At last we find out what he really thinks of them. It’s fair to say Lord Sugar is never one to mince his words, but in Thursday’s Apprentice special, he was let off his leash to disparage the candidates that got fired and explain exactly why he had to let them go.
And what a therapy session it was. Rather than just call them all schmucks and be done with it, we heard his take on those who had come and gone – Michaela was “a strange one”, Sarjan “you’d think he was Spielberg”, while Bushra “came past her sell-by date” - and saw his response to Joanna questioning whether he was “even Jewish “during the birthday present task – “Oh gawd… where’s she been?”
We enjoyed some behind-the-scenes banter over Claude’s sparkling-water habit, we discovered why Lord Sugar wanted rugelach – “the nicest little sweet Jewish cake,” he said, salivating like a child waiting for kiddush - and we got a whistle-stop tour through the comedy of errors that has been this series. And, should any of you be considering applying next year, we heard a few more of his cardinal rules, including that old chestnut: “follow the money”.
Should Harrison’s warbling at Wembley have slipped your mind, or should you have blocked out Elliot’s robot with the family name and a Hebrew one (RIP Siimon), or had the madness of Elizabeth’s militant march through Bruges escaped your memory, this one-off special was here to help.
Bearing in mind that the series started on Succot and it’s now Chanukah, it did provided a handy primer of the hapless early hopefuls of whom Lord Sugar made short work in those balmy autumn episodes. There was Jeff, thrown under a bus of his own making for his refusal to do the adding up – “I wouldn’t trust you with a Monopoly Hotel” spat Lord Sugar - and the utterly forgettable Danny, who tried to sell burgers at tea time and was swiftly dubbed “dead meat”. There was professional events planner Siobhan, who overpromised and underdelivered, and resident genius Ross, who turned out to be not such a bright business spark.
There was time for a look at Elliot Van Emden’s Apprentice trajectory, brutally curtailed though it was after his robot malfunction. “Elliot being a very intelligent person thought I’ll just stand back and let them mess it up, I won’t be blamed,” sighed Lord Sugar, making clear what he thought of that strategy. But the first of the series’ Jewish hopefuls was ultimately fired, we learnt, because as a barrister “he should have been able to talk his way out of it” (as Lord Sugar, obviously, could have).
The series’ other Jewish candidate, Charles Burns, received no less of a roasting. Having earned Claude’s ire over his rugelach disaster, he was marked for the boardroom for his antics in Bruges – “he took everyone on a wild goose chase,” lamented Lord Sugar – but it was his laid-back attitude that really cost him. “Everybody was working away and he was standing there as an observer,” noted Lord Sugar after the doggy spa task. “The only thing he did do was delegate to everyone else.”
Earlier on, Charles might have talked the boss out of a sacking, but it was week eight and it was time for the chop. “I have to close my eyes and try to envisage these people in business with me,” said Lord Sugar. “I couldn’t see it. It was deadwood time. I don’t feel guilty about it.”
He did express some regret about binning the candidates who made it further along, describing Harrison as a great chap, and betraying a grudging respect for “Miss Bossyboots” Elizabeth. “Working with her is like trying to clean a piranha’s teeth,” he said, but the old softie then kvelled that he rather liked her.
As for James and Sarah, perhaps the two blandest finalists in Apprentice history: “I’d go into business with both of them right now to be honest with you,” said Lord Sugar – but will he still feel the same after one final task?