The Apprentice blog: Episode Seven

‘Buy as much tan as you can’

No, it’s not the Essex motto – not officially anyway – but the order that Nick gave to Ricky and Stephen during the latest episode of The Apprentice.

©BBC/Talkback Thames; Image credit: BBC/Talkback Thames

For such rhyming mantras were in plentiful supply this week, owing to the fact that it was Lord Sugar’s beloved ‘smelling what’s selling’ task. He gives the teams £150 to spend on a range of goods to sell in dear old Essex, with the idea being that they use the profits to restock their best selling products.

Nick was the team leader for Sterling, whilst Jade took charge of Phoenix. ‘I’m a born leader’, Jade boasted, without a hint of irony, after becoming the last candidate to take up the position.

With such inspiring words still ringing in the ears of her team mates, Jade proceeded to aimlessly wander around the wholesale warehouse picking products at random. Having said that, she did end up picking largely similar products to Nick’s far more organised team. With the task taking place in Essex, both teams inevitably chose fake tan, fake nails and fake eyelashes for some of their products– all part of what Lord Sugar termed the ‘Essex Kit’.

Nick’s team remained well organised throughout. True to form, the people of Essex were buying fake tan like it was going out of fashion – one can only hope. Nick sent Del Boy and Rodney, aka Ricky and Stephen (though which one is more of a plonker is hard to tell) to get more supplies. Amongst the sales of their fake tan, Sterling were also able to sell some extendable blue mops, which were presumably being bought by the same people in order to give their tan that authentic teak finish.

Jade’s leadership remained chaotic. Despite similarly high sales of fake tan, as well as some small insect toys, she failed to back any products in particular. ‘Remember: whoever smelt it, dealt it’ Karen Brady warned looking on – or something like that. Azhar was troubled by Jade’s lack of guidance, but could do little more than phone her at regular intervals and confusingly ramble about ‘strategy’. Sadly for Azhar, nothing rhymes with strategy, so no-one wanted to listen to him repeat it endlessly.

In the Boardroom the next day, Lord Sugar was eager to see what the candidates had learned. “It replicates how I started in business”, he told them. He’s a self-made man, you know – but he’s not one to go on about it.

For the second week in a row, the result came as little surprise. Nick and Team Sterling had triumphed over Team Phoenix with sales of £955 to £838.

‘You see’ Lord Sugar preached, ‘it’s easy, anyone can do it’. I mean, sure this doesn’t take into account the wages that the five workers on each team would need, the cost of the transport or the costs for the sites in Romford – not to mention the fact that the BBC had wrangled prime locations for the teams in one of the south’s busiest shopping centres –but apart from that, yeah, easy.

Far less easy was Jade’s decision about who to bring back to the Final Boardroom, though she eventually decided upon Tom and Azhar. But she soon regretted bringing back Tom, one of the more likeable and credible candidates, as he hadn’t really done anything wrong. Sugar agreed, and guaranteed Tom’s place next week.

‘Why should I not terminate your existence?’ Lord Sugar asked Azhar, reaching for all the wrong words, coming across a little bit evil in process. Azhar mentioned strategy at least five more times, surely ending the episode on double figures.

With neither candidate offering anything particularly convincing or intelligible, his Lordship was left with a tough decision. But, after some dramatic pauses, he decided that Jade simply wanted it more. So in a week in which Lord Sugar extolled the virtues of following your nose, he ended up following his heart, which saw Azhar become the seventh candidate to leave the competition.

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