Ricky Martin wins The Apprentice – Our verdict

Mike Suiter, Matthew Riley, Claude Littner and Margaret Mountford’s eyebrows took ‘The Apprentice’ final interview stage by storm, grilling our finalists like steaks on a damp bank holiday barbeque.

Apprentice winner Ricky Martin with Alan Sugar

Jade Nash, Tom Gearing, Ricky Martin and Nick Holzherr came, saw, but only one conquered as they presented their business plans to Lord Sugar and his minions in an episode that provided great entertainment.

Right out of the gates Sugar wanted to hear each of their proposals in bitesize form. Nick’s involved software that allowed ingredients for recipes to be bought quickly online. Tom’s predictably involved fine wines, for which he’d be setting up a hedge fund. Jade wanted to essentially set up a call centre and then there was Ricky, who nobody understood.

[Related gallery: See childhood pics of The Apprentice finalists]

Eventually Sugar got out of him that his plan involved setting up a recruitment agency for an area of pharmaceutical science about which he knows quite a bit. Things weren’t looking good for Ricky here, his ability to talk and talk drowning out his need to be concise.

Yes, it was the interview stage – the best part of the series and formerly featured in the semi-finals before the format changed. CVs are given the once over with a fine toothcomb and each and every mistake is thrown back into the candidates’ faces with no remorse.

Jade’s stock plummeted at Facebook speeds here as the “grubby” (as Claude described it) facets of her telemarketing plan were aired out for all to see. Revealing that she’d spend the entirety of Lord Sugar’s investment in six months did her no favours either. Unsurprisingly, she was the first to fall in the boardroom.

Nick’s plan impressed with its ingenuity right up until the boardroom but his ambitions caused many a scowl at the interview stage. In the end, as bad as it may sound, his youthful look and manner may have cost him. It’s not right, but if Tom had had Nick’s plan…. well we’ll get to that.

Ricky’s day hadn’t started particularly well, being told to cut the crap by his Sugariness. Things didn’t get better as the interviews chewed up the wrestler’s personal statement and spat it back at him with venom. He compared himself to Thor, he said he’d teach “an old dog” (Lord Sugar) new tricks and labelled himself the best business partner in the entire world.

But his business plan? Well that’s another story. Ricky’s bravado was absent from his actual plan, which impressed everyone with its conciseness and detail. Claude Littner, the most formidable of the interviewers was head-over-heels in love with it in fact. Positivity? From Claude? Maybe Ricky isn’t out of this after all…

Tom’s privileged upbringing was always going to factor into this but being asked whether his father had written any of his plan, like a 12 year old at school, seemed a little bit harsh. Tom dealt with it however, and left the process relatively unscathed.

In the boardroom, as already mentioned, Jade was first to go. This left the three boys on a relatively level playing field as Sugar cocked his pointer for another fatal firing. Ricky’s plan impressed everyone while Tom’s was a gamble with big potential gains. It was Nick who went however, as Sugar didn’t see the same future for the idea as its creator.

We’re down to two, and at this point Nick Hewer and Karen Brady took to the defence of Tom. He’s young and experienced but Brady reminds the boss that at his age she owned a football club. His plan is a risk but Nick chimes in to tempt Sugar by saying, at his age, maybe he should go for one last big money making venture.

It was true that compared to Ricky’s idea, Tom’s was certainly more impressive and ambitious on the surface. The details allude us viewers but Nick’s insertion into proceedings ended up defining the show’s final moments.

Sugar had to choose between the safe choice and the gamble, between caution and one last hurrah, between Tom Gearing and Ricky Martin.

In the end Sugar did the sensible thing, which actually resulted in the unexpected winner.

If at the start of this show any viewer was told the winner would be a wrestling recruitment manager called Ricky Martin by choice (he’s actually Richard) then you would have been rightfully shouted down and ridiculed.

But as Karen pointed out he is the candidate who changed most over the course of the show and his embarrassment at his wrestling promo of a CV was a clear indication of this. For all his bravado and his penchant for superlatives, Ricky Martin ended up winning ‘The Apprentice 2012’.

Well done Ricky Hype (as he calls himself in the wrestling world).