The interviews episode is always the best. Bear traps are laid, and the unwitting candidates fall into them. Every year without fail there's a numpty who believes the little lie about graduating from Cambridge/getting Highly Commended in Grade 4 Ballet/discovering the Higgs Boson won't be found out.
So: Joseph Valente, Richard Woods, Vana Koutsomitis, Charleine Wain and Gary Poulton faced Claude Littner, Claudine Collins, Mike Soutar and Linda Plant. Who was first up with a creative CV? Step forward Gary. "You managed 600 people and had a budget of ONE BILLION?" "Well, er..." "Your reference says when you left you were in charge of three workers." Gaz made a sound like a balloon losing air. "So your business plan is...." "A global, multi-sensory experiential event planner..." Linda Plant looked doubtful. "It's just a mobile disco, isn't it?" Gary refused to be cowed. "We're very popular in the West Midlands." Not really New York though, Gazza, is it?
Linda turned out to be a bit of a star interviewer. She certainly frightened the bejesus out of Charleine, who was startled into bringing out the big guns early. "I'm very big in wedding hair."
Richard's business plan was full of the kind of wank marketing people are prone to. "Project X... an outsourced marketing concept...climbing a mountain... reach the summit of your desires...."
Joseph, who had shaved off his moustache in honour of the occasion, did rather well. "Claude, don't worry. Arm very confident." Claude told him his franchise model probably wouldn't work. Joseph wasn't having any of it and Claude listened to him intently, looking quietly impressed.
Linda Plant read Richard's business plan. "A trail blazer, you say." Her lip curled. "What's a trail blazer, Richard?" "Er..." Richard looked worried. "It's someone who does something first." "Yes, and I..." "You haven't done anything first, have you?" Richard spluttered defensively. "Well, now.. I..." "EVER." The very small amount of Richard that was left slumped out of the interview room.
In the boardroom, the panel gave their opinions on the candidates. "Charleine's expectations are probably beyond her abilities." Everybody thought Gary's idea of a global party app was rubbish. Vana's dating-come-gaming idea was liked by everybody, but Mike Soutar tore her financials into shreds. They all liked Joseph, but worried about the height of his ambition. Lordalansugarsir felt he wouldn't be able to handle corporate clients. "Fen we did feh property task, ee woz a fish outa warta." Linda defended him. "He's not a fish out of water in the plumbing business." Which is lucky.
The five victims were then grilled by Siralanlordsugar. Gary attempted to explain his global events whatsit doo-dah again but was dismissed immediately. "Ar don't geddit." Gary and his disco ball sat in the Taxi of Doom and headed back to the capital of partydom, presumably Birmingham.
Richard's business plan came under fire. "Ah, but this new plan is different." Claude disagreed. "Isn't this what you do already with the agency you run with your brother?" "Nah, that's just a web build thing." Richard's brother must be thrilled.
Charleine revealed her plans for world domination of the hairdressing market. "I'd move to London where I could charge phenomenal prices compared with Plymouth!" She was fired.
Gazza and his Skype disco got the boot. A weary Sirsugaralanlord, by now looking like Sid James several weeks after death, indicated his difficulty in choosing who else to fire by asking the three remaining candidates to step outside whilst he quizzed Claude once again.
Back they came. Vana gave a good account of herself and her credible, although potentially financially crushing, business idea. Joseph explained that he could talk to posh people. Richard said he wouldn't sell his shares in his agency with his brother (although his brother may have a different opinion on the matter). He later changed his mind but it didn't work. He got the boot.
Vana and Joseph inthe final. I may win the office sweepstake yet.
First published here