The Apprentice – Twelve Types of Candidate

Next Tuesday sees the return of The Apprentice for a seventh series – a much shorter gap between series has come about due to last year’s run being put back to the autumn due to the General Election. This year’s 16 hopefuls are here, each one with a potted biography and the usual self-aggrandising quotes. After six series, certain types have emerged, as they do on any competition of this nature, so I thought it’d be fun to list a few of these types and some previous examples, with a view to then anticipating which of this year’s 16 candidates fit into these categories. Incidentally, one of last year’s candidates, Joy Stefanicki, is going to be following the action (as I will be) and you can follow her on Twitter @JoyousComms.

So here are a dozen types that have tended to reappear over the years:

1 – The Young Pretender
Bullish, headstrong and not so much full of himself as overflowing, the Young Pretender is always one of the most controversial characters in any series of The Apprentice. His gung-ho attitude tends to rub other candidates up the wrong way, leading to some early boardroom confrontations, not least with Lord Sugar himself. In the latter case, the Young Pretender’s big mouth will very nearly get him fired, but he’ll be offered a reprieve (usually because he reminds Lord Sugar “of me when I was his age”) and come to prove himself over the subsequent weeks. Sooner or later, however, the lack of substance behind his blustering facade will be ruthlessly exposed, particularly if he manages to survive as far as the interviews, where his cocky charm singularly fails to impress his stony-faced interrogators.
Previous candidates: Paul Torrisi, Syed Ahmed, Tre Azam, Philip Taylor, Ben Clarke, Stuart Baggs

2 – The Super Saleswoman
The Super Saleswoman is a no-nonsense, larger-than-life individual who is never happier when she’s flogging all manner of tat to the general public. Because making a quick impact and even quicker sales are her strength, tact and subtlety are not her forte, and a consequence of this is that, like the Young Pretender, she can be perceived as rude, abrasive and overbearing, resulting in her making enemies early on in the process. Her sheer tenacity and will to succeed, as well as her unflagging determination to sell anything and everything, are what keep her in the process, very often all the way to the end. However, she tends to lose out at the last to a more rounded – and, in Lord Sugar’s eyes, probably more pliable – candidate.
Previous candidates: Saira Khan, Ruth Badger, Kristina Grimes, Claire Young, Debra Barr, Joanna Riley

3 – The Complainer
Just as divisive as the first two types, but in a more passive-aggressive (rather than just straightforwardly aggressive) manner, the Complainer is an awkward character. Rather than get involved in the action, they tend to sit on the sidelines and point out all the fatal flaws in the team’s strategy. The problems arise when they fail to offer any constructive solution, and their tendency to be vocal about shortcomings is usually sufficiently aggravating to cause them to be brought back into the boardroom by a losing project manager. However, the passive-aggressive stance means that they often end up being seen as the victim, and this wins them extra time in the competition. Ultimately however, Lord Sugar wants a doer rather than a troubleshooter, and that’s why no Complainer has so far won The Apprentice.
Previous candidates: Sharon McAllister, Adam Hosker, Lucinda Ledgerwood, Lorraine Tighe, Jamie Lester

4 – The Nice Guy
Whilst it would not be true to say that, in order to win The Apprentice, you need to be a total git, being nice will only get you so far if you lack that ruthless streak needed when the competition gets tough. The Nice Guy gets on with other colleagues in the house thanks to their winning personality, and they can usually be found hard at work on the tasks. Because of this, they last a long time in the competition. However, as time goes on, not only are they seen to be insufficiently ruthless, but also lacking the necessary drive and ambition that Lord Sugar is looking for. The Nice Guy is therefore usually dispatched towards the end of the process, albeit “with regret”.
Previous candidates: Raj Dhonota, Tuan Le, Lohit Kalbergi, James McQuillan

5 – The Grafter
Closely related to the Nice Guy, the Grafter gets their head down and gets on with whatever task is given to them. They’re usually excellent at marshalling the troops in any task that involves producing a commodity in high quantity – perhaps not surprising then that a couple of the Grafters listed below were ex-military. However, they are often cruelly exposed when required to lead a team and demonstrate innovation and business acumen. It’s here that the Grafter, found to be badly out of their depth, usually reaches the end of the road.
Previous candidates: Natalie Wood, Simon Smith, Christopher Farrell

6 – The Wallflower
Drifting around in the background, appearing to do very little, the Wallflower is a candidate who never lasts long in The Apprentice. Their lack of initiative and failure to defend themselves in the boardroom make them the perfect get-out-of-jail card for a floundering team leader desperate to avoid getting fired.
Previous candidates: Adenike Ogunduyin, Gerri Blackwood, Shazia Wahab, Majid Nagra

7 – The Fall Guy
In the first couple of weeks of any series of The Apprentice, the process of teams deciding their project manager is akin to a game of Pass The Bomb. It’s hardly surprising: lead your team to defeat at the start of the competition, and chances are you’ll be the first one going home, so why put your neck on the block? There have, however, been a few individuals who have done just that, and with perhaps a bit too much enthusiasm. That enthusiasm makes the Fall Guy oblivious to the fact that their team is all too willing to aid their inevitable execution in the boardroom.
Previous candidates: Ben Stanberry, Andy Jackson, Rory Laing, Rocky Andrews, Dan Harris

8 – The Loose Cannon
The Loose Cannon is another candidate who tends to wind up their colleagues and thus end up in trouble early on the process. Loose Cannons tend to be very emotional and impassioned, and when they’re able to channel this into the task at hand then they’re very good indeed. But when things aren’t going their way, they have a tendency to self-destruct. Because they can be capable of brilliance, Lord Sugar often gives Loose Cannons more last chances than most other types in The Apprentice, but sooner or later they exhaust his goodwill.
Previous candidates: Adele Lock, Jo Cameron, Jadine Johnson, Michael Sophocles, Melissa Cohen

9 – The Intellectual
Those who believe that having letters before and/or after their name gives them an advantage over the more “street-smart” candidates in The Apprentice have been consistently proved to be sorely mistaken. Lord Sugar’s tolerance for what he sees as intellectuals playing at being enterpreneurs is notoriously low, and the lawyers and scientists who have put themselves up for the challenge have usually come badly unstuck early on in the process.
Previous candidates: Karen Bremner, Dr Sophie Kain, Nicholas de Lacy Brown, Anita Shah, Dr Shibby Robati

10 – The Player
Of course it’s arguable that all candidates in The Apprentice are playing a game – however, some are a bit more devious and manipulative than others. The Player bides their time, quietly sussing out the competition in the early weeks, looking for weaknesses that they can exploit and playing other candidates off against each other as they skilfully negotiate their own path to the end. Some of them make it all the way, whilst others fall just short, their duplicity exposed. And along the way they might just break one or two hearts.
Previous candidates: Katie Hopkins, Jenny Celerier, Alex Wotherspoon, Kate Walsh

11 – The Nearly Man/Woman
This is the One That Got Away, the candidate who in many ways seemed the most credible, and who has been one of the most consistenly strong in the preceding weeks – but who is let go near the end of the process, often because of one slightly bad week. The Nearly Man/Woman’s firing is usually the most controversial in any given series of The Apprentice, with viewers outraged that Lord Sugar has been short-sighted enough to let them go in favour of another, seemingly less able candidate.
Previous candidates: Miriam Staley, Ansell Henry, Raef Bjayou, Howard Ebison, Liz Locke

And finally…

12 – The Winner
So what does it take to make an Apprentice? Looking at the previous winners of the series, it would seem that being a Nice Guy (or Girl), with a bit of the Player’s ruthlessness; a Grafter and strong at Sales, but with the Intellectual’s ability to think creatively; and with the Complainer’s ability to see where things are going wrong – but crucially able to see how these can be put right; all of these roughly add up to making The Apprentice.
Previous candidates: Tim Campbell, Michelle Dewberry, Simon Ambrose, Lee McQueen, Yasmina Siadatan, Stella English

So there you go: twelve types of candidate on The Apprentice. Obviously we’ll be seeing the last one at the end of the process, and probably at least a few of the eleven others along the way – think of it as “Apprentice Bingo”, alongside the usual drinking games for every time someone talks about “giving it 150%”, “smashing it”, “nailing it” etc (or for every occasion that Nick’s face looks as though he’s just smelled raw sewage). Just remember – none of these people are in it to make friends…

Chris xx


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