Wednesday 7 December 2016

Apprentice boardroom bloodbath as three candidates are fired by Lord Sugar

Published 12/11/2015 | 00:11

Lord Sugar has two surprises up his sleeve (BBC/PA)
Lord Sugar has two surprises up his sleeve (BBC/PA)

Lord Sugar fired three contestants from The Apprentice, for only the second time in the show's history.

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Elle Stevenson was eliminated before she even had a chance to name two colleagues for the final boardroom showdown.

The 68-year-old business mogul then sent sales account manager Mergim Butaja and boutique owner April Jackson packing.

The first triple firing, outside of the interview rounds, came in the 2014 run of the popular BBC One business-based reality show.

This week, the candidates were tasked with setting up and running a handyman business. They had to generate as much cash as possible over two days.

Lord Sugar designated 21-year-old Stevenson, a construction operations executive, as project manager of Team Versatile.

She appointed Butaja as sub-team leader, but Versatile got off to a disastrous start by missing the 9.45am deadline to print flyers for their business.

It went rapidly downhill from there as Kosovan-born Butaja lost the team money due to his ham-fisted attempt to fix a shelf and his second-rate painting efforts.

Stevenson admitted Lord Sugar had no choice, but to let her go. "I would've fired myself," she said.

"I fart when I'm really nervous so the whole time when I was sat there I was just trying not to fart. Honestly, it's terrifying, it's really scary. I felt like a child, like my mum and dad were shouting at me."

The self-professed "geezer bird" added: "I believed that the failure of the task was down to me and I was quite happy to go and say it's all my fault. I didn't really have any justification, in my opinion, for bringing other people in.

"There were problems with the sub-team, but ultimately the failure lies with me so when he fired me as he did, I was just like 'sweet. I'm out of here'. But also, one of my favourite programmes was on so I was really happy because I could go home and watch it," she said.

Lord Sugar subsequently ordered Butaja, as sub-team leader, to name the two candidates who would face the grilling. He chose Jackson and marketing company owner David Stevenson.

Builder Brett Butler-Smythe led Team Connexus to victory despite not finishing a major cleaning job at a football club.

Connexus also secured their win thanks to a lead for a garden clearance from Scott Saunders, an account manager.

They made £1,170 and spent only £119.92 resulting in a total profit of £1,050.08 and a deserved win.

Versatile, also comprised of Charleine Wain, Richard Woods and Joseph Valente, made a paltry £652, with much of that coming from their contract to refurbish a local theatre.

They spent £121.99 resulting in a total profit of £530.01.

But were it not for plumbing businessman Valente, it could have been much worse. The 25-year-old carried his entire team, as Stevenson readily admitted.

"I was very forceful in my praise for Joseph. I think he's just excellent. I've said that from day one and all the way through this task. I think he's got the potential to go all the way," she said.

Butaja acknowledged that he's no DIY man: "The episode speaks for itself, really! I don't think I'll be troubling anyone in that business. It was a bad day at the office."

However, his impassioned boardroom speech, in which he spoke about his struggles as a refugee, went down well and he was fired "with regret".

"It must have touched Lord Sugar's heart because as I walked out he goes, 'Mergim, I'll be in contact with you' and that's the most powerful thing you can say to a candidate that's been told he's been fired," he said.

London-born Jackson, who later moved to Jamaica, felt the perception that she "sat back" was down to the editing. "I think in real life, people see a lot more of me," she observed.

"People have to appreciate that you're condensing three days into one hour. Ultimately, things are going to be shown and other things aren't going to be shown," she added.

Talking about her sub-team leader, who accused her of not doing "as much", Jackson said, "Mergim doesn't have the position to have an opinion on me and my capabilities.

"Charleine was quite far up his a**e so he probably wouldn't have been able to see what I was doing anyway."

She added: "Lord Sugar, he again would've been fed certain information, but my track record outside of The Apprentice says I would not be where I am today if I was the kind of person who just 'sat back'."

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