The Apprentice (UK)

I never got into the US version of The Apprentice. I think mainly because I've always thought of Trump as a tacky buffoon. I remember being brought to Trump Towers in 1987 by my American cousin (whirlwind tour of NY in one day including WTC, St Patrick's Cathederal and The Statue of Liberty) and thinking - how can you spend so much money and end up with a place looking so cheap? Then they announce the UK version of The Apprentice and I hear that it's going to be Alan Sugar in the Trump role. Insant mixed emotions and reminiscences. My career in computers started in 1982 with a [St Kieran's College]( school trip to Dublin. One of my friends brought me to the most amazing shop I had ever seen - "Tomorrow's World" - in a little arcade off Grafton Street. It was full of electronic gadgets and he showed me something the like of which I had never encountered before; the [Sinclair ZX81]( I can still remember touching the keypad and being amazed (pathetic really I know) when stuff appeared on the screen. A few months later, Sinclair announced the [ZX Spectrum]( and I knew I had to have one. Luckily my parents bought into the idea of it ["helping with the homework"]( and one was duly acquired by a work colleague of my Dad in WH Smiths in the UK. I wouldn't be where I am today if they hadn't bought that wee computer. I went from Basic to Forth to Z80 Assembler over the space of 4 years. I got two games in Assembler published in [Your Sinclair]([Your Spectrum]( in 1986 and I still have the bloody thing in the attic 23 years later!!!! Sooooo, Sir Clive Sinclair was a great inventor but an absolutely disasterous businessman. Even at the age of 15 I despaired over his constant screw-ups with the Spectrum (Interface 2 cartridges, Microdrives etc etc). Eventually the company was sold for a song to Amstrad. And Alan Sugar did what he always does - screw innovation, lets squeeze the living daylights out of this whilst we still have a market and then give it the bullet. Broke my heart as a Sinclair fanatic but absolutely the right thing to do in retrospect as the home computer market was heading towards implosion. Unfortunately this approach to business in ultimately self-limiting. You only have to look how Amstrad went from being one of the largest PC makers in Europe to nothing because he was so obsessed with wringing every penny out of what he had, the market simply left him behind. Dell gets away with it because the component suppliers do the innovation and Dell provides the channel. But at the back of my mind I wonder if one day someone will innovate Dell out of existence. He finally gets back to the original topic: I have become a huge fan of The Apprentice. Sugar is a bollix but he is usually right. I'm thrilled that I have predicted most of those who have been fired so far. I was chuffed to predict Sebastian last week before the program even started (good hair only gets you so far baby). Predictions for winning? I had Paul and Saira marked from very early on but Paul has screwed up two weeks in a row (that TV ad was craptastic) and Saira's "poor me" routine the same week was embarassing (in addition to her manktabulous print ad). Miriam relies a bit too much on the boys doing the work for her due to her physical assets methinks. Ben was a donkey until last week when his negotiating skills were spot on. Tim has definite all-round potential. James is a star but has no hope of winning. I cannot see a public school boy being Bovver Boy Sugars apprentice, no matter how good he is. Poor Raj seems to be solid but can't string a coherent sentence together. Paul and Saira have the best chance because they are both gobby grafters with no airs and graces. Not sure which one it'll be. Give it another 2 weeks.

Conor O'Neill

Tech guy who likes running slowly

Bandon, Cork, Ireland