"You don't have that long to make an impression," said Ricky Martin, one of four finalists to make it through to the final of The Apprentice and thus win the opportunity to have his CV and business plan eviscerated by one of Lord Sugar's hired assassins.
As it turned out though Ricky didn't need very long: "I opened your application ... and there are basically so many things in there that make me want to be sick," said Matthew Riley, the first of his interrogators. "Probably the most crass, obnoxious, infantile personal statement that I've had the opportunity of reading," said Claude Littner.
Margaret Mountford, meanwhile, was apparently left speechless, limiting herself to an astonished eyebrow lift when she encountered Ricky's invitation to prospective employers to "call me Thor". And then – because Lord Sugar doesn't really give a damn about the wrapping as long as the contents are sound – Ricky won anyway.
It never really looked like it was going to go any other way, frankly, despite Lord Sugar doing his best to spin out the tension in the closing minutes, pretending to dicker between a high-risk punt on Tom's wine hedge fund or a safety play with Ricky's hi-tech recruitment agency.
Jade was gone within minutes, as soon as it became clear that her business plan involved cold-calling people about solar panels and personal debt problems. "Frankly it's a pretty grubby little business you're proposing," said Claude (not a man you'd ever suspect being troubled by over-fastidiousness).
The fact that Jade's business plan didn't include any costs didn't help and nor did another awkward inaccuracy. Mike Soutar revealed he'd just bought one of the web domains she claimed to already own: "I might have to buy it from you," she said, blinking hard.
Nick made it further with his proposal for a service that would simplify the purchasing of ingredients for online recipes, though the fact that not one of his interviewers – including Lord Sugar – could imagine any real demand for the business hinted at an early exit. And Tom got the consolation prize of being the most plausible alternative – having produced a business plan which proved disappointingly impervious to vandalism, but for the colossal hubris of its capitalisation target. There was a tiny wobble when it was revealed that the glowing employer reference on his CV came from his father – and a brief attempt to suggest that Daddy might have helped with the business homework too – but in the end his only real weakness was the scale of his ambitions.
The sense that everything was going Ricky's way was confirmed when Claude confessed how excited he'd been at the chance to rip into him, but then added "In truth I'm mesmerised by the guy."