Every series of The Apprentice has one and the newest candidate for the pantomime villain award really came to the fore in last night’s task.

Stephen did his level best to eclipse the current title holder – known simply as The Brand – with a carefully crafted display of arrogance and ignorance.

The truth is he still has some way to go before he takes over from Stuart Baggs as the most annoying candidate of all time. I also doubt we’ll reach the dizzying heights of the best Apprentice moment ever when Lord Sugar enthusiastically informed Stuart: “You’re full of shit,” and fired him.

Stephen is the new pantomime villain, but is not yet annoying enough to eclipse The Brand.

But Stephen is on course to be remembered for all the wrong reasons and part of me is actually quite pleased that he somehow managed to dodge the bullet last night. At least we get to see him project manage again next week as he threw down the gauntlet to his little lordship, who responded by making it clear that Stephen needs to win next week in order to survive.

Of course, this being The Apprentice, the chances are Stephen will survive – more by sheer luck and the ineptitude of his opponents than skill and judgement – and we’ll have to endure his deluded performance that little bit longer.

If Stephen can count himself lucky to survive, then winning project manager Tom is a close second when it comes to the fluke effect we see so often on The Apprentice. Leading the team for the second week running, Tom once again failed to deliver on the early promise he had shown in this series.

To compound matters, he failed miserably this week in a task which should have been so easy for him. As director of a fine wine company, you would assume he would be able to come up with a fantastic campaign to raise awareness about award-winning English sparkling wine. But, never forget the first rule of life – never assume!

Instead of leading his team to a glorious and comfortable victory, Tom survived the boardroom simply because the opponents were just that little bit more crap.

While his team failed to get to grips with the task, thanks largely to Tom himself missing the whole point of the exercise, the other team stuck closer to the brief but then produced a monumental cock-up in the shape of their Carry On-style video promo.

There was not much fizz or sparkle on display last night from any of the candidates

No wonder Tom decided he was better off getting drunk with Adam rather than doing any actual work. When he did enter the fray for the pitches, he bored everyone within earshot with his knowledge and proved he didn’t have a clue what he was supposed to be doing – the vacant stare Tom has perfected has to be a real worry for Lord Sugar now.

Adam once again proved how out of his depth he is…this time he seemed happy enough to be awash in wine and sparkling plonk and then did his usual pointless “I’m the choreographer” stuff on the video shoot which left everyone bemused.

An honourable mention should probably go to Gabrielle – although I’m still fascinated by her penchant to walk around with her hands behind her back. She at least showed a glimmer of promise with her elegant logo design.

Yet it says everything about The Apprentice that this review centres around the one that should have got fired but escaped and why the so-called winning team discredited the whole series by being allowed to get away with ignoring the brief completely.

Lord Sugar would be advised to declare this type of task null and void in the future – neither side deserved to win, so get them all back in the boardroom and fire a few, not just one. That would shake things up and if his little lordship did it with his usual bluster and bullshit then it would also provide far more entertainment than we are being served up at present.

The Apprentice hasn’t fallen flat just yet, but it is losing its sparkle.

Not even the pantomime villains will be enough to save it if we keep getting such woeful performances.

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