Two Birds with One Stone

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One of the things about the Apprentice is that every so often it does throw up a surprise in the boardroom. This week was one of those weeks.

I said last week, that the shopping list task is usually entertaining, and this time was no exception. As has been shown in previous years it is a good test as it not only requires candidates to be able to demonstrate an ability to drive a hard bargain, but also quite often requires a bit of planning to get the specific items that are on the list. The task was made doubly difficult this time around because the teams were sent to Marrakech, where not only would they have to contend with some of the best hagglers in the world, but they’d have the added challenge of working in a somewhat alien culture where the primary languages are Arabic and French.

The programme kicked off with a couple of team swaps, with Jennifer and Michael being transferred to Renaissance and Sara transferred to Alpha. Sometimes the transfers seem to merely be to balance out the numbers, other times there is some method – this time it seemed to be to separate Sara from Jenny after the unfair treatment Sara got last week, but there also seemed to be a definite tactic of putting some of the biggest personalities together.

One of the effects of putting those big personalities together, is that you also got a massive overdose of overconfident arrogance amongst the team – most of them had managed to scrape through a previous task – Jennifer (the self-proclaimed best salesperson in Europe) surviving after giving away exclusive rights, Jenny inexplicably not being called into the boardroom over the greetings card task, and Claire being this years boardroom regular. Alex and Michael have largely managed to keep their heads down, although Michael did get told off in the boardroom last week, and has certainly had his moments over the weeks. Anyway, Jennifer as team leader quickly decided to eschew any real planning, and instead decided to head into the city and wing it, whilst Alpha sat down and planned out what was needed.

Although Alpha pretty nearly blew it after spending literally hours going from shop to shop after an alarm clock, leaving them struggling to find a juicer, at the end of the day the planning, and in particular paying attention to detail is what won through. Alpha returned with a complete list and received no penalties.

Over on Renaissance things were very different. First off Claire continued being difficult to manage, totally messing up negotiations for Alex at one point, and not being quiet when she was asked to be, then the lack of attention to detail started to show. The picked up the wrong colour alarm clock – the list specifically asked for green. They also failed to get the right sort of tagines – the list mentioned a specific, high class brand. But perhaps the biggest error considering that one of the team, Michael, described himself as a ‘good little Jewish boy’ on his CV was that they failed to get a kosher chicken.

When you think about it, the kosher chicken was probably one of the hardest items considering that Morocco is an Islamic country, however with their planning, Alpha discovered that there is a Jewish quarter in Marrakech, so were fairly swiftly able to go there and get exactly the right item. Jenny and Michael however ended up resorting to getting a Muslim butcher to bless one of his chickens.

That wasn’t the worst of it though – one of the other items on the list was a pair of tennis racquets, that had to be strung in the shop, and both teams ended up at the same supplier at about the same time. Not content with just getting the items, Jenny and Michael proceeded to try and bribe the store to not supply the racquets to the other team.

As a result, it was a rather different boardroom – as a result Sir Alan initially had the entire team into the boardroom, and as he said, he could quite happily fire the lot of them. First off though he contented himself with firing Jenny. On previous occasions she has lied or misled in the boardroom, most notably being when she managed to shift blame for the washing task onto Shazia for going back to the house when Jenny herself had told her to do so. There have also been several occasions she has been seem bullying other candidates, Lucinda being a prime example. What had really riled Sir Alan though, if you saw this weeks Jonathan Ross show, is her escape from the boardroom last week, and her confidence that she could get rid of Sara – that perhaps explains why she went before any choices were made. Of course her fate wasn’t helped by the way her lies started to unravel in the cross-questioning in the boardroom. Initially she claimed that she didn’t know what kosher meant – then later on when she started to see things going against Michael she changed her line and seemed to be claiming that she did know but followed along with Michael – this resulted in Michael point blank accusing her of lying. Once she had gone, Alex was sent back to the house, and the remaining three, Jennifer, Claire and Michael faced the final boardroom meeting.

It did look for a while as if Michael was going to go, but ultimately Sir Alan seemed to let him off on the basis that it was youthful exuberance – as a result it was the classic default choice when there are lots of problems on a task, and Jennifer as the team leader got the boot.

One final note though, over on The Apprentice: You’re Fired, Adrian Chiles has not been looking forward to interviewing Jenny after her behaviour on the main programme. I don’t know whether she has had some sort of epiphany having seen herself on TV these past few weeks, or whether an agent has advised her to do so, but it was a very different Jenny Celerier who presented herself to the world on that programme. Her red hair was toned down, and gone too were the power dressing suits. She was also apologetic for her behaviour during the programme, and didn’t talk back when the celebrity panel including Michelle Mone gave her a similar dressing down for her behaviour to the one she gave to Katie Hopkins last year. There was a little bit of an attempt to justify her behaviour, but ultimately she seemed to accept it was wrong. So was she following a game plan during the programme? Or has the Apprentice really changed her – I guess only somebody who knew her before and after could truly say. Suffice to say that she is gone, and both Sara and Lucinda are still there, so perhaps there is a bit of justice in the boardroom after all.

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