The Apprentice 2009 – Episode 11 the final five

Two hours of prime time Apprentice on BBC1 last night put aside comedy and caricature for an intriguing insight into the real people in the final five of the Sir Alan game show.

4th June 2009 at 12:39 pm

I’ve been away on holiday and missed a few episodes of The Apprentice as some of you may have spotted.

But in my absence something strange has happened, if last night’s final five preview and interview show was anything to go by.

Firstly, I think I too may be afflicted by the Mystic Meg intuition of one of last night’s final firings, Lorraine Tighe.

Back in week one I predicted who would be in the final three: Yasmina, Rocky and Debra.

Well, just like Lorraine, my intuition was almost right, but not quite, although I don’t understand how I missed the Stepford Wife-like perfection that is Kate Walsh.

The other thing that struck me was just how popular The Apprentice must have become. The BBC devoted two whole hours to the show in prime time last night and the final is scheduled for peak viewing on Sunday.

Business as entertainment has clearly taken off. Celebrity entrepreneurs are the new celebrity chefs.

The last thing to strike me watching last night, is that the comedy – so easy to play up as the show’s own producers and I have done over the last few weeks – is making way for a programme that does after all have something serious to say about business.

A bit of TV manipulation’s been going on I’m sure, but Debra’s progression is a case in point. She’s appeared obnoxious, loud mouthed and über-ruthless as many of her former colleagues confirmed last night, but her journey through The Apprentice has clearly taught her something – about business and life.

The preview show focusing in on the characters and backgrounds of the final five, proved as, if not more interesting, than the penultimate episode itself.

You got a real sense of the very often working class backgrounds, adversity and inspiring family members that had shaped and motivated the finalists: James’s bricklayer Dad, Lorraine’s battle with a fused spine as a child, Yasmina’s Iranian immigrant family, Kate’s desire to impress her hard-working mum and Debra’s inspirational business father.

Suddenly caricature gave way to a better understanding of the real people battling it out to be Sir Alan’s new Apprentice. Suddenly the show seemed to be a little less about business pantomime.

It also has to be said the finalists, Kate and Yasmina, have to be two of the most impressive business people to have appeared on the show. Sir Alan must be delighted.

Quotes of the week, both from James’s comic CV: “I put a leash on people who spunk money up the wall” and “I bring ignorance to the table”.

Business lesson of the week: never underestimate The Apprentice, it might just have something serious to say about business after all.


Alex is the founder and editor of SmallBizPod, the UK's first podcast dedicated to small business, start-ups and entrepreneurship. Alex writes about topical small business issues, entrepreneurs and anything else that catches his eye here on the small business blog.

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