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Who deserves to win “The Apprentice” final?

June 4, 2009

As if the first 10 weeks of BBC One’s “The Apprentice” were not hard enough for the five surviving candidates, last night they faced their toughest challenge yet – gruelling interviews with some of Sir Alan Sugar’s most trusted business associates.

Every detail of their personal and professional lives was to be picked apart by the fearsome panel and there would be a further grilling by Sir Alan back in the boardroom.

The interview stage has thrown up some memorable moments in series past (remember Lee McQueen’s reverse pterodactyl?) but the remaining candidates; James, Kate, Lorraine, Yasmina and Debra all pretended not to be bothered, with Yasmina boasting: “I’ve never had an interview and not got the job.”

She was the first to be made to eat her words when Sir Alan’s trouble-shooter Claude Litner produced her restaurant’s accounts. Yasmina, supposedly one of Britain’s “brightest business talents”, did not know the difference between gross profit and net profit or what turnover is. “It’s what you are turning over,” she muttered. “You’re talking nonsense,” said Claude.

So was James. He has been the most entertaining element of this series, most memorably when Sir Alan referred to him as being from a “village that is missing an idiot”, but he has been lucky to get this far. His self-diagnosed foot-in-mouth syndrome returned last night: he failed to answer a single question coherently and his CV was branded “90 percent unreadable.” Comparing Sir Alan to Willy Wona was perhaps the moment that sealed his fate.

Lorraine was even worse, prattling on to Birmingham City Football Club Managing Director Karren Brady about being able to read people’s minds. Her “gift” should have told her that Karren was really angry she lied about dates of employment on her CV.

Debra’s hot temper has landed her in trouble throughout this series and it returned to haunt her again last night. Sir Alan’s advisor Alan Whitter had spoken to some of Debra’s former colleagues who, it turns out, do not like her very much. “She is loud, obnoxious and inexperienced,” he said, summing her up rather nicely.

Kate, once again, sparkled. Claude struggled to find something negative to say about her before settling for her being “too perfect.”

Back in the boardroom, the associates delivered their verdicts to Sir Alan. The panel was not impressed with Lorraine, one of them saying “I couldn’t shut her up. You’d ask her one question and 10 minutes later she would still be going. I think she would drive you up the wall.”

Only Kate received a glowing review and as this blog said last week, she is the only stand-out candidate. As Karren Brady said: “She won’t let you down.”

When Sir Alan called the contestants in to learn their fate, poor James looked like a broken man and he barely put up a fight as time ran out on his time in the competition. Even Sir Alan agreed that James has made this series entertaining, but he was still the first to be booted out of the semi-final.

Lorraine was next, off to pursue a career as the next Mystic Meg. Which left Yasmina, Debra and Kate competing for the two places in the final. Fortunately, there was no repeat of some of the terrible decisions Sir Alan has made in the past, and an elated Kate was told she was in the last two. Always confident and impressive, she looks unbeatable in the final.

There was nothing between Yasmina and Debra – they have been just as bad as each other. Debra has upset everyone in this competition, including the judges. She calls herself “tenacious” whereas we call her tyrannical. Yasmina already has a successful business, so why does she want to work for someone else?

Sir Alan appeared genuinely unsure who to fire, but in the end it was Debra’s aggressive nature, which she had been told to curtail almost every week, which led to her downfall. “Keep in touch,” he said as she walked out the door. Be careful what you wish for, Sir Alan.

Kate Walsh and Yasmina Siadatan go head-to-head in “The Apprentice” final on Sunday June 7 at 9pm on BBC One. Can Yasmina stop Kate? Who do you think would be a worthy winner?

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