The Apprentice Episode 4 Review: Duane Bryan won’t look a gift horse in the eye – Jane McEvoy’s sales banter is lacking!

by Matt D

For a couple of weeks now in these reviews I’ve been singing the praises of Duane Bryan for leading to the team to victory last week and for being passionate about his composter bin the week before. This week he continues to provide the entertainment as, when he along with his fellow teammates pick up some free items at a house clearance, he tells of the famous expression to never look a gift horse in the eye.

To explain why Duane won’t be looking in horse’s eyes any time soon, we have to venture back to the opening of the task when Lord Sugar told the teams that this week they would be turning old unwanted items into something that people would want to buy and then sell them on at a retail unit. Duane wanted to be project manager of Team Sterling once again however nobody voted for him, instead choosing self-proclaimed good-looking businesswoman Laura who did in fact have experience of opening her own retail unit….fair enough. Laura’s strategy was to buy as much stock as possible to fill their retail unit on Brick Lane, where both of the teams’ stores were located, to make it look as full as it could be. This saw Laura, Duane and Ricky travel around London trying to get deals including raiding the house clearance and picking up a lot of second-hand stock run by a toothless chap who bore a striking resemblance to Dom Littlewood.

Meanwhile over on Team Phoenix it was young fine wine investor Tom who led the team with his strategy being the complete opposite to Laura’s buy only a few items to give the shop a minimalist feel. He sent off a sceptical Adam, he of the scouring washing-up gloves, along with Stephen and Katie to an auction with only £200 of £1,000 given to the team at the start of the task. Nick Hewer was on great form, and indeed throughout the episode, as he heaped scorn upon this trio as they routed through the skip at the back of the auction house. To me I felt that Nick Hewer was in too many places at once and it almost felt as if they’d hired a few Hewer impersonators this episode so he could get on with taping as many episodes of Countdown as he could.

It was then time to fill the retail units which for Tom’s team didn’t take all that long and he certainly pulled off the minmalist style that he wanted to achieve. Laura meanwhile made a dangerous mistake of putting the overly arty Gabrielle in charge of upcycling all the items that her team had bought throughout the day. Like in week one she went all creative and in the process ordered all manner of upholstery, cushions and even doorknobs for some reason. She also set about painting Union Jacks on the majority of the chairs and kept going on about trying to give the whole thing a shabby chic look. It certainly looked fairly shabby the next day when Team Sterling made the bizarre decision to cover the floor of their retail space with autumnal leaves making it look like they hadn’t bothered to sweep the floor before opening to the public.

One of my favourite parts of the episode had to be the candidates dressing in something appropriate to fit in with the Brick Lane crowd, with Duane suggesting something that didn’t fit and Stephen unsure of what to wear as it’s not somewhere he frequents on a regular basis. Soon business was flowing as Tom’s Retro Station did big business, even before the doors opened, while Laura’s Vintage Gold opened late as she wanted to get the leaves looking just right. Once they did finally open they struggled to drum up business, as a lot of the items were over-priced, nobody really took to the Union Jack designs and Jane’s selling style seemed to be getting in everyone’s face until they finally tired of her. Karren Brady in particular, who seemed to have a vendetta against Jane, picked up on this criticsiing her throughout the remainder of the episode for not selling nearly enough as her teammates. After a while Laura cottoned onto this and sent Jane outside to give out fliers advertising the unit, as well as offering a 10% discount on anything sold. Speaking of selling, by lunch-time most of Tom’s stock had gone and he sent half of the team off to get more stock meanwhile Nick Hewer, who seemed to have softened since hosting an afternoon game show, apologised for prematurely sneering at Tom’s strategies which now seemed to be paying off.

Indeed when the figures came in, Tom’s ideas to buy as little as possible proved to be his saving grace as Team Phoenix won due to the fact they spent less that Team Sterling who did in fact sell more in their store. Again Lord Sugar seemed to be leading Laura into laying blame to Jane, by asking the project manager if she thought everybody had sold as much as they possibly could. Instead Laura thought the failure of the task was due to Gabrielle’s creative nature which had already been pointed out in week one however she did indeed sell a lot more than Jane whose total sales came in at an embarrassing £10. With Karren Brady constantly berating her and Lord Sugar having already given her a second chance I feel that the Irish businesswoman may be fired however Laura didn’t have a clear strategy so the finger may also be pointed her way. But with this series has been so unpredictable so far I have only been able to call the firing once, that was last week with Michael, so Gabrielle could leave on the grounds that Sugar thinks she doesn’t have a business-orientated mindset.

I really don’t think anybody came off looking particularly better than they did when this episode began, sure Tom’s strategy proved to be fruitful but it so easily could have back-fired. This really was a classic Apprentice episode, for me the best of the series so far, as it really came down to which team hadn’t done as bad as the other rather than who had done the best. With Nick Hewer on top form and some quotable moments from the brilliant Duane Bryan this was certainly an episode with candidates that were a lot more shabby than they were chic. And if Laura does indeed go at least she’s learnt the basics of what happens in a shop as she observed, ‘people are walking in, grabbing stuff, paying for it and walking out.’

To find out if Laura does get fired come back to this website after the show has finished.

Did you think this was the best episode so far? Which candidates are standing out as possible finalists? Leave your comments below.