Parlez-vous anglais?

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I mentioned last week that the trailer for this weeks episode of The Apprentice looked entertaining, and it did not disappoint.

The task was simple, buy a selection of speciality British food’s from a list of small independent suppliers given to the teams, load them into the back of a van, and head over to a farmers market in France to sell the produce. Included in the list of approved suppliers was Makro, to give the teams somewhere to pick up miscellaneous bits and bobs, to equip the stall.

Needless to say, there were some gotcha’s amongst the suppliers to catch the unwary – product lines that wouldn’t sell. For example Eclipse picked tea as one of their lines – certainly English, but since the French are a nation of coffee drinkers, not the best choice. Stealth on the other hand went for home-made sausages, and then had a big discussion about cheese. Kristina was adamant that it would be a bad idea, as the French had hundreds of their own varieties. The matter seemed settled until team leader Paul stopped off at Makro to get a frying pan and a burner to cook the sausage samples – as team leader he made an executive decision, and came away with a cheap gel burner, and 30kg of Makro mass-produced cheese… The girls on the team in the other car, even Paul fan Katie looked less than pleased when they were told.

It proved to be a disastrous decision. The gel burner was hopeless, and failed to cook anything. It wasn’t until Kristina used her initiative and asked a local restaurant for help that the samples were cooked, and the sausages started to sell. Paul and Katie ended up going around local businesses trying to shift their stock, sometimes at cost price. The highlight of those sequences has to be the point where they tried to sell pork sausages to a Hallal butcher. In the end, half of the stock of cheese, and large amounts of the sausages were just dumped in the bin at the end of the day. That along with a rather expensive banner that Adam managed to order resulted in an overall loss for the task – something that didn’t please Sir Alan one bit…

Over on Eclipse, everything seemed to go smoothly. After quietly getting on with things over the previous weeks, Sir Alan had appointed Lohit as project manager, and his calm demeanour continued in the new role. On paper he had the most explosive group containing both Tre and Jadine, but he seemed to handle it well. Tre was kept under control, and as in the past couple of weeks didn’t seem to be causing many problems with the other candidates, just providing a number of entertaining comments to camera. Jadine at one point did kick off after a disagreement with Simon, however Lohit took her aside and dealt with it, and the team worked well.

On Stealth, Sir Alan had also appointed someone who had just been getting on with things – Paul an ex-army man. Unfortunately, Paul seemed to be running his team like the army, the cheese thing being one of many examples when he effectively just gave orders. This in particular caused friction with Kristina culminating in the two of them having a stand up row over the price of the sausages in the middle of the French market.

The choices that Paul made for the final boardroom weren’t a surprise. Adam came back ostensibly for the screw up with the poster – but it was as much because with two successive previous visits to the boardroom, he looked like a weak candidate. Kristina came back because she had argued with Paul. Kristina was effectively safe, as it was clear that she had picked up Paul on his errors, but had been ignored. She had also used her initiative to enable the sausages to sell. Adam nearly blew it purely because he was in for the third time in a row. However once Kristina and Adam grumbled about the relationship between Paul and Katie, something that the press has picked up on recently. At this point Sir Alan has heard nothing about the ongoing relationship (although after week 2 he did split them up) and whilst he says he doesn’t have a problem with it, he does seem to believe that Paul hasn’t brought in Katie because the two are an item – to my mind she didn’t do anything to warrant being in the board room though, although she continued with the bitchy comments about the other candidates in the one-to-one interviews.

After all that, it seemed a pretty well fore-gone conclusion that Paul was gone, however Sir Alan seemed to hover an awfully long time over whether to get rid of Adam instead. It wasn’t until afterwards you found out why. It seems that Sir Alan, Margaret and Nick all had Paul picked out as a potential winner – for what reason I don’t know, as from what I can see he hasn’t really done anything to warrant it aside from keep his head down up to now. The only point he particularly figured was back in week 3, when he and Katie wasted a load of time trying to sell the team as a mobile disco whilst most of the rest of the team were working on gardening.

So six weeks in, are there any likely candidates? I have to say that I was impressed by how Lohit handled the team, but he may well be too quiet for Sir Alan. Tre is providing ongoing entertainment, but whilst he may stay in a long time, he is too much of a loose cannon to be the final winner. Katie is getting a lot of attention, but her ruthlessness has made her the main villain in this series, and I suspect when someone does eventually bring her to the board room she may get a bumpy ride from Sir Alan. I’m certainly starting to think that Kristina may have the right balance this time around – of course I could be totally wrong.

Next week is the classic shopping list task, when the teams are sent off to buy a series of items at the best possible prices. Similar tasks in previous series have proved quite entertaining – it will be interesting to see if the teams this year try to push the time limit though…

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