Vana’s View: The Apprentice finalist on week one – “Karthik was too much for me”

Last year's runner-up shares her insights and opinions in a new weekly Apprentice column for RadioTimes.com, telling us which of the new batch have impressed her - and which haven't - and making a few early predictions

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Finally! The Apprentice is back and I can’t wait to watch and commentate on this season and get to know all the contestants. I already have some favourites and can’t wait to see if my picks get to the final.

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I may be a bit biased, but if you ask me, the girls’ team is definitely stronger overall! I was shocked that their team ended up in the boardroom. The boys’ team was much less coordinated. What they did do well though was to stay calm, cool and collected. Paul set the tone and I think he was an excellent Project Manager. He understood the importance of delegating.

Watching this episode gave me a big flashback to my experience in the fish task last year! I remember how tough it was to meet 17 strangers and have to work with them in such an intense environment. It’s especially tough waking up at 3am and having to get used to having cameras in your face all day.

This episode was dominated by some strong, female characters: Jessica, Trishna, Alanna and Michelle. Early on I could see that Michelle was making a mistake by not listening to the advice she was being given. That was one of the biggest lessons I learnt from my time on The Apprentice – you have to listen to experts! If they tell you to go to Portobello market, do it! Don’t assume that you know better.

My early call for the stand-out star on the guys’ team is Sofianne. He is ON it. He is quick when it comes to choosing Portobello and has a clear idea of how to win the task. On the other hand, Karthik (aka the “Big K”) is my least favourite. Watching him hug his customers and saying he will be the Prime Minister of the UK? Just too much for me. That wasn’t what did it though. My issue with him was his question, “What do you think about the chicks?” And then his answer to his own question, “Women get emotionally involved but guys can forget about it and move on?” That type of attitude isn’t going to get you to the final, Karthik. Talk about simplification of gender differences…!

I think the secret underdog of the female team is Aleksandra. She is witty and clever and I liked that she defended her sub-team leader in the boardroom. That takes guts. Whenever people are in the firing line, they tend to just defend themselves but Aleksandra was more forward looking and didn’t focus purely on herself. It’s people like her who last in this process. Another strong candidate was Trishna because I think she DID understand what was up.

Michelle’s biggest mistake was her lone rider approach to the competition and I knew early on that she was in trouble. When she said, “I’m not there to make friends” I knew she was doomed! The Apprentice is all about collaborating and putting your heads together. Trishna told Michelle that Portobello was a good call but Michelle didn’t listen. That’s one of the issues with this competition – everyone thinks they know best. The key is to listen! And take other people’s advice.

Who else stood out to me? Cumberland sausage guy. He was not my fave – but maybe he will be a secret underdog. It’s just his facial expressions that I found perplexing! I’ll have to wait and see to determine my opinion on him.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent first episode. I am even MORE excited for the season and can’t wait to get to know all the different candidates. Before watching the end of the episode, I did think Paul was a much better PM than Michelle but I did think that the girls’ team would win the task.

In my humble opinion, I think this year we are going to have a winner from the female team. There are a few strong characters in the male team but they are more extreme and some of them are borderline ridiculous!

Can’t wait to hear Lord Sugar’s jokes this season – they are priceless. “Beware of the other candidates – they are so vicious they would pull you off life support to plug in their cell phones!”

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He’s exaggerating of course – but not much…

The Apprentice 2016: meet the candidates

Trishna
Thakrar

Sofiane
Khelfa

Samuel
Boateng

Rebecca
Jefferey

Paul
Sullivan

Oliver
Nohl-Oser

Natalie
Hughes

Mukai
Noiri

Michelle
Niziol

Karthik
Nagesan

Jessica
Cunningham

JD
O’Brien

Grainne
McCoy

Frances
Bishop

Dillon
St. Paul

Courtney
Wood

Aleksandra
King

Alana
Spencer