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The Apprentice 2011, Week 10: Season Of The Witch

by James Brown
7 July 2011 8 Comments

Despite his habit of favouring blustery scrappers The Wizard of Hackney takes down The Wicked Witch of The Boardroom when he finally realises she's talking spaceballs.

Tom, we're going to sell digital clocks and picture frames.

Ding Dong the witch is dead, the mini-tyrant stack heel wearing big mouthed witch is dead. The hot air maestro, hates her team mates so, know it all, rule the world, invented democracy, appeared in the Queen’s speech, been on committees since she was thirteen…. witch is dead!

Not since that horrible blonde Katie woman who got off with the posh soldier and looked down upon everyone else in The Apprentice have I found myself so disliking a candidate.

Think of Rick Moranis’ ridiculous parody of Darth Vader in Spaceballs – all helmet and boots and nothing in between – and then imagine that humorous depiction transformed into a grotesque caricature of what a business person is. A small person with a huge ego, an ability to roar with bluster and an inability to share even a glint of team generosity and there you have Melody this week’s not so unfortunate victim of Alan Sugar’s lethal finger.

In the end it was the finger that made the decision. Tired of Alan’s insistence on trying to find someone in his own mould the finger finally turned on his brain and soul and heart and memory and their irritating insistence on returning again and again to chose someone who so closely mirrored his own early years.

Which saw him, as he never ceases to remind us, as a small, hungry, ambitious boy against the world. With just a tin van full of wires and a belief that people will buy them because they will improve their television reception. The finger had had enough of this old Hackney-Boy bollocks. The finger that grips the controls of luxury yachts, top of the range racing bikes, tennis racquets, and most importantly private jets. The finger wanted a different tune to tap to.

I've won an award for saving the planet you know.

After a run of the mill sell and re-stock exercise one team lost and the other team won and it all came down to the Boardroom as it always does. Everything before it is just Generation Game in suits. The Boardroom is everything this programme is about because it’s where you see the power. The power to hire or fire.

Lord Sugar was once again faced with a slightly toff-ish inventor, someone he believes might possibly invent him an i-Pod or a drop handled racer that turns into a sun bed. Sugar knows Tom, of all the apprentices, might lay him a golden egg and the Nodding Dog in Pin Stripe could also be putty in his hands. So on the one hand he likes the possibilities Tom The Tefal Man offers. But at the back of his mind Alan keeps thinking … but he’s not from Hackney, he’s got a funny second name. He probably eats his tea off a doily.

And then he was also faced, for the first time, with Helen, the nicely mannered contestant who has been on every winning team in this series of The Apprentice. In football that is the sort of statistic which would have her guaranteed a starting place in any new business Alan Sugar might fancy starting. But then again that’s assuming Alan Sugar is a man only moved by statistics. He isn’t though, he is also guided by that need to have someone who is like he was all those years ago at The Beginning. Someone who can help him re-trace those great early days, when little wins changed his life step by step.

And that isn’t Helen. Helen is just an assistant, observes Alan.  A view so crushing it wipes out her 100% track record, her brilliant preparation and execution of a sales pitch of baby seats to French retailers, and her honest and often encouraging praise for her colleagues, even those who are facing the sack with her.  In Helen Alan Sugar has a contestant who thinks about winning the project, not avoiding the sack. She stays awake at night worrying about it. Maybe there’s a touch of a Control Freak in there but when she isn’t in control she still pulls her weight and follows direction. But, as he points out, she has never started her own business. She has never pulled herself up into the back of a van and scrambled across the paneled metal floor to pull out one last mangled TV aerial which has got lost behind the others and is no longer a potential profit for Alan and is in fact a huge slap in his 17 year old face. Helen is not like Alan. Melody is. Helen must go.. Helen must go.. Helen must go …. but no….

Because here comes Melody, like an anti-midas cavalry, galloping in to spread shit and over-claim  on everything she’s involved in, not so much to save the day but to say she’s saved the day, and has indeed been saving the day since she was a kid. A wall of noise and air so hot you could shape glass in it. A melodramatic midget with a megalomaniac manner: Fuck off Melody is the message Alan Sugar’s finger sends to his brain. The brain that wants the arm to point at the assistant or the novelty inventor. The brain that wants to go back to the beginning when everything was ahead of him. The brain that was fed by ambition. The brain that isn’t truly happy with the media attention and all the baubles of success. The brain that wants to keep going for ever. But won’t.

And so finally the brain takes the back seat to the finger. Tonight Alan Sugar’s finger won The Apprentice. It’s winning motto? “Fuck off Melody, my boss is here to do business not talk about it.”

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Scotty 8:21 am, 7-Jul-2011

I found that article both funny and moving. I've read his Biography and I think you have the measure of the man.

James 8:37 am, 7-Jul-2011

Thanks Scotty. I do think that inside he knows he can't match the rate of financial and business growth he achieved as a younger man and that must gnaw away at him. Soothed by this series and all his expensive modes of personal transport. They themselves are all constant reminders of how far he has come. They signify he is going places - in the air and on sea. It's a pity that they can't select him contestants who might genuinely inspire him.

Tom 12:00 pm, 7-Jul-2011

"A wall of noise and air so hot you could shape glass in it." Brilliant, just brilliant.

zb 12:43 pm, 7-Jul-2011

What has Sugar done in the last 30 years apart from lose his shareholders money? He has been a serial loser. The Amstrad computer was good and made him rich. He was very unlucky when the hard drives started to fail and his competitors took advantage. Since then his satellite TV assembly business did a bit of good business, Viglen ticked over but he has never had a second good idea.

itsthepbear 1:02 pm, 7-Jul-2011

I honestly thought Jim was going to tell Sugar to f*** off when they were in the boardroom last night - or throw an email phone at him - or demand to know why the graphics on Football Manager 2 were so dire.

Scotty 1:17 pm, 7-Jul-2011

@zb. You are right in many respects and as JB was alluding to in the article, he is harking back to the embryonic start of Amstrad - where everything went right. Perhaps he would have been better cashing in at some point in the early 70s when it was doing so well and spending time with a hobby, but then we remember that his hobby was Amstrad. It's harsh to call him a serial loser, but I agree that he seems lost. This is the man who had a direct line to Murdoch and Gates, but ran out of ideas and was unable to put a board in place to replace him. Bill Gates surrounded himself with the brightest and best, but I get the impression that Sugar would not let go.

Andy 5:47 pm, 12-Jul-2011

Thank fuck she's gone! Every time she opened her mouth i thought her ego was jumping out of the telly and squeezing my head against the wall!! I've just read her website site - fuck me! She's amazing, well that's what she thinks! I hope she pisses off to talk bollocks somewhere else in the world. What a twat she is!

Chinmoy 1:14 pm, 9-Dec-2012

Hi Joanne, not sure if you can watch it online. Previous years' epoeidss are on You Tube but I have no information to suggest this year's epidsodes will be updated soon after broadcast on TV3. But keep an eye on TV3.ie and follow TV3TheApprentice on twitter and perhaps ask them directly!

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