Boardroom scenes on The Apprentice are always pretty awkward.
U-turns, back-stabbing, bust-ups and a whole lot of mascara. It’s why we love it.
Halfway through the series, last night’s episode saw some pretty poor efforts to sell caravan accessories at a Birmingham camping exhibition.
Poor Jason Leech has never been camping – in fact, he hadn’t even been to Birmingham.
After team Endeavour lost to Evolve by more than £30,000 an explosive boardroom was inevitable.
Lord Sugar put it rather aptly – “You told me you can do things you lot – you can’t!” – setting the stage for the following awkward clashes…
Nick Hewer on “eye candy”
Nick doesn’t miss anything. Not a thing. Not a look, figure or deal. He probably knows how many times a candidate blinked during a pitch.
So it’s no surprise he didn’t miss Kurt Wilson’s decision to move Leah Totton to camper van selling because she could provide some “eye candy”.
Sorry, to “balance the teams” – that’s the party line, right Kurt?
“Do you know why you were brought across, Leah?” asked Nick. “Because you’re eye candy, according to Kurt.”
Leah did seem secretly chuffed. Or seething. It’s hard to tell beneath all that lip gloss.
Kurt, on the other hand, looked like he’d have quite liked the ground to swallow him up and never spit him back out, bumbling on about how “that word came out” but he wasn’t “justifying it in that case.”
“Don’t use that word then,” Nick reasoned.
The landslide victory
Losing is one thing. Losing by £32,136 is, as Lord Sugar put it, “a landslide”.
Even Karren Brady had to give it to Neil Clough. He’d won on sales of accessories alone, then stomped to victory after his team shifted three folding campers.
Kurt rolled his eyes so much it’s a wonder they came back round to the front.
The return of Jason
What a couple of days Jason had. He got to see Birmingham, have a peek inside a caravan – he even managed to “score” with a lady at the event.
But just when Jason thought he was off on a fun trip with the winning team (he’d probably already packed his oversize teddy) – Sir Alan called him back into the boardroom.
The whole nation held its breath. You could feel it. Sort of.
Lord Sugar had in fact called Jason back in to congratulate him on doing a £10,000 deal.
Jason, as is his way, bobbed out backwards, like he couldn’t chance turning his back on the boss for fear it was all a trick.
“I hope to keep impressing you Lord Sugar,” he managed to stammer out.
Lord Sugar even had a little chuckle to himself.
“See, he’s learning from the process,” he spat at those licking their wounds in the boardroom.
We all breathed out.
Natalie Panayi – like a cat backed into a corner – hisses, screams and flicks her hair when she’s brought into the boardroom. It’s the only time you see any real fire in her.
She’d spent most of the task trying to decide which part of a rowing boat you sit in.
But her tears weren’t cutting the mustard with Kurt.
“So you start crying and I’ve got to back off?” Kurt demanded.
Not to worry – Karren kicked her while she was down: “I tell you what I’m concerned about – why Natalie thinks she could have sold dozens of caravans.”
Ah, at last. The double firing. We knew it would happen eventually and Lord Sugar finally sent both Kurt and Natalie packing.
“Tactical!” Natalie shrieked when Kurt took her back in, claiming he knew Lord Sugar had marked her card and her next final three would be her last.
Her defense: “I’m in recruitment. You’ve seen the figures. I don’t use job boards, I headhunt. Because, I’m… OK….”
If you can’t explain it Natalie, then we certainly have no idea.
And so came the double bolt of finger pointing.
Lord Sugar said, “I’m concerned about you Natalie, that you are here on this third occasion. But Kurt, you messed up on this task. Kurt, you’re fired.”
Natalie seemed to know what was coming. She didn’t unstitch her eyebrows for a second.
“Natalie, it’s possible that Kurt might have been tactical, but on the other hand, you’ve had a hell of a lot of chances and you haven’t proved yourself to me at all,” said Lord Sugar. “Natalie, you’re fired.”
We’d have given a round of applause if we weren’t still hiding behind our hands from all the awkwardness…
The Apprentice continues next Wednesday at 9pm on BBC1