This Sunday the four remaining Apprentice 2011 candidates will battle it out in the final; Helen Milligan, Jim Eastwood, Susan Ma and Tom Pellereau will go head to head in one final test designed to separate the wheat from the chaff as Lord Sugar prepares to offer one of them a life changing opportunity.
In one of the most closely contended series ever, the four finalists will face a grilling like no other as they endure the dreaded interview stage where they will be cross-examined by Lord Sugar’s most unforgiving associates; ruthless troubleshooter Claude Littner, pioneer of Britain's free magazine business Mike Soutar, chief executive Matthew Riley and his eyebrow raising confidant Margaret Mountford.
But who will win?
First there's Executive Assistant, Helen Milligan from Northumberland, made her mark on the series with an unrivalled winning streak spanning nine weeks, beating the previous record-holder, series one candidate, James Max, who held the record with eight consecutive wins. Helen also secured a two for two track record as Project Manager, leading teams to victory in the rubbish disposal and biscuit tasks.
Our verdict: Helen has proven herself over the weeks but made a big blooper in the reinvestment task. Her lack of experience running a business could prove a disadvantage with this year's new prize.
Next up it's Northern Irish Sales and Marketing Manager, Jim Eastwood, dubbed ‘Jedi Jim’ and a self proclaimed ‘Irish bulldozer of charm’ narrowly escaped a firing in week five when his fateful idea Everydog was slammed by marketing professionals. He has gone on to redeem himself, routinely proving that he is a force to be reckoned with in the boardroom and was awarded the Biggest Bulls**ter in the World by Lord Sugar after task nine.
Our verdict: Jim can certainly sell but has still found himself on the losing team more than half of the time, with big mistakes in branding, marketing and pretty much everything that didn't involve persauding people to do what he wanted.
Born in Shanghai, natural skin-care entrepreneur Susan Ma is the third and youngest of the finalists aged just 21 and was hailed by Lord Sugar as “the mouse that roared” before cruising to victory as PM on the international task with a boardroom sales record of €228,699.
Our verdict: Young and ambitious, Susan already has plenty of actual experience running a business unlike the other candidates, but her ignorance on some tasks has proved shocking.
Finally London-born inventor Tom survived five consecutive defeats at the start of the process but stumbled further after a disastrous performance as PM in Paris. Nevertheless, his analytical accuracy and self proclaimed “core of steel” have seen him through to the final.
Our verdict: Clearly an ideas man, Tom may be able to come up with a good business plan for Lord Sugar but there's a question whether or not he'd be able to follow through with it.
16 Candidates. Four Finalists. One Opportunity. Lord Sugar’s search for his business partner is almost over…