The women delay as the men get stuck in — in the first task of the new series of The Apprentice.
In their first boardroom meeting, Sir Alan Sugar leaves the fresh-faced 15 candidates, including Belfast stockbroker Ben Clarke, under no illusions about how tough the next 12 weeks will be. They are immediately unsettled as he announces that one candidate has already buckled under the pressure and “bottled it”, walking out on the eve of the first boardroom briefing.
Asking if they are tough enough to take on the challenges ahead, he tells them: “I know the words to Candle In The Wind — don’t make me Elton John... you lot are as easy to play as bongo drums.”
The candidates are told to make as much money as possible by starting a cleaning company. Before they start they must chose a team name and select a manager.
The women, led by ex-Tanzanian beauty queen Mona Lewis, choose Ignite; the boys, led by Howard Ebison, an area manager to 10 pubs, choose Empire.
As the men head out to win new business, the women drag their feet in getting started, deliberating over cleaning equipment.
They are still selecting products as the men get going with their first deal after estate agent Phillip Taylor sets up a meeting with a mini cab company.
Having finally completed their inventory selection, lawyer Anita Shah calculates the team’s expenditure and congratulates them for not exceeding the £200 limit. She says: “Well done, we’ve come in just within budget but I think we’ve used our budget wisely.”
But the rest of the team realise that they will have to work their socks off to make a profit after spending so much on products.
As Ebison arrives to check up on the men’s progress and help finish the car washing, Taylor challenges his integrity, saying: “Howard’s turned up looking for a fall guy rather than just getting on with it.
“That’s just the mark of an idiot isn’t it... my Gran could do better.”
Having spent over an hour cleaning just one classic car, the women are keen to win further business. The client’s verdict on the job is that it’s “not fantastic” and the unimpressed showroom manager asks them to leave.
Senior sales consultant Debra Barr takes her sub-team to a shopping centre car park to round up business. After Shah suggests a “three minute car wash” using the same format as speed dating, Barr becomes frustrated and calls team leader Lewis to tell her that she is dealing with “puppets”.
The Apprentice is on BBC1 tonight at 9pm.