The Apprentice week three review: Boatloads of BS on a trip across the Channel

There's more than a whiff of manure as the teams embark on the buying task...

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Week three, and it’s the episode where Lord Sugar pretends he’s been “called away on urgent business” so that he gets to project his face onto a giant screen and talk to the candidates like a grizzled god speaking from the clouds.

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There’s the usual strained connection between the venue and the task – these tunnels under Dover Castle launched a mission to get troops out of Dunkirk; I’m sending you on a mission of your own… you get the picture. But basically they’re buying stuff, with each team splitting themselves between here and Calais. The key is deciding which items are most likely to be found where – and whether anyone can actually speak French.

It’s back to the natural order of things with girls v boys again but really it’s still girls v girls. Vana and Elle, fresh from their little spat last week, both want to be PM. “Anyone who wants me as project manager raise your hand,” says Vana, raising her own hand along with everyone else, except Elle. “Anyone who wants Elle to be project manager…” Elle doesn’t even vote for herself. Awkward.

Vana makes Elle sub-team leader, supposedly “because she wanted to be PM” but really so she can blame her if they lose. The boardroom showdown we’ve been hoping for could be on the cards!

Things are a bit simpler on the boys’ team (no offence, Mergim). Joseph is voted in, with the first order of business being to remind last week’s team leader Richard that he’s no longer in charge.

“I think we’re the better negotiators,” says Joseph of his team. “The only thing the girls might have an advantage on is that they’re all pretty ladies and that may sway the odd French man…”

Cut to said odd French man, who happens to be selling crystal champagne flutes in the very same hotel the girls are staying at in Calais. After finally prising the entire girls’ sub-team off him, he hands over seven glasses for just €45. At the time I half wonder if they’re going to turn out to be plastic but no, they’re the real deal, which is exactly what the girls have got themselves.

As time marches on, the girls’ negotiating tactics evolve. Desperate for snails, Selina heads into a restaurant and tells a chef “my dog is dead, my mum is dead, my dad is dead” and “I’m really hungry”. I guess tragedy sharpens your appetite. Either way, it works – they get the snails. 

Back across the channel, there’s an even stronger whiff of BS as the rest of the girls find themselves ankle deep in manure, which later on in the boardroom sets Lord Sugar up for a brilliant joke about their Jimmy Choos becoming Jimmy Poos.

The farmer is having a great time watching the girls wade through what he gleefully calls “genuine bullshit” but the girls don’t care, they’ve got their “free poo!” and it’s never smelled sweeter.

It’s amazing how happy a pile of dung can make a person. The boys find some of their own and Brett is so keen he vows to fill his pockets and his shoes with the stuff – while his teammates make a mental note not to sit next to him in the boardroom.

As far as I know, four-point anchor is not rhyming slang, but Sam’s going to feel a bit of an idiot when he realises he’s paid twice as much for his as Charleine did for the girls’, following a neat bit of last-minute negotiating on the way out of the boating supplies shop.

The girls clearly got a buzz out of this because they keep coming back to the same shop trying to recapture that initial high. Sadly, Elle’s negotiation skills are not as effective as Charleine’s when it comes to the biggest item on the list, the dinghy (perhaps the woman in the shop got a hint that she was in a strong bargaining position when they returned for the fourth time).

Vana has the final say and the girls buy the boat. For 250 quid. On the surface, it seems like a bad decision but when you dig a bit deeper… it seems like a really bad decision: apparently the candidates are told at the start of the task exactly how much they’ll be fined for each item they fail to buy, and in the case of the dinghy the fine was less than the girls paid for it. Erm…

Maybe being aware of the list price is what gives Gary the balls to plump for a child’s toy dinghy instead of a seagoing one. We’ve seen this sort of tactic backfire on candidates in the past, like last year when Felipe used his legal training to argue that a flat-pack paper skeleton fit the brief of being ‘life-size’ and ‘anatomically correct’. As I recall, Lord Sugar’s counter-argument was something along the lines of “You are taking the piss aren’t you? That is not a bleedin’ skeleton!”

So, as Claude notes, “it’s a bit of a gamble”. Nevertheless, Lord Sugar’s “Rottweiler” looks more like a proud dad than a snarling attack dog as Gary uses all his charm and cheek to knock the price down to just £10 – £240 less than the girls’ dinghy.

Back in the boardroom, Lord Sugar decides Gary’s decision holds water (although maybe that’s not such a good thing when you’re talking about a boat). Nevertheless things are tense as the numbers come out and at one point Joseph looks like he’s thinking of sliding under the table and crawling out of the room.

Earlier the camera had caught him saying “eight out of nine is good going”, with David adding “we shouldn’t have anything to worry about” and Sam agreeing. It seemed like a classic set up for a fall. Turns out the Apprentice production team were teasing us, and while it’s close, it’s the boat that ends up sinking the girls. 

They have a dinghy, they have some dung, but the girls are up cow s**t creek without a paddle.

It’s Vana v Elle as expected but Jenny is also brought back in for being “dead weight”. I can’t say I’d much noticed her during the task, but I guess that’s the point. Vana and Elle talk a decent game but when it comes to Jenny, Claude is with Vana: “she’s just not very good”. So is Karren: “she’s always ready with an excuse”. And we all know that for Lord Sugar not having sold anything is a mortal sin.

Jenny argues that she’s been helping other people make sales but Lord Sugar doesn’t think like that, and she’s gone, leaving us with perhaps the longest exit line in the history of The Apprentice. At least she’ll be remembered for that.

Afterwards, Lord Sugar tells Vana “you need to make sure that you look after number one”. They say there’s no ‘I’ in team but I suspect spelling has never really been Lord Sugar’s strong point…

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The Apprentice continues on Wednesdays at 9pm on BBC1