Apprentice Watch, Week 5 - or 'the one with the Jewish pastry'

Jennifer Lipman recaps the fifth episode of the longest, funniest, job interview in television history


The ultimate Jewish fail in the history of The Apprentice - other than when one of Lord Sugar's puns hasn’t landed - has always been Michael Sophocles’ escapades in a bazaar in Morocco, when he memorably sought a kosher chicken at a halal butcher.

But move over Michael, for this week we had Manchester’s own Charles Burns tasked with procuring rugelach (or roog-lech as the other candidates described them) and heading not for Carmelli or Brackmans, but into a Turkish bakery, a place not usually known for stocking Jewish delicacies. You could almost see the word “shmuck” going through Lord Sugar’s mind when he raised it in the boardroom.

Dispatched to buy nine items for Lord Sugar's 70th birthday (“one of my favourite tasks", explained a gleeful Lord Sugar), all with some kind of symbolism for his life and career (hasn’t he heard of John Lewis Gift List?), Charles eventually redeemed himself by purchasing said rugelach, albeit from a bakery in Hampstead at a price few bris-planners would be willing to stomach. Team Graphene, on the other hand, ventured into black hat territory and came away with a bargain batch, later returning to the scene to see if the baker had a mate with a spare Spurs scarf they could buy. Naturally, he knew a guy.

In a task that tested not only the candidates’ negotiation skills but their ability to navigate the geography of London and plan for traffic jams, neither team shone. Graphene, under Joanna’s leadership and now with James on board, managed to acquire all the items, which included scarlet doeskin (in honour of the esteemed peer’s service in the House of Lords) and a retractable aerial, but were fined for returning too late. Meanwhile Sajan’s boys (plus Michaela and Sarah) were back promptly but – in a turn of events reminiscent of any man put in sole charge of the weekly Tesco shop – they returned missing several of their gifts.

The items on Lord Sugar’s list ranged from something from the year he was born – a stamp for Vitality and a magazine for Graphene – to an embroidered hanky, a pile of bricks and mortar, and an Amstrad computer (apparently there are a few still knocking about). It was the latter that was Vitality’s undoing; in a twist of fate surely manufactured by the producers to rack up the rivalry, both teams came across the same seller. Alas for the boys, it was a harsh lesson in London traffic and they were pipped at the post, leading to a showdown in the boardroom (and some tears of joy from the victorious Joanna, which I doubt did much to endear her to Lord Sugar.)

Sajan hauled in Ross, who spent much of the task moaning that everyone was doing everything wrong but failing to make any constructive suggestions, along with sub-team leader Harrison. Both Karren and Claude were at their most disparaging towards all three, but it was obvious Ross was a goner from the moment he opened his mouth to explain he was a certified genius. Lord “left school at 16” Sugar, as you may have noticed, rather likes to be the smartest person in the room, and has little time for brainy types. “Statistically you've not performed,” he sneered, sending Ross on his way.

Chutzpah of the week: Spurs scarf-owning Simcha, who proved he’d be a much better business partner for Lord Sugar than any of those up for the job by negotiating an eye-watering price.

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