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The Apprentice: Sir Alan’s youthful indiscretions

Okay, first the facts. The two teams were packed off to Morocco, to lock horns with the world’s toughest negotiators in the souks of Marrakech. The task: to buy six obscure items – a cow hide, two tennis rackets, a green Mosque alarm clock among others – at the lowest possible prices.

Team leader Jennifer Maguire scurried off like a wee Irish thingummy, leading her team to a pretty predictable strategy-free defeat. She and the scheming Jenny Celerier both got the boot this week.

As for the winners, warrior Lee McQueen was like a wild woodland creature, roaring his way to success. (He, like the rest of the crew, was overshadowed by a bit of Raef magic when the great Bjayou skinned the manager of a leather tannery and bagged the cow hide bargain of the day.)

But this week, the real story was in the outtakes of Sir Alan.

On hearing about Jennifer C’s attempt to bribe the manager of a sports shop (we’ll give you money if you don’t string these tennis rackets in time), Sir Alan moved in for the kill, swiftly ejecting the scheming redhead. Bribes are a no-go for this lifelong trader, it seems.

Now, I can you hear you saying: he can hardly be seen to condone corruption on his own prime-time personality cult-building vehicle.

But it was in Sir Alan’s dialogue with Michael Sophocles – who, while not the instigator of the failed bribe, hardly fought tooth-and-nail to stop it – that we caught a rare sighting of Sugar nostalgia. This, and Michael’s pretty blatant effort to play his own Jewish card – not very convincing given that he bought a "kosher" chicken from a Muslim butcher – clearly caused Sir Alan to recall his own early entrepreneurial days.

"I just had a flash of when I was 22 in my mind.", Sir Alan mused, his eyes temporarily gazing into the middle distance. "Over-enthusiastic" was the phrase Sir Alan used to describe of his own youthful self, trying every trick in the book to clinch a sale or outwit a competitor.

And that was it, the moment was gone. The grizzled almost-billionaire was straight back, rebuking Michael for his indiscretion and launching into dainty Jennifer M for her lack of planning.

But for close Sir Alan-watchers, this was a moment of some epiphany. The beast rarely lets weakness show through but, by fleetingly reminding Sir Alan of himself, Michael may just, inadvertently, have played a very, very smart card.

More Apprentice news…The Apprentice: the pitbull bites the dustThe Apprentice: ice cream and the Ice QueenThe Apprentice: Sayonara, Simon Smith Alan Sugar. A gay hero?!The Apprentice: Simon goes back to his dishesThe Apprentice: farewell, then, Ian Stringer


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