A bit of rustic charm versus five star luxury abroad

The Apprentice – Week 4 & 5

Week’s 4 and 5 of The Apprentice were polar opposites. If episode 4 focused on the rural and organic (teams had to open a farm shop and sell organic produce in the lovely Hackney), then episode 5 was all about five star luxury which saw the teams attempt to source a number of products for a plush Dubai hotel. The heat was on.

A bit of rustic charm

Thanks to three previous embarrassing losses for the ladies’ Team Evolve and therefore, three jammy wins for the mens’ Team Endeavour, it was time for a shuffle around. Uzma and Natalie join Team Endeavour (a match made in heaven, I’m sure) and Myles, Jason and Jordan move to Team Evolve.

Scouring the South East for stock for their respective farm shops was the aim of the game and Retail Entrepeneur Luisa immediately felt she was up to the task, volunteering herself as Project Manager for Team Evolve. Miss Can-I-Just-Say-Something Rebecca naturally wanted the post, but was quickly outvoted. In an unusually calm session, the group decided to focus their shop around buffalo meat and hearty takeaways, like jacket potatoes and soups.

Project Manager Neil for Team Endeavour meanwhile decided to play the dictatorial role, not allowing any room for discussion after Kurt quickly suggested they focus on milkshakes. Kurt was in the drinks business and as his business idea was drinks-related, he was determined for it to succeed to impress Lord Sugar. It just couldn’t go wrong. Right?

As Team Evolve decided to stock up on things that ‘looked nice’ to create an authentic, rustic feel, rather than products which were likely to sell, Team Endeavour stocked up to their hearts’ content on milk with Uzma complaining in the background.

For Team Evolve, selling buffalo meat – notoriously expensive – was always going to be a risk and its success very much depended on the clientele you marketed it to.  You can imagine it being snapped up by the likes of Chelsea residents but perhaps not so much by the good folk of Hackney. Maybe the milkshake idea from the other team wasn’t such a bad idea, after all.

At the following day’s 10 o’clock opening, customers entering Team Evolve’s Buffalocal shop comment on the expense of the buffalo meat (no surprise there, then), but Team Endeavour’s Fruity Cow isn’t faring much better – they open slightly late and it takes a while for customers to step inside.

But by lunchtime, everything changes. The milkshakes are selling like hotcakes, thanks in part to the nice weather, but Buffalocal’s hearty takeaways aren’t just cutting it with the Hackney public, although their buffalo meat is surprisingly more popular than anyone could ever have predicted.

So popular have the milkshakes become in fact, that it’s decided to add some smoothies into the mix, too. Not in the same drink, thank goodness. They plump for carrot and apple juice, rustically sourced from a local supermarket chain. Nevertheless, with a new batch of milkshakes and smoothies to sell to a thirsty public, Vampire Alex comes into his own, tempting in the clientele with his natural Dracula-like charisma. Uzma, meanwhile decides to spend the time arguing with the rest of the team.

Back at the boardroom, the results surprise everyone. Despite the raging success of the milkshake business, Team Evolve have made the grade with their buffalo meats (just not their takeaways) and scrape a win with a £91 majority.

After Neil brings Kurt and Uzma back to the boardroom to face the chop, it’s refreshing to see the boys in the losing seat for once, even if Uzma has already faced the chop on three previous occasions. Small wonder: Lord Sugar is concerned at her attitude. “I’m told by both teams and my aides that you just don’t contribute,” he tells her. “What is it about you that alienates people in this process? There is no smoke without fire.”  He fires. Goodbye Uzma.

The five star hotel challenge – week 5

More team changes this week as doctor Leah Totton moves to Team Endeavour. This week, the candidates are lucky (and jammy) enough to be in Dubai and must source eight local items in ten hours at the cheapest possible price for a new luxury hotel.

At first, it seems that International Property Investor Zeeshaan Shah is in his element, having lived and worked in Dubai for some years. His team (apart from Leah) seem happy for him to be Project Manager, assuming he’d have the local knowledge and expertise to pull them through the task into another win. As they go through the list of strange and curious items such as Oud (a perfume, he insists and kandura, a piece of clothing), he confidently announces he knows exactly what they are, and there is no need to check.

Meanwhile, Project Manager Myles and Team Evolve are painstakingly going through the list and making phone calls, checking and double checking they know what the items are.

Whilst Myles and the team hit the mall to source their items for the cheapest prices, Zee advises his team to source as many as possible from the local market, insisting there will be better bargains to be had. It’s painful to watch: Zee, who has got nearly everyone’s back up in previous episodes, for the first time ever since the series started, seems to have come into his own and appears to be in his element in Dubai, but it is short lived.

Tensions between Zee and Leah are rising dramatically during the ten hours they have to source various items, and as time ticks on, they are still no closer to find all eight, including the elusive oud. A quick Google informs me that an oud is in fact a musical stringed instrument, not the perfume that Zee insists it is. Ooops.

Then there is the trauma over the flag. There are specific measurements the flag must be made up in: it has to be big enough to fly at the front of the new hotel. But although Team Evolve makes the strange and stupid decision to wait over an hour at the flag-making place for their order (therefore wasting precious time) and Zee seemingly has the right idea by pre-ordering it on the telephone first and going off to source other things while it’s being made, he still screws up – the flag measurements which team member Kurt has given are wrong and they have to order again. More time wasted.

The other team members on both sides meanwhile are busy doing their own things. Vampire Alex the happy-go-lucky character in this episode, anyway, happily tells a stall holder who offers him ‘fresh viagra’ that ‘I don’t need any of that, I’m from Wales’ and skips off into the sunset and Leah goes from stall to stall saying loud and simply ‘COFFEE POT. ARABIC. WE NEED COFFEE POT’ In the hope the language barrier can be broken by a loud voice.

By the time the ten hours are up, the items are back at the hotel and the teams return to the UK to meet Sugar in the boardroom, it’s clear that neither team have done amazingly well, but Zee’s team, who should have been flying ahead, have done worst of all.  Of the eight items requested, Team Endeavour sourced just four items, but one was the wrong type, resulting in a penalty. Team Evolve on the other hand, sourced six and won by £90.

At the disgust of various female members of Zee’s team, Zee decides to bring back Leah and Natalie to face the chop rather than any other male members, such as Kurt who was responsible for getting the flag measurements wrong. Nevertheless, Zee’s choices are irrelevant. Sugar points the finger and fires him. You can’t help but feeling a bit sorry for the poor sod.

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