Reviewing the first episode of this year’s The Apprentice (BBC1) last week, Christopher Stevens suggested here that the class of 2024 might be the dumbest yet. Tonight’s second episode, I’m fairly confident, would not have changed his mind.
This week’s task was based on what Lord Sugar™ rather improbably claimed is ‘one of the biggest trends’ in Britain today: the unstoppable rise of the mini cheesecake. Each team had to make two batches, one to sell to a corporate client, the other to the general public – with the team that made the bigger profit the winners.
For a while, the girls got a bit bogged down in arguing about how many grams are in a kilogram. But, having worked that out, they set off to their clients at London Dungeon, where they managed to negotiate a suitable gruesome price of £13.80 per small cake, promising (not altogether truthfully) that the final result would be worth it.
Less successful were the boys, whose corporate clients were the Innocent smoothie company. Innocent’s commitment to healthy eating – not in any case a great secret – was hard to miss from the fruit and vegetable-related decorations adorning almost every inch of their headquarters. Nonetheless, the boys’ chief negotiator Paul missed it, recommending something more chocolatey instead.
‘We don’t want chocolate,’ said the clients – and then said it again when Paul poured scorn on the whole silly business of ‘five a day’ and urged them to go for a spot of indulgence.
Only after three rebuffs was he willing to compromise – by offering them chocolate and[itals] fruit. Meanwhile, his initial price of £9.95 a cake was casually swatted aside in favour of £6.
Not that Paul proved entirely devoid of self-knowledge. After the meeting, which his team-mates accurately described as ‘a car crash’, he admitted that ‘there were maybe some things I didn’t pick up on’.
And with that, the boys went off to create their fruit and veg cheesecakes, with dragon fruit, apricot and er, avocado. These were also so misshapen that the team decided it was best to call them ‘artisanal’.
Weirdly, the folks at Innocent weren’t impressed. ‘Avocado seems a bit odd,’ said one with commendable understatement. ‘It’s an acquired taste,’ replied Asif on behalf of the boys – the trouble being that the clients showed no signs of acquiring it and dropped the price still further.
But at least the boys’ sales to the public went a little better, with the cakes retailing in a pop-up café at £6, £6.50 or £7 depending on which team member was selling them and when. The only problem came when one customer said she was a vegetarian and so couldn’t eat the gelatine – at which point she was offered the cake for a fiver.
Compared to all that, the girls did seem like members of Mensa. Even so, their victory was almost as easy as the jobs done by Lord Sugar’s two assistants.
Once again Baroness Karen Brady was required only to lurk around raising the occasional eyebrow.
Once again Tim Campbell MBE stuck to his policy of helping us to understand exactly what was happening by repeating exactly what we’d just seen happening.
And so to the boardroom, where the girls beamed and the boys got stuck into throwing each other under the Number 94 to Tooting.
To his credit, Lord Sugar did a pretty good job of pretending to agonise about who should be fired.
But of course it wasn’t long before Paul was in the back of taxi wishing he hadn’t spent so much time ‘banging on about chocolate’.