Young Apprentice finale review: Maria Doran, Lucy Beauvallet, Ashleigh Porter-Exley and Patrick McDowell compete to win in the series final

by Matt D

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So we’re already at the end of the Young Apprentice which, for me at least, hasn’t been a classic series though it has been one that has featured the Wetsuit Kimono, a chaotic Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and us all finding out what votives are. We’re now down to the final four with the only male contestant being flamboyant fashion designer Patrick who has somehow made it into the final despite not once showing a flare for business. His partner for the final is Maria the Irish firecracker with a penchant for blue neck scarves and is somebody who has grown a lot over the contest. They are taking on softly-spoke yet resourceful Lucy and Ashleigh who is seemingly getting progressively Northern as the series continues.

Tonight’s final saw the teams meet Lord Sugar at White Hart Lane, presumably because he wanted Tottenham Hotspur to get a bit of publicity, where he informed them that they would be producing a new brand of sportswear and presenting it at an event in Manchester. As is the tradition for any Apprentice final all of the previous candidates returned to help out, or in some case sabotage, their former rivals’ plans. In a way I found that the former candidates’ presence was almost like a bit of a Mufty Day as they generally offered bad suggestions and but doubt in the minds of the finalists as they knew whatever they did wouldn’t impact on them in anyway. Taking the train on the way up to Manchester, Lucy and Ashleigh quickly decided to go with streetwear as their theme based on the fact it’s what people of their age wear but based on the other team what people their age wear is fetching scarves or bejewelled collars. Talking of Maria and Patrick they were struggling to agree on a theme with Patrick suggesting streetwear but Maria using her passive aggressive nature to push a cycling idea through. As Nick Hewer suggested it was Maria who was leading the team however it was hard to take him seriously as he was hanging about by the train toilets presumably because he was dying for a wee.

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Once in Manchester it was time to carry out the last bout of market research for the series as Ashleigh visited a group of free runners who wanted her to create a brand of sportswear that felt unique and wasn’t just trying to fit in with the street ideals. The very chatty street representatives continued to tell Ashleigh that they wanted a brand that supported people that do while Karren Brady urged her to listen to the experts. It was just a shame that Lucy wasn’t in a very creative mood and the names they came up with weren’t great but in the end the decided on Release with the very promising tagline ‘Strive, Emerge, Achieve’. To be fair to the girls Maria and Patrick’s names weren’t that great either and included Rusty Chair and Puncture, which both sound like rude things you could do in the bedroom, but in the end they went with the simple CyC. Their market research was also pretty amusing as Maria took half of her team into a cycle shop were they grilled the middle-aged owner about the sort of demographic that goes cycling with the Irish firecracker telling him that she wanted to avoid appealing to people going through a midlife crisis.

The difference between the teams started to be revealed once the brand identities started to emerge with Lucy’s design for the Release brand being a simple ‘R’ while Maria’s Cyc seemed awfully complicated. Meanwhile Ashleigh and Patrick had been tasked with organising flash mob style advertising campaigns for their respective brands and to me it seemed that the former had been given the unfair advantage in regards to equipment. Ashleigh’s campaign, filmed in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens, had a professional camera crew and an accomplished street dance crew who were accosting passers-by before attempting to cajole them into joining them. At the beginning of this shoot Karren Brady was sceptical but as the day wore on it appeared that even she was won round by the enthusiasm of the dance crew and was attempting to cut a few shapes of her own. Patrick meanwhile wasn’t afforded the benefits of a film crew and had to rely on the permanently unreliable David to hold the camera, which he seemed to struggle doing, while Patrick himself enjoyed using a megaphone during the shoot. Patrick’s ad featured a choir, which he had hired behind Maria’s back, belting out a Lady Gaga megamix to unsuspecting shoppers at the Trafford Centre. The use of the choir had been a bone of contention between the co-project managers with Maria launching a very Irish tirade at Patrick who attempted to defend his actions however by this point she’d already resigned herself to being fired. Maria’s scepticism was founded as I had no idea what the choir had to do with a new young trendy cycling brand while in comparison Ashleigh’s ad fit exactly within the market that the girls were going for.

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The day of the pitch came and for both teams an opportunity to flog their products in front of an audience of industry experts and bizarrely Rio Ferdinand who looked totally bemused during both pitches. Cyc’s pitch started with a scene straight out of a workout video before Maria and Patrick introduced ‘Ben’ a fictional student who was part of their key demographic namely a 22 year old penniless student who wanted to look good and save money. The audience’s question rightly focused on the connection between the advert and the product as well as someone cleverly pointing out that Patrick and Maria had essentially nicked the Wimbledon colours for their brand logo. Again Asheligh and Lucy’s pitch seemed to flow better, though they never seemed quite sure on the ethical nature of their brand, and their opening show was also more spectacular featuring a unicyclist and several street dancers as well as an oddly placed traffic cone. Even though Lord Sugar went through the motions in the boardroom, including saying that he had a hard decision to make, it was clear from the moment that the teams were put together that Ashleigh and Lucy would be the two proper finalists. In a way I think it’s a shame for Maria, who has improved as a candidate throughout the course of the series, however I don’t think it would’ve been right had Patrick advanced any further in the competition.

As regards who wins the series I’m still not sure as Lord Sugar, Nick and Karren had reasons for both to become the victor. Ashleigh was described as loud, passionate, driven and resourceful while Lucy was seen as being quieter but more creative as well as being able to bring a team together better. Personally I think it will come down to what the girls plan to do with the money, as I reckon Zara’s practical use of her prize won her the contest last year, though I think the right two people are in the final. I would’ve said Ashleigh was the favourite as I see her as the more resourceful and money-minded of the pair and those are both qualities that Sugar likes in a winner. Lucy though has been the dark horse of the contest and it wouldn’t surprise me if she won however I’m not sure if Sugar would give all of his money to someone who is described as an ‘aspiring lawyer.’ Whatever the result for me this has been an entertaining if not entirely memorable series of Young Apprentice and I thank all of you for reading and commenting on my reviews.

What did you think to Release and Cyc? Who do you want to win? Leave Your Comments Below.