Will repo men demand Terry’s car keys back?


Tuesday’s final of The Apprentice, New Zealand (TV2, 7.30pm) presumably can’t come quickly enough for Terry Serepisos, our all-Kiwi, cash-strapped millionaire, or Television New Zealand. 

But for many of us, the only tragedy is that it’s all about to end just as it’s starting to become really interesting. 

And it has nothing to do with the remaining contenders, whoever they might be. 

No, the news that Terry isn’t paying his bills, is being hounded by the media, is receiving preferential treatment from a fawning Wellington City Council and is being criticised by his fellow millionaires has given what was always a dreadful idea an interesting twist. 

Will Serepisos get to fire someone on Tuesday evening? Or will the repo agents storm the studio during filming and demand the keys to his SUV? 

Will the winner, when awarded the “prize” of a one-year employment contract worth $100,000 at Serepisos’s property development company, say, “Umm, thanks but no thanks, I’d rather stick with my window-cleaning job”? 

Whatever happens, you have to applaud producers Great Southern Television for their sense of creativity, and their ability to develop such a highly unorthodox climax. 

Who knows, it might even end with GSTV managing director Phil Smith breaking into the final interview with the message, “Terry, I’m sorry, but you’re fired.” 

It was Smith who earlier promoted the Kiwi edition as “highly instructional” – not only a reality show with a
conscience but an excellent vehicle for budding entrepreneurs and emerging business types. 

“In recessionary times we want to show real people showing endeavour and succeeding,” he said. 

How marvellously quirky, then, to turn the entire concept on its head and instead promote the message that money is no measure of a man, and that sometimes people just get lucky. 

It’s a bit like a parody of reality television, something that’s starting to become a Kiwi speciality. I mean, Dancing with the Stars didn’t have any stars, Target exposed itself and now The Apprentice, as reported last week, is fronted by a millionaire who can’t pay his rates. 

Not only that, but a millionaire so besotted with his wealth and fortune he last year complained to the National Business Review that his ranking on their “rich list” was too low and then produced letters to support a claimed worth of $140m. 

As Bob Jones suggested last weekend, it’s hard not to feel a bit dubious about someone who, graced with a large fortune, is prepared to flaunt their wealth, portray a face of ruthlessness and generally revel in the character of The Simpsons’ rich prick, Mr Burns. 

Maybe so, but it took the good folk at GSTV to see the true potential – to realise that the sort of person who would want to front The Apprentice New Zealand would almost certainly be the wrong person for the job and, therefore, the right person. 

The result? A runaway ratings success. Not only will they have a biggest winner on Tuesday, they’ll also have a biggest loser. Brilliant stuff.