Life & Culture

Review: The Apprentice

Man with the plan


Cast your mind back 15 years. Alan Sugar was not then what you would call a national treasure. His reputation was as a belligerent, bad-tempered, hard-nosed businessman who had alienated the fans of Tottenham Hotspur FC for committing the cardinal sin of running the football club as if it were a business.

But then came The Apprentice. Lord Sugar is still belligerent, bad-tempered and hard-nosed but now we all know that he also has the ability to laugh at both himself and all around him.

Anyway, you cannot blame him for being a little grumpy when faced with the bunch of fools who turn up year after year. But this time there was one person with his eye on the prize - a man who knew exactly what this process was about: making a profit for himself. And no it was not the winner, Tom Pellereu, but Sugar himself.

Tom, clearly a nice bloke, had shown himself to be a hopeless team leader and had finished on the losing team an astounding number of times. Nor was his business plan any great shakes. He delivered a proposal which relied for its success on the sale of orthopaedic business chairs without once mentioning the word "chair".

However, Sugar is at heart "a product man" and he loved the fact that Tom came up with inventions - his curved nail file had already made its way into Boots and Walmart in the US.

The other finalists did themselves no favours. Northern Irish chancer Jim Eastwood was labelled "a bit of an ass" by the returning Margaret Mountford. Susan Ma's claim to be able to make £1 million profit in her first year selling skincare products was shot down in flames by Sugar. "Not a hope in hell!" roared Sugar. "Brilliant!" replied the relentlessly positive Susan.

Helen, the front runner throughout the series, was let down by her business plan. She works for Greggs, she excelled in the food tasks but inexplicably her business plan had nothing to do with food but was for a concierge service - rather than baking, it was half-baked.

So it was left to Tom - blinking, unshaven, ever-polite - to scoop the £250,000 investment. I suspect Sugar will have him on the road flogging nail files before the week is out.

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