The Apprentice 2011: Discount buying for The Savoy

The Apprentices are summoned to London’s The Strand, and at least one of them is going commando. We’re reminded that the boy’s team have lost the last two weeks and desperately need a win to raise Lord Sugar’s trust in them.

At The Savoy, Sugar explains that the hotel has been closed for three years for refurbishments and needs some items purchased for finishing touches for the refurb. Liam, Jim and Glenn are shifted to Team Venture. Natasha, Ellie, Melody and Zoe are moved to Logic. The task is simple – they’ve got a shopping list of items to buy on behalf of the business. The team who return with all the items at the cheapest price will win.

Susan Ma suggests that she’s the right candidate to lead Team Venture and gets voted through unanimously. Gavin Winstanley volunteers for Logic.

Susan’s plan is to make her purchases as far to the East End of London as possible – because that’s where things can be bought cheaper. Why? Because it’s full of market traders? Too much Eastenders, love! But Nick Hewer points out that Susan has a very volatile mix of candidates, especially with Edna on her team.

Jim Eastwood plays his heavyweight negotiator card when he haggles for fillet steak. He even squeezes an extra tenner out of the deal when he’s paying for the goods.

Over on Team Logic, Gavin’s team are annoyed at the speed they’ve been operating at. Even Karren Brady grumbles that they’ve spent 3 hours researching. But my gut instinct is that the research may well win for them in the end. Vincent Dinseur takes control of the ‘sub-team’, which is Gavin’s way of spinning off some of the responsibility because he’s flailing.

Susan, Leon and Felicity end their embarrassing hunt for a top hat by securing a one penny discount from a hat shop. Oh dear. Nick’s face is a strange combination of despair and amusement.

Gavin’s hunt for a top hat takes him to a dry cleaners’ shop that specialises in top hats. The proprietor looks on absurdly as Karren Brady shakes her head. And if you think that’s bad, wait until they get to the cloche. Which nobody seems to have the gumption to Google for.

It looks like Susan’s team have thrown away their lead when it comes to negotiating for Chamomile Tea – Gavin negotiates a load in the region of £200 while Susan’s team negotiate down from £1,000 to £400. However, as the teams head back to The Savoy, it turns out that Gavin’s team have a lot of missing items – which they’ll be penalised for in the results.

The Boardroom

Lord Sugar immediately takes Susan’s team to task for going to expensive areas to make many of their purchases. He has a laugh at their expense for going to the Very Rare Tea Company, which Susan defends as being “the best tea in the whole of London”.

He finds fault with Gavin’s team for being slow to get out the door, and also for not knowing what several of the items were.

Venture got 9 items in the end. Their total spend was £1,381.69. Team Logic got 6 items and their overall total was £1,389.20. Susan’s team squeaked it by the narrowest margin possible. They get sent off to a Circus Cabaret in Covent Garden. A lucky escape for Susan herself, who was responsible for dragging their profit margin down significantly.

This leaves Gavin’s team in danger. Vincent sensibly guesses that Gavin will try and take him down somehow. 

For their final visit to the boardroom, Sugar complains about the team’s failure to get out the door quickly enough, and their failure to get four items. And as predicted, Gavin tries to frame Vincent, but Vincent quickly rebukes him for his own failures. Vincent takes some legitimate flack for his sub-management style and whipping a phone out of Ellie’s hand.

Natasha takes criticism for trying to talk a rival hotel into giving up their supplier list. A ballsy but ultimately fruitless move.


Gavin opts to bring Vincent and Zoe back into the boardroom while Alan Sugar sharpens his firing finger.

Gavin’s reason for bringing Zoe into the room is that she didn’t get any leads or do anything solid. Sugar throws up Gavin’s CV claims that he’s a great manager of people, which flies in the face of his behaviour on the task. Gavin explains that he thinks Vincent is partially responsible for the failure of the task. 

It’s a relatively painless firing tonight though – Sugar sees it as a cut-and-dried case of failure by the Project Manager. And so Gavin Winstanley gets fired. It’s the right decision, mostly because he had no excuse for letting his team get out of control during those crucial first few hours of the task. 

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