Monday, 18 July 2011

The Apprentice final (BBC One): a quick review

Here's a quick review of last night's Apprentice final for Orange:

So there you have it. After 12 weeks, the railway stations of London no longer rumble with the fearsome hum of wheelie cases, and the Wobbly Bridge no longer reverberates with the echo of self-important stomping. And Lord Sugar has finally got himself a new business partner – Tom Pellereau, who proved once and for all that nice guys don't always finish last. 

Tonight's climactic episode finally saw the surviving candidates reveal their business plans – something that might have had Alex Britez Cabral (you remember – the Chuck-Bass-a-like "fired" in week two) crying into his scientifically proven method for turning water into non-polluting fuel (possibly).

The proposals (and candidates) were then verbally shredded in the traditionally agonising “interview” task. This year, along with old faves Margaret Mountford and Claude Littner, the candidates had to get to grips with magazine publisher Mike Soutar and a bod who was Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007 but still seems to leave the coat-hanger in his jacket and calls lifts “elevators”, despite coming from Burnley.

As usual, the 16 interviews were presented in a breathless montage of awkward questions, even more awkward answers, cringeworthy silences, flustered back-tracking, frosty glares and sweat-dotted foreheads. Along the way, we finally got to hear what the various Big Ideas were.

While Susan stuck to what she knows best (rolling out a few new beauty products), Helen dramatically decided to leave her pastry-flaked past behind her and unveil a “concierge” service that would take care of making our dental appointments and holiday arrangements for us.

Over in Boy Corner, Tom's treasure map involved preventing the loss of working hours to back problems, while Jim was pinning his hopes on an e-learning business that would teach business skills to the eager little magnates of tomorrow.

Back in the boardroom it wasn't long before the Jaws-like music heralded an imminent departure. And while it was no big surprise when Jim was the first to go, a nation then gasped as Susan, who seemed to have got through the interviews OK and was planning to expand an already successful business, was drummed out in third place.

Then, as Helen and Tom faced off, there was last-minute sensation! Realising that Lord Sugar had instantly pitched her “domestic assistant” schtick into the big round filing cabinet, Helen – who works for the CEO of Greggs, remember – plucked another plan out of the ether: a chain of bakeries!

However, it was too little too late for the social-life-denying task-victory-machine. As widely predicted, the grizzled peer decided to take a punt on polite young boffin Tom, who promptly yanked off his specs Clark Kent-style and embarked on the kind of explosive air-punching celebration not seen since Stewart Pearce slotted home against Spain in 1996.

So that's your lot. It's been a funny – and long – old series. In previous years Helen would obviously have walked away with the job, but his Lordship's eye for a “products man” pushed Tom over the finishing line, despite his terrible record in winning tasks and regular appearances in the boardroom.

Anyway, I'm off now to the luxurious Mayfair headquarters of the World Society of Toms, where Messrs Hanks, Selleck and Waits have got the party started. Don't wait up!

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