After last week’s hat-trick of sackings, you could be forgiven for wondering how on earth you’d summon up the will to watch The Apprentice anymore. How to survive without Anisa’s infectious giggle, Andrew’s youthful capers, and not least without Charles’ King Solomon-esque capacity for wise hindsight? How indeed, and yet somehow the show must go on.
With Charles gone, the vacuum for resident Jewish contrarian was more than filled this week by Lord Sugar and his trusty lieutenant Claude Littner. Both were on top form, casting derisory looks at the candidates as they attempted to rustle up and brand recipe kits – a task that ultimately saw Joanna pitch dressed in a giant pea suit and Bushra make Donald Trump jokes to an aghast audience - with Claude rolling his eyes at every poor decision made by Team Vitality.
And he wasn’t short on opportunities. The team – a paltry foursome at this late stage – was led by Harrison, in his first outing as project manager. Harrison’s big business idea relates to the healthy food market, so this challenge should have been child’s play. But paired with Michaela, who was having trouble relinquishing power after having to backseat drive Charles last week – “did she at least let you lick the spoon first, if you was a good boy,” teased Lord Sugar – it was a recipe for disaster.
Jade and Joanna were dispatched to take charge of branding, but managed to spend most of the time bickering over what to call their healthy brand (eventually they came up with NutraFuel, a name so forgettable I had to look it up three times), while their colleagues tried their skills in the kitchen. Neither turned out to be a latter day Evelyn Rose, and not just because of the decidedly unkosher yoghurt in their chicken curry. “It’s supposed to be healthy but there isn’t a vegetable in sight,” groaned Claude, while Lord Sugar looked baffled by the idea of a nutritious curry in general.
The culinary geniuses in Team Graphene, meanwhile, went for the gourmet consumer with a slightly more Jewish-friendly salmon risotto. Sarah, impressive thus far but less so on this task, took charge, choosing to call the brand “Gourmet crusaders”, despite concern that the name sounded a tad warmongery. In the kitchen it was a case of too many cooks because Elizabeth had to share the stage with someone other than herself (James, who once again demonstrated his inability to take control of a situation). In a lowpoint even for this show, the pair squabbled over whose responsibility it was to chop an onion. You don’t get that kind of behaviour on Bake Off.
When it came to Graphene’s pitch, perhaps the best that could be said was that nobody left with food poisoning. “Toe curling,” was Karren’s verdict. “Even Oliver Twist wouldn't ask for more of this,” snorted Lord Sugar about what they had served up (there was also a joke about Tinder too dreadful to repeat).
The panel of experts agreed, handing Vitality a win and leaving Lord Sugar with all the ingredients to give Graphene a good telling off in the boardroom. James looked on while his three colleagues tore each other apart like a scene out of a wildlife documentary, meaning it was an all female firing line. For Lord Sugar it was a choice between Elizabeth – “you’re like a giant hogweed,” he told the florist – and Bushra, who was castigated for doing a Charles and sniping from the sidelines. Ultimately, he gave Elizabeth a last-minute reprieve, probably because she makes better telly. Something tells me they’ll be broiges again very soon.
Chutzpah of the week: Harrison, for securing a win despite facing the wrath of Claude for his disastrous management.