The Apprentice Week 4
[SPOILER ALERT! Read no further if you’re watching the repeat or you’ve taped it. I got back from a restaurant at 11.25, but had to watch it before bedtime. It’s too important not to.]
Oh how we laughed every time the voiceover mentioned Mani’s “crepe idea”! It was the inevitable catering task: with Velocity headed by a boy (the oleaginous Mani, whose flipchart-Tourette’s went into overdrive with talk of “a divergent phase” moving into “a convergent phase”) and Invicta headed by a girl (dead candidate walking Alexa, whose rosy cheeks only got rosier as the task engulfed her miniscule talents), the hapless fools were dispatched to the edge of the Thames to create a food stall in a marquee. Most nosh shifted: the winner. Both teams seemed unhappy with their gender-swapped project manager, the boys for ingrained sexist reasons, the girls because Mani was a goon from the off, with his brainstorming (otherwise known as shouting stuff out and writing it in a spiral-bound jotter). Invicta went for pizza as their “theme”, with Syed responsible for fucking the whole thing up, despite having managed restaurants, or so his CV says. Having failed to note when the wholesalers opened and closed, he was reduced to leaving a message with his order and thus landed the team with 100 large chickens – this meant one chicken per traditional Italian “chicken pizza”. They seemed to have over-ordered the mince too, as the “mince pizza” looked heavy and overloaded too. (Anyone who has eaten pizza in Italy will know that it comes with tomato, oil and, if they’re feeling really crazy, mushrooms.)
Apart from the appalling waste of food (we inevitably saw the boys scraping whole cooked chickens into a bin in the middle of London where, it’s rumoured, one or two people are homeless), this was also an appalling waste of manpower, with the girls chopping peppers and manhandling chicken for their Oriental noodle stall for the best part of a day, all the while refraining from stabbing Jo in the heart with a kitchen knife, and the boys putting in a 17-hour shift making about 90 pizza bases out of a planned 500. My heart sank as the farce played out. There was no leadership on the boys’ side (Alexa’s time was running out) and no respect on the girls’. The sight of them desperately trying to flog off their unsold noodles and pizza to passers by at the Thames Festival (something I’ve never heard of – perhaps Sir Alan set it up as a hoax) was unedifying and pathetic. I noted Paul using his not-considerable charm on a lady customer and I’m pretty sure she told him to fuck off. These business buffoons are meant to thrive on pressure. They just became panicky and unable to make a decision when the hob was on. (If you can’t stand the heat of business, get out of the kicthen, or at least enter a second “divergent phase” and diverge off.)
I know the editing is selective and the “story” the programme-makers opted to tell was one of Mani sneaking off and not doing any work, but he was the team leader and I didn’t begrudge him not getting his hands dirty. I wanted to know a little bit more about the sequence at the wine wholesalers where he seemed to patronise an employee at the warehouse. Could this bloke speak English? We never heard him open his mouth. Was Mani being a tit? Or was he clearly explaining himself to a non-English speaker? Let us not have our emotions manipulated.
Sir Alan, like the little girl who whined that her pizza slice was too big, was not happy. The girls-and-a-boy won, and deserved to, for not ordering 100 chickens and plucking the figure of 500 pizzas out of thin air. They were sent to a restaurant (“the Oxo Towers” as poor Tuan erroneously called it, as if perhaps it might be a future Al-Queda target), whose attendant fireworks display seemed in danger of giving the overexcitable Jo a coronary.
Alexa correctly pulled in Syed and Tuan for the final showdown (Paul threatened to laugh if he was selected – I’d like to have seen that, the big role-player – sorry, liar). Sir Alan viewed the whimpering “brain surgeons” will unconcealed disdain and looked for all the world like he was going to fire Syed, the architect of the team’s downfall, despire being “a fighter”, in his own frightened words, and a “winner”. “But you bloody lost!” Nevertheless, his endless claim of having given “150%” (unless he meant that’s how much he over-ordered by) either earned Syed a last-minute reprieve, or Sir Alan was going to get rid of the silly girl anyway, and it was all amateur dramatics. Alexa watched her second chance go up in smoke and, like the pizza oven, was fired. (Sir Alan is a brilliant performer. He might not know how to flog anti-ageing cream, but he has an instinctive grasp of TV drama.)
You had to love it when he told them, “Clear off.”
Not enough emotion this week, save for when Sharon walked out of a meeting to sob on a bunk bed because Mani hinted that he couldn’t understand her Scottish accent. Unable to use the English language properly, in common with all our business hopefuls, she said he was being “derogative”, which I’m fairly sure isn’t a word*. Earlier, Mani had said, “Let’s go whole hog.” I’m not sure my heart can take much more of this.
*It is a word.