Zara Brownless is Young Apprentice 2011 winner - Our Verdict

Last night’s ‘Young Apprentice’ final was a great send-off for the series. The show moved at a great pace and really sold the idea that both Zara Brownless and James McCullagh are hugely talented and deserve their place.

It felt like a proper ‘Apprentice’ final from the start with Lord Sugar re-introducing the returning contestants and setting the task – to make a downloadable video game and a viral campaign.

Yesterday I talked about how the returning contestants might play a crucial part in the episode and how who got who in their team was just as important. It turns out James was the lucky one landing a dream team including Lizzie and Nice Harry, while Zara was stuck with the dynamic duo of Mahamed and Harry M.

Both project managers had little experience with video games but each settled on good ideas which were then turned into proper games by a team of professional developers. Mahamed’s idea of a game where a character visits their parents’ graveyards only for a zombie attack to occur was quickly vetoed.

Zara’s idea centred around a pig escaping a butcher in a classic Mario-style side-scrolling platformer while James’ was a time management game based around being the prime minister and dealing with the everyday tasks that come with it, albeit dumbed down to make it fun.

James’ was the more intuitive which, despite his declaration that he never plays video games, is quite impressive.

The viral ads for each game were also well thought out. For Piggy Panic Zara wanted a big scary butcher chasing someone in a pig costume. For Crazy Cabinet (so much alliteration!) James wanted a mock political broadcast.

Tasked with casting the butcher were Harry M, Haya and Mahamed, and what followed was the highlight of the series. An enormous man brought in for the role ended up chasing Mahamed, all four feet of him, around the room as Harry M and Haya watched on in hysterics.

During the filming of the advert Harry M suggested that perhaps the pig could fall over declaring that he finds people falling over hilarious, especially if they’re poor. Okay, so he didn’t say the last bit.

Both teams pitched their ideas to a group of industry experts and both did great jobs. James’ improvement over the weeks was becoming more and more apparent by now and I was starting to believe he might be in with a chance.

Then came the boardroom, and by now they really did appear to be neck and neck. By this point James was a real contender, having played an absolute blinder in the final task. Perhaps most surprising was that this was a better final when it came to real business talk than I can remember seeing in the show for years.

James’ straight talking style was brought up as a stark contrast to Zara’s more clichéd approach to self-promotion. Lord Sugar seemed to appreciate this and Zara was very nearly on the back foot. It was then that Sugar asked each of them what they would do with the £25,000 of investment he would give them if they won.

Admirably James said he would continue to study economics, clearly aware that he was far from the finished product despite clear natural ability. It was nice to see a bit of humility in the show. Zara would spend the money more practically and invest in new equipment for the videos she has made.

In the end Sugar sided with the more practical approach. Zara was the obvious pick to him which is a shame because James was a great contestant by the close of the series and there haven’t been many like him. It was a bit of an anti-climax in that regard but Zara is still a deserving winner.

So that’s it. Another series of ‘Young Apprentice’ is over. There have been plenty of great moments this series, but what was your favourite? Let us know below.