Neither team covered themselves in glory in an episode full of chaos, bad strategy and thoughtlessness, says Alastair Campbell, founder of Company Check
Photo credit: Boundless
This week's episode of The Apprentice featured the negotiation task. It's a firm favourite of Lord Sugar's; if you don't do well he remembers it for the rest of the series to the extent that it is occasionally used later on when he has a close call on a firing decision.
The boy and girls were put back together after Lord Sugar decided to mix it up last week. The teams were split between Dover and Calais and given a list of items to buy for as little money as possible and told to work out in which country they thought they could be sourced cheapest. As always, the candidates were super, amazingly, fantastically excited by the idea of an overnight stay. Do they not go on holiday?
Vana got the project manager vote for the girls ahead of Elle, who was given the sub-team leader role: Vana presumably hoped Elle could take the fall if all went awry. While a quick win on finding champagne glasses was down to luck – somebody staying at the girls' hotel in France happened to sell them – and a fair degree of flirting, this was negated by buying the wrong cheese.
Meanwhile, Joseph took the project manager role for the boys. They got off to a shaky start in France, first struggling to find a mirror and then only getting 30 cents off the price of the cheese following some poor negotiation from last week's winning project manager Richard. Worse, it transpired the boys didn’t know that the French close for lunch for up to two hours. This could have proven a very expensive lack of knowledge. Fortunately the UK team managed to find some free manure in a farmer’s field and made the right call securing the inflatable boat from a toy shop, unlike the girls who ended up paying £250 for theirs at a specialist store.
With one hour to go both teams needed at least one item. Chaos, bad strategy and a lack of thoughtfulness seemed to have been the order of the day and no matter which team lost, it looked likely the project manager would be fired.
The girls spent £398.44 but ended up with a whopping total of £725.90 after penalties because they bought the wrong cheese, missed buying a mirror and couldn’t find any mussels despite being on the French coast. The boys only spent £336.83, taking their total with penalties to £409.21.
At this stage, Vana looked very likely to go. She was domineering and the editing certainly made her look like she was running the team with no plan. There also seemed to be quite a difference between actual events and her perception of them. In the boardroom, she willingly took the blame for a number of failures and brought back Jenny, who didn't make a single sale, and sub-team leader Elle. In the end, Lord Sugar fired Jenny but made it clear to Vana that she'd had a lucky escape. Elle, on the other hand, was saved by her impressive boardroom performance.
But when it all boiled down to it, Jenny didn’t buy anything or, in her words, didn’t take the manure.