Friday 24 November 2017

Alan Sugar springs surprises with double firing

The Apprentice 2012: Ricky, Stephen and Gabrielle face Lord Sugar's inquest after the luxury deals task.
The Apprentice 2012: Ricky, Stephen and Gabrielle face Lord Sugar's inquest after the luxury deals task.

Rachel Ward

Last night Alan Sugar hit the teams with a double axing after the luxury deals task.

We're 10 weeks into this year's series of The Apprentice and Lord Sugar still doesn't want a dog, which is a shame because Simon Cowell is making a mint out of his Britain's Got Talent winner, Pudsey the super-pooch. Maybe this is where Sugar is going wrong. Wouldn't it be nice if, next year, he forgot all about hiring some no-hope doofus and interviewed lots of cuddly canines to be his next big thing/best friend?

Anyway, this week's task kicked off at 6am with Ricky Martin rising bleary-eyed to answer the telephone alarm call. He must have felt so left out after Adam, Nick and Tom got to take their tops off in the jacuzzi with Jade last week that he too was showing off a bit of flesh in a tight black vest and shorts combo, complete with that dated barbed-wire tribal tattoo on full display… again.

The task was a very modern one: to seek out luxury suppliers and negotiate discounts for a daily deal website. After smarmy Stephen's narrow escape from being fired last week, he was desperate to impress as team leader and vowed to give 110 per cent. Business development manager Jade put herself forward for team Phoenix. Jade was calm, confident and organised and picked out the best businesses to target, heading straight for the popular Sanctuary spa as her "number one place to go", only to find that they didn't normally offer large discounts on their services. Nevertheless, Jade impressed and managed to negotiate a 50 per cent deal off a £200 package.

Meanwhile, Stephen wanted to "keep a leash" on Gabrielle as he thought that some things were "beyond her", and so sent Ricky off on his own to find deals from high-end restaurants. Over the phone, Gaby pressed that Ricky needed to ask certain questions about the offers. "You don't have to teach me how to suck eggs," he replied. Clearly not, as Ricky spent his whole day sucking on sautéed scallops. There was no meal deal from the first client, though, who had eaten up most of his morning by giving him the guided tour of their venue rather than getting down to business. Ricky admitted his mistake to team leader Stephen and pressed that he didn't think he had time to go to Tring in Hertfordshire, to the luxury spa that could potentially house some lucrative deals for the team. It seemed that Tring was not the thing and Stephen made the call to abandon the idea.

"I'm going to use this to motivate me for the rest of the day," said Ricky, putting his best tattooed arm forward and shooting off around London like Superman, netting a few more decent restaurant deals. Basically, Ricky learned a lot of lessons… and ate a lot of scallops.

While Jade decided to give up on trying to get any more massage parlour deals ("I think I've just called a whorehouse!"), Adam and Tom weren't doing too well for the team. But it didn't matter, Adam continued to deliver the best moments of the show with his market trader, cheeky chappy attitude: "We're in the poshest part of London and we're trying to flog coupons," he scoffed.

While Nick and Jade embarrassingly failed to do their sums for Marcus Wareing's plush St Pancras Hotel, Stephen's frantic negotiation for an offer at a fish foot spa (dubbed "nature's pedicure") showed that the cracks were appearing in his management skills. He'd clearly forgotten the brief to acquire "luxury" items - these faddy experiences can be found in every high street shopping centre up and down the country and cost no more than a tenner.

Time to deliver their plethora of deals to the website company, and team Sterling were running late (not Ricky Martin, though, he flew there with his Superman powers). Stephen was panicking again. He'd lost the plot, said Gaby. And in the car on the way there all he could see in front of him was red lights. Was this a telltale sign? Maybe so, but Stephen admitted to camera that he can look himself in the mirror and say that he'd given 100 per cent on this task. Hang on a minute! Didn't he say at the start that he was going to give 110 per cent? That boy needs firing fast.

And in the boardroom that's just what happened. Team Phoenix triumphed with an £8,000 lead and Jade and co went off for a VERY expensive (£500 a head) afternoon tea. Dreams didn't come true for Gabrielle, though, whose excessive use of the phrase "at the end of the day" caught up with her at the end of the day. Lord Sugar fired her for lack of contribution to the task; Ricky is going to conquer the world as he thinks he's got great prospects for the future; and Stephen, eyes rolling around like marbles in a jar, also saw the firing finger come his way as Lord Sugar delivered a double whammy.

Not enough head-shaking and sour faces from Karren Brady and Nick Hewer this week, but at least we're spared Stephen's Beaker-from-The-Muppets face from the final line-up. Being driven away in the black cab, Stephen wished that he could turn back time. It's too late for Cher now, Beaker. Onwards and upwards.

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