Friday, April 21, 2006

The Apprentice: Tuan down, four to go

Another lightweight bit the dust this week, albeit one of my favourites. Nice-guy Tuan, who has made the triple mistakes of showing emotion, having integrity, and not being a great salesman, was duly axed by the Big Koala.

This week's task saw our intrepid 3 (plus 1 bullshitter and 2 lightweights) on a mission to let out flats in Clapham and Battersea. This was yet another selling task - continuing the disappointing trend of similar tasks we have seen in the series so far, which have failed to challenge most people to demonstrate a breadth of skills.

On the winning team, a combination of Paul, Ansell and Michelle sold 2 flats each, despite Paul's slow start and some masonry falling on his head fairly early on, plus his tantrums about how "there aren't enough variables" for him to be able to sell well. And we thought we had got rid of the management-speak with Mani and Alexa...

The losing team was made up of Tuan, the slimy Syed, and the dark horse of the series, Ruth, who is closing ground on Paul as the favourite. Once again, Ruth stole the show with her excellent patter, straightforward manner and ability to switch seamlessly between smiley sales face and evil rottweiler face, depending on whether she was dealing with the public or some irritating fellow team member.

Tuan took 4 viewings but seemed lethargic throughout, and retired to the back-room to provide support. The trouble was that Ruth seemed to be doing just dandy on her own, selling 5 flats, and by her own admission looking out for herself in the process, and Syed is - in Sharon's only memorable contribution - "an arrogant wanker", who managed to stand under a railway bridge instead of Wandsworth Bridge (that big thing spanning the Thames), thus missing one appointment, and brought the wrong keys to another.

By the time they made it to the boardroom, Tuan had clearly decided that he could not bear to be around the ethically-challenged Syed (even Nick and Margaret labelled him a "liar"). So he said to Sir Alan that there was a straight choice between an outright liability with occasional moments of brilliance, and an ok candidate with plenty of potential but no foot-in-mouth syndrome. Typically of the Big Koala, he chose the liability.

Whether this is because he sees himself in Syed (who certainly sees himself in Sir Alan, or at least certain parts of his anatomy by all accounts), or because the producers need Syed in to maintain ratings, or even due to Tuan's obvious disillusionment with the process, Sir Alan plumped for a candidate so lacking in integrity that one of the commentators on "You're Fired!" said that if he was ulitmately hired, she would refuse to do business with Sir Alan because of the pall cast over his own morals.

Luckily for that particular panellist, I have already submitted my application for next season's Apprentice, but have completed it on the basis that I am being taken on to sit in Sir Alan's position. He seems to be getting increasingly bored with the process, and his decision-making is somewhat illogical. We all know that Ansell and Michelle will be the next out, then finally Syed will get the chop when even the producers cannot sustain him any longer, and it will come down to Ruth and Paul.

Everyone else has not been enough of a hard-bitten salesperson for Sugar; it is quite apparent that far from it being a 12-week job interview, what he really wanted was to have as many weeks as possible of seeing who could sell in a style as close to his own as possible, with some posh, articulate people thrown in as cannon-fodder.

Disappointed as I am, we are far enough in that it seems rude to stop watching now. Plus the "You're Fired!" trips (hoping to manage 2 more this series) make me feel like I have participated in my own small way. And I have been watching the American series, which is awesome, full of clever people with balanced skills and real credibility, and no shortage of totty.

Most importantly, I am warming to Trump, because he has constructive advice and criticism for all the candidates, and whilst much of what he shares is his ridiculous taste for ostentation, he is also generous with his time, experience and staff. We know Carolyn and George (their version of Nick and Margaret) far better, as do the candidates, and we also have more insight into his company and how he interacts with his staff, by seeing him at work, on walkabouts, and wheeling in Bill Rancic (series 1 winner) and his stunning daughter (she makes you want to) Ivanka, to support them.

So, best British Apprentice candidate this year? Sean, who cleverly applied for the American series and is quite a hit. Tune into NBC or wait for the Beeb to put it on late at night in between its own series - worth the effort.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Agreed with most of that but you have to give Syed credit for coming up with two classic lines in the last episode:

1) When talking about how Tuan talked to clients:

"...he kept using big financial words like 'consultant' and 'variable'..."

2) Criticising Tuan's ability to close a deal - retorting to a (probably fair) comment made by Tuan in the boardroom:

"Let's keep this professional; the fact is, you couldn't close a barn door if you tripped over it"

Err, ok Syed, maybe 'professional' is quite a big word but at least you should understand what it actually means and the paradox in that last statement!!