Apprentice Watch: Drama at last as the best two go through

By MichaelSophocles, June 4, 2009
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Kate and Yasmina, clearly delighted to have made The Apprentice final

Kate and Yasmina, clearly delighted to have made The Apprentice final

The interview round — my absolute favourite. I used to love watching the candidates who made it that far being torn to shreds by Sir Alan’s henchmen, or saving themselves through their communication skills alone.
And as a candidate myself, I regarded the tasks as a mere build-up to the moment when I would come face-to-face with an inquisitor and put my professional and personal life on the line.

So you can imagine how my heart sank when I was shown the door by Sir Alan Sugar the week before the interview stage. Agonising. I distinctly remember watching the TV filled with envy and contempt for the remaining candidates for getting through to the round I was so desperate to take part in. This may sound conceited, but without my own controversial self I felt the episode was flat and
uninteresting.

The great thing about this stage is that the majority of the general public can empathise with the candidates. Anyone who has ever been interviewed for a job will know that it can be a terrifying ordeal, although most employers will not interrogate as ferociously as The Apprentice’s questioners.

So I was eagerly anticipating this week’s episode. I wanted to see nerves, uncomfortable silences, emotion, retaliation and most importantly tenacity and determination from the final five. To say I was not disappointed would be an understatement. I was transfixed throughout what could easily be the best episode of the series so far. I have said all along that this bunch of candidates has been the most competent of all five series, but that they were lacking in charisma. Well, at last they served up the drama we have been waiting for. The interviews were as nerve wracking as ever. James — the only guy left in the running — crashed and burned under the sheer pressure of being assessed. But it was the boardroom that brought a tear to my eye. I have never seen Sir Alan find it so hard to pick his two finalists. In any other series, both Debra and Lorraine would have got there, and it was heartbreaking seeing them lose out on a life-changing opportunity. Debra in particular, despite her flaws, is a candidate who could have easily gone on to win.

But Yasmina and Kate have been excellent right through the process, and both are highly credible contenders for that job with Sir Alan. I have always championed Yasmina’s cause. She owns her own business and won both her tasks as project manager. Sir Alan likes someone who shows initiative and self-belief, someone who is not afraid to take risks.
Kate lacks a certain edge, but that in itself may ultimately be an advantage.

It is going to be awfully close, but my pick for the Apprentice crown has to be Yasmina.

The Apprentice, BBC1, final on Sunday at 9pm

    Last updated: 2:28pm, June 4 2009