Posted on 3.12.15 by Christian Mancier
Over the past few weeks we have seen the Apprentice candidates selling everything from party gift bags full of glow sticks and tacky palm tree sunglasses to decidedly unimpressed and scared looking parents, through to tuna salad at £9 a go, yes that’s right, £9 for a tuna salad, in a plastic box, with a throw away fork, to the seemingly impressed business folk of central London.
Last night’s episode represented a significant step up with the candidates being let loose as sales agents for both high-end and mid-market properties being sold off plan in London.
With the candidates donning high-vis jackets and construction helmets placed atop of the South Bank Tower in London awaiting instructions, Lord Sugar, Karen and Claude arrived demonstrating the ultimate power move: a lack of the hard hat, high vis safety gear the candidates had been made to wear, a pair of steel toe capped boots being the only concession to safety from Lord Sugar and co.
The teams were balanced up with Selina moving across to join Team Versatile mush to the disdain of Versatile team member Charleine, with Joseph taking on the unenviable task of project manager and therefore the role of refereeing between these two sparring partners. Sparks started flying straight away with both Selina and Charleine vying for the role alongside Super Mario, sorry Joseph, selling high end properties. Joseph, and probably rightly so, realised the only way his team ever had a chance of winning this task was to keep Selina and Charleine apart. Selina got the high end gig alongside Joseph with Charleine dispatched along with “Steady Eddy” Gary to sell mid-market properties where they at least had a show flat to actually show to people!
Meanwhile on team Connexus, Richard took on the role of project manager and, based on past performances, a “my way or no way” dictatorial approach was expected. However, Richard seems to be listening each week to the feedback from Lord Sugar and instead took the leadership role head on, but in a much more reserved manner than we have seen previously – even letting Vana take control of the pitches to the high end developers – yes you did read that right – Richard happily relinquishing control. Meanwhile Scott and Brett were dispatched to sell the mid-market properties where they had nothing to work with but a building site and a mock-up of a sample lay out.
Richard and Vana did a great job pitching to the two high end developers, asking questions, showing interest and demonstrating empathy, all of which were lacking from Joseph and Selina where Joseph waded in to negotiate commission (Joseph “We are the best we want 4%”, Developer “I won’t move from 1.5% and don’t even try to negotiate”, Joseph “Ok”) and showed no interest in the properties or the development concept. Richard and Vana, unsurprisingly, were the preferred sales team for both developers (being far more “polished” and “trustworthy” according to one developer) and they plumped with the Canary Wharf development – yes that’s right there are people who actually want to live and work in Canary Wharf!
Cue the chaotic commencement of sales. Charleine got off to a flying start for Versatile with a mid-market sale on day 1 followed by what seems like a conveyor belt of successful sales for her and Gary, including what looked like a possible world record for the number of people squeezed into the bathroom of a 1 bed studio apartment during one of their viewings. Richard and Vana for Connexus were doing a great job on the Canary Wharf properties, luring the potential buyers into a sugar coma with a substantial offering of French Fancies and shortbread, although when property investors turn up in their chauffeur driven sparkling white Rolls Royce and say they want to buy a property today, you wonder how much selling, or sugary treats, are actually required!
Selina and Joseph for Versatile struggled with the high end sales when pressed by potential purchasers as to the price per square foot against the average price per square foot in the local area with one lady commenting how she would go away and research the figures herself and come back if she wanted to buy one.
However, the team struggling the most was Scott and Brett for Connexus with a decidedly downbeat Scott, seemingly looking for his recently lost mojo, confusing a space in their sample layout trying to work out if it was a wardrobe or a place for a washing machine or a fridge/freezer. This was followed by classic lines such as “it’s a highly populated area, highly populated by everyone”, lots of local amenities “including an off-licence and a chippy”, which was followed by the line “the sun comes in through these windows all day….. and all night”. I will leave that one with you and say no more.
So into the boardroom it was with Lord Sugar being critical of Scott and his contribution to the task, albeit not quite to the extent the Sunday papers last weekend implied. In the end it was a clear victory to Connexus with commission of over £76,000 compared to just over £29,500 for Versatile. Versatile got sent away for high speed boat trip up the Thames, no doubt to look at more buildings and apartments, however, Scott stayed seated……..a hush came over the boardroom and Scott thanked Lord Sugar for the opportunity and said he now wanted to leave. Gasps came from Versatile, or Charleine at least, and Lord Sugar, stating he was an honourable man, thanked Scott who upped and left: a Boardroom first for the Apprentice and fair play to Scott who had put in a series of impressive performances early on but his heart was clearly no longer in the process.
With everyone still reeling from the shock of Scott’s departure, Joseph decided to bring back in Gary and Selina with Charleine spared after her impressive selling display. Gary must have figured out all he needed to do to stay was keep quiet and speak only when spoken to by Lord Sugar and either Selina or Joseph would talk their way out of the process. Lord Sugar questioned Selina on why she wound others up, with Selina claiming it was just Charleine she wound up with Joseph and Gary disagreeing. In the end Lord Sugar directed the “You are fired” at Selina, indicating how he had his doubts on whether or not they could actually work together. So with the boardroom massacre in week 6 and another 2 candidates disappearing tonight, the producers are now no doubt scrabbling around trying to work out if they have enough candidates to see out the remaining episodes….only time will tell!