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The Apprentice Review: Bye-bye lawyers, it was fun, but in the end you were too clever by half

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As legal profession interest in The Apprentice evaporates, our blogger looks back on the last hurrah of ex-Slaughter and May man Felipe as he follows family solicitor Lauren to the exit

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Felipe Alviar-Baquero led his team to a glorious victory last week, but he came hugely unstuck yesterday, and as Legal Cheek reported this morning, the former City lawyer is now Apprentice toast.

His undoing resulted from a classic product-sourcing task, and the crucial element of negotiation.

Felipe began the episode with a very cheery good morning to Nick Hewer as the teams were handed shopping lists and sent on their way. The former Latham & Watkins and Slaughter and May man was initially quiet, until he used his contract skills by “thinking outside the box” and seeking to purchase a packaged skeleton rather than a pre-made version.

On the face of it, that was a clever move, saving hundreds of pounds. But Felipe’s pre-pack skeleton plan was always a risky strategy, even if there was a chance it could have paid dividends and exhibited his “business attributes”.

Felipe and his project manager Daniel have morphed into a dream team this week, and initially the pairing seemed to be working well. However, in total they paid £125 more than the other team. Despite that, Felipe flashed some instances of outstanding bargaining power, knocking £20.80 off the price of a bundle of scallops, for example.

Having celebrated with a “fisher-mongers high-five”, he headed to the boardroom. The other team, meanwhile, seem at sea, with project manager Sanjay having a nightmare by not buying a single product before 2.30pm.

It was all smiles on Felipe’s team’s slightly cocky faces as they arrived in front of Lord Sugar with all the products they were tasked to source, assuming of course the paper skeleton was sufficient.

And indeed, the other team were yet to arrive at the boardroom, with it appearing as though Sanjay was on the way out after last week’s dressing down from Lord Sugar. But then Felipe unveils his paper, pre-pack skeleton and shock descends on the boardroom. Lord Sugar asked if “he’s having a laugh”, unable to resist a dig at a lawyer and the “doughy” judiciary.

Evidently, in the eyes of Britain’s greatest-ever entrepreneur and businessman, poor Felipe was too clever for his own good. Lord Sugar’s analysis was a bit harsh — surely, if anything Felipe was simply being enterprising, doing the legal profession proud as always.

Team Felipe were shot down in flames, losing yesterday’s competition, with Lord Sugar slapping a £310 fine on the lawyer’s side for producing the paper skeleton. Fantastic Felipe turned into Failure Felipe in a matter of seconds. In the greasy spoon café post-mortem, daggers are out for the lawyer and Daniel because of their too-clever-by-half thinking.

In weighing up the teams’ performances, it seemed that Lord Sugar was desperate to fire Felipe. Moreover, the friendship between Daniel and Felipe was visibly breaking down; by that stage of last night’s programme, one got the clear impression that it was all going to end in tears for the former Square Mile solicitor.

As expected Felipe returned as one of the final three to the boardroom, where he was leapt on by Lord Sugar for his skeleton yet again. Felipe perhaps rather ungallantly tried to shift the blame, stating that Daniel should be fired. But Lord Sugar remained unimpressed with Felipe’s attempt to explain his bid to mix entrepreneurial spirit with legal analysis.

It was a difficult decision this week, and one which Lord Sugar may regret. Amid the emotion of it all, the Amstrad chief seems to get confused with his title, claiming to be “Supreme Court Judge Sugar”.

But the upshot of proceedings was that Felipe got the chop. Week 9 signals the end of this year’s legal interest, and even more sadly the end of this blog. Thank you for reading.

Read Brenda Denning’s previous reviews here.