As ever, the contestants herein are ranked solely in order of Apprenticeness, not likability, competence, or morality, or any of that boring stuff. I am not here to judge people, there is only one Higher Power who has the authority to do that.
16. Sophie Lau (14th place)
Oh, the Product Design task Invisiboot. The same every single season. Some poor sap doesn’t come up with enough ideas for flat pack garden gnomes and *poof*, the Stalinist forces of Uncle Lordalan’s Editing Team set out on a purge, eradicating every shred of evidence they can find in any of the previous episodes that the poor firee ever had a thought in their head beyond “BLINK NOW. NOW DO IT AGAIN. BREATHE”. Poor Sophie Lau didn’t even get left with the cheerful sexist bonhomie of a Majid or the winebar melancholy of a Joy Stefanicki for a personality. All that was remained once the scissors had been taken to her Apprentice life was her staring blankly in the background occasionally. I can’t imagine having much of an investment in Sophie Lau’s time on The Apprentice unless :
- you are Sophie Lau (viable)
- you know Sophie Lau (viable)
- you think Sophie Lau is a very pretty girl (viable)
- you bought that line she spun in her Cab Of Shame about how she has so much more class and dignity than the rest of these ugly skets who are left (…not necessarily so viable, so much)
Even the bolted on reason for firing her (“OMG SHE DONE A DISSERTATION IN MARKET RESEARCH THEN ERM…SHE DID SOME BAD MARKET RESEARCH! WELL…EITHER THAT OR IT WAS JUST IGNORED! ERM…”) was kind of lame.
Bonus Post-Show Points for : Hurling herself at Jason Leech on twitter in a manner that makes those stories about Luisa Zissman’s Sexy Orgy Sex Parties Where She Had Sex And Shet And Sometimes It Was Even Lezzy Sex sound like a Swiss Finishing School. GET IT, GIRL.
15. Jaz Ampaw-Far (16th place)
So recently (ie since about Series 4) they’ve been milking the already chaotic first task for further drama by giving the contestants the minimum amount of time possible between meeting one another for the first time and having to flog cut-price bog roll to wholesalers. And this year the strategy reached its apex, as the candidates first fumblings towards familiarity had all the finesse and charm of the first LGBT mixer amongst first year University students. However, as Luisa crashingly failed to set up a jokingly combative frenemies relationship with Rebecca and Neil admired Jason’s balls, Jaz took things one step further. Not only did she speak to everyone she met like she’d never met them before, she spoke to them as though she’d never have to meet them ever again as well. Patronising, high-handed, utterly useless, Jaz probably should be higher on the grounds that she was a perfect caricature who appeared for one episode and disappeared again but on the other hand
- She was blatantly only on the show to tell us all about the marvellous world of phonics, and whilst that’s undoubtedly admirable, it’s called “You’re Hired”, not “Speakers Corner”.
- In these post Ricky Martin days, if you’re going to be a proper candidate, you need to get your application line of bollocks sorted out. In a series with Jason’s Machiavellian Machete, Luisa’s brains of a Duracell Bunny, Myles offer to do cosplay, Zeeshaan’s comparing himself to one of the most dislikable human being who ever lived, and even the eventual winner sneaking a bizarre reference to her voluminous hair onto her application form, “I’m the Brad Pitt of the teacher-training industry” is just plain lazy. I can’t wait for the Timothy Dalton of the beauty salon world to show up next year, followed by the Joan Crawford of the publishing business.
Bonus Post-Show Points for : Having to sit through that Internet-only show segment that might as well have been called “Matt Edmondson Strips For Chickenhawks…Again”.
14. Kurt Wilson (10th place)
Not since Melody opened her mouth and sweetly sang “MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM, I’VE BEEN CRAVING A BIXMIX ALLLLLLLLLLLL DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!” has a candidate so lived up to their name (sorry Jason). Kurt was a man of few words, and even fewer faces, stomping around most tasks scowling like Grumpy Cat and defending his actions with all the articulacy of…well…Grumpy Cat. Kurt’s one true shining moment in the process was when he managed to hijack Neil Clough’s meticulously planned first stint as Project Manager, converting him into his meat-puppet in a vain attempt to establish Kurt’s glorious Republic Of Milkshake. As even Kaen noticed, this was an attempt to circumvent the new Final Task and to show Lordalan just how great his business plan was ahead of time. Sadly the banana (milkshake) republic collapsed when nobody else LOVED MILKSHAKE AS MUCH AS KURT DID. Other than that Kurt mostly…just existed, occasionally getting imperial units mixed up with metric ones. Sadly, in this year of compelling candidates, it just wasn’t enough to warrant higher than 14th place on this countdown. On the other hand, in the battle of the Apprentice BODAYS, I will defend him over Myles TO THE DEATH.
Bonus Post-Show Points for : using up 90% of twitter’s allowance of the word “mate”.
13. Natalie Panayi (9th place)
In this series, tension was always at its highest in the 48th minute, or thereabouts. It was at this point that, depending on what phase the moon was in, Natalie Panayi would occasionally and randomly APPEAR out of nowhere, like the killer in a slasher movie in the heroine’s mirror, or an angry cat hurled in through the boardroom window, hellbent on shredding some poor sod to pieces via a mixture of yelling, crying, and advanced feminist theory. In her three appearances in the Final Boardroom, Natalie shredded Uzma, Kurt and, in undoubtedly her finest hour, Zeeshaan, leaving them all fatally damaged. Sadly for her chances in this ranking, Natalie Panayi did not in fact appear at any other point in any episode, apart from maybe occasionally answering the phone, or telling Luisa that she looked well fit in her Dubai Collection bikini (now available on the Luisa Zissman online store for £16.99). Natalie herself has cited her Greek heritage as the reason for her firey (/psychotic) passion and borderline violent Boardroom tactics, which makes even more sense when you remember who this year’s other candidate of Greek origin was. Regardless, I hope in future series that Natalie is used as an exciting twist, with Lordalan having a big red button under his desk that calls forth Natalie, to bury some poor loser under a thousand shrieks of “YOU’RE A HOMOPHOBE! I HATE YOU!”.
Bonus Post-Show Points For : Her girlband past madam.
12. Uzma Yakoob (13th place)
As well as Kurt, there was another candidate who tried to subvert the format this year, by showing Lordalan their business plan before the time designated by the producers. Her name was Uzma Yakoob, and she arrived with her business plan quite literally plastered ALL OVER HER FACE. Yes, Uzma was in the Look Good Industry and Done A Fashion, and in her four week stint on The Apprentice she showed off her mastery of the form with a dazzling array of foundation, lip-liners, eye-shadows and lots and lots of purple clothes, because apparently Uzma got her colours done down Bluewater just before the series started. Sadly, Uzma made the mistake that many people make of not applying their make-up for the harsh unforgiving minutely detailed tv camera-lenses, but instead for an appearance in the theatre. An amphitheatre. On another planet. Playing a ghost. A ghost wearing too much make-up. To be honest, the joy of Uzma was primarily visual, but I still have other fond memories of her. Wistfully staring out the car window. Being put in charge of thinking. That time she and Luisa waved scissors angirly at one another, surrounded by shredded cushion fluff, looking a bit like deranged angels having a knife-fight in the middle of a cloud. Cheerfully following Kurt and Zee down the street to go buy apple juice, not a care in the world or a thought in her head. Basically from here on up we’re getting people I’ll always treasure in Apprentice history (sorry Natalie. So close)
Bonus Post-Show Points for : every time she’s turned up anywhere looking like a normal human being who hasn’t applied their make-up with a piping bag.
11. Monaco Myles Mordaunt (6th place)
ZOMG SHOCKBOOT? I have to admit that in the first draft of this list Myles was going to be a little higher, based on his sterling showing in the end-run, when he’d transparently given up and just focused all his efforts on frustrating Alex for his own amusement, but I can’t in good conscience place him any higher given that in the 7 episodes up to that point he just came across as vaguely aloof and occasionally stealth incompetent. Just like with Tom Gearing last year, I think I find the idea of Monaco Myles more entertaining than the reality. An uber-sophisticated Monaco playboy millionaire slumming it on The Apprentice for no particular reason, constantly strutting around in a thong and sneering at the very concept of being asked to sell mobile homes or on a marketstall really needs a more cartoonish execution than Myles gave it. Apart from in his catwalk underwear strut which, I’m sure we can all agree, was impeccable. But still, as I said, it was a good series, and everyone from here on up is Apprentice Gold, so let’s all remember Myles sullenly stomping down Leather Lane, fantasising about staking Alex Mills through the heart with his own unnecessary umbrella.
Bonus Post-Show Points for : Either almost sort of maybe possibly referencing something I said on the blog OR sending Alex a Ferrari (/a pile of bricks artfully arranged into the shape of a Ferrari, underneath a dust-sheet).
10. Neil Clough (4th place)
So this series on The Apprentice, one of the candidates handily outperformed the rest of the candidates on the tasks, entering the interviews stage looking a dead cert to win based on merit. They were a little withdrawn, a little aloof, a little overly self-controlled, but their downfall, when it came, wasn’t due to a fault within themselves, but within their business plan. See, it turned out this candidate had stepped outside of their own area of business expertise, and tried to set up a service based business that just didn’t make logical sense. Lordalan tried to make them see the light, but in the end, it was too late. He reassured them that, if the show were taking place under “The Old Format” then they would have won for sure, but as we’re in a brave new world now, they’d just have to settle for being a runner-up, WITH REGRET.
So yeah, what I’m saying is that Neil is The Helen Entity with a neckbeard. And long-time readers will remember that Helen finished 7th in the Monkseal Series 7 Countdown, so why lower for Neil? (Incidentally, were I doing that countdown now, Natasha, Vinellie, Melody and Leon would all be a nudge higher. Time is a teacher to us all.) Well
- The Helen Entity was first
- The Helen Entity was better
- The Helen Entity was in a (slightly, but perceptibly) weaker field of characters
- The Helen Entity went mental at the end of her series, trying to murder Melody and doing the entire final task all by herself. Neil just sold some ceramic gloves and created Oh My Pow
- On the Final Five programme, the Helen Entity told a hilarious story about how she conned her younger sister into thinking there was a disco in her living room ; Neil’s wife talked about how controlling he is
- “OH WAIT, I MEANT TO DO A BAKERY ALL ALONG NEVER MIND” will always be funnier than a guy just going “yes I can” over and over and over.
- The Helen Entity never talked about itself in the third person
Of course, in Neil’s favour, he was marginally more likable, had a genuinely quite emotional final episode, and it was sometimes quite funny just to watch how every single person he met on the show fell in love with him to a degree, right down to that woman SCREECHING at him on You’re Hired about how he needs to believe in himself because he can achieve ANYTHING HE DREAMS OF (because I’m sure Neil Clough needs help with his self-confidence). In the end, Neil was just a tad too inscrutable for me ever to really connect with him. Hence, he is only 10th in this countdown.
Bonus Post-Show Points for : His website. I don’t know man. I just…don’t know.
9. Zeeshaan Shah (12th place)
Series 9 I think was, in the end, noteworthy for having fairly mixed, “difficult”, characters across the board. The presumptive winner had a neckbeard and talked about himself in the third person. The actual winner created a Botox clinic. The fan favourite was an Oxbridge educated property magnate who’d never had a “proper job”. The hard-nosed sales bitch had a nervous breakdown and cried all over the boardroom. The creatively minded Harmless Comedy Character screamed at another candidate that he was a shit, and was constantly fractious and unruly on tasks. In the midst of all these grey hats, it was nice therefore, to have a Zeeshaan. Starting fights over nothing, oozing a sales persona that made you reach for the wet wipes, calling himself Napoleon and flaming out in a single episode of blaze of glory where his team-mates all but repeatedly slammed his head in the Cab Of Shame door on his way out. Zeeshaan was an uncomplicated prospect and just the sort of character who was made for a mid-level Apprentice boot. One of my favourite aspects of the first half of the series was that, in any given episode, at some point someone would appear and talk about how Zeehsaan was full of shit, completely unrelated to the narrative. And then they’d just get on with doing something else. That whole sequence on the Product Task where Zeeshaan begs (begs) Jordan to be allowed to sell the Foldo, then gets his chance, and repeatedly fails, as Jordan himself, Kurt, and even Jason (a pre-caravan Jason) surpass him was a triumph of reality tv editing in particular. And for such uncomplicated pleasures, Zeeshaan is 9th.
Bonus Post-Show Points For : Just blinking in the face of that quite frankly slightly deranged lady on his episode of You’re Fired.
8. Francesca MacDuff-Varley (3rd place)
My instincts as to who was going to win this year’s series were split neatly into three distinct months. For the last month I was fairly solidly behind Dr Leah. For the month before that, like everyone else, I was convinced that Neil was on his way to victory. For the first month though? I just knew that Francesca was the one. (Sidebar : I have to admit, my reasoning was aided by that widely circulated early spoiler picture showing the Final Five to be Francesca, Dr Leah, Luisa, Neil and A Chair) (Sidebar : Everything useful having been spoiled in the first week, large elements of the Apprentice Spoiler Community then desperately spend the next 10 weeks trying to work out who was in that mysterious fifth chair, so they could claim that THEY won, so they could claim to have got the jump on everyone else) (Sidebar : They would have been better off backing the chair). She just seemed the type – low-key, likable, good at spotting where the team was going wrong, with lots of ideas, and an entrepreneurial background. So what happened? Other than the double-whammy souffle deflater of her negotiation “skills” in Dubai, and that task where she spent £300 on pink flamingos and feather boas, thereby revealing that she had absolutely no clue how this show worked? Well, to tell you, I would have to break the rule I just made for myself for this countdown, which is to try not to mention Jason and/or Luisa in every single write-up, thereby not rendering it entirely obvious who the ultimate final 2 will be.
ANYWAY, suffice it to say that somewhere around the Farm Shop Task, Francesca entered a hatemance with Someone resulting in probably the deepest Apprentice relationship of all time. 10 tasks they were together, periodically allying and feuding (mostly the latter) with Francesca sadly almost always turning out the loser, pulling sour faces as Someone repeatedly ran over her with a steamroller with knives on the press. The final denouement, at interviews, was probably the biggest moment of interpersonal drama we’ve ever seen at a stage that normally keeps the contestants entirely separate. At least since the mystery of “Who Shot Lucinda?” (Answer : Alex Wotherspoon, what a surprise). Anyway, Someone spent the whole interview stage sat there giggling in Francesca’s face about how she was messing everything up and then Francesca dobbed Someone in to Awful Claudine, but then in the end admitted that Someone wasn’t that bad after all, I suppose, you know, at business, not at not being a twat. Then they lezzed up on twitter, the end. In summary, Francesca’s Apprentice journey was kind of compelling, but it was mostly tied in to the psychodrama of someone more alpha, and a lot of the time she was just kind of low key and sour, and that’s not enough for any higher than 8th, sorry.
Post-Show Bonus Points for : It’s not official yet, but I’ve heard that there is a spin-off in the works for Francesca and Luisa wherein they compete together on The Apprentice together forever in perpetuity, for the next 70 years, until they die. Leaked footage from towards the end of the series shows vicious arguments over who is going to be PM, Luisa excited to survive another boardroom and a fun seaside reward
7. Rebecca Slater (11th place)
So the real sticking point for me in this ranking has been the placements of the candidates in positions 5 to 7. Everyone else slotted in fairly neatly, some odd tussles over Myles aside. I’m not 100% sure all 6 possible combinations have been decided on at one point or another, but it’s been really difficult deciding on how much I adore this year’s Second-Tier Superstars. Anywho, my point is that if you really think Rebecca should be a bit higher, then so will I in about 5 minutes.
I came into this series so ready to not like Rebecca. Every other soft-feminist columnista apparently had their heart sink when women turned up who had hair extensions and breasts, but the sight of Rebecca, all “I tell it like it is, and if that upsets people, then TOUGH SHIT” in her regional accent and pearls, looking like the Mrs Tweedy from a live-action Chicken Run, had me over her before she’d even begun. I could smell her “Is Great At Sales, Pisses People Off Through Force Of Personality, Has A Redemption Arc, Finishes 3rd” vibes from across the Internet. And let’s face it, it’s been done. And then…Rebecca turned out to be a little different. Unlike previous variants of the strain, all of whom had to survive about three Boardrooms full of people calling for their heads, remaining garrulous, Rebecca turned out to have a glass jaw. Paranoid, weepy, randomly aggressive to random people for no reason, Rebecca seemed to be running almost entirely on loon juice. The first time she was hit, she went down like…oh no, I promised not to make references to Luisa in every write-up, carry on. Anyway, she collapsed, and the remains were swept out of the Boardroom four weeks later. And then in her Cab Of Shame she seemed not actually insane, which quite frankly was a comfort. Rebecca was undoubtedly something different and exciting and kind of amazing, but unfortunately she lingered a little past her designated time, and so is only finishing 7th. Now let’s all remember the time Francesca nearly spilled her drink on her and Rebecca tacitly threatened to deck her.
Post-Show Bonus Points for : Unlike all the other fired candidates, grimmly hugging one another in the corner of some dimly-lit nightspot pretending not to hate one another any more, Rebecca would still clearly readily nuke half of these bastards from space with laser-guided shark missiles and GOOD ON HER FOR THAT.
6. Tim Stillwell (15th place)
Over the years, many candidates have tried to play the Innocent Card. Normally it melts away like particularly half-arsed snow 5 minutes into them getting into trouble, as their imagined morals clatter over one another like tangled tin-can phones, as they abandon their principles to try to scrape in an extra £5.20 by giving a 6 year old girl an amateurish face-paint with a magic marker. Or it ultimately ends in them trying to weaponise their own purity and hatred of game-playing in the boardroom which usually ends up looking something like this. But Tim Stillwell was another matter. I think Tim may well have been the only true innocent soul ever to compete on The Apprentice. I say “compete”, but Tim came across like he’d got on the show by winning a cereal packet word-jumble, and was just enjoying the day out. Every time Tim succeeded his entire body twisted in toddlerish delight, like he’d just received a surprise ice-cream sundae. Every time Tim failed he promised to do better next time and he was so sorry and it wasn’t anybody else’s fault honest. I swear, having Tim Stillwell on this show, ostensibly a 22 year old man, made me more broody than an entire year’s worth of Cow & Gate adverts. And apparently it made this year’s women feel the same way, as they responded to Rebecca’s attempts to get Tim fired by doing the Boardroom equivalent of marching up to her like she was a mean older girl picking on their baby brother whilst he was trying to feed the ducks. Sadly Rebecca was kind of right and Tim was too useless to live but… I can’t help wish he’d been allowed to survive a little bit longer. At least long enough so he could meet the moo cows.
Post-Show Bonus Points for : to be honest, I’ve mostly tried to avoid it just in case it turned out to be anything other than him dressing up in a Tigger onesie and sharing a picture he drawed of a butterfly.
5. Dr Leah Totton (Winner)
Moments I learnt to appreciate Dr Leah, and which elevated her above the bland background winner she so easily could have been :
- Specifically the part of Dubai where she tore Zeeshaan a new one when she easily could have not done so, because let’s face it Natalie was doing enough work on that score on her own
- Her winning the Away Day task by managing the budget tightly on Day 1 and getting no credit in the edit as the whole task disappeared up Alex Mills stomping around dressed like one of KISS.
- Also where she said “OUIYOIYOD” a lot
- When I discovered she was an A & E doctor, which explained a lot.
- That boardroom where she utterly eviscerated Alex then ran out of time before she could properly flambe Myles
- Her voluminous hair
- When she cited her voluminous hair as a reason why she should win
- When she took Mike point by point through everything she’d do to his awful face to make it look better.
- “I mean, it’s not great, but that’s how you’d spin it”
- Turning up for You’re Hired dressed like Nicki Minaj. Given her mighty pout it’s the closest we’ll ever get to a live-action version of The Necki Minej Show.
Not my favourite winner of the new era, but not my least favourite either.
Post-Show Bonus Points for : the borderline sick-making show of solidarity between her and Luisa in the media surrounding the final, a rare show of female friendship on any reality show. Did Ruth and Michelle go on a Thelma & Louise style holiday of feminine self-discovery in Thailand? No, no they did not. Rare times.
4. Alex Mills (7th place)
Some people just feel like they were created in a lab to be a reality tv contestant. And Alex is undoubtedly one of those people. He came to the show ready packed with literally every single component needed to be a classic Apprentice candidate. The look. The accent. The overweening self-confidence. The ever-so-slightly slightly dodgy backstory. The skill at creating a pithy absurdist one-liner about current social hot topics like 50 Shades Of Grey, Viagra, and Jason being a Silly Shit. The neat one-note competency angle (“The Creative One”). The complete lack of vanity (“you be in the advert Alex, you’re a complete MUNTER”) coupled with the nigh-on parodic abundance of vanity (…those eyebrows). The wardrobe. The “Death In Venice Meets Trenchcoat Superman” wardrobe. The arch-nemesis (Monaco Myles). The tragic flaw of procrastination (just like Hamlet, winner of Denmark’s first ever series of Celebrity Big Brother). The patented mandatory “Hilariously Bad Apprentice Advertising Character”. The unfunny twitter “parody account”.
Memorable moment after memorable moment after memorable moment stacked up around Alex Mills, as he tugged off a cow and dressed up like an emo and hilariously yelled at his Project Manager that they were an idiot for the fifteenth time for no particular reason. So why only fourth? As much as I hate to accuse anyone of “trying too hard” on reality tv…you get the impression that Alex is the sort of person who’d turn up at one of the producers house, at 7am (with Zeeshaan in tow sulkily slurping a Mini Milk), and waving a steadicam around enthusiastically gabbling about how he’d thought about this really funny thing that he and Zee could have done in the Beer episode and if the producer would just put a bit of effort in they could maybe just green-screen it in and it’d just MAKE THE EPISODE! TV GOLD!
Sometimes less is more. I got mildly exhausted somewhere around the Fruity Cow jingle.
Post-Show Bonus Points for : calling the 72 businesses he’s set up since getting fired things like “Funky Insurance”, “Put A Donk On PPIs” and “Boogie Woogie Injury Lawyers For You”.
3. Jordan Poulton (TERMINATED)
How much you enjoyed Jordan Poulton as an Apprentice candidate probably relates directly to how amusing you find the image of a smart, chirpy, slightly puffed-up cartoon blowtorch marching determinedly and cheerily towards his date at the fireworks factory. Don’t get me wrong, I think Jordan’s an able human being. If I were picking a team to represent me in some sort of putative Apprentice All-Stars : Battle Of The Bloggers, he’d be my first pick, on the grounds that I could probably make a Neil Clough by mushing together a Jim Eastwood and a Chris Bates (sexy) whereas someone with Jordan’s task strengths is fairly unique. That said, if you weren’t aware, at least from the second when he told Lordalan that he should try buffalo burgers and Lordalan told him to go fuck himself, that Jordan Poulton was only ever going to end one way then…you should probably watch this show a bit more closely. Specifically the guy sat doing the hiring and firing. I can’t imagine a greater personality mis-match in the history of the show (at least talking in terms of credible candidates, not Ed Hunters).
Not that Jordan wasn’t entertaining in his own right (the hipsterisms, the marketing gobbledy-gook, the kikoy, the sexual tension between him and Luisa, those trousers, this this this this this, the Boardroom smug faces, the fist-pumps, the random lurching into being a strong, powerful, sexually liberated, modern woman, the buffalo wagon, the turning on his back on his military family to dress up as a Smurf and…do whatever it is he does, selling kittens) but the real money came, just like with Stuart Baggs, in anticipating his end. And, unlike with StuBaggs, what an end it was. The vomit, the Rubik’s cube, the “parasite”, the eBay trading, the vomit, the sulking, the dancing, the vomit, the “COOOOOLEST PART OF LONDOOOOON”, the quoting Sun Tsu or whatever, the sudden surprise secret partners leaping out of every drawer and cupboard, the vomit. It was, like all the best Apprentice moments, both hilarious and painful.
Bonus Post-Show Points for : staring Lordalan down during that little “now let’s not forget that Jordan is a very talented and intelligent young man and I’m sure it’s all water under the bridge that I spent the last two episodes publicly branding him as a con-artist and leech with no nuance or mitigation whatsoever” on You’re Hired with the best “oh fuck off ” glare I’ve seen in a long time.
2. Luisa Zissman (Runner-up)
Any decent playwright will tell you that the core ingredient to any drama is conflict. And thus Luisa Zissman was born. Born into the public consciousness much like Venus, naked and riding around on someone else’s clam (come on, we’ve all seen the pictures), we all knew that Luisa was trouble when she walked in, and it went on from there. I remember someone (possibly Grace Dent?) saying about some half-forgotten reality tv contestant (possibly Seany from Big Brother 8?) that they could “start an argument in empty bus-shelter”. This proved to be hyperbole, as said reality tv contestant got into fights with only, like, two people and shet over the course of an entire series. Luisa on the other hand started drama with pretty much literally everybody in the cast other than Natalie (who wasn’t even on screen 98% of the time), and Tim (who is literally impossible to start a fight with).
Of course the best thing about Luisa’s firestarting ways is that she did it so casually. Normally reality tv contestants who brag about “telling it like it is” do so through gritted teeth, in fits of puce-faced spite. Luisa on the other hand, was the very spirit of insouciance, thinking nothing of chirping “ENGAGE BRAIN!” or “NO OFFENCE LOVE, BUT YOU’RE A DOCTOR”, or “LOL WHAT AN EPIC FAIL BECKY YOU DUMB FUCK!” and then just wafting on oblivious at the furious people she left in her wake. Luisa basically approached everyone on the show like she’d known them for years and she was just doing Epic Banter, not some strangers she barely knew from Adam. If every series has to have an antagonist, I only hope they’re all as upbeat, ruthless, and occasionally terrifyingly competent (jesus but that retail task) as Luisa was.
Post-Show Bonus Points for : partially for using something I said on twitter on “You’re Hired”, partly for so enthusiastically pointing it out to me the next morning, complete with interrobang, but mostly for her twitter feud with her Series 4 equivalent Claire Young. You could just see in your mind’s eye Luisa slowly building up steam as Claire spent 3 months passive-aggressively slagging her off, pinwheeling her fists like Scrappy Doo, until she got let off the media leesh five seconds after the final aired, and ran at her screaming “BY THE WAY WE ALL REMEMBER WHEN YOU GOT THE SHIT SUCKED OUT OF YOU ON GMTV!!!!!”. Amazing.
1. Jason Leech (8th place)
An itemised list of how Jason Leech delivered every week he was on the show.
Pre-Show : calls himself a scheming Macchiavellian chameleon armed with a machete of intelligence who is out to seduce Lordalan.
Week 1 : volunteers heedlessly to be Project Manager, presides over an absolute catastrophe of shrieking testosterone-fuelled battery-shoving, and someone narrowly avoids losing and being the First Boot that fate had considered marking himself as. Teaches everyone how not to be purveyors of tat as he does so.
Week 2 : Gets ruthlessly shoved to the bottom of the totem pole the second he’s out of power, then uses his newly lowly position to utterly screw over Alex & Zeeshaan (the most intolerably moronic people you’re likely to meet in a long time) by messing up all their negotiations. Steerpikean! A nation is introduced to Jason’s natty pyjamas in a series full of preening Johnny Bravos in tanga thongs.
Week 3 : Shoves Jordan out of a chair whilst calling him a midget, in the Monkseal reader endorsed Moment Of The Series. Also hates on the tyranny of upholstery. Then handily outsells Zeeshaan whilst we all laugh.
Week 4 : Is pulled out of Zeeshaan’s reach before he gets murdered, but is ruthlessly relegated to the basement of his new team by his new nemesis Luisa. Develops a crippling addiction to apple-juice and then bursts out of the basement on a bender waving around a lettuce in a brown paper-bag yelling about how it is sad and needs a friend. Maybe a low point.
Week 5 : Bonds with supposed nemesis Luisa and her special friend Jordan via a shopping spree in Dubai. Handily negotiates for a couple of choice items in the most bizarre accent you’ll hear all series not emanating from Dr Leah. A nation is introduced to Teddy.
Week 6 : Probably Jason’s low point “Apprenticeness” wise, but still manages to stumble his way into hosting a chaotic wine-tasting. Nadir comes when Lordalan calls him a “nice enough fellow” (*shudders*). Spends the whole task bitching away happily about everyone with Luisa, then merrily recounts what a travesty she was in the Final Boardroom back at the house.
Week 7 : In one of the most heartwarming moments of triumph over adversity in Apprentice history, Jason sells a caravan to the elderly in Birmingham. A nation leaps to its feet and applauds as Neil nurses his tattered manpride.
Week 8 : High on his greatest triumph, having reached respectability after being traduced by his enemies, King Lear style, Jason reaches his violent downfall due to his fatal flaw – turning his back on Luisa for 5 seconds. Reveals he was a dating magnate at University, then is stabbed and rolls into a ditch, muttering about honesty, integrity, and Neil’s viper.
You’re Fired : I’ll be honest, Mark Watson was on so I wasn’t paying much attention to anybody else. I’m sure he was great though.
Matt Edmondson’s Awkward Whassnames : Jason proclaims the wine on offer to be disgusting, then guzzles it like Oliver Reed for the rest of the item.
Week 12 : Three tasks later, Jason rose again, forgave his enemies, and ascended to Apprentice Heaven.
From beginning to end, compelling.
Post-Show Bonus Points for : As a very minor tawdry fixture in the reality tv blogging scene (such as it is), I have slowly become blase and jaded about contestants from shows contacting me, retweeting me, telling me I’M SO FUNNY whatever. From those very first days when Crazy French Camille from Over The Rainbow stopped by, I’ve been backslapped by Bachelorettes, Brendan’s Bake-Off Toy Boy, and that one memorable SYTYCD contestant who told me that the entire cast read the blog every week, before IMMEDIATELY DELETING THE TWEET in PR induced fear.
But never has there been a moment more contestant-specific than the time Jason Leech invited me out for dinner over twitter. And paid. And drove me home afterwards. Reader, I married him (/didn’t marry him, but did admire his table manners, which in a Jane Austen sense is very much the same thing).
Note to future candidates : yes, I am this easily bought.