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The Apprentice Series 8, Episode 7: Tantastic

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Apparently asking your manager if they have a strategy is a fireable offence, while being a complete chaotic mess is heartily encouraged.

That's the message we took away from Wednesday's episode of the Apprentice, anyway.

Poor Azhar. If only he'd blithely followed Jade's lead instead of questioning her: he'd have lived to fight another day. And by 'fight', I of course mean 'strut his stuff in teeny tiny disco shorts'.

Wednesday's task saw the two teams attempt to guess what wholesale items would sell well at shopping centres and market stalls in Essex. Once they'd had a trial run it was up to the project managers to decide what was selling well, then restock to maximise their profits.

Unfortunately for the people in Jade's team, she turned out to have significantly less natural strategic sales instinct than a sea otter. Or any other aquatic mammal, to be fair.

One of Jade's biggest failings was decision making. She spent a substantial chunk of the crucial first part of the task debating potential stall locations rather than deciding what to stock, meaning her team ended up having to rush round the warehouse frantically throwing novelty items into their trolley like rejects from Supermarket Sweep.

Tom: "Ok, we've got elbow pads, knee trimmers, leg ointment, snorkels, edible underwear, party hats, hamster duvets and a startled shop assistant called Dave....what's your strategy here, Jade?"
Jade: "GET MORE STUFF".

Over in the other team, project manager and professional Duncan from Blue lookalike Nick was having a bit more success, as he'd picked their stock first then decided on a location. If they'd been anywhere else that might have been a risky strategy, but in Essex it doesn't matter whether you're at a car boot sale or outside a swanky department store: fake tan and nail extensions aren't going to do badly.

It's just a shame the warehouse didn't also stock Asti Spumante and leopard print heels.

Nick sent half his team to Romford Shopping Centre and packed Ricky and Stephen off to the market to sell extendable mops to the confused and infirm, which they did in the manner of a very tired end of the pier comedy double act from 1959.

"Have you got a bad back Stephen?"
"I most certainly have, Ricky."

And so on, until viewers and the population of Romford collectively lost their will to live. Torturers could learn a thing or two from them. Well them, and Jade's clanging, clattering, bag-of-drill-bits-in-a-cement-mixer voice.

Thankfully, Ricky and Stephen's stint as the new Morecambe and Wise was short lived, as project manager Nick spent the rest of the task using them as fake tan couriers. Unsurprisingly, it had proved to be slightly more popular than breathing back at the shopping centre and they'd almost run out.

But disaster struck- the Banter Brothers got stuck in traffic, leaving Nick and the others without stock for almost two hours. The break in sales was totally unnecessary: they could have easily made their own fake tan by getting a job lot of Wotsits from a nearby Asda and scraping the coating into a jar.

Luckily for them, Jade's efforts were such a shambles that even with a two-hour selling break, Nick's team really didn't have much to worry about.

When it came time to restock she ignored her team. Instead of 'smelling what's selling' and buying more of the vibrating bug toys that had proved to be a smash hit in Pitsea (presumably Pitsea is some kind of temporal black hole where the Xbox hasn't been invented yet), she grabbed yet another random selection of products.

This prompted Azhar to ask her what her strategy was for the eleven hundredth time. Sadly, like any oft-repeated phrase it had lost all meaning by that point. But then again, most sensible advice probably sounds like buzzing random noise to Jade.

Due to this and a catalogue of other errors that included slashing prices so violently it was like watching a version of the Saw films set in Poundland, Jade's team lost. They ended up with £838, but Nick's team made £955.

Never mind this TV reviewing lark, I'm going to stock up on Ronseal and make a killing in South Ockendon this summer.

Jade's shambolic, indecisive leadership continued in the boardroom. Unable to decide who to blame for the task's failure (er, someone hand her a mirror), she pulled in Tom as well as doomsayer Azhar.

As Tom had actually been the most helpful and level headed team member she got told off for that too, but survived for another week despite being about as useful as an electric beard trimmer in an Amish retirement home. Instead, Azhar was sent home for having the temerity to repeatedly suggest his leader formulate some kind of plan.

Azhar, you fool. Don't you realise we live in an age of slavish duty and unquestioning obedience? Now, help me load this crate of Wotsits onto the Edinburgh-Romford train.