Apprentice Watch: My kosher-chicken gaffe beat this

By MichaelSophocles, April 30, 2009
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Team leader Philip Taylor finds someone who won’t query his decisions

Team leader Philip Taylor finds someone who won’t query his decisions

I’m running down the narrow streets of Marrakech, a large cowhide placed uneasily on my left shoulder and my trembling right arm pointing towards a butcher. My brow and back have collected enough sweat to fill a small pond, and I am nervous. No — in fact, I’m absolutely terrified.

I now find myself in a featureless room surrounded by a bunch of unidentified objects. I cower down with a feeling of incomprehensible shame as the objects begin to grow and then proceed to cackle and scream.

This nightmare has disturbed my slumbers ever since my infamous adventure in Morocco in the last series. I cannot tell you how deeply I have been affected by my experience in the souk — kosher chickens and all.

Putting candidates under sustained pressure in an environment conducive to mayhem and confusion is what The Apprentice is all about. It allows the viewer to look deep into their souls and see them for who they really are.

This week’s task had all the makings of a fitting sequel to my Marrakech moment (which, if I do say it myself, made for arguably the best Apprentice episode yet seen). The result, however, failed to live up to my original. All the ingredients for explosive drama were there, but it just never materialised.

The two teams were told by Sir Alan to value 10 random items, ranging from an inexpensive pair of Wellington boots to a deceptivley costly Persian rug, and then go out into London and sell them for a profit. Sounds simple enough. But as arrogant team leaders Philip Taylor and Ben Clarke found to their cost, it ain’t that easy.

Both teams made the same fundamental error — they did not spend enough time planning and getting the correct valuations before going out and negotiating. We made the same mistake in Marrakech, when our project manager Jenny Maguire panicked and let us loose without doing research on where we could find the items we were instructed to look for.

It was interesting watching Ben as project manager. From what I had seen of him in previous weeks, I thought he would be a ferocious tyrant, not putting up with any sass from teammates. I could not have been more wrong. He came across as tired and inward, drained of all confidence. Not at all impressive.

Then you had Mr Taylor. His team may have won the task, but he was shabby leader. He seems to possess a trait that many young alpha males acquire on The Apprentice — an inability to listen. Poor Lorraine Tighe must have been barking on about valuing the rug for a good third of the running time, but Philip just dismissed her. That was naive.

Neither chap will make it to the final few, I feel. But no one could better Noorul Choudhury in the useless department. Not dissimilar to Jenny Celerier from my group (but for very different reasons), I believe Sir Alan could not wait to show him the door. Perhaps his apparently shy and retiring personality was ill-suited to the show, but he should have contributed far more to the proceedings over the past few weeks.

So, I am still looking for the episode in this series to blow me out of the water and remind me why I wanted to apply for The Apprentice in the first place. But things are heating up, and should get hotter as we get to the business end of the competition.

BBC1, Wednesdays at 9pm

    Last updated: 10:31am, April 30 2009