There was a glimmer of hope in the eyes of ‘Apprentice’ fans this week as the remaining candidates were marched down one of Waterloo's dingiest archways. Daydreams of Sugar brandishing an automatic weapon and saving himself half a million pounds were quickly dashed however as his mug appeared on a television set guarded by his minions Nick and Karen.
The clues to this weeks’ task were on the walls all around them as it turns out. The teams this week had to charm the country’s leading street artists and sell their work at one-off events to the public and to choice corporate clients.
One of the surprises this week was how well each team chose their project manager. Both Gabrielle and Tom were great choices, displaying enthusiasm and an understanding of the subject matter respectively.
From the off it was clear that Adam was going to be entertaining in this episode. Forcing him to come face to face with culture wasn’t just like taking the fish out of water, it was like blasting the fish into space.
Tom on the other hand was a fountain of street art knowledge. He knew it all and was definitely passionate. He was the complete opposite of Adam, which is what actually ended up hurting him.
The artists didn’t want fans or street art geeks, they wanted businessmen first and foremost - people who can sell their product. Knowledge of said product has its benefits (something Tom was eager to run with) but so does the raw opinion of someone with no artistic knowledge – as long as the artist has faith that they can sell it on.
For Team Gabby the big story was Stephen, who continued to prove himself as a liability who has been coasting along so far in the competition. His idea to have one of the artists perform live but away from the gaze of the public was a truly bizarre attempt at being “daring” and he followed that up by treating the corporate guests like they were something he was scraping off the bottom of his shoe.
Both teams wanted artist Pure Evil for their galleries, meaning that the man himself got to decide in the end. He plumped for Team Gabby, much to the surprise of Tom who rubbed his forehead furiously in an attempt to understand. It was Gabrielle’s enthusiasm for the artist’s work itself that won Pure Evil other.
To be fair to Tom he was a good project manager overall but his misjudging of a key part of the task cost him here. With no plan B and with little help from the gormless sub-team of Adam and Jade, he decided to “roll the dice” as he put it, and pick the artist with the most expensive art.
Selling just one of James Jessop’s massive works would have won him the task but as hard as he tried he was unable to. If he had managed to do it, it would have been one of the show’s greatest ever sales.
Back in the boardroom it was revealed that this cost his team the task, but not by a lot, as Team Gabby walked away victorious by a small margin of less than £200.
The win was down entirely to Ricky Martin (the candidate, not the singer) who unleashed all his salesman powers to get a candidate to spend a huge £3,100. Ricky pushed the art collector hard as soon as he let slip that he was eager to spend about £3k, coaxing an extra hundred out of him which ended up being a large chunk of their winning margin.
Meanwhile in the Loser’s Café, the failing team contemplated defeat but then, in what may be an ‘Apprentice’ first, Tom admitted defeat and took the blame.
It was clearly his gamble that ultimately caused the defeat and he knew it as well, letting the blame soak in and preparing himself to fight for his life on the show.
Immediately Sugar took to Tom’s dodgy roll of the dice but surprisingly enough he actually seemed to understand and appreciate what Tom tried to do. As soon as Sugar said that he had taken a few risks himself, there was hope for Tom.
Attention then turned to Laura, who had sold the least out of everyone on the team by a sizeable gap. In fact if she had sold only one of two more paintings she could have won them the task. Her defence that she was out of her depth fell on deaf ears because it was Adam, of all people, who had sold the most.
Credit where credit is due, Adam did well with this task.
When Sugar told Laura that he had heard enough it was clear… for about another five seconds at least, before Sugar dangled the knife right above Tom’s head once again.
But he did in fact go for Laura in the end. Putting an end to her winning ambitions.
Tom’ survival was down to his naivety. Sugar sees something in the boy and likes his honesty, but this will only get him so far. It won’t take long for Sugar to tire of Tom’s lack of bravado, despite how refreshing for the viewer it may be. He’s on thin ice right now but remains the favourite for me alongside Nick.
Quote of the week: "[Banksy's] like The Stig, ain’t he?”
Next week: It’s another advert-making task! But without Azhar to dress up, how will either team cope?
This week's Apprentice rated out of a possible five runaway squirrels!