The Apprentice analysed…

Each week we watch as Sir Alan Sugar yells ‘YOU’RE FIRED!’ at one of The Apprentice wannabes.

More deliciously salacious is watching these wannabes trying to make the most of Sir Alan’s tasks. With only one six-figure salary on offer the contestants declare all out war to get their hands on the prize.

Inevitably, this raises questions about the ethics used by some in the reality programme. Our expert panel of employment lawyers discuss the legal issues raised in this show.

12 June 2008: What happened this week…

Come on, admit it: you thought Claire was going to win. The Lawyer panel certainly thought she would, placing its money on the self confessed rottweiler last week.

In the end, however, everybody prefers the underdog and it was Lee what won it.

Sir Alan brought back the ousted candidates to help the finalists through the last challenge: creating, designing and launching a ‘men’s ‘fragrance’ for the bargain price of £29.99.

Claire and Lee led Alpha team and Helene and Alex led Renaissance.

It looked as if Renaissance had lost when they failed to come up with their own concept, but Renaissance pulled it back at the presentation, winning praise for “their” innovative bottle design, though those watching closely will know that it was actually the designer who came up with the two-bottle concept.

Meanwhile, Alpha pulled together on the design but very nearly fell apart at the presentation stage when Lee’s nerves got the better of him.

It was nail-bitingly tense in the boardroom. Helene and Alex were first to get the chop with their expensive bottle design.

And with Claire and Lee left in, Sir Alan gave viewers the best and final twist of the series: congratulations Lee, your hired!

Juliette Franklin, Russell Jones & Walker

Suralan has finally hired his apprentice, and Lee “that’s what I’m talking about” McQueen was probably the best of bad bunch – I wonder if the famed “reverse pterodactyl” is now extinct?!

I was surprised that Alex and Helene laboured over the name of their perfume with so many obvious possibilities.

I am sure most men would love to wear “Gobsh*te” or even “24” – the fragrance of a young high achiever – but my choice would have been “Balls”, which, as all Apprentice fans know, would have the added advantage of being unisex.

Would any metrosexual offended at being labelled a “has been” by roulette player Ryan have a claim under the sexual orientation or age regulations? If so, could they name Ryan as an actual comparator?!

In view of CV-gate, will Suralan be taking up Lee’s references?

In light of Alex’s taxi claim that he hasn’t slept or eaten for 12 weeks, surely Article 3 ECHR (no one shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment) is breached.

Incidentally, does anyone know how old Alex is?

Alan Nicholson, McGrigors

That’s what I’m talking about. The pterodactyl has landed the job they all wanted. With his 12-week interview now over, Lee enters what will be a difficult probationary period. Last night though, he nailed it.

While our winner was getting Psst and gambling on roulette with Claire, Helene and Alex (he’s 24 you know) became involved in a management duel that sapped the energy of their team.

Given their target market was “Adam from Leeds”, couldn’t they just have popped round to his house with the aftershave instead of pitching to a roomful of industry experts?

Well-drafted employment contracts will always ensure that the employer gets the full financial benefit of the inventions of its staff. Hence an audible “ka-ching” from Sir Alan when Team Renaissance revealed its bottle design.

A resounding “kerplunk” though when Alex revealed that the intellectual property actually belonged to the professional designers.

In the end, Sir Alan had solid business reasons for his choice, and I doubt that any of the unsuccessful candidates will want to take him on at an employment tribunal having lost out in the boardroom.

Ellie Hibberd, Dawsons

Teamwork was critical last night. Claire and Lee were streets ahead, working extremely well together and inspiring their team.

Alex and Helene, however, bickered throughout, over getting-up time, who was moodiest and who was panicking more! A little more focus may have encouraged them not to pick Kevin. As was always his wont, rather than working for the team, he claimed ownership of the project and, criticising the planned presentation, thought they’d have been better with some of his personality – has he forgotten his abysmal card presentation?

Let’s be honest though, Sir Alan has contrived the teams over the last few weeks and nothing Alex and Helene could have done would have been good enough.

One wonders if this is sufficient to constitute constructive dismissal? And what would the odds have been on Lee winning?

Though I’ve not liked Claire throughout, she was undoubtedly the best candidate over recent weeks and in picking Lee, Sir Alan has condoned and endorsed lying in job applications.

I’ve not managed to pick the Apprentice yet, but Sir Alan’s surely got this one wrong – and Claire should start work on her ET1 for sex discrimination!

Hannah Ford, Stevens and Bolton

The Metrosexual is dead, long live the McQueen!

Let’s face it, he was half-way there when he “dropped in” over a truffle-coated steak dinner that he was a Spurs fan.

Lee’s second lucky break came when non-dynamic duo Helene and Alex were paired together.

Cracks appeared almost immediately, with Helene insisting she was not panicking before blurting “Girth” as a viable brand name.

Meanwhile Lee and Claire quietly got on with it and there followed a master-class in effective leadership, delegation and teamwork.

Claire looked to be closing her biggest deal yet when Lee’s presentational ghosts returned to haunt him, but in the cruellest of twists, Sir Alan gifted Lee the six-figure salary.

And so, as the sun sets on the Cityscape for this series, we were left bemused as to why another outstanding female sales-woman has ended up taking silver.

Like dealmakers past (Ruth Badger, Saira Khan and Christina Grimes…), could the answer worryingly lie in Sir Alan’s confession that he could not “put up with” someone like Claire in his organisation?…

Emma Sanderson, Withers

It’s the sweet smell of success for Lee. So apart from the somewhat dubious talent of being able to create the “scent of a man”, what won it for him?

Last week most of the bloggers predicted that Claire would win – she seemed to have the best relationship with Sir Alan and was critical in the success of several tasks.

But what Sir Alan spotted, and what swung it at the end of the day, was that, throughout the entire series, not once was Lee dragged into the boardroom.

Yes, relationships are key to recruitment, but any recruiter has to look beyond his or her own relationship with a candidate and consider how that person will gel with others.

From this perspective, it was no contest. Claire, who by her own admission had struggled to get on with others, was clearly the greater gamble. And as Nick said, “gambling equals misery”.

Mind you, Sir Alan didn’t exactly take the risk-free option. Lee was lucky to be let off as easily as he was over his CV. But, as most recruiters know, sometimes the best candidates on paper are the greatest disappointment in reality. So every now and again it is worth taking just a wee bit of a gamble.

Click here to see what the bloggers had to say last week.