Even a scholarship to Sandhurst canâ€™t save you when you back the wrong horse.
The show sales task on the Apprentice always comes down to product choice, and there are two distinct strategies. Either you play it fairly safe and go for two products that you think will sell, maybe going for one low price and one mid price, or alternatively you take one of your two product choices and take a major gamble on a high ticket item and hope it will sell. Last year it was wedding dresses and the gamble paid off, this time Debra and Ben bet the task on high ticket rocking horses, and spectacularly lost the bet.
The problem was that they had almost decided on their choice before they saw the product, indeed the two of them are shown saying as much in the car on the way to the meeting. As you can see here, Debra left team leader James little choice, and makes it really clear which product she wanted:
Coupled with James choice of another fairly specialist item â€“ a birthing pool, Empire ended up taking a massive gamble.
Over on the other team, the products chosen were the pushchair and the head guard, the relatively high price pushchair being a harder sell, especially when Lorraine discovered another stall who was selling below the minimum price that the team had negotiated. However that pricing problem was counteracted by the relatively cheap impulse purchase on the head guard, which enabled Ignite to with the task.
But the choice wasnâ€™t the only mistake. At the very end of the show, Debra had a potential sale, which stumbled on the fact that the team couldnâ€™t agree to a discount. In the initial negotiation, both Debra and Ben were so besotted with the horses that they failed to negotiate, something Sir Alan picks up on and we see two of the boardroom liars get caught out again:
Probably the most entertaining part of the programme tonight was the boardroom â€“ the response Sir Alan gives when Ben starts off on the scholarship to Sandhurst routine again is probably one of the best lines of the series, and you can see James, Debra and Margaret trying to keep a straight face afterwards. However, Sir Alan then follows it up with a line that probably should serve as a warning to any other Sandhurst people who try and impress him, when he mentions Paul from series three who tried to sell cheese from Makro to the French, and to cook a sausage on a baked-bean can. Of course the Sandhurst people will quite rightly say that these two are unrepresentative of the people they turn out, just as Iâ€™m sure lots of other places would try and disassociate themselves with some of the performances we see on the series.
When it came to the firing, we thought for an awful moment that James was going to go â€“ certainly he looked close to tears at one point, but really it had to be between Debra and Ben. Looking back although Debra does have some real problems over her attitude, she does seem to have some modicum of ability. Ben has had a couple of successes, but repeatedly messed up whether it be steamrollering in poor ideas and ignoring specific instructions in task three, totally missing the point of the task in week six or totally failing to sell a thing in week seven. He was the youngest candidate, and boy did it show, a vastly inflated and hyped up ego, that wasnâ€™t backed up with the talent.
So, finally the man who didnâ€™t go to Sandhurst is show the door, although Iâ€™m sure many people would have been happy for Debra to be sent packing too, as she was more up for the gamble, and was the one that pushed James. But Ben it was, and he really wasnâ€™t very happyâ€¦
Next week we have the treat of the annual TV shopping task â€“ I wonder if they will be selling trampolines this time around? As always it looks like an opportunity for some spectacular car crash TV.
As weâ€™re nearing the end, who might make it all the way? Weâ€™re going for a Kate against Yasmina final â€“ looking at the others, Debra seems unable to reign in her attitude, Lorraine might be an outside choice but has an entrenched reputation for antagonising people to overturn. James has previously been described as the village idiot in the boardroom and is struggling to overturn his reputation as a joker with no real talent, and finally Howard seems very much to have been the quiet one who has kept under the radar but gets weeded out at the interview stage. Needless to say, Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™ll be proved wrong in a couple of weeks time â€“ I always amâ€¦