After a rather fishy first task, last night's episode of The Apprentice featured the candidates at their prickliest. This was mainly due to the fact that the task was centred around the promotion and marketing of a cactus based shampoo. The teams were asked to design the bottle, produce a digital billboard before producing an advert and pitching it to a panel of experts.
Whilst he changed the format of the team line-ups slightly in episode one, this shampoo-based task saw a back to basics approach employed as once again it was boys versus girls. Inevitably this led to a lot of passive aggressive squabbling between the girls but oddly a harmonious environment on the boys' team. Just like I did yesterday I'll once again be ranking the candidates from most to least promising based on their performance in this rather complex task.
1. (4) Joseph
There's just something about Joseph that indicates that he's one to watch even if he didn't contribute the most to Team Versatile's winning effort. I just feel that Joseph is a cool customer and somebody who's occasional flashes of brilliance pay dividends even if they did involve asking a male model to stand in his pants. Maybe I'll be proved wrong in future weeks but I've got Joseph pegged as someone who'll make it down to the final few candidates.
2. (10) David
In terms of this task alone I felt that David contributed the most from coming up with the shampoo's name of Western to directing the rather classy looking TV advert. David's general sense of enthusiasm was a joy to watch and he's definitely stepped up as somebody who's got a lot of promise.
3. (2) Richard
Richard may well have been the project manager but the fact that he was trying to distance himself from various aspects of the task suggests to me that he's playing a rather devious game. However most of his fellow candidates were wise to his manipulations and I feel that if they'd lost the task they would've easily turned on him. However, I would say that Richard is one of the biggest characters in this year's process and his David Brent like one-liners mark him out as one of this year's most entertaining participants.
4. (8) Vana
It's always encouraging when Lord Sugar identifies a candidate who shouldn't have been brought into the firing line and that's exactly what he did when Aisha selected Vana to join her in the boardroom. Throughout both tasks, Vana has been someone who isn't afraid to step forward and provide ideas in order to help her team win the tasks. What Vana has to do now is to get people to trust her judgement especially after idea of focusing on the over-fifty market didn't go down too well. But one piece of advice I would give to Vana is to ditch the scarf as it does make her look a bit like a flight attendant.
5. (9) Sam
Sam is a rather intelligent and articulate character who in this task was able to offer up several ideas and provide a classy voice-over for the TV ad. Additionally he marked himself out as an incredibly intelligent young man as he was wise to Richard's games from the get-go.
6. (7) Ruth
I absolutely love Ruth and she's fast becoming my favourite Apprentice candidate in this year's line-up. Ruth's enthusiasm is particularly infectious as is her ability to be a reliable member of every team she's in. This was best demonstrated by her willingness to be the face of the digital billboard after half of the team selected younger models who wouldn't have attracted the over-fifty market. Although the image of Ruth putting her finger to her lips did haunt me throughout the night I still feel that she's a likeable candidate and somebody who it's very easy to warm to.
7. (13) Jenny
After being almost invisible throughout the first task, I saw flashes of what Jenny could do during her time directing the digital billboard. It seemed that Jenny was also able to solve some of the problems that her other team-mates caused her rather than just being purposefully disagreeable.
8. (6) Scott
Whilst I do think Scott has a lot of potential, the fact that he got brain freeze during his pitch to the industry experts does see him tumble down a couple of places in this list.
9. (15) Brett
Brett proved to be a useful cog in his team's wheels this week and proved that his contribution to the failure of task one may have been all but a blip. His direction of the digital billboard advert also brought out a creative side in Brett that wasn't evident in the first episode.
10. (1) Charlene
I'm a little disappointed that my initial choice for this year's winner has slipped so far down in my estimation but it's fair to say that Charlene did spend most of the task sulking. After being overlooked for the project manager role in a task that she felt ideally suited her, Charlene spent most of the episode clashing with both Aisha and Selina. I did feel sorry for Charlene to an extent but her badgering of the poor actors who'd just come to be part of the TV advert made her just seem a little bitter.
11. (10) Gary
After two tasks, Gary has shown me very little and so far he's this year's invisible man.
12. (3) Selina
The thing about The Apprentice is that you can be flying high one week and then come crashing down the next which is just what happened to task one's winning project manager Selina. This task saw Selina at her worst as she seemingly got genuinely frustrated with Charlene's attitude to Aisha's leadership role. Selina's work on the TV advert also left a lot to be desired and I found her attitude to be a lot less positive than it was in week one.
13. (17) Mergim
Even though Mergim still has little in the way of positive attributes, the fact that he didn't talk absolute rubbish in the boardroom has meant he's climbed a few places in this chart. Even though Mergim hasn't got a cat in hell's chance of winning the process, he at least provides two or three entertaining moments per episode and therefore I don't mind keeping him around for a few more weeks.
14. (5) Natalie
The promise that I saw in Natalie during the first task sort of evaporated here as her pitch to the industry experts was painful to view. The fact that she completely distanced herself from the admittedly awful Desert Secret shampoo only made it seem that she was trying to escape a firing by selling her project manager down the river. Though this process worked, it made me see Natalie in a new light and also saw a tongue-lashing from Lord Sugar.
15. (16) April
After a disastrous first task as project manager, April hid in the background for the most part this week and it was a tactic that paid off. However the fact that she did very little made me suspect that she's going to play things safe for the time being after finding herself closed to being fired after task one.
16. (12) Elle
There's something about Elle that's very off-putting and her attitude in this task was entirely wrong. Although she rightly pointed out Aisha's mistakes, she offered very little in the way of ideas and instead decided that putting her fellow candidates down was the way to go. The fact that Elle has been in the losing team twice now and is yet to face the firing line suggests to me that she's playing a clever game. But at the same time I don't think it'll be long until Lord Sugar sees that Elle is a background player and may install her as Project Manager to see if she sinks or swims.
I do honestly think that Aisha should have learnt from April's mistakes the week before and actually listened to her team. However, when she learnt that Charlene wanted the Project Manager's role it seemed that Aisha wanted to prove that she was the right woman for the job by completely ignoring any of her team's advice. At the same time Aisha at least tried to come up with some ideas even if most of them made very little sense. Whilst I agree with Lord Sugar's decision to fire Aisha I do feel that if she'd brought someone other than Vana into the boardroom things may have gone differently.
I still don't think as if Claude's grasped the purpose of his job and I don't find his small interviews to camera to be particularly entertaining. However it was evident that he was at least trying to perfect the peculiar facial expressions that made Nick Hewer such a joy to watch.
Meanwhile Baroness Brady has proved that she's pulling no punches this series and rightfully pulled Richard up on the way he operated during the task.
Task Three sees the candidates jet off to France as they attempt to hunt down a number of items at the right price. But who'll be the creme de la creme of the task and who'll never be Seine again?