Telesales executive Michael Sophocles has become the latest contestant to be fired from The Apprentice.

The 24-year-old was given his marching orders by Sir Alan Sugar after his Renaissance team were comprehensively beaten in a supercar rental task.

Lee McQueen's Team Alpha made more than £11,000 through renting cars to London businessman thanks to their high-risk decision to offer a Pagani Zonda, which could be rented for a daily charge of £2,700.

And though Sophocles could have been expected to attract customers with his Ferrari - which had the cheapest rental cost of any car in the task - his lack of direction and naivety about cars saw him failing to make a single sale.

Despite the successful sales of Claire Young and Helene Speight, the Renaissance team made only £2,114 and were summoned to the boardoom to face Sir Alan and his aides Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford.

It seemed as if Sophocles was destined to cling onto his place on the BBC1 reality show after the Amstrad boss spent the majority of his boardroom summing up attacking global pricing executive Speight, who he accused of hanging onto the coat tails of fellow contestants.

But though Speight's fate had seemed sealed when Sir Alan said he had seen "glimmers of brilliance" from Sophocles but struggled to see how Speight would fit into his organisation, Sir Alan chose to send Michael on his way.

"It's a tough one but Michael, this time, I have to say to you, you're fired," he explained.

In his exit interview with the BBC, Sophocles said he thought his time to be fired had come three weeks previously.

"I was almost like a dead man walking," he continued.

"I'd run my course and the five people who are in the final five deserve to be there."

When questioned about the "glimmers of brilliance" to which Sir Alan had made reference, Sophocles retorted: "I had glimmers of... watchability. The five people who are left, they may have the best business skills, but compared to me they are boring.

"Raef [Bjayou] and I were the most entertaining," he added.

28/05/2008 00:07:12