Alan Sugar’s investment of £250,000 will ensure that this year’s The Apprentice winner Joseph ‘Valentino’ Valente’s hopes for a nationwide plumbing business will certainly be more than just a pipe dream. But before Joseph could secure his dream investment, he had to work his way through twelve weeks’ worth of challenges that aimed to separate the wheat from the chaff of the entrepreneurial world. The show is now in its eleventh series and hopefully it won’t be going away any time soon, because this year it has been non-stop entertaining programming from start to finish!
Admittedly, this was the first year that I watched The Apprentice, so the concept still felt fresh to me. I know that it may seem odd to comment on the structure of a show in its eleventh series but I must say that it was perfectly satisfying. The fact that the candidates received a new task at the beginning of each episode and then had to follow it through right up to the end result not only served to show where the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses lie, but it was also highly cathartic. But rather than dwelling on the concept of the show for too long and boring those of you who have been watching The Apprentice since series one, let’s take a look at what made series eleven so entertaining.
For starters, there were some pretty dramatic firsts in this year’s boardroom. Claude Littner took up the mantle of one of Lord Sugar’s personal aides for the first time this year, filling the shoes of Nick Hewer who left last series. For me, Claude found the perfect balance between being stern with the candidates whilst also being supportive in his delivery of constructive criticism each week. His presence throughout the entire process introduced a very interesting dimension to the interview stage for the final five candidates, as you could genuinely tell that many of them felt more comfortable with delivering their business plans to him than to the people they had never met before. Joseph’s conversation with Claude seemed to stand testimony to how far the process had matured him and it was quite touching to see how thankful he was for Claude’s role in that experience.
The firsts in this year’s boardroom weren’t always on Lord Sugar’s side of the table though, as Scott Saunders became the first candidate in the show’s history to remove himself from the process. Despite his team winning the challenge, Scott receive some brutal and, let’s be honest, unnecessary comments from Lord Sugar that seemed to push him over the edge. He was genuine and professional in the way that he handled the situation when you think about it, since he could have very easily gone off the rails at such harsh treatment and then have made a bit of a show of himself, but he didn’t. His departure in this manner was an exciting change of pace that nobody could have seen coming (unless the press spoiled it for you first, that is).
Perhaps the largest scandal around this year’s series involved Selina Waterman-Smith. The candidate claimed over Twitter that the show had been edited in such a way that she had been made out to be like a “pantomime villain”. She implied that her portrayal as petty and stubborn was not sincere and that it was largely fabricated for entertainment value. It is difficult to say if there’s any truth to her claims, but the footage itself does stand to oppose her. It proves that she did in fact say the things that she said at some point and her frequent offences do seem to suggest that the comments weren’t being taken out of context. Her actions off-screen do also seem to further support this portrayal of her. She supposedly broke her contract by not appearing on The Apprentice’s follow-up show You’re Fired and it was also reported to have had a physical altercation with fellow candidate, Charleine Wain. She was certainly an interesting character.
From start to finish it must be said that the eleventh series of The Apprentice was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The candidates all had certain things about them that made you either love or loathe them whole-heartedly: whether that be Gary’s abundance of hilarious nicknames or Richard’s overall sleaziness. It was also a lot of fun to follow along with the show and all of its candidates on social media too. In my opinion, no programme has a better or more hilarious online presence than The Apprentice. From the honest subtitles shorts for each week’s episode to Lord Sugar’s personal tweets, there’s tonnes of extra content that keeps you laughing long after the credits have rolled. I personally relentless posted on Twitter for them to #BringBackDan after the devastating departure of Daniel Callaghan in week one and they totally did bring him back (for You’re Hired with all of the other ex-candidates admittedly, but still)! Sorry for the spam, Dan…