He was the diamond geezer of The Apprentice, the West Ham-loving, ex-Army, salt-of-the-earth grafter who Sir Alan Sugar will have known all his life down Chingford way. And this week, in a memorably bitter, back-stabbing episode, poor Simon got fired. Millions will have been aching for gobby Claire Young (described by Fi Glover on Adrian Chiles’ show later as a "dollop") to get the boot. She argued, she undermined, she certainly shouldn’t wear that short-sleeved dress, and somehow she survived – even though SIr Alan got so fed up with her that he ordered her back to the house ahead of Simon and Alex Wotherspoon who remained in the boardroom to fight it out. Alex’s behaviour wasn’t much more honourable than Claire’s. First, he refused to be Simon’s second-in-command, managing the backroom staff in this photographic challenge. Then he wriggled and finger-pointed in the boardroom, before being totally exposed as a louse by the formidable Margaret Mountford. But Alex, too, lived to fight again. (Interestingly, Simon reckons Alex is a real contender for the main prize.) Both teams this week suffered the same problem: they generated loads of customers in Bluewater shopping centre for their photographic salons; but neither could cope with the technical delivery of the pictures, mugs, jigsaws and images that the good citizens of Essex patiently awaited. Alpha hardly distinguished themselves, but the team (project-managed by the ghastly Helene) eventually won the test by a clear margin. Only the hardest of hearts will not have had a lump in the throat when Simon thanked Sir Alan for the "wonderful opportunity" of taking part in The Apprentice, before he returned to his civvy life as a satellite dish engineer. He took his fate (which, in the end, was probably deserved) with great dignity and acknowledged the criticism in the later BBC2 analysis in The Apprentice – You’re fired. A sense of humour and a bit of integrity may not always be the most sought-after qualities in business, but Simon has them both. And in our eyes, he’s a true winner. PS: our personal favourite, Raef Bjayou, donned a resplendent pink cashmere jumper this week and was regal as he backed away from the vicious Lucinda-Helene spats. Pure class. More on The ApprenticeFarewell, then, Ian StringerA close shave for Raef BjayouRaef lives onSir Alan Sugar: "they call me a wanker and then they lose £1bn"Alan Sugar’s new entrepreneur apprenticeSir Alan Sugar: women employers are more ruthless than menRaef Bjayou, The Apprentice and the blogs
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