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The Apprentice: a 'Stella' performance

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A dose of actual reality descended on our beloved reality TV show this week as viewers learned that graduate, Raleigh Addington, had left the process after his brother suffered serious injuries serving in Afghanistan. As Apollo and Synergy stood expectantly at Heathrow, Lord Sugar sent his best wishes via videolink to Raleigh whose 'shameful' speech had lit up episode 1.

And so for task 2: designing and pitching a unique beach accessory. With Synergy a man down, Sugar – in a Cameronesque A list initiative – made the most of the positive action provisions under the new Equality Act by parachuting in Stella English to lead the team. The head of business management was given the unenviable task of controlling the boys. After the chaos of ‘Sausagegate’ that would be quite an achievement.

Apollo remained intact under self-elected team leader and business development manager Laura Moore, who lacked sector experience but boasted product design knowledge.

Meanwhile, under Stella’s cool and decisive leadership, Synergy voted in favour of the multi-purpose ‘Cüüli’ beach towel. Away from the watchful eye of their leader, the boys concluded the best way to exploit the product was to exploit their boss in a cavalier display of upward management and blatant sexism. They went on the hunt for beachwear. Stella responded courageously (or disappointingly), setting aside her personal misgivings and undoubtedly a slam dunk claim for sexual harassment, as she agreed to "take one for the team". Fortunately for her, commando Christopher Farrell was unable to find "something with tassels on".

Laura failed to control her boisterous team, leaving last week’s shining star, this week’s villain – Joanna Riley, centre stage and in belligerent mood. Apollo reluctantly followed her ‘Book Eeze’ book stand concept. Ultimately, the killer blow to their chances was Laura’s clumsy rebuttal of an exclusivity proposal from leading retailer Boots. Synergy had better luck (or was it a better product) by stretching the product’s remit to baby food storage. But, of course.

On the day of reckoning, having secured one order for 100 units against Apollo’s ‘nul’ points, Stella and her boys scraped a victory and headed off to the first tee at Wentworth. Stella was left basking in the glory of leading a victorious male team which in the previous week had responded badly to outright macho bullying. One can only speculate whether Apollo would have fared better had it been peppered with the odd boy. One thing’s for sure – Stella is one to watch.

In the mayhem of the boardroom, Sugar barked that the girls were "amateurs" (with a suitably prefaced adjective) as they became the first team in history to return without a single order. Karren Brady was singularly unimpressed, describing their behaviour as outrageous and a disgrace to women in the business world. Harsh but fair.

With Laura and Joanna both saved by their commitment to learn from their mistakes (have we heard that before?) nice, passive Joy was given the Sugar coated bullet. "Sorry, Joy but who were you, again?".

Danielle Spiers, Sheridans – Media Lawyers