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The Apprentice Review: First solicitor axed from show blames exit on Lord Sugar’s hatred of lawyers

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Lauren is out, leaving legal profession’s hopes resting on shoulders of ex-magic circle solicitor Felipe

lauren-sugar

Last week’s episode of The Apprentice closed with a warning from Lord Sugar to St Albans family lawyer Lauren that she needed to take the initiative more and show him what she’s got.

So when the hierarchies were being negotiated for this week’s task — involving the creation of a new soft drink for the American market — it was no surprise that Lauren threw her hat into the ring for the role of project manager.

In this, however, she faced an unforeseen problem. Fellow contestant Mark also got a warning from Sugar last week about laying too low — and he was similarly keen to be project manager.

Mark informed the team that he does advertising, and so this task is right up his street. Actually, Mark’s day job involves helping companies boost their Google rankings, so he is stretching the truth here. But Lauren fails to challenge him and limply accepts her role as underling — yet again. This leaves her exposed, with Lord Sugar’s henchman, Nick Hewer, smelling blood.

In an interesting twist seemingly designed to generate discord, three members from each team are sent to New York to promote their new soft drink, with the remainder left in London. Desperate, perhaps, for a memorable jolly amid the gathering storm clouds, Lauren puts herself forward to go stateside — with the regional solicitor citing her four previous trips to New York as giving her “local knowledge”. Impressed, her dopey teammates grant her wish.

In tow across the Atlantic with Lauren is her fellow lawyer Felipe — with the duo, who are on the same team again, charged with creating an advert to accompany their team’s soft drink creation and then pitch it to a group of American corporate types.

Feeling a little insecure about their creative credentials, and determined to prove the doubters wrong, Felipe and Lauren assign themselves, respectively, the role of director and actress — and create a truly awful video.

The video’s happy families motif might have worked in the 1950s, or in 2014 if done in a funny or ironic way, but here it just looks very, very dated. What’s more, their team’s product — an uninspiring yellow drink called Aqua Fusion in bland packaging — is also truly awful.

Nevertheless, Felipe sheds a tear of joy when he sees the finished product emblazoned on a billboard — indicating that sound legal judgement (Felipe got a distinction in the Bachelor of Civil Law from Oxford) doesn’t always equal sound soft drinks judgement.

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Pitching this sort of rubbish can’t be easy, but Lauren’s performance is still disappointing as she stumbles over her words in front of a bunch of top US advertising executives. I’ve seen better public speaking ability in a sixth form moot. Under pressure to impose herself on the show, she seems to be crumbling.

As the teams go into the boardroom it soon transpires that Sugar and co. much prefer the rival team’s brash ‘Big Dawg’ drink, which has also been better marketed and pitched. Predictably, Lauren’s team is declared the loser and she is hauled back into the final boardroom showdown by team leader Mark.

Now, Mark is unimpressive, but something about Lauren appears to rile Sugar. Certainly, the fact that she’s a lawyer doesn’t seem to help as Alan reels off lazy legal stereotype after lazy legal stereotype.

As we had feared from the start of the episode, Lauren is done for as Sugar explains that “gut instinct” means she is the first lawyer to be axed from this year’s Apprentice. The legal profession’s hopes are left resting on the shoulders of Felipe.

In the wake of her exit this morning, various tabloids carried quotes from Lauren suggesting that her exit was down to Sugar’s dislike of lawyers. “Lord Sugar did take every opportunity to highlight that I was a lawyer and I think it’s well-documented that he doesn’t like them,” explained Lauren, adding:

“The week that I was fired, it was public knowledge that he sued his own lawyers, which didn’t bode very well for me. We’ll never know the real reason that he fired me but it would be disappointing if it was just because I was a lawyer, because he knew that before I entered the process.”

Sour grapes? Perhaps. But it’s hard to escape the sense that Lord Sugar has an irrational dislike of those who practise law. Don’t bank on Felipe making it much further.