When watching The Apprentice it’s easy to forget these are real people who outside of Sugar’s boardrooms run their own businesses and have successes all of their own. This series in particular the candidates have proved themselves so inept it’s often hard to believe they managed to fill in the application form for the series. Perhaps that’s harsh as the whole point of the series is put the candidates into the worlds they aren’t familiar with and test their business savvy, but often it’s common sense that’s lacking.
We’re one week away from the interviews: a highlight of any series of the show and the remaining seven had to act as fashion agents, convincing a fashion magazine to take on a designer’s line of their choice. Vitality this week were given the women’s fashion and Graphene were given men’s. Jade finally got her opportunity to be project manager for Team Vitality. For many she is the favourite to win the competition, but it was evident from the start that nerves were getting the best of her.
Joanna led Graphene this week, but after her miserable performance last week she had a lot to live up to, to remain in the competition. Though I must admit it was interesting to see the subteam of Elizabeth and Michaela swoon over the male models instead of work, I would have thought that at this stage in the competition they would be taking the task a little more seriously. Jade decided that Vitality would pick a gothic style designer to market towards a fashion magazine, which was a ‘gamble’ as Harrison dubbed it due to the dresses extortionate prices; achieving only a 10% commission.
In contrast Graphene chose a more affordable line of clothing, and managed not only to get a 10% discount, but also a 17% commission. There’s some business savvy for you I suppose. To match the prices of Vitality’s dresses, they had to sell a lot of product. Yet it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the team, as a clear line emerged between James and Michaela over the front cover of the magazine; of which he was going to appear on.
Vitality may have picked the designer of the year for their line of clothing, but on the cover, it looked a lot more ‘Ziggy Stardust’ than Gothic. To make matters worse Harrison and Sarah decided to just blag the clothing as ‘light years ahead’, this inconsistency could have spelt the end of the task if Jade wasn’t so agreeable. It was great to see this week that Elizabeth had taken onboard Lord Sugar’s criticism and took a step back from the task, and for the first time in the competition I feel that Team Graphene worked effectively as a team.
At the pitch Jade’s mistake to inform Harrison and Sarah that the designer’s name wasn’t the name of the brand came back to bite when the editors were left befuddled by the lack of information. Graphene were not exempt from fire though, after their pitch failed to excite. Maybe James’ curtains didn’t open the eyes of the magazine editors? Personally, I think Joanna’s ridiculous posing of the models and dull colours is sufficient evidence of why she shouldn’t be in the competition. She is a fish out of water, and a very aggressive fish at that.
Elizabeth’s Stanley Kubrick persona returned, as she and Joanna bickered over who would direct that catwalk. Honestly thought the worst part of the catwalk was James’ modelling, which was made even more hilarious by the facial expressions of Claude, who looked embarrassed to even be there let alone watch it. Karen was also in dismay at Vitality’s catwalk which was way ‘out’ of touch with reality. Unfortunately, Jade’s speech about ‘walking on mars’ was just as cringeworthy as James’ ridiculous excuse more modelling.
At the boardroom Jade defended her choice of expensive and ‘out there’ dresses, but their cover was slated by both Karen and Lord Sugar who were not happy with the name kerfuffle. Despite this every member of the Team Vitality said they felt they worked well together. Team Graphene fell apart however almost as soon as they were questioned by Lord Sugar. Michaela especially did not like the comment about being ‘aggressive’ during the task. Yet they still won the task. I must say I felt sorry for team Vitality, but Jade was punching above her weight choosing to go for an expensive Avant Garde style.
Both Harrison and Sarah immediately attacked project manager Jade, who tried to defend their effort till the end, but she was blamed by both for the failure of the task. Though I agreed to an extent, Harrison contributed nothing to the task except for pick the models, and as Karen said, ‘didn’t sell anything’. Jade on the other hand fought off every criticism by blaming Jade, explaining how she ‘was the leader of the task’. It was a disappointment for definite this week, a team that at first was a formidable foe, broke down into a no holds barred dogfight. Not surprisingly there was double firing this week. Both Harrison and Jade left the competition. This was a shock for sure, Jade had stayed in the shadows of her fellow candidates and always seemed to do the right thing, but this week when her leadership was tested, it wasn’t enough.
Episode 9: The toe curling Cooking presentation.
Last week’s triple firing was a necessity. It cleared some of the deadwood from the process, but as this week’s ‘toe curling’ task proved, there’s still plenty more left to clear.
The task, to invent their own recipe kit seemed straightforward enough, but infighting and a cringe inducing pitch to Sugar’s industry experts made this one of the best/worst episodes of the run.
Team Vitality was led by Harrison who had yet to prove himself as a leader, despite challenge any of the candidates about anything in previous weeks. Whereas Sarah lead the well-balanced Graphene.
Harrison took a powerful lead deciding to focus on his forte of healthy food with Sarah opting for a more gourmet approach. Harrison didn’t organise his team efficiently, switching Michaela to and from the branding team. Who’s sharp and strong attitude reworked his ‘healthy’ meal into a chicken curry.
Sarah and Bushra’s name construction also faced some hurdles, with Bushra questioning the symbolism of ‘Gourmet Crusaders’. Honestly, I think if you’re debating a name that sounds like an eight-year-old came up with it, you shouldn’t even be in the competition. On the other team Joanna and Jade struggled to agree.
In the kitchen, James and Elizabeth expectedly clashed. Elizabeth’s control freak tendencies are becoming tiresome as every week her need to take charge threatens to derail whatever her team is trying to achieve.
Elsewhere I feel that Jade was let down this week by Joanna and the rest of her team. Furthermore, Michaela’s jab: ‘I will not lose this task because of you!’ was completely uncalled for. In my opinion the only person in the team who actually did anything professionally was Jade.
At the pitch it’s fair to say that both teams looked ridiculous in their costumes. Joanna miraculously decided to point out that there were no peas in the chicken curry recipe despite the fact she was dressed as one and Vitality’s ‘one step chicken’ was questioned. On the contrary the ‘Gourmet Crusaders’ failed to achieve more than a smile with their musical theatre style pitch. In all honesty I think I’ve cringed less watching ‘High School Musical’.
In the boardroom Harrison’s leadership was immediately questioned, and his swaying by Michaela which was accompanied by Lord Sugar asking: ‘did she let you lick the spoon if you were good?’ Joanna attacked Jade the first opportunity she got, but was rightfully shutdown by Karen. Joanna was the weak link for Vitality this week for definite, her effort was as Lord Sugar puts it ‘a bloody shambles’. On the other end of the spectrum, Elizabeth of all people stuck up for James, explaining how he noticed she was better equipped for the cooking side of the task. It might sound a little arrogant, but I must say I’m slowly starting to like her. However, this didn’t save them from losing this week by all but two votes. Genuinely I thought Joanna was going to go this week, she contributed nothing as far as I could see, and I am sure her time is numbered.
The grilling of Elizabeth from Bushra arrived out of nowhere. Especially from someone who made a joke about Donald Trump that no one, even herself got. It was clearly a difficult choice for Sarah to bring back Elizabeth and Bushra. Once again it felt like Lord Sugar could fire any of the three, I may be a new fan of Elizabeth, but even she wasn’t exempt from the blame. The pitch was awful, and it was clear that the reason James wasn’t there in the boardroom, was because he didn’t particularly contribute much.
Rightfully Bushra was the one who left the competition, her bitter attitude towards the candidates and the competition set her out as a problem from the start of the episode. However, I am still unsure of who could win the competition, but with the end drawing near Lord Sugar’s patience is wearing thin, and so will the number of candidates.
Contributed by Callum Bancroft
The Apprentice Continues Wednesday at 9.00pm on BBC One