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Old 26th Mar 2012, 5:16   #881
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Came back to read this for the second time. To think the season's only beginning...
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Old 26th Mar 2012, 11:04   #882
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This thread was busy over the weekend, having been tweeted by me and then re-tweeted by others. And then again. And then my original tweet favourited by people for - I guess - later perusal!
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Old 26th Mar 2012, 17:32   #883
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Originally Posted by Beth View Post
Came back to read this for the second time.
Hmm, Beth, is that because it doesn't make much sense? That makes it a pretty faithful representation of the viewing experience, then...

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Old 27th Mar 2012, 13:30   #884
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It's just that the baying and roaring was so insistent I had to return!
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Old 28th Mar 2012, 21:52   #885
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Originally Posted by ono no komachi View Post
Ooh and we need a couple of 'alternative' team names please chaps! Team Peanuts? Team Stairlift?
Peanuts? I can think of a better one. Sounds similar.
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Old 29th Mar 2012, 20:47   #886
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Week Two

The tumpty-tumpty strains of Prokofiev are resonating in my living room. Apparently this is available in HD as well. Gosh, do people really want to see a grumpy Sugarlord in high definition?

"You're going to make me some money." He omits to say "..because AMSprop's sure as hell not doing that right now." Poor Sugarlord, having to resort to these kinds of measures to try and make a living.

Last week on the Apprentice, they had to take blank items and stamp their own brand on them. Including some bags. Bags... brand... what they needed was Stuart 'The Brand' Baggs! How did I miss that last week? They could have had a design involving ponies. Ah, how soon we forget.

The girls lost, and Katie came very close to being fired, but was saved by the gobbiness of one of her rivals. Now 15 remain.

Scene: house exterior, then interior. Ricky Martin is picking up the phone and singing 'Livin' La Vida Loca' into it. (No, he's not, but oh, how I wish he were.) Nice tat, Ricky. I see Jade has one too. I hope this is some kind of secret signal and that they are going to bring down the House of Sugar from the inside.

Apparently it is 5:30 am, and the car is coming for them in 15 minutes. That's bordering on sadism. But I bet you Maria will still have a full centimetre-deep layer of eyeshadow on by the time they're on their way.

"We're going to the Victoria and Albert Museum." "The Victoria and Albert Museum?" Yes, or the V&A as we like to refer to it in English.

They step into a fabulous marble atrium. "Is that amazing glass sculpture a Dale Chihuly?" one of them murmurs. "D'you know, I think it might be?" says another. I am kidding, of course. To be fair, I think I might be shuffling round gape-mouthed and ignoring the artworks at that hour in the morning as well.

Apparently the link between the V&A and this week's task is that the museum houses the best in British design, and this week the candidates have to design a gadget. A household gadget, just in case they were considering going away and designing some kind of sex toy. Could be a kitchen gadget, could be a garden gadget, the Sugarlord doesn't particularly care. But it will be "a waste of time if the product sucks". Best not to come up with any kind of vacuum cleaner, then.

"The team with the most amount of orders will win, the team with the least will lose and in that team, one of you will get fired." Thanks for clarifying that for us, Sir Sugarlord.

The girls are selecting a team leader. Jane McEvoy is up for it. So is Katie, in fact it's completely up her alley and she's very excited about it. Ahem. Jane says she will lead strategically. Since last week Katie's strategy seemed to be staying out of things as far as possible, this could be a shrewd claim on Jane's part. They vote for Jane. Apparently she is a bossy boots. Who'd have thought it?

In the boy's team, Azhar wants to be PM. For a moment I think he's said "I'm good at bitching," but no, that word was 'pitching'. He's a 'refrigeration entrepreneur', apparently. I think this might mean he works in the fridge section of Comet. He says, "I am the killer whale of the sea world." Surely you mean of the business world, Azhar? Isn't a killer whale of the sea world just a killer whale? Admittedly one of the higher mammals, but not a lot of good in a boardroom negotiation.

The boys get to do a kitchen gadget, the girls, a bathroom gadget. Really, a bathroom gadget? Like a soap dispenser? I'm not sure I've ever bought a bathroom gadget, personally. I definitely have a lot of kitchen ones lying around in my drawers though.

The girls brainstorm by asking "what kind of problem are we going to solve in the bathroom?" Oh dear. Jane asks if anyone has any specific ideas. In other words, any ideas whatsoever. The answer seems to be no.

The boys want to make a compost bin, apparently. Duane wants to reduce his waste, which god forgive me makes me snigger and think of the girls' bathroom problems. Their other idea is a pair of Marigolds with tiny scourers on the fingers of one hand and tiny sponges on the fingers of the other. I blink in disbelief.

The girls have scraped a couple of ideas from the bottom of their particular barrel and take to their focus groups a splashguard to stop your child splashing you at bathtime (as though your child's not going to just take that as a personal challenge) and a cushion to go over the tap end of the bath to 'rest your feet on.' Or for your other half to rest against as the water shortages result in us all having shared baths. Well not 'us all', obviously. *blushes*

The teams take their products into focus groups. Both the boys' ideas seem to go down reasonably well, even the dishwashing gloves, though one chap does say "I'd rather buy a sponge, to be honest."(Boys' response: "Thanks for that.") But I want them to go with the gloves, because they have named them 'Magic Hands', which I love. They go with the bin. Boo.

In the girls' team, the focus groups clearly prefer the tap-cushion idea. So they should go with the tap-cushion. OF COURSE they go with the splashguard. It's Melody and the light-up teapots all over again.

The boys are in trouble, because apparently they are only one hundred per cent behind their product. They are pleased with the prototype though - apparently it looks like a product from the 21st century. I'm sure that's a good thing.

The girls love their splash screen prototype, despite the fact that it doesn't actually appear to do what it was designed to. They have to pitch it to a big online retailer. They are promising them a profit margin of 240%. Christ on a bike. I'm not sure that kind of markup is even legal. Jane McEvoy invites them to make an order of a million units. Katie is dubious. That would a be a nine-million-pound order, it seems. So, they are proposing a wholesale unit price for a cheap piece of plastic, with a couple of net bags containing crayons and toys attached to it, of nine quid, which to achieve a 240% markup would have to retail at over thirty quid? The nice man asks them kindly if they are sure about the numbers. Jane has to consult her financial team, which consists of batty northerner Jenna. Jenna makes some sounds which I think might be words, but I'm not sure. A veil is mercifully drawn over this car crash of a pitch.

The boys have a much less painful and embarrassing pitch. Nick (Hewer, not Woodenman) thinks they may have spoken into a sympathetic ear.

The girls think that all they need to do to be successful in the next pitch is get the customer to be really really impressed with the product. Really? Nothing about amending the numbers? Sadly, they cannot even impress with the product. This nice man points out that waterproof crayons can not only draw on plastic screens, they can draw on baths too. Oops.

So, out of the frying pan (or in this case, the compost bin) and into the boardroom. Why did Jane think she could sell nine million pounds' worth of plastic tat? "I believe in the product."

The Sugarlord turns on the boys' product. "Is that for vegetarian dwarves?" Apparently by now, the boys have decided that they were 110% behind the product. That's more like it. However, Ricky Martin felt neglected because his Magic Hands were rejected. Bless.

Time for results! At the online retailer, Team Penis received 3,000 orders and Team Straddling received 7,500 orders. So far so good for the girls

At the high street retailer, Team Penis received 10,000 orders and Team Straddling, none. So it's another win for Team Penis. (Am I going to have to change these names next week when they're not single-sex teams any more?)

The boys get to go off and have dinner at the Ivy. They are in a private room though, so that the sleb clientele doesn't have to listen to their triumphant braying.

At Cafe Misery, Jane says that Katie made some big mistakes. She did actually come up with the product that the focus group preferred, though; it's just that the PROJECT MANAGER then decided to ignore the focus group results.

In the boardroom post mortem, unsurprisingly there is much ado about the pig's ear that was made of the figures. The Sugarlord is determined to find out "where the fault lays." "Maria went to sleep," whines Jane. Dear oh lord, Jane, if you could have heard yourself and Jenna droning on, you'd have gone to sleep too!

Jane has to decide whom she's going to bring back. The Sugarlord reminds her that it has to be a rational decision. Unlike any other decision she's made this week. She decides on Maria and Jenna.

So, Jenna, why shouldn't you be fired? "I feel I've contributed." Yes, you contributed a totally arsed-up set of figures. Maria says that Jane was aggressive. I don't know if I'd characterise her as agressive. Whiney and wrong-headed, perhaps.

Jane says Maria should be fired. Jenna says Maria should be fired. The Sugarlord fires Maria. Meh.

Next week. My condiments to the chef! (They have to invent a 'new' condiment.) I do so love a cooking task. Preferably one where a candidate says they have done a full course at the Cordon Bleu in Paris when what they really mean is that they once ate in a French restaurant. In Islington.

Last edited by ono no komachi; 30th Mar 2012 at 15:52.
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Old 30th Mar 2012, 15:55   #887
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Originally Posted by ono no komachi View Post
The boys (and I have literally no idea how they manage this) manage to sell 20 of the rubbish bags (bags which *are* rubbish, not bags *for* rubbish)
And in this week's Guardian Apprentice blog:

The boys take the win, for their rubbish bin. That's a bin that WAS rubbish, rather than a bin FOR rubbish.
Coincidence? Almost certainly, yes. But I was stupidly pleased just the same.
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Old 5th Apr 2012, 18:17   #888
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Week Three. Goodness, have we really only spent 3 hours in the company of these people? It already seems like a lifetime.

I notice that for this series, voiceover man no longer describes them as "Britain's brightest business prospects". Now they are merely "potential business partners" for the gnomic Sugarlord.

Previously on The Apprentice: the boys produced a bin with a plunger for people who can't bear to touch vegetable waste with their hands (which makes me wonder how those people peel their vegetables in the first place); but they still won because the girls' product was even more pointless, and was called Splish Splash, when its purported function was to prevent splashing. Maria and her purple eyeshadow were fired. Now 14 remain.

At the house: Ring ring, at 6.30 am. How I would love one of them to answer the phone with "Do you know what time it is in England?" But of course not. What's more, Gabrielle is already fully dressed and coiffed, though she does have the good grace to look slightly bleary.

They are to meet the Sugarlord at St Catherine's dock. In the car on the way, Jane claims the boys have some weak members of the team. Perhaps she is wondering how best to pick them off. Truly she is the coyote of the prairie world.

Down at the docks, the Sugarlord, Karren Brady and Nick Hewer are already there, eyeing up the sailors. The Sugarlord informs the candidates that spices used to be landed there. Are the candidates to work as stevedores for the day? Ah me, no, they are to invent a new condiment. Because farm shops and garden centres up and down the country don't have enough such concoctions on their shelves already.

The Sugarlord wants the opportunity to fire a boy this week, so he moves Duane and Nick Woodenman to Team Straddling. (Gosh, look at that - it turns out I didn't have to change the names after all.) Katie is moved to Team Penis, at which Azhar puts on the sulkiest expression I have seen since Philip Taylor in series 5.

Duane wants to lead Team Straddling. Duane is apparently a "drinks distribution entrepreneur". When I was a small child, there was one of those in my grandmother's village. You could get 5p a bottle back on the empties.

Katie evidently feels the need to prove herself, and puts herself forward to lead Team Penis. Adam lives up to the team name by making a dick of himself, asking her if she is sure she wants the role because "this is very very complicated". Good god, Adam, if you think making and selling condiments is that complicated, should you really be here at all? When the team agrees to Katie's being PM, Adam pats her on the shoulder. Nice one, Adam.

Over at Team Straddling, they are deciding to make chutney. Jane is the only one with experience in the food market (which makes her sound like a fruit'n'veg stallholder, which for all I know may be true) and she warns that the chutney market is oversaturated. She is, of course, ignored, which leads Nick Hewer to quip that the team could end up in a pickle. Be still my aching sides. When things descend into anarchy later, as they no doubt will, I fully expect Nick to describe it as a "piccalilli circus".

Team Penis are going to make a bottled table sauce for the mass market. Stephen Brady comes up with the name "Bellissimo" which is so plausible I'm almost surprised that Dr Oetker or similar haven't used it already. Katie thinks they should check the meaning because "it would be awful if it meant crap, or something." Do people these days not have a smattering of any foreign language? Or have they never watched Goodfellas, or the Sopranos?

Their production facility is in Tiptree, Essex. I am always surprised when brands I respect allow their premises to be used for this programme. I hope the Wilkins family were well compensated. Both teams have an hour to get their first samples ready to take to London to be pitched to retailers.

Team Straddling have called their pineapple chilli chutney (I kid you not) InFusion, which makes it sound like herbal tea. Jane's food expertise comes to the fore, as she suggests they taste it before sending it off to market. It's just as well she does, since apparently it is the most unpalatable thing since the Tories cut the top rate of income tax and paid for it by reducing tax breaks to pensioners. There will be no samples of InFusion to take to market.

Over at Team Penis, Adam has dropped a spoon in the sauce mixture, and is worried about the consistency of the product. "It's boiling like an omelette!" he wails, which tells us a lot about the culinary skills of the production team. Apparently 100 bottles' worth of sauce is ruined. Complexity of the task a bit much for you, Adam?

Day 2 arrives, and a sub-team of Team Penis go off to Westfield shopping centre to sell Bellissimo to unsuspecting members of the public. "Do you like savoury, or sweet? Because I am a sweet man, myself." This from Ricky Martin. If they were selling a spicy sauce, would he be saying, "because I am a hot man, myself"? Karren Brady thinks they are doing well selling to the public, because they have a nice way about them. Blimey.

In the meantime, Michael Copp is heading up the part of the team attempting to sell Bellissimo to retailers. He is attempting to get a wholesale price of £2.95 a bottle, which leaves the retailer with a rather miserly margin. Katie has instructed him not to go below £1.99 a bottle, so he rejects the retailer's offer of £1.95 a bottle. Oh dear.

Team Straddling have sent gravel-voiced Jade and Nick Woodenman back to the retailer who rejected them the day before on the not unreasonable grounds that they had no product with them. The manager tells them that this is the Last Chance Saloon. I had thought it was a rather nice brightly-lit grocer's shop. They like the pineapple chutney! They buy 300 jars at a unit price of £1.70. *blinks in amazement*

A deli owner of Italian extraction gently points out to Team Penis that they have spelt "bellissimo" wrong on their label. It says "Belissimo". Generously, he still buys some of the stuff at a unit price of £2.15. Not bad. However, at the other end of town Katie ends up selling her remaining stock to what looks like an off-licence at a pound a bottle. That can't be good.

To the boardroom! The boys are quite nice about having Katie as their team leader. Was Duane a good team leader of Team Straddling? They are mostly complimentary, apart from Jane who drops her gaze meaningfully and when pressed, says he was "all right". The Sugarlord predictably criticises the lack of samples to take to market. Dare I suggest he'd have a lot more to criticise if there'd been no quality control whatsoever?

Results: Team Penis sold 305 bottle of Belissimo (sic) and made a profit of £585.

Team Straddling sold 607 jars of pineapple and chilli chutney (how?) and made a profit of £1028. Wowser. This despite their initial batch being what Nick describes as "a dangerous and poisonous concoction".

Team Straddling get to go to Silverstone and play with fast cars. Duane takes some time out from this delightful activity to tell the cameras that he's not impressed with Jane's failure to enthuse about his project management abilities. "She was disappointing and miserable," he says. To be fair, Duane, I think that's just Jane's default state.

During the post mortem in the boardroom, there is a distinct lack of clarity of what was screwed up in the Batch That Went Wrong. Ricky points out that when it became clear that their quantities would be lower than anticipated, he went back to the screwed-up batch to try and "rescue" it. He managed to recover 21 bottles' worth. Hardly worth it, was it, Ricky? Mmmm, reconstituted ruined red pepper sauce. Yummy.

Katie is scrupulously logical about her fellow firing-linees. There was a problem in production, and Ricky was head of production. The wholesale team only sold a fifth of the numbers sold to by those selling to the public, and Michael was in charge of selling to trade. So it's Michael and Ricky.

In the final argument, the focus is mostly on the production problems, but a question about the sales figures is casually fired Michael's way. Michael proves himself to be a master of understatement when he states that he is not the best salesman in the world. However, he goes on to claim to have pulled himself up by his bootstraps from his ever so 'umble beginnings, and the tiny violins start to play. This is not the kind of thing that is usually regarded kindly by Our Lord of Sugar.

Karren says something about Katie claiming that men can be manipulated, which makes me frown, as I have been quite liking Katie until I heard this. The Sugarlord senses that there was a lack of strategy from the start. I don't think that's really true, there was a strategy but it went out of the window when production messed up the quantities.

Based on 'gut feeling', the Sugarlord fires Michael. The last time he used his gut as a guide, he fired lovely Glenn in series 7, because he was an engineer. There's no way to know if firing Michael is equally misguided, because we haven't really seen him do anything. Bye bye, Michael, you are probably well out of it.
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 14:48   #889
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Sent by ono for your appreciation

The Apprentice Week 4

Week four, and I'm running out of observations to make on the opening
sequence. 16 people want to kickstart a business. I'm sure plenty of
them deserve a kickstart. The Sugarlord is not looking for Lord Lucan.
I'm not quite sure what he means by this. Presumably no-one wants a
murderous aristocrat as a business partner.

Previously on The Apprentice: Voiceover man says that the teams got
saucy as they tried to invent a new condiment, but that Michael failed
to cut the mustard. We waved goodbye to Michael whilst simultaneously
wondering if we'd even seen him before.

13 remain. This week, they get a morning off, and the opportunity to
play some table tennis. I find this oddly sweet. Ring ring! Azhar
answers the phone with a telegenic flourish. The Sugarlord wants to
meet them at an old cinema in Chiswick. For reasons I cannot fathom,
we next cut to a scene full of topless young men. Crikey.

In the car, we learn that Duane thinks there are still some weak
individuals who should be exposed. Is this because he exposed himself
in the previous scene, and he thinks everyone should have a turn?

At the cinema, we discover that it's not really a cinema, but an
outlet for "high-end second hand goods" or, as we call them in the
rest of the country, "second hand goods". It seems that one man's junk
is another man's treasure. The Sugalord has laid on a couple of shops
in East London and it is the job of the teams to fill them with junk
that other people will treasure.

Ricky moves to Team Straddling, which seems appropriate given his
wrestling credentials, and Jade pops across to Team Penis.

The teams seem enthusiastic about the task. "If we buy a bin, we can
funk it up to make it a funky bin." I have an inkling that that
something will almost certainly be funked up this week.

Duane wants to project manage Team Straddling, but again he is pipped
to the post by an attractive young woman. Scottish Laura is voted in.
In her piece to camera, she says that being an attractive
businesswoman has its ups and downs. I do so love people who are fully
aware of their own attractiveness.

On the other team, Tom, who apparently is a "fine wine investor" (is
that a job? I want it!) puts himself up for PM, and thinks they should
go for quality over quantity. This is at odds with Adam, who thinks
they should buy a load of cheap crap and sell it slightly less
cheaply. Tom thinks they should buy between 50 and 70 items, which
seems admirably specific. However, he sends his first sub-team off to
an auction with only £200 to spend, which results in them buying only
3 items. Still a way to go, then. Still, Adam rummages around in the
skip at the back of the auction house and finds some *actual* junk for
them to sell. Yays!

For Team Straddling, Katie and Ricky seem to be paying a hundred
pounds for a broken bedstead and some loose table legs. Score!

Team P's Jade, Azhar and Stephen are at a car boot sale. Jade keeps
picking up things she thinks might have some retro appeal, but Azhar
and Stephen won't let her buy anything. They call this "being

Back at Straddling, Laura has put Gabrielle in charge of creativity
and "upcycling", with the result that Gabrielle is on the phone
ordering yards of orange suede. I'm sure it is possible to make the
tat they've bought more saleable, but is orange suede really the way
to do it? Oh my word, now she's buying doorknobs at £4 each. I'm not
sure my eyebrows can get any higher.

Laura is at a house clearance. Duane asks if they can rip up the
carpet. I doubt it Duane, since the purpose of a house clearance is
generally to get all the clutter out of the house so that it can be
sold. Lack of carpet may not help there.

He then says, "There is a famous saying: don't look a gift horse in
the eye." I have another famous saying for you, Duane, "Beware of
pretty young men making idiotic pronouncements."

Day 2, and they are debating what to wear. Stephen wants to look as
hip as he can, so he goes for skinny jeans, a check shirt and a nice
grey cardigan. OK, it sounds like I am taking the piss (which I am)
but he actually looks a lot more human than he does in his shiny
boardroom suits.

When Laura gets to the door of her shop, she has a slight concern
about the pile of rubbish that has been discarded right inside the
entrance following the massive upcycling efforts of the previous day.
No customers come into their shop. Could these two facts be linked in
some way?

Nick Hewer is concerned that the overall impression of Tom's shop is
not so much minimalism as emptiness. People seem to be interested,
though. Katie sells a clock in the first five minutes. Mind you, it is
a lovely art deco clock and she sells it for eight quid, and I realise
that this is a first: I have wanted to buy something that an
Apprentice candidate was selling.

In fact, they do so well that they are running out of stock, and
Jade's sub-team are sent off to buy more stock at a local fleamarket.
They negotiate so hard that one lady says they can have one item for a
pound, as long as they promise to go away.

Laura's team are reduced to selling on the street, although she claims
that things are going better in the shop. "People are literally
walking in, grabbing stuff, and walking out." I do hope she realises
that at some point in this sequence, money is supposed to change

In the last push, she resorts to trying to sell everything for a pound
per item. At one point she yells at some unfortunate woman, "I'm
literally giving it to you!" Well not really, as you are still asking
for a pound.

Boardroom results: The Sugarlord thinks this task was interesting in
its lack of definition and the relatively free rein the candidates
were given. He refrains from using the words "Give 'em enough rope..."

Laura says that she wanted to put herself on the radar and that they
had an advantage in having Gabrielle on their team. (She's an
architect, with a sideline in a printing business, so clearly gifted
in interior design.) Karren thinks their "shabby chic" efforts were
"more shabby than chic". The Sugarlord wants to know who sold well in
their team, and Laura says she was very impressed with her own
performance. She's a lovely person, isn't she?

On the other team, Tom was excited about the task, and wanted to keep
his costs low. He thinks that everyone agreed with his strategy. I'm
guessing from this that Adam is the sort who grumps behind people's
backs but nods along instead of arguing. Tom hasn't a bad word to say
about any of his team, which the Sugarlord says is a "brave
statement". Don't worry, Sugarlord, the bad words will come out if
they lose.

Numbers: Team Penis's sales amounted to £1423.50, which gave them a
profit of £1063.40

Team Straddling made £1444.25, but their higher costs reduced their
profit to £783.49.

The winning team get to go to a 1940s theme party and be taught swing
dancing. When they get to the party, Tom appears to be wearing a fox
fur stole, which seems a little odd. Jade looks fabulous in a 40s
style dress.

At Cafe Misery, Laura blames the cost of the upcycling materials,
while Gabrielle says that too much was spent on stock in the first

In the boardroom post-mortem, it transpires that while Gabrielle and
Jenna did indeed spend a lot on materials, they had some 200 items to
upcycle; and in fact were the most successful at selling the tat.
Whilst Jane, whose sales style Karren describes as "desperate and
aggressive", achieved a grand sales total of £10.

Who's Laura bringing back in? Why, it's Gabrielle and Jane. Yet
another catfight to look forward to.

When they come back in, the Sugarlord asks Laura what she achieved in
the task. She nods and looks blank. Eventually she claims to have
"managed the team well."

Gabrielle gives the expected slightly shouty self-defence, listing the
responsibilities she was given. Laura manages to be both patronising
and belittling: "That's commendable, thank you very much... I know you
put some masking tape on a window."

The Sugarlord asks Laura why she should stay. It seems she's been
successful in everything she's ever done. Really? EVERYTHING???

The Sugarlord admires Gabrielle's enthusiasm. I think what he really
means is that he admires her huge soft brown eyes. As do I.

And then he turns around and fires Jane. I'm not Jane's biggest
fan, but she did seem to be a big part of last week's win; and this
week Laura's failure to control costs was surely a bigger reason for
their failure than Jane's poor sales performance? Heigh-ho,
arbitrariness strikes again.

Next week the teams have to devise a new fitness regime. This reminds
me that I recently saw a poster advertising "Vibrocise". I do hope
this features in next week's episode.
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Old 22nd Apr 2012, 20:47   #890
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Default Ono's review - week 5

And here is Week 5 from ono

Week 5. The Sugarlord is looking someone with sufficient business acumen to
become his partner. Cue lots of puzzled faces while they all wonder what
“acumen” is. He is willing to bankroll a business in tough times, but don’t
forget: it’s his ball and once they’ve all finished playing he’s taking it
home. Or something like that.

Previously on The Apprentice: Tom led his team to victory with a minimalist
approach, Adam’s skip-diving tendencies notwithstanding. Gabrielle’s
“tarted-up tat” (is that a euphemism of some kind?) failed to impress. And
yet the Sugarlord fired Jane, who had been on the periphery of the task and
had done rather well the previous week.

Now 12 remain. The Desperate Dozen. The phone rings at 6.15 and Gabrielle
answers it in what appears to be an electric blue cocktail dress. Has she
been up partying all night, or was that the first thing that came to hand
when she reached into the ardrobe? “The Sugarlord would like to meet you at
York Hall in East London.” “Kthxbai,” says Gabrielle.

“York Hall!” She yells to the others. “York Hall?” says a bleary-eyed boy.
“Is that in Yorkshire?” Yes, yes it is, along with Leeds Castle.

They arrive at York Hall, which it turns out is in Bethnal Green, and is a
boxing venue and all-round leisure facility. It is, it has to be said, a
stonking building, all green and brown majolica tiles and majestically high
ceilings, and according to voiceover man “has been keeping cockneys fit for
almost a hundred years.” Ahem.

There’s no messing about with team members this week, nor is there any
abitrary appointment of team leaders, which is a little disappointing,
frankly. I’d love bonkers Jenna to be a Project Manager. Their task is to
invent a new form of exercise and license it to a chain of gyms. Really, is
this how these things work? A fitness club can’t run a Zumba class without
paying whoever “owns” Zumba a licensing fee? Well I never.

Stephen wants to lead Team Penis, on the grounds that he does this kind of
thing day in, day out. Turns out this is actually his job. He’s duly
appointed. Come on candidates, when has having a team leader with direct
experience of the field ever been an advantage?

Over at Team Straddling, Ricky wants to be PM, because he is a Pro
Wrestler. Apparently they call him “The Fitness”. I am not exactly au fait
with the world of Pro Wrestling, but shouldn’t he be called something like
“Destroyer” or “Mauler”? Try and fight him, and you will end up… slightly
fitter than you were before. His catchphrase is “Witness the Fitness”, but
I have sneaking suspicion that he once misheard someone call him “witless”.
Jenna also wants to be project manager, on the grounds that she rides
horses. Oh, please, if you make Jenna PM we will have a gym full of model
horses, which will be brilliant. No, it’s Ricky.

He wants to create some kind of boot-camp-style training. No Ricky, let’s
have less “boot” and more “camp”, please. Street dancing? Not really camp
enough for my taste, but you can’t have everything. They decide on
something that encompasses martial arts and dance moves. I hear the strains
of /Kung Fu Fighting/ by Carl Douglas in my head.

Stephen says that fitness clubs are looking for something unique. Katie has
a unique idea – something that combines a gym class with speed dating. It
seems the gym is a hotbed of singles dying to get off with each other. She
has a second idea, which is to tap into nostalgia and use retro props such
as Space Hoppers and Hula Hoops. The team leaps on this, which makes me
wonder if she only presented her first awful idea in order to get them to
look more favourably on her second.

Stephen and Adam head off to experience some retro beats at an 80s style
disco. Ladies in spandex and floaty tops get all bendy over the equipment
and Stephen’s eyes get even more googly than usual. What retro dance moves
are hot right now? “Everybody loves Michael Jackson’s Thriller”. To see
Adam doing the Thriller zombie dance moves is to wish you were visually
impaired. Perhaps by poking out your own eyes.

Technological entrepreneur Nick Woodenman is speaking to some young women
about street dancing. He likes something called the “swing jack style, or
the swing… something… jack…” I don’t think he’s really terribly “street”.
Possibly Regent Street. The team is going to call their fitness regime
“Beat Battle”.

Team P are going to call their class “Groove Train”. For their promotional
video they give Azhar a teeny tiny pair of red hotpants to wear. If only
the Blessed Margaret Mountford were here to see this. Adam repeats his
Thriller zombie dance moves for the dancers. It’s no less eye-gougingly
painful than earlier. There is a move called a “Funky Lunge” which just
looks like a squat to me, but what do I know? I’m not making a fitness
video, and what’s more I keep having painful flashbacks to series Five, and
Ben “What a cock” Clarke’s constipated facial expressions as he tried to
flog a fitness centre that looked like an amplifier.

As if I’m not already sufficiently infuriated by memories of Ben, Adam
decides to piss me off further by being extremely unprofessional about
Jade, who is directing their video and quite frankly has already done well
to tolerate Adam’s idiotic shoutiness. He thinks she should listen to him
more. “I don’t know if she’s deaf or thick or whatever.” Perhaps, Adam,
she’s being less than responsive because the appropriate response would be
to box your ears.

Team Straddling’s promo video looks much more conventional by comparison.
Duane is keeping a tight rein on the direction, slapping down any
suggestions from Woodenman and Laura. He fights any opinion with such
vigour that once they are in the editing suite and asks them for feedback,
they both remain tight-lipped and unresponsive.

Ricky and the others, meanwhile, are trying to apply some “Beat Battle”
branding to a poster. I say ‘trying’ because it ends up looking like an
advert for a coffee morning. And not a very fun one.

In the Groove Train editing suite, the video engineer looks as though he’s
watching a particularly brutal car crash. And it doesn’t even feature
Adam’s zombie dance!

The teams have to try and flog their particular dead horses to leisure
companies. Ricky pitches to Virgin Active, including his “extremely
generous pricing strategy” of £45 per month. Is that generous? I have no
idea, but my gut tells me it may be in the same league as a second-hand car
salesman telling me that a particular vehicle is “a lot of car for the
money”. The fitness people are not impressed with the video, apparently it
looks just like something called “Boxercise”. I am so not the target
audience for this episode.

Stephen pitches to Fitness First, emphasising how much he believes in his
product. I can’t help thinking that it’s not so much a product, more a set
of movements. How on earth can this require licensing agreements? A woman
from the leisure company comments that the video looked like it was a lot
of fun to make. I suspect this is code for “you’re having a laugh, aren’t
you?” There is a problem with the amount of equipment required, the cost,
and the storage. Clearly readable in Stephen’s expression are the words “I
haven’t thought this through.”

At a chain called “Pure Gym” which apparently is a chain of low-cost
fitness centres (EasyGym, anyone?) Ricky seems to be doing well. Duane’s
demonstration of a “Super Punch” is met with approval. Being a low-cost
outfit, when they meet the other team they are concerned at their equipment
requirements, and want to know the cost of equipment per person. Stephen
starts pulling prices out of his ass, two pounds for a Space Hopper, a
pound for a hula hoop and fifty pence for a skipping rope. Is he buying his
equipment at a 1970s jumble sale?

When they pitch to Virgin Active (there must be a joke in there somewhere,
surely?) they say that Groove Train is aimed at the female market. Because
every woman has a Space Hopper in her closet. Virgin Active think it
should be aimed more at kids’ fitness. Oh yes, says Stephen. “Because it
breaks all boundaries.”

Finally it is time for them all to return to the Sugarlord’s boardroom to
learn how they’ve done. I love it when the gnomic one gets to watch the
videos. “Beat Battle? What’s that about then? A punch-up in a disco?” But
as the video finishes, he does pronounce it “good”. Or perhaps he means
that it’s good that it’s finished, I’m not sure. In Groove Train’s video he
is treated to footage of the “Funky Squat”. Oh my. He points out that if
half your licensing fee goes on equipment costs, yours is a somewhat flawed
business model. I wonder if he gets tired of having to state the obvious?

So how did they do? At Fitness First, they didn’t want to license the Beat
Battle classes, but were willing to pay a one-off fee to develop the
concept. Five grand, apparently. They weren’t interested in Groove Train,
so zero pounds for Team Penis.

Pure Gym liked Beat Battle and were willing to trial it for 6 months,
resulting in an order worth almost three thousand pounds. Groove Train
again achieved no sales.

Virgin did not sign up for Beat Battle. They also didn’t think Groove Train
was suitable for the market that Team P was aiming at, however they liked
the idea of it as a kids’ fitness class and signed up to the tune of nearly
thirteen grand. Sweet Jesus on a pennyfarthing, that was a surprise.

So Team P get to go to a spa and have their egos massaged.

Team Straddling get to drink cheap coffee and stare glumly into the abyss
of failure, although Gabrielle looks as though she is getting kind of used
to it now. Duane: “I still don’t think it went wrong.” Nick Woodenman:
“Yeah, it did, we lost.”

In the boardroom post mortem there is much talk of “dilution of the
concept”. Oh fercryingoutloud, you barely had a concept. It seems the video
was too generic, whereas Team P’s video was “cheesy but fun”. Sounds like
one of my pasta bakes. Everyone still agrees that Ricky was a good PM and
pitched well. Where is the backstabbing we have come to know and love? Who
is coming back into the boardroom with him? It’s going to be Duane and

When they line up for the firing, the Sugarlord says that Ricky has chosen
the two people who made the biggest contribution. I think I would quite
like Ricky to be fired (in the absence of Adam, naturally), and this seems
to be on the cards, goody.

Duane surprisingly sticks up for Laura, then paints himself as a rough
diamond. The Sugarlord likes a bootstrap-pulling working-class hero,
surely? Who do they think should be fired? Ricky thinks Duane, Duane thinks
Ricky. No surprises there.

The firing is a bit of a surprise though, and not a pleasant one.
Still, in You’re Fired we discover that Duane has a sibling in the boy band
Blue, so perhaps we have had a lucky escape.

Next week another food-related task. Huzzah! And Azhar!
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