Apprentice shopping task: Savoy shambles

Can they find 10 items in 9 hours?

As we reach the third week in the series it was time for possibly the most interesting task of any series, the shopping task. Designed to show Lord Sugar who can negotiate with a camera at their back (surely a massive selling point for any business in this recession) it is often the moment where favourites emerge and viewers shout at the TV after a ridiculously stupid decision is made – something which is all too regular.

This series it wasn’t just a random list of items plucked from Lord Sugars arse, the Savoy Hotel was getting a bit of free publicity after a 3 year – multi-million pound refit. The teams had to find 10 items ranging from 50 chandelier light bulbs to a single black top-hat as cheap as possible and deliver them to the hotel by 5pm.

Contestants stupidity is almost as annoying as Bieber

The standard apprentice task start of both teams sat in a conference room containing a table breaking stack of yellow pages had frustration rising to Justin Bieber-esque levels from the get go. Anyone with half a brain would know that you find a group of potential suppliers and ring round searching for cheapest price – did they? Did they hell!

The phone session did create a classic fail from Vincent ringing a FISHMONGER!!!!! (yes i wondered about his entry credentials too)with;

“Hi is this the meat and fish……place?”

and Natasha trying to persuade The Ritz to give their supplier contact  list to their main rival, which, surprise surprise, was shot down in flames.

Eventually both teams hit the road. As Team Venture unsuccessfully tried to barter with a hatter who wasn’t giving any ground, Nick came out with a gem of an anecdote about his previous visit and a shopping companion,

“The King of Tonga does…NOT… go looking for bargains”

Jim's jedi-mind tricks make him an early front runner

With fantastic skill Jim haggled to some superb discounts while Natasha showed how it ISN’T done, raising her offer until the shop owner agreed, awful skills!

One of the moments of the episode comes when Gavin goes into Top Hat Cleaners, looking for Top Hats. When the owner tells him where to shove it, they leave, with the the camera zooming out to show Karen Brady just stood shaking her head slowly.

As the task reaches a head we get last minute tea battles, with both teams needing 25Kg of Tea. Logic use a tea shop and pay £250, Venture find a rare tea internet company and get charged £999, before getting them down to £400, obviously the vendor has extravagant overheads as she could take off such a small percentage!

Back in the Boardroom it was ridiculously close! So close I had to wait till Lord Sugar told me to see who actually won! (Serves me right for not listening properly) For once the boardroom routine is relatively tame, as the losing team have naff all excuses. However Lord Sugar does crack out the old continental racism put down with;

“I know you’re Belgian, and that’s where the waffles come from” 

And with the firing it draws the episode to a close, the mood in my house is that it was a slight disappointment considering previous years, possibly caused by the massive restrictions by the shopping list. Hopefully next week will be more backstabbing! However a clear favourite in Jim has come to the fore, once again using the Jedi-mind tricks to haggle his way to fantastic prices. It also looks like the catch-phrase differs each week, this week it went to “chill out” after the “roll with the punches” from the first episode.