Young Apprentice: The final

By: Rachel Miller

Date: 13 December 2011

With the firing of four candidates last week we are suddenly here — the final. It’s James “bull in a china shop” McCullagh versus Zara “cool, calm and collected” Brownless.

So for the last time in this series, the faceless voice picks up the phone and calls the house to ask them to be ready in 30 minutes. They are going to County Hall. Destination: London’s largest gaming arcade. Specifically: the dodgems. Sadly we don’t get to see Lord Sugar, Nick and Karren crashing about, releasing all that pent up tension.

And so the final task – the one that’s going to deliver a clear winner — is to create a video game and a viral internet advert to go with it. The good news is that Zara and James don’t have to do this all on their own. They get to carry on being bossy as the losing candidates are back to help them out.

Zara ‘s team includes Gbemi, Haya, Harry M, Mahamed and Ben

James’ team includes Harry H, Lizzie, Hayley, Lewis and Hannah.

James is on good form. He tells Harry H, “Get bloody thinking”. Later he tries to motivate the team with some words of encouragement. “I don’t want any rubbish and I don’t wany anyone messing around.” Got that?

Ideas for a video game are not in short supply on either team and include zombies and aggressive seagulls. Zara’s team uses a mind map to thrash it out. James calls for some market research to test two ideas and promptly ignores the findings. Twas ever thus.

So what do we end up with? Zara’s backing a cute pig that has to run away from a giant butcher. James has a time management game in which the player is the prime minister who has to keep his job. And so Piggy Panic and Crazy Cabinet are born and come to life thanks to some real work from some actual games designers.

The two teams then try to create some hilarious viral ads. James has a subtle plan ­ “Nothing’s funny unless it offends someone,” he says.

The two finalists pitch their games to an elite group of online movers and shakers from the likes of Facebook and Disney. And it has to be said that James and Zara both do a great job — they are natural speakers and their pitches are really well-received.

In the boardroom, James is in confident mood. “I’ve beaten ten people in this proess and there’s only one to go.”

But what does Lord Sugar think? He is being pretty even-handed so it’s hard to pick a winner. When he’s judging the ads, he says James’ ad is “quite funny” while Zara’s ad is “funny, I suppose”.

The pendulum appears to be swinging in James’ favour. James is not afraid to take risks. And he’s much calmer now — not such a wheeler dealer. “Has James the leopard changed his spots?” wonders Lord S.

It looks like James has got it sewn up.

But wait — Lord Sugar has just one more question. How would they spend the £25,000 prize money?

Zara says she would buy more film equipment to expand her business. She’s only 17 and she’s been making money at it for two years already.

By contrast, James says he’d spend it on his education, specifically in economics. It turns out  — wait for it — he hasn’t ever even had a job, let alone run a business.


Lord Sugar is appalled. “I like enterprising people who realise the world doesn’t owe them a living.”

James’ face is a picture. He has fallen at the last hurdle and he knows it.

Zara wins.

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