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Friday, December 10, 2010

Only one graduate in Apprentice final five

It's almost arrivederci for two of the most enjoyable TV programmes of the autumn, Strictly Come Dancing ands The Apprentice. I'm going to preview both of the semi finals, starting with the Apprentice.

What's striking about the five finalists in the Apprentice is that four of them didn't go to university. So, rioting students, perhaps there is no need to waste three years doing Media Studies and then saddling yourself with a debt. The internet offers far more potential to budding entrepreneurs than we had in my day.

They do seem more entrepreneurial than the usual finalists. I think people were shocked when Liz went out, but although she came across as hugely capable, confident and talented, I didn't see that spark of ingenuity. Having read Lord Sugar's autobiography, I see now what sort of people would attract him. It's not necessarily just someone good at selling, because Liz was that (although as an investment banker, I was surprised she was so good at selling.)

He wants a hunger for selling and the ability to negotiate. Also the ability to see a pile of rubbish and sell it very quickly.How else did Amstrad become so successful.

I am beginning to fear that Stuart Baggs The Brand, the 21 year old with a field full of ponies  (!I'm not a one trick pony, I'm not even a two trick pony. I have a field full of ponies") or Joanna, the woman with the most irritating voice in Britain, are the two most likely Apprentices this year.

We were all amazed when Joanna made it through the first episode, and I was appalled by the way she kept yelling at Jamie last week. She is a woman with the interpersonal skills of a sledgehammer.

Meanwhile Jamie seems quite charming and is clearly a good negotiator, but comes across as slippery as a basket of eels. He's been his own boss for four years and doesn't like being told what to do, so I don't think he would do very well at Amscreen.

I like steely Stella but even though she did a fine rendition of Knees Up Mother Brown, Lord Sugar will always find fault with her for being 'corporate".The programme last night that looked at the five finalists and their backgrounds was quite an eye-opener on the Stella front. She had a very tough upbringing and was almost put in a children's home until her great aunt decided to take her in.

Then there's Chris. He's the only one who went to university. He comes across as a well meaning posh nitwit, really. But I was surprised to hear both Nick and Karren Brady sounding very positive about him. I felt sure there was nothing "strategic" about his offer to the tourist company last week to give them 20% of his team's total winnings. He had that rabbit in a headlight look, and I don't think he knew what else to offer.

Next week's episode is one of my favourites when Sugar's business acolytes interview the finalists and tear them to shreds. I'm thinking Stella and Joanna will stand up to it best. What do you think?

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