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The Apprentice Review


Jane McEvoy

Jane McEvoy

Jane McEvoy

AN outbreak of plain-speaking hit this week’s episode of The Apprentice (BBC One), where our heroes were tasked with flogging vintage goods on east London's Brick Lane.

We’re selling crap,” explained Ricky as he outlined his tactic of buying second-hand tat and moving it on. Over on the creative team, where aspirations were loftier, Nick assessed Gabrielle’s attempt to “upcycle” furniture by glueing a box on a ladder. “It looks like a box on a ladder,” he said.

Gabrielle had more than one genius design idea, though. Who hasn’t hankered after a suitcase with legs? Sadly, things fell down a bit in the execution. “It looks like I painted it,” sighed Duane as he surveyed her handiwork, “and I can’t paint.”

Lord Sugar is usually the one who tells it like it is, but he was unusually reticent in this episode. You sensed he was on unfamiliar territory, the Sugar abode not being decked out in retro vintage ironic style (I’ve never been there, but that’s an educated guess).

He was clearly baffled by the idea that anyone would pay extortionate prices for what was, in Sugar-ese, a load of old tut. But this is Brick Lane, an area helpfully identified by Nick Hewer as “home to the young trendy with the gelled hair” (it was actually home to men in leopard-print onesies and burgundy bowties, on the evidence shown, but let’s not quibble about the details).

Only here in Hipster Central would Team Phoenix’s comically empty retail space be mistaken for an achingly cool temple to minimalism. As customers oohed and aahed over a £40 “vintage” holepunch, it was clear there were big profits to be made.

“There’s a well-known expression: don’t look a gift horse in the eye,” Duane observed. With such wisdom, how could Team Sterling fail? But fail they did, due in part to Jane’s gently persuasive selling (“What about a chair!” “NO!”) and their doomed attempts at design (“We can buy a bin and funk it up to be a funky bin!”), and so it was off to the Greasy Spoon of Doom before an all-girl showdown in the boardroom.

Laura, The Apprentice’s very own Samantha Brick (“Being an attractive businesswoman can have its ups and downs...”), got shrill and shouty and survived to