Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The One With The Oud And The Bravado (or The Apprentice Candidates Hit Dubai)

This is not the ood you're looking for...
And then there were...12.  This week sees the dirty dozen receiving the call at the unholy hour of 4.30am.  Jason answers the phone and blearily tells the rest of the candidates to "pack their camels" - and he doesn't mean 20 cigs.

Zee's cock-a-hoop - he used to live in Dubai, so he's hoping his local knowledge puts him ahead of the game.  Luisa's concern is how many bikinis she should take.  That sort of gritty determination and focus is bound to stand her in good stead.

They're on their way to a new multimillion pound hotel, being built a mile and a half outside the main city.  Waiting for them, Karren Brady, Nick Hewer and Lord Sugar's too busy to make the trip himself, so his disembodied head greets them, on a TV screen.

The task?  To find eight items that are required for the opening of the luxury hotel.  They can choose where to buy them from, the shopping malls or the markets - the main thing is to drive the hardest bargain.

Shugs then sees to it that the teams are balanced up - Leah moves over to Endeavour and joins Alex the Vampire, Zee, Natalie, Neil and Kurt, leaving Evolve with Francesca, Jordan, Jason, Luisa, Myles and Rebecca.

With Lord Sugar's warning that the candidates are representing him for this very important client ringing in their ears, they set off to forage for all manner of things in the shopping hotspot that is Dubai.

The teams have ten hours to find eight items.

For Endeavour, Zee puts himself forward as project manager.  The man who wants to make history, aligns himself with Napoleon and says no human in this world intimidates him.  Leah puts herself up for PM as well - she's been there, she's good with finance, she can convert the local currency with ease.  But Zee's local knowledge wins the others over and he's project manager for the first time this series.  But will it be the last?  Is his confidence well-founded, or is it bullshit blag and bravado?  It's The Apprentice - it's surely bound to be the former!

Zee begins cockily, by telling Leah she can put the map away, because he knows Dubai like the back of his hand.  Let's hope he's not wearing gloves.

For Evolve, Myles is looking for his fifth successive win.  Will his glamorous lifestyle help him win this task?  He has, after all, lived in Monaco for a decade and worked all over the world.  And his business idea is focused on building a luxury brand with Lord Sugar.

So, the teams have their budget and a list of directories.  All that remains is to scout round Dubai looking for eight things.  And they have all day - how hard can this be?

Evolve's first task is to work out what the list of things they need to buy actually are, starting with an "oud" (no, it's not one of those aliens that looks like they've been eating spaghetti from Doctor Who).

Endeavour are ahead of the game, with Zee telling the rest of the team what they're looking for - a "kandura" is the national Emirati dress.

They also need to find an Arabic coffee pot and a falcon hood (which Alex says is the brown leather cap that goes over a bird of prey's head).

Oud is the local perfume, according to Zee.  It smells of mahogany, which is why the description says "mahogany, standard size".  He's adamant he's right.

Back with Evolve and they've hit the phones, asking locals what ouds and falcon hoods are.  Another item on the list is the UAE flag, which has to be a very specific size.  They finally work out what a kandura is and decide to head to the mall.

Endeavour are taking a different tack - Zee says the key to winning this task is to buy as much as possible from the markets and "as less as possible from Dubai mall" (let's hope his business idea doesn't have a grammar focus - maybe it's writing "five items or less" signs for supermarket queues).  He sets his team off to hit the Dubai markets, or souks.  Or he tries to, anyway.

Leah sets herself up as subteam leader and says she'll head to Dubai mall.  Zee's taken aback by this power challenge - but, grudgingly, lets her, telling her to head to a particular souk.  So she does, with Neil and Alex, Agent of Darkness.  Except...Leah changes the destination of the taxi and goes to the mall anyway.

Luisa, Jason and Jordan are looking for kanduras.  Jason tries one on - very fetching indeed - but it's 300 dirham.  Can they find a cheaper one?  Yes, they find one for 125, which they knock down to 110.

But the shit's hit the fan for Leah - Zee rings and finds out she's changed the plan and headed to the mall.  So Leah's subteam do a swift about-turn and are now headed to the souk, without getting out at the mall at all #wasteoftime  They've been given the Arabic coffee pot and the kandura to source.

Myles is at a garden centre, looking for a palm tree.  He gets a 15% discount, but he doesn't speak to the boss to negotiate any further; Karren's not impressed.  250 dirhams down.

Zee's looking for the 4' by 6' UAE flag.  He gets a quote for one for a tenner, on the phone.

Myles's team have ordered a flag that'll take an hour to be made.  And it'll be 175 dirham (a quick calculation using Google in my head shows that to be about thirty quid - three times the price).  Karren's shaking her head again, as Francesca offers to pay for the flag upfront.

So, Jordan, Jason and Luisa have a kandura and information for some other products they think they can find now.  But information isn't goods - and time's running out.  They're still in the mall - should they have hit the souks instead?

Neil, Alex the Drac and Leah are in the souk, looking for an Arabic coffee pot.  And they don't find anywhere to buy them.

One market stall holder offers Alex "fresh Viagra".  He dismisses him with a cheery wave, saying he doesn't need any of that, as he's "from Wales".  Mm, where men are men and sheep are - oh, come on, I'm not doing any of those old stereotypical gags here.  Of course, Alex may just not need any because he's an Apprentice candidate - they're perfectly capable of doing all their own cock-ups without help...

Jason is doing his best "speaking to a foreigner in a slow and accented version of English" voice to try to explain to one shop owner what a falcon hood is.  Luisa looks on, making helpful bird squawks to try to aid the discussion, but the man looks blank.  They're making slow progress.

Zee's team are at the same flag shop as Myles's team to collect their smugly pre-ordered UAE flag - and there's a problem.  They tried using maths to describe how big they wanted their flag to be - with 4' by 6' translating to 48cm by 72cm.  Can you spot the error?  Mmm...quite.  It's titchy, because Kurt got inches and centimetres muddled - and all of a sudden, their bargain price flag isn't looking such a bargain.  When will Apprentice candidates learn that they can't actually do sums?  Nick Hewer notes down their massive fail in his book, with a flourish.  And it'll take an hour to make.  Zee writes it off as "no big deal".  We'll be the judge of that, Zeeshan.

Leah, Neil and Alex are looking for a kandura.  Neil's not bothered about the quality, just the price.  He drives a hard bargain and gets it for 60 dirhams.  Will driving the price down and going for the cheapest one pay off when they get to the boardroom?  Or will quality matter to a high class hotel chain?

Back in the car and Zee and Kurt are working out who to call.  Natalie is roundly ignored by them both as they try to round up the rest of the items on the list.

By 5pm, having paid upfront an hour ago, there's still no flag for Myles's team.  He goes to have a look at it, where he's assured that it'll take five minutes to finish.  He cheers on the man who's sewing the hems on the flag.  Somewhat patronising.

Leah discovers that "oudh" is perfume, but "oud" may be something else.  But what?  Neither team knows, but Jason thinks it might be..."something else".  Well, thanks for that flash of genius, Mr Clickety-boo!

Francesca tries to gather a discount at the flag shop - but remember the head-shaking Karren did over her paying upfront for the flag?  Well, it was appropriate - the money's in the till and the flag shop owner isn't giving it up.  No discount for Francesca.

The rest of the Evolve are hoping they've gathered enough information to purchase some things, but Myles isn't happy.  Information's not Actual Stuff, is it?  Shugs won't be impressed with "But a man told us where we could get something" - he'll want to see the something!

Zee's team are palm tree purchasing.  And they are in luck - they find a shop manager who's prepared to give them a 50% discount.  Will we hear a phrase including "monkey" and "organ grinder" later in the programme?  If not, we definitely should.

Francesca's looking for another thing on the list - golden mosaic tiles.  Without luck.

Jason's patronising shopkeepers again - the Arabs are a generous people, apparently - and he's managed to get an Arabic coffee pot for 300 dirham.

Zee gets his flag(s) for 200 dirham - they have to buy the erroneously-sized weeny one too, but he brings the price down from 40 to 28 for that one.  That's 28 that he wouldn't have had to spend if he could, you know, count.  And it's 25 dirhams more than the other team paid for their single, correctly-sized flag.

Luisa, Jason and Jordan discover that an "oud" is, in fact, a musical instrument.  And they can have one for 1,850 - which they barter down to a much more tuneful 990 dirhams (but would they have got it cheaper in a souk?).

Leah's still looking for perfume and Alex is bitching about Zee, but it's time to return to the hotel with their items now, so back they head.

The hotel manager inspects their goods for suitability - as the candidates fly home to London.

And...it's boardroom time.

Lord Sugar hopes the candidates put on a good performance and represented him well.  Bless his little optimistic cottons, eh?

Zee begins confidently - he's lived and worked in Dubai.  Shugs asks the others if he was a good team leader and they...lay into him.  He was "terrible".  Zee looks surprised (self aware much?), but they continue the mauling with his "ability" to work out what the items on their list were - starting with "oud", which wasn't a fragrance at all.  Nick Hewer points out that Alex was dubious about this from the off, raising "one of his eyebrows" at it, since the description for this fragrance had it as "mahogany, standard size".  Know much perfume made of wood?  No, nor me.  And, as Alex puts it, "no-one wants to smell like a dining table".  Quite.  Or a Foldo chair, come to that.

Leah says that Zee didn't have a clue.  And Shugs goes in for the kill when it comes to the flag size; Kurt owns up to not getting the size of the flag right.

But then it gets slightly better, when Neil says he got the kandura down from 100 to 60 dirham and Kurt says he got the palm tree down from 150 to 75.  The other team look worried...

Lord Sugar moves over to speak to Evolve, saying Kurt would probably call Myles "Kilometres" - a #weakpun which has Kurt wincing hooting with pain mirth.

Karren says Jordan's team wasted three and a half hours to purchase anything.  But Myles's subteam stayed to wait for the flag to be produced - it's wasted time all round.  And then the palm tree purchase from the shop assistant, without reference to the manager for a discount, comes up.  They paid 250 dirham for their palm tree - Myles hopes it doesn't cost them dearly.  It might.

Team Evolve

Six items, at a cost of £311.54.

Failed to get the golden mosaic tiles and the falcon hood and they're fined at the market value of those items.

Total: £695.16.

Team Endeavour

Four items, but one of them - the kandura - was the wrong sort, a modern one, not a traditional one.

They also failed to source four items.

Total: £783.36.

So, it's a win for Team Evolve and Myles hasn't lost yet.  Their prize - they're going to the world's best cocktail bar, to sample some of their drinks.

Lord Sugar sends Team Endeavour off to discuss amongst themselves what went wrong.  I think that's code for "lay into Zee", but we shall see.

Meanwhile, Team Evolve are at The Zetter Townhouse, sampling cocktails and saying "hooray".  They watch cocktails being shaken, not stirred, and drink themselves silly, which takes all of 14 seconds.

Over at the greasy spoon, they're blaming each other and trying not to make it look like they're...blaming each other.  Kurt's worried that he'll be for the chop for getting centimetres mixed up with inches (maybe he should've had the Viagra?).

And they're back in the boardroom...

Lord Sugar says the wrong kandura contributed to the loss of the task, because they had to pay not just for the one they bought, but also the market value of the one they should've bought.  Whoops.

But can they blame it all on Zee?  Why didn't Leah go with her gut feeling when she got to the mall and head in, rather than change and go to the souk?

Nick Hewer says that Natalie and Kurt didn't say anything much.  And then Shugs gets The Flag out - and Kurt cringes his face inside-out as his maths "ability" is questioned.

But who's Zee going to bring back into the boardroom?  Will he risk the undoubted tongue-lashing he'd get from Leah (and not in a good way), or go for a seemingly softer option?  And...he does both - and brings back Leah and Natalie.  But why not Neil and Kurt, who did actually buy incorrect items?  Hmm...

The others head back to the house, with Alex tossing an obsequious "sorry to disappoint, Lord Sugar" over his shoulder, swishing his red silk lined cape, hissing as he shows his fangs.

Shugs, Nick and Karren discuss the three, whilst they wait outside, all nude high heels and lashings of eye-liner (and that's just Zee).  Leah and Zee were clearly gunning for one another from the start, but Natalie needs to have something to say for herself when she gets back into the boardroom; Lord Sugar hasn't forgotten that he said he was keeping his eye on her a couple of weeks ago.  Karren points out that Natalie says she's said things a lot, but not actually done much.  Will this be her undoing?

The candidates head back in, with Zee dropping the door on Natalie, much to her chagrin.

Why did Zee bring Natalie in?  He says she's lovely to be around, but she didn't contribute.  But Natalie says that's because Zee didn't let her - she asked to make calls, to be given the directories to do research - does Zee have a problem with women?  He has, after all, brought the only two on his team into the boardroom.  Natalie calls him chauvinistic and Leah backs that up, saying Zee had it in for her from the beginning of the task and seems to have a problem with strong women.

Zee tries to make it about Leah, saying she got the kandura wrong - but it was Neil who did that; why didn't Zee bring Neil back in?  Leah continues - two males on the team made errors that lost them the task, yet Zee brought the two women back in.  Hmm indeed.

Leah highlights her strengths thus far in "the process" (don't you love it when they say "the process"?).  She's sold, she's pitched, she's yada-yada-yada...  Shugs isn't impressed and asks her again why she didn't go with her gut instinct when she was at the mall.  She wishes she had.  Don't we all, Leah, don't we all?

Zee's an international property broker with a claimed by him turnover of half a million pounds.  Shugs then amuses us all by quoting from Zee's CV.  He's "not receptive to the authorities of others, or their criticism".  Zee's comfortable with that - unless the person's credible and has his respect, he doesn't listen to them.  Lord Sugar says that he comes across as arrogant.  Probably because it's really arrogant.

Zee looks up to Napoleon - but has Napoleon ever been fired from Phones 4u?  Zee was their top salesman, apparently (another thing Napoleon almost certainly wasn't).  But who should be fired?  Zee says Natalie.  Natalie says Zee.  Leah says Zee.

Lord Sugar rounds up:

Zee - puts himself forward as someone who knows it all.  He's not a man of modesty.  But Shugs admires what he's achieved.  He's got a good business.  And everybody has it in for him.

Leah - Shugs hopes that she hasn't used the personality thing against Zee on this task.  That would be...very unfortunate.

Natalie - two weeks ago, Shugs said he'd be keeping his eye on her.  He regrets that she's back in the boardroom.  But she has shown him some passion here today - and this is her very, very last chance.

But...Zee's idea of coming into business with him is trading internationally in real estate.  He's just demonstrated that he can't trade internationally.  He is to blame for the task, it was out of control.  Zee's fired.

And I, for one, won't miss him.  Or Napoleon.

Natalie and Leah leave the boardroom, Natalie in tears - and, unusually for the fake hugs and smiles that Apprentice candidates usually plaster on for these moments, totally ignore Zee on the way out.

Nick Hewer sums Zee up - a man whose mouth outran his abilities.

And then Zee, in the cab of shame, demonstrates that this is true - by saying that his name will go down in history.  He's just not sure for what.  Perhaps he could make a film, Carry On Bullshitting?

Next week - the teams are tasked with the ironic challenge of running a corporate team-building event.  And it looks as though Alex might just get his dressing-up wish, though not as a scarecrow this time.

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