Warning: spoilers ahead
It’s a lie-in for the five-week-down and weary candidates as they’re awoken by a 5am call. They’re being summoned to Samsung KX in London King’s Cross.
The candidates are greeted by a gargantuan screen and, just after sieving the last CGI Lord Sugar out of their nightmares from the toothbrush episode, here he is again – in a more macho get-up. He plays the main character in The Apprentice video game.
The video game industry grew rapidly over the pandemic, now being valued at over £7bn. To mark this upward trend, the candidates will be designing a new game and pitching it to industry professionals.
As Diverse have won the past two challenges, Lord Sugar has a mega switcheroo planned for the teams. Akshay, Sophie and Stephanie move to Team Diverse and Aaron, Harpreet and Akeem move to Infinity.
Team Diverse + Karren: Brittany (project manager), Francesca, Akshay, Nick, Stephanie and Sophie.
Team Infinity + Tim: Akeem (project manager), Kathryn, Aaron, Amy and Harpreet.
Akeem, a lifelong gamer, has a clear vision of a futuristic dystopian survival game. However, he seems to fold faster than a bad poker hand when Aaron suggests a game based around a wrongly-accused female prisoner trying to make her escape.
Nick, also a keen gamer, puts himself forward against Brittany, who used to play games as a kid. In a show of hands, Brittany gets all of the votes. Though I feel this is unfair to Nick who did win the alcohol-free challenge he managed previously. All that said, the one person I’m watching is Akshay, who has subtly abstained from the vote. Akshay sashays away unnoticed and unscathed once again – akin to his survival, despite being in the losing team four times and in the final three thrice. Sophie says he’s ‘the man with nine lives, plus another nine’.
Anyway, Brittany wants to go with a climate change theme for the game, where the players save Arctic animals. Karren reflects the room with a disapproving look. She has concerns about the game being too serious.
Akeem struggles to decide who goes in which sub-team. ‘It’s up to you, Akeem,’ urges Amy, in the first of a few sweet moments of her talking up the unsure project manager.
Kathryn and Francesca are selected as sub team leaders.
On a mission to save land and ‘C’
Half of each team make playable prototypes while the other half focus on branding. Francesca and Sophie go at loggerheads over the title: Artic Saviour vs Artic Mission, with Artic Saviour winning 2-1. Francesca draws the logo out on her notepad and the graphic designer creates it digitally. There’s a brief fist-clenching moment when they review the spelling. Yup, saviour is spelled correctly. The audience’s hearts collectively drop.
With the role that technology plays in our lives, there are times where you hate yourself for trying to swipe up on a paper notepad and others where you wish your paper and pen had AutoCorrect. This is one of the latter times.
Meanwhile, Kathryn and Aaron (another great relationship this episode) are wracking their brains for a name, eventually deciding on Time. Aside from being the name of a BBC prison drama already, the rest of the team, and Tim, don’t rate it.
Kathryn and Akshay play the main characters of the games. Kathryn heartily adopts the role of Amelia Stone, an MI5 agent who was wrongly accused of a crime that she’s doing time for. Akshay is Sam the Scientist, a buff scientific explorer donning a slinky white cardigan, out to save the animals from oil spills.
In the consumer feedback, the people who play Time like the concept but feel the gameplay itself is boring. The gameplay does have a better reception in Artic Saviour but nearly every gamer comments on that misspelling.
Both teams look as if they’ve raided the BBC’s wardrobe department for the pitches, kitted out in orange jumpsuits, scientist clobber and a penguin costume.
A declaration of ‘I’m innocent!’ by Kathryn as Amelia Stone kicks off Team Infinity’s pitch, though it appears to fall flat among the three gaming experts. Akeem sells them his dream, but it falters part-way through when Harpreet can’t remember what to say and Akeem starts walking off-stage without inviting questions from the panel.
Team Diverse pitch more confidently, but once it’s opened to the floor, you know what the first comment is going to be. To layer it on more thickly, the same expert points out that there are no penguins in the Arctic. Ooft.
The final boss
Back in the boardroom, Lord Sugar interrupts the candidates to make his own jokes and calls out Harpreet’s pitching stumbles in the style of Anne Robinson hosting The Weakest Link. So far, so typical.
But this time there’s something different – the teams are attacking each other. Brittany starts by saying that they wanted to go for something that hadn’t been done before and goes full pelt into the other team, saying that prison games had been done thousands of times.
Bringing the room under control, Lord Sugar addresses the clanger that just about everyone else has addressed. By this point, Francesca responds to the Arctic misspelling questions with the grimace of someone who’s been told they have spinach in their teeth for the 70th time that day and can’t do anything about it.
So, who got the biggest investment? Here are those vital stats.
Team Infinity: £60,000 investment for further development of Time
Team Diverse: £0 investment for Artic Savior as the game was too simple
Infinity immerse themselves in a life-sized game of Monopoly as their prize, cashing in a joint ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card for a job well done.
Lord Sugar brings the losing candidates back in to the boardroom, saying, ‘In this process, you’re creatures at risk of extinction’, just like the creatures in Artic Savior. And in this game – sorry, ‘process’ – Brittany brings back Francesca and Sophie to make up the final three.
Sugar quotes Francesca’s distant relative, William Wordsworth, before he sends her out the door.
Ah, but it doesn’t end there this week. A huge sigh of relief from the candidates is blunted by a surprise doorbell ring. Of course, it’s a visit from Lord Sugar to dish out the next task. The candidates must organise experiences in Wales. The catch is that clients can ask for their money back if the experience is poor, which could have a detrimental effect on those final sales tallies. Join us again next week for our take.
Watch the whole episode on BBC iPlayer
Catch up with the rest of the series
The Apprentice: Hardly a cruise for the candidates – series 16 episode 1 review
The Apprentice: Oops, they did it again – S16, ep 2
The Apprentice: Shaken and stirred with plenty of zingers – S16, ep 3