The Apprentice: Turning garbage into gold?

(Series 7, Ep.6) “It’s a very subtle business,” muses Nick Hewer from the safety of his bespoke overcoat. The business to which he refers is the buying and selling of rubbish. And frankly maybe it was a bit too subtle to make good TV out of it. The people who devised the task (I’m not kidding myself it was Lord Sugar – or Baron Alan, as @MrBButterfield – AKA Peter Serafinowicz – was calling him on Twitter last night) presumably thought the mere idea of getting the candidates out of their power suits and into high-vis jackets and hard hats and getting them to actually do some manual labour would be hilarious.

It wasn’t. Not at all as hilarious as watching them try to make a video for cat food, or sell cheese to the French or cosmetics to Brummies. Indeed the physical part of the task was no problem at all, as they all fell into lugging old sinks and office chairs on and off trucks with a pleasing air of can-do.

What they couldn’t do particularly well was work out the pricing. Do you pay people to take their trash or do they pay you? What kind of stuff is easiest to resell? And how do you cope with a dodgy builder who has popped a few more items than previously agreed onto his heap of stuff to be removed?

The answer to that final question is that you send in Jim, who’ll have a good go at the bloke, threaten him with his laser beam eyes, and then back down and clear the rubbish anyway. It was a bit of a low-key episode for Jim after last week’s impressive display of Vulcan mind-meld with Vincent. Indeed the most frightening he got was when he and Tom patrolled a leafy neighbourhood in a truck looking for household rubbish to take away, and Jim’s Dalek voice issued threateningly over a loud-hailer: “House number 73 with the skip outside! HELLO!” I could picture the inhabitants of no.73 crouching behind their curtains, utterly terrified. Tom looked pretty scared himself, but then Tom usually does. 

So. “A one-ton tipper. Two days. Two teams,” as voiceover man put it. And a lovely backdrop of Battersea Power Station, because it represents Industry, as opposed to the usual shot of the Gherkin which represents Corporate. Team Venture took a while to sort out who’d be project manager. Eventually Zoe had had enough. “I’m just not for talking about it for a good hour,” she grumbled, going for the Ruth Badger “bluff northerner” crown, and announced she would grasp the poisoned chalice of PM-dom. She presumably regretted this decision at the end of day one, which had been a series of almighty pricing cock-ups that left her snivelling like a teenager in a strop.

Meanwhile, Team Loser (or “Logic,” as they pronounce it) had appointed Helen to the top job. Though she’s in Team Loser, Helen is a winner, as she boldly explained. Also on her team were Natasha and Melody, who weren’t in harmony, so she had her hands full.

When push came to shove came to boardroom, Venture made a profit of £706, and Logic made a profit of £712. Team Loser were the winners! Tom practically wept with relief. They were despatched to Bath for a thermal bath to get all that muck from under their nails, and Tom couldn’t believe the luxury of not having to go to the Cafe of Doom. Were all treats as fabulous as this one? he marvelled.

Zoe, meanwhile, was back in the boardroom, having chosen Susan and Edna to accompany her. Susan, the self-styled “brains behind the whole operation,” had spent much of the episode looking utterly confused, but she seems to have a champion in Nick, who thinks her only problem is that she “buckles in the face of stronger personalities.” Baron Alan agreed, and turned his attention to Zoe and Edna.

Nick, who was just bursting with opinions, said that he would fire Zoe. “She just didn’t geddit!” But had Edna goddit? Or does Edna tend to reframe events somewhat for boardroom consumption? Of course they all do that (except probably for Tom, who would tell any amount of truth if you threatened him with a Chinese burn, and Jim, whose ninja training has made him impervious to torture). But Edna has an MBA in entrepreneurship and innovation, you know. “It makes me very versatile,” she told Baron Alan. Nick can’t be doing with all these over-qualified types. “There’s never any meat in it, it’s just waffle,” he complained. Meaty waffles? Now there’s a brilliant snack food idea.

Baron Alan agreed. “We’re never going to gel in business,” he told Edna and her impressive qualifications. “You’re fired.”

Susan and Zoe limped back to their car, united in relief that they’d been spared. Actually, not all that united – there was still time for a back-seat bicker.

Posted by PLA          (more Apprentice posts here)


Filed under The Apprentice

5 responses to “The Apprentice: Turning garbage into gold?

  1. Velocity Girl

    Marketing idea – “Meat Waffles – The Snack That Gives You 110%”

  2. Tim

    My God, there was a lot of bitching last night, wasn’t there?

    While the task was very entertaining, I thought it was a bit, well, rubbish as a genuine test. Throw the candidates in to a business they have zero knowledge of where they have to deal with a load of sharks who will run rings round them. It’s like being put into a high-stakes poker game just an hour after you have learned the rules. As a result, Logic’s win was a bit random. As far as I could tell, both teams took several blind punts – some worked, some didn’t, and Logic won by thruppence-ha’penny. Pah.

    Having said that, although Shugs could clearly have fired Zoe, I was glad he got rid of Edna. She was the sort of candidate that gives MBAs bad names. Just because you have a qualification doesn’t mean you are any good at it. I cannot abide people who try to take credit for the fact the sun rises in the morning, even those who wear kinky black gloves while giving wholly inappropriate presentations to a room full of geeks. Good riddance.

  3. Qwerty

    I really enjoyed the episode for some reason. Shows how far the Apprentice has trampled over my critical faculties. I didn’t know anything about waste management apart from what I learned from The Sopranos so it was quite interesting to see a glimpse of how it worked without the mafia being involved. I thought the waste millionaire guy on YF was v dishy. And most of all it was excellent to see an episode in which you couldn’t guess who was going to win. That might be a first.

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