‘The Apprentice’: 2011 finale preview

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It’s been a difficult few years for The Apprentice. When the show began in 2005, the UK was a financial goldmine – we’d sit down by the TV, glugging champagne by the bottle as Sir Alan made one of his now-infamous boardroom puns. We’d take our heads out of the bucket of caviar just in time to see one of Nick’s disapproving looks and Margaret… ah, Margaret… where to begin with Margaret?

In 2011, however, the relationship between viewers and The Apprentice is a very different affair. The small matter of that ‘credit crunch’ thing has resulted in the public seeing rich people in an entirely different way, spitting at the screen at the slightest hint of a pin-striped suit. In recent years the show has made an effort to pander to us commoners: the coffee shop looks dirtier, Lord Sugar’s cheeks somehow look jowlier, and that sexpot Margaret has been replaced with old straight-off-the-street Karren Brady.

But has it worked? Ahead of Sunday’s finale, here we take a look back at some of the highlights from this year’s series, going on to hedge our bets for the ultimate winner.

#3: Edward ‘Don’t fit the mould’ Hunter

It’s probably best to start at the beginning, and you can’t get closer to the beginning than first-fired Edward. Not only the youngest in his team but ‘also the shortest’, this self-proclaimed ‘wheeler dealer’ could have been the Stuart Baggs of Series 7, brimming with confidence and enough cheesy one-liners to put Ken Dodd to shame. He learned a hard lesson, however, finding the wrong side of Lord Sugar with his boardroom semaphore straight off the bat.

#2: Vincent and Jim’s bromance

Ah, to be young and in love… Vincent arrived on our screens looking cocksure and strangely like a Musketeer, distracted only by the occasional shiny surface he happened to pass by. The true love story of this series proved to be the bromance which emerged between Jim and d’Artagnan, a love which would be tamed by no mountain, no valley and, ultimately, no boardroom. Vincent’s puppy dog loyalty for the Northern Irish charmer proved to be his downfall, leading to one of the greatest double firings in the show’s history.

#1: Tom ‘Didn’t Christopher Columbus discover the potato?’ Pellereau

How Tom is still in the running for the coveted partnership position is beyond us. Having lost almost every week, the inventor has bumbled his way out of one firing after another, staggering out of the boardroom like he’s just tiptoed through a minefield. However, there’s been something hugely entertaining about watching the ‘nice guy’ of the series manage to find his business legs, and while he’s more of an ash-coloured donkey than dark horse, it would be amazing to see him take the final prize.

So who will become Lord Sugar’s business partner?

In all likelihood Helen. The law graduate has won ten tasks out of eleven, having a hand in securing two or the biggest purchase orders that the boardroom has ever seen. It’d be surprising to see Jim suddenly be welcomed into the arms of the people who have so constantly criticised his gift of the gab and Susan’s been a dead woman walking for about five weeks now.

The only hope is that Tom will come through in the final moments and take the prize, not just for entertainment’s sake but for his own – it’s far too easy to imagine that ‘nice guy’ wrapped in blankets on a Tube station floor in six months time, creating ‘inventions’ by pinning two fag ends together with a matchstick: “See, now here’s an idea… if we put one cigarette inside the other…”

But to be honest, the result means nothing. The important thing about Sunday’s two-hour finale is that we get to see Margaret interviewing candidates. Margaret.

> Buy The Best Of The Apprentice on DVD on Amazon.

Watch the trailer for the 2011 finale…