Before series six of The Apprentice had even begun there’d been a promotion: step forward Lord Sugar of Clapton. Not that all that ermine and refined company has done much to soften him. “You all look good on paper”, he told the 16 new candidates, “but then so do fish and chips”.
It was midnight in the boardroom and before they set out for their first challenge (making and selling sausages), there was just time for a little bombast. “My first word wasn’t mummy, it was money”, insisted one candidate. “Everything I touch turns to sold”, countered another.
Egos puffed to dangerous levels, there was just time to argue over the team names before going to Spitalfields to buy some meat. After a brief flirtation with Fusion, the boys called themselves Synergy, both sounding more like deodorants for teenage boys. Their minds on loftier matters, the girls plumped for Apollo, inspired by the (not entirely problem-free) space mission.
The teams opted for different approaches: the girls decided to make gourmet sausages while the boys went for cheap and cheerful. Channelling Gerald Ratner, telecoms entrepreneur Stuart Baggs helpfully explained, “We’re essentially pushing crap”. At 21, Stuart is the youngest ever Apprentice candidate and has a disconcerting habit of referring to himself as “Stuart Baggs – The Brand”.
With the charm and social grace of a mugger, Stuart bounded up to the genteel inhabitants of Portbello Road, demanding they buy his sausages. It was a display one team-mate described as “cringable”, proving once again that in The Apprentice the real loser is always the English language.
Speaking of which, it was the boys who ended up back in the boardroom after a narrow defeat. Team leader Dan, who managed to sell £14 worth of sausages, became the centre of a hurricane of abuse, described as “volatile”, “bullying” and “acting like a dictator” while Lord Sugar upbraided him for his posture.
Dan chose chief sausage maker Alex and man-brand Stuart for the firing line, who took the chance to flatter Lord Sugar in the most excruciating way, talking of what an honour it would be to work for “one of the most successful people, not just in Britain but in the world”.
In the end it was Dan who was fired, but at least he kept his dignity