The Apprentice: season 13, episode 6 recap: "Bruged Egos"

The Apprentice: season 13, episode 6 recap: "Bruged Egos"
Off we head to Bruges, city of culture, chocolate and small-scale fraud. You get the feeling this is one member state for which March 2019 can't come fast enough.
The task

"SOUTHAMPTON!" Elizabeth shouts up the stairs, as if it makes the slightest difference where they're going. Get dressed and in the cars.

On a ferry, a pre-recorded Sugar on a screen explains that he has been called away on urgent business and thus can't be with them on the boat. This is of course horseshit; he's just scared of water. You must have noticed before how you never see him swimming. They're to give guided tours of Bruges, he says. Karren then takes charge and says that Lord Sugar wants the teams shaken up, so presumably this was business very urgent indeed, so much so that he didn't have time to commit the instructions to video, unless of course his whole speech was pre-recorded weeks ago OR SOMETHING.

For fun, the teams are also shown Lord Sugar's blooper reel, in which he keeps on pronouncing it "Brudges".

Sarah-Jayne gets the Vitality PM gig ahead of Charles, who continues his streak of appearing to want responsibility by volunteering for it second, getting overruled, then contributing nothing at all in the task. Over on Graphene it's Elizabeth, who uses the word "juxtaposition", after which Harrison takes a good half-hour to stop figuring out what that means and collect his thoughts. Her idea of project management, as it was always going to be, is total inflexibility, masked by the appearance of encouraging debate.

The whole point of tasks on The Apprentice is of course to throw them in at the deep end and encourage comical failure. The thing about this one is that there is no way for either team to complete it, satisfactorily or otherwise, without committing fraud. They have to sign people up to pay for a guided tour of a European city about which none of the tour guides knows a thing. It is literally a task whose success depends on how effectively they can cheat the customer and get away with it. Next week they'll probably all have to set up an offshore tax avoidance shell company in the Cayman Islands, but also run a bingo night dressed in inflatable sumo suits.

Andrew, whose favourite TV show is definitely Entourage, is massively overconfident because he's selling beer tasting, so all he has to do is be insufferable about what a skinful everyone's going to have. This doesn't seem like much of a sales technique until you remember that being insufferable is widely seen as a positive character trait in sales, along with wearing really pointy shoes like a court jester's.

On the other team James is selling tickets based on the premise of a segway tour, which hasn't been confirmed with PM Elizabeth, who thinks it's more of a brief segue into segways. When she tries to call him his phone is off. He's the sort who'd leave it on in the cinema, so why would his phone be off when he's on The Apprentice and obviously needs to be in contact with others? But the tickets all sell fairly well, because for some reason most people on the ferry are going to Bruges without having made any concrete plans as to what to do when they get there.

Later they reach a chocolate shop and James tries to negotiate a commission on any sales the shop makes off the tourists they bring in. This is a good idea but given that he's already told the shopkeeper he's going ahead with the whole thing and bringing the party in there anyway, there's no reason for her to give him anything. A few miles down the road, David Davis is realising much the same thing every time Michel Barnier smilingly shakes his head at him. But she generously gives him 5% commission despite his abject lack of bargaining power, demonstrating beyond doubt that everyone wants to trade with Britain because it's a global powerhouse.

Elizabeth's tour guiding manner relies heavily on bellowed instructions that make sure everything goes according to the strict plan, irrespective of whether or not anyone has any fun. She gets everyone out of the chocolate shop as quickly as possible, losing out on commission from the sales. Elsewhere Charles, whose only job is not to get lost, gets lost. What are you even for, Charles?

Charles in charge
The boardroom

Charles's regular nearly-PM status doesn't go unnoticed. Michaela, having worn some quite nice glasses for once in Bruges, reverts back to her usual pair for the boardroom, which look a lot like the ones I had in 1991. Karren comments that Andrew was a bit laddish, which he visibly takes as a compliment and, under the desk, immediately reports on his "BANTS" Whatsapp group.

Due to being marginally less awful than the other mob, Elizabeth's team wins and is treated to an afternoon of punting on the river in Cambridge, which is much more family-friendly than what they get up to on the river in Pambridge.

Revealingly, in Elizabeth's bit to camera she insists that she's "not just the joker in the pack", and maybe she's right: whatever she's doing (and in a Radio Times interview Sarah-Jayne claims she's playing a character) seems to be working, so expect to see her build a media career sustained by an escalating adherence to an obviously false public persona that is unapologetic about "saying what I think, and if people don't like it, that's their problem". British public life could do with another of those.
Who got fired?

Losing skipper Sarah-Jayne brings back Charles and Andrew, whom I daydream for a moment are called Charles and Eddie ("Would I lie to you baby, would I lie to you?" Yes. About literally anything.) Charles, it is pointed out quite astutely by Claude and Karren, is an expert in hindsight, very skilled at figuring out what went wrong later, as opposed to just getting it right in the first place.

Sugar delivers a brilliantly artless false firing, which he's been introducing with more regularity in recent weeks. He tells Andrew he's awful and that everything he does is bad, and then hits him with "And on that basis ... (*drumroll*)" but realises he's gone too far into the false firing and doesn't have the wit to row it back, so stumbles over his words. This will have been the best of about 28 takes. Anyway, Sarah-Jayne gets the push, the victim of being generally quite sensible and efficient but without the ability to marshal people who have no intention of listening to her.
Does she thank him?

Yes: there's a quiet "Thank you for the opportunity" as she gets out of her seat. There's a quick hint at a double firing, but Andrew, having been told to justify himself, announces that he's "going to bleed crimson", which is somehow enough. I immediately add the capacity to breathe oxygen to my list of skills on LinkedIn.

Next week: the teams go undercover in the Hong Kong underworld to root out a dirty cop tipping off a heroin-trafficking ring, while the subteams make the world's largest cinnamon swirl.

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