Another week goes by and another episode of the Apprentice slips away. Once again it was an episode full of incompetence, stupidity and Stephen’s ridiculous facial expressions, and another episode that had me shouting at the TV, the way I only normally do when the football is on.

This week’s task was all about emulating the success of companies like Groupon (whose value has, slightly ironically, reduced by 50% since it’s market listing last year) by going out and partnering with a bunch of companies to sell their product/services cheaply. Fundamentally this task was about selling the benefits of partnering with a deals website and convincing restaurateurs, spa owners and the owner of some feet eating fish, to cut their prices by 50%. The two project managers were Stephen, not the choice of his team mates but something forced on them by big Al, and Jade — I just had to look her name up even though I have watched the whole series; I guess she hasn’t made much of an impression on me!

Having had a lovely tour of what I think was the Galvin restaurant at the top of the Park Lane Hilton, and his first plate of scallops of the day, Ricky Martin (his name still makes me smile ☺) was told in no uncertain terms that they don’t do discounts, “not even a pound” and he left empty handed. In the meantime, Jade’s team were striking a deal with the Sanctuary Spa, although I have no idea how. Then came the argument about Tring, which apparently was the sole reason that Stephen’s team lost the task. Should Ricky go to Tring to visit a health spa, he thought no, Stephen thought yes, Gabrielle said no. In the end Stephen backed down and Ricky was to stay in London, where he ended striking the only deal that made their team any money.

Then came the second plate of scallops for Ricky, then the third, a couple more deals and he was pretty much done for the day. The restaurant excitement was only just beginning for Jade and Nick as they stepped into the firing line of Marcus Wareing at his brasserie restaurant in St Pancras. For those who are not aware of Marcus, he is a chef that would make Gordon Ramsey seem mild mannered and relaxed. Of course the duo went in to see Marcus having done no prep, having no idea, and with the cardinal sin of having a broken calculator. Marcus didn’t really give them the benefit of the doubt asking to bring their intelligence with them next time (or something to that effect). They did however manage to strike a deal with him; he left them to work out their calculations.

Here cometh the lesson: 1. Qualify the leads and prepare for the meeting – There was a complete lack of any sort of preparation on this task. This was evident throughout but most noticeable in Ricky’s meeting at Galvin (the first scallop episode), where he should have qualified the meeting earlier. It was also noticeable when Adam and Tom were in the perfume shop and when asked if they knew anything about the business, they tried to blag that they knew all about it and were regulars, I don’t believe you boys!

2. Try to explain why it might be good – too often throughout the episode I found myself cringing at the sheer lack of ability to actually sell something in the most simple of ways, from a group of people who apparently pride themselves on their sales ability! The only person I saw actually explain the benefit to the customer was Ricky who talked about the increased customer base, new demographics etc. Everyone else went in with the technique of saying “can you give us any deals, we normally sell things at 50%”. Well, blow me down, if that’s not a reason to partner with someone I don’t know what is!

The tension mounted in the board room, and the results were announced, Jade’s team won the task, although I still don’t know how. So it was down to Ricky, Gabrielle and Stephen, and let the bitching, backstabbing, condescending, and borderline sexist arguments begin (and that was just Stephen). Gabrielle went first, and rightly so I think. I liked her, she was good in earlier tasks, but I still haven’t quite forgiven her for painting Union Jacks on anything that didn’t move a few weeks ago. Then the shocker, just I was cursing my luck that I would have to watch Stephen for another week when the little fat finger came out again and Stephen was off. Not even he could talk his way out of this one. Colin McKinnon

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