Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Apprentice: cruising out of contention

At last the ghastly, slippery, lying rascal Syed is removed. No question that this was a deserved firing, for a shocking performance with a series of comical errors and further questions raised over the man's integrity, with his idea of "losing" some incomplete entries to a prize raffle.

More's the pity, because next week is the episode where the remaining contestants go through a series of extremely tough interviews in which their weaknesses and embellishments are exposed, and it would have been fun to watch some of Sugar's East End lobbes friends cutting Syed down to size.

So in this episode, the candidates were flown to Istanbul to join a cruise ship and put on some entertainments for the guests, with the winner being decided on the teams' ability to make money and impress the ship's crew with their customer service. Paul, Michelle and Ansell went for a classic cruise idea, pitched at the right level for their audience, concise and easy to explain, and most importantly manageable in the execution: a series of dance lessons culminating in a dance-off with prizes galore.

Syed, as ever, decided to be a bit smart, and went for a golf event, with the idea of driving the balls off the side of the ship. When this was vetoed for obvious reasons like international maritime law, he looked at catching the balls with some tennis netting but the holes were too big, and then resorted to a series of big white bedsheets, which flapped in the breeze like a big Persil ad. Eventually he was put out of his misery by some senior crew, so he and team-mate Ruth fell back on a convoluted set of deck games and activities.

The rest is pretty self-explanatory - a man who couldn't work out where Wandsworth Bridge was and brought the wrong keys to a flat letting in the last task was hardly going to be able to flit between several simultaneous activities on an enormous cruise ship, let alone do so when Ruth had realised after seeing the other team in action that she was going to be on the losing team and should cut Syed adrift.

Meanwhile, one of the series' most memorable moments came with Paul's magical on-board TV ad, complete with snake-hipped boogying of a disconcertingly sexy level only previously witnessed by Bausch, Young One and friends in Whiskey A GoGo on a Freedmanslife night out over Pesach after your esteemed blogger was on his 6th treble vodka and orange.

So Ruth held her nerve in the boardroom whilst Syed's usual blend of sycophancy, finger-wagging and patronising of opponents finally proved not to be enough. After a lot of grunting and squeezing, the Big Koala finally dislodged Syed from his toches and sent him on his way. Next week we will see the remaining 4 being grilled by Sugar's friends, and last season 2 were dismissed at this stage. The bookies' favourites would surely be Michelle and Ansell, but by the looks of the trailer, Ruth and Paul are not going to emerge unscathed either.

I think this is the point for a long overdue introduction of the surprise candidates: the pizza chef from Episode 4, Donald Trump from the US series to show Sugar how it's done, and of course Freedmanslife himself, to show Donald and the pizza chef how it's really done.

By the way, the Sunday Times reported that Tuan had been hard done by, as one of the deals for the other team fell through the morning after the task ended, so Tuan's team should have won, and we would probably have been rid of Michelle instead.

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