At the beginning of this series of The Apprentice I tried to work out who I thought would be in the final five come tonight’s penultimate episode. After a few tasks slimmed down the field of twenty it was clear to meet that both Mark and Roisin would still be in the process. However, if I’m honest, I felt that they’d be in there with Katie, Lauren and perhaps a big character such as James. As I’ve said before, Lord Sugar’s firing finger has been wielded rather hapazardly this series and it’s clear that he’s basing his decisions on the business plans that we the audience haven’t been privy to. Regardless tonight’s episode saw Bianca, Daniel and Solomon join Roisin and Mark in the legendary interview process as they were all grilled by the now legendary Claude Litner.
After having been in the boardroom four times; I was convinced the only reason Daniel was being kept around was so he could go one-on-one with Claude. However, their interaction was rather tame by Claude standards as he only partially ripped apart Daniel’s business plan, criticising his idea for an online events company. It was clear that Daniel formulated the website idea simply to impress those reading his business plan but it appeared that all he really wanted to do was grow his thriving pub quiz company. But one thing you can say about Daniel is that he’s grown over the process and Claudine Collins was especially taken with him when he told her what he’d learnt so far. Meanwhile, Daniel’s adversary Mark started the day with a grilling from former winner turned successful recruitment consultant Ricky Martin. However, Mark’s day gradually got better and he received praise from Claude of all people when he gave an impressive answer to a tough question.
Whilst I feel the last ten weeks have given me an idea about both Mark and Daniel’s personalities the one candidate I wasn’t so sure about was Bianca. Apart from project managing the New York task; Bianca has mainly stayed in the background and has occasionally made some big blunders. However, with the joint best record in the competition, Bianca has certainly sailed through the process and now had a chance to make her business a reality. It appeared that her skin-tone hosiery brand was well-received by all four interviewers with Mike Souter informing Bianca that a respected fashion edited praised the business plan. But it was when meeting Claudine that Bianca came unstuck as she felt uncomfortable with her personality being scrutinised. In her final interview with Ricky; Bianca broke down in tears after he questioned her charging for services that he offered for free. Although this would’ve been seen as a moment of weakness for some I felt it showed a softer side to Bianca and finally gave the viewers a reason to care about her.
As I’d already mentioned Roisin had been one of my favourites throughout the process due to her gracious manner and basic common sense. But, much like Neil last year, Roisin came unstuck due to the fact that she was moving into an area that she had no experience in. Roisin’s big idea, for a nutritious ready meal that utilised a supposedly unique health food was picked apart by every single person she met. Claude ridiculed her for her projections whilst Mike questioned the uniqueness of the product. After the interviews I wasn’t so certain that Roisin was destined for a place in the final and I was right to have my doubts.
Finally it was the turn of juvenile Solomon, whose business plan was all of about two sides of A4 with sailing boats printed on one of them. Solomon’s meeting with Claude was particularly memorable as the latter praised the fact that the former’s CV and application form wasn’t full of the usual boasting that he sees. However he followed this with a bitter blow as he seemed genuinely insulted with Solomon’s flimsy plan and through him out of the room. A dejected Solomon was so disorientated that he almost chucked himself out of the window when he went for the door.
After the obligatory discussion between Lord Sugar and his advisers it was pretty clear on two of the people who wouldn’t be going into the final. Despite possessing a boundless energy, Lord Sugar felt that Solomon was too immature at this stage in his life to successfully run a business with him. Next to go was Roisin; who made the fatal error of saying she’d use bank credit alongside Lord Sugar’s investment in order to launch her ready meal company. As Lord Sugar was quite proud of the fact that the quarter of a million was all that was needed to start the winners’ business he took Roisin to task and showed her the door. Just like last year, it appeared as if Lord Sugar was having trouble whittling down his final three and I believe he was trying to decide whether Mark or Daniel would make a better finalist. In the end, after much soul-searching, he realised that he couldn’t work with Daniel in the long term but praised the pub quiz impresario for his growth over the past eleven weeks.
I’ve been fairly critical of Lord Sugar’s decision process throughout the course of this series of The Apprentice but his firings tonight all made sense. Solomon’s energy really needs to be harnessed successfully before he goes into business with anyone whilst Daniel was never going to be a good fit for Lord Sugar’s partner. Roisin was the big surprise here but I have to agree that her idea hadn’t been well-researched and that she’d have more luck taking those cheesecakes to market than she would her healthy ready meals. Now it’s down to firm favourite Mark and surprise finalist Bianca and I have to say that I’m finding it hard to call. If you’d have asked me to choose between those two before tonight’s episode I would’ve definitely gone with Mark. However, after having seen a softer side to Bianca, I feel that her more creative idea may win through and she may just convince Lord Sugar to get into tights.
What did you think to tonight’s triple firing? Do you think Mark or Bianca will win?
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