The Apprentice, Series 16, Episode 4: A Few Errant Lungs

Welcome to Amy Having a Miserable Time: Coastal Edition!

In this week’s episode the candidates wreak havoc in that famous seaside resort… All Of Cornwall.

This week the candidates’ 4am phone call gave them the ever ominous instruction of packing an overnight bag and that they’d be meeting Lord Sugar at the National Maritime Museum, which Kathryn theorises might mean they’ll be chartering ships, a concept that harpreet laughs at her for

and turns out only to be slightly more absurd than what actually happened because it turns out their overnight bags weren’t for a week of plundering the seven seas, instead they’ll have to enter the seafood market where they’ll have to deftly negotiate both the prices of fish and Lord Sugar’s jokes about the post-Brexit trade wars.

For the task, the teams had to pick 1 species of fish to sell as their “Catch of the Day” which they’d have to make into a fish dish to sell at the Truro Farmers Market and then they were also going to have to buy fish from the Cornish fish markets to sell to luxury hotels in London – it was a very fractured task and very much set up in such away that maximised chaos and the amount of times Amy could sigh down a mobile phone.

In the wake of Navid OKURRRRRR-ing himself out of the competition, the teams did have to be rebalanced and thus Alex was sent over to join Team Infinity who were color blocking like corporate Power Rangers

while Team Diverse, despite their name, went for a more spartan approach to colours

it’s amazing how a group of people manage to look so much like a statement living room from House & Garden Magazine.

Pollacks to That!

With Lord Sugar having said “Don’t volunteer to lead a task you don’t have any experience in!” and thereby threatening the candidates into volunteering for anything they were even tangentially related to, this meant that, Harpreet, as the owner of a dessert parlour, being the only candidate involved in the food industry, she was obligated to take up the Project Manager role – how different can crepes and pollack really be?

With Pollack chosen as their Catch of the Day, Harpreet had to decide who to send down to Cornwall as part of the fishy reconnaissance team, with Francesca immediately stepping up, claiming she would be perfect for the role because her family apparently go on annual fishing trips. And, I scoffed at her, finding it very amusing that she thought they would be sent to go and actually fish for their fish except…

these are people who seem to be incapable of making a logo that doesn’t look like something that will one day crawl forth from the sewers and destroy society, I’m not sure I’d trust them on open water!

As it turns out, Francesca’s wealth of angling experience paid off because she reeled in pollack after pollack while Nick bumbled around and Aaron’s masculine pride wilted a little more every time Francesca gleefully cried “Fish on!”

Ah yes, the flop sweat of piscine inferiority.

Aaron and Nick did eventually start catching pollack, which Harpreet had decided they would be making into fish tacos, as opposed to the obvious choice of Fish & Chips, which Aaron had plenty of misgivings about because… he’s Aaron and he seems to have misgivings about any idea a woman has. It would’ve been all well and good making it into Fish and Chips but with them being stationed in Truro, they’d have been competing against umpteen other Fish and Chip shops. Plus you’d going to have to trust Nick with a deep fat fryer and with him cremating pieces of pollack within seconds of the market day starting and having his frying pan rights revoked, it was probably for the best that they didn’t add vats of bubbling oil to the mixture

With Nick being incapable of using a stove, he was almost instantly banished to sort of just skulk around the back of their stall like the evil twin that gets locked in the attic and fed nothing but fish heads

the fish tacos did also mean that Francesca, Aaron and Nick were saved the Sisyphean struggle of having to peel enough potatoes to make 100 Chippy Portions of chips. No, the only ordeal was Francesca and Aaron arguing about the best way to make the salsa with Francesca wanting to make it all in bulk, while Aaron wanted to make it in 10 portion increments. Eventually he pissily concedes to do it Francesca’s way but making sure to tell her that if they lose he will waste absolutely no time in driving the bus over her and her mammoth amounts of incredibly bland looking salsa, then going on to compare her to Kim Jong-Un

and while Aaron suffered in the totalitarian onion state, he should probably have thanked his lucky stars he wasn’t down in London where they were having to prepare the market bought fish to a 5 star restaurant standard – and I’ll be honest, Akeem did better at it than quite a few of the chefs ever managed on MasterChef: The Professionals, even if he did leave a few errant lungs here and there

which is particularly impressive given that I don’t believe Dover Sole have lungs?

With Akeem acting as the Jason Vorhees of the fish kingdom, Harpreet playing PM and Francesca, Nick and Aaron all banished to a new life as trawlermen – you might be wondering “What was Brittany’s role in this?” – which I would applaud you for given that you even remembered Brittany existed. As for what she did, she mostly existed to have Harpreet click her fingers at her while pondering how many onions was too many onions

and of course being the chief transport of the fish they were flogging to whichever restaurateur would bother to answer the door when they knocked on it

And still, a petite woman in a bodycon dress and heels is a better delivery service than Hermes.

I don’t quite know why they had this fish, considering they took very specific quantities for the restaurants – it seemed to be just to fill in the Apprentice trope of having the candidates accost members of the public. Although Brittany didn’t want to do any accosting and very specifically highlighted that the team should do their best to not insult the restaurant owners… only seconds later to have a restauranteur tell her that she had mortally offended him by trying to sell him monkfish tails for £30 a pop

both teams got taken for a ride by the hoteliers and the random restaurant owners, you only have to take one look at the face of Mr. Hotel getting 10kgs of Pollack for £7 a kilo to know this

but you know, at least Harpreet had remembered to sell things to her hotelier…

Oh Crab!

Team Infinity got off to an immediately rocky start as nobody wanted to put themselves forward for Project Manager, with Kathryn eventually saying she would do it despite having already helmed a task, which Amy immediately shoots down, not by deciding to step up to the plate herself, but by firmly throwing Alex to the wolves by suggesting he do it because “he’s good at negotiating big contracts” leaving out the part where these contracts are for who gets to clean the windows of a central London bank – and later in the boardroom further tries to justify it because apparently he does a lot of the cooking in the flat. Alex, is rather blindsided by the whole thing and accepts it while looking every bit like the Blinking White Man Gif.

The first port of call for Harangued Captain Alex was to pick their Catch of the Day – with their choices being Pollack, Crab or Lobster. Most of the team immediately go for the crab – absolutely because it’s the mid-price point and that’s usually the winner and completely disregarding the fact crab isn’t the easiest thing to prepare or that crab is quite a divisive food. Akshay meanwhile really wanted them to go for lobster, entirely on the grounds that he has no idea what crab tasted like and was not in the market to find out for himself as he demanded Kathryn and Alex explain crab to him through the power of word games

and then later remained completely cancrinally abstinent as not a single piece of the ill-fated Crab Arancini passed his lips.

So with their catch of the day selected, all that was left to do was decided how to split the teams, with Alex eventually deciding to send Amy, Sophie and Stephanie down to Cornwall to work as crab fisherman for an entire morning, which did mostly involve the three of them shrieking while tossing crabs into a bucket, which was quite the contrast to Francesca gently patting each of the pollack she caught and put in the bucket

but while they mostly threw crabs around only to inevitably face animal cruelty charges on Twitter, Alex, Akshay and Kathryn had to go and meet with the hotelier to arrange that fish order. And arrange that order they… did not do. Alex was clearly focused on the market fish, with their choices being Plaice and Monkfish – the key selling point being that Plaice was in season at the moment, a fact Alex didn’t seem to know would mean that there was a lot of it on the market at the moment and therefore driving the price down but bless him he really tried to get the man to pay £12 per kilo, with the eventual bargained price being £7.50 per kilo while Karren sat in the back and watched this miserable own goal play out

and with Alex so focused on the market fish, Kathryn sat there doodling and Akshay just sitting frozen like some sort of business gargoyle, nobody bothered to ask if the hotelier would like any of their crab, meaning Amy, Sophie and Stephanie were left with 75kgs of fresh unshiftable crab to somehow sell in one day at a farmers market in Truro. As to what that crab was to become, the initial plan was to make Crab Burgers

Yes, but “does everybody love a *crab* burger?” is the ever pressing question.

As is want to happen on The Apprentice, plans soon changed because The London Trio knew they were going to have to maximise their profit on the crab given they were lodged into a Plaice Price War, and the burgers used 75g of crab meat in every portion whereas the crab arancini used only 35g of crab per portion, meaning they could make more of it for that hungry, hungry arancini market? The upside of the arancini was that it sounded fancy and you could then get away with selling 5 balls of the stuff for nearly £8, the downside was that it is incredibly laborious to make, with Amy, Sophie and Stephanie trapped in a Cornish kitchen stirring their own bodyweights in risotto like some sort of punishment worthy of Greek myth

there was also the issue that you could easily sell chips alongside the burger and add an extra £2 to the value, but for the arancini they had instead splashed almost £100 on rocket, lemons and garlic mayonnaise

Alexa, how much is Garlic Mayonnaise per kilo?

Once The Fates of Cornwall had atoned for their sins through the power of Italian cuisine, it was off to the market to try and shift nearly 30kgs of arancini to the unsuspecting Truro market goers, who were in for a bit of lunchtime theatre as almost immediately Sophie and Stephanie butt heads because Stephanie pointed out that Sophie was trying to sell arancini to people that Stephanie had already spoken to. The most divine thing about this argument was the absurdity of the two of them being dressed like a pair of village fete judges, looking IDENTICAL, and the camera operator just bouncing between the two of them like someone watching Wimbledon

given that Stephanie only seems to exist for 2 minutes every episode, you could almost convince me that she’s a mere manifestation of Sophie’s subconscious as she slowly loses grip on reality because this competition is absolutely driving her insane.

While SophBot and Stephanie went the full Punch and Judy in Truro, Alex, Akshay and Kathryn were having to prepare the market fish for their restaurant owner – or at least the first two were because Kathryn took one look at the fish they were going to have to be gutting and filleting, coughed once and went home sick. Truly, she was the only winner in this episode.
While the other team raced through the fish prep to the detriment of the quality of their preparation, Alex and Akshay didn’t because, if you will remember from their hotel negotiations, the two of them did not have a deadline to meet – a fact Karren took great pleasure in pointing out to Alex as she dramatically glanced and her watch and then popped her hip to slyly ask “What time are you meant to be delivering this fish to the hotel?”

and the fact she was dressed for drinks at 7pm while in an industrial kitchen at 5am only adds to the masterpiece of reality TV.

Karren’s powerplay does absolutely nothing to shift Alex and Akshay into gear as the two of them arrive in the middle of the hotel’s lunch shift, meaning the fish would have to be used for the dinner service and because it would be 6 hours older, the price of their monkfish is dropped to £20 per kilo – their only saving grace being that the only verifiable skill Akshay has shown in 4 episodes is his ability to prep a tail of monkfish, which is a USP that I don’t imagine he’ll get to use again, although weirder things have happened.

Then of course, because this is The Apprentice we’re treated to Alex and Akshay running around London carrying massive boxes of fish to try and sell directly to restaurants, who mostly just politely smiled as Akshay said increasingly obvious things

as opposed to all that black market monkfish shoplifted from Birmingham Aquarium that’s saturating the market.

The Boardroom Blitz

From the moment Alex forgot to try to sell the crab to the hotelier, we all knew that his team was on to a real loss, I think the most surprising part was the fact they still managed to make a profit at all from their 30kgs of arancini and their scheduleless fish – ending up with a total profit of £116.56, after spending £439.85 – 20% of which was just on garlic mayo, lemons and rocket. While Harpreet’s experience in food markups and Francesca’s secret life as a fishing tycoon helped them net a fairly admirable £312.42 profit – which I’m sure in most of the previous series would’ve seen them lose… But God bless Akeem for being on the verge of pumping the air like a football hooligan over their win and having to style it out

Not sure deciding to sniff your cufflinks was the best option but I admire the creativity.

Alex did valiantly try to play off not selling the crab to the hotelier as “not knowing he could do that.” which Karren immediately calls him out on and so he had to change course to saving his own hide by blaming Amy for pushing him to be project manager – and he spends quite a while building up the case against her, and we all know that candidates making other candidates take the role of PM annoys Sugar, so bringing Amy back into the boardroom for Round 2 was probably his best bet… but then he didn’t because Amy sent the fear of God into him and shut him down with all the cool, icy calm of a vampire that’s about to drink every drop of your blood

and then taking the most immaculately triumphant sip of tea

there’s a reason she’s suddenly Queen of Gay Twitter.

Meanwhile, in SophBot’s own personal universe, she’s still heavily gunning for Akshay, blaming him for the loss of the task because he managed to convince Alex to swap from the allegedly very popular crab burgers to the unshiftable fresh crab arancini. While Akshay firmly blames Sophie for not managing to sell crab arancini in the middle of Truro on a blisteringly hot day. At this point, it’s just a blood feud between these two – The Hatfields and McCoys, who?

With Alex firmly scared off by Amy and knowing he probably couldn’t truly blame Sophie and Stephanie after they were lumped with an unsellable product, he was forced to bring back Akshay and Kathryn – the latter of which spent 70% of the task at home, sick and whose main contribution was extensively talking about how much she loves crab. And the former now on his third boardroom appearance and his 4th loss, truly making him a beacon of failure and essentially a lightning rod for a firing…

Alex tries his best to lumber the two of them with the crab mistake while also bringing up the fact they argued over rocket and side salads for quite a while as they hosted a sort of gladiatorial trial by salad as to how to present their bland looking arancini

truly you do not make friends with salad.

But with Alex having nothing to show for himself in the previous episodes and Akshay at least riding on the fumes of hilariously obscene levels of failure, it’s Alex who gets the firing

and may he learn to never brag about his Big, Massive, Gigantic Contracts in polite company ever again.

And so 10 potential candidates and Akshay remain…

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