The Apprentice review: Zeeshaan Shah is my villain of the week

I'm delighted to report that this episode was the best week of this series so far. It garners this high praise for a number of reasons:

1. It was the treasure hunt task, not something we got to do in our series and very much a welcome return.

2. I got to moan to anyone and everyone within earshot about how unfair it is that this year's candidates got to go to Dubai, whilst the furthest afield we managed was Edinburgh.

3. Zeeshaan Shah bit the dust in a classic boardroom bloodbath.

This episode saw the two teams tasked with finding eight items for the opening of a new hotel. I personally haven't been to Dubai but I have heard that some of their top hotels really do cater to every need; this one in particular seems to be going the extra yard. At least if I do ever choose to holiday in Dubai I will know where to stay.

With the teams uneven in numbers, Leah is moved over to Endeavour where both she and Zeeshaan put themselves forward for Project Manager. As Nick Hewer later recalled, this is where the battle lines are drawn. I'm not sure if it was the sweltering heat of Dubai or the swollen size of Zeeshaan's ego, but once Leah is relegated to sub-team project manager she spends the entire episode sulking.

Her weapon of choice is the HTC Smartphone and she uses it to shout at Zeeshaan every chance she gets. The more abuse she hurls and more disgusted she looks, the less refined her Northern Irish accent grows, baffling the locals.

During the task, it seems that Zeeshaan is facing an uphill struggle from the outset as he sets himself up for a big fall by proclaiming to be the Dubai expert. I did feel a little sympathy for him, as both Kurt and Neil made huge blunders by getting the wrong items, but Zeeshaan's bloody-mindedness over the 'Oud' only goes to undermine his leadership and provide Leah with yet more ammunition. I mean Mahogany perfume…really? Endeavour only ended up with four items of which two were wrong. Not a success by any stretch of the imagination.

Meanwhile over on team Evolve, led by Myles, they also seemed to get it all wrong. Myles spent too much time buying a flag, too little time negotiating price and sent a sub-team to the mall as opposed to the market. Despite this, the sub-team step up; Luisa, Jordan and Jason's enthusiasm combined with some cringe worthy communications skills seems to pay off and they round off a few of the items whilst Myles and his cohorts spend all day in an air-conditioned flag-making shop.

More luck than judgement it seems for Evolve and across the two teams there were few noteworthy moments of business brilliance. What it lacked in ingenuity it definitely delivered in entertaining TV. The show maintained momentum into the boardroom, resulting in the biggest crescendo of the series so far.

The boardroom

From the first instant Zeeshaan takes a horrific blindside from Leah who clearly hasn't cooled her temper now out of the Arabian heat. In fact the heat was brought into the boardroom and once the results are out the way, in which we find out that Neil has in fact secured the wrong kandura, Endeavour regroup at the losers cafe while Evolve head off to drink cocktails.

I think Myles, got off a little lightly as project manager in this one, as it certainly wasn't plain sailing for team Evolve in this task and they were lucky that Endeavour's performance was even worse.

Back in the boardroom, Zeeshaan inexcusably decides to bring back Leah and Natalie. Neither of them did particularly well in the task, but in Neil and Kurt there were two members of the team that were both in the bottom three last week and who both made significant errors. By failing to bring back either of these two, in my opinion Zeeshaan seriously damaged his chances of survival.

I maintain that the boardroom is almost as crucial as your performance on task, don't forget that this is the only time the candidates gets to spend any time with Lord Sugar. This is where you can leave your mark whether on the winning or losing team - just look at Ricky last year, who used his time in the boardroom to great effect winning over Lord Sugar on a number of occasions often in the face of adversity.

What ensues can only be kindly described as a mauling. Leah and Natalie use a two pronged pincer movement to attack Zeeshaan mercilessly from the moment the boardroom door slams in Natalie's face until Lord Sugar does the honourable thing and plucks Zeeshaan out of his misery. There remained a sliver of hope for the ailing PM that Lord Sugar would look unfavourably on Natalie's 'quiet' contributions but it was just a classic ruse to keep the viewers guessing.

Hero of the week:

Jason for his falcon hood description.

Villain of the week:

Zeeshaan for putting himself on a pedestal with his 'expert' knowledge of Dubai.  


Tom's been busy since the show finished last year. He's founder of Cult Wines, check out his business here.

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