The Apprentice: The Final

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The Apprentice: The Final

One of Lord Sugar's former boardroom victims delivers her verdict on episode 12 of the latest series of The Apprentice

Lord Sugar with his new apprentice Marnie
Lord Sugar with his new apprentice Marnie

That’s a wrap on series 17 of The Apprentice – and with any luck, the final curtain for a show that is clearly no longer about real business and all about car crash TV, awkward and uncomfortable moments and just general mockery and harassment of the candidates for the viewer’s ‘pleasure’.

Unfortunately, that’s also a wrap on me EVER watching a future series of the show again. Period. If the past 12 weeks have taught us anything, it’s that the show and Lord Sugar clearly couldn’t care less about the candidates’ business acumen.

The mere fact that there hasn’t been a male candidate make it to the interview stages or final since a joint win in 2017 says everything I need to know. What does it suggest about male entrepreneurship in Britain if in six whole years the production couldn’t find one male candidate to have the business acumen and be worthy enough to make it to the final stages of the process? The whole production is totally disingenuous as opposed to watching a real business competition and it’s a shadow of what it once was.

In the end, former court advocate and boxer Marnie Swindell won Lord Sugar’s £250,000 investment in her community-focused boxing gym. I think Lord Sugar made the right decision for himself and also the BBC, with the emphasis on community and sport… two areas that Lord Sugar has gotten behind in the past.

When we saw Marnie leading the task to launch her business, we saw her in her element and she really was able to shine and showcase her business ability. This was the first time this series the production and edit has actually allowed one of the candidates to shine, although I’m sure there were many more moments throughout the series that just simply weren’t shown.

Once this began to unfold, it was very clear that Rochelle unfortunately had no chance of winning, despite, in my opinion, also being one of the strongest candidates throughout the series.

Marnie with runner-up Rochelle

Often when Rochelle and her team were shown, the musical underscore was one you’d hear when watching a cartoon, which also gave it away that Marnie would be the winner.  It was hard to take Rochelle and her team seriously with this music underscoring her work – which is precisely why they chose to use it.

I feel a bit like a broken record with my criticisms of the show and having had hardly anything positive to say, but I’m really not writing this from a place of bitterness. I’m very fortunate that my business is successful and despite not securing Lord Sugar’s investment, is doing well.

The thoughts and opinions I’ve shared throughout this series both within my column and on social media have been retrospective and honest – and judging by the many comments, messages, and very similar articles I’ve seen appearing online, a lot of others feel the same way.

The Telegraph gave the show’s finale two out of five stars calling it “dull, obvious and as insincere as ever” and stated: “you can’t help but yearn for earlier, more dramatic episodes.” The same feeling is echoed in many other publications.

In jest of this ridiculous excuse of a business series, I launched a petition to have Lord Sugar replaced. I’m not a fool who believed this would garner thousands of signatures and be taken seriously; much like the show, this too was a joke – but also to highlight that something serious does need to change because it’s not the format that’s flawed, it’s the people who run it.

Winner Marnie, Lord Sugar, runner-up Rochelle

My main reason for resigning myself from watching any further series of the show is that I can’t stand watching the candidates be made fools of, knowing what happens behind the scenes and knowing how much the edit of each episode can really make a difference to what actually happened. It’s heart-breaking to see budding entrepreneurs be made to look like complete and total idiots. It’s verging on bullying and quite frankly, it’s vile.

The Apprentice’s current format, Lord Sugar, and his band of merry advisers with all of their nasty, unpleasant and non-constructive comments are shameless – and are a far cry from what the series used to be. This is not the way in which you conduct business or should treat people, either in business or in life.

Sadly, they’re already casting for the next series, so I wish any future candidates the very best of luck, but please think carefully before signing up to a show that ultimately will only leave one candidate in good business stead, while the rest become cannon fodder (I had to get one more cannon reference in considering poor Gregory was nowhere to be seen during the final task) for entertainment.

Congratulations to Marnie on securing Lord Sugar’s investment, Rochelle for navigating a horrendous process and making it to the final with class and the rest of the candidates for putting up with far less than they deserved.

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