Simple maths should have told us this was coming. In the very first episode of this series of the Apprentice, Lord Sugar pointed out that there were 18 candidates for a process that lasted 12 weeks, and that we should expect some double firings. We braced ourselves for shocks.
However, for the first six weeks of the process this was avoided, with Lord Sugar sending off one candidate an episode in an orderly fashion (except the task where Aleksandra quit right at the beginning). All seemed well – until tonight, where the businessman pulled the rug out from under us.
You see, after a day of selling boat products in the pouring rain, Team Titans finally broke their winning streak with one of the worst results the series has ever seen, managing to only sell £188.90 worth of stock compared to Team Nebula’s £40,480.68 when it turned out none of Titans’ expensive jet skis had been sold.
Incensed, Lord Sugar turned to project manager Karthik Nagesan, and fired him on the spot before he even had the chance to bring teammates back into the boardroom.
Karthik gets his marching orders
“Karthik, listen to me, there is no excuse, you have been a diabolical project manager,” Lord Sugar said. “I don’t trust you to bring anybody back into this boardroom. Karthik you’re fired!” Ouch…
“To be honest, I feel that when the firing did happen, I maybe pushed Lord Sugar into a corner,” Karthik told RadioTimes.com today. “Because it’s like the guy who’s stuck in quicksand – the more they struggle, the more they sink.
“In that situation, in the boardroom, I panicked – maybe what I should have done, I should have shut up, and let the whole thing ride out. And maybe, just maybe, Lord Sugar would have thought about it logically and said “OK he is the PM, he lost the task – but he’s shown promise, he’s improved, let’s give him another chance. I feel I talked myself out of a deal.”
However, if Karthik’s teammates assumed their PM’s firing meant they were safe, they thought again pretty quickly, with Lord Sugar bringing back three more of them – Dillon, Samuel and Alana (below) – to face the usual final boardroom.
“At first yeah, I was in the clear,” second fired candidate Samuel Boateng told us. “But clearly not! I got brought back in.”
“Samuel, there are so many people who have got, well, I won’t say have bad things to say about you, but there is not many that have got good things to say about you,” Lord Sugar told the 27-year-old sales manager, before concluding that there was “no smoke without fire” and sending him off to follow Karthik to the loser’s taxi rank.
The move was a pretty big blow for both men – but perhaps surprisingly, both now seem fairly gracious in defeat.
“On the basis of this one task? Yes, I deserved to go,” Karthik said. “My day was very bad, my project management was deplorable on the day, I had a very bad day at work.”
“Obviously from my personal perspective I don’t think I should have been fired,” Samuel chimed in, “but probably Lord Sugar’s perspective, it’s his money, he hand-picks people that he can work with going forward.
“He bases things on what we may or may not know, and it’s all about business. Maybe he just thought he couldn’t work with me in business, and that’s fair enough, if that’s his decision.”
Samuel gets fired
With that said, both men weren’t sure if they were the MOST deserving candidates to leave the process…
“On the basis of me being there for a good seven weeks? Certainly if you look at the history? I don’t think so,” Karthik said.
“I think at that point if he looked at it holistically, Lord Sugar would have found probably some other people who were possibly weaker than me.”
“I feel that people should be fired based on the failings of the task, and I do feel as though the failing of the task was down to the project manager,” Sameul added. “Sorry Karthik! But it was down to the PM.
“And I feel like based on the failings of the task the PM WAS fired, so going from there I don’t know where Lord Sugar got his opinions or his perspectives. I feel like only one person should have been fired from this task. But obviously it was two.”
Hey, they can’t be TOO magnanimous – they have their Apprentice candidate brand to think of, after all. But let’s leave all that in the past, and look to the future; who do they think will win the series in the end?
Paul, Jessica and Trishna in tonight’s episode
“Will and should are very different things,” Samuel told us. “I would like Sofiane or Paul to win the process, just based on the fact that I got along with them best in the house.
“They’re both really focused and driven, and really nice guys. Sofiane’s really family-oriented, and I appreciate that aspect of him, and Paul’s a really driven gentleman, and he’s actually got a really good heart. So as individuals, I’d probably pick them two.
“But who will win? We’ll wait and see.”
Perhaps predictably, Karthik’s answer was somewhat more unorthodox…
“Hear me out – I think the winner will be a quote/unquote ‘lab rat business partner’” he told us.
“All the strategy and tactics are what I bring to the table, but that’s what Lord Sugar also brings to the table. We’re too similar, both in character and in business skills, to work as a team.
“The winner, in my opinion, is someone who is totally quiet, who will listen to Lord Sugar, won’t cause any ripples. And he or she will just go on and make the best shoes, or the best website, or the most plastic umbrellas.
“The only thing I’d like to say to that is, yes, he wants to go with somebody who probably will not cause any ripples, but ripples don’t change worlds. Storms do.
Time will tell is either or both men are right, but one thing is already certain –Karthik clearly has a strong future in writing inspirational posters ahead of him. Line up, investors.
The Apprentice continues on BBC1 next Thursday at 9.00pm