The episode started with a montage of the candidates spouting the same drivel as in other years about giving 110 per cent, not taking prisoners etc etc; the chosen few then gathered in the boardroom before the first task, to be told by Sir Alan that one of them had “already bottled it”. Quelle horreur! I read this in thelondonpaper yesterday afternoon – apparently Essex lad Adam Freeman, who allegedly runs a loans website, left the show because he believed he was too much like the grizzled one. The Times reports: “They are both Jewish, both left school at 16 and both live in Chigwell. ‘We would be like two peas from the same pod. I would have won it and it would have been hell.’” What a prat. Anyways, the remaining contestants were divided into girls against boys, and given their task: go forth and clean! Sir Alan wanted them to get their hands dirty, show their dedication to big business by starting low (or something along those lines). They had access to £200 to buy cleaning equipment, but whatever they spent would, obviously, be taken off their profit at the end of the day. Off they went: the boys quickly settled on a name (Empire) and a project manager (the irritating and gormless Howard “I run pubs, that’s what I do” Ebison), bought their stuff, settled on a strategy (cleaning minicabs and shoe shining at St Pancras) and off they went. The girls faffed. And faffed. And faffed. First, they couldn’t decide on a name. Then, once they decided on a name (Ignite), they couldn’t decided on a project manager (Congalese beauty queen Mona Lewis stepped up – she irked me as well), then they spent an age selecting and buying cleaning equipment, eventually purchasing nearly £200 worth of stuff (leading Anita Shah to proclaim: “We’re under budget!”). Finally they got on their way – one group targeted a classic cars business (led by Debra Barr) and the other group (led by Mona) went to a limousine company and somehow (I still don’t know how) managed to convince the guy behind the desk that they’d wash their hummers for £40 (£20 above the amount they normally pay). The next half hour contained predictable highs and lows, mainly around the fact both teams looked like they’ve never washed a car in their life. The boys took 1.5 hours to wash one car (poorly) then the shoe shine business was wound up so that that group could join the others at the minicab place. Debra’s group lost the contract to wash another lot of classic cars because they were so useless at the first few, then all the girls started harrassing strangers to drum up extra business. The boardroom was a rather subdued affair to begin with, and the initial part was over rather quickly. Basically, the girls made more money but because they had spent so much on cleaning equipment, their profit was less than that achieved by the boys (a lesson for us all). So the chaps were sent to the luxury penthouse in Victoria to drink cocktails (appropriate, given the current climate?) and the chicks were sent downstairs to the coffee place. The real fireworks began when Mona dragged Debra and Anita into the boardroom for losing the classic car-cleaning contract and not keeping an appropriate eye on the figures, respectively. The girls were as shambolic in the boardroom as they were on the task, talking over each other and not making a great deal of sense. Debra made some bold statements about Mona: “You failed me! You failed this task!” Mona started welling up. And Anita dug her own grave. Sir Alan wasn’t particularly interested in Anita to begin with but she still felt the need to “state her case”, drawing attention to her insipidness. Her lack of spunk and business nous combined with her stupid statement about “making budget” meant she was the one leaving in a black cab. And then there were 14… It wasn’t a fascinating episode. The squabbling between the girls was mildly amusing but at no point was the tension – the drama –riveting. Even Sir Alan seemed a little bored by proceedings. On the plus side, they do seem like a decent bunch of would-be apprentices with enough annoying candidates thrown in for good measure (and good television). Roll on next week.Real Business predictions• Majid Nagra will get thumped by one of the girls for chauvinism at some point during the series.• Sandwich entrepreneur Rocky Andrews will go far.• There’ll be some scandal – or rumoured scandal – between one of the male contestants and Kate “I’m not a dumb blonde” Walsh. She’ll probably end up doing a spread in FHM as well. Related articlesThe Apprentice returns!Will The Apprentice be credit crunched?Sir Alan: “Making money is better than sex!”
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