The Winners and Losers From Last Night's 'The Apprentice'

It's robot week, and Lord Sugar has got a very funny joke about the Terminator.

by Angus Harrison
19 October 2017, 1:19pm

Screengrabs via 'The Apprentice', BBC

We are already on week three! How time flies when you're watching the children of some capitalist fever-dream disintegrate and devour each other. Always looking to the future, Lord Sugar's task was all about robots this week. Specifically: designing and selling them to major department stores. Both teams were given the same prototype and were tasked with programming different functions based on their target-market. Obviously this went totally fucking wrong, because at this stage we're basically watching Some Mothers Do Ave Em.

Spoilers ahead. Here are last night's winners and losers...

PREVIOUSLY: Last week's winners and losers.


Robot week gave Lord Sugar plenty of pun opportunities. I mean, this isn't anything new. He's a man who can find a pun in anything. A man who complains "now it's me that's feeling scrambled" every time he doesn't enjoy his breakfast; who mutters "you've been the lighting the room all day, but to be honest with you, it's me that's...switched off" before turning the light off at the night; who proposed to his wife by saying "does this question...ring any bells?"

Highlights this week including a reference to himself being the Terminator, and an extended bit drawing some tenuous comparison to Michaela leading the boys' team and the word "motherboard". A joke which, like all his gags, was approximately 86 percent exposition, 12 percent dramatic "I've lost my train of thought" silence, and 2 percent punchline.


This week the winning team shouldn't have won, and the losing team shouldn't have lost. Michaela, despite signing off on their team's robot being called "Siimon" – which would be pronounced "semen" right?? – was a very solid team leader. She managed to "keep the boys under control", as was said about 5000 times, presumably in order to set up Sugar's motherboard gag for the end of the episode, and looks in good stead to go pretty far in the competition.

They pitched well, effectively sold flashy tat to toy shops, and despite their completely batshit meaningless product, worked well as a team. Considering the girls were regularly on the verge of eye-gouging, it felt a little unjust to watch the lads fall down again.


Right we've said this before but Siobhan is genuinely getting harder and harder as the weeks go on. Every time she sniffs a challenge to her supremacy her shoulders rise up her body like tectonic plates and her brow furrows into attack mode. Last night she wasn't even being provoked, she just jumped in the car and started calling Elizabeth an "old airbag" out of nowhere. By the end of the episode she was prowling through pitches, growling the word "undermined", and starting fights with robots.

The only way she's going to win this is if when Lord Sugar eventually tries to fire her she snaps his finger backwards and yells "WHO'S FIRED?" until he changes his mind.


Very good episode for the ancient and eternally funny practice of Robots Falling Over. Last night it was e-Bot – a name so blandly "techy" it made Jeffrii sound chic – who went headfirst over his elbows when trying to do some karate. Which in itself was a strange design: the idea that a child will be more encouraged to learn languages if they know their robot will totter over trying to kick something every time they answer a question correctly. I'm not sure why watching robots fall over is so funny. Presumably it's the satisfaction of knowing that even if we are wiped out by the ceaseless march of technology and hyper-intelligence, the cyborgs we are replaced by will be just as pissed-up and incompetent as we are.


Pray for the grandparents of anyone on the boys' team, who designed a robot for the over-60s crowd, and decided the most important things for it to do were (i) yoga (ii) recipes and (iii) repeated medicine reminders. Firstly, not everyone over-60 is an empty, immobile sack of wrinkles in a care home in need of constant monitoring and health advice. In fact, most people over-60 would probably last less than an hour with Jeffrii, or Semen or whatever, before they snapped him in half and tossed him in next door's skip.

And even if they are incapacitated – is that really what you'd want? A small, demonic figure – a plastic white imp – cavorting around the house, telling you take your medicine, and showing off bizarre yoga positions your limbs haven't been capable of since 1972? Because that sounds, to me, like hell on earth.


Technically Michaela should have been fired, down to the naming incident, but clearly the fact she is actually good but made mistakes, saved her. Instead Lord Sugar indulged his first big pleasure firing – the sort of annihilation that comes from simply despising everything about one of the candidates. Elliott "Tory Boy" Van Emden was never going to last. Sugar is, in case you hadn't heard, an East-End boy done good who has no time for namby-pamby nonsense. A barrister called Elliott, the self-proclaimed "Tory Boy", was less an easy target and more a clay pigeon.

"Your demeanour, your manner is not up my alley, you're not cut out to be my business partner, Elliott, you're fired." Sugarspeak for: "I'm firing you because I can, because this is my telly programme and that's what I want to do. Leave you worm."


Does watching someone drive a couple of remote-control robots around a warehouse in Slough count as a treat? Is that a treat? Is it? Looked about as much fun as a stunt motorcycle show on a rainy day in Truro, or spending an entire half-term watching your older brother play Simpson's Road Rage on the PS2. Is that a treat? Is it?


I was struck, midway through this episode, by how miserable it must be to be a driver on The Apprentice. Ordered to ferry business grads from Nunhead to Notting Hill while they all burst blood vessels screaming shit like "DON'T TALK OVER ME" at 120db. It's not like you've even get a break when they are on the phone, because Apprentice candidates, famously, only know how to use speakerphone.

I like to imagine they get to the end of the day and light a single Marlboro red, before gliding through a silent, still London, muttering "wanker" at the Shard.