Poor copy of a collection of ideas from other places that were all done better there
Having made himself a millionaire, Peter Jones decides to put his own money on the line and starts a search for the next big business entrepreneur. With his nationwide search complete, Peter has settled for his final group who will compete to become his Tycoon. In his group of hopefuls are Ian, who is seeking to be the sole importer of a toy helicopter from China. Justin, who has designed a cotton bag to allow for the tidy and convenient reuse of plastic shopping bags. Cathy and Helen, who have designed a range of garden wear. Elizabeth, who is marketing her new vodka juice drink. Lauren, a former glamour model who is setting out with a range of hair extensions and finally Tom, a wet piece of cloth who has come up with a newspaper by and for teenagers.
When I heard about this I could only imagine that it was a copy of The Apprentice series that has served the BBC so well for the past few years, but I ignored that feeling and came to Tycoon looking to see what it could do for me. However the shadow of the Apprentice is hard to escape and indeed it does tend to obscure this series so totally that I found it hard to focus on Tycoon without thinking of how much better the Apprentice had done the same things. The opening credits, the score, the way the camera moves, the structure of each episode, hell, even the narrator's accent smacks of this being the work of someone trying to emulate success by simply aping. Of course it doesn't help to have the appearance of amateurism by having pointless scenes and also such carelessness as booms being so far into shot that occasionally you're trying to peer round them to see the subjects you're meant to be watching.
The difference is the gimmick of each potential Tycoon having their own business in the real world and trying to make it work against set targets. Of course the underperforming businesses are reviewed and shut down by Jones until only one is left but even this is a poor man's "board room" (and what idiot thought having it on a pier in the wind would be a good idea?) but this is weaker than it should be. Without a set task to work on we find ourselves fragmented across each business and little time is spent with the tycoons other than some very cosmetic footage The Apprentice's task structure is much better as it focuses on two teams and is clearer in regards objectives; as it is Jones gives some tycoons targets of tens of thousands pounds in profits by Wednesday whereas others he asks simply not to hurt themselves with cutlery.
However for some of them the latter is harder than it sounds, even if some are genuinely sharp people. I wanted Lauren to be in the show simply because it would get headlines for ITV to have a glamour model in there, however her idea is good and, although inexperienced, you can see the potential in it (although lets be honest and say that the producers weren't too upset to see pictures of her topless, snogging other glamour models in the taboids). Ian is another hopeful and his import business shows him to be a stand-up guy mostly. Cathy and Helen were mostly just bit-players in the episodes I saw so I really could care less as their characters didn't come out. The others are comedy characters, which does rather leave Tycoon lacking strong, battling characters the way the Apprentice has, however the three others do provide unintentional entertainment value.
Elizabeth is a "stern, serious businesswoman, but she is forever about to cry not a real problem but there is a side effect. Seems that the slightest bit of emotion causes the bone in her chin to collapse, making it look like some sort of cave-in is occurring just below her skin; it is hard to pay attention to her words or plight when you're thinking "didn't she have something below her lips a minute ago?". Justin is wonderful little man who's idea is actually a nice one that could become one of those things that nice middle-class homes have almost without anyone noticing they were buying it. Problem is he does come over like even atmospheric pressure is too much for him to handle; a session with Paul McKenna gives him a concise, 60 second pitch but the first question he is asked sees him revert to "jelly on a hot summers day" mode. However, compared to Tom, they all come across like Donald Trump. Tom is a camp oik who has produced a newspaper for teenagers that looks like it was produced using Microsoft Word and Google images. He has little idea of what he is doing and he does look like he is the lead character in Tom Hank's Big, except that he is a child put into the body of a slightly older child.
Although none are great characters, they are all better than Jones. It is not that he is rubbish, he just lacks character. He is not stern enough to be an Alan Sugar sort, but he is not genuine enough in his hands-on, helping approach. He falls in the middle and he is pretty dull across the whole series his staged phone calls and meetings just clunking across the show. Anyway, I gave this a few episodes to make me care and it pretty much failed as it just felt like a poor copy of various other ideas cobbled together. ITV only gave it a few more goes before plucking it from an hour at 9pm on Tuesday night, to 25 minutes at 10pm on Monday night not as bad as dropping it totally but I doubt Tycoon will be causing Alan Sugar too many problems in the future.
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