Apprentice 2011: Simon Duffy gives the entrepreneur's take on episode three

Last night was classic Apprentice and one of my favourite tasks. After last week's technology-based episode it was back to basics, with the contestants given a chance to show how capable they were in sourcing and buying items for the Savoy.

In reality, the items the teams were asked to purchase only scratched the surface of the hotel's true procurement needs, so this wasn't particularly true to life. But then they were never going to let them loose on procuring 1,000 toilets, six miles of wallpaper or a million chocolate bed mints, were they.

Susan and Gavin confidently put themselves up to manage the task and I was keen to see how they'd perform. Both of them have experience running their own business, so I thought that this was going to be a really evenly matched pairing.

Susan was very impressive right from the start. She showed strong leadership skills, was clued up on the logistics, managed the personalities in her team well and made sensible delegation decisions by putting the formidable Jim in charge of the sub team.

Strategy was key and I thought Susan nailed it out of the blocks. She was thoughtful, but also quick to act. The only area she let herself down was in the actual purchasing part. What part of her entrepreneurial brain thought that the West End was the ideal place for some procurement bargains? Ridiculous.

As a quick aside, Jim continues to astound me. After last week's boardroom let-off, and this week's terrific negotiation, I'm beginning to think Jim can do Jedi mind tricks.  Not only were those not the droids they were looking for, his rump steak did the Kessle Run in less than 12 parsecs. Or something like that at any rate.

Where was I? Oh yes, Gavin. For an optician, Gavin really lacked foresight in this task and to call his performance shambolic would be generous. I was a bit gutted to be honest as Gavin, unlike many of the others, seems like a genuinely nice guy. The hesitance and nervousness he displayed from the off really set the tone for his team and the lack of any clear structure ultimately cost them.

In fairness to Gavin, he wasn't helped by his team who seemed almost resigned to the fact they were losing the task and didn't seem to want to help out their team leader. I found Vincent particularly difficult to watch and he is very frustrating. In a small business, you all have to pull in the same direction and one person doing their own thing can really upset the balance.

I think there are certainly weaker candidates in the show than Gavin but his performance was more Fawlty Towers than Savoy in this task.

Lord Sugar had no choice but to fire him, but I think Vincent's a lucky, lucky man.

Read more from Simon Duffy:

Apprentice 2011: Simon Duffy gives the entrepreneur take on episode two

Apprentice 2011: Bulldog's Simon Duffy reviews episode one

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