OTB Meets the Apprentice Fire-ees..

With three of the five remaining candidates facing the sack this week, you could have cut the tension in that boardroom with a spoon last night. Especially given Liz’s surprise execution last episode. So while Sugar geared himself up for a hat-trick of back shoving, the remaining candidates kept their quivering egos in check, and struggled not to break out and throttle each other.

It was a choppy ride as each was subjected to head-master-esque grillings from three of Sugar’s personal colleagues, and then again by the stony panda himself. In the end, the three ‘fire-ees’ were devastated to walk away so late in the game. But given a few weeks to rest off their nerves, OnTheBox managed to get Joanna and Jamie to offer us a tidy dose of self-defense. What a shame that Stuart Baggs – self announced ‘One Man Brand’ – made no such offer; he had bigger fish to fry.*

Baggs got off to a bad start when he was forced to admit that his telecoms company was not fully licensed. But in spite of sharp jabs he held strong, all the while gurning so hard you’d think he was trying to make diamonds out of coal in his mouth.

Pity Joanna couldn’t match Baggs’ fearless self-promotion. Quizzed about Sugar’s associated companies, she became nervous and admitted she didn’t know what they were. ‘I’m sorry, it’s unprofessional of me I know’.

We asked Joanna why she didn’t defend herself better. She said, ‘Well I knew one of us was going to be asked that and I did do my research but, and I’m not using it as an excuse, but when you’re under so much pressure it’s difficult. I was so nervous’.

Similarly Jamie, the wriggly worm, stuttered through his interrogations, smiling but unable to account for accusations that he was not ‘solely responsible’ for his own company. In the heat of it Jamie said he did “99 per cent” of the work – quite a statement for anyone not running a hot dog stand.

We quizzed Jamie about these patent exaggerations, but he insisted, ‘OK, so the whole 99 per cent thing I don’t think I actually wrote that down . . .We were talking about it, and that’s how I felt at the time.’ So he felt 99 per cent? By that logic his business partner should now feel 1 per cent.

And what about that comment about having a third nipple? On his application form? He insisted, ‘It was a stupid comment but I was happy to inject a bit of humour. . . No, I’m not embarrassed’. Well good on you mate!

What about saying, ‘I’m the best salesman I know?’ We asked, ‘You’ve never met a sales person who’s better than yourself?’ Jamie’s said, ‘Well I’ve never met another person who’s being judged by Sugar Karen and Nick’.

‘So out of the 15, you are the best?’

‘Well I wouldn’t say that’.

Oh but he did. We tried to go further by probing into the success of his company, which invited boulders of doubt among his interviewees, but at this point his PR Agent leaned over and told us to Stick to the show. Righteo then.

For all their weaknesses, we have to hand it to the fire-ees for sticking out this far. Stellar and Chris may have secured their spot in the final, but it seemed more a case of slipping under the radar than any kind of dazzling act. When asked if they would miss the team, Jamie said simply, ‘Everyone’, while Joanna said, ‘I’ve got my own family and work to worry about, so I don’t know if I’ll miss anyone’.

Which is about as close as we’ll get to an honest opinion.

*Having boasted about being a ‘big fish in a small pond’, Baggs might have trouble finding another one hefty enough for the great frying pan of his ambition. We are sorry that OnTheBox could not be this fish. And another thing: How can a fish own a field of ponies?