Blog Entry by Helen Bradley, Managing Consultant, A&DC

I had to watch this week’s episode through my fingers as Lord Sugar’s Rottweilers tore strips off the final five candidates. Stella, Chris, Jamie, Stuart and Joanna had every aspect of their personal and professional lives interrogated. As Jamie put it, “the smallest hole in your CV and they put a stick if dynamite in it and blow it up”. Unfortunately for the hapless five, there were plenty of holes to detonate.

I imagine there was a collective viewer cheer as first to leave the Boardroom this week was Baggs The Brand™. Claude, Margaret and Bordan ripped into Stuart for his ideas, ego, self image and latent lies on his CV. Warming up a bit of Baggs verbal magic he described himself as a “big fish in a small pond”, only to be slapped down by Claude  “you are not even a fish”. However it was Bordan and Alan who finally exposed Stuart’s low Values; Bordan clinically challenging his licencing claims, and Alan highlighting Stuart’s unethical slandering of his competitors. In the Boardroom Alan summed Baggs up nicely, saying “he is prepared to say anything he needs to say to get what he wants”. In an unusual explosion from Lord Sugar he told Stuart “you are full of s***…I don’t believe a word you say. I’m annoyed with myself.” In usual Baggs style Stuart remained in his fantasy world offering a parting shot of, “I’m gutted, I thought I was the perfect candidate for the job”. No you weren’t, you never were!

Joanna the cleaner was second to leave last night, with her head held high and deservedly rebranded as Joanna the business woman. In the interviews Joanna made the fatal mistake of not knowing Lord Sugar’s business.  Bordan called her “unprepared”, whilst Claude described her as being “not very aspirational”. In the Boardroom all four interviewers were extremely complimentary about Joanna, crediting her success in business and the journey she has personally been on (Learning Agility).  However, her business acumen (Intellect) was questioned by Lord Sugar and the interviewers.  Despite this, Joanna left with a ringing endorsement from Lord Sugar, describing her as a “prime example of someone who is prepared to work hard and sling yourself into things” (Drive).

The final firing was Jamie. He demonstrated an interview style that was as poor as his knowledge of London’s waterways. Relying on cliché and repetition he fundamentally failed to show any substance.  Margaret tore him apart, describing him as puerile, and Bordan accused him of “looking for an escape route” from his failing business. In the Boardroom Margaret remained less than complimentary, describing that in his interview he struggled to say “anything”. The other advisors were equally damning. Lord Sugar challenged Jamie’s blame culture for his lack of educational achievement (parents) and business success (partner) (low Emotional Intelligence and Values), ending his Apprentice involvement with the simple statement “I think you have come to the end of the road”. A damp squib end to a weak all round performance.

The Finalists

So it was Stella and Chris that survived to fight one final battle.

Following a composed interview performance Stella was roundly supported by Lord Sugar’s advisors.  Unlike the other Candidates, there were no holes in her CV for Stella to wriggle out of, and she seemed driven and authentic throughout (demonstrating high Values).  When Bordan described her as simply an “admin queen”, the others strongly defended her, with Karren stating that “she is a very professional woman”, Alan describing her as “intelligent…indispensable”, and Nick weighing in with “decent, organised…trust her” (an accolade for sure from Mr Hewer).  Stella, the girl from largest council estate in Europe who left school with no qualifications, has shown yet again that she can make her way up and can be proud to have won herself a place in the final.

Chris found the interviewing process hard.  Claude started by asking if he wanted to do the interview the hard way of have a sensible interview and “you stop the bullsh*t”. Chris made the right call and opted for sensible and honest, giving valid, if monotone, answers.  Chris’s clear strength lies in his Intellect.  However, when Margaret challenged him on being fixated with his intellectual ability, he came back with “I am not fixated…I am proud.” Claude tackled him on a lack of staying power, and Chris retaliated with “the only way I am out of the building is if you boot me out” (showing Drive). Alan focused on his need for recognition, Bordan on his monotonous tone, but Nick stuck up for Chris “he does drone on but he’s intelligent and has an entrepreneurial streak.” Chris’s shrewd, intelligent and confident approach earning him a place in the final two.

So the right two have made it to the final (although would Liz have been there instead if Baggs hadn’t had his way?), and what a final it promises to be.  However, you can’t help wondering whether the decision will in the end come down to ‘fit’; will Stella’s ‘corporate’ approach be her downfall, or will Chris make another so-called ‘shrewd’ judgement that doesn’t pay off this time.  We can’t wait to find out…

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