LORD Sugar called time on Trishna Thakrar after the Gin task on this week’s episode of The Apprentice UK, reducing the field of candidates to the final five.
For many viewers it came as a surprise, as she’d been regarded as one of the strongest contestants, but at this stage of the process, there are no hiding places. Tensions are high, the candidates are living on their wits, and even the smallest mistake is magnified.
So let’s take a look at how Trishna received her last orders in the last chance saloon of Week 10.
The Task – Gin
The six candidates received a 5.30am summons to the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, where Lord Sugar tasked them to create and produce their own brand of gin.
With the teams assembled, Courtney Wood was at the head of Nebula, leading Jessica Cunningham and Alana Spencer, pitching their brand ‘Giin’. Grainne McCoy PMd Titans, with Trishna Thakrar and Frances Bishop, to develop and promote their orange-coloured ‘Colony Gin’.
One couldn’t help but wonder whether the alcohol consumed by Grainne and Trishna during tasting at the product development stage had played a part. Certainly, there was a total disconnect from the branding process, steered solely by Frances (who was left unable to reach her teammates, resulting in a branding label minus the ingredients of the product). Karren Brady had a typically ‘harsh but fair’ view on the situation: “19 missed calls, and they’re getting pissed in the distillery!”
Either way, the final tally was orders for 3,200 bottles worth £71,400 for Courtney’s Team Nebula, and only 240 bottles, worth £5,280 for Grainne’s Team Titans.
While Trishna has been a strong candidate throughout this season of The Apprentice UK, she left her flanks exposed this week in two respects. The idea to colour the gin orange had been hers, and her insistence on retaining it during the pitch to Tesco had led to the supermarket’s passing on the brand. In addition, her rather stroppy mood on Day 2 of the task was seized on by her teammates as a contributing factor in the failure of the task.
The Apprentice UK – Final Five
So with the field of candidates now reduced from the initial 18 contenders, here’s how things are shaping up for those who are left heading into the closing stages of this process.
Frances Bishop: back on the losing side this week, this brings her losses to 8 out of 10. She has been adept at strategically avoiding final three showdowns—indeed, a furious Trishna accused her of not directly voicing dissent directly to PM Grainne. However, the panelists on after-show You’re Fired were reasonably upbeat about her prospects, with entrepreneur Frances Dickens describing her as a good all rounder who was “creative” and “presents well”.
Jessica Cunningham: Jessica was on the winning team this week, so didn’t face the danger of a ‘final three’ boardroom inquisition. Her enthusiasm is insatiable. On after-show You’re Fired, there were two incisive comments from panelists. Comedian Nathan Catan said that Jessica had “MCd her way through the pitches”, and that it was entirely possible she could win simply by exhausting Lord Sugar. “Okay, stop talking, you’re hired!” More seriously, entrepreneur Frances Dickens declared that Jessica was in her top three, but warned that she would require different and more careful approach during interviews. Still, a strong contender.
Grainne McCoy: Grainne had her second final-three in succession, and once again came within a hair’s breadth of the sack. Only Trishna’s insistence on the orange colour for the gin, and her mood on day two of the task, saved Grainne from the chop. Is she running out of steam as the end of the series approaches? Lord Sugar’s “rabbit in a car headlights” observation does not bode well, but she has shown herself to be skillful and capable enough to be in contention.
Alana Spencer: Showed her assertiveness in the Gin task and successfully stood her ground during a number of disputes with project manager Courtney. She’s a bright person, engaging and relaxed when pitching, and is extremely thorough. Will she be tough enough for the grueling interviews next week?
Courtney Wood: had his weaknesses cruelly exposed on the Gin task, particularly in pitching. Claude Littner called his pitches “incredibly boring”, and lamented a lack of “warmth”, “character”, and “passion”. On The Apprentice UK aftershow, You’re Fired, host Rhod Gilbert said that Courtney had one gear, and that if he was in front of 300 people “he would have the same energy as if he was making a cup of tea in his pants at home”. Cruel, but Courtney will need to find those extra gears if he is survive the interviews.
The Wisdom of Lord Sugar
Once again, there is more and more hard-bitten business wisdom and less laugh-out-loud funny wit from the business mogul at this stage of the process. But there were still some spot-on zingers, and we are still smarting from the preview of his parting shot to one of the candidates at the end of next week’s episode.
• “This product has got so many problems with it… When you were in school, did you ever do Geography. You’ve got the name ‘Colony’, which sends out the wrong message, and then you’ve shown me a picture of Africa, not India…” – a scathing appraisal of the Titans branding and labelling
• “The only pitch that you weren’t involved in was the one where you actually got the orders!” – questioning Grainne’s capabilities at pitching
• “Bad moods, having the hump… that’s not the calibre of person I could work with as a business partner…” – training his sights on Trishna
• “Giin? What d’you drink that with? Toonic??” – a good-humoured jibe at Team Nebula’s branding
• “Well that’s a good start at a gin pitch! Even the easel was legless, was it?” – a joke at the expense of Courtney’s antics with the props during their pitch
• “Yeah… you’d have done better shutting up, and saying, ‘Here… have this!’ – another burn for Courtney over his discomfort during the pitches
• “Listen, I’ve heard that story before. And you know what it amounts to? Jack shit! You’re fired.” – a preview of a firing from next week’s episode. Who will be on the receiving end of that??
Looking Ahead to The Apprentice UK Interviews
Next week is a bumper week for fans of The Apprentice UK. Tuesday December 13 [check here for regional airtime variations] sees the airing of The Final Five, outlining the stories behind the candidates, with family and friends, and Karren Brady and Claude Littner contributing their views also.
It will be a great curtain raiser for the next episode proper—Interviews. With the battle to become Lord Sugar’s business partner now at boiling point, the five remaining candidates are in for their toughest challenge yet, as they polish off their business plans and are subjected to a series of ferocious interviews by four of Lord Sugar’s trusted advisors—Claude Littner, Claudine Collins, Mike Soutar and Linda Plant. Based on the feedback, Lord Sugar will select his two finalists. It will not be pretty.
The Interviews are followed next Friday, December 16 [check here for regional airtime variations] by Why I Fired Them, a look back on all the candidates who fell before the final hurdle. Lord Sugar will review the best and worst performances by candidates and explain why he decided to fired them.
All in all a great, packed week to get us in the mood for the final, which will be broadcast on Sunday December 18 at 9pm, all regions.
But for right now, AGENT wishes it was next Thursday already!
The Apprentice UK is broadcast Thursdays 9-10pm on BBC One, followed by The Apprentice: You’re Fired, hosted by Rhod Gilbert, on BBC Two, 10-10.30pm.
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