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18. David Stevenson (9th place)
Whilst notionally this ranking is mostly about placing the candidates in order based on how much they contributed to the series, it’s also about Zoe Beresford’ing out people who, whilst they seemed at least semi-competent and got a decent amount of airtime, were also completely flipping unbearable and not in a funny way. David’s brand was overenthusiasm, which you’d think would be cute, but then it turned out that enthusiasm was 100% directed towards himself, as David constantly rattled off how great his ideas were and how sexually attractive he found himself without even a hint of irony. And it got tiring. Fast. David can currently be found claiming he got fired “because he couldn’t iron”, slagging off the other candidates constantly then retreating behind the word “banter” (HERE! THAT ONE WORD ALONE JUSTIFIES THIS PLACEMENT, DON’T THINK FOR ONE MOMENT THAT IT DOESN’T) and launching some sort of LADZ ON TOUR comedy stage show with Mergim that honestly doesn’t even bear thinking about.
17. Aisha Kasim (17th place)
“Episode 1 Do-Nothing Goes Insane As Episode 2 PM And Gets Fired” is such a well worn path by now that you need to really bring something special to it to stand out. And Aisha…was just kind of bossy and drab? She had none of Rory’s brainstorming session finesse, Lindsay’s multiple vote madness, or even Scott’s flaily angry barkiness, and as such will only ever be a footnote in Apprentice history.
16. Jenny Gulbis (16th place)
So I got to thinking how Jenny was really more of an incidental Fresh Meat character than an Apprentice candidate. Some sort of obnoxious clinger-on still hanging around campus long after graduation day just because they can’t let go of their University days. And then I got to thinking how much more hilarious and punchy Jenny Gulbis would have been if played by Charlotte Ritchie rather than…well, Jenny Gulbis, so here she is.
15. April Jackson (13th place)
I tried finding April hilariously dour but in the end I think she was just kind of…boring? Her one real definable thing was her wide variety of hair-dos and even then Charleine did it better. Also, not that this series wasn’t comprehensively spoiled inside and out from the off, but she was one of those candidates who was literally all over the London press from the Thursday before her boot episode aired, all “GUESS WHAT GUYS I’M OPENING A RESTAURANT AND LAUNCHING A PERFUME AND I DUNNO SOMETHING WITH MY BOUTIQUE, ALSO I SHAGGED USAIN BOLT PROBABLY DID I MENTION IT? INTERVIEW ME, TAKE MY PHOTO!” and it was just a bit sad. At least wait til you’ve got fired love.
14. Waluigi (Winner)
Let’s be honest, the show’s attempts to carve out Winner Edits has been running on fumes for a while now. Neither Dr Leah nor Mark got much in the way of crafting or care to their storylines and Joseph’s time on The Apprentice was pretty much entirely him being a background GRAFTER and low-key resenting Richard without ever really getting involved in anything interesting. This is a guy who was so disconnected from everything going on around him at all times that he was surprised IN EPISODE 9 when Selina turned out to be quite manipulative. They made a token effort at getting us all to root for him towards the end by playing up his troubled childhood and his feeling out of his depth in the world of slick propery wankers but…it wasn’t really enough for me to care. Well done on being an alright substitute PM on that task you lost though I guess…
13. Scott Saunders (8th place)
Let’s be honest, Scott is this high up in the list solely because he quit in spectacular fashion, so let’s discuss that. The Apprentice has had a long and storied history of quitters (Raleigh quitting nobly in order to be with his wounded brother, Adam quitting before his series even started, Adele hilariously quitting about 5 seconds before getting fired, Katie Hopkins quitting for attention, Lindsay and Ifti both fading out so pitifully nobody can really be sure whether they got fired or quit or both) but none were quite so feisty about it as Scott. For the first month of the show he was everyone’s perky best friend, culminating in his being so noble in the Pet Show boardroom that the show actively started telling him to be more of a bastard. Which normally this show doesn’t have to do. So to see him go from that to cussing out first Sam, then Brett, then finally quitting from the winning team, all but telling the show to stick its “opportunity” up its arse was quite the switch, and as much as I love this show on a sentimental level it’s always gratifying when someone tells it to fuck off. Other than that sudden heel turn though Scott didn’t really do anything other than have constantly perky nipples. I guess for a lot of you that’d be enough.
12. Dan Callaghan (18th place)
CAN I interestyouina SALAD?!??? (wait where are you going)
11. Natalie Dean (14th place)
I see a lot of “WORST CANDIDATE EVER!” cries for Natalie, but I’m not convinced. Sure she bought rotten squid, was a worse pitcher than Diana Ross was a penalty taker, managed to alienate half of London’s booksellers, fucked up buying cheese, and on a tactical level was pretty much topping out at “twist up your mouth like you’re in a Tangfastics advert to express your disbelief at what you’re hearing here” but I don’t think she had any truly iconic fuck-ups, and she actually seems to have contributed fairly well to the Pet Show task. Which just leaves her muddling along the middle of this list impact-wise, snurfling along in her Blink 182 hoodie doomed to be forgotten by most people within two series at most.
10. Ruth Whiteley (15th place)
I liked Ruth – she was kooky, she wore outlandish clothes, she took Dan under her wing as her sales protege and scooted away from the resulting trainwreck without so much as a word, she gave motivational sales speeches and she gave the world “Alive, Alert, Awake, Enthusiastic”. Probably. But unfortunately for Ruth she will forever embody one of the worse Kaenisms of a series full of dreadful ones, to whit, Kaen saying something patently untrue (“Ruth is terrible at sales and everyone is running away from her screaming”) which then turns out to be true three/four episodes later. Every time this was supposed to make us admire Kaen’s insight and foresight and every time instead it made me want to fire a rubberband directly into her eye. Sorry to Ruth that she has forever been tarred by the Brady Brush but here we are.
9. Mergim Butaja (12th place)
Mergim had one of my favourite forgotten story arcs of this entire fragmented series. He appeared for the first time at the very end of the first episode to castigate everyone else on his team for not volunteering to be Project Manager, even though he hadn’t done so either, and then proceeded to spend every episode not volunteering to be Project Manager, until Lordalan decided to finally force him to be Project Manager, 5 minutes before he got fired, for a laugh. What happened in between was not a lot, other than repeated uses of the word “dawrlin” and a trail of mispainted signs and holes in walls, but Mergim’s relationship with power or otherwise, and his semi-inspiring refugee story (if you forget that it’s about MERGIM) are enough for landing halfway up this list.
8. Vana Koutsomitis (Runner-Up)
As the ranks of strong, outspoken, tough-talking, independent women runner-ups of this show swells to ninestrong (the only male runner-ups remaining Chris Bates and Tom Gearing let’s all think about that pairing for a little while longer shall we……………ok I’ve finished) it’s hard to know where Vana fits into the grand scheme of them. Her story on the show seemed to have four phases :
a) Spend the first few weeks constantly rattling off how the women all need to be supportive and not catty and not backstab and now bitch about one another’s pitching skills even if Natalie did spit just sputter out the same two words in varying orders over and over again, until she gets trapped in the back of a car in rural France with Selina Waterman-Smith for 24 hours at which point SOD IT SELINA YOU’RE A TURD.
b) Potter around in the background being cheerful and selling things and occasionally popping up to cuss Selina out some more. At this point everything Vana did positively on the show, like “telling a woman they didn’t have time to turn her garden into the Hanging Gardens Of Babylon” or “selling some balloons whilst dressed like a cat” was treated like the second coming of Christ by a fanbase desperately looking for anybody to root for out of this cast
c) Her frenemyship with Richard which was kind of adorable, although ultimately framed as her having to win his respect, which seems…odd given that she is a high-powered former stockbroker and MBA and he is some guy who run the third best online marketing company acccording to the Berkshire Business Breakfasting & Brunch Bunch but ok I guess.
d) Her businessplan turns out to need £4,000,000,000,000,000 to get started oops she loses
All of these storylines were fun on some level. They didn’t…so much hang together though any better than all the bits of Frankenstein’s Monster did.
7. Brett Butler-Smythe (6th place)
I’m sure (so I’ve heard) that for many people the appeal of Brett was primarily visual, in that he is I think of all the candidates this show’s ever had the one who looks most like a gay porn star. For me, the joy of Brett is all verbal, as everything that came out of the man’s mouth, from his initial waffling about fishcake spec, through pushing the virtues of the rabbit sector, and finally to those health snack pitches that were almost Dell’Olio-esque in their utter incoherence, was reality tv gold. Everything about Brett’s attempts to come across as a serious and credible businessman was so try-hard that it was endearing, and whilst it didn’t quite justify the “YOU ARE THE LAST HONOURABLE MAN ALIVE SIR AND I SALUTE YOU” levels of hagiography Lordalan gave him on the way out, he was always operating at about the right mix of competence and incompetence for this show, whilst never really feeling relevant to the overall story of the series (whatever that was). I will, at this point, address the fact that this cast more than probably any other before have gone over the line on social media, and Brett is sadly one of two candidates who have been officially dropped one place in this ranking based on having gone too far at one point. Control yourself guys, it’s a public medium.
5/6. Elle Curry (13th place/10th place)
In the end, there was just no separating them. Was there a happier moment all series than watching these two find themselves as the writers of vaguely erotic fiction for the under 5s? Sam gesticulating around and flapping wildly and pontificating about the Platonic ideal whilst Elle sat there mutely in her tiara eating a pencil. It’s so gratifying to see that they’ve stayed as the most cohesive writing partnership since Ellery Queen and continued this new career path in the real world. Such as it is. If I were to be forced to separate them out, Elle was probably my favourite as her disastrohus stint as PM and especially sub-team leader on the 10 Items task were more iconic than Sam getting his fingers trapped in a till one time, but let’s face it, they belong together. Truly the best of this year’s useless midboot randos.
4. Gary Poulton (4th place)
I think anybbody objecting to Gary getting this high should reflect on the fact that a lot of the time you can tell the quality of a candidate by the number of nicknames they had. And Gary had a parcelfull. Our Gary. Corporate G. Gary The Giraffe. Mr Retail. Admittedly most (/all) of those nicknames were made up, and probably only ever used by, Gary himself but they still count damnit. Really the joke with Gary was that he was the only normal person on the show. Possibly ever. He works for Tesco, he’s got a stable relationship with a normal woman, has no real tragic backstory to draw on, was reasonably competent in ways that a normal person would be (but not outstandingly so), didn’t get into fights (any of them, ever, with any of them, IN THIS CAST), his hobbies are golf and cricket, and his business idea is exactly what yours would be don’t lie. If any of us were to be abducted and forced onto the show and made to come up with a business plan on the spot, your first idea would be “mobile disco”, don’t lie. Gary’s inoffensiveness and normality was only made more hilarious by Kaen’s raw seething hatred of him, for absolutely no reason. Given how awful Kaen was this year, it gave me great pleasure to watch Gary’s utterly indifferent march to the final four send her absolutely insane, yanking her hair out and screeching about how CORPORATE (?) he is. Oh and him casually telling that woman that her cake Nutella in it as she hyperventialted into her cupped hands was my highlight of the entire series I’m sorry. So Gary.
3. Selina Waterman-Sith (7th place)
It’s really weird seeing Selina out of context of the show, because she occasionally, like, *smiles* and wears clothes that aren’t made out of animal carcasses and stuff. I’m not sure if the show did one its biggest editing numbers ever on her or if the show itself “got to her” but Selina has to be the most visually villanous Apprentice candidate of all time. Constantly scowling, sneering, clenching her fist and dispatching her Winged Monkeys to pull Charleine’s hair, Selina radiated malevolence out of every well-moisteurised pore. Openly maneouvering the whole time, starting fist-fights with other candidates (even Chris Bates pulled himself back from the brink just in time), threatening to mow down pedestrians, hating children, yelling “MA MERE EST MORE, MON PERE EST MORT, MON CHIEN EST MORT!” to close out a deal X Factor style…there was never any danger of Selina being seen as anything other an out-and-out wrong-un, and she did it all in style and high heels. She was also, amazingly, for being such an archvile pariah, only in the boardroom twice. Which really feels like a bit of a waste giving how she worked that stage like it was her very own Starkiller. That, combined with her slightly muted downfall, prevents her reaching the real peak of this ranking. (She is also, you will be entirely unsurprised to hear, the other candidate being arbitrarily docked a place for her twitter ANTICS. Don’t become the new Hopkins Selina. You’re better than that. No really.
2. Charleine Wain (5th place)
Yes, just as in the actual show, Charleine just about beats her arch-rival. It’s hard to believe that the very first episode of the show featured Team Powerbottom winning a task because of their synergy, with Selina as Project Manager and Charleine as Sub-Team Leader. Then again, after her two stints as Project Manager (1 – writing the worst kids book in the history of the world whilst launching the world’s most pointless, transparent and infantile “strategic campaign” against Richard ; 2- literally throwing every ingredient she has into a blender and claiming the results could cure cancer) it’s hard to believe Charleine ever managed even a subteam successfully at any point. Really she shone best as a team member, mostly puttering along cheerfully like she’d just wandered off the set of Hollyoaks, but then suddenly, periodically, because Richard said something smarmy, or Selina said something bitchy, or Aisha over-ruled her, turning into Angry Kirby, barking and squealing furiously to whoever would listen. I think my favourite of such occasions was when the other person was some random hair model brought in for an advert, but they were all pretty much gold. Also? So many haircuts.
1. Richard Woods (3rd place)
So here we go :
Episode 1 : Dan enters the series as the voice of the people, loudly disclaiming waffle and marketing bollocks, just like we all would. Lordalan then immediately reads out waffle and marketing bollocks from Richard’s business plan. We all laugh at the marketing tosser smug Week 4 boot villain. Richard is then best salesman for his team and Dan does nothing and gets the boot, the first victim of his own Richealousy. (<3)
Episode 2 : Richard leads his team as PM to the greatest marketing task victory in Apprentice history, is incredibly smug about it (<3) whilst assorted nobodies David, Joseph, and Sam and Kaen all bitch incoherently about how there’s something that hes doing wrong as PM that they can’t quite articulate.
Episode 3 : Richard makes his biggest mistake in the entire process by deciding he wants to do Love Actually style bumbling Hugh Grant roleplay in France over a £10 bit of cheese. Naturally Joseph jumps on it because he decided last episode that he hated Richard, but his relentless piledriving of Richard all episode is all for naught as the team win anyway (<3)
Episode 4 : Richard’s primary antagonist is now Charleine for some reason (I think Richard’s personality really most suited this series’ fragmented storytelling structure, as it was very easy to believe that anybody could randomly and violently start hating Richard at any moment) as she tries to argue that he made the wrong choice of products. Richard then perfectly, and smugly (<3) dismantles her argument and his team win.
Episode 5 : Charleine is still Richard’s main enemy, as she implements a plan to undermine Richard by pointedly asking to speak to David instead every time he picks up the phone. It is clear that everyone, including David, finds this highly embarassing, and Richard chirpily points out to her that her scheme is really obvious and boring and doesn’t affect him in the slightest.
Episode 6 : For the first and last time in the entire process, Richard’s team lose, but between Elle’s hilaribad PMing, Mergim wandering around London literally smashing the place up, and April instituting a new National Minimum Wage of 10p per hout, it’s all such a trainwreck that nobody can pull their heads together in time to find a way to pin it on him, even though they clearly all loathe him, and he doesn’t even so much as touch the final boardroom despite everyone hating him. Still they do their best to get rid of him by just driving off in the van at the end of the day without him, and hoping nobody notices.
Episode 7 : Richard and Charleine’s feud reaches its apex as he and she actively start poaching customers from one another in a petty game of one-upmanship in the middle of Manchester, in front of God and everyone. Charleine just about comes ahead on points and pounds, but then Richard immediately pulls focus back on him by pretend ice-skating. Their feud is then closed over champagne cocktails at the top of The Shard, as Richard brags to Charleine about his massive house in Canary Wharf and she…didn’t so much decide that she liked him as came to terms with his existence.
Episode 8 : Direct from feuding with Charleine, Richard forms an unholy alliance with Selina, and gains Vana as his new best frenemy, as they tussle over whether he is in fact using her as his kitchen slave. He spends the entire task annoying Vana horribly, but then is cited as the sole reason for the team’s win, and is smug (<3)
Episode 9 : Vana and Richard sell property together. Vana sells property. Richard sells more though. Richard is smug (<3)
Episode 10 : His team having not so much lost as found itself quagmired in a dumb stunt twist for sensation and ratings, Richard decides to pull a full heel turn, openly lying in the Boardroom about the information Vana told him about the cooking process for the team’s healthy raw vegetable snack treats (what a fascinating task right?) because if people are going to hate you it might as well be for a REASON right? This move is so transparently vulgar and obvious that it finally turns Lordalan against Richard, but even he finds himself powerless to stop Richard due to his overwhelmingly superior task record.
Final 5 : We meet Richard’s wife. It is glorious.
Interviews : Richard finds himself at a loose end – at Interviews with his three biggest archrivals of the series (and Gary) (<3), and with no prospect of winning given that Lordalan invested only last year in a digital marketing agency headed by one of Richard’s own personal friends. But he can’t allow any of them the satisfaction of taking him out, so he pulls the pin out on himself, in one of the grandest interview stage meltdowns of all time, which ends with him writhing on the sofa crying for his mummy (<3)
The Final : Richard comes back and gets married to Charleine or something and it’s not as funny as the show hopes it would be oh well.
Afterwards : So it turns out that Richard was doing the show specifically against all medical advice, having suffered three (!) mini strokes immediately before applying, secretly losing his eyesight week on week until he is legally blind in one eye by Week 10. Truly nothing could stop Richard, except himself. My favo.