Last Night: The Apprentice, BBC1

Lord Sugar's new apprentice proves nice guys don't always lose
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The Independent Culture

Nice guys, it seems, don't always finish last – even when they've finished last quite a lot. Tom Pellereau, by common consent the most likeable of this year's Apprentice contestants, had also been on the losing team more often than any of the other three finalists – eight times in total.

Given the filming methods it's possible that he spent more time in the boardroom this series than Lord Sugar himself. But, as 11 weeks of applied incompetence and retrospective buck-passing came to an end last night, it was Tom who won out – securing a partnership with Lord Sugar and a £250,000 investment in his new business.

And while Helen Milligan may have left the process feeling that she'd crashed into the last hurdle in a race she was leading by a length, it wasn't a victory by default. "I didn't know you had it in you, Tom. I didn't know you had it in you", Sugar said with what looked like genuinely gratified surprise, after Pellereau had explained how he doorstepped one of his inventions on to the shelves of Wal-mart. It was one of the last things Tom said, and it appeared to clinch the win for him.

There was no task in this final episode and no reappearance by previous losers. The only thing the contestants had to do was make their business plans convincing and survive the ordeal by insult handed out by Lord Sugar's hired character assassins.

"Would you be prepared to say, Tom, that your career is floundering?" asked Claude Littler, a question which counted in this context as a friendly ice-breaker.

Meanwhile Margaret Mountford was trying to stem the blarney spill of Jim Eastwood's self-belief. Tell me about yourself, she said and "try and say it without clichés and say it very quickly". "I'm exactly what it says on the tin", Jim snapped back obligingly. Helen, identified as something of corporate android by one of the interrogators, was challenged to show her human side by telling a joke. "Can I come back to that later?" she asked, startled.

Claude did for Susan too – dissecting her fairy-tale profit projections so clinically that she was shocked into telling the truth about how bad it had been.

Helen, feeling the water reaching her waist – "I cannot express my disappointment in your business plan," Lord Sugar told her – desperately tried to make it into a lifeboat, abandoning her original notion in favour of a chain of bakery stores. But it was too late. Within Tom's complicated plan, Lord Sugar had spotted a simpler one – to design a better office chair and sell it for more than it costs to make. Nice guy, you're hired.