Guardian reader “Anduin” has threatened to eat his/her big hat if Stuart Baggs wins The Apprentice. From where I’m sitting, Anduin, you’d better stock up on the bicarbonate of soda, because I think the lad is in with a shout.
After confessing elsewhere on this blog to being smitten with Ray Wilkins (back when he still had hair), I feel no embarrassment whatsoever at revealing my growing passion for Brand Baggs. I did say that he came across as a cut-price Ben Clarke in Week 1, but unlike that smarmy, Sandhurst-obsessed stockbroker, Stuart does have staying power.
Stuart’s got a knack for spewing out good sound-bites, a gift for mimicry and the balls to go head-to-head with the emasculator-in-chief Stella English week after week. Last week his proficiency in German was a bigger asset to Apollo than their rather prosaic choices of crisp flavours. Let’s not forget that Joanna and Laura were having difficulty even speaking English coherently!
He may be tactless and have lousy taste in shirt/tie ensembles, but Stuart’s straight-talking has impressed me from the outset. What do rivals Chris Bates and Johnny Vaughan lookalike Jamie Lester have to offer apart from designer stubble and smugness?
I believe Lord Sugar has a certain affection for the show’s youngest ever candidate and, frankly, they’d be mad to eject him before the interview sessions. But, on the off-chance that Herr Baggs comes a cropper on this week’s bargain hunt, here are some reminders of what makes him the Apprentice candidate you’d most like to take down the pub:
Joie de vivre
You can’t fail to be moved by the positivity of the message in his audition video: “I’m alive. There are so many people that aren’t alive.” There’s a hint of altruism, too, in his vow to help others “where appropriate”. A philanthropist in the making.
He may use a lot of hair product, but there’s no doubting that Baggs also enjoys his manly pursuits. No one who witnessed his futile attempts to rein in his “extreme masculinity” at Brands Hatch should be in any doubt that he’s this year’s most macho candidate.
Last year the incomparable Nick Hewer seemed just a little diminished by his run-in with the Amazonian Debra Barr. This series has seen him back to his best, particularly when pronouncing on Stuart’s antics. His verdict on Stuart’s stint as PM in week 7: “Stuart’s leadership style leaves me trembling with anger. Who does he think he is?” I couldn’t have put it better myself.
“Hasta la vista, gravy!”
Stuart penchant’s for livening up dull cab rides with a spot of mimicry has been a highlight of the series. He really came to the fore in Week 6 as the voice of the ill-fated Germ-o-nator — the cleaning product that somehow failed to clean up. Even moaning Laura was impressed.
If looks could kill
On paper, Stella English has been this year’s strongest candidate, but I’m not sure we would have seen her funny side if Baggs hadn’t been around to act as her chief antagonist. The range of despairing, angry and downright incredulous looks passing between this pair has been well served by the BBC editors. Don’t forget, Stuart, she’s only 30 not 31.