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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Shrill Sara gets the boot

The Apprentice, Week Eight

Apart from her beauty it was hard to see what Sara Dhada had in the way of skills to contribute to Sir Alan's empire. Her voice was her worst feature: sometimes shrill, generally monotonous. She always seemed to be on the defensive, and when she did try to sell, she came across as hard and aggressive.

So in last night's bridal challenge, Sara was the evictee, although it was difficult to choose between her, leader Helene and the oily Michael. Notice how Sir Alan shrewedly put all the weakest contestants in one team? Alex was there too, and I don't think he's impressing Sir Alan. He's been on the losing side far too often and always seems more interested in covering his own back than anything else. He clearly lacks confidence with all the facial gurning and lip biting that he does.

Helene's team lost the challenge, to sell bridal dresses and a range of accessories at the NEC bridal fayre, by selling mid-priced dresses that looked somewhat downmarket. Ditto the wedding cakes. They sold five dresses but no cakes. Alex did most of the selling and to give him his due, he is a grafter. Helene did nothing apart from flounce around in one or two of the wedding dresses, like Boudica inspecting her flotilla.

Sara and Michael tried to sell the cakes and got increasingly desperate as the day went on.

Meanwhile over at the other booth, Lee was putting his charm to good use by selling "fongs", bikinis and sandalls, and delighting the women of Birmingham by under-guessing their true size; Claire was doing a great job giving nervous brides the right messages about the expensive Ian Stewart bridal gowns, and Lucinda was a beacon of calm, becoming stronger by the task. Only Raef seemed a little out of his comfort zone. But in the boardroom, he readily admitted to having pushed for the top of the range bridal gowns, even though they only sold three and all these at the end of the afternoon. Had the team lost, he would have taken the rap.

Three candidates are now looking very strong to me: Raef, who is a true gentleman with strong ethics and principles; Lee, who combines an outgoing nature and charm with the ability to understand when to challenge and when to follow, and Lucinda, who instinctively knows how to get the best out of people. Claire seems a little more average to me: a good operator but probably limited in her potential.

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