As anyone who has ever been a leader on Israel tour knows, the best decisions about how to entertain your teenage charges are made at a 2am staff meeting, preferably fuelled by pretzels, bissili or a large stash of Elite chocolate.
Perhaps that was the missing ingredient in the strategy sessions at the outset of this week’s Apprentice, as the candidates raced to offer a top-notch sightseeing day in Bruges for a bunch of unsuspecting punters. Given the shambles that unfolded for Team Vitality, it certainly couldn’t have hurt.
Not that the remixed Team Graphene, who came away with a win, will be getting any five star reviews on Trip Advisor any time soon. Led by florist Elizabeth, who in the manner of all good dictators turned out to be much more convivial when wielding power, the team opted for a “modern” excursion, including Belgian chocolate-tasting and segway rides.
Sarah, James and Bushra had little trouble snapping up some gullible customers on the cruise ship, albeit by implying that the entire trip would be on wheels, having not bothered to confirm whether that was the case.
In fact, as Claude observed, the vibe was more primary school trip than exhilarating experience, with Elizabeth handing the participants named baseball caps and overseeing the itinerary as if she was executing the evacuation of Dunkirk.
“Is everyone watered and been to the loo?” she asked at the beginning; a crucial question when shepherding six-year-olds, perhaps, but rather patronising when dealing with adults who had forked out rather a lot for the pleasure.
In the end, boosted by some expert upselling of what my Nana would have called trinkets, she pulled it off, despite a few unhappy customers asking for a refund. For Vitality, however, it was the holiday from hell.
In fairness to Charles, who came in for his share of finger-wagging in the boardroom, he did offer to be project manager; the team rushed to put their faith in clothing business owner Sarah Jayne instead. And while she was an easygoing leader, she proved a poor-decision maker, putting Anisa in charge of the tour’s content despite her protests that she wasn’t very good at facts, and letting Andrew off a leash to sell the “history tour” as if he was a holiday rep in Malaga offering an all you can drink beer party. He’d obviously learned a lesson from scrimping on the booze and canapés when he was project manager at Wembley, but I’m not sure it was quite the right one.
Charles, for his part, was in charge of logistics; unfortunately his map-reading skills seemed to take a cue from Joey “step into the map” Tribianni and it was déjà view rather than enjoyable views. By the time they reached the horse and carriage stage of the expedition, the tourists looked like they would have preferred to be in Ben Gurion airport facing a delayed EasyJet flight.
In the boardroom, Lord Sugar, Karren and Claude didn’t mince their words, with Karren suggesting Charles was highly skilled at hindsight, if less capable of getting things right to begin with. But Andrew’s lack of professionalism - “It was a bit laddish,” sneered Karren; “it’s a business process, not a holiday camp” tutted Lord Sugar – served to deflect attention from Charles’ failings. Yet despite it looking like both men would face the boot, it was Sarah Jayne who actually was sent home; possibly because the others make better TV and she was the epitome of forgettable. There’s no doubt, however, that both Charles and Andrew will have to up their game if they are to stay in the running.
Chutzpah of the week: Charles for claiming that he wasn’t lost while leading the tour group round in circles, just as Scott probably did while exploring the Antarctic.