A scene from an episode of The Intern by David Tlale PICTURE: SABC 3
I’ve always known to expect drama whenever David Tlale is involved. After all, that is his MO when it comes to brand David Tlale – an overload of drama. When I watched is reality competition show, The Intern by David Tlale, where he is on the search for a new assistant designer for his atelier, I wanted to see drama – and did I get it.  
From the first episode, which aired in July, until now, the show has more than exceeded my expectations. It’s shot and directed well, the challenges are interesting and force the designers to pull out all the stops, and the host (Nico Panagio) lets the contestants have their shine. 
And Tlale? Forget Tim Gunn from Project Runway – Tlale makes sure he provides the dramatics, the WTF and OTT moments on the show. 
From making the designers tear up their sketches, to changing his mind about a challenge, making them scramble, the show really is about him and his search for an apprentice. 
Sure, he is sometimes unnecessarily rude to the designers, which sometimes makes it uncomfortable to watch, but they have since grown a thick skin and they give as good as they get in the confessionals
 
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Earlier this year, SABC 1 had a similar competition called Raw Silk, which was hosted by Pearl Modiadie and judged by fashion designer Ole Ledimo, make-up artist Nthato Mashishi, and style maverick Yasmin Furmie.


I followed it, expecting Project Runway quality. Sadly, I didn’t get that. And the show’s format was so similar to the Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum hosted show, you could not help but compare the two.

When I heard that SABC 3 was going to be airing a similar show, I had fears. But I need not have feared a thing. The Intern by David Tlale delivers. 
It will be interesting to see whether SABC 3 will have a second season. It should think about it. It’s the kind of high brow local lifestyle programming the channel has been looking for. The show is good enough to be shown across multiple territories and also showcases our designers’ talents.

The best part of the show? The challenges, no doubt. While Raw Silk showed the contestants fighting among each other, there’s no time for that on The Intern and that’s because Tlale makes sure no time is wasted on petty squabbles.
The challenges push the designers and take them out of their comfort zones. They have done everything from underwear, wedding dresses for Tlale’s celebrity clients and flower garments; to designing stationery, dresses using paper and a five-piece collection that was shown at Joburg Fashion Week. And here I thought the collection would have been the finale, but no. 

The Intern by David Tlale steers away from Project Runway and has more of a RuPaul’s Drag Race feel. While the clothes are of better quality than Drag Race, but the vibe? Definitely Drag Race.  There are a few episodes left and if you are looking for a local reality competition TV show then The Intern by David Tlale is it. 

● The Intern by David Tlale airs Wednesdays on SABC 3 at 7.30pm