This week’s episode of BBC reality show the Apprentice saw the candidates take on the yearly branding and advert task, and it’s safe to say not everything went to plan.
Team Titans, led by Mukai, dithered over making choices and missed so many deadlines they didn’t even finish their interactive bus shelter poster, while Team Nebula (led by Jessica) floundered around so much that they turned up at a photoshoot for their jeans campaign without one crucial item – their jeans.
Look away now if you don’t want to know the result
Overall it was a pretty bad performance from everyone, and this is around the point when we’d normally be saying “but there could only be one loser”.
But this week Lord Sugar pulled the rug out from under everybody by deciding that the teams had done so badly that neither should be allowed to win, bringing BOTH sets of candidates back into the boardroom.
“There’s no winner here. Right?” Sugar told the shocked room of contestants. “It’s never happened before, on this particular task.
“Get out of here and have a chat amongst yourselves about this, because when you come back I’m gonna invite the two project managers to choose two people to bring back into the boardroom. Off!”
Eventually Lord Sugar still only fired one candidate (Hair and Beauty Salon owner Natalie Hughes) but the question remains – was this the worst result in Apprentice history?
Well, the truth is yes and no. It’s extremely rare for neither team to win a task in The Apprentice, as most victories rest on numeric values of profit or sales orders which leave a draw like this statistically improbable.
Some tasks have seen both teams end the day with negative profit, sure, but even if both candidates lost money (as happened in the 2005 series where teams ended a task with -£169 and -£39 respectively) one team has generally lost less money than the other, securing a technical (if unimpressive) win.
With that said, there has been one previous occasion when the teams were both equally appalling, and it shouldn’t be too far gone from your memory – just last year, the 10th task saw neither team (Versatile and Conexxus) manage to successfully pitch a healthy snack to retailers, resulting in no orders and both project managers (Brett and Charlaine) bringing in a team mate each to the boardroom.
Interestingly, fired candidate Brett hinted to RadioTimes.com last year that he believed sales had been made and discounted so as to make a more dramatic episode – but considering this had never happened in the previous decade of tasks such a conspiracy seems unlikely and more of a shock reaction to the rarity of such a result.
Team Nebula check out their interactive bus shelter in this week’s episode
So no, this week wasn’t a complete first – but it does mark the only occasion that the advert/brand task, which usually relies on subjective opinion by Lord Sugar and advisors, was deemed such a failure on all sides that neither team could be given the victory, rather than such a draw being a result of poor selling.
It also marks the first time that both team leaders have brought in two people each to the boardroom – if you’re a fan of very specific Apprentice formula tweaking (and I know I am).
And who knows? Maybe it’ll be a comfort to Titans and Nebula to know that they’re not the first to screw up QUITE this badly – even if it was probably the most spectacular.