Sunday, 19 December 2010

The Apprentice 2010: The Interview Week

I'm the sort of person who gets asked for help by people trying to fill in job applications.  I'm not sure why, as it's something I'm resoundingly hopeless at (I have this awful fear of accidentally telling lies and then ending up out of my depth in a job, and therefore refuse to put down anything beyond "I'm fairly smart and quite like reading").  I'm also, I think, not that great at interviews, although I have, several times, been offered a job on the strength of the 15 minutes of blushing, sweating and stammering which filled the time until I could flee.  I sometimes worry about the job offers I receive.  Most of the time, I wouldn't employ me, based on my interview performance.

Anyway, this is all by way of introduction to this week's episode, for herein we see our 5 remaining candidates (Jo, Jamie, Stella, Chris and Hairbaggs) being forced to sweat it out and tell the actual truth about their abilities (so far, in order, we have seen the ability to flog 10000 packets of honk-flavoured crisps to a single German guy, an impressive knowledge of facts about mass-murderers, being Quite Good at taking charge of a team of boys, lots of mediocre, and a not-entirely-dreadful Terminator impersonation).

We start off with shots of them all in bed (different beds, it's not Big Brother), and a quick glimpse of Hairbaggs' tootsies.  They're all getting nervous, but the cars will be here in half an hour to take them to Viglen, or Vigilen, or Vilgen, or something.  They all have a good laugh at Jamie's tie, and off we go.  While they're in the cars, we hear more about why they should all get the job, and the music switches, appropriately, to something a bit more doom-and-gloom.

They reach Viglen and stand half way up the stairs, awaiting Lord Shugagh's arrival in the elevator (I think the elevator must be like the one in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, which can go anywhere, because no matter where they are, he always seems to arrive by elevator), while Nick and Karren watch from above.

The 4 people who have been charged with whittling us down from 5 to 2 are Claude (Grumpy Cop), Alan (Bad Cop), Bordan (not a cop) and the Blessed Margaret Mountford.  Please pause for a small bow of the head.

Obviously the one we've been waiting to see is Hairbaggs (and I think it's fair to say that the producers are as keen on a train wreck as the next person, given that they let him get this far), but the others throw up a few gems as well.

Sitting in front of Mount Margaretford, Jamie dares to smirk slightly.  She flicks through his CV and starts reading extracts:
"The question asked 'What's the most interesting thing about you?' and you put 'I owned a porche and a house and a big load of stuff* before the age of 25, and I have a third nipple'..." (Jamie laughs) "...and then two pages further on 'What's the worst lie you've ever told?' - 'That I have a third nipple'."  By the end, she's distinctly snarling, and yet Jamie goes on smirking.
Margaret: "  Is that supposed to be funny? Think of a word that applies to that"
Jamie (suddenly serious): "Stupid"
Margaret: "Puerile"
(* slight paraphrase)

He tells the sob story about how his parents didn't push him, and that's why he got pants grades at GCSE.
Bordan interrogates him about his playing fast-and-lose with the definition of 'selling', since he hasn't actually 'sold' things as such for quite some time.  Jamie blames it all on his ass of a business partner and also the recession, and Cyprus.

Stella's not going down without a fight, and immediately disagrees with Alan, who wonders why she's having a change of career.  Claude calls her a 'very very good PA' and she nearly decks him.  And... that's about it.

Bordan starts by asking what job Joanna thinks she's applying for.  "Do you mean, wot duz Lord Shugah do in this Vig-i-len?" "Viglen" "Oh, yeah, Viglen".  She stammers something about selling computers to schools, and other than that doesn't have the faintest idea, much like the rest of us.
Claude's a bit cross with her for letting her cleaning business be enough to 'get by', instead of being a megalomaniac big corporation, and she looks like she might cry.

Chris has claimed to be a "revered and outstanding Theology scholar", and impresses himself even more because he's not even remotely religious.  Margaret pokes a bit, and we establish that he means he's done all right in A-Level RE, and sometimes talks God after a few drinks.
Claude is more concerned that Chris changed courses at university, and that he thinks you have to be a lawyer if you do law, and then he did politics and didn't become a politician, and then become an investment banker and gave it up after 9 months, and is therefore obviously a quitter.  It's all a bit ridiculous - how many of us don't know someone who changed course at university once they realised the variations in the number of lectures for different courses, and discovered the student union?

Stuart seems to alienate the interviewers as quickly as he did the rest of the nation.  On walking into the room and seeing Margaret, his little face lights up. "Margaret!" he exclaims, only to be flattened immediately for his impertinence. Undaunted, he goes on to tell her about a thing he has invented that she can stick to her cat when it goes to Bermuda, or something.  She does not look impressed, but he says he'll work 24/7 and give 110%, without irony.
Alan gets straight in there: "You're not very nice, are you?".  He then goes on to list all the ways in which Hairbaggs is not very nice, and it is lengthy.  Baggs explains how he is a character of integrity, which seems something of a contradiction when he's just admitted falsely announcing to the newspapers that a rival company has gone bust, but then he gives an example: if he's up for promotion, against 3 other people, he'll tell the boss how rubbish the other 3 are.  Ah, THAT definition of integrity.  Alan's face is like a bulldog's bum chewing a lemon-and-poo-flavoured wasp.
The conversation with Claude cannot be easily summarised, so here it is:
Claude: 'I'm Stuart Baggs the Brand'... what on earth are you talking about?
Claude: You're a 21 year-old kid, you're not a brand.
Baggs: a brand is... err...
Claude: Don't tell me what a brand is. You are not a brand.
Baggs: I think I might be
Claude: Why does someone as successful as you want to work for Lord Sugar?
Baggs: At the moment I'm a big fish in a small pond
Claude: You're not.  You're not a big fish.  You're not even a fish.
Bordan asks about Baggs' 'fully licenced' telecoms company, which turns out to be a broadband provider.  He does have a licence, much in the way I have a TV Licence; i.e. bought from the Post Office.  There's a little light-hearted banter about how much they love technology, and then Bordan sticks the knife in again and makes Baggs admit he's been lying.

At some point in the above, I got confused about who was Claude and who was Alan, by the way.

Back to the boardroom, where the interviewers give Lord Shugagh the rundown, while the candidates wait outside and look nervous (if I was the mysterious Hand Who Answers The Phone And Sends Them In, I'd have suggested a game of Pictionary, I think).  They all liked Joanna; thought Chris was monotonous;  found Jamie a bit dull and full of cliches (we see a snippet of him going on about being a key cog in a wheel, and making no sense whatever); worried about Stella being corporate and good at admin (because those are things you'd run a mile from in business); and had a good slagging off of Stuart's ponciness.  Then Bordan reveals the Big Lie About The Telecommunications Company, and that Baggs has nothing Karren couldn't get.  Ooooh.  Things have turned against the Hairbaggs.

So they all get trekked back in to the boardroom.  We talk about Chris' academic record, and his obsession therewith, and then there's a bit more about why he dropped out of law.  Oh, shut up about that, nobody cares.  Something else about Stella being all corporate.  Blah blah blah.  Onto Joanna, and a bit more about her not being a megalomaniac and expanding her cleaning business to take over the world.  Jamie has another whine about his business partner doing no work.  It feels like one of those moments where a small child comes up to you and starts on about how another kid took the lorry off him, and you just can't really bring yourself to wade in and sort it out, but he's only 2 and can't do it himself.

On to Stuart, who admits the process was tough.  He then lies again about the licence.  AND GETS FIRED!  Even more gloriously, Lord Shugagh actually loses it a little bit, and shouts at him.

Two more to go, and, to cut a long story short, it's Joanna and Jamie who get the chop.  He's nice to Joanna, who cries, and not quite so nice to Jamie, who's still smirking.

So the final, tonight, is Stella vs Chris, with everyone else back to help.  Hurrah!  My money's on Stella, but I'm not without hope that Melissa and/or Baggs will somehow clinch it.

No comments: