Sarah Lynn and James White will go head to head for the coveted position of Lord Alan Sugar’s newest business partner in this weekend’s final of The Apprentice.
The last remaining candidates were named on Wednesday night’s semi-final of the BBC One contest after the triple firing of Joanna Jarjue, Elizabeth McKenna and Michaela Wain.
The show saw all five hopefuls present their business plans to some of Lord Sugar’s most discerning entrepreneur friends, who did not hold back as they picked apart both their business strategies and personalities.
The tough round even led recruitment firm owner White to confess that he had been sacked from his previous position.
He told interviewer Linda Plant that he had been meeting investors on the side while working for another company, leading his employers to “want to get rid of me”.
While the 26-year-old claimed his moves added to his character, he appeared to become emotional when Plant said his history cast a “shadow” over his “trustworthiness”.
Lynn, 35, who was criticised for not having pushed her confectionery gift business further, described the interviews as “one long, drawn out car crash”.
After being booted from the boardroom by Lord Sugar, Wain told the Press Association: “I really enjoyed it all, it was a great experience. I have suffered from anxiety and depression all my life and the process helped me get over that.”
Wain was denied Lord Sugar’s £250,000 investment after he voiced concern that her success in a number of businesses would distract her from working with him.
“I don’t think that was fair,” she said. “It doesn’t make much sense to me because he has more businesses that me.”
Despite disagreements that mounted between many contestants earlier on in the competition, she added: “I’ve never had a single argument with anyone and I’ve got along with everyone, but by the time you get down to the final five we were all good friends – and we still are amazing friends.”
Fashion business owner, Jarjue, who broke down when she was scrutinised for showing a “confrontational” attitude, said reaching the semi-final of the contest was a “proud moment”, adding: “I learned so much about myself…it was like a crash course in business.
“The process has been difficult. In some senses there was a bit of a misunderstanding about what my personality actually is.
“I definitely think I had the potential to be in the final, but in terms of being Lord Sugar’s business partner, I can completely understand why he would think he is not the right match for me right now.
Meanwhile, McKenna said she had already applied some of the interviewers’ advice to her florist business and fund the whole experience “challenging, but ultimately positive”.
After a tense interview with Plant, where she was told off for being “aggressive”, she said: “People make assessments of you and all you can do is take it on the chin.”
While she said that a place in the show final had been her “dream”, she described both Lynn and White as strong and deserving candidates.
:: The Apprentice will final will air on BBC One at 9pm on Sunday.