Go for the close

The Apprentice part three


[SPOILER ALERT! Read no further if you do not wish to find out who was fired!]

Well, though this was the least interesting task of the series so far – buy ten items; winning team comes back with the most change from a thousand pounds – it was no less compelling in terms of human drama. It was Jo’s show. Although Syed was project manager for the boys’ team, he made little impact, dramatically, beyond haggling for a lobster at zero hour by lying. Indeed, Invicta did little of any interest except win, by eight quid. The spotlight belonged to Velocity, and the inevitable power struggle between Jo and Everybody Who Isn’t Jo. She quickly nominated herself as team leader, despite an early challenge from belligerent Brummie Ruth (“What skills have you got?”) It was as if the other five wanted her to hang herself. She kept the tears under control, but not her mouth, or her isolationist tendencies (always good in a team leader).

Most of the boardroom bullshit (remember – Sir Alan doesn’t like bullshitters) came from the boys: “go for the close”, “role-playing” etc. But there was no tension to entertain us. Having spent two and half hours planning what to do, which seemed like a waste of time, the girls split into two teams of three and Karen and “soft-mannered” Alexa were unlucky enough to end up in Jo’s people carrier. That was their downfall. While the other three went off and procured seven out of the ten items – for which they were rewarded by the project manager with the task of getting the tyre (good delegation) – Jo proved herself useless yet again, taking them on a wild goose chase to Camden for a dinner jacket, and “brooding” in the back of the car when not consulted by mobile. (Always on speaker phone, the sight of women yelling into an open mobile as if using a compact will be the enduring image of this series. “I’m not having it,” huffed Jo. Oh yes she was.)

In the boardroom, it quickly emerged that that the poorest negotiators had won, and were packed off to a symbolic race meeting at Sandown Park for champagne and chest-beating. Jo dragged her loyal captains Karen and Alexa in to the final showdown with her and the nicest lady lost. Alexa, accused of being a bit girlish by woman-hating Sir Alan, spoke up (“I don’t think I’m amateurish”) and saved her own pink-cheeked skin. Karen kept her counsel (well, she is a lawyer) and was fired. The first unfair sacking of the series.

Of course we all hate Jo now more than we ever hated Saira. And that, like an idiot chef who can’t tell pork from a scallop on Kitchen Nightmares is TV gold. “I was like a Rottweiler,” she said, at one point, picking far too sympathetic an animal. Sir Alan called her “a bloody nutter” but in an almost affectionate way. She loved that. She is the kind of person that says, “I’m mad, I am.” She is having it after all. I love this programme more than any other. It proves that Milton Friedman has even more to answer for than we thought.

I’m working on a longer, more detailed review, which will appear on Off The Telly, where reviews of each episode are promised each week.


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