If you didn't watch last night's episode, look away now. Or, if you want a quick recap (in the manner of Our Graham from Blind Date), keep reading. Helen and Tom versus Jim, Natasha and Susan. PM Helen was brilliant, coming up with a British pie concept. Tom was weird, but funny. PM Jim went for Mexican, took on too much, lost focus, can't lead for toffee and was totally derailed by the bickering between arch rivals Susan and Natasha.
The Mexican takeaway restaurant proved more 'slow slop' than 'fast food'. The pies were a revelation, especially the steak and red wine version (my pool of saliva nearly shorted the remote control). Jim's team lost, Lord Sugar fired Natasha. The end.
So that's my review out of the way. But what happens now? On Sunday, the 'interview' task will see Lord Sugar's cronies pick through the candidates' business plans. The snippets tacked on to the end of last night's episode show that at least one start-up concept is a flop.
This means that despite the fact that Helen is clearly the best candidate so far, she could go out next week just as easily as anyone. WHAT WAS THE POINT OF THE PAST FEW WEEKS?
Chatting to Lee McQueen earlier, I voiced my concerns over this gaping hole in the show's basic premise. "They could have just done the whole 'show and tell' with the business plans in week one," I howled. "It all comes down to that anyway."
"But then we wouldn't have had a show," Lee pointed out with irrefutable logic.
I feel cheated. I feel suckered into caring about individuals, investing my time and vocal cords (don't you shout at the telly?) in an empty show. After all, Lord Sugar isn't looking for an apprentice. This has always been clear. But when it comes down to bare business facts: concept, margins, sustainability, exit, what price is the individual anyway? The damn thing is bound to succeed with a marketing push like this. Oh, calm my cynical inner troll.
This also makes me feel like the whole darn series has been rigged. Perhaps it's no coincidence that Tom has made it to the final, despite only project-managing once and losing 90% of his tasks. Susan has been hammered in the boardroom over and over again and is obviously disliked by her fellow candidates, yet she survives week after week. Could it be that Lord Sugar's already had a peek at their proposals?
It's all moot of course, although I love a good debate. And I'll be watching on Sunday with all of you, albeit with one thing on my mind: what could I have done with the 11 lost hours spent getting to this point?