As the Moscow rain teemed down on the Champions League final, so our tears flowed for the demise of Raef Bjayou from The Apprentice.
Flicking between the epic drama on one channel and the football on the other, it slowly dawned that this was to be no night for the showman. In the fight for the ultimate prize, only men of steel would survive. The amateur dramatics of Messrs Drogba and Bjayou would be painfully exposed.
And so Chelsea’s Didier Drogba, like an Ivorian Nijinsky, all petulant histrionics and exaggerated tumbling, was out-muscled and finally provoked by the giants Ferdinand and Vidic; a small slap in the face and he was gone. Raef Bjayou, up against the hairy machismo of Lee and Alex, performed beautifully, protested briefly, but saw Sir Alan’s grisly finger rise and condemn him to departure.
The teams’ task was to create an advertising campaign to sell a new line of tissues. With a little foresight, they would have named the new brand “John Terrys” and cornered the market in the south-east.
Sadly for Raef, his feminine instincts won over; he was persuaded by Claire (now a genuine contender) into calling the product “I Love My Tissues”; then, filled with “gaiety”, he and Michael threw themselves into their directorial debuts, producing a touching romantic vignette in which two children are united in the sharing of an anti-bacterial sniffler.
Suffused with their art, they and Didier almost pulled off a dramatic victory. But the margins between success and failure are tiny. For one, the woodwork. For the other, the deadwood that is Michael Sophocles, who persuaded Raef not to slap a great big product shot in the middle of the screen.
Oh Raef, oh Raef, a win was within your grasp. Sir Alan’s verdict was that you were all style, no substance. And on the basis of last night, he was probably correct. (Would I really give the lad a £100k job?) But a deadlier eye and the killer instinct could still have delivered the glittering trophy. Fancy footwork is fine but, in a high-stakes game, it’s the finishing that counts.
Next week it’s Helene vs Clare; Lee vs Alex.; mad Lucinda on the touchline. Intriguing, perhaps, but after last night’s titanic drama, it’s all a bit Blackburn away at West Brom in a meaningless end-of-season fixture.
Something has gone, perhaps forever. But it was wonderful while it lasted.
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