James Max - James Max is a broadcaster, columnist and business expert

My Apprentice record has finally been broken – well done Helen

Series 7 of The Apprentice and finally my record of being on the winning team more than anyone else, has been broken.
Congratulations to Helen.
Each task she has had an influence. Very good at pitching, sorting out a team dynamic and making decisions.

Whether she is quite what Lord Sugar is looking for is another matter. That rather depends on what ideas she comes up with for a business for him to co-invest.

However as we get to the latter stages of the competition it is clear that those who have been fired have been there to contribute to making this series one of the most watchable for a while.

Next week is the final task before the interview round. Five candidates left and it maybe a forgone conclusion that Helen should win. At this stage, there isn’t much competition but that is because we are dealing with a formatted TV show and not the business end… i.e. who Lord Sugar will actually want to back.

How about a special moment from Week 10 of the very first series of The Apprentice!

and this too… here’s what happened when it came to selling on a home TV shopping channel.

Let’s look at the final five for the 2011 Apprentice Season

Recently I was speaking to 180 15 year olds at a school. I simply had to mention the name “Susan” and the place erupted. She is a brilliant candidate. For televisual purposes. Naïve. Questioning. Sometimes obstinate. And provider of classic one-liners. Can she win? Not a chance.

Melody. She’s rather forthright in her views. Sometimes right. Often wrong. But convinced she is right. Somewhat patronising in her approach, Lord Sugar seems to like her brazen attitude. I don’t. Can she win? Unlikely.

Jim. He’s a smooth talker. Yet that smooth talking often leads him to over promise and under deliver. It’s marvellous to watch him at work. Yet can he lead? Is he creative and inventive? No. I think he’s a good player of the game but not a credible candidate for the job. It will be interesting to see if he has an original idea for a business. I suspect not.

Natasha. She always looks grumpy. In fact, I think she IS grumpy. She has an appalling approach to business. Stick her in front of people and they won’t be convinced. Her style (yeah) if she has any, is very limited. Perhaps there is something there of value. I have yet to see what that is. What she does do is get things done. But that doesn’t make a winner.

Tom. He is classic. If there is a dark horse in this competition, it is Tom. He has been on the losing team more than anyone else. He doesn’t really “get” the tasks and has played an awful hand week after week. Yet that is to forget what his qualities are. He is a thinker and should he actually have a good business plan or idea he may surprise us all.

And to Helen. She has been on the winning team every time, so far. That’s a good record to have. There is no doubt that when she switches team, that team wins. I too have been in that position. It doesn’t mean she is a sure fire winner though. As an executive assistant, she is confident, organised, calm and professional. Yet I have not seen much creativity. Has she got a winning business idea? I’m not so sure.

In conclusion my two favourites for the final are Helen and Tom. What do you think? Feel free to post your comments!