footage of him!’

And Susan Ma lives to fight another day! My favourite scene this week was of her desperately trying to explain her app idea. It was so clear she could see it in her head, she just couldn’t get the words out! Bless her. It was like asking a three year old to describe a cow. And believe me, I know a thing or two about that.

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