Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Apprentice UK: Did I mention my Sandhurst Scholarship?

I was going to title this blog post "obnoxiousness reigns supreme", celebrating the return of the Ben Clarke we know, but over this episode of The Apprentice I think Ben reminded us that there are other things about him worth celebrating such as, his constant reminder to us that he turned down a scholarship to Sandhurst and his recurring refrain asking people to "please let him finish" as he launches into another bout of waffle.

Even worse (or better depending on your viewpoint) today we discovered he is ultimately spineless but more on that later.

The task this week was simple, both teams were given a similar set of items of varying value. The teams had to go out, sell these items and the team that got the most money won. Sir Alan appointed Phil Taylor as team leader of Ignite and Ben as the team leader of Empire

We turn our attention to Phil first. I used to like Phil but as we get further into the process I feel the worse aspects of his personality are coming to the fore, especially when it concerns Lorraine Tighe.

Last week they bickered endlessly over the choice of advert, with Phil dismissing Lorraine's concerns of his 'Pants Man' marketing idea. This week Phil promised to listen more and that seem to augur well for his his leadership. That entente cordial however did not last long. Lorraine had at the beginning of the task correctly pointed out that one of the items, a rug, looked promising and they should investigate a little more into its value. Phil wasted no time in dismissing this idea totally.

A fatal flaw but fortunately nothing in comparison to the shambles that Ben considers team leadership. He was unforgivably rude about the buyers behind their backs, he pushed through deals that were clearly unprofitable and his overall strategy was aimless, so no surprise that he lost.

For all his bravado when it came to the point at which he selects the two to go into the boardroom and face Sir Alan he showed why Sandhurst and the British Army were lucky that he chose not to go. For the nominations he initially choose James McQuillan and Noorul Choudhury but when he heard the sound of incredulity in Sir Alan's voice on hearing James nominated, he performed one of the fastest, most spineless flip-flops in apprentice history dropping his nomination of James and going for Debra Barr instead.

Sir Alan always asks that team leaders bring in people who led to the task being failed implying the boardroom judgement was to be based on the task itself. Very rarely is this the case. If that had been the case today we would have been saying bye-bye to Ben, but instead the judgement seemed to made on the series as a whole and once it headed in that direction it was clear Noorul was a goner. For a man who as been so quiet all along he did put in an incredibly spirited defence, but it was too little too late.

Noorul Choudhury

To be honest I think the moment Noorul was nominated, Sir Alan had him down as fired. Plus for some unfathomable reason Sir Alan's side kick Nick Hewer seemed to go out of his way in the boardroom to defend Ben's performance, something that drew Debra's ire and boy did she let it rip, so much so that Sir Alan to issue her a warning about her tone with Nick.

Standouts this week:

Debra Barr : Say what you like about Debra, as long as you say she has balls. Yes, massive cojones as they say in the country that gave us Swine flu. It is not often that candidates defend themselves in the face of criticism from Nick but Debra did that and more, albeit maybe a tad too aggresively. It tells us thoough that you know she isn't going down without a massive fight and she doesn't care who the opponent is.

Noorul Choudhury : There is a inner beast in all of us, we just need the something to bring it out, for some it does not take a lot, for others it takes quite a prompting, for Noorul it just takes Ben. Noorul found his voice in the boardroom and what a performance he gave. Sadly the baggage of poor performance from the previous weeks was too much to overcome.

Ben Clarke : All I can say is thank God, Ben did not go to Sandhurst. Thousands of young men put their lives at risk in the Army to defend this country. The thought of Ben leading these guys into action is not even worth thinking about.


  1. Debra must have balls of steel - she not only snapped back at Nick, but when Ben first said he was going to bring James back into the boardroom (wrong decision) she volunteered to be taken back instead! I liked the fact that she put Ben in his place as well.

  2. Debra like Ben may rub people the wrong way, but I find her a more interesting character. She comes across across as being competent something I find totally lacking in Ben.