I take it back.
Just when I thought that The Apprentice had peaked for this season and was about to descent into reality show hell, it turns out another really interesting episode, and ends in a logical way too. Sralan, you proved me wrong, and after the shambles of last week, even the firing didn’t feel like a ratings decision. Phew.
This was, though, The Apprentice very much on home territory, and the task was really interesting. Clearly having spent the last year watching repeats of Dragon’s Den on Dave, the producers of the show lined up a range of ten new products that were pitched to the two teams. They then had to pick two of them, and take them out on the road in the North West of England to sell.
Sralan, of course, had laid a trap in the midst of it. This time, he’d lined up two appointments with big stores in the North West, for the teams to take their products off to. The clue was there: pick products that would appeal to the relevant stores. He may as well have sounded a loud claxon and smacked them all on the head, such was the subtlety of this.
Before that, though, an Apprentice tradition. As Mona stepped up to lead Empire, Lorraine opted to take charge of Ignite, and promptly gave a speech about how she was going to lead. Why do they do this? Have they never seen the show before? Don’t they know that it’s going to bite them in the arse? Surely, and I appreciate this is easy for me to say from the comfort of my sofa, it would be better to just get down to business? Instead, Lorraine surely sealed her long term fate by declaring that she was a slow burner in the thought department. I’d wager hard cash that the phrase can’t be found on her CV anywhere. And I’d wager what I had left on her not winning the show.
But anyway, it was off to the product choices, and Ignite certainly picked better. While the sleeping bag with arms – for £85! – and the dog lead for two didn’t find any buyers in the midst of the big stores, the strategy, ironically against the ideology of the Sralan, of hitting smaller retailers worked a treat. A big order from a national pet chain certainly helped, too, and Mona – with one or two bumps – seemed to do a good job.
Empire, though, also managed to get an appointment with the same pet chain, but its choice of products wasn’t as wise. A tatty cardboard box masquerading as some sort of military vehicle for cats looked terrible when its maker was pitching it, but when team Empire then attempted to sell it, it was cringe TV par excellence. Its other product was a bag for your shopping when riding a bike, that looked like an accident waiting to happen. Literally.
Ignite, to be fair, looked a bit of a shambles this week. Lorraine came across very condescending, but she did manage to put orders in the book. Meanwhile, the trio of Ben, Philip and Kate failed to sell a thing between them. Given that Sralan had already pointed out that he expected everyone to sell, this was not a good position to take into the board room.
And the board room turned out to be perhaps the most brutal yet. Empire won by some distance, and after we’d sat through the pointless treat sequence – they went up in a balloon! Woo hoo! – we got down to business. It was here, in the words of Sralan, that Philip showed his “true colours”, and launched a one-man tirade against Lorraine that had self-destruct button written all over it (“you are pathetic”, he said to her at one point. The fool).
Lorraine, meanwhile, failed to cover herself in glory either, all the while clinging to the comfort blanket of the sales she made. You wonder if her revelation to Sralan of Philip and Kate having a thing will have ramifications further into the programme – the suffix with Kate describing it as insulting suggest so.
Philip, however, had to go, even though you feared that Sralan would keep him and Kate in for the sake of ratings. Philip had been our early favourite to win the show, but he’s come across – admittedly with the help of the editing department – as a man with a grudge these past few weeks, and thus his days were numbered.
In all, though, the business side of this task was really interesting, and credit to the producers for delivering just after we thought the series had turned for the worst.
Next week looks a good idea, but the clips look less promising, as the two teams head off to rebrand Margate. We’ll see in seven days’ time just how that works out…
Read our review of the last episode here.