Young Apprentice: "That's life I'm afraid"

By: Rachel Miller

Date: 6 December 2011

What has come over Lord Sugar? It’s no more mister tough guy this week. He’s living up to the sweetness of his name for once.

OK, so four of the six remaining candidates are being booted out. Fair enough. But it’s the way he does it.

He’s becoming less like Simon Cowell and more like Louis Walsh by the week. “You’ve got a great recording voice and you deserve to be in the final” Louis tells every single X-Factor act. Now here’s Lord Sugar dishing out the compliments left, right and centre and even giving them his personal business cards.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

This week it is the big shake-up before the final. Four people have to leave. How’s that going to work the nation asks? Well, it’s pretty ruthless — the entire losing team in this task have to go. End of.

So here’s how it looks in this crucial week:

Kinetic: James, Haya and Zara

Atomic: Harry H, Harry M and Lizzie

The candidates are then left to decide on project managers. Not surprisingly, on team Kinetic, James and Zara are both keen. And the two Harrys are battling for pole position on Atomic. Which leaves Lizzie and Haya to be king makers as Lizzie cheerfully describes herself. And it’s immensely satisfying to see the marginally more annoying candidates — Harry M and Zara — lose out in this process. Which means Harry H and James are PMs.

The task is a little strange. They have to create new flavours of popcorn and sell them to various retailers. I’m not sure there’s actually any demand for new flavours of popcorn. But that’s probably what people once said about crisps and ice-cream. What’s wrong with salt and vinegar and vanilla anyway?

Team Kinetic decide to create mediterranean flavours — using ingredients like olives, feta and chorizo. Or at least they mix strange powders that taste like them. Atomic go down the all-American route with BBQ chicken and pancakes with maple syrup.

With brand names, slogans and packaging sorted, the teams go into bat in front of Odeon Cinemas, Jet2 airline and Morrisons.

In the board room, the numbers are in. The results are given the usual slow reveal and presented in such a way that it looks like one team has won when in fact it’s…  the other team. Classic Apprentice.

The two Harrys and Lizzie have lost. They are gutted. But Lord S showers them with compliments. Harry M shouldn’t be dis-heartened. Lord Sugar says he’s never met anyone as unlucky as him — what with him having been on the losing team seven times out of seven. And Lizzie is as honest as the day is long. “Don’t ever change”, he tells her. Harry H has been a “general all-round great performer”.

“I’m sorry that we’re parting in this way,” Lord Sugar adds. And that’s it. No finger pointing. No “you’re fired”.

But it’s not over yet. One of the candidates on the winning team has to go too. It’s no surprise that he picks Haya. James and Zara are just the bigger personalities at the end of the day. Whether their personalities are better is another matter altogether.

So Haya is told in no uncertain terms — “I’m sorry to ask you to leave the process.”

Lord Sugar sums up: “Well guys, that’s life I’m afraid”.

Next week: The final — something to do with video games.