Lord Sugar ‘fires’ Bilyana as Apprentice gets underway

Strategy-loving Bilyana Apostolova was the first to get the chop as the new series of The Apprentice got underway last night.

Lord Sugar objected to the candidate’s inability to make her opinion known, and told her: ‘I did say in my introduction that I didn’t want anybody to hide and on that basis you don’t do yourself any favours, Bilyana – You’re Fired.’

Bilyana reflected as she was driven away: ‘I feel the decision wasn’t fair and I don’t think that my performance cost us the task. But my business plan is excellent so I’ll just move on straight away.’

Lord Alan Sugar appeared on his usual form as he threw another group of 16 hopefuls into the deep end on the new series of the Apprentice.

First to bite the dust: Lord Alan Sugar fired hopeful Bilyana Apostolova on the first installment of this series of The Apprentice

Bounced back: Bilyana reflected ‘I feel the decision wasn¿t fair and I don¿t think that my performance cost us the task. But my business plan is excellent so I¿ll just move on straight away’

‘This is not about a job anymore and I’m not looking for a friend, if I wanted a friend I’d get a dog. I’m looking for a partner, the Marks to my Spencer, the Lennon to my McCartney,’ he told the nervous group.

The candidates were divided into two groups and charged with the task of buying £500 worth of blank material, from mugs to mouse mats, creating designs to print onto them and then selling their unique products to the public.

Confident Gabrielle volunteered herself as Project Manager on the girls’ team – christened Sterling- citing her experience of recently opening her own print and design store.

Lost the task: The girls’ team leader Gabrielle chose Katie and Bilyana to go into the boardroom with her

Lost the task: The girls' team leader Gabrielle chose Katie and Bilyana to go into the boardroom with her

The choice was more wrought on the boys’ team – named Phoenix – but Nick eventually volunteered to be team leader, saying: ‘I’ll put myself forward if nobody wants to do it. I don’t really want to do the first week’s task but I will do it.’

Getting to work, the boys prioritised costs and margins over branding, with Nick declaring: ‘The design comes second.’

The group finally make an impulse decision to target tourists, making teddies wearing Union Jack t-shirts and bags branded with red buses.

Weakest link: There was certainly a feeling among the girls that Bilyana had harmed their chances of winning the task

Relief: The boys’ team Sterling celebrated their win with an art-themed party

Meanwhile, Gabrielle focused on a quirky and unique design for the girls’ product, and ignored Jane, who pleaded: ‘Hold on a second, how much is this going to cost us? At the end of the day it’s about the margin.’

Having settled on their designs, both teams head to the studios to screen print their products.

This stage saw the boys run into trouble, with their products looking inconsistent and poor quality.

Led them a merry dance: The girls resented Bilyana’s indecisive attitude when it came to the selling portion of the task

Opting to try and sell the faulty goods anyway, Nick shrugged, ‘we’ll sell it to a gullible tourist,’ before the group divided itself between Southbank and St Pancras train station to tempt tourists with their wares.

Meanwhile, the girls set up stalls at Greenwich market and London Zoo.

Katie mocked Bilyana’s sales tactics, explaining ‘We decided we would take turns to use everybody’s strengths in sales but Bilyana is diving in there and taking over other people’s sales.’

Not impressed: Shopkeepers found the girls’ sales approach rude and uncooth

‘You don’t want to be behaving like animals in the zoo.’

Back in the boardroom, it was revealed that Sterling had total sales of £690.60 having spent £475.80 and so made a total profit of £214.80

Phoenix had total sales of £1015.60 with a total spend of £399.40 working out a profit of £616.20, meaning that the boys were safe for this week.

Hedging their bets: The girls’ team prioritises design over cost for the candidate’s first task- designing products aimed at London tourists

Unforeseen problems: Printing sees the boys run into trouble, with their products looking inconsistent and poor qualityUnforeseen problems: Printing sees the boys run into trouble, with their products looking inconsistent and poor quality 

Back in the boardroom, Jane was quick to blame Project Manager Gabrielle’s preoccupation with design for their failings, protesting: ‘From my point of view the guys were very focused on their margins, focused on how many products they were going to sell at the end of the day.’

The girls described the long walk that Bilyana led them on to find local shops, costing them precious sales time, after which Nick Hewer informed Lord Sugar of their behaviour to the retailer, saying ‘the shopkeeper was so affronted by their sales approach that she wouldn’t buy anything, she couldn’t stand being cornered by a pack of baying hyenas.’

Hardly groundbreaking: The boys sold teddy bears wearing union jack t-shirts

Took advantage of her skill: Gabrielle’s design expertise came in handy for her team

Gabrielle chose to take Katie and Bilyana back into the boadroom with her, explaining: ‘Katie because maybe you did pull your weight but I myself did not see that and I’m just going on what everyone else has told me, and Bilyana for making everyone waste a lot of time.’

Lord Sugar asked Bilyana why she thought the rest had a generally frosty attitude towards her.

She said that she believed it was because she wasn’t as loud as the other girls, and  approached the task by analysing the risks.

‘Big enough for all our egos!’ The candidates admired their new home

Lord Sugar retorted: ‘Bilyana you’re sitting there talking like a city strategist, this is a two bob outing. This is not a takeover of Goldman Sachs, this is simple stuff!’

Bilyana attempted to win back the situation, interrupting: If you give me the opportunity I will prove to you that I will be a solid project manager.’

Irritated, Lord Sugar replied: ‘I’m not listening to anybody anymore now, I’ve had enough of listening to you. I’m telling you what the situation is whether you like it or not.

‘It is a difficult decision to make in this first task so the person leaving today may feel that they haven’t had enough time to show themselves but that’s tough, that’s what this process is about.’