Lord Sugar is many things, but fashionista isn’t one of them. While always smartly suited – and the same goes for his eyes and ears, Claude and Karren – the look is more corporate than catwalk, and his back story is more rag trade than Rodarte.
Nevertheless, this week’s Apprentice saw a task in which he designated himself the fashion police, declaring to the losing team that it had been “the Frocky Horror show”. For the candidates themselves, whose signature style tends towards nothing more adventurous than boardroom automaton, the task was to choose a designer, arrange a magazine shoot and flog the clothing following a catwalk show. Naturally, they made a clothing catalogue of errors.
After a team switcheroo, Joanna took the helm for Graphene, backed up by Michaela, Elizabeth and James. Although she has consistently under-impressed, Joanna’s big idea is clothing-related, and she did appear to have a good grasp of things as they sought to market a men’s fashion line that looked suspiciously similar to the Eilat trousers on sale in shuks across Israel. She was particularly effective at negotiating a good deal with the designer, so much so that you could practically see dollar signs in Claude’s eyes as he overlooked the transaction.
Elizabeth, on final warning from Lord Sugar, kept her megalomaniac tendencies mostly under control (perhaps because she and Michaela were distracted by the pecs on display during their male model audition, which swiftly descended from professional meeting into a scene from a Carry On film).
Meanwhile, the vapid James found his calling as a male model, pouting moodily and sauntering down the catwalk as if he was born to do it (one of the publishers deemed his pose “amateur magician”, which I suppose is a step up from “heroin chic”). At least there’s a future for him when he eventually gets sacked by Lord Sugar.
It was Michaela who was the loose cannon – firstly failing to bring her magazine experience when it came to designing their cover, thus losing them the Shortlist endorsement), and secondly by trying to sell the designs as if she was a market trader hawking bananas. “This is a very particular type of selling,” tutted Claude. “I do believe that her aggressive stance might of put off some people.”
It might well have done, but for the fact that Team Vitality, led by Jade after Sarah and Harrison point blank refused to step up, got it very, very wrong, leaving Graphene with a clear victory.
Normally unflappable and seemingly a potential finalist from early on, Jade was outside her comfort zone as she negotiated with a high end designer selling the sort of couture you never actually see ordinary human beings wear (“post-apocalyptic regal rock and roll” was the look, apparently, though it reminded me more of the Thriller video). Among other disasters, she failed to secure any bulk-buy windfalls, agreed a relatively low commission, and ignored the designer’s brand name in the marketing.
Harrison, who decided his being male virtually excluded him from contributing anything useful to the task (possibly true in life, less helpful in this particular situation), spent most of the time rearranging the chairs at the fashion show (deckchairs, Titanic, yada yada yada), while Sarah focused on sneering from the sidelines.
In the boardroom lord Sugar et al were unsparing. Jade was deemed by Claude to not be “the whole package” while Harrison was dismissed as a mannequin by Lord Sugar, then castigated for being his own “one man fan club”. Harrison was the first to walk the plank; having claimed his best skill was to be adaptable, his unwillingness to turn his hand to women’s fashion served him poorly. But Jade Lord Sugar was in a sour mood, and Jade was a surprise second casualty.
High fashion, it seems, is a cruel world.
Chutzpah of the week: James for his air of reluctance when offered his David Gandy moment – he loved it as much as Harrison loved singing at Wembley