The Apprentice series 7 episode 3 review: Discount Buying For The Savoy

The Apprentice bows to no sponsor, as it gets its candidates to kit out a posh London hotel. Yup, it's the buying task...

7.3 Discount Buying For The Savoy

How do you spice up an episode that features the same task you’ve seen and devoured year after year? You have one of the women rustling around after her knickers, for starters. You have some talking heads of people bigging themselves up. You throw in an unpaid advert for the Savoy Hotel. And you have Baron Alan Sugar, the mighty overlord of British commerce, trying to bash out a couple of new one liners.

Me? I reached for my drink. I like to think that Baron Alan would have been proud of me, too. My local Spar had three bottles of wine, priced at £4.99 each. I negotiated them down to £10 for them all, which, as Baron Alan won’t need to be told, was a monumental discount of, er, quite a lot of cash.

I await his inevitable job offer. I might not be here next week if I keep this up.

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To be fair, they tried to mix up the standard ‘go out and buy ten pieces of random shit’ task by having the two teams doing skivvy work for one of the richest hotels in the land. I suppose the Dudley Premier Inn wouldn’t have held the same appeal as the Savoy, in fairness.

The teams were mixed up, but I was two glasses into some piss poor Merlot by this point, and it was already getting a bit tricky to read the on-screen captions. This was going to be a long episode.

“Literally, I want to put my name forward straight away”, said Gavin, who was on Team Logic. I couldn’t tell you if that’s where he was last week, but it doesn’t seem to matter really. Literally.

Susan, courtesy of a vox pop where she told us hot ace she was, ended up as project manager of Team Whatevertheycalledit, and Nick was in quick admiration.

On the shopping list? Everything from ice, top hats, uniforms, chandelier bulbs and some things with posh names. The golden rule was that they had to satiate the standards of Savoy customers. Which, given that said hotel has been shut for three years, might not be too tricky.

Cunningly, Natasha decided to ring up the Savoy’s main rival, the London Travel Tavern I think, and tried to blag their supplier list. It was a brilliant plan in pretty much every sense, apart from the fact that it was literally shit. Literally, if you hadn’t guessed, appeared to be word of the week on the episode.

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Here’s the thing with this negotiation thing, though. The idea is that both teams have to buy the things on the list as cheaply as possible, and have to secure a discount. Given that this is the seventh series of The Apprentice, and given that a big camera crew and several release forms come in tow, it staggers me that it comes as a surprise to every retailer when they’re asked for a few quid off. They’re fair game, and go through the motions, but can’t they just give us a bit of a wink, and then chuck them a fiver or something? It’d save everyone a bit of time.

The teams went through the usual drill. Gavin’s team was slow, did the research, and spent ages travelling. They looked at maps with puzzled faces, for added effect. Vincent, meanwhile, assured us that he could manage ladies. The man literally oozes charisma. Mind you, at least he could close a deal. Natasha’s negotiating technique seemed to be to add a tenner whenever anyone said no.

Susan’s team, meanwhile, got a penny off a top hat. Baron Alan must have thought he’d got his person right there. Nick, increasingly the most compelling reason to watch the show, told stories of the King of Tonga, and how he wouldn’t have asked for a discount, y’know. But as it turned out, asking for proper discounts wasn’t something that Susan’s team was much cop at. Her stand-offish approach to it all had her firmly in the firing line within 20 minutes of the show starting.

At this point, and I suspect you didn’t want to know this, I spotted something odd floating in my bottle of wine. I made an executive decision and opened the second bottle. I felt I had to be decisive, and I spoke up when nobody else would.

The episode from there all went through the motions a bit. The teams negotiated with people who didn’t care who they were buying for. They hunted for bog roll. Vincent’s attempts to boss the women didn’t go well. And then the camerawork went a little Challenge Anneka at one point. All the while, voiceover man explained the rules of the task, as if there was any chance on the planet that we didn’t know.

Off to the boardroom, then, where Baron Alan explained why he set the task, only just missing off the words “because we always bladdy do it, and can’t think of anything else to do”. After the interesting app task of last week, it seemed all business as usual.

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The Baron wasn’t pleased that Susan was going for very expensive stuff, and wasn’t thrilled either that Gavin didn’t manage to get all the items. His team hardly rallied around him, either.

Susan’s team, then, bought nine items in all, and picked up one fine. Gavin’s team? They missed four items, but at least they were quite cheap. Susan’s team just about won, and she saved her chances in the process. Given that there was just £8 in it, you could see what was coming.

Not before we had to sit through some shitty cocktail drinking treat that had me contemplating whether to crack open the third bottle (I was sharing my beverages, in my defence). When the assorted circus performers came on, I thought sod it, and ploughed on. Can’t they just cut to a minute of Nick doing stand-up or something? That’d be a treat.

The final battle went through the same rigmarole that it always does in this task. Bad research. Bad time management. Bad leads. You know the drill. They went for Vincent. But then Tom threw in that they might have given up. The Baron looked unhappy. Vincent and Zoe were brought back in with Gavin, the former of which started referring to himself in the third person. Lovely trait, that.

Naturally, the whole thing was edited to make the majority of the candidates look like tools, and Baron Alan made probably the right choice, by firing Gavin. But Zoe? She’s in his firing line.

A solid, predictable episode, to be fair. But there’s a feeling that The Apprentice is slipping into its familiar ways here. After last week’s interesting task, it’d be a shame if it’d run out of new ideas already. Hopefully, next week – when beauty is on the agenda – will have something special up its sleeve…

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Read our review of episode 2, Mobile Phone Application, here.