If last week’s episode of The Apprentice had taught me anything, it’s that logic as we see it on our side of the screen doesn’t always apply. For it’s easy to forget the great conceit of reality shows, where often days of footage are crammed into minutes, highlighting lunacy, madness and incompetence when, in fact, day after day of efficiency and common sense may have been the norm.
Last week, the show was edited, therefore, in such a way so as to make guessing who was going to be fired pretty much impossible. And this week, with the candidates heading off to a bakery, no doubt with the producers chuckling to themselves at the thought of comedy gold, I was determined not to be drawn into the game of it all. Even if it seemed blindingly obvious which way things were going for the last 25 minutes or so.
Baron von Sugar, as he shall now be called, dragged them all off to Fortnum and Mason for the tenuous introduction to the task. Basically, this: two bakeries, make things, sell to public and the trade, make money, don’t argue, swap the teams over. I’d tell you who was with which team, but the names still aren’t sticking just yet. Sorry.
Melissa fought to gain control for the one team, winning a unanimous vote over Jamie. Then Dr Shibby was the sole volunteer for the other team, offering to spank people’s bums if needed. I know you think we make this nonsense up sometimes, but it’s all true. We’ve got an A* in our GCSE, don’t you know.
Dr Shibby made a quick product decision, with muffins and bread as the main focus (although he also reckoned they could do anything, which subsequently tripped him up), but Melissa The Unanimous Expert struggled to come up with something. Bagels, it was put to her. Something “out of the box”, she suggested. No decision followed. And then mixed fruit jam croissants eventually spat out of Melissa’s mouth. What could possibly go wrong?
Off to pitching to businesses, then. A posh hotel first, who wanted 1000 bread roles, which Melissa didn’t have a price for. She whipped out her calculator, spent ages coming out with a price, and started giving the absolute impression that she was going to lose. But after last week’s editing, I wasn’t too sure. The obvious early cannon fodder is rarely the one to be fired, after all.
Still, she managed to piss the hotel off easily, by keeping them waiting ages then coming back with £1.82 per bread roll. Jamie was quick to point out Melissa didn’t do very well. Dr Shibby meanwhile was far more to the point, with a far smoother pitch, with lots of plus selling.
The alarm bell suddenly rang, though: a massive order from one hotel, at a really low price? That isn’t going to happen in a hurry, is it? Still, Shibby went for another pseduo-sexist comment to celebrate, before they went off to try and make a couple of thousand extra items. I don’t know why they didn’t throw in a couple of plasma screens, too, because it was never going to happen. The blame game thus began before the fit had even hit the shan.
Stuart, in the midst of all this, reminded us that he was amazing. Cheers for that.
Then, the next pitch went better for Melissa’s team, as Alex stepped in with some on-the-spot costings to save the day. A coffee shop ordered some of their stuff. It was even stevens again.
Back at the bakery, Shibby’s production team appeared to have given up before even the second pitch had begun. Off to a posh restaurant, then, and the sales team attempted to add several hundred items to the total. Dr Shibby tried to temper things, declaring “I’m not happy with it” before the posh hotel people, and turning down the order. Paloma? Not happy, and she wasn’t shy about saying so. Dr Shibby? He was not winning friends. Nor influencing people.
By this stage, your guess was as good as mine as to which team was screwing up the most. Already, this was turning into easily the best episode of the series. And that’s before they threw in the point that the bakeries closed at midnight. Marvellous. Predictably, Melissa’s team made what they needed to make. Dr Shibby’s team was still arguing.
The crosshairs slowly started to appear on his head.
It got no better when he turned up at the hotel with most of the order missing. In fact, he turned up with a tray of muffins, and a few bread rolls. He supplied 16 bread rolls out of 1000, and was cracking jokes to get out of it. It didn’t work. Compensation was given without a fight, and Dr Shibby made a loss on his order. Splendid.
Melissa’s team, meanwhile, delivered pretty much everything to standard. Apart from the muffins. Which were no good. Bah.
Off then to do selling to the public, and regular Apprentice viewers know the routine by now. You try and find the right spot, you flog your wares, yadda yadda yadda. Dr Shibby was appearing to be turning things round slightly with premium priced muffins, but already, that £130 compensation was looking like it might be the dividing line. And he decided to ignore all of his bread, which wasn’t going to help.
Then, for some odd reason, Melissa and Alex started discussing GCSE Maths. I’m still not sure why. But it was almost a pity when the task came to an end and they all had to face down Baron von Sugar in the final showdown.
The grumpy growler, to be fair, had lots to go at. Nobody on either side seemed to like their team leaders for starters. But Melissa’s team won, and it was the compensation and failure to sell the bread that did it. Bye bye Dr Shibby, surely? Especially when he throws up his hands, and comes up with phrases like “I’m glad it was a disaster”, and “my bad”. Yikes. He’ll be cutting a novelty single next.
In the midst of this, Baron von Sugar’s puns appeared to be getting worse. Seriously: he needs to stop trying jokes. His “take two of these” line was the worst of the series to date. He needs new writers. Or to stop telling jokes altogether. Ideally, both.
The final three was soon boiling down to an increasingly uncontrolled Dr Shibby, and the thus-far anonymous Sandeesh. But just when you thought Sandeesh might be in the firing line (the only woman with the words “world domination” on her application), Dr Shibby decided to talk. And every time he talked, Baron von Sugar pulled a face as if someone had quietly dropped one in the room. Sexism, shouting and rudeness don’t tend to win you The Apprentice.
And so it proved. Dr Shibby got the bullet, and few human beings who watched the programme could disagree. It all rounded off for the most part a strong episode of the show, which actually had some interesting business elements to it, as well as the usual batch of nutters running around shouting.
Next week? The egos seem to be coming to the fore, and the task involves hunting for innovative new products. It looks like a car crash already. See you then…
Read our review of the second episode here.