The job interview from hell, for the viewers rather than the candidates, is almost over for this year at least.

Old Man Sugar won’t have resorted to some old-style fortune telling to decide who will be The Apprentice.

He would have known from very early on in the selection process who was likely to make it this far, or at least he would have got his minions to pick out one or two likely lads or lasses. He wouldn’t have left a £100,000-a-year job to chance, would he?

Sorting out the weak from the chav has been quite an arduous task – for us, the viewers – and there’s been a few surprises (most of them unpleasant) along the way. Last week’s assassination by CV and interview threw up a few more unexpected twists and turns.

For the rest of us lesser mortals, a bit of crystal ball gazing has been inevitable and not exactly easy this year. That is mainly due to the poor quality of the candidates.

Back in March I wrote a piece ahead of the start of this series of The Apprentice, trying to pick some potential finalists and possibly a winner from a single quote that appeared on the BBC’s site.

Here’s my efforts, firstly for the four finalists:

Lee McQueen –

“If you missed something in the earlier part of your life, you’ll find it again before your time is up.” – Quite prophetic, an early bath awaits as does the motivational speaker circuit.

Helene Speight –

“I don’t have regrets. I do what I do and deal with the consequences.” – Katie reincarnated, quite possibly a serious contender and capable of upsetting everyone with a single stare.

Alex Wotherspoon –

“I expect people to obey clear instructions. If this doesn’t happen I become annoyed.”– Will probably take this year’s Rory ’I am your boss. I am your boss’ Laing award for the most ineffectual project manager.

Claire Young –

“I’m just as happy watching the rugby in the rain as I am sipping champagne.” – Inoffensive, talented, hard-working, lots of fun and energy but probably just too nice to be The Apprentice.

Well, I was clearly wide of the mark on a few of them.

I obviously got Claire all wrong – she proved very offensive at times, limited in her talents beyond selling and jabbering, not much fun and not nice in any whatsoever. We keep hearing how she’s learned from the grilling she has received from SirA in the boardroom, but I’m not convinced and think she’s merely playing a canny game.

Mr Shouty didn’t have the early bath I thought he would, but I can see Lee on the motivational speaker circuit with loads of grey-suited, bright tie wearing middle-managers hanging on every word of whatever he’s talking about – even if it is utter crap.

Alex has been largely ineffectual, despite his appearance in the final. He’s been more inclined to strike a pose, stick the knife in and generally sulk like a petulant teenager – not quite any “I am you boss” moments, but that is mainly because he’s done a great job of shirking responsibility.

As for Helene, she does have a stare to chill the blood but she isn’t quite in Katie’s league in any respect. If Alex has been ineffectual, then Helene has largely been anonymous unless she’s fixing someone with that unnerving stare or spewing some poisonous bile as she sees someone getting bullied and wades in.

The four finalists are without doubt the safe, conservative choice. Each and every one is a corporate clone, the only truly likeable candidate (Simon Smith) never really had enough to mount a serious challenge and the only genuine individual in this whole sorry bunch (Lucinda Ledgerwood) was far too much of a risk for the sober-suited business types to stomach.

So what of the has-beens and never-were-likely-to-be’s who fell at the wayside?

Again, my predictions proved a pretty mixed bag:

Raef Bjayou – “I am a terrific conversationalist and raconteur with stories to tell…” – Loves the sound of his own voice, even if he hasn’t got anything worth saying.

Jenny Celerier – “If you’re sitting on the fence, you’re taking up too much space.” – Queen of the Cliche who was swallowed every modern management textbook known to man or beast but hasn’t got a clue.

Nicholas de Lacy-Brown – “My father fought the hurdles of his working class upbringing to provide me with privileged education and luxury.” – Insufferable snob completely out of touch with reality who will impress Sir Alan with his class credentials but won’t actually offer anything worthwhile.

Sara Dhada – “I’m a true example of pure class and elegance. I don’t try to be glamorous – I’m just naturally like that.” – Will need to work very, very hard to avoid an early exit as she’s already fallen into the trap of style over substance.

Lucinda Ledgerwood – “I push boundaries in both personal and professional senses and enjoy being out of my comfort zone.” – Sensible, pragmatic, a team player and completely out of her depth.

Jennifer Maguire – “I can sell anything. I can sell pieces of paper for £50 and making a living out of it.” – Will probably do well as Sir Alan’s loves an out-and-out salesperson, but possibly too one-dimensional.

Lindi Mngaza – “I have Royal blood. My nickname amongst my friends is African Princess as I am a Royal descendant.” – Strong-willed, bloody-minded, highly competitive and probably just a little too immature to progress to the final selection.

Kevin Shaw – “I will take no prisoners in the boardroom and will nail anyone who gets in my way.” – You’re fired!

Simon Smith – “I’m too soft at times – I fall for the little old lady factor.” – Most likely to take on the Simon Ambrose mantle of ineffectual charmer and dark horse for the glittering prize.

Michael Sophocles – “I am single minded and will manipulate others if necessary to get to the prize.”– Could be this year’s goldmine of Tre-isms and antagonism, or will disappoint enormously and fade quickly.

Ian Stringer – “There are two kinds of people in the world. Winners and… I don’t know how to spell the other word. I can’t say it…” The word you are looking for is ’loser’.

Shazia Wahab – “I’m a stubborn cow who wants to have the last word.” – A stubborn cow who will always try and have the last word, even when confronted by Sir Alan in the boardroom. A definite maybe.

The BestsalespersoninEurope was very one-dimensional, but failed to impress SirA. Equally, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown was an “insufferable snob completely out of touch with reality” but he didn’t impress SirA at all and was first to hear those dreaded words: “You’re fired.”

I was disappointed that Shazia didn’t put up a better fight and still believe Simon could have been the apple of SirA’s eye if only he had been more effective in the boardroom.

But, on the whole, I’m quite pleased with my efforts – not nearly as smug as Michael, or self-absorbed as Raef, or misguided in my own ability like Kevin – but happy enough all the same.

I think I was fairly accurate with my predictions about Jenny the Chin (no-one could have predicted she would have been quite as vicious as she turned out to be), Sara the pocket psychotic, Kevin, Michael, Ian the Loser and Raef and his immaculate hair.

Having said all that, I really can’t pick a winner.

But, then again, I still don’t care enough to try. 


One response »

  1. […] crown as his Apprentice. But before all that, you get one final pre Apprentice show Apprentice bits.Paul Groves looks back over this series ahead of tomorrow’s show and can’t pick a winner. Not because he […]

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