The Apprentice: season 15, episode 8 recap: "Going Off The Rails"

Becky Suter

23rd November 2019

Nothing quite strikes fear into the heart like the words, “Team-building Away Day.” I’ve been on a fair few, including my previously-mentioned visit to Thorpe Park, one where we had an It’s A Knock-Out style day in the park and two people ended up in hospital, and one with a Heroes and Villains theme where one of the sales managers blacked up as Samuel L. Jackson to deliver a presentation on streamlining processes. And none of those were as bad as being imprisoned for four hours on a train with Lottie, no matter how much booze is laid on.

The task

This week, the candidates are charged with running a corporate event onboard a train, laying on food, booze and entertainment. That’s it. That is the task. They drive a historical train into Battersea depot to tell them that.

PM virgins Lottie and Ryan-Mark step up to lead Unison and Empower respectively in running two away days aboard the Belmond British Pullman. Finally, Ryan-Mark gets to work in his wheelhouse of “luxury”, from his 3 years’ of experience of working on the till at Harrods. And Lottie ‘the Librarian’ Lion gets to boast about another skill she has: this time, Michelin star service, useful for serving casillero del diablo to a load of accountants looking to let loose.

Despite Lord Alan’s emphasis on it being a high-end experience, neither of the clients are particularly bothered by anything swanky and are instead just looking to get pissed. It’s clear that any entertainment would be wasted, and Lottie wisely decides to drop the acts she wanted for their 1920s circus theme, and promises no ones’ glasses will run dry. However, sub-team leader Corina books a pair of acrobats, although how exactly they will perform on a train is not clear. She further exasperates Lottie by ordering 40 bottles of wine for 15 people, which is perfectly adequate in my experience.

Furious at Corina’s insubordination, Lottie demotes her from sub-team leader, even though Corina is the only one who can run the kitchen, and gives in to Dean’s whining to be front of house with her. Predictably, they run out of booze before the train has even left the station, only allowing 2 glasses of prosecco per person for the arrival event, clearly underestimating how much us corporate drones like fizzy wine. Dean “turns on the charm” to help defuse the situation, e.g. he just looks at Lottie helplessly.

"Right, which one of you slags wants a drink?"

For team Empower, Ryan-Mark opts for a historical royal theme, the only touch of luxury being the inflatable crown he can wear during the task. Thomas takes a risk in booking a violin duo for the welcome party, which ultimately pays off and makes Lottie’s event look about as exciting as the waiting room at Clapham Junction. However *Boardroom Klaxon Alert*, they only take dietary requirements as people are arriving, even though Thomas and Pamela booked all the pies the day before. Pamela had the foresight to strike a deal for two vegetarian risottos for THIRTY POUNDS A HEAD, but no one banked on Gemma from HR with the gluten-intolerance rocking up to ruin everyone’s day. Scrabbling around to make her a meal, all they have is a plate of fruit to serve as her main, as part of £200 a-head party.

Lottie is still set on delivering a silver service, and adds another headline to her CV with the fact she can carry three plates at once. Wow, they went out on all the training at Britain’s Best Wine bar. It doesn’t matter how many plates she can carry, though, as the clients just want booze, and lots of it, but Dean is just wandering up and down the carriages confused by Lottie’s instructions on where to put the wine glasses.

The boardroom

Ryan-Mark’s gluten blunder meant his luxury train got stuck at a red signal, and Lottie pulled into the station with a narrow victory of £15, meaning that her condescending treatment of Corina was ultimately fruitless.

Ryan-Mark blames Marianne for not getting the required info about the food intolerances, even though no-one bothered to actually take any orders and just went ahead and bought a load of pies. Even though Pamela was the only person who had any foresight to cater for vegetarians, he decides to bring back her as well. In another first in a series of many firsts, this enrages Thomas so much he throws himself in front of the train and offers to take her place; Tommy’s not just a turtle, he’s also your friend.
Who got fired?

Marianne is pretty much the only candidate who has any common sense and nous, and is able to pick apart Ryan-Mark’s shortcomings on the task pretty easily. Thomas manages to survive on a wink and a nod, so it’s Tory Boy Ryan-Mark who gets derailed.
Does he thank him?

A curt, “Thank you for the opportunity”, before he endures the horror of having to get into a black cab.

Next week, the candidates must remix a music track to become a contemporary pop hit. I wish I was joking.

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