I’m still convinced that Sir Alan Sugar wants a “drop dead shrew” for his £100,000-a-year apprentice.

Others have told me he actually says he is looking for someone who is “drop dead shrewd”, but it really does sound like shrew to me whenever the opening scenes of The Apprentice are aired.

It would make more sense if he is looking for a shrew rather than someone who is shrewd.

On the evidence so far, the contestants in the third series have a huge array of character traits (and flaws) but shrewdness is certainly not one of them.

If the accepted definition of “shrewd” is someone who is clever, resourceful and practical, then the wannabes Sir Alan himself helped to hand-pick have yet to display such qualities. If it refers to someone a little artful, tricky or cunning then we may have some contenders in Katie Hopkins, Kristina Grimes, Simon Ambrose, Tre Azam and Jadine Johnson, but they have an awful long way to go before they could be classed as “drop dead shrewd”.

Equally, if shrewdness is classed as being streetwise then Sir Alan doesn’t exactly have rich pickings in front of him.

Natalie Wood got fired in the latest programme, although one-time golden girl Katie can count herself lucky she didn’t end up in the final three.

After emerging as a front runner a couple of weeks ago, Katie blotted her copybook again with a mystifying performance as the teams attempted to sell art – part fawning and wide-eyed innocent, part cold-hearted character assassin. If she wasn’t gushing over her team’s star photographer then Katie was viciously sniping at her team-mates behind their backs.

Her biggest mistake was condemning her fellow contestants and pinpointing their various faults, but then failing to walk the walk after talking the talk. She floated about like a vacuous hostess and didn’t come close to making a sale and yet still managed to stick the knife in – even wishing a fatal accident on Adam Hosker, who hilariously managed to become his team’s star performer.

Despite being picked on by his team-mates for the entire show for further displays of negativity and petulance – is there also a North-South divide at play in The Apprentice this year? – he was arguably responsible for getting most of the potential buyers to the gallery show and made sales. It was nowhere near enough, but it still put him in a good light when compared with the rest of the team.

It wasn’t hard. Lohit Kalburghi did his usual trick of being invisible – in football manager-speak he probably does a lot of valuable work “off the ball” that just doesn’t get noticed by the average armchair pundit.

Simon Ambrose proved once more he is terribly nice but dim, he would fit in well to a meet and greet role but has yet to display any true business acumen.

So with Katie failing to shine, Natalie was unable to raise her game sufficiently to pull her team along.

The winners were not much better if the truth be told. Although the margin of victory was significant, it could be argued their win was largely down to the ineptitude of their rivals rather than their own stellar performance.

Ghazal Asif and strangely Jadine Johnson were largely anonymous this week. Paul Callaghan was awfully nice but still seems terribly out of his depth, while Naomi Lay had a good week mainly because she flitted in and out of proceedings without appearing to cock anything up.

Tre Azam managed to moderate his language – at least in the edited version we saw – and failed to antagonise his team-mates for once. But his attitude and sales patter were cringe worthy and embarrassing most of the time.

The other team leader – Kristina Grimes – failed to complete a hat-trick of questionable selling methods, but still managed to come across as a bit mean-spirited and arrogant in just about everything she says and does.

Quite a motley collection, therefore, for Sir Alan to chose from. Time is running out for many of the wannabes and next week could see any of them taking the long cab ride home alone having been told: “You’re fired.”

With only Katie and Kristina consistently putting themselves forward as realistic challengers – again mainly due to the failings of others – maybe Sir Alan is looking for a “drop dead shrew” after all.

If the definition of shrew in this context is an ill-tempered, nagging woman, then this pair have all the required attributes.

One response »

  1. Jim says:

    Hi Paul,

    Great post and it hits the nail on the head!

    Having seen Sir Alan’s face when shutting Katie up this week I think she’s going to have to perform well next week to avoid getting fired if she’s on the losing team (again).

    Kristina continues on, Adam Hosker seems to think she’s great so maybe we get to see tightly edited stuff to make her look arrogant? No maybe not…

    As for the invisbles. Well they’re probably just cannon fodder, unless Naomi is actually really good and we’ve never realised it!


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