This week’s mission on The Apprentice was about finding the brass in muck. Specifically, the two teams were given a large empty shop in Brick Lane and tasked with filling it full of ‘pre-owned’ objets/curios/treasure or junk and turning in a healthy profit via the pockets of the hipster denizens of this particularly arty corner of East London. It’s the sort of task that would come naturally to a certain type of 20-something; unfortunately, not the type who has set their heart on a corporate business career.
When I say ‘filling it full’ I meant, in the case of Tom Gearing’s Phoenix team, putting the space into spaciousness. Or, as Nick Hewer put it, ‘There is a difference between minimalism and emptiness’. Yes, an ultra cautious spending policy from Tom Gearing left the shop looking, well, I thought it looked pretty cool, like a stage set for an Edward Albee play. (Plus, I spied a nice couple of 1970s Hornsea coffee jars on a shelf). Whether it was a stage set for profit maximisation you’ll have to wait and see.
As if Tom was not putting his head into a big enough noose, in the boardroom he uttered a never-before-heard verdict on team-mates, ‘I haven’t got a bad a bad word to say about anyone’. Cool as a cucumber or just plain daft?
Most of the contestants appeared even more out of water in their dress-down civvies than in their one size too big suits, shirts and ties. Only one looked to have any sort of style, as if they could blend into the Shoreditch Massive. I briefly caught sight of one of the girls in a mustard coloured jacket. I think it may have been Gabrielle Omar. Identified as the ‘creative’ one in the gang she was chiefly to blame for ‘up-cycling’ junk into ‘shabby chic’ objets d’art by virtue of stencilling union Jack motifs on anything and everything inanimate. Her enthusiasm was misplaced, shall we say?
Mixed metaphor of the week was Duane Bryan’s, ‘Don’t look a gift horse in the eye’.
Again, not a classic episode, and I’m unsure what lessons can be garnered from it. I’m sure we’re all aware that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that there is an art to passing off junk as something desirable. One either has an eye for it or not. And it cannot be taught. At least, not in a few days.
However, this week’s loser demonstrated possibly the largest ever disparity between their rather harsh and frankly unlikeable ‘Apprentice’ persona and their absolutely charming and delightful ‘You’ve Been Fired’ persona. It shows how wrong an opinion you can form of someone.
Finally, to anyone that knows me personally, please, I would really like never again to hear the horrid phrase ‘shabby chic’. I’d almost rather hear fingernails skate across a blackboard.