The Apprentice review: reinforcing lawyer stereotypes
Lord Sugar doesn’t seem keen on the “typical safe lawyer” of popular legend
We were two lawyers to the good going into this week’s task — creating and selling a board game. But would it stay that way at the end of the episode, with the challenge revolving around the skill-sets of creativity and sales?
Such abilities often fall outside the range of the typical lawyer, so it was interesting to see how St Albans family solicitor Lauren and ex-Slaughter and May associate Felipe would get on in a task that began, somewhat bizarrely, at the HMS Belfast.
In the early action, Lauren professes herself “happy to lead the team” — in other words she doesn’t really want to, but realises she hasn’t done anything much so far. Felipe, meanwhile, who again has been placed on the same side as Lauren, is sporting a delightfully bright tie.
But in a surprising twist fellow contestant Pamela ends up as team leader, leaving Lauren (whose strategy thus far has been to lay low) in an awkward position. Knowing Sugar doesn’t like low profile characters, she seems to have sensed that this was her time to stand up and be counted — and now that chance has been denied to her.
Desperate to stand out, Lauren suggests an idea for a board game about shadow puppets. But it’s ignored. The other members of the team suggest a “dating board game” — which sounds a little Ann Summers if you ask me. But it seems to be the idea favoured by gaffer Pamela.
Still minds remain nominally open at this stage and Felipe and Lauren are dispatched to do some market research. It’s sweet to see the two lawyers beavering away together, like a pair of ageing vac schemers. The upshot of the research is … the dating board game is considered a bad idea. But Pamela insists that they go with it.
As the game — which has been dubbed “Relationship Guru” — moves from concept to product, it quickly becomes clear that it is appalling. Ominously, the other team’s game looks alright.
Now Felipe and Lauren are presented with the uphill task of flogging as many copies of “Relationship Guru” as they can. Are they in possession of the necessary levels of commercial awareness?
But first, some fire-fighting: Relationship Guru comes under early fire for being sexist. Felipe takes charge, delivering a carefully-calculated look of utter bemusement. It seems to get them off the hook. But sadly it doesn’t help them to sell anything, with the legal power couple failing to shift any units at their first pitch. It continues this way.
Sensing doom, fellow team members in the other sub-sales group duly moan about Felipe and Lauren’s lack of sales experience. The rival team, meanwhile, seems to have done pretty well.
As predicted, Lord Sugar gets stuck into Lauren in the boardroom. Why has she not been team leader? Is she, god forbid, the “typical safe lawyer” of popular legend? In saying this, Sugar ignores Felipe completely, who seems to have immunised himself from getting fired by leading his team in the first episode (and, lest we forget, very nearly becoming the first contestant to be thrown off the show).
Lauren tries to dig herself out of the hole with some Apprenticespeak, but only succeeds in sinking further. So when she is selected by team leader Pamela to accompany her to the final ‘who gets fired?’ showdown, alongside reasonably competent Daniel, one fears for her.
Initially it looks very bad for Lauren indeed as Sugar seems to be about to fire her. She doesn’t have the spark of entrepreneurial spirit bla bla bla. And then he suddenly backs off and begins to ramble about how lawyers are “clever”. Even though Lauren’s “done nothing in the last six weeks”, the working-class-boy-made-good seems intimidated by her 2:1 in law from Lancaster University and follow-up LPC qualification.
Pamela gets the bullet. Lauren survives. But as part of the deal Sugar seems to suggest that the family solicitor will have to be team leader next week. Could there be trouble ahead?