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 senior writer at the New Statesman.

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Yes, you could skip brunch and save for a deposit on a house. But why?

You'd be missing out. 

There’s a tiny café round the corner from me, a place so small that you have to leave your Bugaboo pushchair outside (a serious consideration in this part of the world), which has somehow become famous across town for its brunch. At weekends, the queue spills on to the road, with people patiently waiting for up to an hour for pancakes, poached eggs and pondy-looking juices served in jam jars. The food is just as good later on, yet there’s rarely much of a line after 2pm, because brunch is cool in a way that lunch isn’t. Where lunch is quotidian, brunch feels decadent – a real weekend treat.

Though the phenomenon is hardly new – the term was coined by a Brit back in 1895 – brunch has always been more popular in the United States than here, possibly because it’s a meal that you generally go out for and eating out has long been more affordable, and thus common, across the pond. Despite our proud greasy-spoon heritage, the idea of brunch as an occasion with a distinct character, rather than just a wickedly late breakfast, is relatively recent, and it owes much to the increasing informality of 21st-century life.

The Little Book of Brunch by Caroline Craig and Sophie Missing revels in the freedom that the occasion bestows upon the cook, falling as it does outside the long-established conventions of the three-meal
structure. “It’s the meal where you can get away with anything,” they write.

By way of proof, along with eggs Benedict and buttermilk waffles, the book features such novelties as ’nduja-and-egg pizza, spaghetti frittatas and lentil falafels – dishes that you could quite respectably serve for lunch or dinner, yet also contain the cosseting, comforting qualities necessary in a first meal of the day.

Though such culinary experimentation is no doubt attractive to the increasingly adventurous British palate, I suspect that the arrival on these shores of the “bottomless brunch”, a hugely popular trend in the US, may also have something to do with our new enthusiasm for the meal – to the concern of health experts, given that Americans seem better able to grasp the idea of drinking as many Bloody Marys as they can handle, rather than as many as they want.

As David Shaftel put it in an op-ed for the New York Times entitled, wonderfully, “Brunch is for jerks”, this meal is “about throwing out not only the established schedule but also the social conventions of our parents’ generation . . . revelling in the naughtiness of waking up late, having cocktails at breakfast and eggs all day. It’s the mealtime equivalent of a Jeff Koons sculpture.”

The Australian social commentator Bernard Salt agrees, blaming this taste for “smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop” for the younger generation’s failure to grow up, take responsibility and save enough money to buy a house. But as critics observed, house prices in Sydney, like those in the UK, are now so high that you’d have to forgo your weekly avo toast for 175 years in order to put together a deposit, and so, perhaps, it’s not unreasonable to want to live in the moment instead. “We are not going out for brunch instead of buying houses: we are brunching because we cannot afford to buy houses,” as the journalist Brigid Delaney wrote in response.

Baby boomers got the free education, the generous pensions and the houses and left us with shakshuka, sourdough and a flat white. Seems like a fair deal. 

Felicity Cloake is the New Statesman’s food columnist. Her latest book is The A-Z of Eating: a Flavour Map for Adventurous Cooks.

This article first appeared in the 20 April 2017 issue of the New Statesman, May's gamble

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