The Apprentice 2015 Final: Joseph Valente wins, plus five other things we learned
Joseph Valente says it was "his destiny" to become Lord Sugar's business partner after he beat Vana Koutsomitis to win The Apprentice 2015
To no one's great surprise Joseph Valente became the winner of The Apprentice 2015.
After being told of his win Joseph immediately said: “Thank you, thank you Lord Sugar, it means the world to me. I’m not going to let you down.”
Claude Littner said: “From task one, he showed a certain calibre, an entrepreneurial flair, that you don’t see too often in a young man.”
In Lord Sugar’s car, Joseph had time to reflect: “I can’t believe I’m Lord Sugar’s business partner. I’m ready to work so, so hard. Since the day I was expelled from school, I always knew I was going to do something big in my life. I've come such a long way, I can finally now say I’m proud of myself.”
Lord Sugar said of his winner: “Joseph is a great example of what’s possible. He turned his life around and decided he was going to go to work and here he is today, a well-deserved winner of The Apprentice and I look forward to him being my business partner. I hope it [his win] inspires a lot of people to see what is possible in this world.”
After Sports Personality of the Year overran, the announcement of this year's Apprentice winner was always going to be pushed back.
However, nobody told the social media team at the Radio Times, who tweeted the identity of the winner ten minutes early, much to the chagrin of their Twitter followers.
1) Joseph Valente is a worthy, if inevitable, winner
It was clear from about Week Four that Lord Sugar liked the cut of Joseph's gib. After all, as Joseph admitted, it was Lord Sugar's book, What You See Is What You Get, that inspired him to go into business for himself.
As an 18-year-old, having been expelled from school a few years before, he left the plumbing firm he worked for and set up his own business. A few years later and he's a successful businessman in his own right. How could Lord Sugar resist?
On You're Fired, Lord Sugar described Joseph as a "self-confessed naughty boy" and it's been obvious for a while that he likes the plumber's cheeky manner.
2) However, would Vana Koutsomitis have been a better long-term investment?
Here's one theory: Lord Sugar was so blinded by his desire to polish a chip-off-the-old-block rough diamond that he's overlooked a very strong businessperson in Vana.
Certainly, her business idea involved huge risk: when it came to the crunch, Vana had to confess that Lord Sugar's £250k investment would be seed money to get the app off the ground. Then, once it had proved its popularity, she would need to gain further investment to get the app to a point where it could become profitable. As we learned tonight, 10-15 datings apps shut down each week, something that was highly unlikely to have Lord Sugar reaching for his cheque book.
However, for what it's worth, I think Vana would have been a sounder, long-term investment. Lord Sugar has taken punts before - on Leah Totton's cosmetic beauty company, for example - and has convinced winning candidates to heavily modify, or indeed change, their business idea. Could it be that Lord Sugar let his heart make the decision not his head?
3) The Apprentice Final needs a revamp - or some more interesting characters
Quite a few TV shows - I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! being a prime example - suffer from a lack oomph when it comes to the final. Fantastic during the series, brilliant during the simi finals but, for some reason, the final often falls flat. While this was a pretty good Apprentice final, it still suffered from the same old problems - it's just not the same when there aren't at least half a dozen highly competitive people bickering and back-stabbing.
One remedy could be to choose the returning candidates more carefully. Yes, it was nice to see Ruth Whiteley back, with her enthusiasm and "by gorrahs", and it was entertaining to see Natalie Dean return to a depth she shouldn't be swimming at, however they're not going to create fireworks.
How much better would it have been to entice Selina-Waterman Smith onto the final and put her in a team with Charleine Wain?
Or get walk-away Scott Saunders back to continue his (almost) beef with Lord Sugar?
One thing's for certain, when the returing candidates have little to play for, they aren't nearly as good value. Perhaps some kind of reward for being on the winner's team might spice things up a bit?
4) Claude Littner needs to be the next to be fired
Sorry, Claude. You were brilliant as the world's most ferocious interviewer during the semi final stages, so much so that fans were delighted when you made the step up to replace Nick Hewer. One of this year's candidates, Elle Stevenson, even said that she "actually weed herself" when you first entered the boardroom. You were a feared man.
However, while Karren Brady has proved an able replacement for Margaret Mountford, Nick's boots have just been too big for you to fill.
Over an interview table your gentle, hushed tones seemed menacing and your slightly soporific glare looked terrifying. But when padding about after the candidates, occasionally delivering a throughly reasonable assessment of their drawbacks to the camera, you seemed like an awfully nice chap.
Yes, Nick seemed nice too but he had an acidic glare and way of pinching his face together that suggested that the candidates' idiocy actually pained him. You seemed mildly baffled. And that's just not as entertaining.
We'd love to have you back - and back to your scary best - for the interview stage but Lord Sugar needs a new left-hand man.
5) Twitter agreed with Lord Sugar
Those who didn't have the result spoiled by the Radio Times (see above) were generally of the opinion that Joseph Valente was a worthy winner.