The Apprentice 2011, Week 10: Season Of The Witch

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.
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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.

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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