For over half a year we’ve held on to a tantalising secret that millions (10.6m if you go by last nights’ viewing figures) have been itching to know: who would make The Apprentice final and what would be their final task?
On a dark, rainy October night last year, Charlotte and I were among 200 chocolate aficionados hand picked by The Apprentice production team (who were particularly eager for us to attend being great Divine fans themselves) to help Sir Alan in his ultimate selection. We were escorted to a top secret film location (Vinopolis in London Bridge) for the final between Kate Walsh and Yasmina Siadatan as they battled it out with help of previously fired candidates, to launch and market a brand new box of chocolates.
We were the only Fairtrade chocolate brand amongst the likes of chocolatiers including Demarquette, Paul A Young and Rococo; mainstream chocolate brands Thorntons and Cadburys; as well as representatives from Waitrose and Sainsburys, ad agency TBWA, The Chocolate Society, The Academy of Chocolate and Chocolate Week (which Divine sponsors each year).
When Sir Alan himself marched into the room everyone fell duly silent, whereupon the straight talking hotshot addressed the crowd, explaining what the candidates had had to do. We were then promptly ushered to our seats and the pitches began.
Kate was up first – hers was an undeniably polished pitch. And the approval was unanimous, not just for her presentation, but for the all important chocolates. Designed with the help of chocolatier Paul A Young, they were sumptuously delicious (particularly the caramel & sea salt combo). We chatted with, and swapped tasting notes with Nick from Prestat and Claire from Chococo who sat with us. The echoes from surrounding tables confirmed what we all thought – Kate’s were supreme quality chocolates. We guzzled them up pretty swiftly!
Only a couple of questions from the guests made the final cut but both Kate and Yasmina were grilled remarkably comprehensively. Despite guests raising their hands and being randomly selected to ask questions, every second question seemed to be asked by a representative from Thorntons, so there were a few withering sighs from the audience after the fourth or fifth Thorntons question!
Then came the turn of Yasmina. We were escorted to a different room, this time decked out Cocoa Electric style. The rather makeshift table decorations and Eighties roller disco branding left a little to be desired! What viewers last night may not have seen was that Yasmina’s chocolates were ball shaped, with each ball being wrapped in a different colour of foil – fluorescent pinks, lime greens etc. They’d clearly been wrapped by hand so didn’t look overly tempting. Nevertheless the flavours sounded fun and we were keen to try the strawberry & basil and orange & coriander ones in particular. But if you’ve already seen the show you’ll be left in little doubt that they did next to nothing for the taste buds. Suffice to say they were pretty awful, the quality of the chocolate itself being dire. I certainly wasn’t the only one to spit them out!
The atmosphere in the audience was fairly electric even without Yasmina’s super-charged decorations: one notable element of the night was a certain degree of chocolate snobbery between the wide ranging chocolate companies in attendance.
After the cameras had stopped rolling Sir Alan’s aides Nick and Margaret circled the rooms asking guests for their opinions on the chocolates, the pitches and the adverts so we were able to voice our thoughts on both Kate and Yasmina’s contributions. The overarching consensus amongst the guests was that Kate was the out and out winner – but of course we hadn’t seen how she and Yasmina had fared throughout the previous tasks.
All in all being at the hub of this chocolate-charged grand finale was an unforgettable experience. See if you can spot Charlotte and I on BBC iplayer.