One of the things that really frustrates me about The Apprentice is the fact that most of the candidates are often presented like blithering idiots. These men and women are supposed to be some of the brightest business minds in Britain but often crumble when asked to perform simple tasks such as selling sausages or creating YouTube videos. Every week the production team focuses on the multiple errors the candidates make and allows the audience to decide who’ll win the task based on which team has made the least mistakes. I also get particularly annoyed when the candidates fail to grasp the point of the task and what they have to do to win; which is something that happens once again in tonight’s episode.
The task in question involves the teams creating their own coach tours with the aim being to bring in plenty of money while at the same time keeping costs low. Lord Sugar announced this task in one of the least glamorous meeting spots we’ve ever seen in the series; South Mimms Service Station on the M25. This week’s only mover was Mark, who joined Tenacity in order to even up the teams after last week’s triple firing. Former holiday rep Mark thought this task perfectly suited his skill set but was shouted down by Daniel who made his living in the events trade. After deciding on Oxford as the location of their trip, they all agree on a price point of £99.50 which would be reduced to £90 if a couple were buying two tickets. I feel the first mistake that Summit made was not having the same discussion as their rivals and instead quickly deciding that they would be charging £60 for their tours of Kent. Managed by Sanjay, who up to know has been one of the least visible candidates, Summit were the more cohesive of the two teams this week but that doesn’t always add up to a win in the boardroom.
One of the most combustible elements on Sanjay’s team was James who, after a week playing the fool on YouTube, was back to his obnoxious best. On the way to Hever Castle, James laid out his plan to attempt to get an 80% discount for their tour, a statement that was met with a look of embarrassment by Jemma. Indeed, James’ salesman patter didn’t go down too well with the Castle’s representative who seemed appalled by his suggestion. On the other team, smooth-talking Mark showed us how it was done by getting an impressive discount from the Blenheim Castle representative. Mark’s subteam definitely appeared to be having more success than the rest of Tenacity who failed to tempt tourists with their trip’s high price. Whilst Felipe and Katie offloaded a few tickets, self-proclaimed super salesman Daniel sold zero tickets to the general public. Daniel’s need to prove himself as a salesman saw him offload a bulk of tickets for £65 to a group of interested punters. Why Daniel felt the need to go so low without negotiating was beyond me especially as it was later revealed that the group were willing to pay a lot more. But Daniel’s faux pas was nothing as monumental as Bianca’s pitch to a group when she revealed that they were her last chance to fill the coach. When the group realised this they undercut the ticket prices quite substantially and only ended up paying £40 a head.
Although Summit had filled their coach, whilst Tenacity had five spare seats, it already felt to me that they were fighting a losing battle due to the fact that they’d sold their tour for a lot less. Meanwhile, Tenacity continued to keep their eyes on the margins as they created what can only be described as quite a depressing packed lunch. Although their were several complaints about the quality of the lunch, this really didn’t matter in the whole scheme of things, and once again Summit’s more sumptuous offerings hurt their bottom line. Although their lunch may have been of a low standard, the quality of Tenacity’s coach trip was anything but thanks in part to Lauren. Having swatted up the night before, Lauren presented an incredibly confident tour of Blenheim Palace to the extent that, if Lord Sugar fires her, I feel the National Trust should snap her up.
On the other hand, Summit’s trip was a disaster from the get-go as they were late setting off, which ultimately meant that they had to rush through the final part of their excursion. Again it was James who presented himself as a massive irritant, trying to lead the coach in several sing-songs and leading one of the punters to tell him to shut up. I felt sorry for poor old Karren Brady who looked like she was in a living hell as she gazed wistfully at the emergency exit sign as James serenaded the masses with ‘The Wheels on the Bus’. The tour itself left a lot to be desired due to the fact that Jemma hadn’t done near the amount of research that Lauren had. That led to her regularly consulting her notes and ad-libbing when she was asked tricky questions about Anne Boleyn. Even though the second half of Tenacity’s trip, which involved Felipe’s facts about Oxford, seemed quite dull at least they had the splendour of the river to marvel at. That’s more that can be said for Summit’s afternoon excursion which saw James and Sanjay trying to frantically locate their destination in the middle of Kent town centre.
Even though the production team tried to swerve us with presenting the packed lunch and Felipe’s talk as reasons for the failure of the task, it was clear that Tenacity had won even before the teams had entered the boardroom. In possibly the biggest win of the series so far, Tenacity beat Summit by over £200 even though it wasn’t Daniel who was being congratulated after the result. Instead it was Mark who was being slapped on the back and hugged leading to the build up of a rivalry between the two alpha males. Compared to the animosity between the winners, the final firing line was the most sedate it has been all series. It was Lord Sugar who was involved in the biggest confrontation in the boardroom after he attacked James for his juvenile attitude. Despite James being an obvious scapegoat, Sanjay opted to send Jemma and Bianca back into the boardroom, a decision I personally agreed with. After Lord Sugar went through the motions, it was Jemma who was ultimately let go which I don’t feel is a big loss as I barely noticed she was there in the first place.
My main disappointment with this episode was the fact that it was so easy to see who was going to win the task from the off, due to the fact that Sanjay had set the ticket price so low. As a result there was very little jeopardy on show, throughout although I did enjoy witnessing Karren Brady’s endurance of the self-proclaimed ‘coach trip from hell’. On the plus side, the field has now been thinned down significantly enough for me to pick out a few candidates who may do well in the process. Judging from what we saw tonight, it’s Mark and Lauren who are the current front-runners, while James and Daniel are certainly in danger off being the next casualty of the boardroom.
What did you think to tonight’s episode of The Apprentice? Did the right candidate get fired?
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