Mergim Butaja was one of tonight’s dramatic “triple” firings on The Apprentice, but says being dismissed by Lord Sugar was actually “one of the best parts” of the whole experience.
The candidate delivered a passionate speech in the boardroom after coming unstuck in this week’s handyman task (don’t ever ask him to put a shelf up), telling Lord Sugar he was determined to be a millionaire.
Moved by Mergim’s history – the Kosovan-born businessman fled from the war-torn country with his family when he was seven years old before taking on a range of jobs to support them – Sugar said: “It is a difficult one. Look Mergim, I’m going to say this to you: I don’t think you have the potential, at this moment in time, of being my business partner, I really don’t.
“But carry on with your dreams OK?,” Sugar added, before delivering the killer line. “It is with sincere regret Mergim that…you’re fired. And, we’ll stay in touch.”
“The best firing The Apprentice has ever witnessed”
All told, Mergim was pretty chuffed by the whole experience: “It was probably the best firing on The Apprentice that’s ever occurred,” Mergim told RadioTimes.com after Team Versatile lost to Connexus by more than £500 after trying to drum up local and commercial DIY work. The bumper firing eventually saw April and Elle also shown the door.
“I did build a really good relationship with Lord Sugar. He could see a lot of potential in me. I’m just a rough diamond at the end of the day. He knows how much I want to be successful. He can see that in my eyes. I think that’s why he was so warm towards me towards the end of my experience there.
“I was hoping he’d notice how much I’d developed and give me one more chance. Obviously that didn’t happen,” Mergim continued. “Then again I had the best firing The Apprentice has ever witnessed.”
Mergim joked he’s “come a long way” from being the one trying to sell fish to a vegan restaurant in the opening task. But while Mergim doesn’t think he was to blame for the failure of tonight’s venture – “the overall responsibility is with the PM, Elle” – he had an inkling his time was up when he heard the theme of the activity.
“As soon as I found out it was a DIY task, I just knew what was going to happen. I thought as long as I showed I was willing to get my hands dirty, and not let a screwdriver defeat me, it would be all good. I don’t know DIY but I still tried. I just hope people can see my enthusiasm, it just wasn’t good enough.”
Of trying to pass off that wonky shelf as a finished job, Mergim admitted he was just trying to get himself out of a hole. “Yeah, screw in a nail? I wasn’t thinking at the time. It didn’t really go down a treat. The things my old man can do with a screwdriver, I wish I had those skills…”
But, regardless of his lack of handyman skills, Mergim is confident the call from Lord Sugar will come.
“I’ve been told that he will be in contact with me anytime soon, let’s just see what the outcome of that is really.”
Has he got the boss of the boardroom on speed dial one?
“Literally, I’m looking at my phone as we speak now hoping ‘Lord Sugs’ comes up…”
The Apprentice continues Wednesday at 9:00pm on BBC1