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Thursday, 9 November 2017

The Apprentice takes an uncomfortable trip round Bruges

Cushions have always been a necessity during episode of The Apprentice. A nearby cushion can help shield the eyes during those more cringe inducing moments. This series the cushion has proved more of a must-have than in previous years. The current crop of candidates might be the most inept group ever to grace the boardroom and it's hard to decipher whether that hinders or helps the series as a whole.

This week the remaining candidates had to plan and execute a tour of Bruges. First departing on a cruise ship of over 3000 passengers. For team Vitality, Sarah-Jayne was this week’s project manager. Team Graphene on the other hand were led by the eccentric Elizabeth, who made her role as manager clear immediately. Describing the benefits of her comrades being given ‘small manageable chunks’ to deal with. Implying it would increase the ‘productivity’ of the team.

Team Vitality’s sub team leader Andrew, decided to try and sell his plan and tour of Bruges on getting ‘off your nut’. Graphene instead decided to focus on ‘Segways’, as a funky mode of transportation on the tour. Though this was an interesting choice, Claude was not impressed. Elizabeth took her job as leader of the tour very seriously, her disposition didn't match the cheery yellow baseball cap she and the rest of the team were forced to wear. Barking orders at the team members as well those unlucky enough to sign up for the tour, she embodied a no nonsense headteacher rather than the happy-go-lucky demeanor one might expect from a tour guide.   

Andrew’s continued talk about alcoholism only made him look like a child, and his failure to navigate around Bruges in the first five minutes of the tour even more so. He wasn’t the team’s only problem though, because Charles’ ability to not realise that a hospital is in fact inside a building, meant that the tour walked around the building for twenty minutes and still had no idea how to get in. Charles may be my favourite to win the show, but there was no redeeming this stupidity.

Michaela was the saving grace for Sarah Jayne’s team after negotiating the deal for her team yet again. Elsewhere Elizabeth’s ‘meticulousness’ means that those on her tour failed to have any fun whatsoever. The tour might have got somewhere on time, but her constant reminders to Sajan and the rest of her team about a schedule means they lacked the valuable time to make a profit in the chocolate shop. Meanwhile Andrew criticised Charles whilst downing pints with those on the tour, insinuating he felt the task resembled a pub crawl rather than a tour of an iconic city.

Team Graphene’s extremely short ‘Segway’ section of the tour was not to the liking of Claude or those on the tour, who were sold the tour on the idea of ‘the Segway tour of Bruges’. Last time I checked an alley did not constitute for the entire city of Bruges. Likewise, Team Vitality’s horse and carriage section of the tour was rushed by Charles who asked the driver very loudly to ‘hurry up’, and negotiate a quicker alternative of going back to the beginning in front of those on the tour.

In the boardroom, Lord Sugar criticised Charles for the 3-hour trip around the hospital that should have taken half an hour and the fact that he asked the driver of the horse and carriage to “hurry up and do it in ten minutes”. On the other end of the spectrum, team Graphene’s failure to make a profit from the chocolate shop due to Elizabeth’s leadership was also attacked. Claude mentioned the panned idea of ‘the Segway tour’, and the fact that refunds were requested, but those on Vitality’s tour also requested them. This week Elizabeth’s team are safe, she may be the Stanley Kubrick of the competition, but her team did make a higher profit.

Lord Sugar dubbed Vitality’s tour as ‘boring’, and it became apparent that everyone in the team was to blame for something. Michaela who made the team’s negotiations was even blasted by Lord Sugar because it contributed to Andrew’s spending. Who himself was quick to blame Charles for the failure, but his behaviour is rightfully described as ‘laddish’ and so he was taken back into the boardroom along with Charles. The state of this week’s task meant that anyone could have been fired this week. It was a clear battle in the boardroom between substance and style. Andrew might have tried to bring a ‘friendly’ and informal approach to the task, and Charles might have attempted to manage the tour efficiently to ensure their customers got what they were promised, but neither was good enough for Lord Sugar. Yet neither were fired. Instead project manager Sarah Jayne was the one who was fired, and rightfully so. This week it felt like the shots were called by Andrew and Charles. At times I forgot she was even in charge of the team, but I cannot blame her solely for the failure of the team, for each candidate contributed equally.

Contributed by Callum Bancroft
The Apprentice Continues Wednesday at 9.00pm on BBC One

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