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Old 29th Sep 2014, 11:44   #941
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Default Re: The Apprentice

And I immediately thought of you!
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Old 14th Oct 2014, 22:06   #942
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Default Re: The Apprentice

Ono, you have so much material with that first episode. Ffs.
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Old 19th Oct 2014, 16:57   #943
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Series 10, Episode 1. And So It Begins.

Unsettlingly, the Sugarlord’s voice comes through the ether as continuity announcer. Perhaps he’s considering a new line of work. I imagine him announcing ‘The Great British Bladdy Bake-Off’. What fun.

And here we are! The last ever series, so it’s claimed. I have a full glass and an empty notepad before me and feel a curious mixture of elation, relief, anticipation and dread at the 12 weeks of fuckwittery to come.

The dulcet tones of Voiceover Man announce: ‘In the City, one man stands out... on the hunt for the Next Big Thing.’ Let’s get some soundbites from the smorgasbord of human detritus from which he has to choose.

‘I can make women do what I want in the business world.’ I’d like to see him try that with Dame Margaret of Mountford.

‘I’m not better at business because I’m good looking, I’m better at business because I’m better at business.’ Glad he cleared that up.

‘What they don’t know is that I’m coming for them from behind their backs.’ Yes, hovering behind them with menus and murmuring, ‘I’ll be back in just a moment to take your orders.’

Ah, the familiar surroundings of the Board Room. Someone is wearing cream loafers. I’ll wager his card is marked already. In fine tradition, there are not enough chairs, so a fair amount of standing around looking aimless. Start as you mean to go on, guys and gals. But the Sugarlord has something up his sleeve. Sadly, it’s not a stiletto knife bringing a new and horrific slant to this pre-Halloween edition. It’s four more candidates! So, a total of 20 candidates who will still have to be winnowed out over 12 weeks, meaning some weeks will just be carnage. Mwahahaha.

The Sugarlord comments, ‘Your CVs speak very highly of you.’ It seems to have momentarily escaped him that they have written them themselves.

Time to set the task - it’s back to basics. They need to sell stuff. There are a couple of blonde ice maidens, a couple of wide boys in shiny ill-fitting suits, the teams are segregated by gender, and Nicky Hewer’s lips are already pursed up to 11. It’s like putting on an old pair of slippers.

As the boys swarm like so many cockroaches around their luxury accommodation one boy counts off the number of boxes of cereal in the cupboards. ‘Oh good, so you can count,’ says another in withering tones. I look forward to this one making a hideously basic mathematical error in a couple of weeks’ time and being booted out as a result.

The boys’ project manager rejoices in the name of Felipe. But what of the team name? Dynamic? Viper? Sharks? Jets? They settle on ‘Summit’.

The girls plump for ‘Decadent’. Because nothing says business excellence like dissolute extravagance.

The candidates are awoken at 04:30. Does this level of sleep deprivation contravene the Geneva Convention? They are to collect their goods at the Leadenhall market. The girls want to discuss strategy with their project manager. ‘That’s important,’ she agrees, ‘but bring some nice make-up, yeah?’

Both teams are obsessed with adding value to their products to maximise profits. Sarah, heading up the girls’ team, thinks this means cutting up lemons and selling them by the slice.

The man who pitched up to the board room in cream loafers and is now dressed as a colour-blind ice-cream salesman, thinks that guacamole and organic cheese are the way to convert shrink-wrapped frankfurters into ‘gourmet hotdogs’. Wowser.

The girls try to get Sarah to discuss strategy again. She simply frowns and says, ‘you’re really confusing me now.’ Poor Sarah.

Both teams have a bunch of T-shirts to which they are ‘adding value’ by getting slogans printed on them. The girls have gone for ‘#LONDON’ which in the grand panoply of Apprentice ideas through the years is probably not the worst. Unlike turning up at the printers without the wherewithal to pay the guy. They call Sarah, ‘You have all the seed capital.’ Or, as we in the human race call it, ‘money’.

The boys are still debating what cheese goes well with hotdogs. NO CHEESE goes well with hotdogs, with the possible exception of American spray cheese in a can, which they will not find in an organic food market in Shoreditch. They are still having this debate at lunchtime. This is possibly not clever. The T-shirt sub-team are each given five minutes to come up with a slogan idea. They have no idea; again, I feel, setting the tone for the series. Eventually they have them printed with ‘BUY THIS T-SHIRT’.

The girls have adopted the ingenious strategy of selling hotdogs at lunchtime, and are also doing a roaring trade in coffees. Sarah is project managing by watching them work. When one of the team suggests she might like to join them to get the queues down, she loftily says that since she’s busy managing the project, she can’t possibly make coffees. She also pronounces a certain style of coffee as ‘expresso’ which I like to think is indicative of a number of moral and intellectual deficiencies.

The girls next appear to be trying to sell about a fiver’s worth of cleaning products to a zoo for £250. I am well aware how surreal that sounds, but it is the literal truth. ‘Are these products environmentally friendly?’ Sarah peers inside a Marigold glove. ‘Well they are plastic, so I wouldn’t want to see them near a penguin.’

The boys decide that selling the T-shirts will be too hard, so they don’t bother. The girls sell the T-shirts to the man who printed them, at a price which I suspect is less than they paid to have them printed in the first place.

In an incredible stroke of luck, the boys sell 100 kg of Maris Piper potatoes to a pub for seventy-five quid.

At last, we are back to the Bored Room for the tallying up! Hooray!

Nick Hewer is not impressed with the girls’ team name. ‘It speaks of extravagance, idleness and moral turpitude.’ They are going to have to come up with a new team name. Frankly I think it might have been greater punishment to have to stick to the old one.

How did the team leaders divide their teams? Felipe assessed the members’ skills and sorted them accordingly. Sarah drew an imaginary line down the table and used that.

Sarah’s tactics are vindicated as it turns out that Team Decadent has beaten Team Summit by £750 to £700. Their treat is a trip on the London Eye. Given the gradual degradation of the ‘treats’ over the various series, I rather wonder if they had to pay for their own tickets.

Ah, the familiar territory of task failure post-mortem. ‘Stephen was disruptive.’ This is the usual code for the team member who points out the team’s obvious errors and is shouted down.

The Sugarlord reveals that the ‘killer items’ in this task were supposed to be the frankfurters and the T-shirts, both of which Team Summit signally failed to sell.

Scott is suspected of the Sugarlord’s most hated crime: that of keeping a low profile on the task, and being not so much ‘the Wolf of Wall Street’ as ‘the Poodle of Petticoat Lane’. ‘Was you hiding, Scott?’ Well Scott, was you?

Daniel, who apparently sold stuff quite well, blames the failure of the task on Stephen. Stephen vociferously defends himself. The Sugarlord appears to accept his arguments, but concedes, ‘he is an irritant’. But he does warn ‘If someone is brought in for the wrong reasons, I will frown upon that.’ I am frankly astounded that that face can get any frownier.

So who’s coming back in with Felipe? He has done that rare thing of listening to the Sugarlord and does not finger Simon. No, it’s Robert of the Shoreditch Cheese and someone whose name turns out to be ‘Chiles’.

Chiles, it turns out, didn’t sell anything. Not a sausage, which in this case turns out to be a peculiarly apposite turn of phrase. Felipe thinks Chiles should go. Even more so than Robert and his fancy ways with hotdogs.

The Sugarlord’s wagging finger gets a good workout. It points at Felipe. ‘It’s regretful...’ (X-factor style pause) ‘...that you let this happen.’ True, Felipe looks pretty regretful.

It’s Chiles who is fired. Being pointed up as the worst in this particular field of ponies, how much must that hurt? Bye bye Chiles, bye bye.

Next time, another fine tradition as the candidates are expected to come up with ideas to which corporations devote years of expensive R&D. In this case, wearable technology.

Last edited by ono no komachi; 21st Mar 2015 at 15:00.
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Old 19th Oct 2014, 17:04   #944
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Series 10, Episode 2

The BBC have repeated last year’s low-down dirty trick of playing episodes 1 & 2 on sequential evenings, seriously taxing my note-taking (and coincidentally, drinking) arm. But again I am poised, pen (and alternately, glass) in hand.

Ah, the rumpty-tumpty strains of Prokofiev. I now have a kind of Pavolvian response to it whereby I simultaneously rub my hands together and duck behind the sofa cushions. Here come the grizzled tones of the Sugarlord, ‘It’s not abaht chancing yer arm...’ About ten of the candidates should go home now on that basis, I reckon.

Previously on the Apprentice: The girls beat the boys as a result of the clever tactic of selling hotdogs at lunchtime rather than in the late afternoon.

This time they are off to Imperial College. The tragic chorus of candidates intones ‘Good morning, Lord Sugar’ with all the enthusiasm of a row of mice about to be introduced to their new boss, Mr Fluffles Miaowington.

‘For this task you have to come up with a brilliant innovative idea for a piece of wearable technology.’ He doesn’t actually mention it needing to be eminently stealable for his new brand AMSWEAR (TM) but we know he’s thinking it.

‘Robert, you have previously claimed credentials as a fashion minded Shoreditch-loving person. I don’t wish to choose the project manager for your team but you might want to consider it.’ (Note to Robert: This means YOU MUST VOLUNTEER TO BE PROJECT MANAGER.)

The project-manager-choosing bunfight begins. In an unexpected twist, Robert declines the post. He doesn’t feel the products will be high end enough for his particular talents. His expertise lies in coats costing upwards of five grand, apparently. And presumably, in spotting gullible idiots with more money than sense.

Solomon (I love their names! How long till someone refers to ‘the wisdom of Solomon’?) has technology experience, but only in social networks, it seems, which I guess means he has both a Facebook AND a Twitter account. Scott (who was accused of hiding in the last episode) once attended a conference on the topic of wearable technology. Scott wins by virtue of being the only person showing a vague interest in doing it.

Over at Team Decadent, the possibility of being PM is being passed around as though the music might stop at any moment. It stops while Nurun has the parcel and she unwraps it to find a poisoned chalice. Are my metaphors becoming a little too mixed?

The boys are brainstorming. Lycra leggings with go-faster stripes! A jumper with a screen which displays a photo you have just taken! An advertising space which uses your personal preferences to target adverts right at you! Oops sorry, that last one is from Minority Report, advertising companies would never get so cynical.

The girls decide to include every single idea from their brainstorm in their product. Fortunately there were only three. It’ll be a jacket with solar panels to charge your mobile, heat pads in the lining, and LED lights in the lapels.

They do a bit of market research. A lady dressed head to toe in buttercup yellow loves the LED lapels. At least, she says so, but she sounds SO enthusiastic that I suspect she is just fooling.

Robert is in a high-end tailors, fingering some fine woollen cloth for their photo-projection garment. ‘Is it Italian?’ The lady nods whilst trying not to laugh overtly at him. Robert is ‘resonating’ with the fabric, apparently. I have literally no idea what he is talking about.

The girls are with their product designer, who warns them they might be trying to integrate too many features into one garment. Again in fine Apprentice style, they ignore professional advice.

Meanwhile with their designer, the boys have discovered that their fabric-based digital screen is sadly still the stuff of crap science fiction. They turn the idea around and decide to have a webcam integrated into a sweater. To make it less creepy they will have LEDs in the form of the words ‘ON AIR’ light up when the camera is filming. That’s right, I said LESS creepy.

Turns out the girls’ prototype can’t be manufactured by their required deadline. They may have to pitch with no product. Wow, that hasn’t happened on the Apprentice since... let’s see, last series when the boys tried to sell fancy flavoured beer to a pub without taking any of the beer with them.

They have to pitch their products to 3 major retailers. Unusually, two of these are eschewing the opportunity for free publicity, presumably because they have cottoned onto the fact that association with this show is not necessarily a good thing.

Dan, apparently, is a selling machine. (Oh, sorry, a vending machine. You put money in and things which are superficially appealing but ultimately without purpose or worth are spewed out.) He (presumably inadvertently) blurts out that he wouldn’t wear their product in a public place. The pitchees openly laugh at him. In the car later we see tears in Dan’s eyes as the others justifiably lay into him for his enormous balls-up.

Nurun is pitching Team Decadent’s prototype which has arrived in the nick of time. They might have been as well if it hadn’t; since it resembles nothing so much as an 80s throwback garment with plastic epaulettes attached with insulation tape.

In the boys’ final pitch, they actually come out with the sentence ‘Our argument is: Privacy is History.’ My, but that’s an appealing concept, isn’t it?

Back to the Bored Room!

Most unexpectedly, the issue of Robert not taking the PM role comes up. He waves an airy hand in the air and explains his five-grand-price-point rationale. This is going very well for Robert.

So if Solomon is so technology-minded, why didn’t he step up? ‘Social networks, Lord Sugar. I focus exclusively on things without any practical application whatsoever other than to allow people to indulge their own narcissism.’

The Sugarlord mutters darkly that there has been ‘a lot of ducking’. That also works if you replace the ‘d’ with an ‘s’.

Over on Team Decadent (which has disappointingly now become Team Tenacity, although if you put a hyphen before the ‘c’, it becomes an incontinence product for an entire metropolis) it is revealed that Bianca’s ultimate business plan is fashion-related, and that poor railroaded Nurun’s related experience consists entirely of running a market stall selling scarves.

So how many orders were placed?

Summit’s Stalker Sweater: Sports retailer: No orders Major department store: No orders Online retailer: No orders

Tenacity’s LED-Lapelled Blazer: Sports retailer: No orders Major department store: No orders Online retailer: 250 pieces ordered

The girls have it, and get to go fly with jetpacks (can that be right?!)

Oh, Team Summit. Where did it all go wrong?

Robert is fired up front, for daring to defy the Sugarlord. I cannot conceal my delight and have two sips of wine to celebrate. As he leaves he says something impenetrable about how some people can ride a canoe but can they ride a 250,000-pound yacht at Cannes? I think he might actual be some kind of alien from a distant planet populated exclusively by affluent dandies.

Karren Brady damns Dan with an insultingly mild criticism, ‘The more sophisticated pitch may not be his bag.’

Scott, apparently ‘passes the buck as if it’s a grenade’. There is no mention as to whether the grenade still has the pin in it. Note to BBC: If you are ever to revive The Apprentice, how about ending it by passing a live grenade amongst the candidates, the loser being the one holding it when it goes off? Just a thought.

Disturbingly, when Scott gets back in the room with Solomon and Daniel (a remarkably biblical pairing there), he keeps talking about having put his ‘balls on the line’. Dan says the team received ‘no directness’. I think he means ‘no direction’ (though aren’t they a boy band of some description?)

Anyway, Scott is deservedly fired for being genuinely useless.

Next week they have to make scented candles. I look forward to a miscalculation which leads to poisonous levels of air pollution.
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Old 25th Oct 2014, 16:47   #945
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Series 10, Episode 3

Ah me, we go from a trail for the new David Attenborough series, the in-all-likelihood-magnificent Life Story, to the voice of the Sugarlord snarling ‘Ahm lookin’ fer big bucks’. To say this is going from the sublime to the ridiculous seems a tad redundant, but hey, I’ve just done it anyway.

Voiceover Man tells us that this is about a fifty-fifty partnership with ‘Britain’s toughest backer’. I imagine the rasping tones of Greg Wallace, ‘Backin’ doesn’t get tougher than this.’ The opening montage is a mish-mash of saving pitches and covering backsides. Frankly I wouldn’t want to see any uncovered backsides, so I think covering them is the way to go.

Previously on The Apprentice... the teams had to produce some clothing containing some kind of technological benefit, such as a sensor capable of sounding an alarm should you find yourself within a 10-metre radius of a former Apprentice candidate. Robert thought he could ignore the Sugarlord’s advice and was summarily fired during the post mortem; then in the actual firing line the instantly forgettable Scott was binned.

The phone rings in the candidates’ house as usual at some hideous pre-dawn hour. The Sugarlord wants to meet them in 20 minutes at the Royal Exchange. Cue shots of girls primping and boys in a disturbing state of undress blow-drying their underarm hair.

Daniel: ‘I’m hoping we’re not merged with the girls. I want to win a task as the boys.’ C’mon matey-boy, how likely does that seem given your performance up to now? Besides, your saying this will almost certainly prefigure a Sugarlord-instigated redistribution of ‘talent’ between the two teams.

Team Summit and Team Tenacity line up amongst a gleaming array of high-end shops. (Ah, Robert would have loved this, shame he and his music-hall stripey suits were unceremoniously dumped last week.) The Sugarlord explains that a major current trend consists of ‘Designer Home Fragrance’. I’m unconvinced, but I’ll accept it in the interests of providing a forum for the usual mix of backstabbing and incoherent ineptitude.

They will have to sell both to the public and to trade; and ‘the team that makes the biggest profit will win, and in the losing team, one of you will get fired.’

‘So, I’m going to mix the teams up a bit,’ Stephen, Dan and Felipe (a dream sub-team if ever I saw one) move over to Tenacity, and Lindsay, Nurun, Bianca and Roisin go to Summit.

Katie wants to lead Tenacity, on the grounds that she is an avid consumer of home fragrance products (I suspect they have been banned from talking of ‘air fresheners’ because it’s not ‘designer’ enough). Everybody is right behind her because it means they won’t have to volunteer.

Roisin wants to lead team Summit, because she is all about the numbers, and this task is all about the margins. Much as I am all about the Pinot Grigio. James is joyful at the new configuration of the team, as he believes their three weakest links have gone to Tenacity. Oh James, what does Pride goeth before?

For their fragranced candles they have a choice of two kinds of wax: soy (expensive) or paraffin (cheap, possibly bringing its own hint of 1970s oil heater scent, however). Katie is also all about the margins and goes for the cheaper option. Roisin is persuaded that the ‘cleaner’ soy wax will make their product more high-end. I’m not sure that she has quite bought into the Sugarlord’s ‘buy cheap and sell dear’ ethos.

Katie (who, bucking the trend of Apprentice project managers, seems to be making a number of decisions without pandemonium breaking out around her) decides on a scent blend consisting of green tea, lemongrass and aloe vera. This frustrates me because there’s nothing much there to make fun of. Why couldn’t she have gone for a blend of patchouli, sweat and orphans’ tears? She suggests a name ‘Evoke’. Not bad, I think, they’ll probably go for that, so here come the comedy options. ‘Lemonize,’ says Sarah. ‘British Breeze’ suggests someone else. Ahahahaha... oh they’ve gone for that one. Appealing to the UKIP voter in the marketplace, I suppose.

Summit have gone for a mixture of clean linen, salt and ozone. ‘Smells from the surf?’ Hmmm, perhaps not. They settle for ‘Beach Dream’. Karren Brady likes it. I make no comment on whether this bodes well or ill for Team Summit.

Roisin thinks their lowest selling price will be £12.50 per unit. Every fibre of my being is yelling, ‘FOR A FREAKIN’ CANDLE!?!?!?’ I am stunned into silence as Katie announces that Tenacity’s target price will be £30 per unit. Truly, we are living in the end times.

They are into the production phase. Tenacity are colouring their wax yellow. What with that and the lemongrass, are people not going to get their product confused with a certain kind of insect repellent? Their production sub-team consists of Lindsay, Nurun and Sanjay. I am disappointed in the women as they basically let Sanjay make all the calculations and do all the work. ‘We’re doing all the glamorous stuff.’ Way to empower the sisterhood, ladies.

Summit’s marketing sub-team are off to a luxury hotel. One of the team admires the suite and the proprietor tells him that it would cost him eight and a half THOUSAND pounds a night to stay there. Still, I suppose people with more money than sense will be their exact target market. The hotel gentleman agrees to buy 25 of both kinds of product. So let’s hope the Beach Dreams are more Copacabana and not so much Blackpool.

For Tenacity, Dan is pitching to a boutique hotel with 21 rooms and insisting they take a minimum of 30 units. Stephen manages to get the guy to agree to take 25. Afterwards Dan insists that Stephen has RUINED his pitch, and tries to get into a shouting match with Stephen. The calmer and more reasoned Stephen is, the shoutier Dan gets. Way to keep a cool head, Dan.

James is setting out his market stall. He wants to claim a Recommended Retail price of £45 to make his actual selling price seem cheaper. This is known as ‘the DFS strategy’. Karren Brady dissuades him on the grounds that it’s, y’know, illegal and stuff.

Tenacity take their products to the boutique hotel. The owner has a quibble, ‘the label’s not on straight.’ In my fantasy scenario, the team giggles and someone says ‘hashtag first world problems!’ but they are surprisingly professional and offer to replace any items that do not meet the required standard. I wonder if all complaints about Amstrad products were met with this level of customer service?

As the day wears on, James starts selling his products at £10 and then £6 per unit. ‘There’s no such thing as bad profit,’ he says defensively. No but it does have to BE profit James and not just breaking even. The margins, remember? THE MARGINS.

Summit get to the hotel who ordered 25 of each of their 2 products. They have the candles to fulfil the order, but Roisin has sold all of their remaining diffusers to a gift shop at eight quid each. Oops.

As time runs out James sells all of their remaining product for whatever they can get. As the metaphorical whistle blows, the team members give each other high-fives all round. I fear this may be slightly premature.

Back to the boardroom! The Sugarlord waxes lyrical (see what I did there?) about the simplicity of the task. He doesn’t quite say that a bunch of trained chimps could have succeeded, but we all know he’s thinking it. He asks Roisin what her approach was. She says something incredibly dull about adding value and quality products. Ah, but what of the fatal mistake of not having diffusers to sell to the hotel? Karren Brady, frowny lady, says that she was ‘pretty shocked’ by this. Shocked by an Apprentice team cock-up, Karren? How many of these series have you participated in by now?

The Sugarlordly attentions are turned to Team Tenacity. ‘Our market research indicated that our product should be as neutrally coloured as possible.’ The Sugarlord extracts one of the glowing yellow candles. The lordly eyebrows are elevated somewhat. ‘So your market research was a waste of time.’ Embarrassed silence.

So, time for the numbers. Turns out that both teams’ sales were remarkably similar, being in the region of £2,200. (People with more money than sense, that’s your target market right there.) However Summit’s profits were a measly £1,570, whereas Tenacity’s profits were a handsome £1,584. In a task that was all about margins, that one’s pretty narrow.

Tenacity, after two days of working with scented candles, get to go off to a luxury spa. Aromatherapy, anyone?

Summit get the boardroom post mortem session. Roisin starts to argue the narrowness of the other team’s win. The Sugarlord points out that they held onto some stock in preference to selling it all at the lowest possible price. Tenacity’s average selling price was almost twice that of Summit.

He points a grizzled finger at James for selling too cheaply. James tries a rarely successful tactic. ‘You would have done the same, Lord Sugar.’ ‘Don’t tell me what I would or wouldn’t have done.’

The Sugarlord rounds on Lindsey, wanting to know what her contribution to the task was. ‘I know I didn’t do very well...’ she fades into silence. Not usually a good sign. She looks as though she’s about to give up and go home. Could this be the first self-firing? The background music changes to ominous cello. Here comes the finger. Yep, out goes Lindsay.

Roisin is bringing Nurun and James back into the boardroom. James begins his defence by saying he has worked his absolute balls off. Oh my. Here comes the pointy finger! ‘James, you... need a lot of polishing.’ James tries his earlier tactic again, ‘I’m just like you.’ He doesn’t appear to recognise the implications of the thunderous Sugarlordly frown.

Roisin is accused by Nick Hewer of lacking command. She mutters something about donkeys led by lions (she doesn’t really, but I’d have liked it if she had).

The Sugarlord praises Nurun’s small business entrepreneurship, but wonders if she has what it takes to make the transition to big business. He thinks Roisin started well in the task, then went downhill. James has a nasty lack of ethics. The Sugarlord has no place for a Jack the Lad.

But he goes ahead and fires Nurun, because his production team have told him there’s more mileage in a wide boy and an ice queen, oops sorry I mean because he doubts she can make the leap from small business to big business.

Next week they have to run their own online video channel. Less YouTube, more YouSuck.
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Old 2nd Nov 2014, 14:18   #946
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Series 10, Episode 4

Here we are again. A gaggle of identical-seeming, glossily plumaged creatures honks and flaps its way across the screen. Oops, sorry, seems I’m still watching Autumnwatch. Back we go across to BBC1.

In the preamble, the Sugarlord tells the candidates that if they should win, he won’t be working, they will be working. I thought it was supposed to end up with a partnership? I can’t imagine him as a silent partner, somehow.

Previously on The Apprentice: The teams had to create something sweet-smelling to cover the contrasting aromas of desperation and self-importance that seem to follow them around. Roisin created something high-end which she and James then sold for low-end prices, but somehow neither of them was fired and instead Nurun was winnowed out for no discernible reason.

Pre-dawn, the telephone rings. “Lord Sugar will meet you in twenty minutes at Wilton’s Music Hall.” I momentarily consider the possibility of some kind of Apprentice/X-Factor crossover but that scenario is too hideous to contemplate for long. I distract myself with my incredulity that they can shower, manage their hair and make-up (I include the blokes in this) and travel to the meeting place in less than half an hour.

The Music Hall is London’s oldest Victorian Music Hall, and is pretty spectacular. The candidates line up in the stalls as the unholy trinity of Karren Brady, Nick Hewer and finally, the Sugarlord himself, take their places on the stage. I so want them to break into a business-suited version of The Sand Dance, but sadly the Sugarlord merely outlines their task for the week. They have to break into the world of ‘celebrities, companies and everyday people’ by setting up their own channel on YouTube. The team which gets the highest number of views will win, and in the other team, someone will get fired.

The team ‘mix-up’ this week consists of Gemma being moved to Team Summit. We are denied the ‘Who will be PM?’ bun-fight as the Sugarlord nominates Ella Jade (whose business plan apparently has something to do with The Meedja) to lead Tenacity and Solomon to lead Team Summit.

Oh God, they’re brainstorming. Ella-Jade thinks that dance moves would be funny. Katie, who is a fitness instructor, wants to show-case ‘secret ways to get fit’. Please, if there is a secret way to get fit which involves repeatedly lifting a wine glass, could someone let me in on it? Felipe thinks he has a tagline ‘Fat Daddy, fit in a week.’ Oh this is going to be horrible. Katie mentions the word ‘banter’ which confirms my worst fears.

Over at Team Summit, Solomon keeps talking about people doing stuff in blindfolds. Just what kind of video channel does he have in mind? ‘I want to show Lord Sugar what technology can do.’ I’d be slightly wary, there, Solly, I’d hazard a guess that he already thinks he’s pretty clued-up in that area.

Apparently, what technology can do is to produce a kind of sub-par version of the CBeebies show Big Cook, Little Cook, but for a slightly younger audience. Imagine if the 70s kids’ show Tiswas had been made in a kitchen by talentless individuals who had had their sense of humour surgically removed. Like that, but less funny. Although James claims that he can ‘turn on the comedy when I need to.’ One can only surmise that he never feels the need to.

Ella-Jade is, and I use this term in its loosest sense, ‘directing’ Team Tenacity’s ‘Fat Daddy’ video. Her team-mate Pamela is fairly blunt, ‘she doesn’t really know what she’s doing’. I feel this is harsh, but fair. The fitness instructor they have employed bears an uncanny, not to say disturbing resemblance, both visually and vocally, to Russell Brand. He puts Katie and Felipe through their paces, and as Felipe collapses onto the gym mat, points and giggles, ‘that’s why you’re FAT DADDY!!!’ Oh dear god, just put my eyes out now, please.

Team Summit find themselves a social media butterfly who will promote their creation. His name is Ollie, he has an audience of 1.5 million users. Solomon has chosen him because of the sheer numbers of followers. The others are concerned that his user base demographic is of pre-teens and teenagers. They think their video is too sophisticated to appeal to this user base. Deluded is not the word.

Dan has spotted that Tenacity’s video is not funny. What clued you in, Dan? Was it the use of the term ‘Fat Daddy’, or the fitness instructor pointing and laughing at the man in pain? He is the lone voice of dissent, and as such is of course shouted down.

Sarah is in charge of ensuring that the video has been produced in the required timescale. She does manage to get it uploaded in time, but has made a couple of tiny omissions, such as giving it a name or description, or tagging it with any search terms whatsoever. ‘I hope I’m not going to be the one who gets blamed. I’m not the project manager.’

Tenacity watch their finished product. Katie is the first to break the silence, ‘I don’t think this is TOO bad...’ They have a discussion about who should promote the video to Buzzfeed. Stephen is keen to pitch and Ella-Jade assigns him a spot. Sarah pipes up, ‘What shall I do?’ There follows an eloquent silence.

Team Summit are on the promotional trail. Mark does his best, describing their creation as ‘fun in the kitchen’. Bianca claims it will appeal to the 18-30 age group. The promoters respectfully disagree, adjusting the age to 8-10. I think they’re being generous.

After the pitch, Bianca reveals that she managed to spot something that one audience member was writing on his notepad. It simply said ‘KILL JAMES’. Oh dear.

Stephen’s practising his fitness-related pitch. ‘A journey of a hundred miles starts with a single step.’ (This pitch is brought to you by Patience Strong.) This is going to have to be the pitch of your life, Stephen. He does his best, but his nerves appear to get to him, and he garbles it somewhat. I don’t really see how he could put a gloss on this particular sow’s ear anyway, as their audience point out some fatal flaws.

‘Isn’t it a little bit unkind?’ ‘I would hardly send this to an overweight friend saying, “this is you LOL”.’ ‘No, no more questions... I think that just about covers everything.”

Pamela seems to be displaying an unseemly smugness at Ella-Jade’s demise. ‘She just fell down a great big hole.’ This may be a little too much Schadenfreude for my taste.

Anyway, at last we are off to the Bored Room! ‘Good Morning, Lord Sugar.’ If only he would reply in a voice weary with existential angst, ‘Is it though, is it a good morning? I have been doing this for ten bleedin’ years; what’s good abaht that?’ But no, he merely explains that this was a 21 st century task, and they are a bunch of young whipper-snappers who should be all over it. So, let’s look at the videos.

The next couple of minutes are just hideous. Summit’s video is played; the Sugarlord and Nick Hewer appear to be in a lemon-sucking competition; James is called a Grade A Idiot...

There is a little respite as the Sugarlord praises Solomon’s decision to follow the numbers in his selection of social media promoter. This small consolation was just as well, as neither team managed to get Buzzfeed to show their creations.

Next, Tenacity’s video. The Sugarlord makes a crack about it being nice to see a lawyer being tortured. Katie tries to explain the rationale behind the video, how they wanted to show someone’s progression on a journey and also make a tasteful attempt at comedy. She appears to be describing something entirely at odds with what we have just seen.

So how many views did the videos get? Summit’s video was viewed 3532 times, Tenacity’s 3314 times.

This is Summit’s first win, and coincidentally by a million miles the best treat so far. They get to go off to Iceland bath in hot volcanic springs. What happened there? Shouldn’t it have been high tea at a Great Western Hotel or some such?

Tenacity try to console themselves at Café Misery. ‘It couldn’t have been that offensive if it got over three thousand views.’ No, because people never look at offensive stuff on the Internet.

Ella-Jade decides to bring Stephen and Sarah back into the boardroom. Not because they are an alliterative pair – that is just a happy coincidence. No, it’s because Stephen ruined the pitch and Sarah lacked the tiny grain of common sense that would have told her that, maybe, y’know, it would’ve helped to have a name for their video.

Stephen says that Ella-Jade ‘is going to look like a fool, not me.’ Oh you poor deluded creatures, you are ALL going to look like fools. Would that it were not so.

Stephen claims to have sounded a warning about the potential of their creation to offend. Karren asks him if he felt he was ignored during the task. ‘I gave a hundred and ten per cent in this task.’ (Those of you who are used to playing The Apprentice Drinking Game will recognise this phrase.)

‘That’s not what I asked.’

‘I feel so, yes.’ Poor Stephen.

Ella-Jade voices a mild criticism of Sarah. She is vociferous in reply. ‘Why am I always being blamed? I am blameless, I tell you. BLAMELESS.’

It transpires that Sarah’s business plan involves online dating. What research has she done? ‘I’ve trialled a number of websites.’

Ella-Jade chips in. ‘She means she’s been on dating websites.’ Sarah does not deny this.

Stephen gets rather opinionated and shrill. ‘You need to fire Ella-Jade, Lord Sugar.’

The Sugarlord takes as kindly as usual to this kind of advice and fires Stephen. ‘Thank you Lord Sugar.’

‘Sarah, why do they always make you the timekeeper? Is it because you are useless at everything else?’ and he fires Sarah as well. ‘Thank you for the opportunity Lord Sugar.’

To complete the set, he fires Ella-Jade, who begs to stay in a frankly unwholesome manner. At this rate, the final will be between Karren Brady and Nick Hewer.

Next week is the coach trip task. I look forward to the candidates insulting members of the public, missing their timetable and generally failing to organise a piss-up in a brewery.
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Old 9th Nov 2014, 16:32   #947
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Default Re: The Apprentice

Series 10, Episode 5

Ah, the rumpty-tumptiness heralds the beginning of another hour of naked narcissism and ambition dressed up in shiny suits for our televisual entertainment.

The Sugarlord describes himself as judge, jury and executioner. The image of 12 Sugarlords lined up in a jury box, passing judgement on their fellows, causes me a momentary shudder.

Previously on The Apprentice: Team Summit managed a win with their YouTube channel, despite one of their number apparently thinking that wordplay was some kind of speed-eating competition: ‘We need to do more puns, like... how quickly can you eat a chicken?’

The triggerhappy firing finger went into overdrive and all three potential firees were binned. 12 now remain. The Desperate Dozen, perhaps?

This week the phone rings in the house at five-thirty in the morning. Clearly it’s a requirement of being the Sugarlord’s business partner to be able to operate under severe sleep deprivation. The cars will be there to take them to South Mimms in 25 minutes. That’s a service station on the M25, no? Dan agrees with me that it is. Mark, however, with his keen Australian sense of what the Sugarlord might be springing on them this week, thinks it can’t possibly be a service station.

Guess what? They’re meeting at a service station. The Sugarlord tells them that tourist coaches are money making machines. I fear he may have slightly misunderstood the workings of the internal combustion engine. Oh, I see what he’s getting at, he thinks there’s piles of money to be made in ferrying tourists out of the capital and into the wilds of the English countryside to look at stately piles and stuff. I immediately think of Highclere Castle. Everyone loves Downton Abbey, right? My other favourite TV country house is Castle Howard which played the part of Brideshead many years ago, but Yorkshire might be just a tad far for a day trip.

Aussie Mark gets shifted over to Team Tenacity and that’s the only team change this week.

Sanjay, who I can’t recall featuring in any previous episode, is project managing Team Summit. He wants to run a Canterbury Tales themed trip. I become slightly discombobulated, as I can’t help thinking that an Apprentice candidate has come up with a Good Idea. My world view is somewhat shaken.

Daniel is project managing team Tenacity. Mark also wants to do it, but Dan convinces the team that his business is events management, day in, day out, and he is AMAZING at it. Not amazing enough to want to stick with it, hey Dan?

Team Tenacity’s main attraction is to be a tour of Blenheim Palace. They head off to see if they can get a discount on the per-head price, to maximise their profits. They get a tour of the Long Library, which is apparently the second largest private library in the country. At this point I would be telling the Blenheim people they could name their price, as long as I could get a personalised tour of the books, which is one of the many many reasons I will never be on The Apprentice.

Mark does some kind of Australian mind-control trick and gets the normal group rate of £14.50 down to £9.50, which he claims is a 60% discount, which it kind of is, but only against the full individual (non-group) price of £21.50. I wonder if Mark might be something of a spin merchant.

James reckons he can get Team Summit an 80% discount on the ticket price for Hever Castle. His technique for achieving this is simply to ask for it, over and over again, until a distinct expression of annoyance appears on the face of his interlocutor, at which point he concedes to the normal group rate of £12.25. Well done James.

Tenacity’s ticket price is £99 for a single person or £90 each for a couple. I find this eye-watering; but they seem to be selling some tickets. Apart from Dan. Dan is selling no tickets; in fact people are making a ten-foot detour in order not to have to walk within shouting distance of him. Why are they not drawn in by his unique blend of desperation and aggression?

In Canterbury, it’s Jemma’s turn to try and get a discount on the Canterbury Tales attraction. James thinks she’s not negotiating hard enough. She gets a small discount. How does that compare with your efforts, James?

It’s tour day! The majority of customers appear to be from overseas. One can only assume that UK-based tourists sensed the unique blend of self-obsession and incompetence which characterises an Apprentice coach tour. Team Tenacity are dressed in fetching canary-yellow waistcoats and even in this unpromising garb, Mark is managing to be engaging, friendly and professional. This is just not on.

Thankfully there is idiocy aplenty over at Team Summit, where James is attempting to get a diverse and cosmopolitan mix of passengers to sing ‘One Man Went to Mow’. My notes at this point say simply, ‘James is an arse.’ Karren Brady’s expression is redolent of actual physical pain. I think if she checks, she might find her ears are bleeding. When she gets off the bus, she describes it as ‘the coach journey from Hell’. If only it had been, Karen, you would no longer be in Hell, but I fear you may not have travelled far enough for that.

The Summit lunch team are applauding themselves for achieving a packed lunch for everyone at £2.10 per head. The ingredients mentioned are ‘Strawberries and vinaigrette’. I do hope there’s more to it than that.

Jemma is performing her tour guide role by reading out snippets from her guide book in halting Brummagen tones. She’s asked some questions by her audience and eventually resorts to responding, ‘Well, that’s Henry the Eighth for you, folks!’ Yes, that pesky Henry the Eighth and his tendency to restructure the entire religious landscape of Britain to accommodate his marital whims! What a character!

Dan and his sub-team have been tasked with making sandwiches for his £99-a-head punters. They rejoice in using the cheapest ingredients imaginable, and come up with, in a phrase from Mark which I could not possibly improve upon, ‘Sandwiches that could kill a brown dog’. Dan adds insult to injury by attempting to sell a bottle of water to a lunching customer for £2.50. She reasonably points out that at the price of the tour, the included lunch should really include a beverage. Dan looks rightly shame-faced.

Tenacity’s tour rounds off with a river trip enhanced by Felipe, in a boater and stripy blazer, enunciating anecdotes about pigs in Oxfordshire. Some people appear to be asleep.

Meanwhile, Summit are lost in Canterbury and have to ring their attraction for directions. ‘We’re just by Poundland.’ Apprentice candidates, lost outside Poundland, desperately trying to find their way. It feels like a symbol of everything this show stands for.

They get to the attraction ten minutes before closing time and have to cut the tour short in order to get back to Victoria at their allotted time. There’s a look of unbridled relief on all the punters’ faces. Sanjay is ‘not 100% confidence of customer satisfaction’. What tipped you off, Sanjay?

At last we return to the boardroom to analyse how the task has gone.

The Sugarlord raises eyebrows at Sanjay’s price point of £60, and James’ inability to charm a discount from the Hever Castle people. Karren Brady is diplomatic about James’ ‘difference in approach’. Perhaps she feels sorry for him.

Conversely, the Sugarlord is impressed with Mark’s £9.50 rate for entrance to Blenheim. How many of the £90 tickets did Dan sell, again? Oh yes, none. Whilst Summit did at least fill their coach tour, Tenacity sold only 20 places.

Mark leaps like a hyena onto the already weakened Dan. ‘You lost the dressing room, Dan. Someone should tell you that flannel is for the bathroom’. I look forward to hearing more room-based metaphors from Mark in future weeks.

We have reached the small matter of The Results.

Summit’s total takings, including merchandise, came to £1395.71, of which £813.70 was profit.

Tenacity achieved sales of £1531.61, their profit coming in at £1037.99. So there was a point to the execrable sandwiches after all.

The eagle-eyed Sugarlord notes that the team are patting Mark on the back, not Dan. I fear Dan’s card may be marked for future weeks.

Tenacity’s treat is to climb the Orbit sculpture in the Olympic park and abseil back down. Good to see that after last week’s aberration when the winning team got to bathe in volcanic springs and drink champers, the ‘treats’ are back to the expected standard. I am belatedly endeared to Dan as he blurts out, ‘how is this a f***ing treat?!’ Did you forget that the show goes out after the watershed, Dan?

In the post mortem, we discover that Sanjay is a bank manager who is frequently responsible for scrutinising business plans, and yet it seems he plucked his £60 price point arbitrarily from the air. The Sugarlord wants to know, ‘Where is your brains?’ Yes, Sanjay, where is they?

And what of James’ singing shenanigans? Karren asks, ‘When people shouted “this is torture”, did it not occur to you to stop?’ James responds by saying he has got a pair of balls. This may be a delayed response to the question, ‘Where is your brains?’

The Sugarlord points out to Sanjay that ‘£60 times twenty-five don’t come to much money.’ Bianca compounded the pricing error by admitting to a potential group of customers that they were the team’s last chance to sell tickets. Given this, I’m amazed she managed to squeeze forty quid a head out of them.

He rounds on Jemma’s tour guide capabilities. ‘Is it true that when they asked you about Henry and Anne Boleyn, you told ‘em that they just grew apart?’ Jemma has stated on her CV that she’s ‘the girl who nearly wins’. This seems something of an ill omen.

And indeed, Sanjay is bringing back Jemma and Bianca into the firing line. The Sugarlordly finger wags at James though, and tells him he has had a lucky escape. My disappointment is palpable.

When he has the three of them in the firing line, the Sugarlord reiterates the failure of Sanjay to apply skills to the task which he presumably uses in his day job. He then turns to Bianca’s decision to admit the team’s desperation to prospective customers. ‘See? This is where you got no brains.’ So where does the blame lie?

Bianca blames Sanjay. Sanjay blames Bianca. Jemma blames Sanjay.

So apparently, no-one blames Jemma. Apart from the Sugarlord, who fires her. She’s right, it is Sanjay’s fault; for if he had only brought James back to the boardroom, the decision would have been a no-brainer. Wherever everybody’s brains was.

Next week, the teams have to invent a new board game. Perhaps they’ll come up with one to rival some old favourites: Scrabble, Monopoly, Cluedo... Locate Your Brains?
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Old 30th Nov 2014, 13:35   #948
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Default Re: The Apprentice

Series 10, Episodes 6 & 7

I have apologies to make. I have allowed life and stress and stuff to get in the way of summarising Apprentice episodes.

Rather than spend an entire day of my life catching up, I will simply give you a few tiny vignettes from my notes of weeks 6 and 7, and we will resume with week 8 as though nothing had happened.

Week 6, the candidates had to invent a board game.

‘Bianca’s getting too big for her boots. I’ll put her in her place, no problem.’

‘If someone got this [game] out at a party, I’d probably leave.’

‘You’ve got to be a rocket surgeon.’

[In a tiny hipster-style shop] ‘You can have exclusivity of this game for the Borough of Westminister.’

‘You’ve sold Mayfair and Park Lane for a fiver.’

‘Pamela, you’re fired.’

Week 7, the candidates had to invent and market a new brand of soft drink in New York.

‘I wanna be project manager so bad.’

‘They will have to work as a team no matter what the time zone.’

‘We could call it “Love Water”.’

[Shots of crowds crossing streets in New York City. I spot some sailors. Are we suddenly in ‘On The Town’?]

‘The streets are really, really straight aren’t they? They’re just... straight.’

[To an auditionee for their advertising video] ‘Hey, can I get your number?’

‘Three young people will explain how this drink has affected their lives.’

‘You’re just making a funny squinty face.’

‘Is it really iconic? Who knows.’

‘Is that a phallic symbol on the can?’

‘Dear oh dear... what was that? What’s it all abaht?’

‘He’s not Zuckerberg.’

‘You made the Piers Morgan of soft drinks.’

‘Lauren, you’re fired.’
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Old 30th Nov 2014, 13:42   #949
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Default Re: The Apprentice

Series 10, Episode 8

Previously on The Apprentice: Team Summit came up with a soft drink called ‘Big Dog’ which beat Team Tenacity’s effort, mainly because theirs was the Piers Morgan of soft drinks (lacking in taste and somewhat nausea-inducing), and Lauren was fired, because she hadn’t previously made enough of an arse of herself to be considered good telly.

This week the phone rings in the house at 05.30. The candidates are to be spirited away to Chiswick house and must pack an overnight bag.

The Chiswick house place appears to be a stately home with rather lovely landscaped grounds. They seem to have a lot of follies, though, which is presumably why the producers thought it would be Apprentice-appropriate.

‘Good morning Lord Sugar,’ comes the customary unison mumble.

The Sugarlord waxes lyrical about the olden days, when Chiswick was all fields. He is sending the candidates to the Royal Bath and West show, to experience a little of the Arcadian side of life.

They need to select at least one product to sell with a proven track record, and one product which is new to the market. I fear striped wood preservative and left-handed mallets. The team that achieves the highest amount of sales will win, and in the other team, at least one candidate will be fired.

Katie and Felipe both want to lead Team Tenacity. Mark wants it to be Felipe, so surprise! it is Felipe.

James wants to lead Team Summit. He says he’s putting his balls on the line. Where’s that left-handed mallet when you need it?

The new products on offer include a gutter-cleaning robot, a self-flushing cat box (since when did those things ‘flush’?), a Pet Locator to keep tabs on those tricksy spaniels, and a new-style bike trailer for pulling a kid behind your bike. The guys James has delegated to select the product think that the bike trailer and the pet locator are the best options.

Without seeing any of the products, James overrules them completely and instructs them to select a rather expensive wooden hanging chair and fold-down wellies, because it’s the country, right? Because in the countryside, everyone needs garden furniture and everyone wears wellingtons, no?

Dan is trying to persuade a man supplying barbecues, that he has a passion to sell barbecues. ‘Passion is our key word, we feel the passion.’ The man looks slightly alarmed.

Karren thinks that Dan’s attempts at enthusiasm are resulting in him coming across as pushy. I think she’s exercising self-restraint in not describing his efforts as downright creepy.

Katie seems to achieve the almost impossible in getting Dan to rein it in a little, and they seem to have a pretty successful session with a guy selling hot tubs, in which she does most of the talking.

James also has his eye on the hot tubs. The guy selling them introduces himself. His name is Anthony. James says ‘Pleased to meet you, Anthony.’ And proceeds to spend the rest of the session calling him Derek.

Later, James learns that Katie has won the opportunity to sell the hot tubs for the other team. His response is characteristically enlightened, ‘I didn’t want to work with him anyway.’

Their fallback option is to sell high-ticket ride-on lawnmowers. Roisin tries to persuade James that he should be up-front with the team about the reason for the change of product. ‘Yeah, but do I want to tell the truth? Today it’s important what I want to do.’

Dan is put out (surely not?) by the fact that Felipe wants Mark to sell hot tubs with Katie rather than him. Frankly I wouldn’t want to buy so much as a toothbrush from either of them but there is no denying that Mark is by far the more personable and persuasive individual.

James’ team are struggling to sell the folding wellies. A lady, who looks like she knows a good welly when she sees one, points out that the soles are pretty flimsy for actual countryside use. And they are trying to flog these at £55 a pair. When they report this to James he lambasts them for their negativity. He’s so inspiring.

Dan and Felipe are trying to sell handbags cunningly fashioned from two flat caps stitched together. Well, really, not so much trying to sell them as having lots of bickering sessions in front of their stand. It’s like a sort of performance art. A sheep wanders past and gives them a pitying look. I think it would buy one of the bags out of sympathy if only it had the ready cash.

Roisin is manfully trying to sell mowers in the face of James’ incompetence. She’s taking a matter-of-fact approach of giving the customers all the information about what the mower can do and then asking if they are interested in taking one. Every time she tells James something or asks him a question he sticks his lower lip out a little further. Eventually she helps him to sell a mower and he perks up a little.

As we approach the end of the sales day, Mark appears to be giving greater and greater discounts on the hot tubs. He’s just given a rock bottom price to someone who then says: ‘That’s if I’m buying one, yeah? You see, I’ve got a holiday park and I’d be getting seven...’ The camera cuts away from a shot of Mark, open-mouthed.

It’s the next day and we are back to the boardroom. The Sugarlord tells them that this task was all about knowing what to sell. Mercifully he doesn’t use the expression of years past in which they had to ‘smell what sells’. At a country show this could be tad sporting.

Karren points out that Katie had to give Daniel some pointers on his approach. The Sugarlord calls Daniel ‘a bull in a china shop’ and then come out with a frankly bizarre characterisation ‘so Mummy had to calm you down’. I get that he is trying to highlight Dan’s immaturity, but I find it frankly infuriating that he reduces Katie’s people management skills to a demeaning stereotype. But then I suppose his belittling, dismissive, sometimes arbitrary style is the reason he had got this gig. Go Sugarlord!

So, to Team Summit. James, why did you choose the lawnmowers? ‘To be honest [HAHAHA] Lord Sugar, I was torn between the two products...’ (Does he not remember that there was a camera crew there the whole time???) And then the whole Derek/Anthony farrago comes to light. I really want the Sugarlord to fire James on the spot, but it seems it’s not to be. I growl quietly into my glass of Viognier (mixing it up a little this week).

Time for numbers! Team Summit made a total of £4757.50 (could be critical, that fifty pence).

Team Tenacity made a total of £30,115.25 (the fifty pence perhaps not so critical after all) thanks to selling ten hot tubs.

They get to go for a boxing masterclass with an Olympic champ. Hard to know who Dan is going to punch the hardest, as he seems to have a beef with EVERYONE.

Back in the boardroom, James is still sticking to his story that to have told the truth would have affected team morale. He may have a point, since it probably would affect morale to be presented with unequivocal evidence that your team leader is an utter dick.

Who’s James bringing back to the boardroom? Roisin, without whom the debacle would have been even more complete; and Sanjay, who struggled to sell any of James’ ill-judged product selection.

In the actual firing line, however, James seems to realise it might have been a mistake to bring Roisin in, and claims that Sanjay should be this week’s firee.

James admits that he can get on people’s nerves, sometimes. He makes an emotional appeal to the Sugarlord, claiming his lack of formal education and desire for Sugarlordly direction and support make him the perfect candidate. There is a wobble in his voice and a tear in his eye. This is known as ‘The X-Factor Defence’.

He’s still fired, although the Sugarlord does try and soften the blow with a cheery ‘Good Luck!’ as James slinks from the room, a broken man.

Voiceover man tells us that 8 candidates remain. This is about the point where I can be reasonably confident that I at last know all their names.

Next week we return to a classic task: A widely disparate list of products have to be procured for the best possible price. In past years this task has seen candidates confuse inches and centimetres; perfumes and musical instruments; and a standard chicken that has had a Muslim prayer said over it, with one that can be presented as kosher. I cannot wait.
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