Solomon with his skellington. Photo: BBC/The Apprentice
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The return of kosher chicken and oud: The Apprentice blog series 10, episode 9

Running around and fetching things is this week’s hard-nosed business challenge. And there are some old favourites.

WARNING: This blog is for people watching The Apprentice. Contains spoilers!

Read the episode 8 blog here.
 

This week’s “negotiating task” is the one veteran Apprentice viewers will have been most looking forward to. Because although it ostensibly is about shrewd haggling, it is in reality the highly enjoyable “find random unrelated items quickly, pointlessly eschewing public transport for black cabs in traffic” challenge, which often guarantees the series’ most idiotic moments.

And this one does not disappoint. We know it’s going to be a special episode because Alan Sugar actually turns up at the candidates’ house in the morning, rather than leading them somewhere unrelated to pose in two angry packs. This is because nothing says “bargaining is the backbone of business” like a little Labour lord pacing around the purple rug in your front room as you bounce down the stairs in full make-up and markedly unrumpled pyjamas.

Another sign that this episode will be a particular treat is that some of the items on the teams’ lists have deep poignancy in Apprentice history: kosher chicken – evoking the beautiful moment six years ago when self-proclaimed “good Jewish boy” Michael brought back a bird from a halal butcher instead – and oud, the “Arabian perfume” that confused the cocky Zee by turning out to be a mahogany stringed instrument.

Sinking to new depths. Photo: BBC/The Apprentice

Anyway. The teams choose their leaders: last week’s “nameless” Sanjay takes Summit, to show that he isn’t a mere passenger, and Daniel leads Tenacity, because the other team members hate him marginally less than the idea of a woman being in charge. Yes, poor Katie is stuck with the aggressive blunderer Daniel, overbearing manipulator Mark and bamboozled irrelevance Felipe for yet another task.

The two project managers have very different styles. Daniel wants very much to “smash this alive”, for example, whereas Sanjay wants his team to stay calmly in the office all morning, planning their route carefully for purchasing each item on the list. While this is sensible of Sanjay, it’s not really in the spirit of this task, which basically demands that contestants sit sweating in the back of a cab, crawling from Wimbledon to Tottenham, with only an A-Z and Yellow Pages to see them through.

The obligatory Jewish bit opens the mayhem, as a subtle soundtrack of Hava Nagila bounces along behind Daniel, who struts into a kosher butchers in Golders Green with a “Shalom” and a handshake. He bags the chicken, while Mark and Katie beg for a knackered-looking sink in a junkyard for a price their rival team swiftly beats them on, for an even more knackered-looking sink.

Roisin's diamond heist. Photo: BBC/The Apprentice

But it’s not all poultry and plumbing. Scallops are also required. “Fish and chip shops don’t sell scallops, do they?” asks Sanjay in his very own Peter Mandelson moment as they whizz by some fast-food places.

And even posher than that, diamonds must be purchased. This is where we all laugh incredulously at silly old Roisin because she starts ringing round independent jewellers, asking if they sell diamonds! Oh, Roisin. Such naiveté! As Karren Brady reminds us, with tired disdain, only “diamond dealers carry loose stones”.

It turns out Roisin’s shocking ignorance when it comes to diamond dealing doesn’t matter at all, as she manoeuvres the price of a diamond down from over £100 to £50. Agreeing to close the deal, the Hatton Garden trader informs her, “I like blonde women.” But surely not as much as he loves being completely ripped off and cheerily sexist on primetime television?

“You basically just stole that diamond off him,” giggles Sanjay as he and Roisin scramble off up the street with their cut-price stone.

A world away from Hatton Garden, Mark and Katie are wandering around a deserted council estate trying to find some oud. The oily rather than stringed kind this time. “It’s nothing like Sunderland,” says Katie, dazed. A man emerges from a stairwell with a tiny vial of oil. They buy it off him for £48. Good practice if ever Lord Sugar runs out of ideas and makes the candidates go drug dealing in broad daylight.

Bianca has a bone to pick with Solomon. Photo: BBC/The Apprentice

Solomon and Bianca are tasked with finding an anatomical skeleton. This ordeal is made tougher by the fact that Solomon can’t get his head round the pronunciation of anatomical, asking the shop-owner if they have any “antomological” models. They eventually find one, called Mike or Adam or something else standardly male only a scientist would be mad enough to name a skeleton, and eagerly purchase it after checking its teeth like a horse. Solomon throws the skellington over his soldiers, and they scamper off to find their next item.

The other team, guided by Felipe, buys a flatpack paper skeleton on the cheap. This leads to one of those immortal boardroom lines, like “I am the judge, jury and executioner” and “I like to see a lawyer punished” which could only ever make sense on The Apprentice or in a revenge tragedy:

“I asked you to get me a skeleton, you didn’t bring me a skeleton.”

The guide price and a fine is whacked onto the sorry box of flattened bones, and Daniel's team loses by about £50. 

So in an astute reference to The Law, Lord Sugar does an unorthodox third-person voice firing by telling Felipe: "Judge Sugar here says you're fired, Supreme Court Judge Sugar also agreed."

The question is, will Felipe take this decision all the way to European Court Judge Sugar?

Felipe plans his appeal. Photo: BBC/The Apprentice

Candidates to watch

Bianca

She's a bit negative, not enjoying Solomon playing happily with the skeleton, but she is quietly quite good.

Daniel

According to Felipe, this was "the time when Daniel became a man". Let's watch this closely, shall we?

Katie

When they shuffle the teams up next week, it's her chance to escape the awful bullish infighting in Team Tenacity.

 

I'll be blogging The Apprentice each week. Click here to follow it. Read my blog on the previous episode here. The show will air weekly on Wednesday evenings at 9pm on BBC One. Check back for the next instalments every Thursday morning.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

CHRISTIAN ZIEGLER/MINDEN PICTURES
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Eyes on the peaks and a heart in the valley

During the summer months, the Swiss Alps offer one of nature’s most gorgeous spectacles.

Usually, whenever I arrive in Switzerland (where I am currently enjoying a brief summer respite), I cannot wait to ascend to the top of the nearest peak, whether on foot, or by some kind cable car, or a combination of the two. At this time of year, the flora seems more interesting the higher I go and, to my mind, few sights are as beautiful as a high Alpine meadow in full flower.

A possible comparison might be a desert at its most floriferous, but it is hard to predict when that occasional abundance will come. If you get to the mountains between June and late July, one of the most gorgeous spectacles in nature is close to guaranteed. Some years are better than others, but there is something about wandering an Alpine meadow, or crouching at the edge of a mountain chasm to peer down at a clutch of faintly scented mountain flowers, that renews the spirit.

The other great pleasure in being up, as opposed to down, is the view. Everyone appreciates that view, even if it is only from the visitors’ centre or the café terrace: the land laid out all around, its most intimate secrets revealed, sheep and people and houses like tiny specks on the valley slopes. The river is a ribbon of light, making its way through the lower meadows, past the cement works and the little Valais towns, each with its own shop and train station, its people polite and reserved, speaking a variety of German that most German-speakers barely understand. When people here meet, they say not “guten Tag” but “grüezi”. Goodbye is “Widerluege”. If you can remember how to pronounce it, there is a delicious, cheesecake-like dish called Chäschüechli. However, my favourite titbit of Swiss German is that, whereas Hochdeutsch has one term for walking uphill (“aufwärts gehen”), Swiss German has two: “uälaufe”, which means “to walk uphill” and “ufälaufe”, which means “to walk uphill and get to the top”. Or so my Swiss friends tell me – although, in matters of language, they do like to play games.

True or not, this is an important distinction, especially here in Valais. At the top are the Blüemlisalphorn (3,661 metres) and Weisshorn (4,506 metres) peaks, which are out of my range, but even the less demanding ones (the gorgeous Illhorn, for instance, which rises to 2,716 metres) can be a challenge for the occasional hillwalker that age, desk work and appetite have made me. It’s worth it, though, for the views and the flora. Or so I thought – but there are some who would agree to disagree.

Rainer Maria Rilke discovered the Valais region in 1919 and returned there to live a short time later. He was drawn by the beauty of the landscape, the flora, the simplicity of local life and the view of the mountains – but he rarely climbed to the top, preferring the valleys and the slopes to the peaks. A favourite place was the Forêt des Finges, on the floor of the valley. “Outside is a day of inexhaustible splendour,” he wrote to a friend in 1921. “This valley inhabited by hills – it provides ever-new twists and impulses, as if it were still the movement of creation that energised its changing aspects. We have discovered the forests – full of small lakes, blue, green, nearly black. What country delivers such detail, painted on such a large canvas? It is like the final movement of a Beethoven symphony.”

From Finges, one looks up and sees the mountains. It was looking up, rather than looking down, that seemed to give Rilke the power to renew his vision. It was here that he finally completed the Duino Elegies, among other works. His mind reached for the peaks but his home was in the valley. He asked to be buried in the village of Raron, where the church is perched on a rock above the river: a choice spot from which his soul might gaze upwards to the delectable hills.

This article first appeared in the 21 July 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The English Revolt