"Failure is not an option," the Badger was fond of saying but as Sir Alan's stubby finger shot out for the last time in the current series of The Apprentice, Ruth had to accept that there was nothing else on the green glass table. After another of the verbal fan-dances with which each episode traditionally ends the Amstrad chief executive had finally delivered his verdict. "But Michelle... you're hired". The grammar might have been dodgy... but who cares about syntax when you can sell a dummy to the audience for one last time?
The psychologists and body language experts might have been a little more relaxed. Since last week's episode, when Michelle Dewbury revealed that she'd triumphed over youthful adversity, there's been something distinctly paternal in Sir Alan's eyes when he looks her way. Both women have actually been working at Amstrad for the past six months making this not just the most watched job interview process but the longest too.
And in truth the final challenge to stage an event in one of the walkways of Tower Bridge was never going to make much difference to the result. It just gave us something to watch while we waited. "Put on something like a James Bond evening or a casino night," Sir Alan had suggested. Taking no chances of disappointing him Michelle settled for a James Bond night with a casino. Ruth opted instead for a Murder Mystery Night apparently undeterred by the prospect of staging a mini-drama with musical interludes in a high-rise corridor. "To be honest wiv yer it sucks," commented Sir Alan from somewhere off the Cote d'Azur but Ruth had already booked the actors and it was too late to back out. In a frantic bid to give the evening uplift she squeezed her impressive frame into a bustier that would have crushed a woman half her size.
Meanwhile Michelle's decision to select long-term rivals Paul and Syed for her team looked as if it might give her a murder mystery for free . Typically Syed explored his feelings for Paul at length, in speeches of elaborate formality. Paul restricted himself to just one muttered epithet: "Cock!" After the final bills had been tallied the friction between the sales staff showed. Michelle's team had made just £1,897 to Ruth's £3,592. As the numbers were announced Jo the ringletted zany who had delivered some of the series' wildest emotion swings spasmed in triumph for the last time.
The Badger wasn't bitter about her rejection. "There's nobody in this country that inspires me more than Sir Alan," she said. "Even though I've come second, I absolutely worship the man." Sir Alan seemed to think he might find her a consolation prize somewhere in the company. The big winner, of course, was the BBC, who hardly need to worry about how real their reality show is when over 4.5 million people are watching. Will there be a follow up? As The Badger was also fond of saying: "Without a doubt. "Reuse content