The Apprentice (Series 13)

The 13th series of The Apprentice recently concluded. 13 is unlucky for some, and it was for The Apprentice viewers who watched this series! Sorry, that joke is so bad it could be one of Lord Sugar’s jokes. In fact, I’m pretty sure he has made it at some point. To be fair, series 13 wasn’t really the worst series they’ve ever done, but while it might be remembered because of the “twist” ending, I doubt it will be remembered for much else.

In episode one ‘Burgers’, there was a Brexit reference less than 5 minutes in! Well, at least they got it out of the way quickly.

First thing many viewers noticed, loads of hipster glasses with the candidates!

The teams had to come up with new burgers and then sell them. The girls team named themselves Graphene, and went for luxury burgers. The boys team named themselves Vitality, and went for healthy burgers, turkey.

There was a lot of bickering on both teams with everyone talking over each other. Despite going for luxury, the girls bought the cheapest meat they could to make the burgers. In the end though, the girls made a profit, the boys made a loss. Not helped by the fact that after printing labels with the word “organic” on, not all the ingredients were, so they had to cross out the word “organic” rather than reprint the labels. Project manager Danny Grant was fired. He had a big ego, so of course he fitted right in, but he also blended right in.

In ‘Hotel Redesign’ they had to design hotel rooms. Florist Elizabeth got tangled up in a tape measure, spent ages measuring all the walls and got the measurements wrong! But she kept costs down, so was likely a big reason the girls won again.

The boys have to take some, er, credit for their own loss though, as their design was much worse. They painted the walls different overly bright colours, red, blue and yellow, but it looked like colour vomit. It was even said at some point the room “looks like someone’s puked a rainbow in this place”. Jeff Wan was fired, and his main contribution to the series will probably be breakdancing gifs.

In the next episode ‘Robots’, the candidates had a choice between an adorable little white robot with red stripes or an adorable little white robot robot with green stripes. Graphene got the red one, Vitality got the green one.

Anisa got to be the voice of Graphene’s robot. She said she loves robots. A woman after my own heart. When they got to the robots they had to sell, I was so geekily excited!


Siobhan called Elizabeth “the old airbag” and “the hot air bag” and fell out with a lot of people. It got quite vicious between Siobhan and the two Sarahs. There was a lot of arguing among Graphene generally. But, yet again, they still won.

Vitality originally called their robot Jeffri. (They mentioned the loss of Jeff from the previous week, but I thought more of the possible loss of Geoffry the Toys R Us giraffe mascot).

The subteam decided to change the name to SiiMON, and had that on the board. But they didn’t tell the other subteam, so they recorded the voice and the robot introduced himself as Jeffri even though it had been rebranded as SiiMON. To make matters worse, the board was written about 2 minutes before the deadline and they wrote “You’re” when they meant “Your”. The board ended up in a wheelie bin.

The fired candidate was Elliot Van Emden, a rather smarmy “Tory Boy”, and yes, apparently that is his nickname from when he wrote speeches for the now ex-Prime Minister David Cameron. Elliot was forgotten almost as quickly as David Cameron himself was after he buggered off.

I have to say Elizabeth was hilarious in this episode, saying she came up with a sum of £1,000 as it was “just a nice round number” and when the sales totals were announced she shouted out “YES!” then got a bit embarrassed she’d said it out loud.

In ‘Stadium Sales’ the candidates had to put on a V.I.P. box for corporate clients at the Women’s FA Cup Final.

Vitality had Harrison sing as the entertainment, so they didn’t have to pay anyone. They came up with the idea apparently after hearing Harrison sing in the shower. They also had to nip to the stadium bar as they hadn’t ordered enough booze, and the nibbles included Cheesy Wotsits!

Outside, Vitality sold popcorn while Graphene sold candyfloss. I’d quite like for the teams to have been known as Team Popcorn and Team Candyfloss.

Vitality won by making more of a profit. Graphene project manager Siobhan Smith said she was focused on making the clients happy, and apparently they were, but Lord Sugar pointed out that on this show it’s about making him happy, and, like it or not, that’s true. Of course the fact their team made less profit probably contributed to her getting fired too. As Siobhan left, there was an awkward goodbye handshake-hug between her and sometime nemesis Elizabeth.

In the episode ‘Lord Sugar’s Birthday’, the candidates had to get items to (belatedly) celebrate Lord Sugar’s 70th birthday.

Graphene phoned up a Jewish bookshop to find out what a “rugelaugh” was. The bookshop owner informed them it was a type of cake, and helpfully gave them the name of
a baker who could make it! That baker was named Volvy, and they got the birthday cake from him too. They later got him to ask his friend for one of the other items, a Tottenham Hotspur scarf. His friend, Simha, drove a bit of a hard bargain for the scarf though!

Graphene also called up a computer shop to reserve an Amstrad computer. Vitality later called up the same place and the owner, Katie, told them it had been reserved. They asked her if they could have it if they got there first. Katie said yes! Graphene ended up getting there first anyway though. This proved costly to Vitality too, as they went there instead of buying some bricks and mortar… and by the time they got back to the builders merchants, it was closed!

Vilality got a scarlet doeskin for nothing by asking to take the free sample from a shop. They also bought the items cheaper than Graphene did, and unlike Graphene they also turned up on time. However, Vitality ended up losing! They were fined for not getting a lot of the items. Graphene’s project manager Joanna burst into tears of joy – I wonder if she was shocked?

Ross Fretten was fired. He was a bit like a stereotypical geek on a TV sitcom, saying “logistics” and “statistics” a lot, claiming to have a genius level I.Q. and is usually the smartest person in the room. He didn’t really show that much during his time on The Apprentice though.

In ‘Bruges Tour’ they had to give a tour of Bruges. Vitality went for historical, Graphene went for modern. Viltality’s tour uniforms had blue hats, while Graphene’s tour uniform had yellow hats.

On Graphene, James sold it on the basis the tourists would go on a Segway and wouldn’t have to walk… it turned out most of the tour was walking! Meanwhile, on Vitality, Andrew sold it on the basis they’d get a lot of beer, and they only got a taster of three beers.

Elizabeth took charge of Graphene’s tour, and she was so cringey! She was a like a strict school marm trying unsuccessfully to get the tourists enthusiastic and sternly telling them to pay attention “If I can’t see your eyes you can’t see me!”, then saying stuff like “Tally ho! Onwards and upwards!” and “To infinity and beyond!” when on the Segway. One of Lord Sugar’s assistants Claude Littner made the same comparison, that Elizabeth was like a headmistress on a school trip sucking all the fun out of it. That said, Elizabeth’s focus on efficiency and organisation was to make sure everyone got back to the ship on time. She pointed out if they didn’t get a move on, the tourists will just get a wander round Bruges, which they could have got for free. And in fairness, Graphene won. As Elizabeth was the project manager, she took it as meaning she wasn’t just “the joker of the pack”, she was more than the series’ designated comedy contestant.

On the tour Vitality gave, they ended up getting lost and going round in circles. A 30 minute walking tour ended up taking 3 hours! I don’t know why Andrew was criticised so much for trying to lighten the mood on the rubbish tour by making jokes though. Lord Sugar said it wasn’t a holiday camp, but… well, it was a for tourists and it included at least some alcohol, I’m sure it was meant to be a fun.

The project manager Sarah-Jayne Clark was fired. She barely appeared in the episode despite being project manager, which was probably not a good sign in hindsight. I think she bought some cheap keyrings or something. Anyway, she’s not to be confused with Sarah Jane Smith of Doctor Who, K-9 And Company and The Sarah Jane Adventures fame. Or indeed, Sarah Lynn from this series of The Apprentice.

In ‘Advertising’ the candidates had to come up with ad campaigns for a brand new car.

Graphene chose a set for their TV advert which they thought would be a present day small village, but it was actually a recreation of a Norman village, set in the medieval age. There were lots of chickens, turkeys and geese running around. Elizabeth chasing the poultry away was the highlight of the episode!

Despite not being project manager, Elizabeth wanted to decide everything about the advert, content, editing, you name it. She cast herself in the lead role, and decided the music that would be used. It was ‘The Key, The Secret’ by Urban Cookie Collective if you’re wondering. (I like that song!)

In Vitality, Andrew had the role “bloke in the passenger seat”, both in the TV advert and in the subteam itself. Vitality, led by Micheala, named their car Miami, which confused customers who thought it was about holidays to Miami and that the car was for holiday rental, not to buy.

But they still won over Graphene, where none of the branding fitted together, with the randomly medieval television advert jarring massively with the digital panel adverts focus on being modern. They probably deserved to lose, but to be fair TV adverts which have nothing whatsoever to do with their product aren’t exactly rare, and car adverts are especially guilty of it. Anyway, the fired candidate was smooth, slick, suave Sajan Shah. He provided a very cringey Apprentice quote: “I give them the fruits, it’s up to them to make the juice”.

The next episode was titled ‘Doggy Business’. They made a pun about dog shit, LOLZ. It still worked when taken literally though, as it as pretty much any business involving pet dogs, doggy spa treatment, doggy agility courses, doggy dancing classes, and of course picking up doggy poo.

In the last one of those, Vitality offered more than they could realistically do in the time they had, with a refund for any they missed. The owner of the place, Nikki, wasn’t impressed. “I’m not really looking for a refund, I’m looking for you doing a good job”. They ended up having to pick up goose poo as well!

On Graphene, Elizabeth changed the whole dog agility course at the last minute, despite the queue of waiting customers and that the course had already been set up the night before. Project manager James put the prices up without letting the subteam know, meaning some customers paid more than others for the same thing at the same time, and obviously that’s the sort of info that spreads very quickly. Elizabeth, quite rightly realised that customers who paid more weren’t going to want to spend any more money, difference refunded or not, though she and Joanna did go to the trouble of asking customers if they’d been overcharged before they got in.

Vitality lost, and it was a triple firing, with the whole boardroom getting the boot. They were project engineer Andrew Brady, who spent a lot of the time being a bit lairy and laddish, I suppose that sums him up really. What you see is what you get etc.

Anisa Topan was probably my favourite contestant overall. She seems lovely. She was always brainstorming, a constant stream of ideas and enthusiasm, sometimes a little too much. But I felt sorry for her putting herself forward as project manager and/or subteam leader, and they never picked her. Though she was probably too honest for her own good, like in ‘Advertising’ when she openly admitted all the problems of the advert to the panel they were trying to sell it to!

I don’t know if Charles Burns‘ middle name is Montgomery, but he does technically share a name with a certain evil hundred-and-odd year old nuclear power plant boss in The Simpsons. Charles never seemed to do much, he kind of sat back and let everyone else do the work. Michaela said in the week Charles was fired she felt that she was the project manager instead of him, and it was more stressful than the week she actually was project manager!

In ‘Food Boxes’ the candidates had to create and demonstrate a recipe kit.

Vitality had a lot of problems, a frustrating brainstorm session between Jade and Joanna, who looked like they couldn’t abide each other. Michaela was annoyed with it too, saying “If I lose because of this I’ll be fuming!”.

They didn’t lose though. Graphene had Elizabeth wanting to do all the cooking, and she ended up burning the salmon. Probably the worst part of the presentation was the ill-conceieved comedy routine with James dressed as a salt shaker and Bushra as a pepper shaker, Bushra in particular making a clumsy Donald Trump reference joke. Let’s face it, they had no chance of outfunnying Elizabeth.

Bushra Sahikh seems like a nice lady, but she was very critical throughout, and while I’m sure her intention was to be constructive and to make sure the team/task was done in the best way, she was a bit relentless with it.

Have to give a shout out to the graphic designers Elliot (Graphene) and Pete (Vitality), for their impressive patience with the Apprentice teams, and that they were very adorkably cute.

In ‘Fashion Show’, Vitality chose a designer, Helen Woolams. They had her name spelled out in balloons, but her brand wasn’t her name, her brand was Hellavagirl, so they had to get rid of the balloons. Helen described her line as “post apocalyptic regal rock ‘n’roll”. I don’t have anything against her designs, but that description sounds very like that South Park spoof of the Family Guy writing staff as manatees who pick random beach balls with words written on them.

The magazine they had to pitch to couldn’t understand why they got the brand name wrong either. They quickly noticed something else too. I’ll be honest, I know hardly anything about fashion, but even I could see the massive problem with putting “2016’s top fashion designer” on the front a fashion magazine that was going to come out in 2017.

Graphene went with a designer called Zara-Mia Ava. James cast himself as a model, and the magazine they went to just made fun of his posing.

Vitality lost, and choosing a high-end fashion line was probably why they failed. For one thing, the clothing will be high price, for another it will probably be a bit too “out there” for mass appeal.

Sales executive Harrison Jones was fired, and he didn’t really do anything on the task, the excuse he had was that he doesn’t know about women’s fashion, but then he tried to have it both ways by insisting he contributed lots. But he was one of the better candidates overall. Although maybe I’m just saying that because he is hot. With the Doctor and the
Master’s most recent casting in Doctor Who being actresses, Harrison Jones sounds like a gender-flip of Harriet Jones, Prime Minister. Or possibly a the name of some Gary Stu character in a fanficy lowbrow action movie, naming him after both Harrison Ford and Indiana Jones.

Jade English was fired too, and I guess she had to go as her managing was a bit lackluster, but I felt a little sorry for her, she had to do near enough the whole task on her
own, and her two teammates were keen to throw her to the wolves when it got to boardroom time.

In the ‘Interviews’ episode, three were fired.

Florist Elizabeth McKenna was the first to go, and well what can we say, she was definitely the most entertaining candidate this year, providing nearly all the highlights, as you can see from this recap. Obligatory “Olive from On The Buses/Velma from Scooby Doo” comparisons everyone else has already made. But she was right that she wasn’t just comedy relief, she was one of the strongest candidates too.

Digital marketing manager Joanna Jarjue was fired mainly due to lack of experience. She did have the overall best record on the tasks however, the most times on the winning team, and having two wins as project manager, more than anyone else this year. It has to be said, the way the show brushed this aside and kept saying her main personality trait was that she was “argumentative”, in a series which had lots of arguments generally, was a bit distasteful, especially given how depressingly often a lot of reality TV shows characterise someone as an “angry black woman”. I think, at best, the show should have thought better of it.

On a more comical note though, one of Joanna’s most memorable moments is thinking a fir tree was a “fur tree”.

Michaela Wain mostly filled out the role of Deadpan Snarker and NORVERN throughout this series, and she did it very well. She also went out on a high, as she was
fantastic in the ‘Interviews’ episode! She joked that she’d definitely win and give all the others in the final 5 a job! She was ultimately fired for having too many businesses on the go already. Lord Sugar said he’d like to use one of them, and she said “Four grand though, no mates rates!”

The two that got to the final, were a bit disappointing really. James getting through was predictable, given that in the interviews they, er, downplayed the fact that his website had professional accreditation listed… when it wasn’t professionally accredited! Sarah Lynn’s business centred on a plastic box of sweets. When presented with two nearly identical plastic boxes from rival companies, Sarah said her’s would stand out … because it had a bow on top of it! And these were our top 2.

So, in ‘The Final‘ as usual some candidates returned. Elizabeth and Michaela ended up being subteam leaders (Elizabeth for James, Michaela for Sarah). Elizabeth and Michaela would certainly have been a more interesting final 2. Oh, and Charles came back as well, and dressed up a lobster playing a guitar.

James tacked on cybersecurity to his business plan, on the advice of former winner Ricky Martin, and in the end the winner was…. BOTH, James and Sarah were joint winners! Which made the whole final episode rather pointless.

The most interesting thing I can think of to say about Sarah Lynn is that she shares a name with a character in BoJack Horseman. James White too is a little on the bland side when it comes to personality. They were quite an unpopular final 2 anyway, making them joint winners wasn’t too well received either. It was presented as an Apprentice first, but that’s not strictly true. If we count the winner as the candidate(s) who Lord Sugar decides to invest money into their business plan, then in series 7, the first series when it switched to business investment rather than employment, then Lord Sugar invested in winner Tom Pellereau’s nail file product, and later invested in Susan Ma’s business plan too.

Series 13 of The Apprentice wasn’t the worst, I think series 10 and 11 were worse than this, and Elizabeth is definitely one of the most entertatining candidates they’ve ever had, but it was by no means a good series.

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