Now that was an unexpected and unwelcome surprise.
No, not the pocket psychotic Sara getting the chop on the latest cringe-fest of The Apprentice.
Rather, Raef’s hair wasn’t looking its best last night. In fact it was beyond ruffled, it was frankly a bit of a mess.
He might think his words are his best tool, but his hair has been a more potent force and has taken the lion’s share of the plaudits so far.
A bit like Samson when he lost his lavish locks, a tousled and unruly mane atop Raef’s head rendered him worse than useless. We were left wondering what is the point of Raef without that magnificent styling?
His bed head look when he answered the early morning phone call from Frances the Fake PA was not exactly what we’ve come to expect from him. But it was the bear costume that really did for him. A bit like politics and sport, business and friendship, Jamie and Oliver, some things simply don’t combine well – perfectly styled, coiffured hair and bear costumes should never mix.
You can hardly perfect an air of suave sophistication in a bear costume, not even a Paddington Bear outfit.
Raef in a bear costume looked like…well…Raef in a bear costume. Slightly charming, but largely ineffectual and quite easy to ignore.
The number of people who wandered by without even a second glance was, sadly, on a par with the number who seemed to ignore him even with his on display. For weeks we had marvelled at his bonce, now we just have memories of happier styles and times.
The hair has lost its power. Maybe that is why he opted for the bear costume.
Or, perhaps, he decided to sacrifice himself to the costume to escape the attentions of overly-smug Claire. A week after pretending to be the wannabe Lynx model’s long-term girlfriend in Morocco (“Seven years! Why aren’t we married yet?” was taking the role-play a little too close to reality for Alex’s liking, judging by his contorted expression), the portly blabbermouth seemed to have her sights set on Raef this time.
Visiting a wedding dress shop ahead of their stint at the National Wedding Show in Birmingham’s much-loved NEC, Claire imagined herself wearing one of the creations and mused aloud: “All I need now is to find myself a boyfriend.”
As she looked Raef squarely in the eye, he backed away slightly and laughed heartily with a mixture of shared bonhomie and sheer terror. She even giggled girly-like at his less than gallant quip about the reason why women require size 16+ wedding dresses being cake-related.
Claire was not exactly Jane Austin-esque in her coquettishness, more like Austin Healey-esque with that non-stop, inane jabbering.
But I fear she is on a loser if she’s looking for a suitable beau. The Apprentice does not exactly lend itself easily to romance.
Remember the doe-eyed Paul Callaghan swooning after Katie Hopkins last year?
It was a bit like watching Cruella DeVille spitefully toying with an eager-to-please puppy. Claire isn’t quite on the same pantomime villain level as Katie, her playfulness with Alex and Raef was squirm-inducing but for very different reasons.
You imagine Claire approaching an amorous assignation in a similar fashion to her bargaining or selling techniques – it doesn’t exactly leave much room for manoeuvre, let alone love and romance.
Then again, a wedding show on such a massive scale as the NEC event is hardly the stuff of love hearts and fluffy bunnies.
It was hard sell time at the NEC and the sanctity of marriage gave way to a grubby push to get the thousands of visitors to say “I do” to the various wedding-related goods the teams were attempting to hawk.
With all the subtlety of a sledge-hammer wielding, slightly narky gorilla, the teams bludgeoned everyone who passed their spot on the NEC floor. Some were defiant, some wilted slightly before standing their ground, some succumbed to the relentless “Buy! Buy! Buy!” blows – and some even appeared to fall under the dubious spell of Lee McQueen.
Seven days ago Lee was “f***ing nailing the blue cactus, man” like a full-on maniac, this time we had the softer focused bully-boy who almost appeared to be shedding a tear as he tried to sell blushing brides-to-be their dream, hugely expensive gown.
All this after selling hundreds of pounds worth of cheap lingerie – or “fongs”, as Lee called them – with a worrying degree of enthusiasm.
I felt sick.
In all fairness, both Claire and Lee did a sterling selling job this week. And Lucinda again deserves plaudits for some occasionally imaginative leadership.
Sad to say Raef was the weak link on team Alpha, even if it was him who pushed for the designer dresses.
Over on the other team, led by the vacant googley-eyed stare that is Helene, all four were weak links. Helene’s leadership was non-existent and I’m not entirely sure she did anything at all during the two-day task.
Her team were not much better. Lynx model wannabe was the most successful seller, but SirA seems to have cottoned on to the fact that Alex is a serial loser (six out of eight tasks) and yet appears to have created a fan club consisting of whoever is his project manager any given week.
Michael was his usual aggressive, arrogant, ignorant, sulky self and undoubtedly deserved to go. He was given yet another final chance by SirA when in truth he has no redeeming qualities and should have been fired weeks ago.
That said, Sara has not exactly been covering herself in glory. Despite being subjected to some horrendous bullying during this series, Sara has singularly failed to walk the walk – even though she is more than capable of talking some kind of talk.
From week one I’ve suspected Sara has fallen into the style over substance trap. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have sufficient style to mask the lack of substance.
So, goodbye Sara and hopefully Michael will follow you next week.
But the biggest loss was our own innocence. Raef’s hair isn’t quite the permanently immaculate conception we had been led to believe.