Sunday 22 May 2011

The Apprentice Series 7: Week 3

Week 3 brings one of my favourite tasks from every series: Discount Buying for Idiots.  This year, the unlucky recipient of whatever toot the teams trawl home is The Savoy, which has recently been redecorated and needed an excuse to tell the nation.

We start off with a reminder of last week's car crash, followed by the usual phone call and the clearly-not-10-minutes-like-they-say-it-is gallop around the house to get ready.  One of the girls can't find her underwear.

With 2 boys gone, the teams have to be rearranged, and the team names come into play.  I shall ignore them, though, because they're stupid.  Leon, Lovely Jim and Glenn swap places with Natasha, Ellie, Melody and Zoe. Who?  Where did Natasha and Zoe come from?  I have no idea which of them is which, and shall henceforth refer to them both as Zotasha, for the sake of clarity, and because I don't really care.

So The Savoy have spent £200 million on the repaint, but can only spare, like, 20 quid for the rest of the stuff they need.  The list includes ice, top hats, a cloche (a what? A cloche. What's that? You're about to find out), signage and tea.

Susan (easily amused) is in charge of her team, because she negotiates all the time, and paid off her mum's mortgage while doing her A-Levels and also a degree, or something.  On the other team, Gavin literally wants to put his name forward, literally straight away.  Vincent would also be up for it if it wasn't for Gavin being such an obvious choice.  So they opt for Gavin.

It's important to note that the tools available to the teams are business directories, and a map.  Apparently they can't just use common sense and Google it, because What Would The World Be Coming To if they did that?

Susan's team start by figuring out what all the things are, phoning round a few places, and finding out how much they cost.  Then they split into 2 teams, one headed by Susan and one by Lovely Jim, and head off to buy them.  You know, like you would do if you had ever watched the program before, or had any idea about how to go about buying things, or had any ounce of wit AT ALL.  Even Nick's impressed.

Meanwhile, Chez Gav, Vincent is phoning a fishmonger to ask about their fillet steak.  A FISHmonger.  The clue is in the name.  They do not mong steaks, you twit, they mong FISH.  Otherwise they would be, like, a STEAKmonger or something.  And I know you don't see a lot of those, so maybe that's where the problem happened.  He also asks the fishmonger where he can buy steak in London.  Twit.

Zotasha has a more cunning plan.  Rather than figuring out where to buy any of the things, just phone some other hotel and ask them where they buy their stuff.  So she phones the Ritz.  Which at least gives the rest of the team a giggle, because it's all getting a little serious, what with them not having a clue what half the things on the list are.

Back at Team Slightly Sane, Susan, Leon and Felicity are trying to buy a top hat.  The guy tells them it costs £385, and they start trying to negotiate, mainly by sounding all shocked at how expensive it is, and then doing Bambi eyes.  Felicity is all for going to a fancy dress shop, and Nick tells a great anecdote about shopping for hats with the King of Tonga.

Lovely Jim, Glenn, Scary Edna and Scary Helen are off to Mayfair to buy fillet steak.  I do not know why they go to Mayfair, as that is the final square on the Monopoly board, and we all know that that means it's really expensive.  Fortunately, they have Lovely Jim, who talks the guy down to £180 (I don't know what it started at, maybe £5875 or something), and the rest stand in awe.  Somehow he then ends up only paying £170.

Team Chaos are still trying to figure out how to say 'cloche', never mind figure out what it is.  They decide they've spent enough time in their room with their phone directories, and head to the cars.  They've no idea where they're going or what they're trying to get (they seem to have definitions only for ice, fillet steak, and top hats), but they're driving each other nuts and need to be kept apart.  Vincent is put in charge of the sub team, which includes both Zotashas and Ellie.  Melody, Tom the Lovely Inventor and Gavin are heading off to Mongolia or somewhere to buy 3 light bulbs; Zotasha is trying to negotiate a deal on a sign, and does it like this: "the highest I can offer is £20 (sign man: no way), £40 (sign man: no way), £50, £60" (sign man: no way).  Vincent steps in and offers £80, which is finally accepted.  That's not negotiating, that's just playing a guessing game to see how much it costs.  Zotasha is cross because Vincent didn't let her drive the price down further.  It is unclear which bit of 'down' she's not grasped yet.

Susan, Leon and Felicity are looking for top hats in a different posh shop, and doing very badly at even getting the man to negotiate.  The shop does not do discounts.  The price is the price.  They do not discount the price.  There is no negotiation on price. After a tense stand off, he gives them a penny off, to the most rapturous celebrations we've seen to date.  If ever there was a petty victory, this, surely, is it.

Gavin and co have decided that a cloche is a bell, which it is not.  Glenn has found one, and it's one of those metal dome things you put over food when you serve it to someone posh, and it costs £8.50.  Gavin and co then move on from the bell idea, and become certain it's a mini greenhouse.  Now their only challenge is to figure out why the description describes it as 12" in diameter, and made of stainless steel.  This winsome scene is interrupted by Gavin spotting a dry cleaners, and having a whole new brainwave.  The dry cleaners is called 'Top Hat Cleaners', and yes, yes he does, he goes in and asks if they do top hats.  The scene concludes with Karren standing alone, shaking her head sadly.

Back to the cloche, and there is now a real, and very exciting, possibility that they are about to turn up in the entrance hall of The Savoy with a small metal greenhouse under their arms.

Susan's off to buy some organza silk, and is quoted £109.50 by a woman so scary that she makes Edna look like she paints rainbows and fluffy clouds in the sky for a living.  Susan tells her that it's for a very very important client.

"How would that make a difference to me?", asks scary shopkeeper.


Eventually they get it for £100 by paying cash.  Susan realises they've ended up in Posh World, where there are no discounts to be had.  Bit late, like.

Gavin, however, has picked up the silk for £75, which is about the first good thing that has happened to him all day.

Vincent and the girls are seeking out loo roll.  They seem to be having trouble getting 500 rolls, which does not sound like something that would be hard to do.  Try a big Tesco.  Ellie is negotiating, until Vincent rips the phone out of her hand and achieves nothing extra.

Lovely Jim continues to work his magic, and gets a load of bulbs and A HUG, for £60.  We have, of course, no idea whether this is good value for a load of bulbs or not, but he bargained her down from something higher, which is the right way to do it, Zotasha, if you're reading.

The final item is 10kg of chamomile tea.  Felicity is so excited that they've found something on the list that they can actually buy, that she fails to get any kind of price until they get there.  The woman (who, incidentally, is standing in the middle of the street with the box of tea, not in a shop or anything) quotes them £990.  Well.  I nearly fell over.  Has it been hand-picked by unicorns or something?  Seriously. Tesco.  Buy a box of Twinings and empty the bags out.  Eventually, they get it for £450 or something, from the woman, who is now drinking tea in the middle of the street.

Back to The Savoy, and Susan's lot have 9 out of 10 items, while Gavin's shower of turkeys only have 6 out of 10, and get fined.  Somehow they haven't even managed to buy ice. Hint: try some eskimos.  They've tons of the stuff, apparently.

And so to the boardroom, where we analyse Susan's team first.  They all loved Susan, and she loved how well she organised it all, and how she got a penny off, at which point they realise that that was actually a bit crap. They get hauled over the coals for going to posh places to buy things, instead of the local Cheepy Cheep Stuff.  The £990 tea thing comes up, and Lord Shugah is Not Pleased.

Over to Gavin, where they thought he wasn't bad, but they all seemed to think it was a bit disorganised, that bit where they spent 3 hours running round in circles and phoning the Ritz.  We laugh at the Top Hat Cleaners thing, and then run through the options for what a cloche might be.

Now for the totals.  Susan etc. have 1 fine, and including that have spent £1381.69.  Gavin and co have 4 fines, but on cheaper items, so when that gets added in, their total is £1389.20.  There's a pause while the nation works out who has won; I shall calculate it for you and can report that Susan's lot have stolen victory by £8, which is not a lot, considering how much better they were at being organised, but which I suppose is more when you consider how rubbish they were at negotiating (tip: don't start with the most expensive shops on the planet).  They get sent off to a weird cabaret/porn thing, while the losers go to Cafe Los Disaster and all yell a bit.

I feel sorry for Tom the Lovely Inventor, who hasn't won a task yet.  Neither have Gavin or Vincent, but I don't care so much about them.

Boardroom Part II, and they all turn on Vincent for being a smarmy get and not letting anyone else do anything.  Zotasha brings up her negotiation on the sign, and how she called the Ritz, both of which would be best never being spoken of again.

Back for Boardroom Part Final, we have Gavin, Vincent and Zotasha (not the sign/Ritz one, the other one, who didn't really do anything much at all).  It's a bit tedious, and eventually Gavin gets the Pointy Finger of Doom.

Ah well.  Never mind.

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