Tonight, Volkswagen takes a break from playing pirates with Greenpeace and dealing with the continued fallout from dieselgate, when it appears in the new series of BBC’s The Apprentice.
The beleaguered firm has once again supplied a fleet of five sixth-generation Volkswagen Caravelles, all finished in Deep Black pearl effect paint and powered by a – whisper this – 2.0-litre diesel engine.
Volkswagen seized the opportunity to provide transport for the hapless and often hopeless hopefuls – otherwise known as the candidates – when Chrysler was famously fired from the UK. Goodbye Grand Voyager, hello Volkswagen Caravelle.
The Executive model – which costs from £43,219 – is certainly well-appointed and large enough to house even the biggest of egos. And with seats trimmed in Alcantara and leather, it provides adequate comfort for a hard day spent backstabbing your fellow candidates.
Much like Volkswagen, The Apprentice is suffering from a decline in popularity, but continues to soldier on in the face of adversity. While the rest of the world has turned its back on the show, the BBC stays loyal to the programme which has its roots in the US and a certain Donald Trump.
In the first US series, Trump chose Bill Rancic as his apprentice, netting him a one-year, $250,000 contract and a Chrysler Crossfire.
The American auto giant was a primary sponsor of the NBC show, with viewers asked to select one of four Chrysler vehicles for the winner. Some 291,000 people voted for the Crossfire, failing to see the potential of giving a PT Cruiser to the Apprentice champ. A missed opportunity.
As a BBC show, the producers are unable to capitalise on sponsorship deals in the UK, but that doesn’t stop Volkswagen benefiting from a prime product placement on BBC One.
It might not be the TV powerhouse of old, but seven million viewers have tuned in to watch the finals of the three most recent seasons. For Volkswagen, it’s a welcome relief from scandals, pirates and arrests.
For the candidates, everybody is hoping to avoid an early ride in the back of an LTI TXII taxi and to make it through to the final for an opportunity to win a £250,000 investment and a chance to go into business with Lord Sugar.
Who knows, by the end of series, the businessman formerly known as ‘Sir Alan’ might be rocking a new Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII and every fired candidate might be presented with an ageing Chrysler PT Cruiser Cabrio. That should keep them on their toes.