Gratuitous pic of Tre from Series Three
In the normal run of things I don’t generally miss an Apprentice candidate once they’ve felt the wrong end of the pointy finger. I think back to the start of this series and can barely recall those who fell early. Alex? Felicity? Edward? (I had to look them up.) Even ones I thought I’d miss like Ellie (too normal for her own good) and Edna (off her head; leather gloves) are gone from my affections. Watching The Apprentice makes Roman emperors of us all. We sit on our comfy thrones watching funny little people doing crazy things for our amusement. If one of them gets gored by a lion, or whatever it was that went on in the Coliseum (why should I be expected to know this when other people think Columbus was the potato guy?), we just say ‘Who’s next?’ The Apprentice juggernaut is far bigger than its candidates.
Very occasionally a personality impresses itself so indelibly that it is remembered after its sell-by date. Stuart Baggs from the last series for instance; and I’ve always had a soft spot for Tre from Series Three because he was so stroppy and interesting. I might have to face up to the fact that actually I just really fancied Tre. But generally I don’t miss anyone after they’ve gone, except Margaret.
All that said, this week I did find myself missing Melody and her over-defined enunciation just a bit. I would have loved to have seen her in Helen and Tom’s team, insisting that ac-tu-ally it was Charlie Raleigh who liked to smoke potatoes and Byron studied poetry at Yale with Al Gore. I would also have been interested to see if Helen and Tom still decided to choose a nodding BNP bulldog equivalent of a restaurant with Melody present. Say what you like about Melody, go on, you know you want to, but she certainly didn’t look ‘100% British.’ Which was the best thing about her.
The interview round is always the most pleasing episode of any given series of The Apprentice because we get to see our hitherto cocky contestants brought down to size under the withering scrutiny of Baron Alan’s industry bigwig chums. With bullshit detectors set to maximum strength, the fearsome foursome rip CV’s to shreds and reduce grown men and women to quivering wrecks.
This year’s interview episode is also set to be the series finale, as apparently the traditional final round, where the two remaining finalists go head to head to do a spot of ninja-level events planning, has been scrapped. Instead, four people will remain at the interview stage, where they’ll be delicately grilled by scary business types Claude Littner, Mike Soutar and Matthew Riley, as well as the marvellous Margaret Mountford. Baron Alan will listen to their opinions and then ignore them and make his own mind up before peeling £250,000 from his wallet to enable the winner to start up a business with him.
The previously fired contestants usually get to return in the final show to help (or hinder) the finalists, but this year they’ll have to be content with a banquette in the You’re Fired! (or Hired!) studio for the final episode, which will be screened on 20 July.
Posted by PLA (all our Apprentice blogs can be found here)
I’m not a fan of Lord Sugar, but to his credit, he has working for him a pack of professionals so formidable, if there were an Olympic gladiatorial sport of savaging fools, I’d back this lot. And last night was the moment we’d all been waiting for this whole, rather marvellous series. This is the one episode of The Apprentice that makes the agony of watching earlier ones bearable. CV day is always going to be fun, because of the magnificent line-up of killer Claud, the ice-blue eyed Viglen boss, Bordan, litigator Alan Watts, regular sidekicks Karren and Nick, and our knowledge that every speck of self-deluded blagging previously uttered by the candidates will be used to wipe the floor with them. But my joy was unconfined in anticipation of the return of the metaphorically leather clad and whip wielding Margaret Mountford, a woman who it is not hard to imagine wears steel underwear. And she did not let her fans down. On his way to The Apprentice Careers Fair from Hell day, Stuart Baggs talked of needing ‘balls and minerals’. We knew what was coming. I could taste it before she opened her mouth. “Margaret!” Stuart gushed. “Do I know you?” she slashed back, like Zorro. “Ms Mountford?” he countered, tentative for perhaps the first time in his life.
Now I cannot help, with the rest of the country, being reasonably amused by the chutzpah (for which read also, ‘unadulterated drivelling bollocks’) that has emerged from Stuart Baggs. But after Lord Sugar’s lack of judgement last week keeping him in over Liz, and after seeing his utter lack of scruples in action time after time, more than anything else, I needed to see his comeuppance. And boy did we get that last night.
Highlights for me:
- Claude to Stuart “You’re not Stuart Baggs ‘the Brand’, you’re a 21 year old boy”
- Margaret, with that look where she’s shrivelling the extreme masculinity of any man, to posh boy Chris on his claim (on the basis of an RE A’ level) to be a ‘revered theology scholar’: “Do you know what ‘revered’ means? It’s when people hold you in awed respect”
- Margaret to Jamie, on his claim on his CV to have a third nipple, “Is that supposed to be funny?” (pause as even the very thick skin on his scrotal sac withers a little, until she slamdunks him) “It’s puerile.”
- Alan Watts to Stuart “You’re not very nice are you? You’ve got no ethics.”
- Stuart, in putting forward his business proposal to a dubious Margaret about inventing tracking microchips for pets: “No-one is like me. I’m the only candidate who can take Lord Sugar out of recession.”
- And this is my favourite. Claude to Stuart: “You’re not a big fish. You’re not even a fish.”
(Series 6, Ep.10) Stuart Baggs really has this grovelling thing sorted, doesn’t he? He managed to save himself from being at the pointy end of Lord Sir Alan of Sugar’s pointy finger simply by burbling on about how he’d had no special start in life other than a tenner as seed money for a yo-yo empire he was running at school.
Cynical moi did wonder whether Mr Baggs had actually spent his schooldays even more profitably studying earlier series of The Apprentice (he is only 13 years old, remember) and analysing which of Lord Sir Alan’s heartstrings was most tuggable. He certainly did his best to come across as a “lovable chancer” simulacrum of the good Lord himself – and Sugar bought it.
Meanwhile, Liz and her eyes that look like big, shiny choccy Minstrels was dismissed, for being good but not spectacular – in other words, she’s pretty competent and doesn’t give us anything to laugh about. That’s no good at all for ratings.
Jamie gave us lots to laugh about. I won’t be able to see the Thames again without wondering what the biggest river in London is (the Thames is second, apparently). And I’m thrilled to know that the clock on the Big Ben tower is “20 diameters in width.”
Next week it’s my favourite week, where the remaining contestants get grilled by the man with the lovely eyes from Viglen, and – hurrah! – Margaret Mountford.
Posted by PLA (more Apprentice here)