Three fired as Apprentices enter final straight

THE penultimate episode and the welcome return of a familiar face. For the interview challenge, Lord Sugar prised Margaret Mountford from her scrolls (she’s completing a Ph.D in Papyrology) to interrogate the final five. Her steely glare and raised eyebrow were as effective as ever, though other interviewers favoured a less subtle approach. “I’m going to give you an opportunity to do it the hard way and I’ll rip you to shreds,” snarled Claude Littner, playing the role of a cut-price Bond villain.

Grilled in the glamorous surroundings of Viglen’s St Albans headquarters, each candidate had their own way of dealing with the interview process. Joanna crumbled, Jamie blamed others for his failings while Stuart violated basic social conventions. Stella and Chris meanwhile registered so little emotion you wondered if they were the result of Viglen’s first foray into artificial intelligence.

Stuart seemed to be having the toughest time, with questions raised about his ethics, business practices and just how truthful his CV was. He was also asked the question viewers have been waiting 11 weeks for an answer to: “I’m Stuart Baggs, the brand’ – what on earth are you talking about?”

We never quite found out but it is fascinating what you learn from these interviews (aside from the range of telecoms licenses available in the Isle of Man). Jamie may or may not have a third nipple and apparently Chris is one of the foremost theology scholars in Britain. When he was pressed on it, he admitted he meant he did well at A Level. One wonders how he’s reinterpreted his Cycling Proficiency test and grade two piano exam.

Speaking of learning new things, perhaps mid-interview wasn’t the best time for Joanna to find out that there’s a difference between Amsair and Amstrad and the correct pronunciation of Viglen.

Back in the boardroom debate continued about the five hopefuls. Was Stella passionate enough? Should Joanna stick to running her small business? There was at least one easy, and long overdue, decision as Lord Sugar finally told Stuart to pack his Baggs. A true Christmas miracle.

With another two firings due, Lord Sugar got rid of Joanna and Jamie, albeit with rather less relish. And so to the final, with Stella vs Chris, in a battle of the monotones, with experience on one side and education on the other.