Luke Owen on last night’s episode of The Apprentice 2012…
We’re a quarter of a way through the series and so far we’ve learned that shouting gets you nowhere, bullying punters gets you nowhere and people will buy any old tat so long as it has a Union Jack on it. But by the end of this episode, only 2 of those remained true.
This week’s task saw our ‘top business minds’ buy old unwanted junk and then sell it on for a profit in a shop on Brick Lane like a group of Del Boys in suits. The teams were given the morning off (Maria would have loved it) to play ping pong and sit around waiting for the phone to ring, but were then told to meet Lord Sugar and his aides at a converted cinema, which is now a junk shop. The Team shake-up continued from last week as Wrestler Ricky Martin joined Team Sterling, while Laura moved over to Team Phoenix That May Or May Not Rise From Last Week’s Ashes of Defeat.
It’s often been said that stepping forward to be Project Manager is a sign of natural-born leadership and braveness. However, I think Duane stepping up for the task 2 weeks in a row is trying too hard. But his arrogance was shot down as new girl Laura was given the mantle of Project Manager after no one voted for him to lead. Laura, while incredibly modest, has certainly had a hard time in business as she told the camera, ‘being an attractive businesswoman has its ups and downs’. Us little people really will never understand the trials and tribulations the beautiful have to go through.
On the other team, the role went to Tom. Who’s Tom you say? I know, I asked myself the same question. Tom has been sitting in the background unnoticed for 3 weeks so it was about time he stepped out of the dark to show off that silly private school smug face of his.
The Project Managers, like every week on The Apprentice, had different tactics for winning this task. For Laura’s team it was buy, buy, buy for cheap, cheap, cheap and then “up-cycle” them. What does “up-cycle” mean I hear you ask? I don’t quite know to be truthful. From what I can gather, the team was going for ‘shabby-chic’ which means you make things look worse than they currently do but then put new stuff on them to make them look a little better. I think. What I do know is that Gabrielle was put in charge of the ‘creative’ side, which I believe was taken from the Boardroom Defence Book under the, “when this goes wrong I can blame you” chapter (a smart move that a few others jumped on board with too). When Wrestler Ricky Martin spied her “Union Jack” designs on the chairs they’d bought he declared that ‘no one would buy anything with a Union Jack on it’ – unless it’s on a little teddy bear eh Ricky? Just sell it to tourists – they love that kind of thing.
Tom’s tactics appeared to be to not spend anything but come away with something. With a budget of £1000 Tom sent his buying team out with just 200 quid, which meant they couldn’t afford things at the auction and had to resort to rummaging through the bins for things to sell like East End Wombles. But when you think about it, this is a pretty sound tactic. Tom wasn’t just buying any old tat; he was picking things that other people might actually buy. This rather sensible tactic did get some odd lemon sucking looks from Nick who I imagine was just surprised to see an Apprentice candidate use common sense.
On the day of selling, Team Tom got off to a great start because they’d prepped everything the night before and were ready to sell with a minimalist look (big empty room, one chair in the middle). The only downside was that when you sell a few things from a minimalist shop, it starts to look pretty empty pretty quick. Jane’s team however didn’t seem to get out of first gear as they were still sorting out the store when they were meant to be selling. Because they had bought so much gear, the shop looked like a completely unorganised mess of random tat and junk. And what do you do when your shop looks like an utter mess? Well if you’re Gabrielle you spread dead leaves around on the floor because it looks “arty”. People who walk down Brick Lane love that kind of thing. When they did eventually start shifting their gear, they couldn’t give it away. Turns out Wrestler Ricky Martin was right – no one wanted to buy their tacky crap with rubbish Union Jacks painted on them.
As the day came to a close, both teams subscribed to the methodology of ‘if at first you don’t succeed, shout in the persons face until they buy something’. My favourite moment came from when Jade tried to negotiate 25p more from a punter and ended up losing – showing that the general public has a better grip of this show than the morons on it.
Back in the Board Room, everyone was praising each other, although fingers were pointed at Gabrielle for spending too much on materials for the “up-cycling”. In a fairly unsurprising turn of events, Team Tom came in the winners with the risky ‘don’t spend much and sell for a lot’ tactic. Shocking I know. The most surprising news from all this however is that 3-time loser Katie was finally on the wining team (hold the front pages). As a prize they got to go Swing Dancing which they all seemed to enjoy. Having previously praised him for his work, Katie threw a little knife in Tom’s back by claiming that he wasn’t a very good project manager – which is a little rich coming from her if you ask me.
After a brief and rather uninteresting trip to the Loser Cafe, all fingers of blame were once again being pointed at Gabrielle for over-spending on materials despite not being given a budget to work with. But it was Lord Sugar that pointed Laura in the direction of Jane who only sold a measly £10 worth of tat to share some of the blame with. So with that, Laura brought in Gabrielle and Jane, making it two appearances in the final three for them in 4 weeks. What followed was more shouting that I didn’t really follow or understand, but the basic gist I got was that Lord Sugar didn’t see any business acumen in Jane over the 4 weeks ,so he gave her the heave ho into the taxi ride of shame.
I am glad really. Jane had a pretty weak second task (where she should have been fired) and then did nothing but piss and moan in week 3 on a task that she should have excelled in. If Lord Sugar and his aides are to be believed, her CV showed that she should have been one of the strongest candidates – so where did it all go wrong? Laura made a lucky escape this week because she blew this task. She didn’t lead well, she planned poorly and she couldn’t find someone to blame that really deserved the blame. She focused a lot of her annoyance on Gabrielle but to be fair, she didn’t really do anything wrong – she just did what she was told.
Tom really proved himself this week. I didn’t want to like him because he has spent so long lurking in the shadows, but he was a very good and strong Project Manager and his tactics paid off. I’m starting to lose interest in Northern Adam though. While he can occasionally say funny things, he does a lot of criticising for a man who never steps forward to be Project Manager. Lord Sugar will eat him alive when he gets into that Board Room.
If you’re a member of the Twitterverse, I tend to tweet my thoughts throughout the show – you can follow me @CGLuke_O
Next week: A new fitness regime. Which should make it the Wrestler Ricky Martin show.
Apprentice Advice: Buy low, sell high. Worked for Tom.
Quote of the Week: “Brick Lane, home to the young trendy with the gelled hair.” – Nick Hewett sums up the hipster idiots that live on Brick Lane in an almost Jerry Lewis style sentence.
Top Tweet of the Show: I’ve seen this one before. One of them finds a pocket watch in his garage, auctions it and they become millionaires – #bbcapprentice – @fletcherchriss
Luke Owen is a freelance copywriter working for Europe’s biggest golf holiday provider as their web content executive.