An Irish charmer, a mad inventor, an overgrown toddler and a sociophobic robot walk into a boardroom. The smell of desperation wafts through the tension-heavy air… no, this isn’t the beginning of an awful joke. It’s the grand finale of the Apprentice.
*Cue dramatic Apprentice music
This is the part where the four finalists are called into separate interviews with business type folk and ripped to shreds for our entertainment. Margaret Mountford is among them. First to fall at her hands is Helen. When her success in the tasks so far is mentioned, she stupidly, and modestly answers “I’ve been very lucky.” Now really is the time to blow your own horn, Helen.
Meanwhile, Jim’s business plan / novel of buzzwords and clichés is under the microscope. He’s asked if he has a problem expressing himself succinctly. Hoho Jim does not like to be challenged. I can see the murderous revenge plot forming in his steely blue eyes.
In Susan’s interview, she’s asked to deliver an elevator pitch. Business 101 – an elevator pitch is supposed to be short. Susan goes on. And on. And on. “I see no end to this business,” she enthuses. I see no end to her elevator pitch. Better put the kettle on.
It’s Margaret’s turn to grill Cliché Jim: “I’m no show pony, or a one trick pony, or a wild stallion that needs to be tamed, or even a stubborn mule. I believe I can become the champion thoroughbred that this process requires,” his business proposal boasts.
“Are you a bit of an ass?” Margaret asks.
“A jackass.” Jim agrees, dolefully.
Margaret gives him one more chance: “Try to tell me about you without clichés.”
“I’m exactly what it says on the tin,” he responds.
Tom’s business plan to sell chairs that eliminate back pain doesn’t make any sense. Mainly because not one number adds up – and there’s no mention of margins. Tom is told “you don’t know anything” - about time someone told at least one of the contestants that they know nothing. It would have saved a lot of time to do it on the first day, but never mind.
Helen is proposing some concierge service. I don’t get it. That doesn’t seem to matter though as nobody else really gets it either. The judges try to establish that Helen is NOT a fembot by getting her to tell a joke. “Can I come back to that one a bit later?”
Susan has some gems this episodes. Not only does she proudly insist she’s going to make one million in profit in her first year by expanding her one-woman show weekend market skincare business (bye bye Susan) but she also admits on national television that she pays her staff in cash, no tax or national insurance!
The Jim cliché show continues. He’s apparently had a “meteoric rise from zero to hero” which is almost believable until the judge brings up his salary – Jim looks like he’s just been castrated.
That’s it – the interviews are over. “We’re finished” – says Susan. You certainly are, Susan.
Back in the boardroom, it’s Lord Sugar’s turn to reduce the contestants to wobbly lipped toddlers. Helen has no entrepreneurial flair. She’s good at doing what she’s told and very organised but her business plan really has no legs in it.
Jim is a terrific sales person but slippery when it comes to details. There’s also no money in his e-learning for schools business plan, it’s just one long seduction letter to Lord Sugar. That’s slightly disturbing.
Tom’s apparently the one who would most benefit from Sugar’s involvement as he’s all ideas and no commercial edge. I wonder who wins, then.
Jim first to get fired to a backdrop of dramatic music. Susan is fired next – she sadly takes her Barbie wheelie suitcase, packs up her toys and leaves.
With just Helen and Tom left in the running, Helen makes one desperate last-minute attempt with a rabbit out the hat second business plan. Bit late for that.
Tom, however, wows Lord Sugar with the story of how he got his product (a curved nail file) into Walmart by conning the buyer into seeing him. Lord Sugar didn’t know he had it in him. Neither did we, seeing as he left it to the last five seconds of the show to reveal he has any commercial acumen.
Tom is hired. Hooray for the underdog, or something. Helen almost looks emotional for a moment, before she short circuits.
So that’s the end of that. It’s been a fun journey, thanks for reading! Did the right person win? Leave us your comments and let us know what you thought of the Apprentice this year.