David Alden has said he is “bitterly disappointed” after he became the second contestant to be fired by Lord Sugar in the new series of The Apprentice.
The 32-year-old from East Yorkshire, who works as a tax adviser, faced off against Frank Brooks and Kurran Pooni in the boardroom after the men’s team failed to create and sell a children’s augmented reality comic book.
The seven women and eight men – who are each vying for Lord Sugar’s £250,000 investment in their business – were tasked with creating a comic book which appeals to the eight to 12 age bracket before convincing publishers to invest.
The two teams chose wildly different characters, with one team opting for an educational approach and the other focusing on creating a fun-filled experience.
But the men’s team, project managed by senior marketing manager Brooks, 27, floundered.
Lord Sugar deemed their astronaut-themed comic, Benji’s Space Adventures, unoriginal, adding that for the boys, AR likely stood for “absolutely rubbish”.
The business mogul ultimately deemed Alden the least useful in the task, due to his lack of ideas and poor pitching style.
Alden told the Press Association: “I was of course brutally disappointed to leave the series at this early stage. I felt I had so much more to give.
“I also feel I was just starting to come out of my shell. In a group of loud voices and big personalities I was just starting to get my voice heard.
“Any three of us could have gone. I don’t think, ultimately, that I was responsible for the failure of the group. I was expecting it to be the project manager who would go.”
The girls unanimously chose a unisex, hip hop-inspired protagonist called MC Gogo for their comic and, despite friction between project manager Khadija Kalifa and tennis event entrepreneur Sabrina Stocker, the group sold a total of 14,500 copies.
The men managed only to sell 950, leaving at least one of them at risk of being fired.
In the boardroom following the challenge, Lord Sugar suggested it was sponsorship guru Jackie Fast’s aggressive pitching strategy that secured the women their large order of 10,000.
Turning to the men, he said: “You really got whacking there, didn’t you. Let’s face it, your product was no good. The AR should really stand for absolutely rubbish.”
He also described Brooks as a “diabolical” project manager, adding the comic’s AR cover – Pooni’s responsibility – had “no energy”.
After Brooks, Pooni and Alden ended up in the boardroom facing an early exit from the competition, Lord Sugar turned on Alden, highlighting a number of his flaws.
He said: “Your hobby is writing stories and this story was a load of rubbish. It was a load of garbage. You go into a pitch and read out the negative parts of your own project.
“You’ve got no business acumen, and for that reason you’re fired.”
Following his departure, Alden said: “Frank should have been fired today. It’s all about the creativity at the top.
“I’m just so gutted to leave at this stage, when I have so much more to give.”
The Apprentice continues next Wednesday at 9pm on BBC One.