The Apprentice - episode 11, reviewed

You wonder what the hell Sir Alan was doing keeping James in this long. Never has one man seemed so stupid compared to so many. Surely, hopefully, pray god, no one this fumbling, vulnerable and idiotic has ever been so close to being employed by a company as powerful as Amstrad. He’s a nice guy, no doubt - but what an idiot.

James’s assertion he could ‘bring ignorance to the table’ didn’t go down well in the interviews with entrepreneurs, the hardcore open bitch-fest and face-to-face character demolishment that was this week’s long overdue episode. (God it was a great episode – finally, finally there are entrepreneurs on TV voicing the outraged spluttering of viewers everywhere.) James's embarrassing inability to provide any reason at all why he should win sealed the deal in the boardroom. (Although you can’t deny the man has a funny way with words: “You’re not reinventing the wheel with me – you might just need to fix a few spokes.” Sweet. But a little pathetic.)

Next to die, Lorraine. Lorraine kind of lost the plot this week. Like – more so than in previous episodes. At one point she actually made out that she had psychic abilities. Real psychic abilities – more than just intuition. “It’s like I can – read people’s minds,” she cooed, creepily, gypsy-esque, unnervingly. Really? Really Lorraine? It was weird. It was awkward. It was hilarious. But it wasn’t business. Understandably, the entrepreneur interviewers didn’t like it. Neither did Alan. Bye bye Lorraine. We hope you find a fairground near you soon to go and set up shop.

With those two out the way, we got down to business. Kate versus Debra versus Yasmina. And it was a close. Really close.

Now there’s no denying Kate’s good – but she’s also pretty up herself. “You’re little Miss Perfect, aren’t you?” said one eyebrow-raised interviewee, looking sceptical and a hint more than mildly irritated. “I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m perfect, everyone’s got their faults,” she responded, unconvincingly. The problem is, perfection isn’t interesting. "I've never met anyone in business who's so robotic," said Sir Alan, raising mild concerns she was 'too boring’. To Kate's assurance she did in fact have personality, Sir Alan replied: "Personality is what opens doors, but character is what keeps them open." A nice, wise little insight into his business savvy.

But the best line of the show came from Nick, never one to dilly-dally, who decided to cut the Kate crap and go straight fo the kill instead: “Maybe she just hasn’t got a personality.” Brilliant.

It seems, though that tedium (in the guise of unflappability and reliability) is what Suralan likes after all, as he fast-tracked her through to the final, leaving Debra and Yasmina: “And there’s really nothing between you two.”

Both had proven their business metal, both knew how to turn a profit and sell hard. Downsides? Debra’s a bitch and Yasmina’s already got her own business.

I suspect the tipping point for Suralan was Yasmina’s explanation of why she was happy to leave her own venture. She said she went straight into running a business after leaving uni (having done a business degree) to learn ‘from the grassroots’ what it was all about. Having done that, she wanted to up her skills under Sugar. It was convincing, and a very good point – you learn infinitely more about business running one than you ever can in some graduate trainee scheme.

It pipped Debra to the post. But possibly not forever – as she closed the door behind her firing, Sir Alan told finalists Kate and Yasmina it could have been ‘the biggest mistake I’ve ever made, letting her go.’ And he told her to keep in touch. This may not be the last we’ve seen of Debra – if she tones down her bitching, we may see her pop up at Amstrad in years to come. And that would really spice things up.

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