The final 5 finish off their business plans in crayons and head to the currently empty 70 St Marys Axe (basically a building site then) to be slowly grilled by Lord Sugar’s “trusted advisers”; CEO of the Evening Standard (and therefore used to dealing with chancers) Mike Soutar, media mogul and 1980s reject Claudine Collins, Northern Business Woman and Camilla Parker Bowles’s evil twin Linda Plant and of course cuddly Rottweiler and stomper of the poor Claude Lintner.

Lewis robotically insists he’s going to remain unfazed and hopes to survive the day “with no crying” even though he’s going in with a start-up luxury package tour to Croatia.  “Smell you later” he tells the girls on his way to see scary Linda (Pam “Did he just say that? He’s gone delirious”). Linda asks about his experience as a tour guide. He says he hasn’t any but has been a rep and argues his other skills should be enough. “You don’t need to say anymore” she stops him “my perception is what I have to replay to Lord Sugar” and she terminates the interview. Like that. It’s as good as “fuck off”. Lewis looks pale on his return to the foyer. But he doesn’t cry! It gets worse with Claude who describes his business plan as garbage. “Why Croatia?” he sneers. Lewis thinks the numbers stack up. They don’t. He wants to take 200 people away at once and pays 50% up front for flights and hotel. What could possibly go wrong. Mike tests Lewis’s knowledge of geography, as he’s never even been to Croatia, and asks him to point it out on a globe. “I use something called Google” protests Lewis. “I want you to use something called Globe” rejoins Mike. Lewis gets it about 600 miles away which on a tiny globe I would say is good going as Lewis has never even SEEN a globe before #MillenialProblems

 

The wonderfully named Carina La Pour, artisan bakery owner is confident “It’s no biggy; I just need to smash it”, but bit by bit she’s unpicked as Claude and Claudine both patronisingly describe her as having “a little family business” and question her scalability. Claudine goes all cuddly Hannibal Lector, quizzing Carina about her relationship with her family as she started the business when her Dad’s bakery burnt down and now employs him. Claudine sticks the knife in (“You’re obviously close to your dad”, Carina “now but her never said he was proud of me”) and brings up her little boy (“Do you feel you behave similarly to your son as your dad did to you?” Ooh low blow!) until Carina’s reduced to tears (“I just want to show him if you work hard your dreams can come true”, which Claudine exploits for maximum blub-inducing effect (“I think they will be proud of you!”). Poor Carina’s in bits (“I kept telling myself – no crying!). Next up is Linda (Carina in lift “I got this!” who thoroughly patronises Carina for not being a baker or having a USP (Carina: “Our USP is our personality, our customer services” Linda “Our interview is over – learn how to bake.” – OUCH!). Mike reveals he’s a massive stalker (“I was in your shop last week and they didn’t give me that customer feedback form you said everyone got in your business plan” Carina “Oh did you sit in?” Mike “Yes I had a cherry and almond slice and a cup of coffee” Carina “Er how was it” Mike “Fine”) and goads her on her scalability vision until she plucks 2-5000 shops out of thin air.  He’s not impressed but she still sweetly thanks him for coming to her shop. Bless her.

 

Much is made of the fact Lottie is only 19 (“Most of these were working whilst I was still in nappies” but that doesn’t spare her from Claude’s wrath. “Let me tell you Lottie, to some extent you are a remarkable woman..” he starts, “but that’s nicest thing I’m going to say to you all day”. He then proceeds to tear into her business plan (a country club for elite rural posh gels complete with shooting trips and posh nosh– amusingly she realises she spelt pheasant wrong in her business plan – presumably she meant peasant) which contains no costings whatsoever. “I have them in my head” she insists, but that’s not enough.

Lottie is most terrified of Linda’s power stare (“As a librarian I wish I could muster it”) but she psyches herself up gamely on her way to Linda’s lair. “She might be ‘last word Linda’ but I’m Last Word Lottie Lion”.  Carina thinks she’ll be OK (“Lottie loves debate, she loves rolling her eyes at you when you’re not looking), and Lottie starts well with some good old fashioned sucking up because they’re both wearing red dresses (“Clearly we both have similar tastes”), but last word Linda is unimpressed that Club Posh Countryside Alliance will only invite women who “speak the Queens English” having risen from humble origins (Leeds).

Claudine points out that Lord Sugar might not want to invest in Lottie because everyone hated working with her and found her patronising and Lottie’s clear she doesn’t want to make friends, just to win, before cracking a tiny bit and admitting she’s found it hard discovering some unlikeable aspects of herself during the process. You and me both love.

Mike does a big sigh “Lottie – you say your profit plans are vast and many” “Yes” “Where are they? Have you forgot to put them in” “Er yes” “It’s a bit ‘the dog ate my homework’”. Good start then. He asks how many events she plans to run and she blethers on about things being seasonal before settling on 20. “You’d need 96 to make the numbers work” he tells her (she should ask him to explain his workings I reckon). She is confident that with Lord Sugar’s dosh she could run all of them and more – all by herself because she’s already alienated the staff she hasn’t even hired yet.

Beauty brand owner Pam is hugely confident of her products (“they are bespoke – they come from my brain” ugh). Linda asks her about her claim of being a “beauty inventor” and produces identical products to Pam’s “Moxy Love” eye thingy. Pam can only say “Oh” and “Wow” as Linda basically accuses her of ripping off her competitors and THEN tells her to fuck off.  Mike asks her how long her mail order items take to reach the UK “About 4-5 days” she says. No Pam – he’s a stalker and he’s been at it again! “I ordered your eye shit 11 days ago – can you chase it up?” he asks. Weirdo.  By now Pam admits she feels “completely dishevelled”. Not a good time to see Claude again – and she begins to get weepy as he tears apart her dream of a global brand. “Why are you so emotional” he snaps. Pam admits she had her products discontinued and has had to bounce back. “This emotional thing doesn’t cut any ice” he says coldly. Claudine continues the deconstruction of Pam “You said you found being away from your mum intimidating”. Pam starts crying about missing her mammy and Claudine is a proper cow “That worries me as Lord Sugar wouldn’t want a 50:50 partnership with you if he thought he had your mum in the background”. “She’s just my sounding board honest!” wails Pam.

Finally Scarlett sees Mike, who’s a proper twat about her business plan “You make it sounds as though all your team speak 15 languages each” he picks. Oh shut up Soutar, that’s the way you’re reading it. He asks what she would advise candidates going to an interview. Don’t answer him Scarlett he’s a stalker. She says she’d say be open and honest and he pounces that she put an OU degree on her LinkedIn but not on her CV so she’s an evil lying minx. She just put it on LinkedIn when she was studying and she’s nearly finished it but that’s not enough for Stalky Soutar and he tells her off for being a fibber. Claude asks her how she feels she’s done and she thinks she’s been consistent. He says he’d agree but her Business Plan is “at best woeful” and it doesn’t matter how good a reputation she has NOBODY KNOWS HER and she will never be a success at her CEO headhunting business idea. He berates her for not putting cash flow in her business plan and she rallies politely “I’m sorry you feel that way” “You should be ashamed!” he spits. “I’m not ashamed of what I’ve achieved” (that’s the spirit”) she states and offers to elaborate for him “That’s very kind” says Claude “BUT TOO LATE”. More tears. Awww.

“Don’t you cry!” Lewis booms as she returns to the foyer “Or you’ll start me off!”

Scarlet admits to Claudine she has made lots of mistakes – mainly moving out of home too young, getting pregnant at 19 and having another baby has meant that life has been a struggle, but she likes to think “all those things are a testimony to my character” (Oh god pass the tissues I’ve gone too) “and show” (blub sniff) “how string focused and” (sob) “determined I am – apologies for being so emotional”. Claudine is at least nice to her as she stumbles out in floods – Claude would have been “that don’t cut no dice with me lady!”

Poor Scarlett felt “I looked weak”. I’m just wondering if the interviews were all THAT horrible or if all the women have synchronised periods just in time for this week.

Anyhow the candidates wait outside the boardroom as the interviewers troupe in to grass them up to Sugar. They’re fairly complimentary about Scarlett but Claude thinks she needs to recruit CEOs and just isn’t there yet. “More of a recruiter” agrees Mike.

Linda shits on Pam for not inventing anything but Mike insists she’s backable as her products made 160k Euros last year.

Lewis gets laughed at by everyone. As does Carina’s off her head wish for 2-5000 bakeries. (Sugar “I’m only interested in 10,000”). Claude gets in on the patronising “She has been credible throughout the process, but she needs to understand baking” – cos I bet the manager of Greggs spends their evenings making sausage rolls.

Sugar is befuddled by Lottie’s Club Tweed Posho although Linda thinks it has legs (that’s the Camilla Parker Bowles connection coming out). Claude disses it all as nonsense with no numbers.

The candidates go in and get given enough rope to hand themselves. Lewis thinks he can change career as Richard Branson knew sod all about planes but Sugar points out he already had a huge brand in Virgin records and can’t understand why Lewis didn’t stick to what he knows.

Sugar thinks Pam’s Moxy Love “sounds like a Victorian disease”. Apparently her brand was terminated due to “EU regulations”. Bloody EU not letting you rub arsenic into rabbits eyeballs to test your beauty brand eh? Sugar also says she probably used the “same people in China” to make her product as her identical competitor did. Blimey!

Scarlett’s dissed for having an inarticulate business plan. She gives an articulate answer “I think on the back of the interview you and I had Claude that I should have given more detail – I was naïve”. Oh she’s smooth. She says there’s no point in trying to pretend she’s at the top level of recruitment yet but that’s where she wants to go.

Carina gets stick for being a flaky non-cake baker – but she is good at spinning plates she tells him and she thinks her shop stands out against the competition. She even offers costings to start up two shops. Claude dismisses them (“what about staff payment?”) but it’s more numbers than anyone else has had.

Finally Lottie is told her “Go Reactionary in the Country” events are too niche (“Like the Piers Morgan fan club” – hur hur) . Lottie likes being niche. Everyone laughs when she’s revealed to have had no costings, but ultimately Sugar doesn’t get it and “with regret” (yeah) fires her. She thanks him EVER so much for the opportunity and wishes the remaining candidates the best of luck before jaunting off to stab voodoo dollies of them all.

Next Lewis is dumped unceremoniously (no regrets just a sarcastic “yeah keep in touch”) and the final three are given a break whilst Claude and Karren bitch about them and it’s all surprisingly nice and civil when they’re back in – no bitch fighting for their lives. After some minor nitpicking Pam is fired on a gut feeling (i.e. she has NOTHING to sell) and with some regret. In the taxi of despair she’s chirpily onwards and upwards. HOW IS THIS TELEVISION?!!!

So our finalists are who I’ve been backing the past few weeks – I’d prefer Scarlett but honestly don’t mind who wins – next week they get to launch their new businesses. Expect Lottie to be left till last when they pick the teams in a traumatic reliving of her school netball (or lacrosse?) days.

Liking:   Scarlett, Carina

Bye bye: Shahin, Kenna, Souleyman, Lubna, Riyonn, Iasha, Jemelin, Ryan-Mark,Thomas, Marianne, Dean, Lottie, Lewis, Pam