The Apprentice, BBC1

1. (2) Raef. Why on earth was Raef fired? Why on earth was the candidate ”par excellence” eliminated when dead wood such as Claire and Alex, who are so rotten even woodlouse wouldn’t vomit mushy pulp into their vacuous craniums, still survive? It’s easy. This week’s episode wasn’t so much a task as a Stalinist purge.

For all his faults, Raef had by some distance the greatest imagination and intelligence of all the candidates. But The Apprentice isn’t about creativity; it’s about “shifting kit”. The advertising task, like in all previous years, is a beartrap designed specifically to snare promising candidates who may have notions of artistry flowing through their veins.

Sir Alan fired Raef over the more culpable and hopeless Michael as this task was his one chance to banish the sole candidate with any ingenuity; Sir Alan knows Michael will err in a future task and so can flush him away then, he couldn’t be certain the same would happen with Raef. This also explains why Sir Alan insisted that Raef be project manager over the pleading Michael.

Of course, Raef didn’t help matters when before going into the boardroom he pledged: “I’m not going to lie and make accusations that are blatantly false!” This was music to his teammates/rivals’ ears as he may as well have transformed into an immaculately presented doormat emblazoned with the legend ‘Please walk all over me’.

However, there is one crime for which the mere penalty of being fired seems to be an outrageous act of clemency. As he and Michael were editing their advert, Raef could be seen fitting/dancing to the music of squalid goblin Ronan Keating.

2. (4) Lee. Early on Lee said: “I am saying things that make me look like a pillock.” This was evidently implanted to reflect later on his cringe worthy presentation, which seemed more inspired by William Burroughs’ cut-up literature than a pallid oratory by Steve Jobs. “We’ve aimed our product at the female genre – the mother community.”

3. (8) Alex. His shift up the chart isn’t any reflection that he’s become any nicer, it’s more of an indication how bad the rest have become. Although for the first time in the series, he was in the right as we shared his bafflement at Lucinda’s puerile attention-seeking.

As he celebrated the victory with Lee picking out suits in a department store he said: “This is the best treat so far!” But how would he know, he’s only won on about one occasion before. It was like Avram Grant punching the air after beating John Terry in a game of snap on the flight back from Moscow.

4. (7) Helene. Her deep, fathomless eyes resembled a pair of alabaster asteroids that have pummelled deep into her face causing the mass extinction of all joy, life and humour.

As Renaissance ruminated on their failure, she boomed: “My performance on this task was absolutely flawless!” Was anyone listening?

5. (5) Lucinda. The Howard Hughes of The Apprentice after she threw a tantrum when the “repulsive” sight of someone blowing their nose appeared on their tissue box. She sounds as if she’s one of those people who takes Immodium before they go to work so they don’t have to suffer the abusive indignity of sharing a toilet with their work colleagues.

To express her baffling disgust she even resorted to the Big Brother ‘I really, really love Vicky/ Jenny/ Sally but…’ when she confided: “Alex is a lovely guy, but he’s useless, he’s worse than useless!”

6. (1) Michael. He and Raef were the focus that one of them seemed to be for the chop (and until it transpired, we thought it would be Michael). During his and Raef’s thespian bluster, Michael let slip a few things, including an impression of Fagin that owed far more to Jewish stereotypes than he had previously exhibited in Morocco, and a hilarious moment when they went for a self-congratulatory hand shake with the refined Raef going for a gentleman’s shake while wannabe gangsta Michael went for a ‘street’ clasp – they actually missed each other, before sheepishly carrying on as if nothing had happened.

But it was later on when his real acting chops came into play when he rounded on Raef claiming all the credit for what was good in their failed advert.

Perhaps his greatest crime was signalling his “penchant” for a Cheeky Girl with all the slavering desperation of a marooned sailor salivating over the dismembered, gangrenous limb of a former shipmate.

Although he ran that misdemeanour close with his mock misery upon returning to the house. “It was a very, very difficult ordeal for me,” he moaned with all the disingenuous spite of Macbeth mourning the death of King Duncan.

7. (3) Claire. Answered the phone in a fashion that resembled an ancient Greek sculpture being exhumed from the Aegean depths after two thousand years of briny erosion.

She was so proud of their tissues she proclaimed: “Cheryl Cole would buy these! Girls Aloud would buy these tissues!” This is akin to a ropemaker advertising their latest noose with the endorsement of a suicidal Fred West giving the thumbs up from behind prison bars.

But she stated that there was “nothing fascinating” about the advert Raef and Michael made, ignorant that the advert was being made to impress Sir Alan Sugar, the adversary of fascination and wonder, and advertising executives who make even the most repellent candidate on The Apprentice seem as beatific as Mother Theresa, indulging as they do in the least imaginative industry on the planet cynically manipulating clueless husks of dead thoughts into gaudy impotent snapshots to impress fools.

The most disturbing element of Claire each week is that Nick and Margaret seem to have joined her fanclub. Yet again one of them piped up to offer her praise, just as in the Morocco and wedding dress tasks. But this proves nothing more than they are oblivious to nonsense – Claire’s ‘presentation’ essentially was formed of repeating the same plastic sentiment three or four times in slightly different language.

She will be the obnoxious one who finishes second as Sir Alan comes to his senses at the last moment and appoints Alex (sadly) instead of her, as it was she who warned that the absence of the product displayed prominently in the advert would cause Sir Alan to rage.

The Tony Blackburn Award for dense detachment this week goes to the burgeoning bluntness of Sir Alan’s right-hand scimitar Nick Hewer and his confusion as to why Renaissance hired Sian Lloyd to star in their advert. “The point of hiring a celebrity is hiring them for what they’re best known at. Sian Lloyd forecasts the weather, what’s she doing here; she’s [acting as] a mother comforting a child!”

Indeed what was ‘celebrity chef’ Jean-Christoph Novelli doing on The Games, what was vapid human condom Victoria Hervey doing on Love Island, and why does Gordon Ramsay appear on Hell’s Kitchen? The barriers between a celebrity’s fame or talent and their appearance on an unrelated programme evaporated a decade ago along with the ITV Saturday evening audience’s cerebral judgement.

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