It's the penultimate episode of The Apprentice 2011 before Sunday's final on BBC One tonight, and it's a brilliant one. The remaining five candidates are challenged by Lord Sugar to open and brand a new fast food restaurant, and both teams face tough choices with the final just a few days away.
Lord Sugar calls the final five to City to be briefed, where he tasks them to open a new fast food chain restaurant in the heart of London.
The teams have just 48 hours to bring a new and original brand to the fast food market; create the dishes, fit out an empty space and serve the food themselves to the paying public, before Lord Sugar and a group of industry experts drop in for a bite to eat. Lord Sugar tells the candidates he’ll be expecting “a proper fast food experience.”
There’s no movement on the teams as Helen and Tom remain on Logic whilst Natasha, Jim and Susan make up Venture.
On Team Venture and there's trouble from the off, with Natasha revealing she has carried out the exact same task before as part of her degree in Hospitality Management - but decided not to putself forward as Project Manager. She says: “I’ve got a BA in Hospitality Management, and one of the things we did was that we had our own restaurant. We had to create a theme for the restaurant, brand it… the full works.”
However when it comes to choosing a PM, the ever-persuasive Jim makes his intentions clear: “If you don’t mind, I think you’ll agree I’ll lead on this one… I’m just really keen to take this forward.” Offering no challenge, Natasha says: “I’ll try and support you with knowledge from my degree.”
But it soon transpires that Natasha’s academic qualifications might not transfer so easily on a practical level. When Jim tries to leave the creation of their Mexican dishes in her hands, she refuses: “I can’t cook… where I’ve done better throughout the tasks has been branding, design, creativity.”
Karren voices her concern from the sidelines: “Jim has got in Natasha somebody who has a hospitality degree, but because she doesn’t want to cook he’s agreed for her to go on the branding team. That is not using the skills that she clearly has to the best for the team’s outcome.”
Meanwhile on Team Logic, Helen has to decide between quality and profits as she and Tom decide on a Best of British Pie and Mash restaurant. Project Manager Helen says: “I am really happy with my pies, I’m just a bit worried about costing on my steak pie, because we’ve got loads of really good quality steak in there.”
But she is pragmatic about the risk, highlighting the importance of having a great product: “Food industry experts are going to be coming and judging our products, they know good quality ingredients, so I’d rather take a little bit of a hit on the margins and have really great products.”
When customers try the steak pie, it looks as though Helen’s risk might have paid off, as a patron compliments: “That’s stacked full of steak… it does exactly what it says.” But will Lord Sugar be happy with slimmer profits?
The Apprentice 2011 airs tonight at 9PM on BBC One. The final of The Apprentice 2011 airs on Sunday at 9PM.