The Apprentice, BBC1

1. (6) Michael. This wasn’t the usual Apprentice; this was the slow death of a young man. As soon as Sir Alan made him team leader, he may as well have handed him a chalice of hemlock rather than the tortuous death he endured over the next couple of days.

However, during his last two days with us he became a hero, a man amongst men. And he achieved this in one simple sentence: “I absolutely abhor cars; they’re absolutely alien to me.”

The only time life inflated his atrophying eyes was when employing his sales speak, which essentially boils down to threatening the victim/customer that to turn down his offer will bring down upon him all the malice and brimstone of Hell.

After he was fired, Michael sat in the departing taxi with the same mixture of resigned indignation and flickering fury as Bob Hoskins in the last reels of The Long Good Friday.

2. (2) Lee. He must have savoured taking on Michael in this task as it resembled King Kong grappling with a despondent string of frogspawn. Next week, he performs an impression of a chimpanzee auditioning for a supporting role in Grease to Paul Nobwit, Sir Alan’s gruff aide whose head looks like a polished testicle.

3. (7) Claire. In the boardroom, she sat quietly on one side assured that she would not be fired as her scarce competence looks down upon Helene and Michael like a hawk spying out a careless leveret.

4. (3) Alex. If he spent as much time on selling his products as he did boasting about his prowess, he could have trebled the £8,000 worth of car rentals he made in spearheading his team’s victory.

Much like Samson’s strength grew with his hair, so Alex’s arrogance seems to grow with his stubble, becoming ever more supercilious. Next week, it’s the interviews so he has a shave.

5. (5) Lucinda. She became such an irritant to Lee and Alex that they abandoned her and tried to extinguish her from their minds with the same forgetful, hopeful disdain as when you feel the first, indelible symptoms of a serious illness that you dismiss because of the horrific implications you’ll have to confront.

She was justly put out after Lee took Alex’s side over whose idea the raffle was. But as the raffle never came to pass anyway (because it was a rubbish idea) she can’t really complain.

6. (4) Helene. Helene is so sapped of life that if she were a fire she would burn in varying shades of grey. She escaped the chop through simply being not as bad as Michael, in the same way Rudolf Hess evaded a firing squad for being not as malicious as his fuehrer. Herr defence consisted of claiming she was “extremely capable” and that she “delivered every year”, which are two phrases seen as rarely outside the self-delusional confines of a CV as a stegosaurus outside a museum.

While she also bleated that she “gave it 100%”. Has anybody yet seen a quantitative measure by which Apprentice candidates can say they’ve given “100%” (or even more in some cases)? There were times when Helene meekly trailed in Claire’s footsteps; surely this has knocked some percentage points off, and what about when they ambled over to Alpha’s sales pitch? Somebody giving 100% would at that stage have been sinking their fangs into city traders’ ankles and claiming they’ve now contracted Hepatitis to prevent them from escaping a sale.

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