A ranking post.
Final recap should be up by Friday, but before that, let’s get this under way – the yearly ranking of all candidates not by talent, not by likeability, not by longevity, not by dental hygiene, but by sheer Apprenticeness. The list will slowly be revealed over the next week, after which it’ll be time to tot up the votes and see who your favourites and…otherwise are.
16. Alex Britez Cabral
Ah, the “just didn’t shine” 2nd/3rd boot. Always the most pointless member of the cast. Majid. Shazia. Ifti. And now, joining their ranks of the exotically named, Alex Britez Cabral. After the marshmallowy charms of Joy Stefanicki, comes her polar opposite in pointlessness. This series designated estate-agent arse, Alex Britez Cabral promised to be cold, hard, and unstoppable. Instead he cut up some bread, splashed around his fairy liquid (calm down Leon) and did a crap Welsh accent, and then that was it. Right under the wheels of the (at that time) seemingly unstoppable Jim Express. His contribution was nada. He had to go.
15. Zoe Beresford
Hey, remember those three weeks when Zoe was the new Invisigirl? The most anonymous member of the anonymous Helen/Natasha/Zoe brunette blur. “Why is this woman never speaking?”, you would wonder, in much the way you’d wonder “why isn’t that firework going off?”, “why isn’t raw sewage pumping out of that pipe?” or “I can certainly smell gas, but nothing appears to be exploding yet…”. But then Lordalan unclogged her in her first Boardroom, telling her to shape up or else, and then you couldn’t stop her. Project Managing three times in the space of six episodes, Zoe might have got away with it if she’d just settled for a decent grace period after her first decent stab (periodically marred by periods of yelling at Susan), but instead she just kept picking the scab, with her next two PMships characterised by a weeping, snotty nervous breakdown (marred by periods of yelling at Susan), and a complete abdication of all control (marred by periods of yelling at Melody). There was also that one task where she yelled at Glenn, that one task where she yelled at Vinnie Disney, and that one task she yelled at Jim over a font. Basically Zoe’s time on the show was characterised by negativity and yelling at people, and she couldn’t even get that right in the end, reaching a bizarre sort of détente with Susan, where they didn’t fight, didn’t like one another, and didn’t even work particularly well together. Sometimes the show has a villain, sometimes it just has a bad vibe that won’t let up, and which really the show could do without.
14. Gavin Winstanley
Background characters on The Apprentice really fall into two categories. Those just in a holding pattern until their storyline starts (Zoe, Helen, Natasha) and those who the show is trying to trick you thinking is a contender and voice of reason, until they get their hands on their first PMship, you turn your head momentarily, and when you look back their brains are splattered all over the pavement. Such was Gavin, who was one of the established businessmen in the cast, and spent the first two weeks savvily pointing out where his PMs were going horribly wrong, albeit slightly grumpily and snidely. Then he finally led, and his team devolved into that scene from Mean Girls where the Burn Book gets loose and causes carnage, except instead of Regina George standing triumphant in the wreckage, Gavin just stood there jabbing his fingers into his temples and huffing and looking at the floor. Comeuppance, of a sort, although in retrospect, having a few “Real Businessmen” in for a while longer might have turned out not to have been such a bad thing…
13. Felicity Jackson
Another One-PMship wonder here, and one who may be doomed to be even more forgotten than Gavin, or even Alex, which is perhaps a shame, because of all the women of the show she was actually probably amongst the busiest in the first month. Admittedly it was mostly acting like some sort of renegade secret agent from Logic trying in vain to get Venture to somehow lose – persuading Melody not to spend all of her seed money ; leaping in peoples faces screeching “HAVE YOU HAD YOUR FIVE A DAY TODAY YET at, like 8am NO I HAVEN’T FELICITY FUCK OFF ; inventing the Amp-i-App ; wasting time on two top-hat vendors because she was obsessed by pennies like the worst Batman Theme Villain ever (THE PENNY!) and doing whatever sort of incantation that was required to summon Tea Bag with her £1000 tea – but it was activity. And of course all this was done whilst sucking up to the PM with the strength of an industrial hoover so she was guaranteed to walk away scot free in the unlikely event that the glamazons of Venture ever were to lose. Mercifully Lordalan bounced her into a PMship on the beauty task, and with nobody to suck up to, she contrived to manage a BLAHDDY LOSS, and also both officially be the First PM To Ignore Tom Being Right And This Is Why Tom Won whilst acting by FAR the tittiest about it, and then alienating Ellie and Natasha to the extent that they DIDN’T EVEN HUG HER GOODBYE. And everybody hugged EVERYBODY goodbye this year, so you KNOW that was some Mafia Kiss Of Death deal that Ellie thought she was dishing out there. A perfect early boot really, and a blonde as well, so really you should definitely remember who she was.
12. Leon Doyle
Leon’s a bit of an odd one. People talk about how Tom winning is a travesty because he never really put himself in a position of authority, but he is as nothing compared to Leon. Never has there been a candidate so devoted to the art of inactivity. He couldn’t be bothered to squeeze his oranges hard in task 1, and then in task 2 he seemed disinterested in any part of PMship that didn’t involve putting fancy dress on and treating a professional pitch like a fairly mimsy stag weekend, as he spotted the product’s key flaw, and couldn’t be arsed to do anything about it. Lordalan warned him that this couldn’t continue, or else Leon would find himself fired in his next boardroom. It did, and he was, but the interim was six long episodes of pitches that he didn’t want to do made up on the spot, lazy ideas barely fought for, and that one week where all he did was draw a teapot and marvel that Melody could speak AND UNDERSTAND a foreign language. He did so little that one week the show had to resort to infantile gay panic jokes to remind us that he existed (obviously I would never stoop so low). It’s a shame, because he really could have been a character, but…so lazy. So so lazy. Cheery enough fellow though I guess.
11. Glenn Ward
In a very real and accurate sense, Glenn Ward was the Liz Locke of this series. I mean…did his firing make any sense? It came after he single-handed won the Pet Food task as the only winning male PM of the WHOLE SERIES, then along with Susan dragging Team Zoe to only losing by £8 on the rubbish task. It came on a task where sure, he didn’t excel, but he didn’t exactly stand out in the same way as Susan asking old people if they wanted to do a nice crossword or Jim failing to PM or pitch coherently, or Zoe coming up with the show’s WORST EVER product name and slogan. It came for the spurious reason of being an engineer, when both Zoe (seen as a potential winner) and Tom (the actual winner) were also engineers. It was COMPLETELY inexplicable. Although, at the same time, in an even more real and accurate sense than he was this series’ Liz Locke, came the sense that…nobody really cared. Maybe it’s because he wasn’t a pretty lady, or maybe it’s because he was dull enough that producing this face montage took a trawl and a half. Nice guy, normal guy, kind of robbed…but *shrug*. Really. Nobody even noticed that he in Week 1 invented the PM coup that caused such a stir when Helen tried it later on.
9th/10th. Ellie Reed & Vinnie Disney
So, the ballad of Ellie and Vinnie Disney then. To be perfectly fair, marking them like this is probably a little unfair on Vinnie Disney, and a little generous to Ellie, but I just can’t help it. They were meant to be together, so who am I to tear them asunder? They were star-cross’d lovers from the beginning. Ellie the bluff Northerner of stout English stock who didn’t have things like pasta pots or spelling from where she was from, and Vinnie Disney, none more Southern, with a Continental twist, the master of the art of the sell and the schmooze. Meant to be, fate conspired to keep them apart, like Love Soup (before the Michael Landes one died), until Lordalan brought them together for the Ten Items task. And they promptly hated one another. Their sparky Michael Douglas/Kathleen Turner style bicker-chemistry kept the nation on tenterhooks…well it did me anyway, until sadly their love story was cut tragically short, with a double despatch, like a latter-day Romeo & Juliet. Both somewhat under-rated candidates who, let’s face it, probably had more to offer moving forward in terms of merit than the likes of Edna, or Zoe, or Natasha, may they never be forgotten, and their BBC Breakfast interview of sexiness mixed with awkwardness mixed with…more awkwardness never be forgotten. Or Vinnie’s socks.
8. Edna Agbarha
It’s perhaps odd that Edna has made it into the top half of this draw despite her stay on the show ultimately being a disappointment. That name! That crushing handshake of an intro! That neck-wobble! That weird Gollum-like need to hoard cash via EXTREME passive-aggression! That pitch! It seemed we were being set up for a whole series (or at least four weeks worth) of Edna hijinks before a pyrotechnic Melissa Cohen-esque firing and then…nothing. Pottering around randomly winning for weeks then suddenly appearing to get her pre-designated firing far too late for it to seem sane. But then…what human being could live up to those first two weeks? Is it fair to judge Edna for never quite living up to stomping around in a pair of gloves acting like a leather-mommy at a videogames conference? Well…yes. It is a little. But she is somewhat pulled up by her random Susan-related arc. Implaccable foes for 6 whole weeks, then suddenly randomly they tag-team Zoe in the boardroom and Edna gives her a big ol mamma bear hug on the way out. So delicious. So random. So Edna.
7. Helen Milligan
ZOMG SHOCKBOOT! Except not really. I think I established my general disdain for plot device contestants last series with Liz Locke (who existed solely to further the legend of Stubaggs : Supervillain), and Helen was nothing if not the ultimate plot device contestant. Hey kids, did you hear? There’s a change of prize this year! Lordalan’s not looking for an employee – he’s looking for a business partner! And here’s Helen Milligan, sproinging out of vaguely-pleasant slightly dithery nowhere in Week 6 reborn as some sort of super-prim Business Terminator, winning every task, PMing herself to victory three times, and then losing at the end because of the new format, with Lordalan going “LOL YOU WOULD HAVE WON IF YOU’D SACKED UP AND APPLIED A YEAR EARLIER!” to really DRIVE that point home. Which…if you’re going to break the task-record and tie my beloved Yasmina for PMing records you need to have been a candidate from the beginning, not just a backgrounder who chalks up all their wins to being a “lucky charm” and gets slowly more clenched and unlikable with every passing week. She did have her functions (cracking up at See Their Light for one…) and she was a strong personality towards the end but overall, out of the show’s best ever Final Four, she just got a bit swamped.
6. Edward Hunter
Best first boot ever yes? I mean…of anything, probably, not just this show. I feel bad for singing the praises of Dan “Who’s Doing The Mincing?” Harris last series now, not knowing this joy was coming. A seething ball of self-loathing and accountant-loathing neurosis, Ed-Hunter had decided his life up to now was a lie, and he was going to swallow the red pill and awaken from The Matrix a kick-ass wheeler-dealer and business ass-kicker. Instead he hurled himself at the project managership like a terrier head-butting a glass coffee table with no strategy beyond hiding underneath a trolley whilst everyone else squeezed oranges, occasionally poking his head out to break Leon’s machinery. When called on this he spoke as though permanently on the vinegar strokes, blurting out almost catchphrases like “DON’T! FIT! THE! MOULD!” and “ROLL! WITH! THE! PUNCHES!”. When so many other “just here because it would be amusing to fire someone with their job” candidates annoyingly lasted Noorul amounts of time, Ed-Hunter got booted out on the ground floor, spectacularly, then spent most of his media tour talking about how buff’n’sexy Jim and Vinnie Disney were. Certainly…his memory will endure…
5. Natasha Scribbins
The undoubted Breakout Star of the early series female Brunette Blur, Natasha Scribbins was very much this series’ Stubaggs, except without the latter’s tiny glimmer of self-awareness or larger glimmer of mediawhoreness (thankfully). A sparky ball of directionless energy, Natasha’s most memorable contributions to the series were all verbal, be they her hyper-tic of “yeah?” or her capacity for taking already existing business-twaddle-isms pushing them one step further. Plate of blame, last minute dot com, not being able to see the wood for the trees because you’ve got your head up someone’s arse… But Natasha’s greatest oral crimes came when called upon to answer questions in pitches or by Lordalan. Where other Apprentice candidates dodged giving answers to the question asked, Natasha dodged giving answers to ANY question that had ever been asked by anyone, in any context, ever, slowly building up entire balls of verbal crap like a dung beetle. Natasha had her practical uses (she sold more than Jim!) but her cockroaching herself right to the very end was truly an Apprentice miracle. Partly this was a good thing, because it led to the greatest Final Five programme segment ever where both Kaen and Nick had to sit there pretending she had ANY chance of winning, but there’s no doubt she outstayed her welcome slightly, especially in being the last holder of the “all pile on Susan” stick that even Susan-haters had probably got bored of by that point. As such, she finishes here exactly where she did on the show. Yeah?
4. Melody Hossaini
Oh Melody. Bursting onto our screen in a flurry of Al Gore’s footprints on the moon, and being aware that there is a purpose greater than herself (surely most things are greater than Melody? She’s about 4ft tall in heels)(TEAM BITCHMIDGETS!) it seemed like Melody was destined to be a comedy character and little more. I mean, she worked in…actually what WAS her job again? And we all know that comedy contetsants are cast this year solely based on what their jobs are. Anyway, all this turned out to be a smokescreen for Melody’s actual character for most of the series, which was weirdly competent psycho. Pulling off a triumphant Week 1 PM showing, performing strongly in sales, Natasha wrangling, and being the only person on her team on the beauty task who noticed what was going wrong and did something about it, it looked like Melody might be this year’s token ruthless runner-up. So when she bedded in for a nice period of mid-series anonymity (seriously, I think she took the pet-food task off as annual leave) and then followed it up with a sudden one-episode bitch-edit, I was ready for the Claire Young/Debrabarr Memorial Redemption Arc to kick in…and then it didn’t. Ever. Maybe it was the absence of a Shopping Channel task. In fact what actually happened is that Melody took the longest flying header of any erstwhile contender (I mean…not contender, because, you know, footprints on Daily Llama, but still…) in the history of The Apprentice, in a glorious three episode rampage of baloney market research, deal hogging role-plays (ROLE-PLAYS!) and trying to flog £25 watches to the Pound Shop. Still we’ll always have the memories. Especially of those role-plays. WAS THIS CANDIDATE MADE IN HEAVEN? (No…she was manufactured without logic in the UK)
3. Tom Pellereau
Yup, number 3 it is for this year’s winner, just as it was for Stella. And I loved Stella, so this is no insult. And seriously, I’m straining slightly to put him this high, if only because of all those rancid “WOO HOO, A NICE GUY WON, UNLIKE THOSE RANCID CHILD-MOLESTERS TIM AND YASMINA!” from probably the same pesn that springs forth “THEY’RE ALL TWATS THIS YEAR I HATE THEM ALL!” after 5 seconds of episode 1 every series. I mean, if you’re going to take your life-lessons from reality tv try not to go give off the impression that the view of the world they’re informing isn’t so much black and white as it is MIDNIGHT EVIL HATEFUL VORTEX HEATLESS BLACK and PURE INNOCENT SHINING GODLY WHITE. Anyway, that aside, I’ve always said that what a reality tv show needs to survive is variety in its contestants, and its winners, and Tom certainly provides that, because there’s certainly never been a winner like Tom. Passive, thoughtful, intelligent, adorkable, completely lacking in authority, shamelessly grade-grubbing and suck-uppy, practically inept, detail-oriented, likable, graded on a curve at all times, needy as hell, soft-spoken and yet probably one of the sharper Boardroom brawlers in the show’s history, Tom stands out amongst his peers as truly a unique contestant and winner. And not just that, but he was involved in lots of the most memorable moments of the series – the ROLE PLAYS, running around stealing people’s BBQs, Paper Scissors Stone, inventing the MyPy, those jazzy pants and snazzy socks. Tom might arguably not be the most worthy winner ever, but certainly he’s more memorable than at least half of them. Did Michelle Dewberry have the personality to invent the Emercrunchy biscuit? Frankly, no. No she did not.
2. Jim Eastwood
Oh Jedi Jim. I guess he was supposed to be carrying the villain torch for most of the latter half of the series (with the brief three week period of MELODY MADNESS excepted), but I never really had a problem with him outside of EveryDog week, and even then you can’t really judge him too harshly for not wanting to be part of that boardroom carve-up. Other than he seemed rather likable, in a terrifyingly unflappable sociopathic sort of way. I always like a candidate with a facility with words, and that was certainly Jim, charming the pants off every woman, Dutchman, and eventually Nick, he met, only a select few managed to see through the veneer to the blame dodging dessert-stuff within. Although one of those people was Natasha, so you have to wonder if they were really accurate in their assessment of him being a DARK-SIDED evil-doer. What really raised Jim up in my estimation, from solid upper-order salesman who couldn’t Project Manage to My Final Two of Apprentice-Amazingness was two-fold. Firstly “to be fair, I said you were only marginally worse than Glenn”, which may be my favourite thing anyone’s said in the boardroom EVER, and certainly since Debrabarr popped off at Nick. And secondly that, after a whole series of dodgy deals, “dark manipulations”, Leon-overthrowings and general schmoozing and sleight of hand, Jim’s business plan turned out to be “the kids”. Just that. “The kids”. How amazing. It was pretty much the only entertaining thing to come out of the whole “business plan” farrago, and for that Jim deserves all this and more.
1. Susan Ma
Think of a week on The Apprentice. Think of a task. Now think of the stupid thing Susan said on it. Or the needless fight she got into. Or the amazing deal she pulled off via sheer naive instinct. Think of the catchphrase she managed to coin out of the most banal phrases, like “THAT’S SO UNFAIR!” or the most bizarre, like “Do the French love their children?”. Think of all the people on the Internet she inspired to defend her when she was clearly being an idiot, or conversely all the people she inspired to go through her past history looking for holes like demented stalkers. Think of Susan’s Ma. Think of the baseless devotion she inspired in Nick’s loins, or the fiery dismissal she provoked in Kaen’s. Think of her skewering Jim, or Zoe, or anyone, in any boardroom she was in. Think of her insane belief that she was going to earn millions in a year, or sell fifty times as much skin-care product as was humanly possible. But then think of the BANGLE-GAMBLE or how she went through those products on the France task like Rain Man. Think about how she’s her and you’re you. Think of the random up and down feuds she had with pretty much every human being that came into contact with her for more than one task. Think of her inspiring backstory of abject poverty and global jet-setting. Think of how you can say her name like it’s Bad Romance (MA MA SUSAN MA!) Think of she really should have won, but also really shouldn’t. Think of what an unnecessary bitch she could be (Melody is a crap PM and Edna is juss jelus because she is so fucking old she’s practically a corpse and Zoe is one of the worst human beings I ever met) and also how boundlessly joyful and generous she could be. Think of how she started her own business aged 16 and you didn’t. Think of how, even on the pet food task when she was one of the 95% of the cast not actually DOING anything, she still found time to tell Leon to buck up, stop whining, and do the pitch, like everyone should have done every week. Think of how her own idea of pitching was then to bounce up and down squealing “LOOK HOW TINY I AM!”. This is why Susan Ma is number 1 Apprentice contestant this year. Nobody else brought it quite so hard, every single week. Even if sometimes you wished she wouldn’t.