The infants-school everybody-wins cop-out of last night’s final might qualify as the worst thing the programme has ever given us – surely, its time is up Monday 18 December 2017 06.55 EST

Last modified on Monday 18 December 2017 08.46 EST This is the way The Apprentice ends, not with a bang, but a shrug. An almost literal one, too; at the climax of last night’s finale, tasked between funding a recruitment business or some sweets, Alan Sugar threw his hands up in the air, muttered something about being a gambler, and let everyone win.

Of all the terrible things The Apprentice has given us over the years – unqualified presidents, poisonous alt-right figureheads and Pants Man – last night’s cop-out might just qualify as the worst yet. Because the final is the only time in the entire series that Sugar has to make an actual decision.

Ever since the original “be my literal apprentice” conceit was swapped out in favour of a business investment, every episode bar the final – every tinpot minimum-wage market-stall hoop that the candidates are made to jump through – has ultimately been irrelevant. Sugar knows the businesses he wants to invest in, and everything up to the final moment of the final episode is merely an arbitrary whittling down of big-tied nimrods.

So for Sugar to conclude the final by announcing a new, tedious, infants-school-sports-day everybody-wins policy – and for him to do it with the level of weary resignation he demonstrated last night – is an almighty anticlimax. It’s an even more extreme version of this year’s X Factor, where the judges didn’t get a say in anything and largely just sat there looking like four barely dressed lemons.

Alan Sugar is supposed to be the executioner. He creates a bull pit, forces a crowd of idiots to turn on each other and then stabs the weakest in the neck. Read more from…

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