Posted by: Paul | December 16, 2010

The Apprentice – Week Interviews!

“You’re actually not very nice, are you?” – Alan Watts on Stuart Baggs

So the Apprentice crawls towards its conclusion, like a thirsty man in the desert in search of an oasis. Who will survive this week’s triple firing and make the final two – with the prize at stake of a choice between a short-lived TV career, or a whole year working for Britain’s Grumpiest Entrepreneur? Seriously, why are all the Dragons AND Lord Shoogah so miserable when they have all that money? Someone very wise once told me the answer to that very question: ‘Money doesn’t make people happy, but it does make them UNhappy.’

In the intervening time I have caught up with the show profiling the five remaining contestants, and based on that Stella became my favourite. For the record I went into tonight’s show backing her for the win, and the show did nothing to swap me from my opinions about the others: Jo is a strong contender but her voice does my head in. Chris is too much of an arrogant City Boy for me to take him seriously. Jamie is just as smug in his real life as he comes across in the show and being an Estate Agent just makes me distrust him even more, and Stuart…well. He might just win it. Who can say, at this point?

Is the interview week everyone’s favourite part of the Apprentice process? It’s certainly mine. I love seeing the candidates squirm while the half-truths, fibs, white lies and just plain whoppers they’ve filled their CVs with are exposed with laser-like precision by Alan’s Army of Assassins (Brentwood Branch). Perhaps it’s because I feel their pain – I really, really hate job interviews. The only one I’ve had during the course of this year went so appallingly badly that it was enough to convince me into self-employment.

But these aren’t real job interviews, of course. Oh no. They’re much worse than that. Real job interviews now consist of being asked the same bland question three different ways by a panel of four people including an HR representative there to ensure ‘compliance’, with all of them writing down every single thing you say, during which time you either sit in silence or prattle on like a giant fool and dig yourself a bigger hole. No room for elaboration or supplementary questions – because all of the interviews have to be the same, you see. In case they get sued. This results in it being a horrendous process for the candidates, with the panel having made up their mind by the time they’ve finished asking you the first question.

Ahem. On with the show. These are interviews in the old style. And when I say ‘old’, I mean ‘Old Testament’. These are vengeful Gods. They lull the candidates into a false sense of security, before hitting them with the sucker punch. After picking at Jamie’s cheap shiny suit (despite him being the highest earner among them), it was off to the Viglen offices to be grilled by Claude, Borden, Alan and, for the first time, Margaret Mountford.

Margaret especially was on top form. Stuart greeted her like she was the kindly neighbour from up the road who he’d known for years, instead of, y’know, Margaret off the telly who he’s never actually met. As ever, it was pretty much The Stuart Baggs show this week. I’m sure they must end up with hours of killer footage, as almost every time he’s on screen he drops a clanger of one kind or another, and tonight was no exception. This week, however, he’d met his match in Claude:

Stuart: “I’m a big fish in a small pond…”

Claude: “You’re not a big fish!? You’re not even a fish!”

It was a joy to behold, Stuart being ripped to shreds during this episode. I even cheered when he was eventually shown the door – for yes, his time had finally come. He was exposed for the bullshitter he is by embellishing the status of his ‘fully licensed Telecoms company’ on the Isle of Man, well and truly pinned by Viglen’s Borden who had made the right phone calls. Lord Shoogah even seemed annoyed that he had been taken in by Stuart’s spiel in the previous week and let the former favourite, Liz Locke, take the bullet in his stead. Stuart? You’re Fired. Kapow!

Honestly, between Stuart and Jo, you wonder if the candidates have ever seen the show before – rule number one? Don’t lie on your CV. Don’t even tell a half-truth. Rule number two: Google Sugar’s companies and commit them to memory! Jo fell foul of the second golden rule, and after giving a good account of herself throughout most of the series she was given the advice to go back to her own business, make it fly and be proud of herself. Hear hear. Sugar sent her away with kind words reserved only for the most serious of his nuggets of advice, and during ‘You’re Fired’ it was apparent how much it had meant to her. I wish her luck.

And now, the end is near. With Stella put straight through to the final (yay!), it was Jamie vs Chris, and Sugar chose brains over smarm. And my gosh, did Chris like to bang on about how intelligent he is! But it was the end of the road for Jamie – though he had charmed everyone else along the way, Sugar finally saw the void behind the smile and showed him the door. About time too. Not that I think more highly of Chris – I really don’t – but because of Stuart we’re denied what should have been the rightful final, in Stella vs Liz. Ho hum. I really hope Sugar can get over the image he has of Stella as a corporate entity – she has more in common with him than he realised.

With the final being broadcast on Sunday night, we won’t have to wait a week to find out who the winner is. Expect another Apprentice post on Monday then! Come on Stella!



  1. Sugar picked the right two finalists, although I have to have sympathy for Joanna, who received the gentlest firing in the history of history itself, but still burst into tears anyway. I was half expecting Sugar to race round the table and offer her his hankie. (He’d have only tried to charge her for the service, though.)

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if he put his certificates in frames and his idea of a fun night is to sit and admire them.” Genius.

    Stuart’s firing was brutal – but, let’s face it, it’s the moment we’ve been waiting 11 weeks to see. And, boy, did it deliver!

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