Alison Graham – Radio Times TV editor
I want to say Tom, because he’s lovely, well-mannered and he always tidies the chairs after the boardroom bloodbaths. But I think it will be Helen. It of course will depend on whether she has a decent business plan. But she’s proved herself to be ferociously capable and, though she hasn’t had any entrepreneurial experience, she’s level-headed and clear-sighted enough to cope with anything Lord Sugar could ever throw at her.
David Butcher – Radio Times deputy TV editor
If there’s ever been a nicer candidate than Tom on the Apprentice, I can’t remember them. Look at the way he quietly beavered away with his notebook in early tasks, scribbling numbers and fretting about details everyone else overlooked. Look at the sweet way he whispered “Wow!” when told he was in the final. No one else has ever been so relentlessly positive and un-back-stabby. But to get this far he has dodged a lot of boardroom bullets: and that’s because Sugar sees in Tom a product man (like himself) full of nutty-but-brilliant ideas – and real business nous. And that’s why, against all the odds, he’ll win.
Paul Jones – RadioTimes.com Apprentice blogger
All the candidates’ good work could be undone if Lord Sugar doesn’t like their business proposals. Tom’s an inventor (still the best job title ever) so I’d expect him to come up with a good idea. But I think Lord Sugar has worries about his business acumen. I wouldn’t rule out Susie, either. She had a tough start in life and she’s the only one who’s built up her own business. If her idea’s good, she’s got a chance. But I think justice will be done if Lord Sugar chooses Helen. She’s been on the winning team in ten of the 11 tasks, and proved you don’t have to walk all over people to make business work (yes, Melody, I’m looking at you). The only worry is that she could be “too corporate”. It’s a bugbear of Lord Sugar’s, but he got over it with Stella last year and I think he will with Helen.
Kate Walsh – series five runner-up
I’ve not rated the contestants so much this year. Last year I picked Stella out from week two, and I really liked Liz as well. This year, I can honestly say I don’t have a favourite, which is unheard of for me. I think it has to do with the change of format. They were pre-screened for their business ideas, which must influence the decision on who goes through each week. Tom’s a really nice person, but has he really done anything to impress? No. He hasn’t project-managed well, he hasn’t got amazing leadership skills, he hasn’t sold particularly well. Normally an ideas person wouldn’t win, but because Lord Sugar’s looking to go into business with someone who’s got a good idea, that might make Tom the ideal candidate. If I had to put money on it, I’d say Tom.
Ruth Badger – series two runner-up
If it was the traditional Apprentice, where they get a job, it would be Tom. As it’s not, it’ll be Jim. I like Tom, and it’s great sitting and thinking of ideas, but you’ve got to make money if you’re a business. Jim is the best of a bad bunch. If I had to give money to someone who would actually deliver what they promised, would it be him? No. But on the show, he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing. They’re never going to put any of these ideas in the tasks into production. You’re selling a dream. Jim plays the game. He’s a bit cheeky – the others lack basic likeability, and business is built on relationships. The best business brain is Susan, but she’s like a little mouse.
Raef Bjayou – series four candidate
The fact that the winner is given money to create their own company, as opposed to being employed, has changed the candidates slightly. In past series, Tom wouldn’t have made it this far, but I think he will now win it precisely because Lord Sugar thinks he’s the next Dyson and can create a range of products. Lord Sugar might not have found an area within his organisation in which Tom can excel – but what better way to create than to do as you like in your own company?
Debra Barr – series five candidate
I think he’ll pick Tom. He’s a product man, and Sugar loves that.