Week 11 sees the candidates desperately putting their business plans together for the interview round.

Corporate Gary” is confident that his global events business will win. Whilst 25 year old Joseph (the youngest remaining candidate aww bless) is struggling to get his ideas down he still thinks he’s a “long way from that 14 yr old that got expelled” and I should hope so too! Vana is confident that she’s got enough knowledge of online dating to sell her rival to Tinder. Charleine’s started to realise she s..stutters under pressure (I actually never noticed. Maybe because she shouts so much). Finally Richard thinks his performances as PM (the first was the best advertising Lord Sugar had seen in a long time and the second time I sold millions worth of real estate) and the fact he has a twenty six foot nob (honest) will see him winning through.

So at 6am on the way to the Leadenhall Building, Richard’s still feeling “massively confident” and chanting “I’m going to win”. Charleine just thinks he’s massively twatty.

Four of Lord Sugar’s “most trusted confidantes” are given the business plans in advance of the extreme grilling. So it’s the return of Scottish weirdo Mike Souter and media millionaire hair flicker Claudine Collins, whilst we have a newbie in the form of international internal designer and walking botox warning Linda Plant. Finally Claude resumes his best role as Sugar’s recruitment rottweiler.

Linda Plant firmly establishes her mean credentials by calling Charleine a bit of a cry baby for getting emotional in the boardroom. She’s unimpressed by Charleine’s aim to “top Tony and Guy”. “Have you done any international shows” sneers Linda. “I’ve been down in the South West.” (um, just because you can buy a Cornish passport doesn’t mean they’re international). Linda’s still unimpressed “I know you got an award from a local newspaper…,but you haven’t got a brand… who’s gonna know your name?” Charleine (“I would sacrifice EVERYTHING”) is a tad crestfallen. Claude points out that “having 1 salon is quite different to having a franchise” and he fails to see her “training academy” making money, but she remains tight lipped, clippy heels and highly strung and insists that she will work her socks off, which nobody doubts.

Mike’s not convinced by Gary’s claims of being “responsible for a property spend of £1 billion” at the Tescos (“Your references say you actually didn’t oversee budgets”, Gary: “You could say the CEO oversaw it, but the day to day was my responsibility”, Everyone else: “Hmmmm!”). Likewise Gary’s claim of managing a multitude (“600 people danced to my tune”) comes under scrutiny (“Your reference said you were only responsible for 3 people”, Gary: “ I chose to lead smaller teams at the end”, Everyone else: “Hmm now what is that beefy pooey smell?”). Gary’s supposedly global idea is called “Celebration Bisco” because Gary currently runs a Mobile disco and he has no imagination. He claims he will run 2000 events a year (Linda:“How you gonna do that!”), but his only USPs are using the latest technology, including lighting (Linda: “Nothing special, everyone has lighting”). Gary’s Business Plan describes the product as “innovative and multi channel” but it transpires that he wants to use something that sounds very like Skype to enable people in different countries to be at the same party. Nobody swoons at the innovation. Gary’s business makes me think, strangely, of  “Dazzling Darren” the DJ from Dear John “Dazzling Darren” the DJ from Dear John.

A disconcertingly youthful looking clean-shaven Joseph is quizzed by Mike on Lord Sugar’s autobiography (Mike: “Your claim you read it and didn’t sleep for weeks is either a sincere tribute or a blatant attempt to butter him up”) and even more worryingly gets all the questions right. Joe mate you need to get out more! Joe’s sums don’t add up however, and Mike works out Joe’s potential franchisees would make a £5k pa loss based on his numbers. Joseph’s eager to look at making changes if needed, but Mike describes his business plan as “sinking on the numbers”. Claudine Collins asks “Why does Lord Sugar call you Valentino?” (does he? I must have missed that episode), but Joe quickly responds “It’s because my surname’s Valente and I am a bit of a romancer”. “ARE YOU?” asks Claudine angrily. “I like to think so” Joe rejoins, because he is young and a bit of a div. “I just want the world and everything in it” he insists, adding on leaving “Just tell Lord Sugar I’m the right person”. You can tell he’s totally charmed her (Claudine “I might… and I might not) and he probably sells her a stopcock after the show.

Claudine doesn’t like Vana’s idea of a dating app (“Playdate”) which slowly reveals the picture profile of a potential datee the more you play online games and quizzes with them (despite the fact this sounds like the best business plan from all of the remaining candidates). “I would get fed up and leave” she bitches. Mike’s also concerned. “Have you used online dating before?” Vana asks (Mike “I have not”)and with the most New York Jewish slant on The Apprentice ever she insists the secret is getting “good quality men” (“That will attract the women”). Mike worries Vana is “burning 32k per month” and will run out of investment money in 6 months plus it took Tinder 2 years to start making money, but she insists it’s not a “completely ludicrous” idea.

It looks like everyone’s got Richard’s number. His claim of being voted “Surrey’s number one business man” turns out to have come from an ego stroking exercise in his “business breakfast group”. Richard wipes vast quantities of charlie from his nose and apologises for being sloppy, but Mike thinks it’s “more than a sloppy mistake, it’s misleading”. Richard’s “Project X” is merely an outsourced marketing agency but comes with added business bollocks (“The concept of climbing up a mountain shows why we are different”). Unfortunately it transpires there’s nothing that original about Richard’s business plan, as Mike’s web stalking has revealed that Richard has posted the same idea on social media and even the business plan branding echoes that of the marketing company that Richard is already running on a 50 50 basis with his brother. “They call you Tricky Dicky” Mike points out. “I find that a very strange name to call me” Richard objects. (cut to the waiting room where Vana wonders how “Tricky Dicky is getting on”).

Claude bravely reads from Richard’s “Project X” manifesto stroke business plan. It’s chock full of corporate crap. “We will follow a 4 step process to strategise with you” Claude reads, and to his credit he doesn’t get an instant nosebleed. “I’m none the wiser” winces Claude. “It’s like bad 1980s marketing book full of mumbo jumbo. Lord Sugar will hate it”. Claude adds that whilst he thinks Richard has some ability that he doesn’t go about things in a straight way “it’s aways like you have a little agenda.. You come across as slippery and political”.

Richard keeps coming back to the waiting area looking more and more destroyed by his interviews (“I’m a winner!” Charleine apes him bitchily).

Joseph finally meets Claude who describes him as “a very small player”. Joseph insists “If I hadn’t run before I could walk I wouldn’t be here right now”. Claude points out that “Big business is much harder”. “Yeaaaah” Joseph takes on board the feedback but insists he can tweak the product and that he can make Lord Sugar a profit. And Joe is a plumber so he should know about profits.

Poor Linda has had to read Richard’s business plan though snippets such as “base camp “ and “unlock the goldmine”. “What is a trailblazer?” she asks apparently innocently, before adding “you haven’t done anything first have you Richard… ever?” She points out that last year his existing made £17K whereas he promises to make £3million by year 3 in his business plan. “I mean is it bullshit?” Linda grimaces through the botox “I think it’s bullshit”. Richard tries to brazen it at first (“I could scale up”) but he suddenly has an existential crisis (based on being called on his bollocks). “I don’t believe it”, he splutters, “I produced a business plan, which to be honest with you has a lot of waffle in it”. Linda attempts to lay into him some more, but he stops her, beaten, “I think I’m agreeing with you”).

In the lift, Richard can’t “believe the crap that comes out my mouth sometimes”. Joseph sees his face in the waiting room and laughs (“He got beaten!”). “I was torn apart” Richard admits, “quite right as well. There’s nothing more to be said.. maybe ask her out to dinner that’s all I’ve got” he collapses onto an unyielding business sofa, “I want my mum”.

By the time Richard sees Claudine, he’s apparently had a bullshitter’s epiphany (Honesty is surely the real last refuge of a scoundrel)/ “ I was the leading candidate and I’ve thrown it away” he moans. Claudine seems to take pity “Do you believe in your concept?” “I think if the wind blew away leaves what’s left is a really good simple idea that I have overcomplicated and I wouldn’t blame Lord Sugar for not investing in me”…

Charleine starts thinking she’s on X Factor (“I lost a child and was in a very bad place so I want my children to know they can be anything!”)

The interviews are done and only Gary seems to think he was great. Even Richard admits he’s finally scared of the Boardroom. Whilst the candidates stew, the interviewers grass them up.

Gary gets the most stick, with Sugar describing his tragic £300 events as a meet of “The Piers Morgan fan club” (of course). Karren puts the boot in (“Party planners are normally FUN”). Joseph gets the predictable attempts to seem conflicted whilst viewing him as a diamond in the rough. Claude thinks Vana is “incredibly clever .. and the market is booming, but her problem is on spend..” although everyone realises Tinder’s 50m + users are not to be sniffed at (unless the app is invented). Mike, like me, sees Vana’s idea as having enormous potential if she gets it right. Richard gets the most mixed feedback with Claude befuddled by the cockwomble language of Richard’s Business Plan. Claudine however feels she’s seen the real Richard after he was beasted into submission by everyone else, and reckons his idea isn’t that bad. Karren mentions how good Richard was on the advertising task. However Mike outs Richard’s idea as being not quite as new or innovative as our favourite follicled fool would have people believe.

It’s Boardroom time and Sugar asks who wants to volunteer to speak first and to her credit it’s Vana, who is passionate about “making dating fun” (apart from the living hell it is.. actually she has a point) with brain puzzles and games that “scientifically” match people. The problem for Sugar is the cost, but she hopes to make enough to cover costs within the first year. Sugar reiterates that Tinder took 2 years to make a profit but she passionately (and I think rightly) says “this is a trend that is here to stay”.

Sugar clearly hates Gary and his spurious budget and people management claims don’t help, but Sugar’s determined to hate Mr Corporate whatever and refuses to get the idea of a “Global Virtual Party” (Karren that’s Skype innit? Gary Nah it’s better, Everyone else Hmmm what’s that smell?).

Richard admits he’s submitted a piece of gobbledegook as his business plan which is actually managing marketing budgets for small businesses. Which sounds the same as the business he is running with his brother. Whoops!

To Charleine – Sugar says “respectfully” that she would have to be “big” to start a franchise. She insists she would leave Plymouth, where her current salon is, and move to London to make it big. Sugar points out she can’t just start up on a high street in London if nobody knows her, and Claude wisely advises that she just carry on in Plymouth. Eventually Lord Sugar “with regret” fires her as her plan just isn’t as exciting as giant email phones.

You can tell Sugar has the barrow boy love for Joseph when he notices the tache has gone (“You’ve gone from looking like Boycie to a rather credible young man. Good”). Sensibly Joe has realised that Sugar isn’t going for a plumbing (or any) franchise and airs his contingency plan of expanding his business using contacts in nationwide property companies which he hasn’t currently been able to do due to only having 3 engineers. “Show me a path” Sugar insists and I’m not sure Joe does but he certainly sells himself as having made £60k profit in his 2nd year with no help (“ I made a hell of a lot of mistakes; wasted money on some crappy vans…”).

Gary is next to get fired (“You take great pride in being a corporate fellow” – and here’s me thinking it was Sugar who took pride in calling Gary that) and he “genuinely” wishes “everyone well in their future ventures”. Nice but boring.

Sugar consults with Claude and Karen before the last 3 come back in. Claude insists that Richard had the opportunity to be straight about his company but just fudged it. Everyone loves Joe who gets a free pass to the final when they reconvene and looks like a happy, spivvy puppy (“I won’t let you down I’m gonna make you a lot of money!”)

Richard has to admit that his brother is a fixed stake shareholder in his existing company. Sugar rightly worries he will give 50% to his brother, and then pretends to vacillate over the decision to include friends and family.

Seeing Joe get to the final, Richard tries one last crooked throw of the dice. “Can I alleviate one concern. I want to go 100% and get rid of all shareholdings”, but it’s all a bit last minute dot com and Sugar fires him, under the flimsy pretext he would rather take a gamble on Vana.

Vana and Joe are all sweet and huggy. “This has been the greatest day of my life” Joe gasps, “now let’s fight it out to the death”. Meanwhile Richard is driven to the nearest home for the criminally deluded in the Taxi of Doom, insisting he “could have ironed out the problems in his business plan”.

Next week the finalists have to launch their businesses. Maybe they will combine so you can date a plumber and play games on your phone whilst they keep nipping off to B&Q and demanding money from you.

Liking:
Joseph

Still Warming to and will probably win

Vana

Bye Bye:

Dan, Aisha, Jenny, Ruth, Natalie, Elle, Mergim, April, Sam, David, (Bullshit) Scott (fell on own sword), Selina, Brett, Charleine, Gary, Richard

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