The Apprentice appeared back on our TV screens as if it had never left us. Back are the egoistical one liners, the classic hole-in-the-head moments and Lord Sugar's penchant to berate the contestants and then say this is a very tough decision. I was very excited for the return and I must say the series has started off on the right foot but this is because Series 8 was quite a lull. As much as I liked Ricky during the process I had forgotten about him a year on. Some contestants I had to search on google for me to remember and even the bubbly architect "Gabrielle" couldn't save Series 8 from probably being the weakest Apprentice season, not necessarily in terms of ability alone but on simply being a good show to watch.
The first two casualties were Jaz Ampaw-Farr and Tim Stillwell. Jaz always gave me the impression of being an "early out" candidate. After so many years of watching the Apprentice there seems to be a correlation in these things, especially when she volunteered to be PM. Tim was booted out in episode 2, whilst I thought Francesca would be fired it was Tim who shot himself in the foot in the boardroom by leaving himself vulnerable by targeting the biggest seller, Rebecca. You just don't blame the biggest seller so early in the process!
So after two episodes what do I think of the candidates? Well it's still early days and I've yet to find somebody that I'm truly rooting for but here are my opinions on the chances these candidates might have.
Alex Mills, 22 - every show needs an "icon" and these icons normally stay long enough for us to remember and poke fun at. Series 8 had Nick's "Boris" hair, Series 7 had Jim's "hypnotic" eyes, Series 6 was Baggs the brand! so on. This year Alex seems to be filling that spot with his over-primmed eye brows and tendency for looking like dracula. He has already caused quite a stir on You're Fired and simply because of this I think we'll be seeing Alex at least until the latter half. I'm not saying this has anything to do with backhand politics on the show but one way or another Alex will find himself out of the boardroom, long enough for us to make many more gags on his metro-sexuality.
Personally Alex annoys the "silly shit" out of me, as he likes to put it. He's like a little boy trying to talk himself up so that the others don't treat him like a kid but in doing so he does the stupidest things to get attention. I personally wouldn't mind seeing him leave in the next few episodes.
Francesca MacDuff Varley, 32 - something about Francesca, before the show, made me earmark her for potential final 4/5 material, now I'm not so sure. Episode 2 was her undoing but somehow managing to survive such a catastrophe makes me think we might see a redemption or she simply loses the plot and gets fired soon however I'm slightly more inclined towards the former. But none of her bio seems to indicate a successful candidate so right now Francesca is a big question mark for me.
I need to see more of her to truly gauge an opinion about her as right now she hasn't done much but show her arithmetic incompetency.
UP IN THE AIR
Jason Leech, 29 - He is the underdog that the British public will most likely root for, because he makes for good TV. However he is no different from the other candidates, except he just presents his case differently. He is as "up himself" as Alex or Zeeshan are which made watching the trio on Wednesday so incredibly "mind blowing!" He will probably survive until the mid section of the show unless he shows that he has some entrepreneurial sense since he says he has never worked but he did win the first task and normally those candidates do make it far.
Right now Jason is among the candidates which I would rather see leave asap - please guys never team up Alex, Zeeshan and Jason ever again!
Jordan Poulton, 26 - I can legitimately see Jourdan staying for a good amount of time since he has been steady on the show as of now however I think his longevity will ultimately come down to what happens to him in the next show or two, unless of course he gets fired. If he doesn't get much more screen time he might be one of those "early outs" or more likely be fired when he reaches the boardroom as a "Lord Sugar doesn't know who he is" type of candidates. But Jordan seems to be the type that won't find himself in the boardroom too much so I think he will be staying for a bit longer still.
I haven't seen much of him to know but I think Jordan has potential to be one of the candidates I like more than I hate!
MID - LATER STAGES
Kurt Wilson, 26 - He was project manager but how come I have no memory of what he has done? That doesn't bode well for him. He is one of those candidates that don't catch your eye possibly because he just seems too muted and when he does speak it's a bit monotonous in all honesty. However he did win as PM in a task which is somewhat related to his business plan (in Lord Sugar's mind anyway) which might save him for a boardroom or two.
I still haven't seen enough of his personality but for now he hasn't grated on my nerves so he ranks relatively highly among the 14.
Leah Totton, 24 - It's immediately obvious that she is being billed as the favourite. She has been edited as likable relatable and generally competent. I'm just unconvinced that she'll win the show. The way she's being presented somewhat reminds me of Kate Walsh or Liz Locke, the nearly girls. I think she's a lock on for the Final 4/5 but don't start betting on her because I truly don't see Leah being Lord Sugar's next business partner.
Right now she is likable but I need to see more personality.
Luisa Zissman, 25 - To every Leah type character there needs to be a Luisa type character. She represents to us that feisty, somewhat relatable character that makes for TV gold. I am warming to Luisa simply because she has already been molded as a character out of the 14. In the early days of the Apprentice I would have easily earmarked her for mid-later stages but in previous years candidates that get this type of treatment are as easily fired early as they make the final stages. I don't think she'll go easily though, it will come down to a task where she is given more of a leadership role where her fate will be decided.
She is someone that I like simply because she's a character that doesn't seem pretentious even though I could never see myself being friends with her.
ALL OVER THE SHOT* A candidate who can as easily go in the next episode as make the final 4/5 (though she'll never win)
Myles Mordaunt, 39 - We don't really know much about Myles besides that he lives in Monaco and has an enviable physique! I did a bit of research on him and he seems to be a reputable candidate however he is not being presented in that way. Simply from how the show is leading us on I think Myles is headed for the You're Hired show in the future few weeks unless he has an inspired performance which brings him out of his comfort zone. However lets not forget how Helen Milligan was portrayed on the show until her sudden redemption.
There's nothing really to like or dislike right now but he does have a rather smug look about him.
Natalie Panayi, 30 - Something makes me like Natalie, I can't really pinpoint it but like Francesca she gives me a very difficult proposition right now. I can't really predict if she'll be an "early out" or a Helen Milligan. Right now I'm more inclined towards the former but if there's anyone that might get a "redemption", despite not having done anything wrong, it's her I think since she was seen sealing the deal with the Lucky cats.
As I said there's something about Natalie I quite like but I will leave judgement until the next one or two episodes.
UP IN THE AIR
Neil Clough, 32 - When he's on the TV it's all "me me me me me me me meme me me" it is really aggravating when he just doesn't know when to shut up about being the alpha male. In some ways he reminds me of Adam Corbally or Phil Taylor. That's why it's rather difficult to predict how well he'll do since his type can either excel or rub Lord Sugar in the wrong way. However he's one of the few guys that's actually been given an edit so it's difficult imagining him being fired soon.
Whilst he doesn't annoy me as much as the trip of Alex-Zeeshan-Jason he still makes me cringe every time he claims ownership of ideas for the 10,000th time.
Rebecca Slater, 35 - It's really difficult to dismiss the sales leader as Lord Sugar is all about sales but since the format change from becoming an Apprentice to becoming a business partner there has been a shift in focus for someone that has more spontaneity and brains. I think Rebecca will survive until the middle to later stages but her success on the show depends on whether she can convince Lord Sugar that she isn't a negative personality on the team. If the girls continue to gang up on her she'll see herself in the boardroom one too many a time for Lord Sugar not to fire her since her manner of speaking is too soft and Lord Sugar seems to favour his saleswomen to be like pitbulls e.g. Claire Young.
I kind of like her but she is coming off to be the one people target and from her performance in the boardroom I'm worried she might break if this continues.
Sophie Lau, 22 - I'm really happy whenever I see someone of East Asian descent on the show as there is a distinct lack of Asian people on TV however I'm really worried The Apprentice is typecasting her as a Susan Ma 2.0, they really couldn't have found someone anymore similar to Susan. They have similar appearances (not facially but generally) they are being edited as whiny and slightly immature and they both are edited as those that talk the right talk but don't have answers. I might be forgetting Tuan all the way back in Series 2 but he was edited like an abandoned puppy. But that is also why I think Sophie might have some life in her, being edited like Susan isn't necessarily bad for her chances since Lord Sugar took a massive liking to Susan when she competed, it's just a shame not to see more diversity when the rare chance we see an Asian candidate on the show. However I'm inclined to think that Sophie will fare less well than Susan.
I need to see her actually doing something because up to now all I remember her doing is selling lucky cats in Chinatown.
Uzma Yakoob, 32 - She along with Jaz had that "first out" vibe about them but now that Jaz has gone and Uzma is starting to be more vocal I just wonder if Uzma has it in her to get to the end? Lord Sugar was very vocal about wanting to move into the "Beauty" sector when Susan was on the show, which boils down to how much does the business plan affect the longevity of the candidate. Now that the business plans are clear and dead centre in the show Lord Sugar must have that at the back of his mind. Which makes me think that Uzma might survive her next few boardrooms simply if she has a solid business plan. Whilst I'm still hesitant on gunning Uzma for the interview stages for now I'm happy to consider her for a while longer.
I think she is one of the more sensible candidates and with time might be one of my favourites.
Zeeshan Shah, 27 - He's like the second coming of Tre Azam. As much as I dislike him I can legitimately see him doing ok along the way. It's really hard to predict for him because he hasn't really done much besides put Jason down for being an incompetent salesperson. I know whatever Zeeshan does I will find it difficult to like him but there's a part of me which thinks he'll be an Adam Corbally type character in that people would love to hate him, it's just whether Lord Sugar will think the same.
Currently among my hated trio!
It's still too early to predict who wins or loses, I prefer to do the prediction on the episode anyway because it's normally easier and I haven't been far off yet, rightly predicting Jaz's departure once her team lost and Tim's departure after the boardroom proceedings. I think by next week things will start to become clearer and hopefully I'll be able to update you on my new opinions.