“Simon Shaps – you’re fired,” said Sir Alan Sugar, and the boss of ITV looked suitably defeated. Perhaps it wasn’t the fate of being the only TV executive to be dumped in a humorous episode of the BBC2 show, The Apprentice, made for the Edinburgh Television Festival that saddened
Shaps, but being described as a “hiding behind the bushes kinda fella,” by the business tycoon.
Greeted with whoops of delight and cheers, the special edition of The Apprentice starred – in the girls team – Emily Bell, editor-in-chief, Guardian Unlimited; Jana Bennett, director of Television, BBC; Camilla Lewis, head of Factual Features, talkbackTHAMES; and Sophie Turner Laing,
deputy managing director, Channels and Services, BSkyB.
They were pitted against Andrew Newman, head of Entertainment at Channel 4; Peter
Salmon, ex Controller of BBC1; Simon Shaps, director of Television at ITV and Andrew Zein, MD of Tiger Aspect Productions.
Tasked with selling items on the shopping channel, QVC, the TV executives quickly discovered they had few talents for TV presentation or gallery production. Bell’s mouth froze mid-sales pitch, Salmon said of a vacuum cleaner, “your cleaner will love it”, while Shaps appeared to disown his team midway through.
Little wonder Sugar wrote them off as “arty farty tossers” while marvelling at how Shaps could keep his “permanent booking at the Ivy restaurant”, when he seemed so indecisive.