WARNING: This blog is for people watching The Apprentice. Contains spoilers!
Read up on episode 10 here.
Wring the sweat from your handshake and the fear from your eye contact – it’s the interviews! In the simultaneously comforting and unsettling tradition of The Apprentice, the semi-finalists must individually face four interviewers who crush their spirits, tear apart their characters and deliberately misunderstand their business plans. Welcome to the city, baby.
Before they have to meet their fate, the candidates have a bit of time to theatrically sweat over some documents. “Come on, Joe, you can do this,” breathes Joseph, poring over a piece of paper. Perhaps he’s trying to fold it up more than seven times. “I’m gonna win, I’m gonna win, I’m gonna win” sings a topless Richard, bouncing up and down in bed like a giant sweaty baby.
The interviewers are introduced. And what a formidable panel they are. Claude Littner – the reluctant egg. Claudine Collins – the character assassin. Mike Soutar – like a sad-looking commuter who somehow finds his way onto The Apprentice every year. And a newbie, Linda Plant – “a very, very shrewd business lady”, according to their lord and master, Alan Sugar.
Joseph Valente shaves his moustache off, scuppering any roles he would be offered post-Apprentice as a wisecracking French/Italian rodent, and goes into his first interview. It’s a tough opening question: “Why does Lord Sugar call you Valentino?”
“I’m a bit of a romancer.”
“I like to think so,” he swallows, looking like there is a gun pointed at where his moustache used to be somewhere out of shot.
“ARE YOU GONNA CRY?” screams Official Tough Woman Linda Plant at Charleine for a bit.
Gary – who, lest we forget, worked at this lovely little place a bit off the beaten track referred to only as “the UK’s largest retailer” for six years – is given an inexplicably hard time for having the audacity to write on his CV how much money and how many people he was in charge of at his last job.
He spends the whole episode attempting to defend his business idea – Celebration Disco (it’s big in the West Midlands) – by trying to explain what a mobile party is. It’s something to do with disco lights and Skyping relatives in Australia, but for £300.
Vana’s idea is the “gamification of dating”. Sexy, huh? Basically, you spend all day playing tedious mobile games against a stranger and if you’re both sad enough to make it to the end of the day, then your opponent’s picture is revealed and you spend the rest of your lives together, happily ever after your Candy Crush Saga-themed wedding.
“You could play a flying game,” Vana says as an example of something you can do on this app, which is called ‘Play Date’ (yes).
“Where you pretend to fly?” asks Collins.
“It’s mumbo jumbo!” cries Claude, when faced with Richard’s business plan for a digital marketing agency. He is back firmly in his comfort zone of looking mildly hurt about people’s CVs and smug about googling Companies House. “It’s like a bad 80s business manual.” Which is surely Lord Sugar’s entry requirement.
In fact, all the interviewers hammer Richard for his nonsensical business plan. It is illustrated with a picture of a mountain and a basecamp. Perhaps he’s trying to emulate last year’s winner, Climb Online, which was some vague digital service that also had nothing to do with climbing.
Plus, it’s very similar to the business Richard owns with his brother. “It’s not unique. You’ve been rumbled,” Soutar barks. “There’s absolutely no rumbling,” whines Richard.
“Is it bullshit? I think it’s bullshit!” cries Plant, triumphantly, as if she’s the first person to crack the secret Apprentice code.
“I think I’m agreeing with you,” sighs Richard.
When the candidates return to the boardroom, Charleine is fired because Sugar and Littner (both visibly experts in hair care) don’t believe her salon franchise would take off. Gary is fired for being corporate but also wanting to plan parties (the liberty!). And Richard is fired for being evasive about the similarity of his business idea to the one he already owns. “Can I just have a straightforward answer?” Sugar asks him. “No,” is the paradoxically honest reply.
So Joseph, who wants to expand his plumbing business, and Vana will be head-to-head in the final. What is more essential to humanity? Having its pipes fixed or finding love? Find out on Sunday.
Candidates to watch:
She’s in the final.
He’s in the final.
They all return for the final and bring back traumatic memories of previous episodes.
I’ll be blogging The Apprentice each week. Click here for the previous episode blog. The Apprentice final airs at 9pm, Sunday night on BBC One.