The Apprentice 2023, Week 1: Admiral Not-Jesy Nelson

He’s back and he’s smashing the 4th wall.

The Antigua Tourism Board would like you to know that they’re not all like this.

For better or worse, it’s back and after we made fun of them for putting an ugly pair of loafers under a box trap in the middle of Canary Wharf to trap every Tory under the age of 30 in the area, they’ve diversified by hiring one explicitly Lib Dem candidate, for the exclusive reason of making fun of the Lib Dems

Gregory Ebbs is actually an anagram of Nick Clegg. Don’t check, just trust me on that one.

And if you need a primer on who the candidates are, here’s a wall of the entire 18 person cast, they’re not risking having someone drop out again and costing them that 5 person interview round… SHAMA.

and I would sort them into their D&D alignment chart positions but there’s only so many people I can pile up on Lawful Evil – although I do think my sweet baby angels Gregory and Reece are more True Neutral and then of course Shazia just defies the entire system, forming her own axes as Tired Mum

has anyone hated being in the Caribbean more? She would willingly speed up the climate crisis if it meant sinking those islands.

After the success of last year’s advert for Virgin Cruises Cruise Ship Task, we opened with another tourism-centric task, this time the candidates, split along the line of gender and disappointingly not having to make up team names, were having to set up tours on the island of Antigua

Mark had been in Antigua for all of 7 minutes and had already declared himself the ambassador.

Pushing The Boat Out

Victoria found herself in the role of Project Manager based on the fact that during her layovers she does the tours as some sort of masochistic punishment because being cooped up in an airplane with a bunch of cranky tourists wasn’t enough.
Their tour was a Catamaran Tour – I’d have liked to know quite how these tours were chosen and what options they had because they just announced that this what they were doing and it’s hard not to see it as being set up to fail given the boys were doing a rum tasting on a Caribbean Island which seems a significantly easier sell than a boat tour and… pottery? But the girls also didn’t have to force their captive tourists to do a dance at risk of having to walk the plank, they explicitly chose that and had the gaul to sell it as “the traditional dance of the Caribbean”

although I think this woman would have gladly taken any nautical punishment she could before she moved her hips so much as an inch

Throw me in the brig. Give me the plank. Keelhaul me. Strand me on a beach. PLEASE JUST GIVE ME DEATH.

It is a bit of a miracle that they even had 12 people to torture on a something-of-a-luxury-boat given that they showed up to a just about empty beach to sell $135 tour tickets

which Emma and Shazia were quite rightly fairly pissed about having voted to rather sell tickets in the capital or the airport respectively, and I haven’t seen someone standing on a beach looking as furious as Emma since I watched Castaway

meanwhile Shazia had reached full Mum Mode, bringing out the sensible visor and generally looking like she was having to remind kids to put on sunscreen and generally warding off both a mental breakdown and heat-stroke

the fact all of them had to stay in their business clothes for the sake of continuity was so cruel – so many very itchy looking sweat rashes popping up throughout the episode.

You would think that if you turned up on a beach populated by about 10 people you would instantly decided to move to the capital city (which has a harbour for all your catamaran needs) but no, they stayed and Shazia was forced to try and sell a $135 (I cannot stress the price enough) tour ticket to a man that looks like he had fled to Antigua to avoid being prosecuted for committing tax fraud to keep his porn empire afloat

Girls, where do you think his money is?

I was also mildly confused at one point because someone they were selling to was wearing the same shirt the girls would all wear as their uniform

The guy has been stranded on Antigua ever since Fyre Fest – he swam back to Antigua on a raft made of sea turtles and back hair, he had cash to burn and truly nothing could ever disappoint him more.

Eventually the girls did leave the sunbathers alone, having sold 3 tickets which is 3 tickets more than they should have sold at a beach before finally fleeing to a more population dense location, where they only managed to sell another 9 tickets at ever decreasing prices, all while the rest of the team got to give us the most bizarre Apprentice set up I’ve seen in awhile, as the four of them sat on a catamaran in their Grazia approved power dresses, full glam makeup and life jackets while being incredibly disappointed by the other team’s poor selling

and yet somehow, it’s giving me Balenciaga.

As well as the tour of…. various Antiguan bays mostly punctuated by thrusting and very little facts

the women also had a pottery “masterclass” tagged onto the end of – I use the quotes because if I were sold “a masterclass” and I was then told to paint a fish and wasn’t treated to the inherent eroticism of a potter’s wheel, I would be VERY disappointed

also, how long was the tour? Because by the time they got to the pottery, the sun had set

these people had wasted AN ENTIRE DAY of their Caribbean Holiday to have Denisha tell them the sand was soft and NOTHING ELSE

and much like the factless, hip-heavy tour the pottery class ended in a dance off

you know what? Implement that idea Pottery Throwdown, I want to see two extremely upset potters furiously shaking their groove things to save themselves from elimination while Keith cries.

Despite forcing the Galley Bay Thrust on twelve innocent people, or perhaps because the threat of it loomed over their heads, none of the tourists demanded a refund and after spending £960, the women managed to make a profit of £487.50 – and I think they owe a lot of it to Rochelle’s intense Fresher Week energy and the fact she wasn’t doing the Jesy Nelson Balegda but it felt like she was doing The Jesy Nelson Balegda.

A Rum Deal

As the topic of Project Manager came up, the boys were all stonily silent, before Joseph, The Self-Titled James Bond of Business, eventually had to own up to being a safari tour guide in South Africa, which was actually a task 2 series ago which I mostly remember because Karren dressed for a Safari like she was The James Bond Villain of Business

thankfully they weren’t doing a safari and promising everyone they’d see a leopard, and instead they were doing a historic tour of Nelson’s Dockyard, so named after the most famous Caribbean Nelson

Part of the tour was of the town, which did involve a trip to a local “historic bakery” where Sohail promised them that “the old techniques” were still in use (?????) and when asked for even a modicum of an explanation, he basically did the meme

but while Sohail directed the tourists to more qualified sources of information instead of doing his job, Gregory was in his element and gave the best tour we’ve ever seen on The Apprentice, not that there’s stiff competition with the genre being dominated by “this photograph of Anne Boleyn” and Akeem’s Tour of Mining Misery. His only momentary blip being the moment he asked if anyone had an allergy to wool

a question that… went nowhere? Except it apparently illustrated that living in Antigua was super hard? Although I imagine Gregory would find it impossible to live without at least one merino sweater.

While Gregory soared like a Pomarine Jaeger, Joseph, The Maxwell Smart of the Tour Guide Industry, flopped like a Hudsonian Godwit drowning in the shallows, when asked the most basic of questions while Sohail loomed in the background ready to tap a sign

and as much as I love the filthy, kicked-dog look Joseph gave the woman for daring to ask a question, my favourite part of the ordeal was the woman in denim shorts cackling while Joseph looked out onto the ocean, silently pleading with it to consume him in its wet embrace – she knew EXACTLY what this show was doing

luckily for Joseph, Cannon Fan and Anti-wool Propagandist, Gregory was on hand to distract everyone with some cannon facts (the anime-esque adjustment of his glasses as he did so was impeccable)

and this would not be the only mid-tour save as upon being asked the most basic of questions about rum, the guys all immediately clammed up and the rum dealer, who they were meant to be getting a commission off rum sales from, had to step in because the only thing the guys could do was stare at her while their one collective brain cell clapped cymbals

the fact the men also couldn’t answer how long it takes to make the 5 Year Aged Rum was… quite an experience – Gregory can absorb every bit of information about Admiral Not-Jesy Nelson’s allergies and Simba can only look on in shock when asked about the age of the 5 year old rum – Gregory would have done the rum tour too but they have a quota on how competent you can look, and also it was…. midnight by this time(?) and I imagine he has to be in bed by 10pm.

The men did at least manage to fill all 16 slots on their tour, at varying prices with Simba and Mark apparently being locked in a battle as to who could make Bradley the most furious by making the worst deal – if anyone’s temporal vein bursts this series, it will be Bradley’s and it will be because of Simba

while Reece used his innate Scottish detection system and found the one Scottish couple in Antigua during the off-season and got them to pay full price (while Bradley watched on with as much of a smile as I think Bradley can muster)

they had however spent A LOT more than the women, but given that you can reliably sell more rum in the Caribbean than you can artisan ceramics (sorry to that man), they made a profit of £989 despite spending £1200.

The Boardroom Blitz

While the guys got to go back to the house and enjoy a powerpoint presentation

and a round of Blue Lagoons which is an odd choice given the plethora of rum cocktails available (where HAS all the rum gone?)

Victoria had to decide who to bring back into the boardroom and while most people I think would have brought both Emma and Shazia back, she opted to forgo Shazia, potentially because of the atomic-grade side-eye she gave Victoria in The Depression Café

and instead opted for Emma and Marnie, which did mean the boardroom looked a bit like a Kandyfloss (with a K) reunion

it was quite a clever and shrewd decision on Victoria’s behalf because Emma and Shazia would both probably ganged up and targeted her, whereas Marnie, having beared the brunt of working with Emma, would obviously side with Victoria. As for why she picked Emma over Shazia, I’m sure this exchange with Claude helped make up her mind

truly there is no recovering from a look this absolutely exhausted from Claude Littner (it is episode 1 and he hates your every being, well done Emma)

and yet Emma persisted to try and play the only card she had in this situation, channeling some intense Sophie energy (they could be the same person, I’m still convinced they have a cloning vat and both of them were pulled from the cell scraping they took from Kate Walsh in Series 5)

if you’re going to go out, you might as well do it while trying to cosplay the most memorable boardroom moment from last year. Unfortunately for Emma, once bitten by a pointy blonde, twice shy and she was fired, and I did love the moment she wistfully looked over her shoulder as she left as though Sugar might just change his mind

sadly you can’t girlboss your way into a romcom ending, and she did have to go and cry in the back of a taxi while swearing vengeance against everyone who wronged her in Antigua like she was a pirate queen.

And so! We’re down to 17 Candidates… it’s going to be a long ride

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