Golden rule of reality television: even if there’s someone you should get rid of, if they’re argumentative, get the viewers’ backs up and generally rub at least one of their teammates up the wrong way, you never get rid of them until you have to.
And so it proved in episode two of The Apprentice, when Sralan Sugar fired Shazia, when surely a far more obvious candidate for the chop was sat just to the side of her. Granted, there were understandable reasons for the decision, but you can’t help thinking that the choice would have been different had their not been a bank of television cameras in the room at the same time.
The task this week was to set up a laundry service, and to basically make money from scratch. Provided with access to an industrial laundry for a finite number of hours, each team bid against each other for a couple of contracts, and then had to pitch for whatever other work they could find.
It didn’t take long to work out that the boys team was going to win. Led by Raef, the closest they got to any conflict was when the washing itself had to be done, and the friendly editor cut between half the team grafting, and half the team ordering coffee elsewhere. It was cruel, seemed quite unfair, but funny.
What alarmed me the most though about the entire task itself is that I’ve actually stayed in the hotel where they were pitching for the business. Do they really just pay a couple of hundred to get the sheets done? Blimey. For the record, none of the marks the boys were complaining about on the sheets themselves came from me, just so we’re straight.
Over at the girls’ team meanwhile, mayhem ensued. Project manager Jenny had clearly read every book on managing by talking down to people she could find, and her leadership style came across as really quite gruesome. Barking out orders, cutting off anyone who tried to interrupt her, off the back of last night’s show if she advertised for employees, the job had better come with a mighty big salary. And earplugs.
She soon clashed with Lucinda, an argument that seemed to come a little out of nowhere and had clearly snowballed in footage that ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor. Neither of these two are going to win the show, that much is clear, and I’d nailed the three who were heading to the boardroom within 20 minutes. My wife refuses to honour our £10 bet, though. Bah.
I did feel a bit sorry for Lucinda, who was shown being ignored in the early parts of the programme, then blamed in the latter. But Jenny, currently filling in the pantomime villain role until this year’s Katie Hopkins can be found, saved the best for Shazia. After barely uttering a criticism of her throughout the show, Shazia got it both barrels in the boardroom for walking away from the launderette, taking the details of her system for working out whose laundry was whose with her. This seemed a bit tight: she wasn’t the reason they lost, she seemed to tell people about the system, yet was canned for walking away from her post. Hmmm.
It’s hard to find too much of a business lesson among the rubble of this entertaining episode, save for Sralan Sugar barking a lot, and wishing the camera would show the other side of his face. That said, checking a price in the Yellow Pages before quoting seems a very good plan. Generally though, The Apprentice hits its peak in the middle weeks to come, when there’s enough people still in it to keep it interesting, and crucially, when you can remember all their names. We’re about to head into that bit in the week or two ahead.
For now, lots of questions still remain about where the show is heading. Although it does seem clear that next week, it’s the boys’ team who are having the arguments, not least the one who looks like the bloke out of Little Britain…
Last week’s episode is reviewed here.