Apprentice Watch: Watch the girls

With a third of the series gone, it’s time to choose the candidates looking most likely to be Sir Alan Sugar’s winners

By MichaelSophocles, April 16, 2009
Able team leader Debra Barr (centre) could go all the way to the final

Able team leader Debra Barr (centre) could go all the way to the final

It is always difficult to pick the favourites in a fierce competition like The Apprentice. Believe me, there is no set trend when it comes to surviving through to the final weeks. The candidates are subjected to such severe pressure that it can make them behave erractically, with their performances varying from programme to programme.

Making it even more tricky to choose a winner is the fact that you are trying to second-guess Sir Alan and, as he often says, you can never second-guess him.

Still, I will give it a go and select the three candidates I fancy to get to the final act.

Debra Barr possesses all the qualities I despise when it comes to being a success in business. She comes across as a loud control freak who makes no attempt at tact when dealing with her colleagues. For me, winning The Apprentice is not worth sacrificing your humility for, but Debra evidently comes from a different school of thought.

However, although she might ruffle a few feathers in the upcoming weeks, I believe she will progress to the later stages. Her competence as project manager in week three underlined her ability to perform well in the tasks.

But will she win? I doubt it. Not dissimilar to Jennifer Celerier from my group in last year’s series, Debra may lack the level of integrity required for Sir Alan to be convinced she would make a loyal employee. Also, Sir Alan likes an apprentice whom he can mould into someone compatible with the job description. I cannot imagine Debra being the malleable type.

Out of the boys, I see only Philip Taylor doing well. He seems an affable chap and has been the perfect team player so far. His contribution to his team’s success in week three revealed someone who has confidence in his own ability. After all, it was his fitness product that won the day.

Still, project manager is a responsibility that can turn the most professional of people into quivering novices. Until Philip gets to lead a team on a task, the jury will have to remain on its lunch-break over whether he can win. But the omens are favourable for him to finish in the top three.

Yasmina Siadaten understands the simplicity of business. I have never seen a project manager so au fait with what you need to do to win. There is nothing theatrical in the way she gets things done and her motives for being on the show seem entirely genuine. I cannot see her making too many slips or being fazed by stepping out of her comfort zone. Out of all the remaining candidates, she is my favourite to win.

Predicting who is next for the chop is, if anything, harder than selecting a winner. It is tempting to go for the quiet ones. Paula Jones and Noorul Chaudhary uttered barely a word in the first three weeks. Does that make them weak? It could do, or it could be they are sussing out the competition before they make their move. That was the brilliance of Lee McQueen — last year’s winner. For the first six weeks he played the role of the faceless team member. And then, when the rest of us thought we understood his limitations, he blew us away with his charisma and drive.

However, I cannot see Howard Ebison or James Mcquillan getting much further — they are just too insipid. Ben Clarke will do okay, but he has an over-inflated opinion of himself.

But then, I could be wrong. That is the beauty of candidates on The Apprentice — they are all so unpredictable.

The Apprentice is on BBC1 on Wednesdays at 9pm

Last updated: 10:05am, April 17 2009