Thursday 19 April 2018

Vana Koutsomitis and Joseph Valente make it through to The Apprentice final

Vana Koutsomitis (left) and Joseph Valente survived interrogation by Lord Sugar's trusted advisers
Vana Koutsomitis (left) and Joseph Valente survived interrogation by Lord Sugar's trusted advisers

Vana Koutsomitis and Joseph Valente are through to The Apprentice final after surviving the interrogation of their life before Lord Sugar's trusted advisers.

Charleine Wain, Gary Poulton and Richard Woods were axed from the process in a tense boardroom that saw the remaining final candidates defend their business proposals to their potential partner, ranging from a dating app-cum-game and hairdressing franchise to a plumbing business.

Viewers watched during the episode as the candidates braved aide Claude Littner back in his role as interviewer, plus Mike Soutar, Claudine Collins and new face Linda Plant.

In the boardroom, Wain was the first to face Lord Sugar's finger after being forced to defend the fact she had cried in week 10's health food task and accused of being naive about the scale of her plan to launch a hairdressing academy and series of salons in London in the interviews.

Lord Sugar said that he admired Wain's "drive, inspiration and hard work and efforts" but that he could not go into business with her.

He added: "I think you should take advice from Claude and pursue those additional branches down (in Plymouth). So it is with regret, Charleine, that you're fired."

She told Press Association: "Even I thought I wouldn't get as far as I did; I knew I had it in me but I knew I had big competition on my hands.

"I was the only one that got 'With regret' out of us. I left on a good note."

Poulton was next to be shown the door after presenting a business plan for a mobile disco events agency that hosted "virtual parties".

Aside from leaving his interviewers confused about the concept, Soutar questioned Poulton about a claim on his CV that he had led 600 people and was exposed as being line manager to just three.

Lord Sugar said: "Gary, you take great pride in being a corporate fellow. But I think your business plan is flawed, I don't understand it at all.

"I can't go into business with you - you're fired."

Poulton stood by his CV but said it was "very difficult to defend" his events business plan when he had lost as project manager on a children's party planning task in week eight.

Lord Sugar then narrowed the remaining three by putting Valente straight through to the final.

Despite questioning his maturity, Lord Sugar praised his plumbing idea as "a business that I can understand."

He said: "I also understand that you're very, very determined and so I'm going to tell you right now, Joseph, that you are going to be in the final."

Woods had suffered in the interviews when Soutar showed that his "original" concept for his outsourced marketing company was one he was already using in a current company that he owned with his brother and a concept he had posted on social media.

He was then told by Plant that his jargon-filled plan was "bulls***".

In the boardroom, Lord Sugar asked Woods if he would give up his 50% share in the agency he co-owned, viewing it as direct competition, and it took three times before Woods offered to sacrifice his half.

But Woods admitted he still "didn't see it coming" when Lord Sugar handed the remaining place in the final to Koutsomitis.

Lord Sugar said that her "gamified" dating app was a gamble and that the £250,000 investment would be "a spit in the ocean".

But he concluded, "Richard, you've done extremely well in the process, so you've obviously got something there.

"Vana, in order for your business plan to work, it has got to be so drop dead brilliant that it's going to capture the imagination of users at a very early stage.

"I'm a gambler. Richard, you've been a very, very good candidate here, but I've decided that I'm going to take a gamble by allowing Vana into the final.

"So Richard ... you're fired."

Woods admitted: "I was gutted.

"I'd won more tasks than anyone else, I was leading salesperson, I was top of every single chart.

"I didn't see it coming because I didn't realise it would be a problem having other businesses I owned.

"Lord Sugar has lots of other businesses he's involved in.

"It was my naivety to think that would be acceptable."

The Apprentice final will air on Sunday December 20 at 9pm on BBC One.

Press Association

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