It’s that time of year again, pumpkins are in the shops, costumes are a plenty and Lord Sugar is looking for a new investment - the fight for the £250K begins.
As usual, the 18 candidates come with a plethora of cringe-worthy cliches, recognisable to anyone who has watched the show every year, like me. My favourite quote being from cocky candidate, 33 year old Karthik Nagesan “I am an emperor, a true leader, a country is not enough, a continent is not enough. I am after the world.” Yeah, okay, let’s see how long you last Karthik. However, long running shows such as The Apprentice do tend to bring out more unusual candidates such as doe-eyed Frances Bishop an “ex-world karate champion” who isn’t “afraid of a fight” or childish Rebecca Jeffery who said her “business acumen would be like a bouncing puppy”. It’s fair to say that she and Lord Sugar didn’t get on very well during the episode.
There are a couple of familiar faces, Lord Sugar is joined by his aides, the ever strong and feisty Baroness Karren Brady and Claude Littner; who I don’t find as intimidating as he used to be when he was doing the interviews pre-2015. Although he is a more fearsome character than Nick Hewer who left the show in 2014.
The twelfth series started with no-nonsense Alan roasting the new candidates. The business man said that if they want to “complain” or “moan” they can send an email to “LordSugar@idontcare.com”- probably Lord Sugar’s sassiest comment to date. While trawling through some of the rather ‘unique’ CV’s, Jessica Cunningham made herself known to Karren Brady. The overly excitable candidate put herself on the radar by interrupting Lord Sugar; Karren responded with a steely-eyed look, telling her to “take a breath”.
The traditional activity of a car boot sale certainly showed the candidates’ true colours and it’s not surprising that after deciding on the name ‘Nebula’, the girls’ team did horrifically in the challenge. The nonchalant project manager Michelle stating the prices should be “£5, £10 or £15” was the beginning of the day’s disasters. Whereas the boys’ team decided that Paul Sullivan should be project manager based on the fact that he watches a lot of Bargain Hunt - not exactly the best logic on the first challenge. However, while they did get some of the prices correct for some of the items, the little snaps and bickering between Samuel and Paul certainly showed some cracks in the team.
In the boardroom, it was the battle of the blondes. After losing the challenge, the girls’ team was boiled down to Michelle, Rebecca and Alana. Despite Lord Sugar calling Michelle an “astute businesswoman”, her hapless management lead to her to being questioned by Claude in particular on her pricing strategy. Nevertheless, it was Rebecca that seemed to be the weakest candidate in my view. After only selling £25 worth of ‘antiques’ and not being the most forthright when it come to selling and strategy, I was surprised when (typical of the first show) Alan decided to fire the project manager Michelle, the first casualty of the boardroom in 2016.