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Christopher Stevens: The Apprentice is a boardroom bore

Alan Sugar is forever telling his acolytes on The Apprentice (BBC1) that the worst sin in business is losing money.

But the most terrible crime that any TV show can commit is being boring. And the illustrious Baron Claptrap of Clapton has been inflicting boredom on the viewing public week after week this year.

Call him what you like — the Dull Duke of Deptford, the Interminable Earl of the East End. Whatever manor he’s Lord of, it’s been a tedious place in 2017.

The Apprentice outstayed its welcome on screen years ago, but the Beeb has kept the format artificially alive by stuffing the boardroom with ridiculous characters.

Christopher Stevens reviews last night’s ‘The Apprentice’: The verdict is that this years show is a flop and should have been axed years ago

In previous series, we watched to see whether the stupendously deluded Karthik and his monobrow would survive another week, or if the ludicrous Luisa and her cupcakes could be any more embarrassing.

This year, you’d be hard-pushed to remember any of the candidates, even the ones that got the push last night.

The penultimate show of the series is usually one to enjoy, as the final five hopefuls get a grilling from Lord Amstrad’s bully-boys and bully-girls. By this stage, we’ve watched the applicants suffer and humiliate themselves for two months: to see them get their stuffing ripped out, like soft toys in a bear pit, can be painful.

But this time, it was difficult to care as sulky Joanna shed a tear when the grown-ups told her what a dislikeable person she was.

Nor can many viewers have been rooting for rude and surly Elizabeth: the last florist to aggravate the nation so badly was Buster Edwards — and he was a Great Train Robber.

They both got the boot. Oddly, recruitment consultant James was given a free pass into the final, even though it emerged that he had lied on his website — claiming to be affiliated to a professional body when he was nothing of the sort.

In the past, candidates have been axed on the spot for such deceptions: remember cocky Jordan four years ago, who wasn’t so much fired as flung from an office window when he admitted to lying.

Pictured are this years contestants who are forgettable compared to previous series of the show

Pictured are this years contestants who are forgettable compared to previous series of the show

Could this be a clue that James is favourite to win this year? I wish I could dredge up some interest. The final airs on Sunday at 9pm — I’d watch, but it clashes with a repeat of QI on the Dave channel. Oh well.

It’s unfair to mock Channel Dave, because they’ve perfected a brilliant send-up of The Apprentice format.

The master of ceremonies on Taskmaster: Champion Of Champions (Dave) even has his underling Alex Horne refer to him as ‘Lord Greg Davies’, while the celebrity contestants do everything they can to abase themselves for scraps of praise.

This two-part special brings back the winners of all five previous Dave series, including Bake Off’s Noel Fielding and the ultra-competitive Katherine Ryan. Nowhere else on TV will you see comedians set light to a shop dummy’s head, dress up in a lizard suit and apparently dislocate their own fingers, all in an attempt to win a challenge called ‘Perform The Best Miracle’.

The episode let itself down with a party game at the end, where players wrote words of varying lengths on whiteboards. If the joke was supposed to be that it was stupidly complicated, it wasn’t funny.

But if you want to know how far people will go to win a pointless prize, this is the show to watch. It’s far wittier than the Apprentice — and much shorter.