Apprentice finalist Courtney Wood’s half-term report: why Sarah is the main contender and Elizabeth should be prime minister

As we reach the half-way mark, Courtney gives his full-and-frank verdict on the candidates left fighting for Lord Sugar's investment

(BBC, TL)

After a colossal Norman village mess-up, Wotsits in lieu of luxury canapés at Wembley and a disastrous robot called Siimon (or was it Jefrii?), we’re just over the half-way point of The Apprentice 2017. And that means we’ve now had seven weeks of screen time to scrutinise enough entrepreneurial action to ascertain which candidates might top the Class of 2017, and which definitely won’t.

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So, who’s sitting on winning grades and which dunces will soon be expelled from the competition? We got Courtney Wood – Apprentice 2016 runner-up and statistically the best ever candidate on the show (bar actually being hired) – to pen a half-term report for the remaining batch based on their half-term performances…

Andrew Brady

(BBC, TL)

Best Quality

“He’s a team player. Not everyone can be the project manager or sub-team leader each week and you’ve got to play an active part if you’re not. Andrew does just that.” 

Needs to improve

“He just needs to grow up. Andrew has elements of good business acumen but he just needs to learn when to be a bit more professional. He’s only ever won one task – that’s pretty poor.” 

Verdict

“I think he sent his application to the wrong TV show. Ibiza Weekender would be more suitable for him.”


Elizabeth McKenna 

(BBC, TL)

Best Quality

“She can hinder a task, but she can also win it. In Bruges, I thought Elizabeth did an excellent job as project manager and I think she’d be great running the country. I think she’d make a brilliant Prime Minister.

“If you want a strong and stable government, surely Elizabeth would take no nonsense from the EU in Brexit negotiations. Get this woman in government!” 

Needs to improve

“Elizabeth is a very dominating character and sometimes gets people on board with bad ideas. She was behind the norman village TV advert and that’s a key reason why her team lost the task last week. She needs to learn when to take a step back because it can hinder everyone’s performance.” 

Verdict

“She’ll get to the final five, but Elizabeth won’t become Lord Sugar’s business partner. The two are far too similar – they wouldn’t have a good working relationship.”


Anisa Topan

(BBC, TL)

Best Quality

“She really does come across quite well. It’s very strange how she’s always snubbed for sub-team leader.” 

Needs to improve

“Anisa needs to actually do something. I really don’t have anything to say about her…” 

Verdict

“She’ll be out the competition very soon.”


Charles Burns

(BBC, TL)

Best quality

“He must have a good business plan – why else would he still be in the competition? At the start of the process, candidates have to submit a paragraph outlining their business proposal and Charles must have written something that really interested Lord Sugar.

“He’s survived two boardrooms where he could easily have been fired. That means he must have a good track record in business.”

Needs to improve

“Like Harrison and Anisa, Charles hasn’t been the project manager yet because nobody has any confidence in him. That’s very worrying. If you can’t gain the respect of your fellow candidates, how can Lord Sugar invest £250,000 in you?” 

Verdict

“If Charles has a strong business plan then he could be a contender.”


Harrison Jones

(BBC, TL)

Best quality

“He’s the alpha male of the group and has displayed a great work ethic. Set him a task and he’ll do it.” 

Needs to improve

“Harrison is great performing tasks, but project managing? That’s when you see someone’s real strengths and weaknesses. Harrison hasn’t been a project manager yet and we need to see that from him.” 

Verdict

“At the moment he’s in danger of Lord Sugar saying to him, ‘Right, you haven’t done anything. You’re out!’ But if he steps forward as a PM he’ll get to the final five.”


Jade English

(BBC, TL)

Best quality

“She’s a great spokesperson and reminds me a bit of Jessica from last year: good with the general public, likeable and she can sell. She really impressed Claude selling the popcorn during the Wembley task.”

Needs to improve

“She’s an autocratic leader and that’s not the greatest way to run a successful business. You need to listen to your team properly and she doesn’t do that.” 

Verdict

“She’s definitely a frontrunner and hopefully we’ll see her grow stronger in the next few weeks.”


Bushra Shaikh

(BBC, TL)

Best quality

“I can’t think of anything impressive she’s done so far.” 

Needs to improve

“She really doesn’t bring much to the party – apart from her opinion. On tasks she’s more of a hindrance than help. And her Wembley fact-session – ‘England won the World Cup in 1966’ – tell me something I don’t know. That was painfully awkward!”

Verdict

“She’s the weakest candidate left in the competition. Expect her to be fired very soon.”


James White

(BBC, TL)

Best Quality

“Tactically, he’s played a clever game this series. Before week seven he kept quiet and didn’t put himself forward to be project manager. That means he makes a mistake now and Lord Sugar would still want to see a bit more of him.” 

Needs to improve

“His managing skills. He really didn’t perform well in the advertising task and let Elizabeth dominate his decision-making. He slipped on a big banana skin last week, but fortunately his previous performance helped him stay in the competition.” 

Verdict

“James is a strong candidate and will make it to the final.”


Joanna Jarjue

(BBC, TL)

Best Quality

“Like Bushra, there’s nothing I can say. What has she done?” 

Needs to improve

“How do I say this in a nice way? She doesn’t seem to get on with people, does she? She could start an argument in an empty room.

“I was genuinely shocked that Joanna didn’t realise Lord Sugar was Jewish during the discount buying task. Surely she’s done some research into a potential business partner? Comments like that make me question how serious she is about the competition.” 

Verdict

“I thought Joanna should have gone for the last two or three weeks.”


Michaela Wain

(BBC, TL)

Best Quality

“She’s a fantastic negotiator. We’ve seen her get a better deal after somebody on her team has agreed one. That happened in Bruges: while negotiating the price of the beer tasting, she got two free beers per person thrown in for free after the deal was done. If I was an employer, I’d want her to do my negotiations.” 

Needs to improve

“She comes across as very nervous in the boardroom and was not great at pitching when she was project manager in the advertising task. Yes, Michaela picked herself to lead that pitch because she wanted to lead from the front, but you need to know what your strengths are.” 

Verdict

“A spot in the final five awaits.”


Sarah Lynn

(BBC, TL)

Best Quality

“She doesn’t lose her cool, she stays calm, she has smart ideas and she seems very natural at talking and is great in a pitch. So far, she’s been outstanding.”

Needs to improve

“With only one loss, I’m worried she could beat the record I share with series four winner Lee McQueen: we’re the only candidates not to be brought back to the boardroom before the interview stage.”*

Verdict

“I’d say Sarah is the strongest candidate and she’s a finalist.”

*Interestingly, at this point it’s also possible for Bushra, Jade and Anisa to beat this record. Although Lee McQueen and Courtney share this record, the latter has one more win under his belt (8).


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