As someone whose forgotten most DOS stuff (I used to be pretty good with it) I'm also CLI-challenged. I looked at several distros (but not Mint) before eventually trying Ubuntu 9.10 and then curiosity prompted me into Mint 10. I wish I'd found Mint first. I've found it to be very easy to use with most everything I want to do being possible with GUI. That's not to say everything went smoothly. There were "teething" problems with monitors and HDD arrangements that took some figuring but with the excellent help provide within these forums they were fairly quickly sorted out.
Your friend has the advantage of having you to assist with the initial set-up of their system. Once that's done, provided they are reasonably savvy, you should never hear from them (about the computer at least
). I'd certainly suggest that LM10/11 Gnome is probably the best and easiest way to ease your friend into the Linux world. Bear in mind though that the biggest hurdle your friend will have to overcome is realising that things are done differently in Linux.
Some time ago I set up LM10 Gnome for my parents (in their 80's) so that they could play Solitaire, Freecell, etc. knowing that's ALL they'd be doing . They have absolutely zero computer smarts and are not on the 'net so i figured they'd be safe enough. I underestimated the drawcard of tinkering. Mum can't resist playing with buttons she has no idea about. Joy of joys
. I hope for your sake your friend is not that way inclined but the 'completeness' of Mint, that provides far more applications than most casual users need, is often irresistible.
To summarise, you can't go past LinuxMint. Just show them the possibilities using LiveCD and they'll be hooked.