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Apprentice Watch, Week 7 - the wheels come off

What happened this week? Jennifer Lipman gives you the lowdown...

    Charles Burn (left) and his Vitality colleagues have a watching brief as the rest of the team pitches to industry experts
    Charles Burn (left) and his Vitality colleagues have a watching brief as the rest of the team pitches to industry experts

    For both Charles and Andrew – savaged by Lord Sugar in the boardroom for ineptitude and immaturity respectively but given an 11th-hour reprieve - the stakes were high as we entered week seven of The Apprentice in time for the traditional advertising challenge. Both had won only one in six of the tasks; a seventh fail would surely mean curtains.

    Luckily, the terrible twosome and the rest of Team Vitality had the benefit of Michaela as nanny-slash-project manager, along with the ever-capable Jade as second in command, as they attempted to promote a new model of car with a television ad and Tube poster.

    Michaela’s approach to managing Charles and Andrew seemed to be very simple; fob them off with small but fiddly tasks, or if that didn’t take, ignore their opinions entirely. And while she appeared to be cracking under the pressure at one point, the strategy eventually paid off.   

    That’s not to say there weren’t some false starts, not least the fact that Anisa – supposedly a professional expert in PR and branding - appeared to think she was flogging vehicle rentals on holiday in Miami, and even admitted the whole thing was a mess while pitching to the industry experts.

    But it wasn’t a total car crash. Their advert was more Magaluf than Mad Men, but at least it vaguely made sense.

    Perhaps the other team could have done with Vitality’s strapline of escaping from reality about the time they arrived at what they thought was a chocolate-box English village in Essex but was in fact a pretend “Norman” settlement, complete with mud huts and squawking birds.

    So, naturally, the candidates ran around like headless chickens, creating an advert stuck in the middle ages to complement a very modern digital campaign. Presumably the Anglo-Saxons just needed the perfect car to see off William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings.

    Lord Sugar only fired one member of Team Graphene, but it was easy to see why he considered sacking a couple more. From Elizabeth – demonstrating a Blair-like inability to relinquish power now her time in the hotseat was over – to Joanna, who had picked Bushra as her punching bag of the week (at one point Bushra delivered an excellent rant back at her, and I almost cheered), it was a pile-up of disasters. Taking charge – except he didn’t, which was part of the problem – was James, a posh boy who we learned had been on a £200k a year salary before quitting in pursuit of reality show fame. He was qualified to lead the team, he said at the beginning, because he rather liked cars and had once run a successful carwash in his local village.

    Graphene decided to go for the family market, calling their model "Expando", which was later mocked for its suggestion of functional underwear, but not, surprisingly, for sounding like the start of New-Wave band name.

    Elizabeth came up with a tired concept about a stressed mum having her worries alleviated by driving off in her new wheels (instead of, say, by her husband chipping in on the childcare) and then somehow managed to corral the others into letting her star in it.

    Meanwhile Sajan was behind the camera, acting as if he had missed his calling as a Coppola or a Tarantino. Ultimately, his claim of being a creative and his abject failure to produce anything remotely so led to his being fired; inevitable in the long run but unfair in this instance, I felt, given so many others contributed to the team’s defeat.

    Chutzpah of the week: Elizabeth, for claiming to Lord Sugar that “it wasn’t the Elizabeth show” – when it so evidently was.

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