Not a bad episode of The Apprentice tonight, and one that was helped enormously by having the first half of the programme concentrating on the business task in hand, without vox pop after vox pop of willy wavers telling us just how wonderful they were. Instead, Sralan set the two teams what looked to be a genuinely very difficult job: to do corporate catering for demanding city clients. Bluntly, it was one of those moments where I was glad I was sat on the sofa, nursing a glass of wine. What the two teams were doing looked like hard work.
That said, the teams as usual didn’t really didn’t help themselves, particularly the boys’ side (which is called Empire if memory serves). Rocky, a 21-year old who runs 15 sandwich bars for a living, opted to lead the task, and the masterplan soon became clear. What the business gurus of the capital really wanted was crappy props, hairy men dressed in togas, and a loose 2012 Olympics theme. They could have perhaps got away with it had Margaret been following their team. But naked flesh did nothing for Nick, and their fate was soon sealed.
It wasn’t helped by some staggering negotiation work from, of all people, an estate agent. I’ve bought and sold a house or two in the past, and last time I spoke to an estate agent, they’ve had rather bathed their backside in Superglue rather than budge a quid if they didn’t have to, but here Philip’s prices were dropping faster than Sralan’s smile. His price was demolished down to £15 from around £60, with the client barely uttering a word.
And what did they get for their smashing down of the price? Exactly the same that they’d have got for £60. Even including the togas and the dodgy 70s porn décor. Make a note, everybody: if you want a cheap house, Philip’s the man you need to track down.
That said, the girls’ team – Ignition – were making a fair stab at messing things up as well. Under the stewardship of restaurant owner Yasmina, they couldn’t get round Asda quick enough in search of cheap, crappy food with which to impress the high-paying corporate clients. Want wraps that look like they’ve just dropped out of a dog’s bottom? Then Ignition was the team to call. That said, the girls’ team clearly learned the lesson of last week, and managed their budget well. Plus, there were few of us watching who cared that it was a bunch of lawyers who were being force-fed the crap that was on special at Asda on the day of filming. A special heads up to Kate, too, for her pitch where she seemed to have little idea what she was selling, and still managed to get two orders. That ain’t bad.
Bottom line: the girls won, the boys lost money. This was not a wise thing to do.
With the task all but wrapped up with 25 minutes of the episode to go, and save for a quick and entirely irritating interlude of watching the girl’s team playing polo (why? Why? Why? Nobody cares!), it was off to the boardroom.
Rocky, inevitably, played the age card, and cited the fact that he had left school at 16 and worked to get to where he was. This is usually a surefire tactic with Sralan, who generally seems to eat that up over any degree you could stick on your CV (made up or otherwise), but Rocky forgot one crucial thing: he lost Sralan money. Lose him money, he sacks you. We all know the rules.
Save a thought for James though, who surely managed to talk himself into trouble for the future. And Sralan took great glee in reading out a segment of his CV. I wake up in the morning and taste success on my spit, revealed James’ resume. You’re a tit, thought pretty much the rest of his team as they collapsed into laughter. When he then refused to shut up, you figured they’d keep him in as this series’ resident gobshite for the time being, safe in the knowledge that he’s not going to win. It was a class moment, however, when he practically said that he didn’t want to be sat in the boardroom looking at Sralan’s face. Nonetheless, with help from a terrible boxing metaphor, Rocky got the boot.
In all, there was a feeling this week that the series was finding its stride, without having to resort to Big Brother tactics to do so. I like it when The Apprentice focuses on the business task more, and at least gives you a chance to discuss the ins and outs of the job the teams have tackled. It’s far more preferable than just watching a bunch of unpleasant people back biting.
That said, there looks like there might be a fair chunk of that next week, as the two teams have to design some fitness equipment. Me? I’ll be away on holiday I’m afraid, so you may have to live without a review. I’ve a funny feeling you may be able to cope.
Read our review of last week’s episode here.