The Apprentice Final: Review
18 December 2017
Photo Credit: Jim Marks / BBC
After twelve weeks of hard slog, it all boiled down to two (rather tame) candidates: James and his desire to launch an IT recruitment company and Sarah’s repackaged sweets delivery service. For me, neither candidate has shone during the process – James is more famous for that centre parting and Sarah seems to have spent her time nodding furiously without blinking.
The last episode of the series always marks the return of the previous candidates, who are tasked with helping the final two land the £250,000 prize. It’s all a bit high school as they line up, hoping to be spared the indignity of being picked last for the teams. I couldn’t say I was particularly rooting for either candidate, but I was looking forward to the return of Elizabeth, who took her sub-team leadership duties very, very seriously.
Despite the fact that it was the final, no one seemed to have acquired any sense of creativity or marketing skills throughout the process. Sarah wanted an elegant, bespoke sweet delivery service; Michaela, Siobhan and Andrew gave her a tacky Mary Poppins on acid. James spent so long coming up with a name for his recruitment company that Charles ended up dressing up as a lobster in a bid to get their billboard campaign to “stand out”. It did – but only because no one could work out what the ad was actually for.
Arguably, the most intimidating part of the final episode is the pitch, where the finalist must sell their business idea to 250 industry experts and Lord Sugar himself. They’re essentially relying on their team to have come up with an advert and marketing campaign that is credible enough to be desirable. Sarah seemed a little more determined by now, demonstrating more confidence than she has for the whole series. James – the consummate salesman – was smiley and talkative as he pitched his recruitment company with orange branding. I wonder where he got that idea from …
In the boardroom, Lord Sugar weighed up the pros and cons of working with each candidate. Sarah – he said – was a slow burner; someone who took their time and calculated every minute detail. James, on the other hand, was a little more of a risk in a crowded market. He also had no experience of ever actually running his own business.
The final was a rather tame one but, in the boardroom, things started to get a little more heated as James and Sarah got their (lobster) claws out and thrashed each other’s business plans. James insisted that, because Sarah had only made £400k turnover in seven years, that his was easily the safer bet when it came to making money. To be fair, he had a point.
In the end, Lord Sugar capitulated to the ultimate cop out – offering both candidates £250,000 to start their respective businesses. It seemed like a real anti-climax, although I’m sure James and Sarah didn’t see it that way. So, for the first time in The Apprentice history, Lord Sugar couldn’t make a decision. Doesn’t say much about his business acumen, does it?
Written By Mary Palmer