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Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Apprentice 2015; Ranking the Candidates after Task One

With The Apprentice now in its eleventh series I often wonder if anybody who's grown up watching the business reality show thinks the best way to impress in a job interview is by making and selling a load of fishfingers. Certainly judging from the first episode of the new series it's better to have knowledge of the Billingsgate Fish Market than the International Stock Market if you're going to impress Lord Sugar.


It's my aim in this column to rank The Apprentice candidates from most to least likely to garner a business partnership with Lord Sugar. However at this early stage in the game it's still hard to put a name to every face so a lot of the middle of the chart will be made up of candidates who didn't really do a lot. However, as the field is whittled down I'll aim to get a better grasp on who'll be rolling out their business plans and who'll simply be rolling back home again.

1. Charlene 

The winners of task one, Team Versatile, were split into two subgroups and it was Charlene's Team Fishfingers who were essentially responsible for the success of the task. Charlene showed an understanding of the task and also was able to manage a group of large personalities on a task in which everybody wants to make their mark. The joy on her face when the team spoke volumes and she has the perfect mix of talent and likeability that the winner of The Apprentice should have.

2. Richard 

I initially didn't warm to Richard based on the fact that he loaded his CV with business jargon and often spoke in clich├ęs. However he was somebody who was willing to put his money where his mouth was and became one of Team Versatile's top sellers. Whether his arrogance will be his undoing remains to be seen but for now at least he's one to watch.

3. Selina 

One of the most reluctant project managers ever and somebody who first looked like she'd be swallowed up by the process. However Selina really came into her stride on the second day and seem to understand the task was about profits and losses rather than about producing quality fish dishes.

4. Joseph

Although Joseph was on the losing team, and thought he was God's gift to women, he was the only candidate to receive praise on the failing Team Connexus. The fact that he was praised by Lord Sugar for selling the most over-priced fishcakes means that he's been able to prove himself on a tasked that his team has failed. I do think this puts him in good stead for the next few weeks but it entirely depends if he can keep his head above water.

5. Natalie 

Even though she brought some rather suspect products at the market, Natalie can be forgiven as she not a squid purveyor at the end of the day. What Natalie did show me was a sense of enthusiasm and a willingness to be a team player, qualities that will take you far in this process.

6. Scott 

Despite Scott not getting a lot of screen time, he came across as a rather polished individual and one who was able to both work within the team and shine on his own. The fact that he came up with the Team Versatile name also means that Lord Sugar will remember him for the next few weeks.

7. Ruth 

Ruth is one of those oddball candidates who you want to stay in The Apprentice for as long as possible as she provides fascinating TV. However, despite her odd dress sense, Ruth's sales patter seemed to work with the weary commuters at Euston Station and she was able to flog a fair few overpriced tuna salads. She also seemed to be very warm-hearted and took a motherly approach when trying to teach Dan how to sell.

8. Vana 

I do think that Vana was unfairly grouped in with Dan as the two people who slowed the cooking up for the losing Team Connexus. However Vana did seem to have a good head on her shoulders and also identified the fact that at least she did something as opposed to the three almost invisible candidates on her team.

9. Sam 

Private tutor Sam put his oratory skills to use when trying to make people believe that the calamari was of better quality than it was. That being said his slight air of superiority was off-putting and his fellow candidates didn't seem to be impressed with his vocal coaching.

10. Gary 

I honestly can't say that Gary made much of an impression on me throughout the task and my main memory of him was shouting about margins whilst Team Versatile where trying to decide what products to create.

11. David 

David sort of insinuated that it was his fault that their excess calamari went off and therefore loses some marks due to the fact that he cost his team £150.

12. Elle 

One of the three invisible girls on the losing Team Connexus, I think I maybe saw Elle say two sentences during the episode.

13. Jenny 

Similarly to Elle, Jenny made absolutely no impression on me at all and therefore it's hard to assess her standing in the competition.

14. Aisha 

I don't think I spied Aisha at all on the task and only noticed her when she was pointed out by Vana in the Bridge Cafe.

15. Brett 

Usually people who've been in the military excel at the sort of tasks that involve organising people and constructing an assembly line. Unfortunately this wasn't the case for Brett who became obsessed with getting the specifications right for each individual fishcake. This resulted in the production of a lot fewer fishcakes than the team wanted to make and also meant that Team Conexus missed most of the lunch trade. Somebody who finds themselves in the boardroom on week one doesn't usually go on to win the show however I feel that Brett may be the candidate who goes on the biggest journey. I definitely think he'll be able to learn from his mistakes here and maybe redeem himself as the weeks progress.

16. April 

The same can't be said for April who didn't listen to any of her team mates throughout the task and also didn't seem to care about profits and losses. I don't think she particularly utilised her team well and didn't appear to know what most of them were doing for large portions of the day. Ultimately April had an arrogance about her that doesn't tend to bode well in terms of longevity on The Apprentice. The fact that Lord Sugar said he was considering firing her speaks volumes and I do feel that maybe she should have gone home this week.

17. Mergim 

You really have had to have done something monumentally stupid to find yourself at the bottom of these rankings and still be on the losing team. However I don't think Mergim did anything particularly smart and didn't particularly contribute to the success of the task. Instead he tried to sell fish to a vegan restaurant and claimed that he wanted to prove that men were better in business than women. Additionally his bizarre diatribe in the boardroom about nobody putting themselves forward as project manager seemingly came out of nowhere. On the upside however Mergim has had the quote of the series so far as he asked his team leader 'are these onions?'

Fired - Dan 

Poor old Dan was singled out as the whipping boy early on after he was fiddling round with the quantities needed to produce fishcakes. The fact that he was willing to own up to his mistakes made him awfully endearing however honesty will only get you so far in the process. Even though I found him entertaining, I don't think he would've improved as the show went on and I do feel that Lord Sugar made the right decision this week.

Random Observations 

It seemed to me that Claude Littner really didn't realise how tough it was to follow the candidates round on each task. The fact that he wanted to lie down after spending only a couple of hours with Team Versatile speaks volumes. I also don't think he brings any of the humour to the role that Nick Hewer had and I feel that Claude's role as Lord Sugar's aide will only be short-lived.

Karren, or Lady Brady as I refer to her now, was on top form here and presented a no-nonsense attitude when confronting both April and Brett. With Nick now gone, Karren hasn't taken up his mantle and seems to have been perfecting her facial expressions since the last series.

The thought of Lord Sugar on tinder gave me shivers and I only hope that was a line that was written for him rather than something he came up with of his own accord.

Next Time: The Candidates sell shampoo but who'll have a good hair day and who'll been washed down the plug hole?

The Apprentice continues tomorrow at 9pm on BBC One. 

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