The Apprentice, BBC1

The Apprentice Chart
1. (2) Sara. Not even distinct enough to the narrator to earn being called by her own name as she and Lucinda were referred to as “the girls”. Although her negotiation technique was praised by Nick, it essentially boiled down to speaking in a more fragmented version of Pidgin English than the vendors and sounding like a Daily Express stereotype of a Bulgarian beggar loitering outside a tube station.

2. (1) Raef. As Alpha ruminated on their tactics, Raef’s suggestion was for the whole team to adopt a Mr Benn approach and dress in Moroccan garb. The upshot was that Lucinda wore a headscarf, some of the time. He then sashayed about the choking streets with the debonair efficiency we’ve come to expect from the man with the mountain-top cabin quiff. He was only rendered speechless when he was offered a cow hide for £15, well below the anticipated price.

3. (3) Lucinda. Nick praised her negotiation skills, but those instances must have been left on the cutting room floor as her most significant contribution appeared to be trailing in Lee’s wake as they sprinted for the tennis racket shop. And then miraculously regrouping just outside so their unexpected encounter with the devious Michael and Jenny Celery could be filmed in all its glory.

4. (6) Helene. Spent much of the time in the back seat of the car looking like a fearsome tree log that Raef had picked up as an impromptu souvenir, and also took a backseat in the negotiations as Raef tested out the potency of a posh English accent on the Moroccan natives.

5. (9) Lee. He managed to overcome his instinctive distrust of Sara and Lucinda (but not enough to not chaperone them round Marrakech), which meant they were subject to his “That’s what I’m talking about”, which he unleashes even if he has kept a stoical silence for the previous 20 minutes.

Jon Culshaw should sleep easily as Lee’s impression of an alarm clock resembled Scooby Doo enduring an epileptic fit, while he also declared his love for a vendor simply because he was Jewish.

6. (7) Alex. A typical Alex day on an Apprentice task goes as follows: Wake up; ruffle hair cynically so it resembles a burning house; begin task by suggesting half-witted plan to succeed; plan fails, find someone to blame; blame someone to the camera when no one else is looking; act shocked at the antics of the other half of the team in an effort to shift blame on to them; in the boardroom act incredulous that he’s sitting there while disgorging a cascade of business clichés; return to house; undermine team mates with opposing team; sleep.

7. (10) Claire. The black-eyed cliché witch was scared of snakes they passed in the Marrakech souk. “If Sir Alan said: ‘Claire, for a million pounds, kiss that snake.’ I’d have to say, ‘I’m sorry.’” Given that what comes out of her mouth is far more baleful and toxic than mere venom, we’d pity the snake.

She then proceeded to display acting of an abysmal standard not seen since Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s fifth columnist departed Hollyoaks in a ‘role-play’ as Alex’s girlfriend, which was so utterly rotten the liaison between every Heat-reading woman’s dream hunk and a woman with such thick skin it could be used to encase erupting nuclear power stations to prevent them exploding their irradiated filth on to the surrounding countryside became the most realistic aspect of the whole sorry vignette.

She also made one of the most arbitrary statements of the series, when she announced, apropos of no personal insight: “I don’t think it’s appropriate to take a chicken into a mosque.” But it’s fine to slaughter it in the street.

8. (5) Jenny Maguire. Her transfer from Alpha to Renaissance nicely corralled the five most appalling candidates into one team, so it was little surprise they were thrashed. In the boardroom, she swung her gun sights around violently as if trying to repel a Luftwaffe blitzkrieg on 1940s London, switching from one bomber to the next. But as soon as Sir Alan effectively cleared her initial target Claire of blame for the failure, her blatant tidal shift towards Michael exposed her desperation and she even resorted to the Big Brother “I’m glad it was me” excuse to disguise incompetence/unpopularity.

9. (4) Michael. Even though he received the Apprentice equivalent of a photograph in The Omen with a foreboding faultline run through Patrick Troughton like a church spire with a replay of his “I’m an extremely arrogant person” diatribe, we were never fully convinced he would be fired. In fact, his diatribe showed just how pathetic he is. While others can bluff about how they are “the best salesperson in Europe”, Michael’s barren imagination is restricted to simply saying how arrogant he is with not even bluster to back it up.

In true Apprentice tradition, he made a frantic plea to be project manager next week, which is almost always a chiming death knell.

10. (11) Jenny Celery. Twisted and turned as she writhed to try and escape the catastrophe of her machinations against Malcolm, and Sir Alan took great pleasure in firing her.

Special mention: Margaret. The Cambridge-educated major-domo of Sir Alan’s quip that “Edinburgh isn’t what it used to be”, to belittle Michael’s suspect erudition, was only amusing to that 1% of the population who indulge in the futile elitism of university excellence bear-baiting, while the rest of us have as close a cultural affinity to such wine-sniffing sabre-rattling as a rural Chinese peasant has to the emperor’s decision to build the Great Wall.

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