The Apprentice Final: A walk in the park with added hand grenades

So The Apprentice is over for another year. The “boardroom” has been dismantled and returned to its former glory as a corner of a warehouse somewhere. Office workers in the more prestigious buildings of London can work happily knowing that they won’t be buzzed by helicopters filming attractive shots of all the buildings Lord Sugar isn’t in. And Tom Pellereau – inventor, speccy-geeky bloke and all-round nice guy – can settle into his new career as Baron Sugar’s business partner in his new venture, Chaises Pellereau (I’m giving them that name for free. It has a bit of a ring to it, I think).

So what did we learn in the final episode? Or, at least, the first hour of the final episode because I don’t do the Dara bit. As soon as the pointy finger has been pointed, so has my remote control, and I’m off in search of other entertainments.

Well, one thing I learned was that the man with the lovely eyes from Viglen, Bordan Tkachuk, has been replaced in the interview process by a couple of people with fairly standard eyes. This was a cause of great sadness to me, as I’d been looking forward to a stare-off between him and Jim.  

The interview process itself was a little muted this year, as if everyone was getting just an eensy bit tired of the ritual humiliation thing and just wanted to be in bed with a nice mug of cocoa and a Jilly Cooper. Margaret Mountford had a good stab at trying to banish the world of cliche, but Jim was having none of it. “Try and describe yourself without resorting to cliche,” she prompted him. Jim reflected for a moment and proudly announced, “I am what it says on the tin.” For this alone, and for Vincent mind control week, I will always have a warm place in my heart for Jim.

Talking of cliches, one of the new guys had come up with an earth-shatteringly innovative interview test. “Just stand there, behind the chair!” he barked at each incoming candidate. “Now pretend you’re in an elevator…” I thought he was going to make them do that thing where you shout “Bing! Going down!” and then bend your knees and disappear behind the sofa (you mean you haven’t done that? Of course you have). That would have been fun. Instead it was the old elevator pitch routine. Still, the way Susan waffled on, you’d have had to be in a very slow elevator.

Still on the subject of cliches, in the boardroom the Baron was told that trying to pin Jim down was like trying to fix custard to a ceiling. A few weeks ago, I recall Nick and Lord Sugar agreeing that pinning Jim down was like trying to nail jelly to a wall. It’s disappointing that the series has ended before we can complete the Trifle Of Jim. Jim did, however, come up with a rather lovely description of the interview process. “It was a walk in the park,” he said. “With hand grenades.”

Everyone made mistakes. This was so we couldn’t work out who was going to win (though everyone has been saying it would be Tom for weeks now, apart from Nick Hewer who thought it would be Susan, and me, because I’ve been hypnotised by Jim). Susan had got her figures all wrong; Tom had invented a chair but forgotten to put the word “chair” in his business plan; Helen had come up with some limp concierge/virtual assistant-type scheme of the type that gets laughed out of Dragons Den on a weekly basis. And Jim? He had some quite impressive-sounding scheme to deliver e-learning to schools. His twin mistakes here were to try and curry favour with Baron Sugar by putting his initials (AMS) in the business name (creep!) and by not realising that schools were strapped for cash and therefore weren’t an exciting new revenue stream for the Baron. Oh, duh. Jim was fired first.

Next out, the lovely Susan. She may have the skin of an angel herself; she may have set up a cracking little business purveying pots of organic goo at Greenwich Market; but she’d over-estimated her profit margins by about three trillionfold and had no idea how to compete against L’Oreal. Goodbye, Susan. Though never forget, you are worth it.

Helen had belatedly realised that her concierge thing didn’t have legs, so she attempted to introduce Plan B, in which the “B” stood for Bakery. Helen is good at pastry-based tasks, and all concerned were mystified that she hadn’t gone the cakey route to begin with. Sadly it was too little, too late. The Baron doesn’t want an indecisive ditherer on his team – so he picked Tom, who has, in most of the tasks, been an indecisive ditherer. Yet he’s a popular choice, and if Chaises Pellereau fails, the Baron can lock him in a lab and get him inventing things, because there’s nothing the Baron likes better than a fabulous invention. Just ask anyone who ever owned an Amstrad E-m@iler.

Posted by PLA          (more Apprentice here)



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6 responses to “The Apprentice Final: A walk in the park with added hand grenades

  1. inkface

    Excellent Pause. Now, couple of things. Firstly, what the Dara programme revealed, scandalously* in my view, was that Lord Sugar had no intention of going down the chair/chaises route whatsoever. He wants Tom to make more of the already-massively-successful-with-Walmart curvy nail files. All a big con you see. He’d clearly let Tom pass all those boardroom appearances in order to get his fingers in a bit of beauty sales pie, as opposed to Helen’s pie.

    Also – I’m totally with you on the blue-eyed Viglen bloke. Shame. He makes it for me.

    *clearly not really, but EVEN so – it makes a mockery of turning down the others based on their business plans don’t it eh?

  2. Qwerty

    Agreed Inky; it was clearly a long-played game designed entirely to enable Shugs to get his nails into the nail file.

    That lift thing: I was desperate for one of them to say, ‘If we’re in a lift why are you sitting down?’ Maybe it was one of those lifts in sheltered housing that have little seats in for the infirm. Which would make sense.

  3. pauseliveaction

    Who knew that the Baron cared so much for his nails? And who knew Chaises Pellereau would be over before it began?

  4. Tim

    No great surprise that Sugar was keen to shelve Tom’s chair idea, even if it did have legs. Ho ho.

    Helen’s last-ditch move was desperate, like knowing that you’re failing a job interview and saying “Oh, it’s okay. Give me THAT job instead.”

    Tom deserved to win for his nail file – and as a victory for geeks evrywhere – but in truth all four plans were poor. Bring on the Juniors instead – at least they know what they’re talking about …

  5. I loved reading this, and laughed out loud at your “Bing! Going down!” 😀 it would be amazing to see candidates doing that. I missed lovely eyes man Bordan Tkachuk too, he could grill people without appearing too harsh, because he was quite nice to look at.
    It does start to grate when year after year you’re seeing everyone being so horrible to each other because they’re so ruthless. I’d like to see an Apprentice tv show with nice people working together and showing how much more fun it is when everyone’s happy and competing with spirit rather than ‘to the death’!

    • pauseliveaction

      Thank you, Tracy – glad I made you laugh!

      It’s interesting that, although they’re all ruthless and ambitious, in the end it was a nice man who seemed quite sweet and helpful to his colleagues who won.