No double helping this week, it was back to the normal Wednesday run. But the frisson of excitement came from the first mix of the teams. The boys – twice the losing team – must have thought this was a great opportunity. Gavin certainly did, putting himself forward for, and winning the role of team of captain. Vince looked disappointed, but that’s the equivalent of a motorway services sign with flashing lights: ‘I’ll show them who the real boss is in this task.’
On the other team, young Susan quickly took the reins and showed some pretty decent organisational skills. Her team management and strategic tour de force was to come just a little later on the creation of the sub-team. With a couple of staccato clicks of the tongue, her nemesis from last week – Edna – was despatched like a rocket into collection mode with the sub-team. Like Susan, we didn’t see much of Edna later, or her gloves and we all escaped nightmares once the show was over.
The task involved buying some special items for the soon-to-be-opened refurbished Savoy hotel in London. This, we were reminded, was London’s first ever luxury hotel. All items were to be purchased at the best possible price. Some items caused consternation to the bitter end where the teams failed to work out exactly what they were, e.g. a cloche. The comic element came from the non-debate over pronunciation of said item, for Apprentices don’t debate they simply talk over one another with great authority, correcting as they go, or so they think. One man’s ‘closh’ is another woman’s ‘closhay’. And there is simply never time to stop the vehicle and pop into a local library to consult an Oxford English Dictionary.
When it came to negotiation, Jim turned on his Irish charm like a frothy leak from the Guinness brewery plant to purchase some fillet steaks at a very good price and the potential for much repeat business. A top hat was another matter altogether. Walking the pavements of St James’s and Mayfair, Ellie was astounded that no establishment would offer a discount. None at all. And when a discount was finally achieved, it was one penny on a hat of £350. But the other team had greater difficulty finding the item. As they travelled, in the peripheral vision of Gavin’s eye appeared one Top Hat Dry-cleaner outlet. Could one be found there? Er, no. It was all in the name and not the substance or product.
But the top highlight for me came in the form of the camomile tea. In Covent Garden, the road-runner that was Tom Pellereau bought a rather expensive-sounding boxed lot. This was nothing compared to Susan’s team visit to the Rare Tea Company. Here – outside a pub, by the looks of it – the proprietor’s starting bid in negotiation came in at around £900. The bartering finally replaced shock, but at one point the proprietor just stood there, arms across body, waiting for the team to meet her demands. It was body language that said ‘I am in control here.’ And when she didn’t have her across her torso she was sipping tea from a cup. The final price said it all.
Where Gavin’s team leadership had all the consistency of a pancake made three hours ago and stored in a steamy kitchen, his boardroom defence only applied another layer of the same. Vince was up for a fight against Goliath but found the Goliath in Lord Sacch and not aged pancake man. Zoë, the third in the boardroom, was there because her role as super-PA to the grafters hadn’t cut it. And so thought Lord Sacch too, so her card is marked for any future appearance(s).
It’s hard to chop an aged pancake, you have to peel it off whatever surface it landed on. Let’s just say that Gavin was duly peeled off and dropped into the green-friendly recycle bin that is ‘You’re Fired’.
With a trailer indicating that Zoë has got the message – she was seen telling someone they’ve made their bed so should lie in it – next week’s Apprentice is all about the beauty industry. It’s a hands-on exercise by the looks of it. Even hands on feet. Will the star be anti-bacterial gel? Will Vince work out that what he perceives as his woman-magnet qualities actually have women in repel mode? We will have to wait to find out…