COUCH POTATO: The Ice Maiden vs Little Miss Cupcake ended a great series of Lord Sugar’s The Apprentice

Candidates Luisa Zissman (left) and Leah Totton in central London before the final of BBC1's programme, The Apprentice

Candidates Luisa Zissman (left) and Leah Totton in central London before the final of BBC1's programme, The Apprentice

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TWELVE weeks of backstabbing, mutiny, sumo fat suits, Nick Hewer’s remarkable Panama hat, during the Dubai trip, and an unforgettable pop-pop-pop popty-pinging ready-meal pitch and it all came down to a simple decision.

Should Lord Sugar sign away £250,000 to “clinical” Leah and face a possible future claim for damages over botox gone hideously wrong?

Or Duracell bunny boiler Luisa and face a guaranteed future claim for damages at employment tribunal?

No contest, really, on The Apprentice final.

He chose Leah’s soon-to-be-rebranded “Niks”, second only to Sweeney Todd’s or Death By Sickle as the worst name for a cosmetic treatment centre.

That was, however, still more advisable than a couple Luisa tossed out there for her bakery supplies business, “Masterbake” and “Hello Baker”, which I’m sure is a militant gay wing of the national association of breadmakers, while not even considering calling it I’ve Got 99 Problems But A Wilton 233 Nozzle Ain’t One.

We’ve all been there, I’m sure.

All told, though, Little Miss Cupcake versus the Ice Maiden didn’t exactly create a scintillating final.

But then it never is anything but an anticlimax, especially following the interviews.

It’s a forgivable dip when looking back on what has been the best series since the Pants Man days of 2009.

And I include the intervening Stuart Baggs “The Brand” and Jedi Jim years in that verdict.

The filming, production, editing, soundtrack and You’re Fired spinoff were sublime, along with many of Sugar’s one-liners, most notably: “Myles, Kurt would call you Kilometres,” and this savage putdown while reading Zee’s CV: “You aspire to Napoleon. I don’t think Napoleon’s ever been fired from Phones 4u.”

The difference maker for the class of 2013, however, was the inspired casting.

Every candidate has contributed to an ensemble triumph that’s given us the likes of the Tidy Sidey and Oh My Pow.

I’m most fond of Alex, not just with the popty-pinging but his assertion that: “I am the Christian Grey of the Valleys,” inquiring: “What are these?” while clutching a bunch of carrots during the farm shop task and turning down Viagara in Dubai: “We don’t need any of that. I’m from Wales.”

Numb-nut Jason will go down in Apprentice folklore for abdicating as project manager with the line: “Everybody here has blood on their lips,” and his clueless Englishman abroad routine.

Neil “Behind every great project manager there’s a Neil Clough” Clough was the series’ great rock.

And even Luisa’s whiney, croaky, Navy destroyer-sinking voice and general abhorrence made her the perfect panto villain.

She might well feel aggrieved too that Sugar hired Leah who, let’s not forget, asked in week four: “How many potatoes are there in a kilo?” and a fortnight later was talking absolute gobbledygook about: “Classic majestic medieval escapism.”

Nick Hewer also had this advice for the boss: “Under Leah I’ve got ‘stubborn’. Under Luisa I’ve got ‘less stubborn’.”

Under Luisa I’ve got ‘trapdoor above a crocodile pit’.

But write her off at your peril.

Like Stuart Baggs before her, I can see Channel 4 signing her up for Celebrity Five Go To...

And if Sugar lives to regret not hiring Luisa, it won’t be as big as my one overriding letdown.

That he didn’t bring back Alex, Jason and Zee as a manufactured boyband.

Nozzle 233, the stage is yours.

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This week’s Couch Potato Spudulikes...

BBC2’s Hunt v Lauda: F1’s Greatest Racing Rivals.

England’s nail-biting Ashes first test victory on Sky Sports.

Chris Froome flying the flag for Britain on ITV4’s Tour de France. (Sir Bradley who?)

Luther unshackling itself from substandard previous series and horror-movie pretence to re-emerge as a cracking cop show.

Katharina Schüttler, Olivia Colman and Katie Yeung lifting C4’s Run from a run-of-the-mill, well-worn interwoven storyline drama there’s way too much of on telly.

And Ben Shephard’s Daybreak suggestion to record a Tipping Point special in Afghanistan.

Great idea. Take that machine to Kandahar, tip off the Taliban and retreat.

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This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates...

All the idiots with nothing better to do than “inundate” Top Gear with complaints that a snow-capped mountain road wasn’t, as Jeremy Clarkson said, in Hertfordshire.

Corrie’s ill-conceived race row.

Rolling news channels spending two weeks before the royal baby birth reporting on absolutely nothing happening.

The majority of C4’s four-hour Run padded out with lingering looks.

The requirement for BBC food shows to end in a blasted banquet.

And Aussie fruitcake AJ Miller, who claims he’s Jesus Christ, failing to perform a miracle on This Morning.

Turn Eamonn Holmes into a thin man and I’m a believer.

Hallelujah!

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Over at Gok Live: Stripping For Summer, body-toning expert James Read had this tip for women: “Rub frozen peas on your breast and thigh areas for five minutes each day.

“It brings the blood to the surface, helps circulation and firms the breast.”

So my missus tried it.

The plus side is it works.

The down side is she’s now banned from Asda’s frozen aisle.

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Peter Andre on ITV’s Daybreak: “I got Junior a snake for his birthday.

“It is quite strange when you’re saying to your son, ‘You can go and play with your python for a while’.”

Yeah, they hit adolescence before you know it, don’t they?

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TV queries. Have The Apprentice producers thought of installing an upstairs phone?

How soon can we hope Gok Wan follows Trinny and Susannah and disappears forever onto QVC?

And has AJ “I’m Jesus Christ” Miller, of TV fame, returned to thwart the Devil incarnate?

Or is he just doing what we should all be?

Ignoring Katie Hopkins?

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Name change suggestion for BBC2’s sporadically funny Family Tree, which mixes improvised comedy with genealogy.

Whose Line Do You Think You Are Anyway?

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All Star Family Fortunes host Vernon Kay to Claire Richards: “Name something that can travel over 100mph?”

Me, at a Steps reunion gig, to the emergency exit.

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An eventful week on C5’s actually decent series of Big Brother (say it quietly), where boxer Daley Ojuederie was ejected from the house for grabbing Hazel O’Sullivan around the throat. (Who does he think he is? Charles Saatchi?)

The most deluded housemate, though, remains resident fantasist Dexter Koh who asked: “Do you reckon the winner is going to keep their feet on the ground or are they going to turn into a complete a***hole?”

Turn into?

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BBC1’s Eat Well For Less? took an hour to answer narrator Liza Tarbuck’s question: “When it comes to fish and chips, should you save (use cheap ingredients) or spend (buy pricier produce)?” with the conclusion: “Spend, obviously.”

At some point during the 58-minute blur in between, she added: “On average we spend over an hour a week in Britain’s supermarkets.

“That’s over 215,280 minutes of your life you’ll never get back.”

After Eat Well For Less? make that 215,340.

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This week’s Fashion Safety Advice Bombshell award goes to...

Gok Live: Stripping For Summer stylist Jamie Stevens, who was asked how to protect hair from sun damage.

“Wear a hat.”