Feels early to be saying this, but surely last night's hotel extravaganza will turn out to be a series highlight. The task, designing a luxury hotel room, was so beyond the candidates' capabilities, the results were genuinely surreal. Now we've entered the realm of "setting tasks they obviously can't do" I think we should go the whole hog and introduce a heart surgery task, or a major fraud unit week.
Anyway, here are all the winners and losers from last night's episode, YES INCLUDING SPOILERS.
PREVIOUSLY: Last week's winners and losers…
WINNER: BEST LORD SUGAR ENTRANCE OF ALL TIME
This very good episode of the greatest television programme ever began with the best Lord Sugar entrance of all time. I realise that's a lot of hyperbole, but mate:
The best thing about Lord Sugar doing his showboating "I'm mad rich" schtick – standing on top of the Shard, getting out of a Bentley and adjusting his cufflinks – is how he always looks strangely out of his depth. This helicopter entrance is no difference, as Big Al descends on the golf club like the drug baron villain in a Layer Cake sequel starring Vinnie Jones. Muy bueno.
WINNER: THESE BLOKES
Yeah, these blokes, who will have an 18 episode series called The Hotel Police on Channel 4 before you can say "puffy pillows".
WINNER: SILENT CHARLES
Last week, coke-owl Charles ended up in the boardroom, where Lord Sugar told him he was "disruptive", and that he "can't work with someone who is disruptive". This is bad news: Lord Sugar has decided Charles' "thing" is being disruptive; he is Mr Disruptive, the Great Disruptor. Charles has been prescribed a narrative that will haunt him throughout the process – basically a death sentence in the Apprentice universe.
Whatever he does now, however well he performs, he is going to hear the same thing in the boardroom: "I worry about you, Charles; you're disruptive, and I can't do business with someone like that." So, this week, Charles did the only sensible thing and didn't say a fucking word. Like: he literally held his breath for the entire episode until he was dismissed from the boardroom, when he gasped a sigh of relief and ran back to the house. I can see you, mate – I know what you're doing. You can't hide forever, Mr Disruptive.
WINNER: BEST SUGARISM
"James, you'd never get that room as a five-star room on TripAdvisor. The only way you'd get that as a five-star room is on CrapAdvisor."
My heart is singing. All praise the Lord our God.
I'm actually surprised by how unlikeable Jeff turned out to be. In mine and Joel's prediction of who would win, I actually said about Jeff:
"Jeff has got 'in-house favourite' written all over him. He will prove to be every other candidate's best friend, thanks to his warm manner and impromptu break-dance performances."
How wrong I was. Jeff turned out to be a sneering little twerp. The sort of lad you see getting strung up by his rucksack in the changing rooms at school, and for some reason you find yourself siding with the bullies. He spent the entire episode pulling eyebrow raised expressions into the camera like a walking meme, saying shit like "guess what, I'M PISSED, AGAIN!" In fact, can we make a rule that Americans aren't allowed on The Apprentice from now on? I hated it every time he said "Lord Sugar, sir" in his little high-school voice. It was like when your football stream comes from an American TV channel. Rancid.
LOSER: THIS ROOM
In fairness, every week's task does this, but this week's task in particular really stretched the logic of The Apprentice as a concept. "Design a hotel room" – "But I've never done that before!" – "Go on, have a go!" – "Well, OK," – "That looks fucking shit, fuck off, you're fired."
That said, I'm amazed by how badly this room went. Beyond the depressing "Britain as told by Oxford Street gift shops" aesthetic, the colour scheme and scribbled wallpaper made the whole thing look like the children's wing of a central European hospital. Ross's decision to ask the designer to scrap the properly designed Tower Bridge she'd been working on for two hours and instead replace it with a 90-second free-form illustration was this week's biggest howler. The end result looked like Nick Ferrari had been left in a locked in a hotel room for six months, with nothing but a Sharpie and a pile of scratched Bond DVDs for company.
Elizabeth is actually making this series for me so far. Watching her operate on the girl's team last night was like watching a knockabout 1950s comedy, where a prim and proper headmistress tries to whip a rebellious Hampshire girls' school into shape. There's this wild, flustered nanny-vibe about everything she does, that I personally feel is adding a great depth to the show. That said, we should be aware that she is also, sadly, quite clearly losing her mind. Wandering around furniture stores talking to her reflection, critiquing paint-brush strokes and measuring door-knobs. We've probably only got a couple more weeks before Elizabeth slips cyanide into Siobhan's Earl Grey, only for Siobhan to resurface outside the house in the dead of night, two episodes later, grinning wildly and swinging a golf club.
Yes, it was a difficult week for the notion of art, which took a real battering from a bunch of Moss Bros mannequins all claiming they are "actually very creative" – which, in The Apprentice, normally means shouting stuff like, "I'm thinking actually blue for the background, and then like, can there be, like, a crab coming out of it or something?" at a bemused designer. Art, as a conceptual entity, was being used in the boardroom as a strange "get out of jail free" card for anybody who fucked up, i.e:
That weird inflated golf-ball wallpaper is a bit awful, isn't it? No, actually, it's art.
Props, in particular, to Sajan, who this week seemed to think saying the word "art" was a loophole he had found to justify his objectively terrible moodboard. He said to Lord Sugar: "I think art is defined in different ways. It's a chance to escape…" This might work at Goldsmiths, but sadly, in the boardroom, telling Lord Sugar "art is a chance to escape" is basically like asking him to kiss you on the lips.