The Apprentice: Lord Sugar searches for his diamond

The Apprentice

The obligatory high angle shots of London rolled onto our screen as we welcomed back one of the most entertaining ‘business’ programmes to date. The dramatic opening swiftly introduced the 18 eager, and some slightly arrogant, individuals of which make up this year’s candidates.

The amount of claims the candidates make at the beginning – some more ridiculous than others, do exceed the point of confidence. It’s humorous as a viewer to hear their claims of winning and being better than the rest, then to watch them unroll, facing pressure in tasks and consequences for their silly mistakes shown as the process progresses. But, it is an inevitable trend we see every year – false promises and massive egos.

As Lord Sugar finished his ‘pep talk’ on striving to succeed to prove the candidates business acumen and that “the process is not personal, it’s business”, he individually discussed some of the statements on each of the candidates’ CV.

There was one candidate that stood out – and not in a particularly positive way. I couldn’t help compare digital marketer and clothes brand owner, Jessica, to an excited little puppy as a juxtaposition to the content other candidates that stood in her company. Her excitement was to the extent that Karen advised her to “take a breath”, and from this moment, I knew I was going to find Jessica to be very annoying for the rest of this process.

So, the task – to sell antiques to traders, as well as selling to the general public. The mix of valuable items meant that the candidates had to figure out the more valuable items from the not to impressive ones – with the help of an expert if needed.

After deliberation between the teams, Titans and Nebula were born – Paul being project manager for Titans and Michelle for Nebula.

When viewing the discussions the teams were having, there was quite a distinct difference between the genders this year. All round, the boys seemed quite focused and set their priorities stern whereas, the girls this year appear quite ditsy and not so strong.

The girls sold their stock quickly but at low prices, with some ridiculous deals being offered. The worst part is, they believed they were doing well!

Both teams were looking to sell a quirky, vintage looking chair, as we see the boys receive value for it being £300, the following shot shows Frances happily flogging it off to a customer for £17.50 – what a loss of opportunity! Her commentary reflects how impressed she was with herself, even after negotiation from £20.

As the task continued, the boys clearly had good structure with promising sales. Selling a vase for £175 which we later found out in the boardroom was valued at £7 was an impressive sale and one of which was bound to mark impressively in Lord Sugar’s analysis of candidates.

Claude reported that the girls spent maybe too long on research with the experts in which consequently left them with less time to sell. Even though being advised that Portabello provided great opportunity in the heart of antique selling, did they locate there? No, they decided to go to Camden instead to “save time”. Unfortunately for the girls, they did end up losing a lot of time due to a lack of communication to the driver who had their valuable goods.

Not all was good for the boys though. They narrowly miss a good sale due to simple questioning of asking a trader if they had the authority to make a deal and the money to hand over on the day. Missed opportunity through a simple mistake – time wasted!

However, the boys were selling their goods in the advised Portabello market, which clearly proved to pay off as their goods were being flogged left, right and centre. It was clear that the boys were prioritising the sales to customers rather than the traders and the girls were slightly in opposing contrast.

The amount of times Michelle claimed to have been strong in management was humorous when compared with the way she ‘managed’ her team. However, she is not the first to make such comment, as expertise in management claims are what countless numbers of candidates make and fail to carry out.

As 6pm approached, trading concluded and even though it was a tough one to call, the Titans slightly gave off a winning impression.

As expected, the Titans were victorious and celebrated with dance lessons as the girls took the essential visit to the well-known run-down café to discuss the failures of the task.

Once revisiting the boardroom, it’s clear that Michelle was much in fault for the failure of the task and receives a gruelling from not just Lord Sugar, but also many of her team members who begin to arise concerns of her strategy in regards to pricing and control. Slightly unfair on Michelle, as they didn’t mention many concerns as much during the task, which could have made a difference to their outcome.

Michelle brings Alana and Rebecca back to the boardroom of which Rebecca profoundly objects to being part of the failure of the task, even though she held back from selling and sold £25 worth of goods.

Although desperation in Rebecca’s remarks were maybe off putting for Lord Sugar, she narrowly missed a firing as Lord Sugar pointed the dreaded finger at Michelle.

17 candidates remain, but who will be the next to go?