Stuart Heritage, Guardian - The most unpleasant aspect of The Apprentice – worse than the boasting, the repetition or the intergalactic levels of rock-hard stupidity – has always been its response to humility. Year after year, the boardroom will always pounce on anyone foolish enough to own up to their mistakes. The smallest honest admission always ends in a firing. But if you can lie, and bluster, and cheat, and roar an engine jet of bullshit accusations at the fat-tied stooge to your left, chances are you’ll succeed. Everyone will know that you’re frantically saving your skin, but they’ll give you a pass anyway. This is what happened in America this week.
You might think that it isn’t. You might think that the rise of president-elect Trump is down to sexism, or social media filter bubbles, or a country’s ability to put partisan politics ahead of personal judgment, or the dying roar of a frightened white majority. But it isn’t. It’s because of The Apprentice.
The Apprentice, which favors aggression over thoughtfulness. The Apprentice, which teaches you to always turn on your teammates. The Apprentice, which mistakes 10 heavily edited minutes of pre-written insults with actual leadership. The Apprentice, whose witless win-at-all-costs aggression helped to cause the banking crisis a decade ago and still wasn’t hauled off air. The Apprentice. The bloody Apprentice...
Look at any Apprentice candidate, breaking their neck to spit out the most self-aggrandising Trump-style word salad imaginable. They’re like sharks, they say. They talk the talk and dance the dance. They’re going to win so hard it hurts. Trump was the figurehead everyone aspired to be. They couldn’t have aped him any harder if they’d swan-dived into a barrel of Cheeto dust before entering the boardroom. The thrill of The Apprentice was getting to watch people climb the greasy ladder. The trouble is, it was so thrilling that people never worried about what would happen when anyone associated with it reached the top.
The stench of The Apprentice will permeate every aspect of the Trump presidency. It already permeated his campaign. He filled the thing with the candidates – the reality-show contestants – who proved most willing to prostrate themselves before him.