The Apprentice Week Eleven Review: Interviews
14 December 2017
Photo Credit: Jim Marks / BBC
Every year as I watch The Apprentice, I can’t help but wonder several things: What is that receptionist working on? How do the candidates shower and get ready in twenty minutes? Why is everyone scribbling their business plans down at the last minute? Last night’s episode – the interviews stage – failed to answer any of these questions. What it didn’t fail to do, however, was deliver on sixty minutes of excruciatingly painful job interviews and character assassinations.
What the candidates always fail to realise in The Apprentice is that, if you yawned during a meeting once, they know about it. They will phone your great aunt Betty to find out how “difficult” you are and they fully expect all your former colleagues and employers to dump you in. There’s nothing they don’t know.
Claude Littner rejoined the interviewers this year and was as formidable as ever. Along with Mike Soutar, Linda Plant and Claudine Collins, he ripped apart business plan after business plan; CV after CV, pouncing on any hint of uncertainty or weakness. Several real flaws were exposed: James was fired from his previous role for gross misconduct; Joanna had no product; Michaela owned ten other businesses she seemed to know little about and Sarah’s ecommerce site looked like it had been built by AOL in 1995.
The interviews round is always a stand out in ever series, with tears, stutters and tantrums. Not so for Elizabeth, however, who absolutely gave as good as she got – especially when facing down the formidable Linda Plant. She snapped back and gave clipped, brusque answers, and it was incredibly clear that Linda did not like being treated the way she treated the nervous hopefuls.
Joanna ended up in tears when facing Claudine, and Michaela spent her time gurning and rolling her eyes. James attempted the smooth salesman approach, with limited success, whilst Sarah did a lot of intense staring and nodding. It was all rather cringeworthy, watching grown adults slowly dissolve before your very eyes into a bumbling apologising mess. Joanna wistfully sighed, “They pounce on you and they make you forget your hopes and dreams.” Indeed.
Lord Sugar, meanwhile, kept banging on about the businesses having a USP – but the sad fact was that none of them did. There are already several online florists, novelty sweet shops, workwear retailers, tradesmen directories and recruitment agencies (cough cough).
Back in the boardroom, it was Joanna who was first to bite the bullet, swiftly followed by Elizabeth. I couldn’t help but feel that both women were being punished for having a little fire in their bellies. I was particularly sad to see the latter go, as I had grown to like her a lot.
Michaela’s downfall ultimately came when Lord Sugar decided that her many business ventures would mean she wouldn’t be able to focus fully on his £250,000 offering. It meant that, unbelievable, Sarah and James scraped their way to the final two.
James plans to run a bespoke IT recruitment agency and Sarah intends to offer novelty sweets online. Their fate will be decided during Sunday’s final.
Written By Mary Palmer