It all feels a bit too conservative for my liking.

Some might regard SirA’s decision to allow four of the remaining candidates on The Apprentice to go through to the final as a bold and imaginative move, but I can’t help thinking he’s playing it safe.

What it suggests to me is that there is no stand-out personality, confirming that this series has been the poorest in terms of quality of candidates.

The fact that it was only the kooky blonde who got fired after the interview episode reinforced this overall lack of character and charisma in this series.

You could critcise her performance in this series, but at least Lucinda brought something different – a bit of imagination – to The Apprentice. You never accuse Lucinda of being a corporate clone.

The truth is she wouldn’t have fitted well into SirA’s empire, or the businesses run by any of the four-strong interview panel, because of the very traditional and conservative approach to business they represent.

She was not a one-dimensional sales machine (Claire), a corporate drone (Helene), a rough diamond (Lee), or a sulky immature wannabe Lynx model (Alex). As a result she did not fit into the neat boxes that are used to construct the bearded big-little man’s business portfolio.

In that respect, she was an obvious choice to fire. And SirA went for the obvious choice.

So we have four safe, conservative finalists instead of the usual two and the prospect of seeing the two whirlwinds combine and either implode or become a force of nature (Lee and Claire) and the two ineffectual, slippery game players (Helene and Alex) either grind to a stuttering halt or feed off each their bottomless pits of negativity to create something impressive.

The task in the final week is to market a new fragrance for men. On the face it, the challenge is spot on for the wannabe Lynx model.

But we can probably expect a few more twists and turns before one of them gets hired. After all, last week you still felt certain that the insufferable Sophocles would survive as the blue-eyed faux Jewish boy SirA had taken an obvious shine to in previous episodes.

As ever, the interview panel episode was a highlight of the series. The four interviewers effortlessly burst the bubbles of all five remaining candidates, although there was a certain sense of dissatisfaction this time around.

I tend to disagree with one part of Le Craic’s typically enjoyable assessment of the interview episode, namely that it was not entertainment compared to previous task-based shows. It fits perfectly into this light entertainment romp with Paul Kemsley, the property magnate who eats Apprentice candidates whole without them touching the sides, as the star of this particular show – the dissecting of the wannabes was priceless, as was the wink to SirA (a la Lee) as they trooped out of the boardroom.

Again it probably comes down to the editing. But the absolute and unrelenting mauling that Alex, in particular, apparently received from all four interviewers simply was not reflected in their comments to SirA in the boardroom the following day.

That slippery side of Alex’s nature, so obvious in the snide and poisonous remarks and facial expressions he’s pulled throughout the series, obviously came to his rescue in the interviews.

And yet the over-riding impression we’re left with is that of a sulky teenager. He was staggeringly defensive about eveything:

Interviewer: “Hello, Alex isn’t it?”

Alex: “What if it is?”

He carped on about only being 24. His age and lack of experience was an issue and was a surprise – I can’t believe how immature he was for a 24 year-old graduate with a good acamedic background.

The flip side to Alex was Claire and Helene. They both seemed to come through the actual interviews relatively unscathed and yet in the boardroom neither of them got what you would call a ringing endorsement.

The biggest balls-up had to be from Lee. And what I’m talking about has nothing to do with his dinosaur impression.

Lee McQueen:

An amusing pterodactyl:

The decision to embellish his CV could well have got him fired, for sheer stupidity and strategic incompetence. Of all the things to choose to embellish, his academic record was the worst.

It has been obvious since the very first series of The Apprentice that SirA does not give 12 grade A* A-levels for academic achievement, it is only what you’re capable of doing in the “real world” that interests him.

So why choose to tell a fib about your University record? If you’re going to stretch the truth, then at least chose something that will impress your prospective boss.

(Plus the dinosaur impression was crap).

After all the tasks and the interviews, the tears, the tantrums and the triumphalism we are left with four corporate clones, oodles of self confidence, plenty of bluster and shouting, a few vacant stares, petulance, ignorance and conservatism

There’s no creativity, very little common sense, hardly any business acumen and no real favourite.

But all that matters is who wins.

The only certainty is that SirA will get The Apprentice he deserves. 

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2 responses »

  1. Ursula says:

    Paul, do I not just so enjoy your weekly post mortem on the Apprentice. For that reason alone – not to say only reason – shall I regret when it’s all over.

    There is not much to add to what you have said. And yes, to my utter surprise, and I couldn’t agree more with you, I was actually sorry to see Little Red Riding Hood Lucinda leave. She showed real spunk last night. On the other hand, maybe she had a lucky escape.

    As to the interview panel: Excuse my language – but to me they were complete shits. Why be so unnecessarily aggressive? More an exercise in “look at us hotshots”.

    Reading this morning’s tea leaves I predict that next week’s episode will be excrutiating – both in terms of the challenge and the final decision.

    PS Paul: Even Tre sounds completely pissed off by now.

    U

  2. le craic says:

    Thanks for the link back Paul. Yes, Lee was stupid in modifying his CV. They were a little hard on Lucinda I thought and from what you’ve said it’s true that they are all clones and if you don’t fit into the stereotype the only direction is the door.

    I was lucky to get the review up at all. Literally 20 seconds after hitting “post” on the blog entry, the whole town where I lived plunged into darkness!

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