the apprentice

I love The Apprentice. And I love The Armstrongs. And I love the fact that one follows the other on a Wednesday night, meaning I can get my entire weekly fix of terrestrial TV in a single ninety minute session.

What I don’t like about The Apprentice is that it’s only on once per week. I need more. I get restless waiting to discover what task awaits the teams, and lie in bed at night, unable to sleep, frantically wondering if the demented Robert Plant look-a-like Jo Cameron will finally face the axe, or if irrepressibly smug, puffed-up twerp Mani Sandher will get his long-deserved comeuppance.

I decide to set the contestants a task of my own. Most of the contenders have websites, and are contactable via them, so I write a series of e-mails on Monday night with a simple question: If a grizzly bear got into a fight with a gorilla, who do you think would win, and why?

The rules are simple. Syed Ahmed, Ben Stanberry and Mani Sandher are fired immediately for either not having websites (or at least for not having sites that Google could quickly rustle up), while the rest are given 48 hours to answer, the writer of the best response being declared the winner. Job done.

The first answer comes from Karen Bremner, who left the show at the end of episode three:

Both animals are quite aggressive but the bear is more obviously so. The gorilla takes a calmer approach to the whole thing until the last moment when he would show his aggression and power and, potentially, scare the bear away. I see it going like this:

Bear starts growling and showing his teeth to the gorilla who sits and watches this display with a look for quiet contemplation on his face. The bear is surprised by this as he is used to animals either cowering or runing away at the this point. The bear makes a run for the gorilla, again expecting an instant retreat. The gorilla stands his ground and looks straight into the bear’s eyes. The bear stops, he is less intelligent than the gorilla and, therefore, can’t really understand the game played by the gorilla. Just as the bear stops the gorilla rushes for the bear – catching him unawares and knocks him to the ground. He has no time for killing the bear simply for the pleasure so gives him a kick and walks away.


Well, I’m off to a brilliant start. I love the way Karen has played out the entire battle – she’s obviously thought about the various possible scenarios at length. And I like the fact that she ended her note with a sentence LAID OUT IN CAPS, as if to emphasise the authority of her wisdom. I have to admit that I’m impressed. She didn’t stand up for herself on the show, but she has done here. Could Sir Alan have been wrong?

Next up, Paul Tulip:

in answer to your question i have to assume that a win will be when one kills the other….not when one is knocked out…..

so….the survivor would be the grizzly bear….its got height….longer claws…and a greater killer instinct….i dont reckon a gorilla would be up for it to be honest…

Crikey. While I’m not sure about Paul’s use of the ellipses as a punctuation tool, I do admire his frank admission that the fight would be to the death. This clearly demonstrates the kind of unflinching mental toughness necessary to succeed in business. Food for thought.

Ansell Henry is the next contestant to join the fun.

Good question and it has got me thinking, but I am not answering it!

Thank you for your interest.

Hmmm. I’m not sure about this. Is Ansell dithering here, avoiding responsibility, passing the buck? Or has he realized that he’s being messed with for the sake of cheap online entertainment, and is fobbing me off in the most non-committal way he can? I figure he’s either a) clever, or b) stupid, or c) somewhere in-between. But I’m not sure yet.

Hot on the heals of Ansell’s strange contribution comes a far lengthier missive from Samuel Judah.

Firstly only humans are stupid enough to fight for no apparent reason. Bears and gorillas would need a good reason to fight e.g. threat to cubs, territorial etc. As gorillas are jungle dwelling, Africa and Grizzly bears are in North America I doubt there would be any boundary disputes! Also gorillas by all accounts are fairly passive creatures and would rarely attack without good reason, apart from the occasional banging on the chest to make a point, a bit like my little outburst on the show last week. Grizzly bears are probably similar and would prefer to avoid confrontation.

If they did fight by some bizarre circumstance, I’d give it to the bear. As gorillas are not meat eaters and bears are and so it’s tools of the trade are designed to do some pretty fatal damage. That’s not to say Gorillas are a push over they are probably smarter and a full grown male may have the advantage over a similarly sized bear which wouldn’t be an adult. Gorillas are also smart enough to use a tool/weapon and I’m not talking about a flick knife. Also depends on where this theoretical fight would happen. Who’s home turf? Anyway the bear has the edge for me, though even if they did encounter each other they probably just pass each other a glance and take the path of least resistance and go about their business. Guess us humans could learn a lot from this approach!

Of course I’m no expert.

I disagree Samuel! From the studied nature of your response, I think you are an expert! As Mrs Baines, my o-level biology teacher once told me, you shouldn’t hide your light under a bushel! Or something. I’m not quite sure what she meant, but I think it applies in these kinds of situations. Anyhow, I like Samuel’s theory very much. He’s introduced a few variables into the equation (the continental divide, and the gorilla’s ability to wield a weapon), and his logical, sound reasoning would be an asset in any workplace. Although people might get bored with the philosophy crap.

Things are hotting up now, and Alexa Tilley is next.

This question baffles me!

I think the gorilla would win….but not sure why!! Just gut instinct!

I am now doing after dinner speaking about my Apprentice Experience and business lessons learnt! I don’t suppose you know anyone who might need such a speaker do you?

Alexa can be contacted via her website, and I’m sure she would make a delightful after-dinner speaker, just as long as she’s not asked to talk at length about Gorilla vs. Grizzly battles.

Another reply arrives, from the beautifully named Ruth Badger. Ruth writes:

I think the gorilla, in my opinion more aggresive and more intelligent.

Thanks for your support.

This is a strange one. I get the feeling that Ruth sees herself in the gorilla, and views my battle question as an analogy for her entire Apprentice experience. She is at war, and should be feared for her strength, cunning, sharp teeth and glossy coat.

The last contestant to respond is series comedian Tuan Le:

In my professional opinion as a qualified vet, it would be the bear. Both have poseable thumbs, but bears have very sharp teeth and nails. A Gorilla will not draw blood and efficiently.

PS: I have fought both and II unleashed a heavy dose of Kung Fu action on their repsective mammals asses!

PPS: Chuck Norris would have them both.

PPPS: What’s brown and sticky?

A stick.

To be honest, I’m a little concerned about Tuan’s sanity. For a start, he’s not a qualified vet: he’s a financial adviser – any vet would know that the gorilla has opposable thumbs (not poseable), while of all the residents of the bear kingdom, only the koala and panda share this handy trait. Next, Tuan’s claim to have unleashed “a heavy dose of Kung Fu action” on both animals simply does not stand up to scrutiny – surely there would be a record of such a fight on his BBC profile? I mean, it’s not the kind of thing you’d want to conceal when vying for a job with the mighty Amstrad, is it? Finally, his theory that Chuck Norris would “have then both” is manifest nonsense, even were he to be armed with nunchucks – off the movie set, Norris is a born-again Christian and would not harm one of God’s creatures.

Tuan, you scare me. Please don’t come any closer. You’re fired.

By now I imagine that the contestants have started to compare notes. Perhaps they initially think that these e-mails are part of a bigger test, maybe sent at the behest of the show’s producers. Sayed is probably fretting because he hasn’t received one. Then, I like to think, one of them googles me (Samuel, probably), and decides that it’s some kind of prank. The rest fail to respond.

So, who else do I fire? The first few are easy, because they never write back. Jo Cameron? You’re fired. Michelle Dewbury? You’re fired. Nargis Ara? You’re fired, again. Sharon McAllister? Fired.

And then there are six, which I quickly whittle down by firing anyone who has given me a short answer. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with being succinct, of course, but as a client I figure I deserve a more fully-formed presentation, with pie charts and venn diagrams and supporting evidence and the like. Alexa? You’re a lightweight: you’re fired. Paul? Fired. Ruth? Fired. Ansell? Fired.

Quite frankly, the tension is unbearable. I’ve reached the very climax of the series, and two contestants are left to battle it out. I really don’t know who to sack next. Karen’s answer is lovely, but I’m not sure how welcome her whimsical reasoning would be in the boardroom. On the other hand, she’s quite saucy, which gives her a distinct advantage over Samuel, despite his more considered, crafted approach. But I can’t make this decision based on Karen’s grace and slender figure, can I? That would be unethical.

Then I have a brainwave. I’ll turn to someone else, someone who’s already climbed the mountain, who’s already found the pot of gold. I’ll turn to the Armstrongs, and ask them the same question. Perhaps it’ll help me make my decision. And so I do. And John Armstrong responds.

good question. I don’t think the two animals are likely to meet in coming from totally different continents.

but lets ignore that i would say the gorilla easily because as we have ignored the fact they will never meet ,also lets ignore the fact that maybe a gorilla from the panet of the apes tv series could travel back in time and kill that bear dead with its gorilla made rifle.

planet of the apes is on itv 4 sundays 6pm i just knew watching it would be for a purpose

Brilliant! John not only introduces the concept of time-travel into the equation, but gives the gorilla an actual weapon! A gorilla-made rifle! This is a staggering development, and demonstrates a breadth of lateral thinking that the Apprentice contestants can only dream of. Genius! This is why John is the head of a multi-million pound concern, while the others are nervously playing footsie with koala-headed Sir Alan.

Samuel? You’re fired. Karen? You’re fired.

John Armstrong, I salute you. You’re hired.


  1. Alright, now you are my hero. The cat stuff is okay and all, but now that you have seriously challenged my status as the world’s greatest reality TV fan, I have to give you your props.


    P.S. I also have to give myself props for my first ever use of the word props.

  2. Fraser, you are the genius. Alan Sugar should be hiring you. Except, who’d want to work for Amstrad? Have you noticed the way they always show the exterior of Canary Wharf before they go to the boardroom as if to imply it’s in some flash skyscraper, when in reality it’s in the depths of Essex?

  3. I was an honoured guest when this idea gestated in the ginger one’s brain, and the result is more splendid than anyone could have hoped for. Kneel at the hands of the maestro, then vote for Karen.

  4. This is probably the longest blog posting I’ve ever read. It must be well over a metre from top to tail.

    Idle I know, but I haven’t got round to watching either of these programmes and probably won’t however but I do like a bit of competition and this is gripping stuff.

    Bloody well done on the book news, that really is just tremendous. When are you going to start on the after-dinner speaking circuit?

    Am back in town too, just the other side of Trafalgar Square so would be good to meet up for a drink soon.

    And am I correct in saying you’re nearly 40!?! Crumbs.

  5. Now that you’re on a roll, ask them: “What’s the best poo you ever done?”

    Better still, see if any of the contestants are willing to set up a market stall for my patent poo-grown tomatoes.

    It’s questions like this that never get addressed in the so-called main-stream media.

  6. The Apprentice is as addictive as bombay mix. I can’t get enough of the horror. I’m currently keeping a bar chart on who flushes and blushes the most when Sir Alan gives them his obligatory cockney tongue lashing each week. The Badger gave good face hue last night while looking like she was going to fling out a few haymakers, but Alexa Tilley is still in the lead after looking like she was about to have an aneurism last week.

    I refuse to believe there is not a comedy script editor on The Armstrongs. It’s just too good to be real. I thought it was fake until a mate of mine revealed that he’d once bought a window from them.

  7. One of the finest Blogjam postings ever. Easily. When someone gets round to making UK Blog-Gold this should be there.

  8. You have to get yourself on the panel of the BBC3 spinoff which airs directly after The Apprentice.

    Vanessa Bloody Feltz was on it last night, so how hard can it be?


    It doesn’t work when I type it.

  9. I could not help but notice the diabolical punctuation of the majority of the responses. Now, if only Lynne Truss and Sir Alan were to be conjoined – Jerry Cornelius stylee cum The Final Solution – *then* we’d have a programme . . .

  10. Right i’m loving the latest entry to blogjam. Can’t really say more than that.

    Onto the gorilla vs bear conundrum. I’d like to think that they are both lovers, rather than fighters. All the bear wants to do is eat honey and make love to a beutiful bear woman. All the Gorilla wants to do is eat grass and make love to a beutiful gorilla woman. A better question would be, if the bear and gorilla mated, what would it be called? would it be called a borilla? would it be called a gear? or perhaps arthur.

    As someone(me) once said, “fuck fighting, lets fuck!”

  11. Interesting, but totally lost on me Fraser. Never seen the Apprentice, nor heard of it. You’re playing to a Brit audience here.

  12. I think you should have asked who would have won between a bear or a gorilla and the receiver, and why:)

    Great post. Go on with your celebrity bashing.

  13. This is amazing, similar conversations have gone on between myself and friends, we always digress to who would be the victor, Grizzly or Shark, which usually would come down to who has the home advantage.

    well, I would just like to point out that a Koala bear is not actually a bear, so no bear has posable or opposable thumbs.

    I think I would have to give the fight the the gorilla, but I think it could easily swing the other way or, maybe even a double fatality.

    I think you should pose the question to Sir Alan and see what he thinks.

  14. Sadly the old Thatcher v Queen Mum Classic is only theoretical these days. However, it can resume once again when they are reunited in the underworld. Perhaps with Hitler as referee.

  15. Great idea. You should fire Ansell on the strength of his piss-poor landing page and badly sized photos. Great idea. Its the only show on TV I watch (oh, and Dragon’s Den) – I must have a trapped business man in me somewhere…

  16. I reckon there would be quite a few magazines willing to publish this and pay you for the privilege.

    And if they don’t, I know a student newspaper who’ll do it for free.

  17. Fucking excellent. And I think Karen is dead sexy.

  18. Ah, but if it was a fight between a gorilla and a kodiak, the winner would be clear.

    Kodiaks are nasty sonsabitches.

  19. “panda share this handy trait”

    pandas do not have true thumbs. They have a crude alternative, in which one of the finger bones has developed ta an angle, and is operated by muscles bound across it. It’s a poor imitation, but then again, from an evolutionary point of view Pandas are as bad as it gets. Great site though

  20. Firstly, although small, cute and totally un-bear-like, Koala’s are the EVIL. Small and Evil. They wouldn’t think twice about thinking your hand is a nice bit of cain.

    Queen mum would have maggie anyday, she would have skewered her with various fish bones.

    and…the polar bear would kick ass out of grizzly’s, gorrilla’s, queens mothers, maggie thatchers and penguins.

  21. Koalas and Pandas are both marsupials.

    And I vote for Karen.

  22. “Koalas and Pandas are both marsupials.”

    Except for the Pandas.

  23. Fraser, you are like a dog with a very strange bone. I salute you once more.

    But I’m only really stepping in here to agree that Koalas are EevIll. Just look at their shifty little eyes….

    Am still outraged at a friend who said he thought Mike Tyson would win in a fight with Bruce Lee. Pfff.

  24. Are the gorilla and the bear fired up like a f*ckhouse before they start, to use Mr Tulip’s charming terminology?

    Incidentally Mani can usually be found posting on theinternetforum’s Apprentice forum, if you want to run the question past him. I daresay he’ll reply that it depends whether gorilla or bear are in a divergent or convergent phase…

  25. What an exellent read, I must comend you on both your hard investigative skills and your admirable taste in television programmes.

  26. I think the only way to answer the Bear vs Gorilla issue here is to ask yourself which would you rather fight, John Armstrong or Allan Sugar? I’d rather fight John Armstrong but i’d be fucked/fired either way. Guess who is which animal. By the way it was so funny when the Armstrongs went to France to promote their window fitting business and started talking about academics (conservatoires) and small sausages (petit saucissons)

  27. Better than the programmes. Which are themselves excellent.

    You have exposed Tuan as an odd fantastist. I thought so, be careful of the quiet ones.

    Great pity that Sayed didn’t contribute or for that matter the world class player of “fucking Shakespeare stuff” from The Armstrongs.

    The “Maker of Men” did provide an excellent out of the frying pan answer. I’d have hired him too.

  28. I feel a need to respond to your reference to Chuck Norris.

    1. It is a well known fact that Chuck Norris’ tears cure cancer. It’s just a shame he has never cried. Never.

    2. Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.

    3. Most people have 23 chromosomes. Chuck Norris has 72. And they’re all poisonous.

    4. The chief export of Chuck Norris is pain.

    5. Chuck Norris has counted to infinity. Twice.

    6. Chuck Norris has two speeds: walk and kill.

    7. There is no chin behind Chuck Norris’ beard. There is only another fist.

    8. There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Chuck Norris allows to live.

    9. Chuck Norris does not tea bag the ladies. He potato-sacks them.

    10. Chuck Norris once challanged Lance Armstrong in a “Who has more testicles?” contest. Chuck Norris won by a margin of five.

    Please check out for more info and please do make faintly disparaging remarks regarding Chuck Norris in the future.

  29. That was great, well done, Sir. Mr Amstrong (that has just proved to me it IS real) aside, Karen’s reply is the easily the bestest.

    i wish i could think of these things when trying to think of things like this to do.

  30. Has anyone seen the film full metal Norris?

  31. You’re right Chris.

    My favourite:
    Cropcircles are just Chuck Norris’ way of telling the world that sometimes grass need to lie the fuck down.

  32. I like the idea of the bear versus Gorrilla contest but surely the ultimate test would be a Lion against a polar bear, now who would win that one?
    (or maybe a lion and a polar bear against Chuck Norris!)

  33. no no no, the ultimate clash of the titans and allegorical reference to our lazy antipodean cousins would be a badger versus a wombat.

    Although of course the answer is obvious. The badger, as well as being one hard b*stard (because he’s British) also has the hand-speed of Steven Segal. Game over.

  34. How about Ruth Badger v a real badger? I’d put my money on the plain-speaking Brummie, frankly.

  35. Hi

    I emailed Paul from the apprentice and got an reply yay me!

    So cheers for ur blog it was good

  36. In a fight like that there can be no winner except for the person who sells the tickets.

  37. >>How about Ruth Badger v a real badger? I\’d put my money on the >>plain-speaking Brummie, frankly.

    No way – I’d go for the Mustelidaead every time. Nasty sonofabeeches – they go for the throat, y’know.

  38. Fools. They’ve forgotten Baloo.
    The mean-ass Disney bear from The Jungle Book. As we have all seen, he is a veteran at inter-species fighting. And, as we all remember, did indeed have a duel with King Louis, in The Jungle Book.
    The winner of whom was to claim Mowgli.

    Of course, Mowgli ended up in Baloo’s possession. So, as history dictates, Bears are far more capable at Gorilla Fighting, than Gorilla’s are, at Bear Fighting.

    However, I should point out that Baloo is not your average bear, also being a skilled Tiger Fighter. He also had the back-up intimidation of Bagera, a fiery Black Panther. Whilst King Louis had 50-odd scat singing Monkeys; albeit, very good scat singing monkeys.

    And, during the tiger fight, Baloo had the reincarnated Vulture-Beatles on his side. So he wasn’t about to loose anything. I mean, can you imagine the box office rates if The Vulture-Beatles had lost! Exactly.

    You were completely justified in hiring John Armstrong. So for that, I… erm, well, I say “You were completely justified in hiring John Armstrong”
    So yes. Hmm…

    A better question, would have been; “If left to their own devices, which would make it around the world faster – A one armed penguin, or a camel with suction-cup-feet?”
    And make them sign which makes them give their bodies to you, eternally, if they fail to answer the question correctly. The correct answer, of course, would be The Penguin. As this penguin lives on the North Pole, and must merely traverse a three meter circle to have fully circled the north pole, whilst our equator dwelling friend, is likely do die. As suction cups are not very useful upon his native desert floor.
    Although, they are good for throwing sand in the eyes of the unwary desert badger, his main prey.

  39. Is Alex Martin a made up name?

  40. I have a suspicion that one of the Invicta team is blind. Tuan gives it away by spelling out what (we assume, assuming everyone can see) everyone has seen. This week he noted the car supermarket was…. a car supermarket. Tuan assumes nothing, he is not like us.

    No danger of Tuan not spotting the bear or gorilla and helpfully saying “that is a bear” or “that is a gorilla” whilst pointing at the correct animal.

    I think “Tuan of the aural anecdote” would make a splendid alternative to a guide dog. That’s a guide dog. Oh damn I’ve caught it.

  41. my parents used to own a pet shop,now while this makes me an expert i find myself unable to answer your question{the grizzly would win,every time},i could however tell you the outcome of a cage full of baby hamsters and a siamese cat called tog if your interested.

  42. Matt, I’m interested…. but I’ll not waive much money that the pussy won.

  43. Bloody Great Blog site! Intriguing responses from the contestants, down to four now and it must be Ruth / Paul for the final with Ansell a very close 3rd!

    Used to work with Ruth and it is vintage stuff i’m seeing from her – just steamrollering her way to the final. You go girl!

    How about Ruth Badger vs Chuck Norris? My money’s on “The Badge”!

    If anybody needs a re-mortgage or a secured loan…….. happy to help, just link to my site and we will work very hard for you.

    OK, that was a bit cheeky but… I can live with myself!

    This site has been great, i’ve learned a lot of stuff – ranging from panda’s ‘thumbs’ to Chuck’s 6 Testicles!

  44. Amazing post. Truely brilliant, left me speechless!

  45. Great post – read it from top to bottom instead of planning a break-even lesson for my students! Loads of them watch the Apprentice and love it. Only problem is, it raises their expectations of the rest of ‘business studies’ … Ah well, back to the textbook.

  46. Beautiful work Fraser. Very funny…you the man!

  47. bears won’t fight for no reason and gorilla’s are intelligent enough to not want to fight when there unsure of the outcome.

    They’d both more that likely be intriuged by the others appearance than immediately fight. If the gorilla did attack it woud have no idea that one bear swipe will tear its face off. If the bear attacked the gorilla would have an advantage on agility.

    Theres no way to tell who would win because you could have a bear thats not so tough fight a dominant gorilla and lose , same goes for the gorilla.

    Both species are ferocious at times but there main reason for violence is food or terrortory , put a fully grown bear and fully grown gorilla in an arena while there both starving and put food in the middle , now that would be a fight ;]

  48. A grizzly would charge a gorilla on site and the gorilla would be dead and eaten shortly after. Grizzly bore’s full grown are 9ft 1,000 they kill black bears with ease pulling there hide’s from there skelletons a full grown black bear is 6ft 500 and would also kill and eat a gorilla there is no way any gorilla could defend itself against black, grizzly, kodiac or polar bears. gorillas arent even as strong as they look and the only thing they can do is bite and pound bears were born to kill with the physical makeup to do just that very well

  49. Karen Bremner, you are so very, very right. You’ve come to the same conclusions as me.

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