We enjoyed the return of one of Sir Alan’s favourite tasks on The Apprentice last night.
He got the two teams of remaining wannabes to choose products and try and sell them on a TV shopping channel.
Watching him give a running commentary as the teams attempted to flog a suitably bizarre collection of goods, I can just imagine him sat at home in his PJs with a nice steaming cup of tea and a few slices of toast picking up bargains.
He doesn’t strike me as a hobby bloke. So you won’t find him on the golf course or pottering in the garden, but you will find him wheeling and dealing.
He no doubts picks up bargains on such shopping channels then flogs them at a small profit down the local car boot, probably.
Yet he wasn’t overly impressed with the efforts of either team – no surprise there. He obviously couldn’t find much to satisfy his need for retail therapy.
Did we learn anything new from this week’s efforts?
Not really. Everyone pretty much carried on in the same way they have since the series started.
Howard talked the talk and looked organised, but didn’t actually deliver anything worth investing in.
Kate looked smiley and sassy and…well, she looked smiley and sassy.
Lorraine was antagonistic, talked sense when she was able to stop herself from babbling on inanely and fought her corner.
Yasmina was combative, managed to sell well enough and stood her ground when she needed to.
James engaged his mouth before his brain, but proved the most likable of the lot. He has a knack of saying inappropriate things, or plain nonsense. But he manages to come out smiling and often shows a brief spark of something.
Although I’m still not sure what that “something” he might possess actually is.
Debra was ghastly.
One team outsold the other by a couple of hundred quid, but neither reached anywhere near the levels this particular shopping channel would normally expect.
The choice of products lurched from the ridiculous to the almost inspired. Alas the sales techniques weren’t up to much, even with those products that would normally fly off the shelves.
Each candidate managed to make themselves look a bit of a tit on screen and lost the plot when manning the control desk. But they muddled along.
We didn’t get some of the pure comedy moments of this type of task during previous series. It was all quite uninspiring, which is exactly what we have come to expect from this year’s selection of Apprentice hopefuls.
Yasmina impressed this week, simply for standing up to the horrible Debra. She also managed to get the statuesque harpy to work for the team and for that alone she deserved to lead the winning team.
I’m still to be convinced that Yasmina offers more than toughness and arrogance, but she’s certainly developed into the strongest candidate so far.
At the start of the programme, Sir Alan blathers on about pressure. And this is probably why he likes this task so much – apart from it being on his favourite TV channel.
He is asking the teams to display some of the basic skills and experience he wants, but taking them out of their comfort zones and putting them on live TV. They might think they can present, but doing it in front of a camera is very different.
So after another week of mediocrity, who did we actually bid farewell to after the shopping channel ordeal?
It was, thankfully, Howard – although any one out of Kate, Lorraine, Debra and James would have been on shaky ground this week.
Howard has taken over from Noorul as the invisible man on this series. He’s been easy enough to spot on occasion and always manages to open his mouth and sound as if he knows what he’s talking about.
But he invariably goes missing at crucial points throughout each task. He slinks into the shadows, or plots and schemes to put himself in a more favourable position – whispering to Kate about stitching Lorraine up last week; or pleading with Debra to let him have a sale a few weeks ago to ensure he didn’t have an empty order book.
He lasted this long thanks to this strategy, but as I warned last week he needed to step up this time as Sir Alan had marked his card. He didn’t manage that.
On The Apprentice website, Howard tells us: “I am a credible businessman who wants to go far. I’m incredibly ambitious. If I don’t go far down this route I shall go far down another route.”
But will we see him go down whatever route he finally takes?