The Apprentice: You're Trending!

Ben Rawson-Jones, Blog Editor | 16:14 UK time, Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Did you think inventor Tom Pellereau stood much chance of becoming Lord Sugar's business partner in the early stages of The Apprentice? After all, his quiet demeanour and frequent task losses hardly screamed 'winner'. Yet that's what the candidate once dubbed Mr Notepad-Calculator became, despite a strong challenge from Helen Milligan.

Tom's ascent epitomised the twists and turns throughout the series, which veered between heightened drama and hilarity. Many of these moments can be encapsulated by a look at some of the Trending Topics that stemmed from the hordes of Apprentice fans tweeting during the show...

Historical figures Christopher Columbus and William Drake made their mark during the Fast Food task and Tom's (erroneous) quest for 100% British MyPy names, while the candidate's physical features caused the lookalike actor Michael Sheen to infiltrate the Top 10. Fictional characters were also prominent, with David Brent from The Office featuring on multiple occasions due to a perceived verbal similarity with Natasha, yeah, and Princess Leia from Star Wars straddling the Twittersphere due to Zoe's eye-catching hairdo on You're Fired.

The Star Wars saga also inspired the regular trending of Jedi Jim, as the Irish bulldozer of charm's purported mind control techniques were much discussed.

The acronym BBIW made an appearance after Lord Sugar dished out the impromptu award to Jim, while his Mexican cookery skills left a lot to be desired (especially in the heat department) but enabled Macho Nacho to materialise. So did a range of other culinary concoctions and not all of them were fit were for human consumption, particularly The Popscuit! Catsize and Every Dog in particular purred and barked their way up the list, but Leon's mooted Lucky Fish product swam above them and truly captured the public's imagination. Although perhaps people were wondering why exactly the fish were lucky?

Food is more appetizing when it's served beneath a cloche of course. That's a metallic bell-shaped cover and not a greenhouse, which some candidates suspected it might be during the Discount Buying Task. That elusive item was trending alongside the similarly protective top hat, which poor Gavin learnt is a garment not readily available for purchase at a dry cleaning establishment.

  On the subject of clangers, Hip Replacement and Coffin Dodgers surfaced during the Freemium Magazine Task as many tweeted their shock. Jim's Franglais was a petit bit of a faux pas too, with the word Allo also trending due to his cunning deployment of the word wrapped up in French tones.

Finally, much credit goes to the winner Tom for reintroducing the playful concept of Paper Scissors Stone to the masses as a result of his decision-making methodology during the Paris Task. Along with landing a £250k investment from Lord Sugar, that is something to be proud of.

The Apprentice Insider meets Jim

Ben Rawson-Jones, Blog Editor | 16:39 UK time, Friday, 22 July 2011

Jim Eastwood's stint on The Apprentice was certainly eventful. Viewers were enthralled by 'Jedi Jim's supposed mind control techniques and seduced by his silky selling skills, although Lord Sugar ultimately failed to feel the force in The Final. The self-proclaimed "champion thoroughbred" put down his lightsaber and charmed the Apprentice Insider with his insights…

Jim Eastwood and The Apprentice Insider


"I was very committed to it," Jim said about his ill-fated AMSmart business plan. "It's sort of one of those things 'for the greater good', and that's not to say that Lord Sugar's not philanthropic – he does amazing things. Maybe I thought that would appeal to his sensibilities. I didn't have any other business plans up my sleeve… none that were worthy of Lord Sugar."

A testing encounter with interviewer Margaret Mountford in The Final saw Jim's language being scrutinised – and the return of an equine analogy first trotted out by Stuart Baggs in the last series. "A lot of people were mentioning about the expressions and the clichés that I put into my sentences," explained Jim. "It's just the way I speak. So the comment about the 'one trick pony' – I don't think there's any relation to 'Herr Baggs'. I was just trying to set myself apart from people."

It could have been worse if the "champion thoroughbred" tried to dazzle Margaret with his 'trés sophisticated' concoction of Franglais instead. "The Paris Task was fantastique!" beamed Jim. "I didn't know that I spoke Del Boy French until that task. Watching it back was hilarious. I do speak a little bit of French but when I say my little bit of French to somebody and they speak back in French that's where it all starts to get messy. I lined up as many appointments as Melody with my Franglish so something must have been working!"

The Apprentice was a doubled-edged lightsaber for Jim at times. In the Biscuit Task he landed the biggest order in the show's history along with the inaugural BBIW (Biggest Bullxxxxxx in the World) Award form Lord Sugar. How did that feel? "I'm always the optimistic, so when he gave me the BBIW it was when I had just sold £1.6 million worth of biscuits by overegging a pitch. But when there are no parameters you have to give it all you have got. I took that as a compliment strangely. Maybe some people would take it as an insult. But I felt as if he was moving towards what he eventually said, in that 'you're the greatest salesman in the world'. The BBIW was the unfortunate precursor."

Also caught in two minds about the candidate's competence was Nick Hewer, before he was won over by Jim's blarney-swallowing feats in the Reinvestment Task. "It was interesting to see that Nick at the start had a perception, probably rightfully so, of who he thought I was or wasn't," Jim mused. "I'm glad I changed his mind. He's very incisive and he doesn't get many things wrong. I was glad that he'd seen something in me. It meant a lot to me actually."

Nick's iconic eyebrows were raised to optimum levels during the earlier Magazine Task when PM Jim settled on that name. "We were clutching at straws," Jim stated. "We had so many good names we thought, and then at the very end with ten seconds to go – we picked a clanger. Zoe came up with 'Hip Replacement'. I sanctioned it as Project Manager. What I could have done is said to the rest of the team 'we're going to lose because of this'. But what I tried to do was get behind it and actually in two of the three pitches we got more advertising sales than the other team."

Finally, Jim summed up what he is taking away from The Apprentice (apart from a grudge against the defiant House Number 73 from the Rubbish Task): "A process like this gives you an insatiable appetite for entrepreneurship. I've worked for people and I do bits and pieces on my own and you just want to do more and more. You really realise your potential through this process."

Watch Jim chat about the Jedi phenomenon, his firing and his thoughts on Apprentice winner Tom:

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What are your highlights from Jim's time on the show? Would he have made a worthy winner?



The Apprentice Insider meets Susan

Ben Rawson-Jones, Blog Editor | 11:43 UK time, Friday, 22 July 2011

"I tend to have problems articulating myself sometimes so I come across as a bit of a fool," Apprentice runner-up Susan Ma told the Insider during their chat. That frank admission belies an impressive stint on the series, which showcased a business wisdom that defied her tender age. After firing her in The Final, Lord Sugar suggested that huge success lies ahead, although perhaps not in diplomatic relations with France…

The Apprentice Insider and candidate Susan Ma.


"That was a classic case of me talking to myself!" laughed Susan when the whole 'Are the French fond of their children?' topic was raised. "I really was not being serious with that question. It was just a matter of talking to myself and not articulating my ideas correctly and you gotta take things with a pinch of salt sometimes and not at face value - I do know that the French like their kids!"

Susan also clarified the circumstances surrounding another classic comedy moment: "Yeah, I was 'Snoozan' and 'Snoozy Susie' because I fell asleep on the Reinvestment Task. At that point I was by myself on the sub team, and I'd never been by myself before – there was always noise from another candidate. Sitting back in the car by myself, there was a lot of traffic, it was peaceful, no one talking to me, it was a warm day – and I just drifted off. I was absolutely exhausted going door-to-door carrying big duvets. It was a little power nap that kept me going for the rest of the day!"

"My performance over the series has been a lot of ups, a lot of downs," surmised the skincare expert, "but I do think that I have some good ideas and that was portrayed through various tasks where my ideas have been correct". Nick Hewer often highlighted her canny business nous, much to her delight: "It's fantastic to feel that someone is on your side and recognising that what you are doing that is positive. I have a lot of respect for Nick. He's very fair – he also brings out the negatives in what I do and I absolutely accept all his criticisms and, of course, his compliments."

As for The Final, Claude Littner and his interviewing techniques certainly left his mark on Susan. "He's a great guy, he's very charismatic and he has a way of looking at you and asking you the questions in a very demanding way," she recounted. "It just makes you shrivel up and sort of freeze on the spot. Even if you have a great answer you just can't think of it there and then."

Susan took the opportunity to state the The Apprentice winner Tom is a "lovely guy… and I'm sure his next venture with Lord Sugar will be a success". But what lies ahead for her? "The future is very bright for me at the moment. I have taken a lot from this process – a lot of criticisms, compliments and opinions on board. I've learnt that yeah, I am young and yeah, I can definitely run a business. I can definitely be entrepreneurial and I'm more creative than I ever thought. I think I can do a lot in the future – watch this space!"

Watch Susan discuss 'Bambigate', portraying a cow in the App Task and her ambitious business plan in our exclusive video chat:

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What do you think of Susan's achievements and mishaps during The Apprentice? Would she have made a worthy winner?


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