The Apprentice recap: The bloodbath begins
Welcome to our recap of Lord Sugar’s most bloodthirsty week of the series so far. Faced with the opportunity to get rid of as much deadwood as possible (much like Scott, Vana and Gary in their gardening job), Lord Sugar took no prisoners, The Apprentice became a dark thriller, and we (the audience) basked in the glory of schadenfreude.
It begins at 5.30am at Weir Road, Balham, the site of a builders’ merchants.
The candidates have been asked to dress like this, so may already have some idea of what is coming.
Their task is to set up and run their own handyman businesses. Lord Sugar presents the candidates with kitted out vans with all they need. The winner will be the team that makes the most profit.
A straightforward ask from Lord Sugar, so, naturally, it’s going to go horribly, horribly wrong.
But first, rejiggling the teams and choosing project managers. There are a few members of both teams who do this sort of thing everyday.
There’s Joseph the plumber.
Brett the builder.
Can he fix it?
And Elle the construction executive.
This week, Lord Sugar takes an authoritarian approach to project managers. As both Brett and Elle have never been PM, Brett will manage the long-suffering Connexus and Elle will move over to Versatile to take charge of their efforts. Vana also moves back to Connexus to even out the teams.
Robbed of the opportunity to pitch for PM, Elle explains to the camera her credentials: “I don’t think you need a knowledge of anything to be good at your job, it’s all about convincing people you do know what you’re talking about even if you don’t.”
She should work in London.
The first course of action is for both teams to produce leaflets to advertise their new businesses. Elle immediately demonstrates what she has learnt from having the privilege of working with literature master Sam in the last task: the art of taking a phenomenally long time in decision making.
It’s an immediate disaster as Elle misses the leaflet printing deadline.
The teams will split into two, with one group roaming around London offering odd jobs and another pitching and hopefully doing two big commercial jobs.
The first is at a Stratford theatre, and the job is giving the costume room a bit of a makeover with a paintjob and installing poles (no idea what those might be for…).
Connexus’ Brett sizes up the task and shouts builder jargon at Sam, who has the unenviable task of extracting interpretable information from Brett’s speech and then figuring out the numbers. Turns out he’s not as good with the numbers as he is the words.
And then Brett can’t read what he’s written, stumbling over his numbers in a big fail of a pitch.
The second commercial opportunity is to clean the stands of a football ground.
Versatile Sports marketeer David’s worked at a football ground before, which makes him an expert at cleaning them, and Elle lets him lead the pitch.
However, an offer of £500 without any kind of sizing up seems to bemuse the stadium manager.
Meanwhile, the roaming DIY team have to make do with Mergim’s handmade flyers after being left to fend for themselves by project manager Elle.
They get their first job cleaning windows though, and The Apprentice briefly becomes a musical.
They’re doing a better job than Connexus, who made the leaflets in time but lack any idea of what to do with them. They resort to standing dully on street corners like DIY hookers.
The other half of the team are [slightly] more in their element, with Brett now pitching for the football job.
Sam has an absolutely vital question, however.
In a shocking turn of events, Selina comes to the rescue on a maths related question when Brett and Sam are unable to do 20×18.
A quick evaluation of labour and material costs leads Brett to quote £480.70 to the stadium manager, which is a surprisingly similar figure to David who did no measuring or working out at all. Perhaps it was David pulling a completely reasonable figure out of his ass that confused the guy earlier.
Meanwhile, Mergim’s subteam go from bad handymen to downright embarrassing human beings. While fixing a shelf for one lady for £10 an hour, Mergim is completely unable to make the shelf lie flat.
“I think they’re meant to be like this,” says Mergim. Does he understand the purpose of a shelf?
Versatile are now pitching for the theatre, and this time getting stuck into the task of measuring up and estimating prices. The only problem is project manager Elle isn’t actually doing anything.
Super Joe to the rescue!
Elle: How long will this take, Joseph?
Elle: What price would you charge, Joseph?
The Connexus roaming team are still wandering aimlessly at 5pm on the first day, until they score big as some poor woman offers them the opportunity to de-weed her garden. Hooray!
The sight of an unkept garden sparks something in Scott, who suddenly transforms into a master landscaper, outlining the vision of paradise he can achieve in one day. The lady looks impressed, and I would be too if Scott promised to make my back yard the Garden of Eden in a day’s work.
The big contracts are decided, with Brett and Connexus winning the football ground, while
Joseph Elle and Versatile will make-over the theatre.
The next day, “project manager” Elle and Super-Joe get straight to the task. To gauge how crucial Joseph’s contribution is to this job, I have created the handy little montage below of him doing everything.
Scott and his sub-team get ready to do something life-changing to the overgrown garden. Landscape architects watch eagerly to see if this landscaping genius can pull off such an incredible feat, when a wise Vana steps in and cancels the party.
“I just want to manage your expectations, Rachel. Because it’s such a big job, we won’t be able to do it in one day.”
Boo! Off with her head!
Meanwhile at the theatre, catastrophe strikes when Joseph leaves David in charge of cutting up poles.
Despite Joseph clearly measuring the length the poles should be and telling David what they should be, David has decided to go by eye and is a hundred centimetres out.
It could be worse, however, because Joseph could be with Mergim, who cannot paint a storefront as well as being unable to fix a shelf.
Like that child I didn’t let borrow my colouring book, Mergim can’t stay within the lines. They’re forced to knock money off the price of the job for the shoddy work.
On the other end of the scale, Scott, Vana and Gary have done a fabulous job of Rachel’s garden.
“I can’t believe it!” she says, completely thrilled. I can only imagine what she’d have said if they could have completed Scott’s vision.
But Brett’s perfectionism is causing problems at the football stadium.
He doesn’t have time to finish the cleaning job, because the team spent hours completing tasks that the manager hadn’t asked for. Like scraping every single piece of chewing gum off the floor.
SuperJoe and his followers have the theatre job done, however.
Richard brilliantly sums up the contribution of *project manager* Elle in the task.
And then she drives off without him.
Time over, DIY challenges (mostly) completed, and it’s time for the boardroom. A characteristically humble Lord Sugar calmly tells the teams why he chose this task: “I will never ask anybody to do anything that I can’t do myself.[…] [I’m] a complete all rounder.”
Now, Versatile, you’re up.
There are almost too many mistakes to recount. Firstly, everything Mergim’s sub-team did was a disaster. Elle didn’t get leaflets made in time, and no one is overly keen to jump up and say she was a good project manager.
Elle, however, praises SuperJoe’s contribution to the task.
It’s a surprisingly honest announcement from a project manager during the boardroom but she might as well jump into the grave we’ve already dug her.
Connexus are grilled next.
Project manager Brett did make the flyer in time and got the more worthwhile football stadium job, while the sub-team of Scott and Vana did a good job on the garden after spending the first day faffing about.
Brett’s criticised for his inability to complete the football job.
So, who won? The results are in! Firstly, Karren for Versatile.
Versatile sold £652 of services and spent £121.99 on materials, making a profit of £530.01.
And Claude for Connexus.
Connexus sold £1179 of services and spent £119.92 on materials, making a hefty £1050.08 profit.
CONNEXUS FINALLY WIN.
As a prize, they visit the most bizarre sauna I have ever seen.
Meanwhile, Versatile lament on the failure of the task and missing out on being whacked by big feather dusters.
One thing *project manager* Elle makes clear is she loves Joseph. She blames the subteam’s bad pricing and shoddy work for the failure of the task.
Back to the boardroom, and Lord Sugar is immediately digging into Mergim’s pricing scheme.
£7 for three people to clean a window!
Mergim, you used to clean windows as a side business. How much did you charge?
Next, Elle is in the firing line. Lord Sugar asks what she actually does as a construction executive if not exactly what she was supposed to do in this task.
Deciding what everyone is doing is the foreman’s job, says Elle. Or, on The Apprentice, the project manager’s.
And what about the flyers?
“Completely my mistake.”
You know what, Elle?
…Is it over? The candidates dare to dream.
Mergim, as leader of the sub-team, is now Project Manager and will be in charge of choosing who to take into the boardroom.
He chooses April and David.
April because she was afraid of getting her hands dirty and didn’t work enough, and David due to the mistake he made cutting poles.
David’s quick to say he made only one mistake right at the start, and did everything else perfectly.
Lord Sugar agrees that April has been sitting back, prompting her to vigorously deny it, but not offer any real argument against his claims.
Mergim is criticised by April for his flyers, but Mergim counters with a passionate, heartstring-pulling sob story.
What happens next is probably the nicest I’ve ever seen Lord Sugar.
“I don’t think you have the potential at this moment in time of being my business partner. I really don’t. But carry on with your dreams. It is with sincere regret, Mergim, that you’re fired.”
But stay in touch, plz?
Can April and David breathe a sigh of relief?
NO. Lord Sugar’s on a roll now.
April, I don’t really like you either, says Lord Sugar.
Only David survives the bloodbath, possibly just so there is someone to inform the other candidates what happened that dark eve we’ll call Black Wednesday from now on (or just this once).
The Apprentice airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on BBC One.