It’s week 3 and Melody takes the 6am summing them all to the Savoy Hotel. 30 minutes in the car, Vincent’s feeling determined (“There is no option but to win”).

As the finishing touch to the Savoy’s 3 year, £200million refurbishment, the teams are tasked with a shopping task to buy the 10 items that will add those much needed finishing touches, namely:

7.5kg of prime Aberdeen Angus fillet steak

A top hat

500 loo rolls

Chandelier bulbs

4.5kg loose leaf chamomile tea

An unknown quantity of ice

Some organza silk

A brass sign for the wine cellar

A 10 inch cloche (?)

And something else I didn’t quite catch. Thistelus?

As usual the shopping task is designed to show the candidates negotiation skills (and ability to find items using only a stack of Yellow Pages and the oft ignored map of London), with the team spending the least by 5pm from their £2000 budget winning (the penalty for incorrect or missed items is the hotel’s guide price plus £50); oh and to make the show dizzyingly difficult to blog off as it spins off following sub-teams throughout every suburb in London.

It’s time to mix up the teams with Venture now comprising Susan, Leon, Jim, Glenn, Edna, Felicity and Helen, who decides that this task requires someone organised as Project Manager. Step forward Susan, who could barely organise her own thoughts whilst brainstorming apps last week. Susan claims she made a £70K profit at the age of 18 whilst attending a top class University. She’d make a great poster girl for the Coalition. She makes a great start by assigning items to team members and points out that things are usually cheaper in the East of London (apart from the Olympics) and they’re immediately phoning for leads like there’s no tomorrow. Nick’s impressed by how well Susan’s managing “fairly egotistical people”.

Of course for “insanely egotistical people”, you have to go to Logic, which now consists of Melody and Vincent plus Zoe, Ellie, Natalie and Gavin, who finally unequivocally elects himself PM, only for Vincent to vaguely waft his hand in the air muttering “I’d do it, but I suppose you’d be best”, and everyone to vote for Gavin. Gavin starts with the best of intentions, it’s almost as though he’s lead his team down the corridor to peer in at what Venture are doing and he’s said “Do that”. So of course they all utterly ignore him and it’s a massive shambles. The phone-calls lead nowhere (Vincent: “Is that the special fish and er meat place? I want fillet steak.. No not fish.. I want meat!”) and Natasha tries to steal a leap by demanding that the procurement manager of The Ritz hands over all their hard earned supplier contact details, whilst Karen winces at the foolish cheek of it all, and Gavin begs Natasha to “end the call now”. Logic’s “logistics aren’t working” moans Vincent, prompting a comedy “calm down calm down” moment from Gavin, who sensibly suggests that they get familiar with all the items, as nobody knows what a cloche is. Long after Susan’s team have discovered it’s a poncey dish, team Logic are none the wiser. By the time they randomly hit the streets at 11.25am, team Venture have already been out for a couple of hours (and with 8 items already pinpointed bar the haggling).

For all Susan’s organisation, it seems as though she’s fallen into the well worn trap of trying to get as many items as possible without considering prices. And thus her sub-team (Susan, Leon and Felicity) end up in the poshest top hat shop in the whole of London, which is surely infinite poshness. This hat shop are the official suppliers to Lord Snooty from the Beano. They hand middle class people plums to put into their mouths on the way, like the posh equivalent of a babelfish. They try to get the miserly milliner to drop his Top Hat price from £365, but he’s not playing, not even by just one penny (“This is St James Street”). Nick Hewer namedrops the King of Tonga who he apparently saw the last time he visited this shop to find a hat that matched his scowl. “The King of Tonga doesn’t come in here looking for bargains” Nick says knowingly. Felicity is rather less than regally outraged by the “greedy” shopkeeper.

Jim leads his Venture sub-team of Helen, Edna and Glenn to the butcher he’s arranged to buy steak from. And he does his Derren Brown mindbending negotiation again, haggling down the butcher (whose top line was £200) with baffling ease to £180 . And just when you thought Jim couldn’t get any more terrifying, he manages to play the butcher’s accountant against the shop owner (“Bob, the accountant says £170, as long as it’s OK with you”), to get an extra tenner off. The man is a fucking witch.

Logic are in disarray still, with hardly any items found and Gavin desperately trying to motivate a team that looks and sounds like it’s on mogodon. He apparently OKs Melody going to Teddington (13 miles away) to follow up her lead on chandelier bulbs and gets a sulky Vincent to co-ordinate the other sub-teamm of Natasha, Zoe and Ellie, which immediately perks Vincent up as he can play at Charlies Angels. “You have to phone back every hour on the hour” instructs Gavin, but Vincey boy is too busy checking his rohypnol supply.

Vincent’s leadership style is like David Brent (“I can be in charge of three strong laydees”) badly pretending he’s fucking D’Artagnan (“Yeah just call em and say ‘what is that bloody erm thing?'”). It’s charming how he lets his laydees do all the work sourcing things and then steps in at the last minute to help them out before their pretty little minds explode. He first shows off his patronising bellend skillz on Natasha’s behalf, as she attempts lamely to cut the throat of the brass plaque seller (Natasha:”£20″, Brass Man: “I can’t do it for £20″, Natasha:”£40″, Brass Man:”No”, Natasha:”If we can close for £50″, Brass Man:”No”, Natasha:”If we can just close for £60″, Brass Man:”No”, Vincent “£80 all in”, Brass Man: “Including VAT? OK.”).

Venture are still trying to get a bargain top hat from the second most posh top hat shop in London (“Price is price..We don’t negotiate… if you can get it cheaper may I suggest you try somewhere else”. Susan’s getting sick of top hat shops and begs him to drop just a penny off the price, which he grudgingly does – doing the deal at £349.99 whilst Nick grimaces. Mind you Melody tries mind control to haggle down a Top Hat salesman later and still pays £360. Never trust anyone who sells top hats.

Logic are still struggling to identify the “cloche”, with Tom using his inventor skills to invent things it might be (“A bell? A tiny greenhouse”) prompting Gavin’s Logic sub-team to plot routes to church towers and garden centres, whilst the edit shows Glenn purchasing a catering cloche for £8.50 (saving all of 44p) for Jim’s Venture sub-team

Vincent shows his angels how it’s done by getting 25% off the steak at a butchers in Highbury. He pays £240, but thinks it’s still a result as this steak is usually £45 per kilo so the butcher says (making Jim seem all the more powerful).

Lost in the suburbs of Shepherd’s Bush, Gavin is falling apart and hallucinating that the grimy “Top Hat Dry Cleaners” could have anything to do with aristocratic headgear, which only bemuses the ironically bald dry cleaner (“I’m guessing you er dry clean these kind of items” “No”). Karen just shakes her head sadly. Melody senses imminent Scouse meltdown and raises the fact that she knows a “cloche” isn’t a gardening centre purchase, prompting a row about whether or not she voiced her concerns earlier. “I don’t know what the hell is going on” Melody confides to camera, “Gavin’s not listening, he’s just stressing out”. Sadly, like a disoriented gravedigger, Gavin has indeed lost the plot, which becomes apparent when he calls Vincent for help and advice.

Susan is seeking silk, that treasure of the East in the budget stores of um Mayfair. “It’s actually for a very important wedding” she tells the shop woman. “Why would that matter to me?” snorts the snooty silk seller, “That part doesn’t make any difference to me.. what I paid for it does.” Fair point, and Susan’s forced to pay near to full whack and regrets not actually going to East London, although further West in Shepherd’s Bush, Gavin has one result, eventually haggling down an unconvinced silk salesman down to a quarter less than Susan paid.

Vince and his angels are stuck in traffic in North West London so have to call the ice suppliers that Zoe found (which are in South East London) to say they’ll be late. Meanwhile Ellie is able to hold a phone at the requisite 90 degrees and speak to a loo roll supplier in comprehensible English, but is just about to get unladylike and do a deal when Vincent gallantly rescues her (“Can I speak to him? .. I just wanna get it done”). Swoon! Ellie’s not that impressed though (“He certainly doesn’t charm me much.. in my industry we’d call him a bit of a wide boy. He’s full of bullshit.”), but fortunately she manages to argue the loo roll company down to below cost price before Vincent can jump in and “save” her again. They then realise it’s 12 miles to Zoe’s ice supplier. Zoe, as always, sits silently looking out of the car window, chewing pensively on her lip. Vincent will like that. That’s the contribution of a laydee. Of course now it’s getting really late and the shit’s hitting the fan, Vincent finally decides to phone Gavin, who informs him they only have five items. Vincent suggests they only focus on either ice or tea and forget everything else. Hang on – there’s TWO sub-teams aren’t there? What’s wrong with checking who’s closest to which leads and sending them there? Gavin seems much too pale and beaten by this point to do anything but meekly agree with Vincent.

Having effortlessly sourced toilet rolls, Jim moves on to the chandelier bulb. “I’m desperate” he grins at the jaded cockney milf in the lightbulb shop. “Are you desperate for bulbs or a good deal?” she leers, before succumbing all too easily to his Irish sorcery. “Thank you so much for dropping the price to hardly anything” winks Jim. “It’s only your smile wot’s done it”, she deadpans huskily.

The last item on Susan’s list is the chamomile tea. Now when mad inventor Tom bought tea for Logic, he ran, arms flailing up the stairs of a tea shop where a man opened an ornate box of chamomile tea and he haggled 30% off the price, paying £120. Susan’s showing us the pro tea buying method, having pre-arranged a meeting with the woman from “The Rare Tea Company” at the front of a pub, where, somewhat presumptuously the tea is already giftwrapped and tagged. “So how much do we owe you” smiles Susan. “£990 for 4.5 kilos of the most beautifully crafted tea”, chirrups the tea lady (crafted?! FFS!). Susan’s smile nearly shatters into a thousand pieces as her chin hits the floor. Everyone pinches themselves just in case they’ve fallen asleep and ended up in that Harry Enfield “I saw you coming” shop, as the loony tea purveyor continues “It’s the rare tea company.. I only do the finest teas”. Maybe that’s why she’s wrapped it – this tea is so fucking rare will burn up on contact with air. Susan aims for a discount, and the tea lady offers them a £700 bargain; it’s only when Felicity tragically splutters “But we only have £410” that there’s any sign of relenting. “Done!” snaps the tea lady, who pockets the cash and disappears, like a tea leaf in the night.

Susan’s team get back to base first and full-handed, but she’s still worried they’ve made a mistake or missed an item (Leon “We can’t have”), whereas Gavin’s mob limp in knowing they only have 6 items (which given their start is a result).

So back in the boardroom, Venture all congratulate Susan and Jim for good PM and sub-team manager skills, but LordAlan lays into them for poor research on the top hat, silk and tea shopping (“A clever business person won’t go to a top class poser shop”). “But it was the best quality tea in the whole of London” sighs Susan all misty eyed. “If it was that bladdy good, how come they gave it to you to £410?” rejoins LordSugar.

In contrast, when LordAlan asks Logic their opinion of Gavin as leader there’s tangible tumbleweed. “We were not as successful as we would have hoped” mutters Gavin, before he’s torn apart for leaving the hotel at 11am, going to Top Hat Dry Cleaners and not knowing what a “Cloche” is. “We found out it was French for ‘bell'” elucidates Tom, who adds “I suppose it being stainless steel we should have known it was catering”. “Why did you want to go to a garden centre then?” smiles Karen archly.

Apparently both teams didn’t get all their products- although I missed why Venture screwed up. Venture got 9 items and after a £202 fine spent £1381. Logic only got 6 items but their fines were relatively minor (£312) but still lost by £8 by spending £1389. It surprises me that after years of seeing this task, nobody figures out that they should focus on pricier items and risk smaller fines. Anyhow Venture get sent to a Cabaret Show in Covent Garden where they get to enjoy cocktails and snacks whilst women in Esther Williams swimming cossies contort above them on trapezes.

Meanwhile in the café of despair, dark clouds are the only thing hovering over the steaming mugs of blame. Vincent thinks that Gavin will try to blame him, whereas Gavin is resigned that his team will let him “sink and drown”.

Back in the boardroom and Gavin blames the quality of his leads, before pointing out that he tried to manage his team and set groundrules. “Nobody took any notice of you” points out Karen. Vincent complains that they spent 60% of their time in the hotel room, but Gavin accurately points out that the maths don’t work, adding that Vincent said at 1.30pm that they had lots of items sourced, with this vision only drastically changed just before 4pm. “You had nothing then” Vincent rallies “Only Tom saved you” (with his tea).

Vincent then claims he put himself forward as project manager, with Gavin pointing out in an ironic pastiche of week 1 that it was “Only half heartedly”. “I bet you wish you had been Project Manager” wheedles LordAlan and Vincent agrees. “He couldn’t run a bath!” splutters Gavin.

Ellie lays into Vincent for taking the call from her mid-call (“I was insulted.. he just talked down to me”). “I just wanted to win” whines Vincent. Natasha blames him for messing up her amazing sign negotiations (even though he merely followed her technique of adding £20 to the previously rejected offer), but she only opens herself up for criticism for phoning up the rival hotel. “I just thought I could get information by calling people like the head chef” she fibs furiously, but Karen dobs her in “You were calling the procurement manager”.

Gavin chooses however to bring back Vincent and silent Zoe, who’s finally given the chance to speak, but has such a dull voice I miss most of what she says. Something about not having a chance to prove herself, even though she “went through several phonebooks”.

“I think you’ve got a voice” observes Karen gently (yes a boring one), but “I don’t think you’ve found a way of getting it across”. This is stretching girl power to the limits. LordAlan’s not so easily fooled and points out that she could have spoken up about the distance between companies, but sat back and watched. “Why should I be punished for being professional?” asks Zoe, proving she doesn’t just have a boring voice, she also has an annoying one. LordAlan’s not impressed “It’s not professional – if the ship’s sinking I jump in!” (The Robert Maxwell Business Model).

Gavin’s criticised for not being able to control his team. “I told them what needed doing. They chose not to.. Some of the phone calls were unbelievable” gripes the specsaving Scouser. “Why did you allow them to do it?” leaps in Zoe shrilly. Yeah love, you’ve found your voice. Now shut the fuck up.

Gavin blames Vincent for the failure of the task because, er, he’s a sleazebag. Vincent starts to oil his response, but he’s pulled up short by LordAlan’s talk to the hand gesture. “I’m sick of all this. I know you’re Belgian.. that’s were the waffles come from” growls the bearded walnut (and he thought “Slang a tang” was offensive!). Vincent then claims he got the steak (true) and the toilet rolls (Liar pants on fire!). “You reckon you’ll be remembered long after you’ve gone?” smirks LordSugar. “I hope so”. “Let’s see if I remember you.”

In the summing up though, it’s Gavin who comes out worst (“You let it run riot”) and sadly he’s fired. They always fire the ones I like. Zoe’s card is well and truly marked (“It’s up to you to show something”). In the taxi of doom a gutted Gavin reckons Lord Sugar’s made a mistake (“If he’s looking for someone like Vincent, then good luck to him.” – to be fair it’s probably the producers who are keeping Vincent in – to keep us all shouting at the telly).

Back at the house and Ellie leads the girls in a Vincent slagathon, so it’s no surprise that when he enters, like some posing Christ, everyone rushes to give Zoe a hug.

Next week it’s the world of beauty. Here’s hoping Vincent gets a pubic waxing. On his face.

Liking: Tom, Susan

Warming to: Ellie, Felicity

OK: Glenn, Leon

Scary witch man: Jim

Meh: Helen

Zzzzzz: Zoe

Disliking: Natasha, Edna, Melody

Lordy but he’s a nob: Vincent

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