The Apprentice series 7 episode 4 review: Beauty Treatments

Two teams head to Birmingham, to sell the finest beauty products known to, er, them. Here's our review of this week's The Apprentice...

7.4 Beauty Treatments

Baron Alan Sugar is going to love me. Because, after watching the latest episode of The Apprentice, I’ve got lots of business jargon, which I know the bearded one will be keen to hear.

Here’s why. As some of you know, when I write these Apprentice reviews, I’m sat in a house just outside Dudley, downing whatever cheap plonk I’ve managed to pick up from my local Spar shop. This week, though, that’s not the case. For I ventured to my local supermarket, up at the Merry Hill Centre, a few miles up the road. The same Merry Hill Centre where half of this week’s Apprentice candidates, as it turned out, tried to sell beauty treatments to the finest Brummies and Black Country residents they could find.

Oh, how the editing team loved that. Selling beauty treatments, and seemingly only to people with broad regional accents? What’s not to get the nation laughing at there. It was bosting.

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Back to the supermarket, though.  A tasty three for a tenner offer on gruesome wine in pretty bottles caught my attention, and I flung them into my basket, just around the corner from where part of this week’s task took place.

So, Baron Alan. That’s got to be something like synergy, or blue sky thinking, or some shit like that, hasn’t it? How cost effective would it have been to drink the wine there, while watching the candidates sell their gunk in the flesh? That would have been a win-win, Baron Alan. I’m drinking outside the box, here.

That said, any self-respecting nerd could tell you that this was recorded last Autumn, just by the presence of the Medal Of Honor poster in the window of the local videogame shop. So, as it turns out, I was eight months too late should I have wanted this year’s candidates to flog me fake tan. It was a fatal error on my part. I shall remain pale skinned and drunk for the rest of this review.

The task, then. The current challenge on the show is to find a location utterly unrelated to the task in question to introduce it to the team. The British Museum, then. A statue of Aphrodite. The job in hand? Go and flog fake tan to Brummies, suckers.

After a team shuffle, and the appointment of Felicity and Zoe as team leaders, off the Baron sent the prospective business partners. They had to pick two beauty treatments to sell, and then choose one of two Midlands sites to sell from. It’s a similar format task to lots of tasks before (choose some crap, sell some crap), but the beauty angle is a little bit different.

Incidentally, is it just me that finds the way they all chant “Yes, Lord Sugar” in unison just a little bit alarming? You ponder that while I take another swig.

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Bluntly, we could all spot the motions and pitfalls a mile off here, but it didn’t make it any less interesting as it happened. Tom, for instance, seemed to be quite on the ball in terms of the margins of the products and treatments, coming up with valuable data for everybody to ignore. Tom also raised the issue of a treatment room three floors away from the sales desk. Such trivialities, though, have no place in The Apprentice. The fool.

Susie, meanwhile, was clearly the ace in the pack for Zoe. As soon as she started blabbing about how beauty is her business, though, you knew the show was lining her up for a fall. She can sell bucketloads of products, she told us, with absolutely nobody believing her.

Zoe was wise to be cautious with Susie’s predictions of what she could sell, but even then, there was set to be trouble ahead. Naturally, Susie was keen to avoid admitting she screwed up later on, in spite of the small matter of lots of TV cameras recording her every utterance.

There’s an obvious rule that one of the teams missed, here, too. If you’re even mildly interested in a product, go apeshit over it in front of the person trying to sell it to you. Whether you want it or not. Thus, Susie went bananas over the body spray, and Zoe’s team was able to secure it as a result. Once again, a golden rule of Apprentice past was ignored by one of the teams, and they ended up with lava stones and funny hair instead. They really need to get some back episodes on DVD before they sign up for the show.

It wasn’t just one or two of the candidates failing to fire on all cylinders, mind. For I did notice that Nick seemed to be in a bit of a shitty mood this week. As I downed my strange Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio hybrid, which seemed to be a cocktail of the most revolting grapes known to mankind, Nick kept pulling a face as if he was drinking some of it himself. He couldn’t have looked more unimpressed if he was licking piss off a thistle. It was, in fact, like he was auditioning for the Baron’s job. His Lordship might want to keep an eye on his underling.

Elsewhere, Leon wasn’t enjoying the make up, or the spraying of another man, worried that Britain would question his sexuality, and that his girlfriend would dump up. He found a fan in Karren, though, who correctly noted that he’d happily delivered on this particular task. Is Leon lining up to be an early frontrunner, I wonder?

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Back to the task, though. The core problem was that one team here focused on the higher-margin treatments, and the other didn’t until it was too late, chucking away free massages to cash-strapped students and those with little intention of coughing up another few quid for a prolonged rub.

The end result, as revealed by Baron Alan, was inevitably that Zoe’s team had won. He did manage to spit out a bad beauty and the beast joke beforehand, before proclaiming to Britain that if he hadn’t decided to sell underwhelming technology products (er, those are my words), he’d have sold underwhelming beauty products instead. Britain at this stage didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

If you were drinking the shit I was drinking by this stage, you’d have opted for the latter. I’m not sure wine is supposed to leave scratch marks on your throat.

Off, then, went Felicity and her loss-making troupe to the empty café. But not before the BBC had served up its weekly broadcasting triumph. Not content with boring the pants off everyone watching the winners go through the motions of telling each other how ace they were and delighting in a ‘treat’, they basically shoehorned in a minute-long plug for Strictly Come Dancing at the same time. I was left no choice but to take further chances with the wine. That’s me playing through the pain barrier right there, Baron von Sugar.

The treat aside, though, I really enjoyed this task, probably more than any this series. The final boardroom showdown was utterly routine, and featured the usual banding around of accusations, denials and furrowed brows. And I do continue to feel that the shouting at the end of each episode is of far less interest that the task itself.

Still, I think most of us saw the dismissal coming. Felicity, who liked democracy, brought Ellie and Natasha back into the boardroom. But it was the project manager who was going, and the lack of decisiveness on Felicity’s part made this an easy call. Natasha’s card was marked, mind, so was Ellie’s.

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A fun episode, though, I thought. Which is a good job, as next week, we’ve got pet food to look forward to. Baron Alan’s scriptwriters are no doubt rubbing their hands with glee…

Read our review of episode 3, Discount Buying For The Savoy, here.

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