Welcome to Unreality Shout’s wildly inconsistent coverage of The Apprentice 2010! After skipping the sacking of Melissa Cohen last week, I made sure to tune in this week to see which eejit would get Alan Sugar’s Finger O’Doom.
Surely it would be Stuart Baggs The Brand? Well, aside from registering his indifference toward the fashion industry at the start of the episode, Baggs is largely low-profile in this episode. Some would even go so far as to say that he was ‘quite sensible’ on tonight’s show.
Another candidate would have to step into the breach and become the target for laughter and derision for the rest of the episode. And of course, two stepped forward. It was between Alex Epstein and Paloma Vivanco, almost as if they were in competition to become the Arsehole Of The Week.
What was the task, you ask? The two teams were told to select fashion lines by up and coming designers and take their product to Manchester’s Trafford Centre to sell them.
Seems simple, doesn’t it? Paloma takes the lead on Team Apollo while Liz heads up Synergy. And Paloma believes they have the upper hand, because Alex has actually worked in the Trafford Centre – those Synergy Suckers won’t know what hit them! Except Alex really doesn’t have a clue about the store and ends up giving the team pretty shoddy advice.
The critical error is made early on in the process – Apollo end up with a very edgy (read: no-one in their right mind would wear) collection of clothes made from recycled suits. Seriously – hoodies made from pinstripe suit jackets and dresses made from old ties. Synergy get lucky and persuade a party dress designer to supply their store.
So, even though Synergy’s actual store looks like a downmarket charity shop, their stock and the lower price point draw customers and the team makes sales. Whereas plenty of people will look at Apollo’s range, they’re generally unwilling to part with their cash for the outlandish gear.
Alex to some degree makes up for his earlier faux pas by scoring an advert on the shopping centre’s television network. Team Synergy are green with envy, and Nick is impressed with the shrewd move. In retaliation, Synergy place the very attractive Stella English in their window as a ‘living advert’, but Nick draws comparisons to Amsterdam hookers. I wonder why?
Meanwhile, Paloma is doing a fantastic job scaring off customers with her frightening sales patter (she threatens one man that she’ll chase him through the mall) and largely ignoring the suggestions of her team members. As the episode progresses, you can see her aggression levels rise, until…
Let’s get straight to the results – Apollo turn a profit of £3,223.43 while Synergy outsell them with £3,760.37. So we know that Paloma’s going to be looking for people to point the finger at in her team.
The thing is, there’s nothing particularly wrong with how Apollo did business. OK, they lost the party dress range to Synergy and got lumbered with the difficult to sell recycled fashion range. But they made some shrewd moves (mostly Alex) to shift their product, they had a great looking store. Paloma, however, decides to find her scapegoat in Alex Epstein.
She also brings Sandeesh Samra back into the boardroom, despite having defended her in an earlier scene. But Paloma knew what she was doing – Lord Sugar clearly doesn’t rate Sandeesh, and she was an easy target. However, neither Alex or Sandeesh were going to take Paloma’s abuse sitting down. Sandeesh gives the classic retort about Paloma’s attitude: “In this task, Paloma was calm for once. She didn’t aggravate anyone.”
But as the two defend themselves, Paloma unleashes her nasty, snarky side and frequently interrupts her colleagues with snide remarks. This becomes her downfall, because Sugar decides that as ineffectual as the other two may be, he just doesn’t want someone as vicious as Paloma working for his organisation. And that’s the thing – Paloma wasn’t fired based on being incompetent like most people on the show – she was fired for her personality. If she’d been able to keep her mouth shut, she’d have survived and maybe Alex or Sandeesh would’ve been fired instead.
Sugar tells Paloma before he fires her that “You talked yourself out of this.” It’s a shame, because I liked her fiery temperament, but when she went into the boardroom, her instinct to save herself at any cost made her irrational and aggressive. In the end, it was the right decision to fire her.