Never in the field of human history has it been so clear from so early on who was so going to win The Apprentice. Or so we thought, until that week when Helen screwed up the whole 'flogging tat' thing, and blew the field wide open. I feel I have inappropriately mixed some metaphors there, so let's move on.
Well, we've come so far, and we've reached so high, we've looked each day and task in the eye, and now... well, now it's the final. The remaining candidates, for those who have saved the space in their brains for actual useful information, are Jim, Helen, Lovely Tom, and Susan. Of course, here at WhyNotSmile, we're rooting for Lovely Tom, although we would like to marry him, so we don't want him to be too busy. We are not fond of Susan. Other than this, we do not mind.
Not 2 minutes after we left them at the end of last week, the phone rings in the house, and Lovely Tom answers, and is told they have 48 hours to get their business plans together. Now, you and I would have put the phone down, pretended it was a wrong number, and then sneaked off to get the upper hand, but Lovely Tom is not the mercenary type, so he tells the others, and they all start scribbling numbers in little charts, and saying how great their business ideas are.
48 hours later, they're all snazzed up and off to some hotel/posh place somewhere with their little folders under their arms. Ridiculously, they still seem to be acting as if they're in teams, with Lovely Tom and Helen in one car, and Jim and Susan in the other. They hand the folders over to Nick and Karrrren, and then go and sit in the foyer. Susan is talking like mad, and I imagine they all want to hit her. Helen is cool, calm and collected, so equally irritating. Jim and Lovely Tom seem to be sweating like mad, and trying not to throw up. We like them.
We meet the 4 people who're going to interrogate them about their business plans. There's Nasty Claude, who, as one commentator pointed out, is so evil that if you cut him, he'd bleed spiders. There's lovely Margaret Mountford, she of the raised eyebrow. There's someone called Mike, who has something to do with "the free magazine industry", and someone called Matthew, who looks about 12. I'll probably get those two mixed up.
So, how do they all get on?
Margaret is astounded at the length of Jim's application form, and at the percentage of it that's almost entirely crap, which is quite high. Jim talks entirely in cliches, which annoys Margaret a lot. She asks him to describe himself without using cliches, and he says he's "exactly what it says on the tin". *facepalm*
Jim's business idea is a bit weird. It's all got something to do with going into schools and encouraging children to be entrepenurial. He thinks it's amazing, brilliant, impactful and unique. He hasn't actually asked anyone else for an opinion yet, because that would take too much time and effort; but he thinks it's class, which is the main thing.
Nasty Claude thinks Jim is making stuff up, because he's not earning as much as Nasty Claude thinks he should be, which is a strange argument.
When asked to summarise her business plan succinctly, Susan jabbers out that she wants to scale up her market stall to global levels and make lots and lots of money and sell skincare to all manner of people and have a really nice time making all this money and making people all happy because they have nice skin and they love that they bought her products. It is the very opposite of succint. It seems that she thinks 'succinct' means 'really really fast'.
Margaret gets all interrogatory about how Susan paid her workers in cash, and therefore didn't pay any tax. Oooooohhh, sneaky.
The essential problem with Susan's business plan is that she seems to think that if one market stall can sell £1000 of stuff in a day, then by having 7 market stalls she could sell £7000 of stuff in a day, or with 178 market stalls, she could sell £178,000 of stuff in a day.
Matthew asks Susan about whether it's ok to just lump a load of chemicals into a bottle and then flog it to unsuspecting passers by. Did the man not see the fast food task?
Helen's business plan is largely to have a nationwide chain of people to book your dental appointments and wait for your Tesco delivery to arrive. She somehow gets into a row with Matthew over whether a dentist does or does not text one to remind one that one is due a checkup; then she admits that she doesn't really know anyone who could book you a dental appointment anyway.
Mike takes a different approach, and asks Helen to tell him a joke. Man, they are testing ALL the key business skills in this one. Eventually she comes up with "A fish swims into a wall, and says 'dam'", and makes it sound even less funny than it actually is, which is pretty darn unfunny.
Tom's first interviewer is Nasty Claude, who opens with "Would it be fair to say that your career is floundering at the moment?". "Umm" says Lovely Tom. Nasty Claude also points out that every number in Lovely Tom's business plan is wrong, and that he hasn't said anything about his costs. I think this is unfair. You hit one wrong button in Excel, and it fecks up the rest of the document. We all know that. Shut up, Nasty Claude.
Lovely Tom's business plan is to do with chairs. He's going to visit employers and check whether their employees need to use his chair, and if they do, then he will sell it to them. The chair stops you from getting a sore back; Lovely Tom has a way of knowing who will get a sore back, and he can sell them the chair in advance. Mike complains that 100% of the business plan doesn't use the word 'chair'. I don't care, Mike, and your grammar in that sentence was appalling. Leave Lovely Tom alone.
He has a very awkward conversation with Matthew, during which he utters the phrase "I'm not surprised at all that you have a very nice wife". We hear more about Lovely Tom's previous invention, which is a curved nail file, and I want one. Lovely Tom is accused of not being a 'starter-finisher', because he got bored of nail files and started to think up other ideas. On the way out, Lovely Tom falls over a chair.
Lovely Tom is also the first person EVER to break the First Rule Of The Interviews, and to not come out crowing about how well it went and how they loved him.
The next day, the 4 interviewy people go back to the board room and sneer about the contestants, while said contestants wait outside, all convinced they're going to win. Snigger.
They're not keen on Helen; they'd all employ her tomorrow, but it is generally agreed that she cannot be left to her own devices for more than several seconds at a time. They also agree that trying to get Jim to be specific is like trying to "nail custard to the ceiling", a harder task than Nick's "nailing jelly to a wall" from a few weeks ago; Nick describes Jim's business plan as "one long seduction letter" to Lord Sugar, an image which makes the nation feel a little nauseous.
Everyone loves Lovely Tom, of course, but there's a worry that he lost interest in nail files before he had fully exhausted the (presumbaly) extensive (and, to my mind, unimaginable) possibilities offered thereby. And they all think Susan's ridiculous.
So the four candidates get hauled back in to the boardroom. We begin by questioning Susan's ridiculous figures, because they are absolutely ridiculous. We turn to Helen, and look disappointed at how pants her idea is, and that it's not to do with bakeries, since she works in a bakery. Over to Lovely Tom, and Lord Sugar is virtually apoplectic at the very idea that he should give a flying fiddle about the health and safety of his employees. This does not demonstrate that Lovely Tom's idea is bad; it merely demonstrates that Lord Sugar is not very nice. I'm not sure I want Lovely Tom to work with him. And onto Jim and his letter of seduction; Jim admits that initially he was going to set up the business as a non-profit, and when pressed, calls Lord Sugar "Sugar". Seductive.
Time to start firing people, and Jim gets the boot first, for being a smarmy, cliched, annoying git. Then there's a bit of teasing of Helen, before the Finger is pointed at Susan, for being a bit dim.
OOOOOHHHHH, Lovely Tom is still there! Lovely Tom might win! Go Lovely Tom!
At this point, however, Helen chucks in a grenade in the form of a SECOND business plan. oooh. She wants to set up a chain of bakeries. It's not a stunning plan, because let's be honest, there are a few bakeries out there already. Lovely Tom points out that if she's had all these great ideas, she should have done them already; Helen lobs back that if she'd had a business for 5 years, she wouldn't have to be in the boardroom asking Lord Sugar for money, because she'd have made a success of it. It's a bit of a low punch, but Lovely Tom takes it in his stride, and Helen is suddenly standing on thin ice. Then Lord Sugar asks Lovely Tom how he got Walmart to sell his nail files, and Lovely Tom tells a story about creating a little parcel and hand delivering it to the buyer, and Helen's face is falling and falling, and I'm getting more excited, and Lord Sugar waffles a bit more, and then he announces that LOVELY TOM HAS WON and I rejoice and my mobile starts going nuts with congratulations texts, and I am very happy indeed.
But also, you have to wonder how it happened that the person who has lost more tasks than everyone else in the history of the programme EVER has managed to actually win the series, and you have to think that maybe they need to look at the tasks they set next time.