Sunday, 7 June 2009

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

Welcome to the liveblog of the final of series five, and more importantly, of Margaret's last shift (sob). I reserve the right to go back in and insert observation, commentary etc after the event due to the pressures of liveblogging, and I'm sure some of my collaborators will appear in the next couple of says to comment, so do come back and see what you've missed.

So, we've had eleven weeks of catering fail, Pantsman, exercise 'boxes' and Lorraine's line of Irish per episode. We're down to two finalists - Kate and Yasmina, either of whom would fit the 'pretty competent one' box that winners so often tick, so who will be given the role of ballsy woman runner-up? We'll find out in an hour, but my money's on Kate to win... or maybe Yasmina...

Previously on The Apprentice... the five remaining candidates got ripped to shreds, and James, Lorraine and Debrabarr went home, and unusually, I felt sad for all of them. Normally there's at least one in this stage that I love to watch being chewed to pieces (Paul Tulip, for example).

The finalists piece to camera about how much they want the job, and Yasmina says it doesn't matter if you come 2nd or 20th as she really wants the job.

They go to Bankside in London for their final briefing. Yasmina's got her hair up and a swirly black and white blouse thing on, Kate a white blouse and grey skirt.

Here come the losers to be on the teams. Yasmina wins the toss and Picks howard. Kate's first pick is Ben (???), Y - Lorraine, K - Debrabarr, Y- James, K - Kimberly (Philip must be crapping his pants). Yasmina picks Philip and Kate takes Rocky. What this says about Philip and Kate's relationship, I'm not sure. I'm rather upset Paula the fierce and Noorul the poor aren't here. Someone in the chat room I'm in bemoans the loss of upside-down-mouth Anita. [What, no love for Mona? She went on a journey! She talked to a transsexual! - Steve]

The task is to make and market a brand new box of chocolates. Chocolate is, we're told, a 3.5 billion pound industry. In the offices of a 'top London ad agency', they have to decide on a target market. In team Yas, James ponders selling for men and Philip says 'what about quirky?' Yas brings the two ideas together and says to market at a woman to buy for men might be quirky.

In team Kate, Ben suggests going down the route of marketing to couples as chocolate can be sensual and then says 'it could be like having a threesome with your box of chocolates'. Um. Kate quite likes the his'n'hers idea.

The teams now need to come up with an idea for a box. Let's hope Kimberly doesn't get involved here. Ben draws a 69 on a page and says he's being 'deadly serious'. Kate calls him a fool, because it's romantic, not perverted, and he gets the huff.

Team Yas ask a focus group of men if their girlfriends buy them chocolates. They all say no, and they don't think women would buy chocolates purely for the men. Now, I'm no dating expert here, but surely men would like their partners to buy them chocs? All the men I know love chocolate, plus that chocolate flavour Lynx has gone down a storm, hasn't it? Anyway. Philip says it's a great misunderstood idea, like Pantsman - people didn't get it at the time, but they will do eventually. Yasmina says 'er no, that's not a good example'. They discuss product names - Cocoa, CocoElectric, and having a display of electric shocks. Eh?

Kate's team like the idea of pairs, two's company, perfect match. From nowhere, Kimberly says 'three's a crowd'.

Team Kate experiment with flavours - strawberries and champagne, lavender, sea salt - all nice, but all rather expensive for their 'mid-brand' chocolate. Do we know if price is a factor here? We know how much Sralan values profit over quality...

Kate asks if £13 (what it might cost) is a valid price point for a 'night in' box of chocs. It sounds more like a special occasion box of chocolates to me rather than a Friday night with a DVD type, but I suppose it depends on what they're aiming at here.

Yasmina's team love the idea of Coriander and Orange, which is surely more of a soup kind of idea? Now cardamom and orange chocolate, THAT is lovely, but coriander? They also discuss peppery caramels (surely salty caramels is more usual?) and chilli.

Kate's team settle on 'Intimate' for a name, which Nick rightly rubbishes, and links to 'feminine freshness'. [In fairness, it was originally 'The Intimate Chocolate Company', which I thought was rather good, but then the box design had INTIMATE in size 46 font and the rest of the words practically minuscule, which was what made it sound Tampaxariffic. - Steve] People in the chat room I'm in say it sounds like Tampax, and seconds later, Debrabarr repeats this exact comment. They throw some names around and settle on 'Choc d'Amour', chocolate of love.

8am, and the printers have sent a sample box. The cocoa elctric box is black with pink writing and a pink ribbon (how manly) which looks exactly like the boxes Thorntons use for Eden. It's a nice box, but is pink the right colour here?

Commercial time, and Kimberly resumes her role as director. Two models are sharing a 'romantic night in', feeding each other chocs in a vaguely porny way.

Yasmina's team get their sweets, they're round flavoured. They try the strawberry and basil ones and Howard pulls a face. Now Rococo sweet basil and lime chocolate, that's how you get basil in chocolate, my friends. Anyway, Margaret asks which she should try and they say chili. She tries one and says she's 'waiting for the explosion'. They ask if she wants another and she says one's enough, thank you.

Philip is trying to chorograph his team's ad. A nation facepalms.

Yasmina is directing hers. She tells the model, who resembles Ziggy from Big Brother to put one in his mouth. He asks if it's strawberry and basil, pulls a face and asks if he can spit it out. Heh. [Even better: Yasmina says "no." - Steve] [But he does anyway and hands it to her, how rude! - Fiona]

There's a bit of decor for the venue shopping, which I miss...

Kate tells Kimberly her advert is a bit cheesy and 80s and says she wants the girl to rip the man's tie off and then be seen with chocolate smeared all over her face. Mmm, sexy. She looks ridiculous, like a three year old after a meal. Nick says Kate's given it some 'bite', so maybe he sees something we don't. [Or he has watched films we haven't - Fiona]

The Cocoa Electric team look at the faces in their ad. They all look 'shocked', but shocked in a 'holy fuck what the HELL is this shite' way, rather than a 'wow! Unexpected pleasure' kind of way.

They decide to put their lightning logo in the centre of their ad and Philip nearly comes at his own genius and channels Lee McQueen with a 'now that's what I'm taking about'.

Kate PTCs that she's confident because it's the only state of mind she can have, but she might be different tomorrow. Yasmina says she's excited, it's going to be the biggest night of her life, and more exciting than getting married. Is Yas married? Can someone check? [I can't find anything one way or another - Fiona]

The venue for the launch gets everyone excited, and we see Kate rehearsing her speech and talking about their romantically themed flavours. Her team are setting up candelabras.

Yasmina rehearses and asks Lorraine if she makes sense when babbling on about electric shocks. Lorraine says 'erm, no not really' and Yas bemoans the fact that she'll never be Martin Luther King.

Kate's presentation and she pronounces it 'shock d'amour' which brings the other team to mind. Their slogan is 'for him, for her, to share' (not for teh gayz, clearly). She mentions the 'current economic climate' of course and says staying in is the new going out. Her podium is covered in roses. She tells people to taste the chocolates. There are six flavours, all with romantic names, [I saw 'couples caramel which is not so much romantic as shit - Fiona] but she doesn't tell us what they are. She tells us they cost £13. Sralan says £13 is a bit much. Kate says you can buy them in nice shops, supermarkets, duty free, er anywhere you buy chocolate.

Their advert looks rather cheap and the woman smearing choc on her face looks nasty, but the idea could be good with a bit of polish, I suppose. The box looks attractive, but rather small... Kate says she believes it's a romantic experience, and really more than just a box of chocolates.

A man in the audience questions their margins, basically pointing out they seem to be aiming a more high-end product at a more mainstream market, which I agree with. In a posh shop, you may pay £13 or more, but in Asda or Tesco, you're going to balk at going over a tenner, aren't you?

Team Yas. She's wearing a pink dress and Philip has a strip of pink Michael Stipe-like strip make up across his eyes. Of course. They have pink lighting anf a group of dancers dancing to Electric Six's 'Danger! High Voltage', which is a little tacky. Sralan looks confused.

People I'm chatting with discuss Yasmina's scar and whether she got it from Voldemort, thus inspiring the logo. Ouch.

Yasmina starts by saying 'let's talk about the concept' and says things like 'take some strawberrry and basil, what do you get? Cocoa electric'. The audience look befuddled. Yas presses on and says she knows they don't all have a box (fail) but they can see it's a nice box. They have 18 chocs and plan to sell for £6.

The ad shows people of both sexes (I presume they've gone away from the male thing then) reacting to eating a chocolate as if they are having an electric shock, with appropriate sound effects (and the Electric Six soundtrack). The problem is, they look as if they're having an unpleasant shock, not an exciting one. A woman in the audience asks why an electric shock is pleasant. Yasmina says well they didn't want to go down the lightning striking route (which could hardly be seen as pleasant either), but it was unusual. A man asks if the flavours work, Yas asks if he's tried them. He says, of course, that's why I'm asking. She says they've had positive feedback, especially about the strawberry and basil. Lots of people laugh. Oops.

Someone else says £6 sounds cheap. Yas says they can make them for 7p each so it'll work out OK. Some people giving vox pops say they love the concept but aren't sure anyone would buy a second box after trying them. Ouch.

Pre-boardroom chat. Yasmina doesn't think she could have done any more. Kate says she won't bitch about Yasmina but just tell Sralan why she should be the next apprentice. London porn. Dramatic music.

Boardroom. Sralan jokes to James about being prophetci and this being the chocolate factory. James says he's got Lorraine's gift. Lulz all round.

Sralan asks how they enjoyed it and Kate says she did, and her team all say she's great. Debrabarr says she thinks Kate would be a good winner. Kate explains about their laboured process of name choosing.

Sralan says that Yasmina's team went for the 'cheap end of the market', and I wonder if they would be better swapping round - couples for a night in would go for cheap, whereas posh high-end stuff tends to have weird flavours. Yas says their research showed men didn't buy choc and Sralan agreed. Sralan says their chocolate was shockingly bad and tasted really cheap, unlike the other team's chocolates, some of which were really good. He says she got there with the money but not the product (in a reversal of the Noorul/Paula cosmetics fight. I *would* liken it to the food week, too, but neither team produced quality then).

The team jump to her defence and say she's fabulous and a great talent. In her Irish moment of the week, Lorraine says they're both great finalists. Philip doesn't stick up for Kate, in a further moment of 'hmmm' about their relationship.

Nick says he was sitting with some top chocolate people who said they;d hire both of them, and Nick says he was really proud of them both. Aww. We then see some snippets of Nick, Margaret and Sralan saying how great they are (but we don't know which comment applies to which of them contestants).

Sralan says this will be the hardest decision EVER as they're both great and asks them to tell him their best bits.

Kate says she liked winning her pitches and people working well with her. Sralan says she's a good presenter and liked, but he needs more than that. she says she's got 'good business skills'. He asks what her ambition was, and she says she wants to work in a company to become a commercial director. He says 'so title means a lot to you' and she says it's the kudos and achievement.

Yasmina says her highlights were learning things she hasn't done before, and she was nervous last night to pitch against the personal pitcher. She says she was pleased to win three PM-ships [Pleased she got that little trufact in there - Fiona] and liked being a good project manager or working alongside good ones. He says you, unlike Kate, have your own business, twenty staff, that's an achievement. He says 'do you understand my dilemma?' She says, yes I do understand, but I feel that letting me go would be a big risk. Sralan says he doesn't want to put 20 people out of work. She says they won't be as her brother will keep them in work.

Kate may have given a better performance in the task, but Yas gave a great boardroom there...

Sralan likes them both, but he's worried about where Kate would fit in in his organisation and what she would do. He says to Yasmina that he got 'made' in his own business and didn't need anybody else, he could do it himself, and he thinks she can do it herself too, and if he took her on, would she resent him in the next few years. He says they're the best he's ever had in the final in this boardroom (and aside from Ruth Badger, I'd agree). His instincts are telling him... big pause... Yasmina, you're hired.

Kate looks gutted but says she's pleased for her. Yasmina promises to be the best apprentice he's ever had. Margaret smiles.

And on that note I'll leave you there, before we have to face a future without soon-to-be-Doctor Margaret Mountford, sadly (and without Sralan (or even Ludallan) if the Tories have their way). Personally, I'd love them to take a break so they can come back and have to call Margaret Doctor Margaret (and Nick can get himself a funky title in that time), but ratings matter, so we'll see you for series six no doubt (or even Junior Apprentice).

Saturday, 6 June 2009

In which that horrible ruddy-faced bastard does not appear

So, after weeks of cleaning things and cooking things and selling things and going on the telly to sell things, we are down to the interview stage, if by interview you mean ‘see how well the contestants handle being insulted to their faces for several hours’.

We get the usual bumph and then the recap of last week’s episode, where Debrabarr excelled at being the sort of almost-human that does well on shopping channels, and Howard went home.

The comparatively late time of 6.30. Kate answers the phone with no make-up. The cars are coming in 30 minutes. She stomps about rousing people. The Humanise Debrabarr Edit continues apace, as she sits in a tracksuit and singsongs ‘We’re going for interviews!’ to Lorraine like a small child, then gives Lorraine a bit of a pep-talk and a hug and tells her not to worry about the interviews. Yasmina to-cameras that she’s never had an interview and not got the job. Lorraine to-cameras that all the rest are looking forward to interviews, but she’s bricking it.

A kind of dull and repetitious introduction to the candidates. Debrabarr is a bit mean. Kate is unflappable. Lorraine has six wins and is the most successful (Yasmina’s 3 for 3 record as project manager would like to have a word) and has a spotty CV because she spent time raising her kids. Yasmina is going to be brilliant at the interviews, she says. James says he’s the best candidate. Yuh-huh. He makes an unpleasant analogy involving his arse and Alan Sugar.

At Viglen’s offices, Sralan’s like ‘no tasks lol! Interviews though! 3 of you will be bladdy fired! Lol!’

The four rottweillers are (and as ever, I reserve the right to misspell their names, because they’re asses) Borden Chatchuk, CE of Viglen; Claude Littner, ex-assassin of Sralan; Karrrren Brady, MD of Birmingham City; and Alan Watts, a bladdy lawyer [presumably to prove that he doesn't hate them after all - Rad].

There’s a weird badly-edited confusing montage of interview clips. We see several of them saying ‘Pleased to meet you’ to the interviews, which: sigh. The correct, polite, thing to say is ‘How do you do?’ when meeting someone for the first time in a formal situation. [I didn't know that. Never let it be said that this blog isn't educational. - Steve] Kate just wants to get started. James thinks it’s like waiting to see the headmaster.

Claude tells James his CV is ‘exceptional’ – but exceptionally bad. He goes on for about twenty minutes about how James has far too many telecoms-specific terms in it; though he does complain about ‘SLA’, which is ‘service level agreement’ and isn’t that bizarre, really. [Seriously. I've encountered that one in nearly every job I've had. - Steve]

Kate tells Bodrun about herself – first class degree, marketing for a coffee chain, so on. Bodrun is impressed, but asks why she’s there. She says she wants to work in another industry, and get the chance to progress. As she comes out, the other candidates are amused that she’s smiling. She says ‘I always smile’ and then does a funny little twitch, which is either her taking the piss out of her own smiling fa├žade, or is it legitimately slipping. Either way: heh.

Karrrren asks Yasmina about her restaurant. She and her brother were working in a restaurant and decided ‘Rah! No more making money for The Man! We shall make money for ourselves!’ Claude looks at her CV, and we get to see that she is owner, finance director and waitress of her restaurant (Claude has written ‘Why not MD?’); that she was fired from a housekeeping job in the Alps; and that her hobbies are eating nice food, horse-riding, and surfing. He praises her website and says the restaurant looks lovely. He then gets into her figures. 4.5% of her turnover was profit. She gets a bit flustered and says ‘bottomline profit’ and then gets confused between gross and net profit. Then Claude pulls out her accounts, to her astonishment, though he says ‘they’re public documents’ and she calms down. Then he tells her off some more about what she claimed her turnover was – she said it was £8,000 a week, but her accounts didn’t show £400,000 for the first year. She asks if it says £370,000 and he refuses to tell her. Which, yeah. C’mon Yasmina. Know your own figures [seriously. Has she never watched Dragon's Den? I know it's not the same show, but surely the same principle applies - Rad]. She’s dressed like a pilgrim. She comes out and tells everyone he was nice, and it was enjoyable. [or not! - Rad]

Lorraine says she’s nervous, Yasmina reassures her. Lorraine goes to see Karrrren – ‘Pleased to meet you!’ GRRR! – and Karrrren asks about Lorraine’s CV, which claims she has ‘a special gift’. Turns out this is intuition, and not firing pingpong balls from her cooch. Karrrren then picks her up on the fact that she says her job was May 07 to present, when in fact it was May 08, and asks why she LIED. [She should have said 'because lying on your CV wins you this show' - Rad]

James says the guy interviewing Debrabarr will be more scared than she is. Claude says that she’s got a great degree and so on, but she’s not a team player and seems a bit ruthless. Debrabarr says she’s ambitious, but she doesn’t want to ‘ruin’ anyone else, and she doesn’t really like the term ruthless.

Claude tells James off for saying that his job was ‘putting a leash on people who spunk money up the wall’ and then asks James why the hell he said he brought ‘ignorance’ to the table on his CV. James claims it’s a good ignorance. That’s okay then. Lorraine says that James said he was there for the challenge, and Debrabarr is all ‘Nuh-uh! He don’t challenge himself no how!’ Alan calls James immature. James gets het up and says that he doesn’t want to be seen as the joker, and has achieved everything asked of him. You weren’t asked to lose all those tasks, sweetness.

Claude asks why Kate’s CV says her greatest challenge would be working in an all-female team. She starts off fine, saying that she has worked with men more, and that’s her comfort zone, but then says that women have more ‘emotions and bitching’ but she does acknowledge that it’s a generalisation, and only her experience. Still though. Poor show, Kate.

Alan says one of Debrabarr’s references say she’s arrogant and tells people to fuck off. Does she? Yes she does! He then says that if you have to swear to communicate (fine so far), it shows that you’re arrogant (WRONG). If you have to swear to communicate it shows that you’re too inarticulate to express yourself any other way, which, by the way, is a bigger flaw in a businessperson than arrogance. Interviewer FAIL. [I don't like this assumption about people "having" to swear. I don't HAVE to, I just fucking choose to. - Steve] Then Karrrren dives in and says that her colleagues says ‘you love her or hate her, but lots of people hate her’ and ‘she thinks she’s the dog’s bollocks’. Debrabarr literally snorts with laughter at this and responds brilliantly, basically saying that yes she’s driven, yes she’s passionate, and if you see those qualities in a woman, it’s easy to turn around and call her a bitch. Karrrren, who, by the way, is wearing this bizarre white smock thing, with like a cummerbund with a blue pattern on it – looking like she’s inspired by Lady GaGa’s china outfit and got a bit muddled – goes on about how she’s a successful businesswoman, but nobody calls her a bitch. Debrabarr doesn’t even dignify that shit with a response and just stares at Karrrren. Outside, they ask if anything was nice at all, and Debrabarr says ‘Yeah! “Pleased to meet you”!’ and laughs beautifully. She really should laugh more.

Karrrren then goes to Kate, oooh, you’ve got trouble with emotions in the workplace, but you had emotions for Philip, didn’t you? Kate’s like, nah, not really. Karrrren’s like ‘oh, but it was a problem for other people!’ as though Lorraine wasn’t using it as a brilliant boardroom tool as opposed to something the actually gave a shit about. Kate says it’s ‘a nonsense’ and people’s own binniz be they own binniz. Karrrren’s like, so you’re not whinging and moaning then? Kate’s like, well, yeah, I am now and we see a flash of personality for a second, but she locks that down with a quickness to ‘everyone has the right to whinge and moan’ sometimes. Karrren, all smug like she’s just struck the coup de grace says, but that’s your greatest problem! Women who whinge and moan! I caught you out! I am the fucking Sherlock Holmes of Apprentice interviews! Much like Debrabarr, Kate doesn’t even respond.

Alan has a big go at Yasmina that her mother remortgaged her house to raise finance for Yasmina’s restaurant. As though she held her mother at gunpoint, rather than this grown woman making her own decision. What a bullshit thing to complain about.

Karrrren asks if Lorraine is tough. She claims she is – dealing with her husband leaving her and her daughter being ill. Karrrren asks if she rubs people the wrong way, and Lorraine is like ‘Apparently! Who knew?’

Claude tells Kate she’s Little Miss Perfect – she says nobody is perfect – and that even though she’s clearly very very competent, and even in this interview she’s well within her comfort zone – but she’s not passionate. Kate says that she is and says that at 16 she was the youngest person to be put forward for the McDonald’s management programme (managing in her tone of voice to express ‘this is a little bit ridiculous, but it does still prove my point’) and that you can’t achieve excellent results without having passion.

Debrabarr tells Alan that the biggest thing she’s learned the past ten weeks is how her personality may impact on other people, and even though that was hard it was brilliant, because at 23 she has the opportunity to transform that. Perfect answer.

James says blah blah blah he doesn’t want to go home yet.

Debrabarr has never had so much negative feedback in one day, but really wants to be the Apprentice.

Back at the flat, they eat dinner and Cheers! each other. Lorraine’s second Irish line of the episode tells us that she’s a bit shocked and she says that if she gets this it will show she’s more than what she’s achieved so far.

To the boardroom. NotFrances’s computer has no icons at all on the desktop.

Sralan’s interviewers chat to him, Nick and Margaret. Alan starts off on Lorraine. She talks too much but doesn’t answer the question. Karrrren goes off on one about the special gift and intuition. Bordun goes on about how she claimed to read minds. We see in a clip she said no such thing, but that she was able to mirror people. He asks what he’s thinking, and her third Irish line of the episode says he doesn’t know if she’s for real. Margaret defends her, saying she makes the right call when others don’t, but doesn’t know when to shut up about that. Others say that she’s not right and wouldn’t cope with the stress.

Claude says Yasmina actually shows entrepreneurial spirit, and has her own business, but that she didn’t do that well once he questioned her accounts. Alan asks why would she want to be back on the ladder, rather than running her own business. Claude then goes back to that bullshit well about her mother’s mortgage. Karrrren tells him to shut up because the restaurant is a success and so it was a good risk. Claude says ‘Hindsight is great!’, all petulant, and srsly, what the hell is your damage, Mary? Sralan then reminisces that his parents used all their savings to buy him a car, so shut up Claude. Nick says parents make sacrifices, so shut up Claude. Karrren (now wearing a nasty blue dress that appears to be made out of some rubberised material an has funny little peak sleeves like the uniforms in Captain Scarlet, and as we will see, again with the weird patterned cummerbund) says Yasmina is great.

James didn’t have a good interview with Karrrren. He recognised that it wasn’t good. She gave him one opportunity to say something impressive, and he said he wanted Sralan to be Willy Wonka and give him the keys to the factory; he couldn’t stop joking. Bordun says he’s got some impressive achievements. Nick says he’s lucky and ‘shimmied through’.

Karrren was very impressed with Kate, but perhaps she was too good, and a bit robotic. Interview flashback to Karrrren and Kate, with Kate saying that she definitely isn’t boring, and anyone who knows her would say that. Nick says, as a genuine suggestion, ‘maybe she hasn’t got a personality!’ Karrrren raises her complaint about bitchy emotional women again. They conclude that unflappability isn’t a bad thing and that Kate would be a great employee.

Karrrren says that Debrabarr’s references were harsh, and Alan says he wasn’t convinced by her argument that she’s learnt to moderate her personality. Bodrun says she might upset people. Claude says she’s young enough to be able to change. Sralan says she’s got some nasty ways, but some great qualities. They all agree that she’s very mature for 23, (although 23 isn’t the magical age of 24, so she doesn’t carp on about it), and has some great qualities but could be risky.

The interviewing folk leave. Margaret says they’re all good but none are perfect, but that would be too much to ask. NotFrances sends the candidates through. Sralan wants them to tell him why they should get the job. Who wants to kick off? Nobody responds. Eventually James does, saying that he doesn’t look great on paper, and has lots of losses, but he thinks he and Sralan could be a good match. At this, Kate’s eyes practically bulge out on stalks. James prattles on about how he’s not just a joker blah blah blah.

Sralan moves to Debrabarr. They’ve forgotten that she’s just 23, but can she curtail her attitude? She says that she’s taken on the negative feedback, which has been hard, but she’s now willing to adjust her personality if that’s what’s necessary. Sralan says she needs to conquer herself before she conquers the world.

He tells Kate that the interviewing people considered her robotic; she awesomely says ‘I’ll take that as a compliment’ and says that she’s very composed and controlled. Sralan says he’s never met anyone that controlled who is successful. She says she isn’t always like that, but in interview situation, it shows strength of character to stay composed and not get flustered. Sralan says that he’s a bit old-fashioned and doesn’t like storyboards and spreadsheets and so on; Kate says that’s great, and it’s about acting appropriately for the situation.

Lorraine has had some tough times and Sralan does believe she’s tough as an ox. However, she’s been a focal point of conflict, and has been a bit more critical of people than others. She was a bit shocked by the feuding and so on. Sralan’s like ‘that’s nothing compared to these CREDIT CRUNCH times!’.

Sralan asks Yasmina why she wants to curtail her freedom by coming to work for him and she says that she feels a bit wasted in the catering industry, and she wants to develop her skills and then get that freedom back later. He asks if she’s one of the most credible, and she says definitely.

Sralan, verbatim: ‘Debra, leopard, spots. Will it change? Won’t it change? Young.’

‘Yasmina. Here for the right reason? Dunno.’ Cue HWUH? face from Yasmina.

Lorraine might not be right, Kate always has the right answers. He tells James there’s nothing wrong with being friendly, but he’s a corporate man and that don’t exist at Sralansugarindustries Incorporated, so with regret he’s fired. James thanks him, and says it’s been brilliant.

Debrabarr starts to cry. Yasmina, seated between them, has an arm on Debrabarr and Lorraine, reassuring them. Sralan sends them out for a breather. Sralan, Margaret and Nick says James is great. Notfrances sends them back in.

There will only be two people in the final. HOORAY! He tells Yasmina he’s concerned about her commitment because of her restaurant. She says that she didn’t want to do the graduate training programme like everyone else (cue slight bitchface from Kate, who did one) and wanted to learn about business from the grassroots level. Kate’s received lots of compliments, but she’s clinical and robotic. She says that she’s performed well and achieved results, and you don’t do that as a robot. She claims she’s not short on personality but manages to seem like a total robot while doing so. I think Kate’s issue is that she’s so into this ‘being professional and composed’ mode, which is a good thing, that she finds it hard to let it slip and let herself come out. I don’t believe she’s a robot, she just has incredibly strict Work-Life boundaries.

Lorraine starts on about her tough background, and Sralan basically says ‘I’m sympathetic, but shut up’. She says that she’s learnt when to push herself forward more and will take it with her for the rest of her life. Sralan says to take that with her now, cos she’s fired. She thanks him for the opportunity. She and Debrabarr share a touch as she leaves.

Sralan says there are three awesome people left, basically. He tells Yasmina that the big hiring computer would tell him not to hire her cos she already has a business. He tells Debrabarr that if she manages her character, her reputation will manage itself. She says she can do that. He says that’s just words. She says no, she’s done it over the last ten weeks and will continue doing so. [Which is true, and is also pretty much what Claire did last year - Rad]

Sralan says, ‘Kate, you’re in the final’ and it’s bizarre to watch. First you have her very professional ‘thank you Sralan’; then a ZOMG!!! Face; then professional calm; then ZOMG!! again.

He tells Debrabarr and Yasmina there is nothing between them and it was a tough decision. He’s not worried about the person who’s leaving. Debrabarr, you should be proud of yourself, and I wish you the best of luck, you’ll be successful in the future, you’re fired. And, because it’s awesome, Debrabarr verbatim: ‘Thank you very much, each of you, for your feedback, and I’ll take it with me, and be a success’. Sralan tells her to keep in touch. She grins hugely and hugs Yasmina and then Kate. Nicest firing and best firing response ever. [It almost felt like Debrabarr fired Sralan, somehow, given how she totally came out on top. It was awesome. - Steve]

Yasmina can’t seem to process that she’s in the final. It was the toughest decision he’s had to make, and walking out that door might be his biggest mistake. He doesn’t want them to let him down, blah di blah. Back to the penthouse! Kate and Yasmina hug and prance in the lobby.

Now, I love both Kate and Yasmina, so this is an awesometastic final. And last year’s four-way final was ricockulous. But a three-way Debrabarr, Yasmina, Kate final would have been amazing.

Londonporn. The girls gossip in the back of a taxi. Very excited, blah-di-blah.

Next week (or rather, on Sunday): the fired candidates come back (obviously) (Yasmina: ‘Awww!’). They have to design and launch a new box of chocolates. Debrabarr says ‘It looks like a box of Tampax.’ Philip choreographs something. I generally like to predict who’ll win by which fired candidates they take, but as Kate appears to have Ben, and Yasmina appears to have Philip, they’ve got an albatross each, so who can say?

[Join me tomorrow LIVE! For a Liveblog! And crying about Margaret quitting - Rad]