OK, so, The Apprentice final: Leah Luisa blah cakes blah cosmetics blah Alex’s eyebrows… can I just say – Francesca’s dancing.
Oh my gosh.
This surely had to be the highlight of the show. The way she stormed onto that stage, clad in white Lycra, twirling and whirling her streamers around to Enya – owned it. I cannot really put my reaction into words, so I’ll just leave you to conjure up that image in your mind. Better yet, find it on iPlayer – everything else just pales in comparison.
Now that’s dealt with, we can get back to business (I’m making up for Lord Sugar’s significant lack of wordplay in this week’s episode). As the series goes, this year has been fairly unremarkable. None of the contestants particularly excited me, and I had no strong leanings as to who I wanted to win. The one exception was Mr. Alex Mills, who was the runaway success of the series: the Ricky Martin of 2013. His eyebrows brought gusto to every episode, conveying passion where everyone else was lacking. Who could forget his role-play as the army drill sergeant in the training day episode, or the ready meal task, where every other word was “popty ping”? Cos that’s why we watch, folks – for people like Alex. Then there was Jordan, who makes me almost as embarrassed to go to Oxford as the likes of Thatcher and Murdoch. Fortunately, he was delightfully rumbled by the rancorous Claude at the interview stage.
The finalists, then. Luisa Zissman and Leah Totton battled it out in the first all female final since 2009. Zissman hates feminists, and Leah likes pumping chemicals into their faces. The final task was a business launch, where both candidates had to prepare their brand ready for sale. Both ideas had a lot in common; both depend on nozzles, cream and a high concentration of vanity. Luisa fought for her baking wholesalers business, or ‘Bakers’ Toolkit’, by slapping her face all over the brand. She even had a cartoon picture of herself as the logo, complete with pink everything and a giant rolling pin. In her own words, she “really likes herself”. Leah was slightly less keen to be the brand of her cosmetic surgery business, hating Lord Sugar’s suggestion that she rename the business ‘Dr. Leah’ as opposed to the punny NIKS (skin backwards, for the less observant among you). Maybe she secretly has qualms about encouraging people to pay and arm and a leg for a forehead they can’t move.
Anyway, to realise their dreams our finalists had the awkward task of calling up their ex-colleagues to employ them. Luisa was all over Neil of course, but then she was left with sloppy seconds when all the decent ones ran off to Leah (personally, I liked Jason, but Lu feels differently). It’s hilarious watching all the old, forgettable faces turn up, you can just see the poignant mixture of half-hearted hope and barely veiled bitterness in their eyes. Safe to say, they were just bursting with creativity when it came to branding the businesses. Leah ignored Alex’s attempts to divert from the implicative Niks (“It’s like Mr Hewer has opened a wine bar”), but thankfully Luisa’s team ignored her attempt to call her product Masterbake. God.
With brand in place, they went on to prepare two excruciating plastic promo vids, and pitched their plan to the world experts, Leah professing her passion whilst sounding evermore robotic. The experts pretended to be impressed, scared to hurt Alan’s feelings, and after a boardroom fracas, Lord Sugar came to his decision.
So, who won? The most lucrative, of course.
The format is as predictable as ever, wheeling out the same old tricks and blunders, but it works. The Apprentice never intends to shock, because it knows that the candidates do that for themselves. Applications are of course open for next series. No doubt Alan will be around for a lot longer yet, aided by his new partner’s skill for anti-agEing treatments.