The Apprentice Episode 3: Glasses Vendor Makes Spectacle Of Himself

THE APPRENTICE: Wednesday 17th May, BBC1, 9pm

With the boys losing the first two challenges laid down by the almighty Lord Sugar, the millionaire entrepreneur obviously felt a change was needed. Therefore this week’s Apprentice saw mixed sex teams for the first time following the departures of punch-rolling accountant Edward and sweaty estate agent Alex. Tonight the contestants were told to scour the nation’s capital to source the best price on ten items for the recently refurbished Savoy Hotel.

Negotiation was the order of the day for the business hopefuls, with beauty business owner Susan Ma taking charge of Team Venture, and Optician Gavin Winstanley leading Logic. You’d think that this would be an easy task, given how easy it is to pick up a telephone and use Google, but in time-honoured Apprentice fashion, both teams decided to make a mouse of out a molehill.

Team Venture couldn’t seem to grasp the concept that you don’t go looking for a Poundshop in Mayfair, with team leader Susan rather optimistically giving her team the challenge of paying a ‘fiver for a top hat’ in one of London’s most salubrious locations. When the assistant in one of London’s oldest hatmakers says that the piece they require is £365, the mouths of the contestants dropped, prompting Sugar’s sidekick Nick to tell the camera that the last time he was in the shop the King of Tonga came in, and that “he certainly does not go looking for a bargain”. Worried about the high price of the hat, one of the contestants suggests that they should go and look in a fancy dress shop instead. Nick, obviously a man of taste, can’t help but grimace in shocked horror as it he’s just done a line of lemon juice.

Team Logic seemed to be having an equally stressful time of things, spending over three hours discussing how to go about procuring what they need. With arguments starting break out over who does what, team leader Gavin decided to try and bring the team of rowdy contestants together, asking everyone to “chill out”, a statement he would repeat throughout the episode. It was awkward viewing to say the least as the teams struggled to get to grips with the task at hand, with recruitment consultant Natasha apparently living in a dream world and calling up a competitor hotel of the Savoy to get their supplier list – a move unsurprisingly branded ‘naive’ by Karen Brady. There was also much wrangling over what a Cloche was, with the team scratching their heads on whether the hotel required a metal pot lid, a bell, or a greenhouse. It’s sometimes easy to forget these people are the supposed ‘crème de la crème’ of British entrepreneurship.

As the episode progressed, both teams tried to show off their haggling skills, with smooth-talking Jim Eastward, the self proclaimed ‘Irish bulldozer of charm’, blagging extra discount for Team Venture several times over. It’s just a shame that these great deals were rendered useless with the purchase later in the day of chamomile tea for £400.

Despite the failings of the other team, Logic couldn’t help but go one stop further, driving 13 miles out of London only to unsuccessfully locate chandelier bulbs, and attempting to buy a top hat from a dry cleaners- Karen Brady’s shaking head said it all. Contestant Vincent, who bragged that he was only chosen to help lead because he ‘could take charge of 3 strong ladies’, came across as bullish and out of his league when trying to haggle, with one of the so called tenacious trio he was in charge of failing to fall for his charm offensive and labelling him ‘Billy Bullshit.

In the boardroom, it was no surprise that Lord Sugar proceeded to slam both teams, accusing Logic of ‘3 hours of pontificating’-easy with the big words Alan. However, there had to be a winner, and in a surprisingly close round team leader Susan was triumphant as Venture edged it by £8. Their prize was a circus style cabaret dinner, which seemed quite appropriate based on the entertainment they had provided throughout the episode.

All that was left was for one of the losing team to be fired, and this week it was ‘chilled out’ team leader Gavin’s turn to be given the boot by the East End millionaire. You can’t help but think though that several other contests are on borrowed time unless they pick up their act.