The Apprentice – Episode 4, “Never look a gift horse in the eye”

The Apprentice Response Recruitment ChairAfter three episodes where the contestants have sold tat to the public, guess what week four has in store?

This week’s task saw  the remaining 13 business brains buying junk from auctions, car boot sales, junk shops and dead people’s houses and then selling it on to the uber-cool socialites of Brick Lane over in the East End.

So, armed with a £1,000 per team, ‘attractive’ Laura is leading team Sterling and Tom takes charge of Phoenix.

Who will be able to make a fine mess of the task this week?

Tom’s strategy is that of quality of quantity when purchasing the tat to resell to the gullible public.  Giving his sub-team only £200 seems a little mean, but that sub-team are made up of the three stooges; Adam, Stephen and my office sweepstake pick Kate, so actually that might not be a bad plan after all.

The sub-team first head to an auction where they seem to have their arms taped to their sides, and barely raise a flicker of excitement until they find a treasure chest of bounty round the back, which is actually just a skip full of skip like garbage.

After rescuing a rusty saucepan and other booty from said skip, they head over to a car boot sale to employ the same non-buying tactic, seemingly forgetting they have an entire shop to fill with stuff.

Just buying everything you see

Over in team Sterling, they go down the other cul-de-sac; buying everything and anything they can get their hands on.  They will have only 8 hours to sell over 200 items.  It isn’t hard to work out who the likely victors are at the moment.

So, let’s have a butchers at their boutiques.  With a couple of hundred bits of awful looking furniture, Sterling have decided to spruce up their wares with lots of gaudy suede material and badly scrawled Union Jacks.  They seemed to have missed the whole concept of vintage.

The trouble is the pieces of furniture they are trying to upcycle, whatever that means, are bloody awful anyway and should have stayed at whatever Hospice shop they found them in.

So with 200 pieces, Sterling’s, “Vintage Gold” shop looks more shabby than chic; like an Oxfam shop after an earthquake.  And to complete that vintage hobo look, how about a few scattered dead leaves?  When have you ever walked into any shop to see dead leaves unless they are trying to sell you the latest in leaf blowing technology?

Hold on a second.  Team Phoenix’s shop actually looks quite smart.  They’ve only got a quarter of the stock but they’ve not spent any cash ruining the items and they’ve definitely picked out some decent stuff.

So with 200 vs. just 50 items, who is going to sell better and emerge victorious?

Would you like a cup of tea?  Go on, go on, go on……..

Jane’s selling technique outside the Vintage Gold shop is akin to those idiots who stand outside bars on the continent, harassing you with free shots of Jager Suicide or something.

She exclaims that you have to be pushy to sell to this lot.  Pushy?  To a bunch of en-trend urbanites from the East End?  Oh dear, Jane is an early candidate for the trapdoor.

Her team mate Ricky, wants to, “sell crap and turn it into style”, well he’s halfway there looking at the shop.

Whilst Jane struggles to sell dead people’s junk, Duane’s tactic is to appeal to the trendy masses with some sycophantic blurb.  Whilst looking at two hideous chairs that wouldn’t have looked out of play on the Cosby Show, he tells the people watching on that to buy them, “you have to be really cool, which you clearly are.”

I did like Duane, but he’s losing his mojo somewhat this episode.

You’re Fired, yes you…

After the public have been hoodwinked into buying the rubbish, it’s back to the boardroom for some gesticulating, blaming, shouting and weird facial expressions.

Despite buying fewer items, Team Retro (Phoenix) take to the podium after making £300 more profit than team Vintage (Sterling).  Their reward, if you can call it that, is to dress up in pre-second World War badly fitting costumes and learn how to swing.

Considering team Sterling got to razz round a race track in Porsches as last week’s task winners, I’d feel a little hard done by if I was in Phoenix’s shoes.

But hey, at least one of them isn’t being sacked, so who goes from Team Sterling this week?

Laura has chosen to bring Gabrielle and Jane back to the playground for a bit of a squabble.  So let’s rule out Gabrielle straight away.  Although her flags and suede were tasteless, she worked hard and sold well, bringing in £414 into the Sterling pot.

So between Laura and Jane, who was the weakest link this week?  Not much in it really.  As team leader, Laura decided not to bother with any of that strategy or budget malarkey, leaving her squad a bit rudderless.

But Jane really was utterly useless this week.  Her strong-arm sales approach of badgering and harassing the buying public into submission was embarrassing, but the fact she only contributed a paltry £10 into the pot means the writing is on the wall.

Jane gets the finger of fate, which is a shame really; she’s been ruddy good value.  Especially when trying to sell a million plastic bath shield toy thingies to Amazon, which was irrational but ballsy at the same time.

Next week it’s a fitness task, but hopefully Ricky ‘the shark’ Martin won’t be wearing any lycra, I don’t think I could stomach that with my dinner!

See you all next week for some sporty Apprentice fun.

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