Never let it be said that The Apprentice takes the path to business glory over ratings. Of the three people in the boardroom at the end of the show, only one of them wasn’t going to make a magazine cover. Only one of them was someone that the tabloids weren’t going to be interested in. And only one of them, as a result, didn’t stand a chance.
And while you never saw Noorul ever likely to win the show, you can’t help but feel he took the fall so that The Apprentice has a better shot at the ratings in the weeks ahead. Maybe last week’s episode was, as we suspected, the peak of the series.
This latest episode opened up with time for a quick to-camera piece from Ben talking about what a magnificent leader he was. Barack Obama happened to be watching Ben’s performance, apparently, and was last reported to be shitting himself as a result. Ben spat out the usual Apprentice babble about how he’s the best thing ever, and you wondered at that point if it was his swansong in the show.
There was a quick team jiggle at the start. Sralan Sugar moved Kate to Ignite, and Noorul went over to Empire, and appointed Philip to lead the former, and Ben The Great Leader to control the latter. The task itself was then presented, as both teams were given ten items to go and sell. It looked like a right collection of tat from where I was sitting, but inevitably, there were one or two red herrings in the pack.
Lorraine, to be fair, quickly identified that the rug was the item to back. Philip, to be fair, quickly decided to completely ignore her, making a bit of a mockery of his speech about unity and happiness at the start of the task. It did, though, look like he was the victim of this week’s editing, given how happy he and Lorraine were with one another at the end. Margaret even christened Lorraine the Cassandra of the team. If anyone had known what that meant, Lorraine might have looked chuffed a bit sooner.
But back to business. Now in the American version of The Apprentice, were both teams to do a lousy job, Donald Trump wouldn’t declare a winner, and would haul everyone back into the boardroom. Sralan Sugar is a nicer man than he, though, and despite the fact that both teams looked a bit of a shambles, there was still a winner at the end, even though both sides ending up making a loss.
The task itself wasn’t that interesting, and was just too bitty to fully enjoy. That said, it wasn’t without its highlights. I’ve enjoyed a few jars in London pubs in my time, and if a television crew and some wannabe tycoons came in to try and flog me a skeleton on spec, my gut reaction wouldn’t be to reach for my wallet.
Better than that though was the mini Margaret Mountford Show that was developing. Margaret really stepped into the limelight this week, looking incandescent at the way that Philip was trying to sell a £200 rug. “This must be one of the most stupid activities they’ve ever engaged in,” she offered to the camera at one point. Give the woman her own show, say we.
Permit me to wonder, too, if we didn’t hear a clip of music from 24 just as the clock was running down on the selling time? Or was that just me?
Eventually, Ben had his troops working on a flog everything strategy, as he paid the price for splitting the items to sell between his team unevenly. But as the task petered out long before the results were announced, and I was just glad to get to the end of it.
As it turned out, Sralan changed the rules slightly when it got to the board room. Originally, the idea was the team that brought in the most money would win. But then he added profit and loss to the mix, taking away the cost price of the items, a condition I don’t recall him mentioning at the start. As a result, both teams ended up in loss, and you do wonder if he did a little bit of an unfair rug pull there.
Still, Philip and his troops didn’t mind, and they got to sit through this week’s treat. I’m even beginning to bore myself going on about what a useless part of the show this is, and when the collected mass of his team all went “wow” when they saw a silver serving platter, I had a momentary temptation to impale my head on a fork. As you probably guessed, I resisted.
So off to the boardroom then, and you would think that given the lack of planning, the lack of leadership and the fact that he looked like he’d given up, Ben was a shoo-in for the boot. Debra, to be fair, tried to get in on the action too, by having a go at Nick The Trusted Advisor. This was not a good plan. Sralan did not look amused. Debra looked like she didn’t give two hoots.
Ben switched the emphasis to Noorul, who seemed to be making fair points from where I was sat. But then, crucially, he seems to have no aspirations to be a celebrity, and what use is that on a prime time reality show? He had to go, as a result. Not before Ben had done an about turn on who he wanted to bring into the board room first, though.
Ben thus escaped by the skin of his teeth, ready to get sacked in the weeks ahead. Philip seemed to do his chances of winning harm, and we wonder if Kate is quietly moving through the pack to become the front runner.
Next week? Something to do with new products, and Lorraine not looking too happy. And while this week’s episode wasn’t too bad in the end, we do still hope for an improvement…
Read our review of the last episode here.