The Apprentice: Episode seven reviewed

The dynamo from Durham has been dispatched. Philip, aka Pants Man, is gone. ‘Arrogant, cocky, stubborn and a control freak’ – and that’s his own assessment – Philip’s unerring self-confidence and desire to win at all costs at one point threatened to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Alas, no more.

In last night’s episode, as Sir Alan put it, ‘he revealed his true colours’ and in attempting to stab rival Lorraine in the back, fell on his own sword.

In truth, he was given a helpful nudge by Sir Alan’s trusted aides Nick and Margaret, who you suspect, like us, had seen Philip’s true colours from day one. 

Philip’s downfall, aside from not actually being very good, was his continued obsession with lacklustre Lorraine who he last night dubbed ‘Mystic Meg’ and entrenched weeks of bullying into a full-on witchhunt.

Having been warned about his conduct by Sir Alan, Philip began the episode pledging to support team leader Lorraine  but quickly returned to form, calling her ‘mental’ and telling her ‘she blew it’ – some support, huh? Where Philip, like all bullies, came unstuck is he assumed he had an easy target that nobody would stick up for. 

In Ben, whose self-professed sales skills you sense would stretch to selling his own mother, and Kate, who if you believe the tabloids he’s engrossed in an affair with, he found willing accomplices – but in Nick and Margaret he came up against wily assassins who’d been biding their time.

As the boardroom bust-up began to bubble and Philip’s lambasting of Lorraine became increasingly acidic, Nick and Margaret swooped to expose his plan. Nick’s dubbing of the witchhunt as a ‘pincer movement’ was generous to Philip’s limited intellect and probably more apt for describing his and Margaret’s more strategic approach – but it worked.

The episode began with orders to meet at London Gateway with an overnight bag, prompting mass excitement and talk of flip flops and bikinis as none of this year’s bright young things realised they were indeed on the way to a rainy service station on the M1. As they stood in puddles drowned in their own disappointment that last year’s Marrakech mission had been downgraded to a Grim Oop North overnighter (that’s the credit crunch for you), Sir Alan explained the teams were on their way to Liverpool and Manchester.  

The task was to select two products from 12 supplier pitches and sell as much as they could. The winning team would be the one with the most sales, but each person would have individual order books. Sir Alan had kindly set up sales meetings on the first day with purchase managers from a large hardware store and high-end furnisher Heal’s.

As you would do when you’re seeing a hardware store and a high end furnisher, Empire, led by Mona, chose to ignore products such as drill accessories and designer furniture in favour of a two-person dog lead and a sleeping bag with arms and legs. Do I need to say any more? Quelle surprise –they didn’t sell a single item to the stockists, which should have sealed their fate before the second day had even begun. But somehow it didn’t and they won – mainly due to Ignite’s inadequacy but also due to some sterling direct sales.

So on to Empire, who chose mildly better and managed to shift a few units of a dodgy bike bag and cardboard cat toy to the stockists – and so should have won. Lorraine and Yasmina bickered and stumbled their way to the remained £1300 yield, but escape with only limited credit. Suggesting the hardware store could sell 4,000 bike bags and walking out of Pets At Home with 50 sales compared to the 20,000 they’d aimed for were particular low points.  

But at least they sold something – which is more than could be said of Philip, Ben and Kate. They sold diddlysquat and didn’t seem particularly perturbed by it. Ben arranged the Pets At Home meeting, and having covered his own back was happy to sit back as love’s young dream Philip and Kate snuggled up in the people carrier and giggled their way around the romantic setting that is inner city Manchester. Ahh...

Perhaps they should have stopped off at the former home of legendary record label Factory Records where seminal group Joy Division recorded ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. Given that he once wrote his wife a birthday card and signed it ‘Sir Alan Sugar’, you sense Suralan’s not exactly one for letting romance into his life – let alone business.

So it came as no surprise he had little time for Philip’s ‘Kate and me’ excuses or ganging up. Indeed, Philip’s time was up and he was out of the gang. With Margaret and Nick licking their lips over their kill, Sir Alan uttered the fatal words:

‘Philip, your bravado and arrogance ain’t gonna fit into my organisation. You’re fired.’


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