Being the annual Apprentice ranking post where contestants are ranked not by likability, or competence, or by how much their dads could beat up my dad, but by their level of SHEER APPRENTICENESS.
16. Laura Hogg (9th place)
OK, so firstly the elephant in the room – Laura finding out that the father of her child had been brutally murdered, somewhere between the second task ending and the third one starting. As such this isn’t a comment so much on Laura, more the complete inability of the editors to carve a coherent edit out of…any of what she did. Who can forget the episode where Laura appeared from nowhere to talk about how sexy she is, then the next episode where they kept on showing her doing sexy-hoor dancing? Because if you CAN forget that, that’s pretty much all she did on-air, and that’s more or less why she’s ended up in 16th place on this ranking. She ended up being fired randomly for being poor at selling (like that’s anything anybody gets fired for any more) and then Dara O Brien and You’re Fired told us that even that wasn’t generally true so…yeah. Good job editors *thumbs up*
15. Bilyana Apostolova (16th place)
I have to be honest, in the last two series we’ve been spoiled slightly for first boots. Dan Harris bully-whipping his entire team then lounging round the boardroom like he was on the beach in Magaluf, and then Ed Hunter and the long dark night of his accounting soul. And I just can’t summon up the same enthusiasm for Bilyana. Being very pretty in a Gladiators sort of way, dragging some people around the deserted streets around London Zoo and bragging about being the Head Girl of your secondary school just isn’t enough for me after those shenanigans. I didn’t even feel like I knew who Bilyana was until about 5 minutes before she got fired, and what I did know was mostly the fact that she NEEDED TO COP ON TO HERSELF AND WAIT HER TURN.
14. Maria O’Connor (15th place)
I think one unmistakable thing about this series is that, from all that people claim that Katie/Jane/Bilyana WUZZROBBED, the men’s team was stronger than the women’s team from the off. And not to make Maria emblematic of that, but it seemed like every time someone singled out the women as a whole as being loud/difficult to manage/incapable/a werewolf, the camera zoomed in on Maria’s face like a homing missile. To paraphrase Katie Hopkins, Maria appears to have two speed settings installed in the factory when they made her : SHOUTING and asleep. A candidate of such extremes should be a Monkseal blog favourite, but Maria was at all times a peripheral character, and didn’t really contribute much in terms of storyline during her two episode stay. What I’ll most remember her for, as suggested in the choice of picture was her UTTER SHOCK every time she was criticised. And I mean every time. Every time she pulled that exact same face. And given that she was in a Final Boardroom, that was often. Also how she turned up on You’re Fired looking like she’d only woken up 10 minutes before air-time and just come out in her duvet.
13. Adam Corbally (5th place)
SHOCKBOOT! Except not really, because one episode’s worth of Redemption Arc will only get you so much. Other than that, Adam’s presence this series for me was the equivalent of Zoe Beresford’s last series – ie someone who provoked a vague sense of unease and dread in me before every episode, knowing that they would be there. Constantly whining about whatever their PM had decided to do, making several jokes that he thought were funny, and being passively dismissive towards women. And not even in a fun way. There were quite a few candidates this series who made it further than perhaps they should, but has there been anyone who’s made Final Five before who’d have to actually read a presentation off some scribbled Biro notes on their hand? Even Scribbles was above that, and surely it’s agreed her making Final Five was the most random stroke of good fortune any candidate’s benefitted from before now? He’s only even this high because his mini Redemption Arc was kind of adorable, and pissed off lots of pseudy modern artists. Which can only be a good thing.
12. Michael Copp (14th)
Michael Copp makes it this far solely for taking the original “a contestant is sick” storyline granted to Adam Eliaz, and refining and honing it until it reached its perfect form. I have never seen a human being look less well on television, and I’m including airings of Dawn Of The Dead in that. Sweaty, green, exhausted, woozy – Michael Copp was truly the Wendell of Series 8, forever lurking in the back of shot, not really doing anything, constantly looking like he was going to throw up. That is, until Katie Wright decided to make him subteam manager during Episode Three (another amazing decision by the Blonde Assassin <3). Then, dosed up on nuclear quantities of antibiotics, he proceded to blow every single potential deal the team sourced, staring into space willing himself not to vomit last night’s prawn biryani out of his nostrils, rather than actually negotiating. Then Azhar had to step in to save him. AZHAR. In the field of dealing with PEOPLE. Amazing. Probably my favourite Michael moment was Lordalan interpreting his flop-sweat in week 1 as being fear of his Sugarness, when in fact it was just the ebola virus. Such a perfect one-joke character. May his name live in infamy.
11. Azhar Siddique (10th place)
Speaking of one-joke characters, and also Azhar, here’s the man himself. Azhar’s one joke is that every single thing he did pissed somebody off, and it was GLORIOUS. What made it even better is that most of the time he was right, but he chose to express it by shoving a clipboard in someone’s face, or telling half the team that he wasn’t going to even bother to listen to anything they just spent all day doing, or just droning “STRATEGEH!” over and over again. What made this all the better was that he’d charged into the series claiming to be a master-manipulator and killer-whale who ruthlessly crushed his enemies with his skills in the Dark Arts, when instead he spent most of the series sat in a corner being utterly ignored until Lordalan fired him just solely for being unlikable. All of which makes Azhar sound like an amazing character, but he only actually appeared in about three episodes, and towards the end just fell into a boring “wears stupid costumes” gimmick so…I think this is about fair.
10. Duane Bryan (12th place)
9. Jane McEvoy (13th place)
I’m sure that somewhere out there, in an alternative parallel universe, this series of The Apprentice was an epic twelve week war between Hero Duane and Villain Jane. A knock-down drag out brawl where they both fulfilled their potential as reality show candidates for the ages, and didn’t get unceremoniously turfed out before the show was half-over. I’m not necessarily saying it would have been a better series. But at least it wouldn’t have been one where two people got hyped up as Big Characters in a death-feud, and then ultimately turned out to be not all that important, and whose demises in both cases were absolutely nothing to do with the other. In retrospect Jane was slightly more Apprenticey, in that she was full of mad and inspired a level of hatred in Kaen that surpassed any I’ve seen before from a Viceroy to a candidate. Duane on the other hand was just kind of decent and likable and competent, until he suddenly and randomly hammered the self-destruct button harder in one episode than I’ve seen a candidate do since the halcyon days of Macro cheese.
8. Jenna Whittingham (8th place)
Every series needs a low-key background comedy character, and this series that was Jenna “Penguin Beach” Whittingham. Jenna was so suited to a background role that the one time she was Project Manager, she spent most of the episode vibrating with fear, more vigorously than that thing the Blonde Assassin found in that antique shop. As much fun as it was rooting for Jenna to win(/Adam to lose) the gourmet food task, she was most suited to playing the comedy charlady, occasionally wandering on and saying one line, getting her laugh, and then disappearing again. Whether it was wanting a FRAWN at her wedding, asking a gentleman to come over and sniff her hot-pot, bragging about how her business provided a complete beauty experience ALL UNDER ONE ROOF, shilling fake tan, or simply providing an amazing visual contrast to the effete upper-class homosexual slummers of Brick Lane, Jenna was always good for a giggle, without too much thought having to be put into her long-term prospects or relevance. Which was clearly and sadly nil.
7. Jade Nash (4th place)
No bias here! Yes, despite Jade being nice to me on twitter, I am resolved to maintain my integrity and impartiality as a blogger. (Consider that sentence for a moment and be thankful that your life has not become as mine). And the fact remains that, whilst Jade was undoubtedly the breakout star of the end of the series (DRUNKEN JELLIES! Her domination of the luxury deals website industry complete with smug dance! DRUNKEN JELLIES!) a lot of the weeks before that, she was kind of invisible. For most of the series “under-the-radar creative-and-competent” Jade was the woman most easily forgotten, occasionally appearing to hoot “BEST SUB-TEAM EVER!” or to dig her fingernails ever deeper into her hands at having to deal with Adam pretending to be a choreographer. It’s only when Lordalan forced her at gun-point to become Project Manager for the first time that her personality really came to the fore. And even that wasn’t the most auspicious of starts. From that point onwards obviously she was a star, glad-handing urban artists, back-handing Adam, single-handedly winning entire tasks and finally producing a ham-handed business plan. If only she’d started being epic sooner…
6. Gabrielle Omar (7th place)
OK, let’s see how far I can get through this entry without mentioning how much I couldn’t stand Lucind…*shit* Ahem, anyway, for the most part, the flappy, enthusiastic, non-practical, creative female is one of my favourite species of Apprentice contestant. But unfortunately in earlier series, where being good at tasks mattered (ish), their kind was doomed to early elimination. Nowadays however, with our lax elimination laws, Gabrielle Omar was left free to run rampant right to the very end of the competition (well…7th place anyway). Gabrielle bore many of the marks of her kind – the flowing robes, the mad hair, the oral fixation, the creative flair, the complete disregard for the Holy Margins (PBUT). But most distinctive was her honing her species’ distinctive Boardroom Fighting style – the screeching, the face-pulling, the random veering from mania to depression, – and turned it into a viable strategy. Where Kimberlypuff’s meltdown got her fired, Gabrielle’s many episodes got her through two boardrooms and all the way to Week 10. Who would have thought randomly yelling about blood, at the speed and volume of someone trying to persuade her boss that they hadn’t just caught her taking a nap, could be so effective?
5. Thomas Gearing (Runner-up)
Let’s be honest, on paper Tom is the runaway biggest character on The Apprentice this year. A spoiled, daddy’s boy, aesthete, millionaire prodigy with expensive tastes and amazing hair, who binned off an entire task to get drunk and ultimately fell at the last hurdle, despite Nick & Kaen both being deeply in love with his intoxicating Jay Gatsby-esque aura, when Lordalan realised he was in fact Satan. I don’t think you can get better Apprenticing than that. Not unless Saira Khan does the show again. Maybe wearing a fake moustache and bowler hat. Thomas Gearing should, clearly, be one of the all time most memorable Apprentice contenders. The only reason that he isn’t, and the reason he can only scrape 5th place on this list of this year’s most Apprenticey Apprentices, if that he was played by Thomas Gearing. If he’d been played by Michael Fassbender we wouldn’t have this problem. Also that scene where he stood semi-nude fluffing his dick would have been even more entertaining. There was just really, at core, a lack of television friendliness about Tom. He did amazing things, but it just never really felt like it. Maybe if he’d smiled a bit more often [/my nan]
4. Nick Holzherr (3rd place)
One of the most common observations about the US version of The Office (other than that it’s shit now, and everyone who’s anybody is watching Parks & Recreation instead OMG LESLIE KNOPE 4 LYF) is that expanding the cast between the iconic central four characters of the UK version, and deepening the characterisation of the entire cast over time, kind of left the Jim/Tim character look like a bit of a dick-head, smirking away in his rut at everyone else and assuming a false sense of security over people we’ve come to like. And I’m not saying that Nick’s journey through the apprentice was the same, but the reason he’s so high on this list is the same sort of mild curdling of personality went on over time with him. Don’t get me wrong, he was never unlikable. There was always that solid base of affability, good common sense, and self-awareness. But with every passing week it became a little more obvious that everyone else found him a bit condescending, and that he sometimes struggled to hide how much better he thought he was than the rest of the candidates. His inability to explain himself clearly surfaced suddenly, as did his lack of sales ability. He randomly went in on Jade for no real reason, he spent a few tasks doing little other than poking his calculator, and he turned that weird wooden orb in the garden into a makeshift bunker. Nick’s slow slide towards…if not villainy, then well-roundedness, gets him fourth on the list.
(Sidebar : Can people stop saying he was “The Helen”, when clearly he was “The James Max” and you all have terribly short memories)
(Sidebar : This is where I chortle that he was the designated “pretty boy” of the series when he looked like somebody threw a shredded Beatles wig at a badger)
3. Katie Wright (11th place)
Fun fact : Katie Wright was my pre-series favourite based on her glorious audition tape.
“I can be your best friend…(*EVIL SIDE-EYE*) or your worst enemy”
“Every time I’ve worked for someone I’ve felt like I can do it better…so…it’s that time now for me…to…(*shrug*)…SHOW THEM! (*EVIL EYEBROWS*)”
“I’m really irritating”
“I don’t necessarily have that much time for people that…erm…I don’t…(*gives up*)…rate?
“I don’t take criticism, I fall apart”
“Yes…I’m prepared to (*eyelids flutter like Ann Widdecombe having a stroke*) STAB SOMEONE IN THE BACK! I mean…you’ve got to! (*SASSY EVIL SHRUG*)”
“Men are the weaker sex because they think women are the weaker sex and that’s what makes them weak in the first place”
“If men are stupid enough to think that…erm…(*lost already*) you’re not smart and…erm…to pick up the bill (*so lost*) and to open the…door and pull out your chair then…GREAT, I’LL TAKE THAT! (*EVIL FACE*)
“I’ve got a fantastic business idea that could make Lordalan a lot of money if he wants to come on board (*SASSY EVIL FRENCH SHRUG*) if he doesn’t then I’ll make a lot of money myself!
And let’s face it, that’s pretty much the entire tape. What I most like about the whole thing, is that normally the women who turn up for The Apprentice trying to play the hard-as-nails business-bitch role are at least a little bit qualified and prepared. Katie clearly doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing. And so it continued on the show, as Katie crashed gloriously from one mistake to the next, all whilst trying to act like she was a tough-guy. And the best part is that all her mistakes are so relatable (well, most of them, skipping over “let’s charge £9 for pig-gristle and soggy dough”). Normally you look at Apprentice mistakes, like completely ignoring market-research, or not having a business plan, or putting Stephen & Jenna in charge of a classy video shoot, and wonder how it happened. With Katie, it was easy to imagine yourself choosing to hang back on the first task, or picking a mass-market strategy, or trying to sell food outside a football ground pre-match, or just throwing out “LET’S DO 80S SHIT! WITH LOTS OF PROPS!” in the middle of a barren brainstorming session. All this made Katie one of the most relatable car-crashes ever in the history of the show, as well as her obvious plus-point of being a MANIPULATOR OF MEN. (Speaking of which, if I’m highlighting Azhar claiming to be a puppet-master then getting booted because of poor social skills, then damn right I’m pointing out that Katie sold herself on the grounds of her power over men and then got done over thoroughly and effortlessly by Stephen without even noticing it was happening). Even if this is not persuasion enough as to putting Katie in the top three candidates this series, try to imagine the first month of the show without yelling some derivation of “ASSASSINING!” after every time anything happened. Lord knows I can’t.
2. Ricky Martin (winner)
Given that so much of Ricky Martin’s Apprenticeness hinges on his “journey”, I thought I’d run briefly through my own Apprentice journey with Ricky Martin.
- Oh God, he’s called “Ricky Martin”, this is going to be good
- Oh God, he’s a WRESTLER called “Ricky Martin”, this is going to be EXTRA GOOD
- Oh God, he’s a WRESTLING BIOCHEMIST called “Ricky Martin” *faints*
- Hey, he’s actually quite good at pitching and selling and creativity and management and stuff, I underestimated him
- “I feel that this week, whilst technically good for his chances of survival, was very poor for Ricky Martin in terms of eyebrow action. It’s almost like he’s stopped being a Komedy Kharacter without anybody noticing. Maybe he even WINS (LOL, not really)” (direct quote, well done me)
- OK I’m bored of Ricky Martin now, he’s stopped doing interesting things, let’s hurry up and have Nick/Tom win and give him his 3rd place “well done, we underestimated you” send-off.
- OMG GAME-BREAKER, RICKY MARTIN WINS THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER
So yeah, in case you were wondering, it’s the bit in between me noticing he was good and the show “proving it”, where I got bored with him, which means that Ricky Martin is only 2nd on this poll. Still, there’s no denying that Ricky Martin is a great Apprentice winner. Not only for the “I HAVE HAD A JOURNEY” stuff he built out of wholecloth but for his actual talents.
(Sidebar : In every boardroom, Lordalan has the candidates RAY-ZOO-MAY and application forms in front of him, and often draws reference to them if a candidate has hilariously mentioned they can taste success in their spit or have hypnoboobs for manipulating men with. Ricky Martin was in there four times. As shown in the final episode, Ricky Martin’s application form was the most desperate bid for negative attention this show has ever seen. He called himself Thor : God Of Business. Lordalan NEVER MENTIONED THIS ONCE. Juss sayin’)
But seriously, has any candidate dominated an aspect of any series like Ricky Martin dominated pitching? Not since Ruth Badger : Sales Goddess, I’d say. Combine that with his overacting eyebrows, his amazing boardroom skills, his campery, his constantly thwarted bids to win Phone Answering Wars, and let’s face it, his name, and you get an Apprentice candidate for the ages.
1. Stephen Brady (6th place)
Yes, I know you wouldn’t be your choice for number one Stephen. To be fair, I doubt you’re alone. For me? The reason why Stephen Brady finishes of this countdown? In this series of dropped threads, abandoned story-arcs, half-explained rivalries and buried blood-sister friendships, Stephen Brady’s Villain-Arc stands out as pretty much the only one truly done properly. In fact it stands out as one of the great thwarted villain-arcs in the show’s entire history. Katie Hopkins got to quit. StuBaggs got fired on a trumped up nonsense. Michael Sophocles fizzled out. Syed went down during a task that was more Ruth’s fault than his. Few are the Apprentice villains who get what they deserve at exactly the point they should receive it. Stephen’s downfall though? Was pitched perfectly from beginning to end. First he came into the competition full of piss and vinegar, and installed himself promptly into the House Dad role, with everyone deferring to him, even Nick (after a tussle). Then he buffooned around messing something up in every single episode, until everyone slowly realised that he was kind of useless and on borrowed time. Then came the Boardroom dodging. He undeservedly won as Project Manager, once. He escaped the Boardroom by calling in a Boys Club favour from his own PM, once. He escaped firing in the Boardroom with a shameless “make me Project Manager” gambit, once. And then finally, having dodged every bullet in every conceivable Apprentice way possible, he received an episode-long pumelling that finally climaxed in Ricky Martin stomping a mud-hole in him up and down the boardroom, as he desperately pleaded for his Apprentice life.
On top of that, Stephen delivered as a background villain in every episode. That “motivational speech” in Episode 1 that was basically just him saying that Nick sucked. Him crawling up to Azhar shamelessly, just because. The sinking of the Belissimo. Him buying all of an antiques worst stock, at inflated prices, then laughing up his sleeve that he could do a better job than the shop owner. The Swing-a-Ling. His amazing Tour Bus Deal. Suggesting the team’s artist do all his live painting out by the bins. Chink Wines. His entire Episode 10 meltdown. Even minor moments, like geeing Ricky Martin up to do role-play selling on the SMELLNIG WHAT SELLING task, then getting left in his dust muttering “oh, my back…erm…IT’S A BROOM!”. Stephen Brady was a veritable masterclass in how to be a twonk on The Apprentice, right down to his shiny suit and his shiny wasitcoat and his shiny shiny trousers. And for that, I salute him.