The Apprentice: where there’s muck there’s brass

By: Rachel Miller

Date: 9 June 2011

Missed the sixth episode? Catch up here.

The task

It’s time for the candidates to put on their steel-capped boots, slip into a day-glo vest, roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. The task is to become rubbish collectors for a couple of days. The teams can charge to take away unwanted stuff but they have to pay to dispose of it too. So margins are tight. The best chance of profit is in selling on the valuable stuff — in particular metals such as copper and steel.

The teams are rearranged again. Here’s how it looks this week:

On Logic and in the red jumpsuits: Project manager Helen, Jim, Melody, Tom and Natasha.

On Venture in blue: Project manager Zoe, Glenn, Leon, Edna and little Susie.

This task has got Del Boy written all over it. The question is — who will be the plonkers?

The best bits

There may be money to be made from rubbish – but it’s a much tougher game than any of them anticipate, and not just physically. Quoting for two rubbish removal jobs gets team Venture all tied up in knots. The thing is, this stuff isn’t junk. A room full of office furniture can obviously be sold on. And some 100-year-old parquet flooring from an old building in the city of London could bring in a bob or two.

Zoe insists on being paid to take it away. Susie wonders if instead they should be paying for the stuff. Zoe sticks to her guns and Susie is left scratching her head, wondering if she has got the “completely wrong end of the stick”. Laurel and Hardy spring to mind.

Meanwhile team Logic offers to take both lots away for nothing. Not surprisingly, they get the contract.

At the end of day one, having lost both contracts, Zoe has a Damascene conversion. She got it wrong. Here come the tears. Meanwhile, little Susie says somewhat dreamily, “So I’m not stupid then”. Mmm.

The worst bits

What are team Venture up to? Well Jim and Tom are driving around the London suburbs and Jim is tannoying terrified people in their own homes in his Northern Irish twang. “Number 73, house number 73, with the skip outside.” Honestly, would you come out?

As ever, the candidates are shown up by the experienced wheeler dealers they have to negotiate with. Our innocent would-be apprentices are like lambs to the slaughter when faced with canny operators like the builder that dumps loads more rubbish on the pile when they’re not looking — and after they’ve agreed a price to remove it. He doesn’t even deny it on national television. In fact he admits it. He tells Tom, “I’ve had a result then”. Ouch.

The winners and losers

And so to the boardroom. It’s a tight finish. Helen's Logic makes £712, beating Zoe's Venture (£706) by a whisker.

So team Venture shuffle down to the Loser’s Café for a debrief. Leon, Glenn, Susie and Edna hang their heads and mumble, all hoping Zoe won’t pick them. This is not the time for recriminations.

Back at the boardroom, Leon and Glenn are free to go and immediately Edna and Susie are like guard dogs that have been let off the leash. And Zoe is their prey. But she handles it pretty well — she admits her mistakes and points out that at least she was prepared to step up and manage the team when no-one else wanted to do it.

This week, it’s clear that whatever they do during the task, the fate of the candidates is definitely decided in the boardroom. Zoe plays it straight. Susie whines and looks lost. And Edna tries to take the credit for all the good stuff that went on during the task. But it’s all talk. How can she impress Lord Sugar? She resorts to mentioning her MBA. Later she says she has three degrees.

The Three Degrees. Didn’t they sing, “When will I see you again?”

Edna, you’re fired.

The ones to watch

By this stage, you’d expect the front-runners to be emerging. But it’s still anyone’s game. Sadly, I think this reflects on the poor calibre of this year’s bunch of candidates. There’s no Stella that’s for sure. But if pushed I’d say Tom, Melody and Helen were the ones to watch. And maybe Zoe.

Business lesson

  1. Actions speak louder than words — don’t try to impress Lord Sugar, or any other successful entrepreneur for that matter — with academic qualifications alone.

Quote of the week

Edna: “I train chief executives how to be better at their job.”

Nick Hewer to Lord Sugar: “Do you need training?”

Lord Sugar with a sigh: “No, I don’t think so.”

Missed this episode? Watch it on BBC iPlayer.

Profitometer

This week Lord Sugar made £1,418.00