Why does this site cover The Apprentice? Well, we kind of covered that in the first episode review of this run, so won’t dig into it again. After all, it’s no fun if the first commenter each week doesn’t ask the question.
But for some episodes in the recent run, it’s been a really fair query, and I’ve kind of wondered why I’m doing it myself. The Apprentice has been recycling its old, familiar tasks, with generally quite good results, but not in any way that’s got over the feeling of a general lack of ideas. It hasn’t helped that Baron von Sugar’s one liners have been genuinely quite tragic.
So what could they pull out of the pot this week? Film making, it looked like. Could this be the task where someone in at least one of the teams reckons they could do a Martin Scorsese, but end up closer to Uwe Boll? Well, in came the call, and it was to head over to Pinewood Studios. A furniture shop, wondered one of the candidates. Sheesh, this is going to be a long hour, I feared.
The task, then, was to “sell the big screen experience” to the general public. Or, more accurately, “a fairly crappy small screen experience with shitty special effects”.
But at least here was a bit of a twist. Basically, in the middle of a shopping centre, the two teams had to film people in front of a blue screen, and flog them a DVD. My ears pricked up. Someone actually bothered to try something off the beaten track here, even if I reckoned that it’d end up as a flogging-in-shopping-centre task. Turns out, I was wrong.
Stuart and Sandeesh were nominated as project managers of the newly jiggled teams, and the former soon started making silly comments. “I don’t sit anywhere but the top”, he proudly boasted, as he ordered in his archive backing footage. Sandeesh, meanwhile, talked about Baron von Sugar’s words resonating with her. She must have been fed up of his jokes, too.
Sandeesh, then, targeted her films at the younger audience, while Stuart figured that blue screen movies in shopping centres were aspirational, and aimed at adults. Er, right. Stuart then spent a further minute or two talking about how right he was, much to the disgust of Nick Hewer, who remains the star of the show from where I’m sitting.
A bit of test pratting around with the equipment later, and the inevitable question of how many films an hour could be made came up. Not many, was the answer. Could this turn out to be relevant? No, surprisingly enough.
Stuart, meanwhile, was taking centre stage, having to “reign in” his “masculinity”, as his team shot racing car footage. This man, I concluded, was either in on the joke, had been badly edited, or was, indeed, a tit. Happy to let you decide that one. In the meantime, his team couldn’t talk to him, because he was driving a racing car. Without a carphone, presumably.
Then the other team started filming their skiing footage, to a backdrop of the music from Pixar’s Up. Pixar must be thrilled. I’d wager it was just what it had in mind when it made the film.
Stuart, then, decided that it was kids that were the key to the task. It’s amazing what a drive in a car can do, as not only did he do a few laps of the track, he also managed a U-turn. The rest of his team weren’t impressed. But you probably guessed that. Yet it was hard to conclude he’d ultimately made the wrong decision.
Onto prop shopping next. None of the high budget theatrical prop stores here, though. Instead, it was taking the company credit card to Toys R Us by the looks of it. They took Nick along, who noticed both that Stuart wasn’t there, and that there was an offer on Nintendo DS games.
Stuart, meanwhile, was screwing himself over a bit further by only ordering 30 DVDs, when the maximum output was 88 over the duration of the task. Given that blank DVDs are really quite cheap, that appeared silly, but ultimately proved irrelevant.
Stuart then bilged something about how his team need everything spoonfed. At this stage, the bookies started paying out on who was going to be fired this week. Stuart kept going, though, explaining to his team why he was successful, and bemoaning that people “can’t share my vision”. 20 minutes in, and surely this was done and dusted? It would surely take Sandeesh’s team messing up in an almighty way to save his backside. But that was exactly what was going to happen.
First signs for Stuart’s team, when they got to the selling, were positive. The toy car attracted little kids, sales started to pour in, and it was off to the back room to make the films themselves. Things seemed to be going well.
Not for Sandeesh’s team, though. Their stand was empty, while the team learned how to use all the equipment. Sales had been lost, but seemingly not that many. The bigger problem was the skiing idea rather than them not being there to sell the DVDs. Without a toy car on the stand, it was a tougher sell. Still, at least there was a row between Sandeesh and Jamie to bring in the punters.
Eventually, they opted for a price drop strategy, and the punters started to roll in. Stuart, meanwhile, was trying to shoehorn in a price rise, even after punters had agreed prices. And there was a small problem. DVDs were piling up, and one disc had the wrong child in it. Stuart, instantly, got to the nub of the matter by asking who to blame. But selling DVDs of other people’s children? That’s never a great plan.
Liz had a better idea, though, by buying a toy car and changing what Sandeesh’s team was offering. Enough to swing the task? No, as it turned out.
Sadly, the task – which, while not spectacular, was at least interesting – was over in under 35 minutes. That’s 25 minutes of recriminations and boardroom waffle, then. Excellent.
Stuart’s team clearly didn’t like him, and the knives were out some time before the results were in. Over on Sandeesh’s team, there was a little more enthusiasm, but not that much. As it turned out, though, Stuart was saved for a week by his team winning, even if he seemed to think that the victory was down to him. But there’s as much chance of him winning The Apprentice overall as there is of Rolf Harris getting Baron von Sugar’s job.
Cue the treat, where Stuart’s team were taking the piss out of him without him really noticing. He has not, to be fair, come out of this episode well.
Nor has Sandeesh, though. The first hour’s faffing around, concluded The Baron, cost the team the task. Plus the spending too much money on DVDs. Sandeesh decided that Chris and Liz were to come back, though, ignoring the fact that Jamie hadn’t covered himself with glory. Liz, surely, was safe here. Chris? I couldn’t see a compelling reason why it would be him. Sandeesh? How could it be anyone else, I wondered.
Baron von Sugar nonetheless chewed new arseoles into the three remaining candidates, marking a few cards in the process. And Liz swung into the firing line, over the financial management. But it was Sandeesh who ultimately went, and it was hard to argue with the result. Unless they could change the rules and chuck Stuart out.
Not a bad episode in all, then, and I appreciate that it did at least bother to try something different. It didn’t fully work, as it all got dominated by one candidate’s personality. But you can’t help but feel it’s lit a few fireworks for future weeks.
Next week? It’s off to Hamburg to make crisps. We’ll see you then…
Read our review of the sixth episode, here.
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