The Apprentice Week 4


Four weeks in and no major hate figure has yet revealed itself although there are several contenders for most irritating- Jenna, Adam and Steve thus far- and this weeks task involving the buying and selling of second hand, vintage or retro goods promised to be one of the most challenging tasks so far. The whole second hand/ vintage/ retro/ charity shop experience has recently undergone a makeover thanks to the intervention and-many feel-unnecessary interference by that other belligerent TV bully, Mary Portas; she of the metallic tangerine helmet, fashion victim attire and brusque manner which competes with Sugar on the downright rude scale. Under her tutelage all the fun and mystery and likelihood of stumbling on an unexpected bargain have gone and been replaced by overpricing and an eye on the middle classes, apparently currently depleted, incomes.

It was also quite an appropriate task for a programme which seems to have run out of steam and is recycling old ideas as well as its host’s decidedly vintage stand up routine. Apparently the main change in the format over the last two years has been that the winner no longer gets a job but instead is the recipient of £250,000 and going into business with professional curmudgeon Alan Sugar as his partner whilst assisting him in increasing his already multi-million pound fortune. I am not sure how the partnership works, or ever really can though, if one of the partners insists on being called the ridiculous name Lord Sugar in some constant form of deference.

This week the teams were shaken up a little more and Phoenix were led extremely well by Tom, who previously has just worked away in the background with minimum fuss and little bragging. He led his team with a firm hand, a conscientious eye and a clear vision whilst all the team retaining his cool. The coolest thing on display last night however were, stand up comic Sugar’s straight man sidekick,  Nick Hewer’s vintage shades. Hewer initially thought Tom’s strategy of a minimalist approach was a mistake but as his vision began to emerge in the shape of a sleek and stylish outlet which rapidly started to sell out of its stock he admitted his initial misgivings were mistaken.

Team Sterling was led by the irritating Laura who seemed to be languishing in Samantha Brick delusional territory informing us how attractive and efficient she was. You can always tell when a team is on a losing streak at the beginning of each programme, however, as the footage generally includes a particularly arrogant statement of intent by at least one team member. So step forward Duane and Nick who were this week’s culprits-alongside Laura who in the boardroom who in a non-ironic moment of self loving branded herself the most efficient member of her team- and in the process virtually guaranteed their teams loss from the outset. Actually the loss was more down to her strategy of buying any old junk, trying to tart it up and then, for some inexplicable reason, throwing dead leaves around the floor in some effort of style. The result was a mish-mash of ideas with substandard products on sale and little camaraderie in the ranks.

Needless to say team Phoenix had a clear win and deservedly so and it was time for Laura to reveal her rottweiler in lipstick side and this she did with little provocation and swift removal of her muzzle. Taking the pushy Jane and scapegoat Gabrielle into the boardroom another bitchfest ensued. The women in this series of the programme really are proving themselves to be a complete set of bitches who seem to only view their gender counterparts as competition not realsising this has weakened their position and left their ranks sadly depleted. There is little or no female solidarity-not that it is important in business- but instead a set of minor grudges and resentments which build into huge unnecessary and undignified outbursts. The human foghorn Jenna has yet to make her appearance in the boardroom and this is one encounter I am actually looking forward to as her adenoidal twang gets more and more irritating by the week so it would be interesting to hear what she has to say rather than just how she blares it out damaging eardrums and misguiding lost ships in the process.

In the end the overly pushy and desperate sales technique-combined with pitiful sales-deployed by Jane earned her the heave-ho while Laura somehow survived despite grave mismanagement of her team. There has yet to be a gargantuan flare up in the boardroom as, so far, it has just been bitching and petty jealousies rather than out and out warfare. Hopefully some balance can be redressed next week as surely there can’t be too many bitches left in the process, unless you count the ones of the male persuasion of course. Now there is something to look forward to.

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