Probably the most intellectual reality competition on TV, The Apprentice continues to draw in millions of viewers year after year to witness the apparent top of the business crop battle it out for an investment from an internationally renowned businessman. OK admittedly there is a certain type of person who applies (and is chosen) for the show, but it’s always weirdly addictive to watch these confident-to-the-extreme candidates and their failures and successes…and ultimately shout at the TV how we could do it better.
With just 5 candidates and 2 episodes left of this series, here’s a closer look at the remaining candidates and my opinions about how they will fare both in tomorrow’s episode and in the final if/when they reach it. I write this as I’m catching up on the special ‘Candidate’ programme from this week, so some bias and extra info might be included!
Leah: Leah is the Irish doctor with the *very* full lips and inability to pronounce certain words. Right from the first week she has consistently been a good, if not excellent, performer in tasks and as a result I feel fully deserves to have her place in this round. Admittedly she can be quite abrasive and outspoken, but Lord Sugar is quite keen on people who speak their mind and Leah is fully able to do that. Her only experience at project management has been the Away Day task, but whilst she won it was not necessarily because of Leah’s skills and organisation, which brings up a question mark as to what will happen if she progresses to the final. I’m not convinced that given her lack of business experience that she will progress, but if her business plan is strong enough and she is not too argumentative in the interviews with Margaret et al I would not be surprised to see her go far.
Francesca: The second blonde in the final five, Francesca is potentially the weakest candidate to have progressed to this stage in this series. Undoubtedly she comes across as one of the nicest and probably I would work with her the best if I were placed in an Apprentice task with these guys. Calm, determined and ambitious, Francesca has qualities which do make her a strong candidate, but her performance in previous tasks has been slacking slightly; especially in her role as PM in the Away Day task. She narrowly escaped the chop there and I suspect that this will be a worry to Lord Sugar especially considering it was a task which she should have performed well in. Given that her current businesses are in the entertainment industry, I’m also unsure that he would want to invest with Francesca if she has chosen to stick to this segment – especially given that he ruled Uzma out for her make-up business plan.
Luisa: Oh Luisa, the St Albans babe who has undoubtedly had more written about her in the press than any other candidate, and may be one of the most controversial ever to grace Lord Sugar’s boardroom/TV studio. The glamorous retailer started off by making herself public enemy number one…I mean saying that she is too pretty for business and having topless pictures of yourself in the papers? Hardly a winning recipe for endearing herself to BBC audiences, this isn’t Big Brother after all. Luisa has also made herself unpopular with her actions on screen too; being bossy, rude and ultimately getting dopey-yet-lovable Jason fired seemed to cast her as the villain of the series, but although on some levels she still is, she has also proved herself task after task to be a great businesswoman and extremely competent at making money. PM on 3 tasks, she has won 2 and successfully avoided elimination for her failed turn behind the reigns, and combined with her proven track record at running 3 businesses (as well as having a toddler) and just 25, she could well be a woman after Lord Sugar’s own heart. I fully expect Luisa to progress to the final next week, but regardless of whether she does or if she wins, I am sure that Luisa will flourish in business…and the media no doubt.
Neil Clough: Maybe it’s because of ‘The Apprentice; You’re Fired’ insisting that we always use his surname, but Neil has become one of this year’s most interesting and well performing candidates, and another likely prospect for the final. As with Luisa he has been PM 3x, with 2 wins and 1 loss…a good track record and more impressive when you consider that he has often been the top seller in tasks, as well as giving a heart felt speech in the Away Day task. Up until that point I had yet to see a redeeming quality in Neil, who had been boorish, stubborn and very over-confident, but I guess when somebody starts spouting about a deceased parent I can’t help but empathise given my own circumstances. Since then my attitude has softened a fair bit, but that doesn’t mean that I agree with the way he usually conducts himself in tasks…and to be honest I would be pretty intimidated if I was grouped with him. The only question mark about Neil is whether he is a one trick pony; yes he is in management but he primarily relies on sales skills to gain recognition…we will just have to see what his estate agent business plan is all about, though if it’s viable and as profitable as he says then he could be onto a winner.
Jordan: I think I would rather see Katie Price in the Apprentice final as opposed to this Jordan. The bespectacled shorty has managed to get up my nose more than any other candidate on this series, and I am pretty unsure how he managed to get this far…although I feel that this is majorly to do with the fact his first board room visit was last week. I don’t doubt that Jordan has impressive credentials, and he comes across as very intelligent, cultured and excellent at recognising others’ strengths. But this doesn’t mean that he makes a good businessman! By aligning himself with Luisa (both professionally and romantically it seems), Jordan has managed to get through despite making some very poor decisions…often centred around unrealistic expectations of a one/two-day task. Yes that ugly vase could have been a big profit winner, but not in Shoreditch, and him talking about after school Ostrich burgers seemed snobby to the extreme. Jordan has been PM twice and has won both times; firstly on the flat pack furniture task, which was won by an impressive product and Neil’s selling skills, and then again on the dating task…which was probably more because of the total lack of co-ordination from the opposing team. Things started to fall apart for Jordan in the ready meal task, and then last week he went to pieces in the Stall to Shop episode, where he spent all of his time flogging greetings cards to corner shop owners and admiring pottery. If his business plan is as shady as it sounds (involving a third party) then I doubt very much that Jordan’s small talk will allow him to progress to the final. Who know’s though, and although Nick and Karen have slated the idea in the press, it could be a red herring.
I find it interesting that given our love for all things celebrity that the celeb version of the Apprentice has been restricted to the occasional Sport/Comic relief outing, especially given that in America it has supplanted the regular version entirely. If I were a betting man I would put my money on Luisa to win, but given that Lord Sugar has steered away from female ‘Apprentices’ since the Stella debacle (she looks suspiciously like Francesca no?), another male winner is entirely possible.