Sunday, 15 April 2012

The Apprentice UK Season 8 Episode 4 Junk Shops


          The teams were having a day off and were totally unaware of what was about to befall them. Freed for once from the fear of the boardroom and another of Lord Sugar’s bizarre aphorisms (“If I wanted a friend I’d get a dog!”) they frolicked playfully in their London pad. There was merry laughter, there was ping-pong, there was…the phone.
          Curse that dastardly Lord Sugar and his fiendish plans!
          Of course what I mean by totally unaware is that there was camera crew in the house and they were standing by the phone. But if Mr Voiceover thought that this might have given away the surprise he certainly wasn’t saying.
          And so the teams after a bit of juggling received their latest task. Buy some stuff in junk shops, tart it up and sell it for a profit in a posher junk shops on Brick Lane. I think it’s fair to say it wasn’t the most imaginative task.
          Phoenix were led by Tom, who shone with the young man´s certainty and self-confidence that always makes me think of the Somme. Laura, who owns a bridal shop and didn’t shine quite as brightly, defeated Duane unanimously to take control of Sterling.
          Off the teams dutifully went to buy their tat, both bearing in mind Duane’s cheery advice that “You should never look a gift horse in the eye,” Next week he tells us people in grass houses shouldn’t throw phones and a rolling pin gathers no dross.
          There was a fair amount of dross gathered by the teams. Stephen and Adam foraged in skips for Phoenix while Sterling searched junk shops for suitcases and old chair legs. Sterling thought they had an ace up their sleeve in Gabrielle who planned to use her creativity to tart everything up. She was certainly improvising when ordering the materials to help her do it.
          Second Lieutenant Tom focussed on keeping costs down and therefore aimed for minimalism. It meant that even after stocking up the shop still had a good amount of space left. Now there’s stylishly minimalist and there’s eerily empty and it's a fine line between the two. Watching on for Lord Sugar, it was clear from his sour face on which side of the line Nick thought Pheonix had strayed.
          At the other end of Brick Lane it turned out Sterling had more of a knave up their sleeve than an ace as Gabrielle demonstrated that her creativity meant everything with union jacks. By the time she´d finished it was clear her team had gambled everything on a overnight mod revival or an impromptu Brick Lane march by the English Defence League. Otherwise they were in trouble.
          The next day was a mixture of chivvying and selling as the teams tried to attract the general public into their stalls. Brisk Jane was out and about for Sterling trying to drum up custom. She wasn´t exactly a natural at it. As punters fled from her aggressive sales pitch she became Shrill Jane and finally Scary Jane. It´s a good thing the task only lasted one day or she´d have ended up with a restraining order.
          Down the road Phoenix had custom, but did they have enough stock? Second Lieutenant Tom sent out for reinforcements. But would they, like Blucher at Waterloo, arrive on time to save the day?
          Back to Sterling who, in the final hour, with no sign of Nick Griffin anywhere on the Brick Lane horizon, (and in a wider cultural sense we can all be pleased about that) were forced the last hour virtually giving their Union Jack themed chairs away. If only it had been the Last Night at the Proms.
          And so to the boardroom where Phoenix’s minimalism maximised their margins and Sterling were sunk. A proud second lieutenant Tom marched on towards Paschendale.
          Things were looking bleak for Laura and she began to shift the blame to Gabrielle citing her unplanned, adhoc purchases of extra materials. Scary Jane, who knew she’d had a bad task too, morphed into Silent Jane and hoped nobody would notice. But it’s hard to hide in a bright red dress and when Lord Sugar revealed her disastrous sales figures Laura was given a solid steer who to bring back.
            The three of them faced his decision. Now far be it from me to say that it has anything to do with Gabrielle being pretty as to why he saved her, suddenly coming over all protective and telling her he liked her enthusiasm and scolding the others for “picking on her”. So it must be his love of the flag. And far be it from me to suggest that he’d been itching to fire Jane because he doesn’t like strong women who won’t back down to him. But Jane was the way the stubby Sugar finger pointed. Karen’s waspish “You won’t need to worry about Jane” as she headed for the door hinted she thought his motives were not entirely pure.
          As Jane shed a tear in the taxi, back in the boardroom Lord Sugar was citing his gut again and huffing that it was his money to invest.
          But for all his bluster, he couldn’t meet Karen’s eye.

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