Young Apprentice: Pocket watch leaves Atomic out of pocket

The (size ten) shoe is on the other foot as Young Apprentice does Bargain Hunt. Rather than selling, the teams are asked to buy ten items for Madame Tussauds waxworks ranging from the statuesque Elle Macpherson to the pint-sized Justin Bieber. After a day spent chasing all over London from Saville Row to Skid Row to negotiate the lowest possible prices for their various wares, Team Atomic found themselves well and truly gazumped in the boardroom, resulting in Hayley Forrester becoming the sixth victim of Lord Sugar‘s Digit of Doom™.

Swap shop

Hayley won the Race to the Phone™. But that was it (image courtesy of bbc.co.uk)

What turns out to be Hayley’s final task starts off well. She wins this week’s Race to the Phone™ with not so much a mad dash as a casual stroll, as her housemates opt for an extra few minutes in bed. But they are soon being whisked away from the Apprenti-Mansion™ to meet Lord Sugar at Madame Tussauds. There, among wax replicas of famous politicians, the Royal Family, some of the giants of music and, er, Justin Bieber – what, no Hanson?!? – Sugar emerges, looking only slightly more realistic than the waxwork of Michael Jackson (which, in turn, looks considerably more lifelike than the real Jacko did).

Sugar tells the candidates they have ten hours to purchase ten items for the museum at the lowest possible prices, with additional penalties being incurred for items that are either missed or bought at full price.  Then he gratuitously rearranges the teams. (Is it some kind of OCD thing, I wonder?) Haya al Dlame and Harry H Not-Corbett™ (Harry Hitchens) find themselves transferred to Kinetic to join James McCullagh, while Lizzie Magee and Harry Maxwell aka Harry M, Brother of Boney™ move to join Zara Brownless and Hayley Forrester the Invisible Candidate™ on Atomic.

It’s enough to make your head spin. The only real constant in this process is that Harry M will end up on the losing side no matter what, having failed to win all five tasks to date. His rivals are all too quick to point this out. Lizzie tells him he is “just a bad luck charm”, while Haya comments:

I’ve never seen anyone survive week after week, that boy is very lucky.

No, Haya. Winning the lottery is very lucky. Being stuck in a house 24/7 with a bunch of hormonal teenagers (several of whom seem happy to despise you openly), and being ordered to do menial tasks by a grumpy adult in a suit is not what I call lucky. It’s what I call boarding school.

Of course, the discount buying task is a staple of the main Apprentice series, which has previously served up teams frantically trying to work out what on earth a cloche is (it’s a dome-shaped dish cover) and Michael Sophocles‘ classic ‘kosher chicken’ moment in Marrakesh.

The dashiki dash

This time around, the ten items on Schindler’s Sugar’s list are:

  • A three-piece suit for Justin Bieber
  • A pair of red size-ten stilettos
  • A pocket watch
  • 100 helium-filled balloons
  • A dashiki
  • A left-handed guitar
  • A moustache comb
  • A vanity case
  • A stool
  • 40 metres of red carpet

What, I hear you ask, is a dashiki? Bear with me and all will be revealed.

Lizzie planned well initially, but it all went downhill after that (image courtesy of bbc.co.uk)

Haya is installed as Kinetic’s project manager after losing a game of hot potato with Harry H, while Lizzie is voted in to lead Atomic over Harry M. The two teams immediately set off on divergent strategies, with Lizzie’s team hitting the phones to track down their first four items, while Haya opts for the strategy of heading for places she knows and looking hopefully out of the windows of the Apprenti-Carrier™.

As both my ‘how to win’ guide and Nick Hewer remind us, organisation and planning are good things. Obviously, applying that strange form of logic which only applies to The Apprentice, it is no substitute for running around like headless chickens and flapping hopefully. It’s a valuable business lesson, kids.

Haya’s hit-and-hope strategy leads her and James to Portobello Road – which the aforementioned Michael Sophocles once deemed a good place to offer passing punters a Ferrari driving experience – but without much luck as they move aimlessly from stall to stall, prompting Karren Brady to comment in exasperation:

Haya’s strategy is simply to wander from shop to shop in the hope that they may have one of the items on the list. There’s no structure, there’s no strategy. It’s absolutely crazy.

Meanwhile Harry H randomly lucks in to buying the stool at almost half price en route to Shepherd’s Bush Market, where he gets a lousy discount on the balloons and is then fed a bum steer by a seller who tells him that a dashiki is an Arab dress. It isn’t. Seriously, I know the Apprenti-Kids™ aren’t allowed access to the internet, but did it not occur to someone to just find a bookshop and spend two minutes thumbing through a dictionary?

Haya started poorly, but made good deals as the day progressed (image courtesy of bbc.co.uk)

His project leader isn’t exactly covering herself in glory. Luckily James helps her out by negotiating a decent reduction on an already cheap left-handed guitar in the West End’s Tin Pan Alley, after Haya leaves one shop-owner distinctly unimpressed when she lets slip she doesn’t know who Jimi Hendrix is. That’s like me not knowing who most of the Z-listers on the current edition of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! are, only ten million times worse. Then she repeatedly fails to make even a phonetically sensible stab at pronouncing ‘dashiki’. Dishka? No. Dashika? No. Daiquiri? Yes, please.

Things improve for Haya after that, though. She and James pick up a pocket watch and a vanity case for a combined £70 – less than half price – from an ever so slightly camp pawn shop seller who, somewhat appropriately, is even more orange than Bargain Hunt‘s David Dickinson. Then, returning to Shepherd’s Bush Market towards the end of the day, they manage to find the Justin Bieber suit.

As for Atomic, Lizzie’s team pinpoint their first four items and then hit the road. However, for some reason Zara and Hayley have decided that the best place to go hunting for their pocket watch is Croydon. Which, for those of you who don’t know London, involves heading south and keeping going until you start seeing the ice and penguins. All it takes is for one of them to make the Statement of the Blahhdy Obvious™ that Croydon is an awfully long way away, but despite poring over maps they seem not to notice. Insert your own sexist joke here about women and map-reading.

Lizzie and Harry M start off brightly. They buy their helium balloons for £60 (£30 cheaper than Harry H manages), then Harry spins some yarn about a family do and potential repeat business to negotiate a discount of close to £100 on their red carpet. It’s that Camera Crew Effect™ again – it’s funny how any negotiation tends to go smoother when there’s a TV camera pointing at the seller.

No, it's not an Arab dress

Meanwhile, Zara and Hayley are still in the Apprenti-Carrier™ heading to Croydon.

Zara is struggling to track down the dashiki. Harry H suggests phoning a library to check their catalogue and, after Zara persuades some poor librarian to look up the word in the dictionary, they finally discover that it is a colourful men’s shirt of West African origin.

Anyway, the girls finally arrive in Croydon some time in 2018, and proceed to buy their pocket watch. Only this is not just any watch. Oh no, this is an M&S watch – or, at least, a nine-carat gold one which, even after they have haggled the price down, still sets them back £145 (more than £100 more than Haya and James paid). It’s the equivalent of being told to buy a car and coming home with a Lamborghini. With diamond-encrusted wheels. Chalk one fail for Zara.

It doesn’t get much better. Deciding to stay in Croydon, Hayley initially suggests they go to Argos for their left-handed guitar – good luck trying to get a discount in there – before noticing a guitar shop conveniently directly across the road from them. What are the odds? Hayley politely negotiates the price down from £130 to £110 – not bad in itself, but still £22 more than James. Chalk one fail for Hayley. The pair do partially redeem themselves on the way back, however, as they chance upon an African clothing ship and finally acquire the dashiki.

The Lizzie/Harry M sub-team also struggles in the latter part of the day. Lizzie suggests trying a market for their Bieber suit but Harry suggests Jermyn Street, which is a bit like going to the Fat Duck and hoping for a Meal Deal. Several tailors later, they discover none of them sell suits that small. Chalk one fail to Harry. With time running out, Lizzie buys the required stilettos from a shoe shop at full price, despite Harry’s reminder that they need to secure a discount, however small. Chalk one fail for Lizzie.

Boardroom Brouhaha™

Back in the boardroom, Sugar cracks a quip about restricting the candidates to antique equipment such as the Yellow Pages. It could have been worse: he might have given them each an Amstrad E-m@iler phone. (Surely the most lame use of an ampersat ever?)

Haya is slammed for having no strategy and for a failure to communicate properly with Harry H. Lizzie admits she wanted Harry M in her sub-team so she could keep an eye on him. She would have been better off training an eye on Zara, who headed off so far out of town that she practically needed a passport, and who then tries to take personal credit for Harry’s idea of phoning a library about the dashiki. Hayley and Zara are both criticised for paying over the odds for the guitar and the pocket watch respectively.

Another week, another loss (image courtesy of bbc.co.uk)

There is an air of inevitability to the final results, which show that Lizzie’s Atomic, despite their initial planning, only bought six items and spent a total of £1480.87 including fines. Haya’s Kinetic bought seven items and incurred a total expenditure of £969.10. Kinetic win, and Harry M finds himself on the losing side for the sixth week in succession.

Kinetic get sent for a makeover and photo-shoot, while Atomic get a cuppa and a stale apple turnover at the Cafe of Broken Dreams™ to contemplate what went wrong. It isn’t long before they are back in the boardroom and the accusations start flying. Zara tries to defend her long-haul trip by claiming she thought Croydon would be cheap, which Nick quickly refutes by suggesting that she simply didn’t look at a map. Lizzie blames Harry for not obtaining the suit and not following her suggestion of trying children’s tailors for the suit. Hayley largely lives up to her Invisible Candidate™ nickname, but suggests that Harry only thought to look in places where he himself would shop. Nonetheless, Lizzie opts to bring her two female teammates back with her.

Sugar, Brady and Hewer agree that Lizzie made lots of mistakes as project manager and wasn’t forceful enough in managing the other sub-team. Hayley is apparently too polite and lacks elbows. And Zara is accused of being a bit domineering and – a bit randomly – of having a split personality by Hayley. Lizzie also accuses Zara of shouting over Hayley to which Zara, with an amusing lack of self-awareness, then underlines by immediately shouting over both Lizzie and Hayley.

But Sugar is not easily swayed by such ganging-up tactics. He compliments Hayley on being nice and polite, then fires her for not being competitive enough. In truth he could easily have fired any of the three, but whereas both Lizzie and Zara have shown flashes of promise on earlier tasks, Hayley never really stood out enough to give Sugar a compelling reason to keep her. She effectively acknowledges as much as she departs in the Riches-To-Rags Roller™:

I felt Lord Sugar’s made a mistake in firing me. However I wasn’t aggressive enough in the boardroom, but then that’s not how I am as a person so I’m not going to be like that in the boardroom.

Hayley was the sort of person anyone would like to work with, and she also seemed quite calm and intelligent. But for the most part she did live up to my nickname for her of The Invisible Candidate™ and, like Gbemi before her the previous week, she had not done enough to shine and show off her abilities. In a tight boardroom where Sugar could have been justified in firing any of the three of them, it was that lack of visibility which led to her downfall.

Back at the house, we have just enough time for one more comedy moment as the other four candidates wait for the survivors to return. Harry M is successfully starting to build up Zara as a bit of a villain when Harry H interjects, completely matter-of-factly, that he would have chosen to bring Harry M back into the boardroom as probably the weakest person there. For once, Harry M is stunned into silence. It won’t last long, though.

Next week: In the penultimate episode the candidates must develop a new brand of popcorn, but with an added twist. At the end of the task, only two of them will make it through to the final. The other four will all be fired. Drama!

Young Apprentice continues on BBC1 on Monday at 9pm.

Link: BBC official website

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