Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Kicking up a stink

Week 12: The final
Broadcast Wednesday 11th June

So here we are, the final stretch of what has been an entertaining, if infuriating, fourth series of The Apprentice, and Fiona and I will be here all night to recap it for you, LIVE! with accompanying typos and missed bits (we're sure the boys will add those in later).

So let us recap where we were. Sixteen 'tycoons of tomorrow' have come to London to seek a terrible jon in NotAmstrad and work for 'Britain's most beligerent boss'. Several tasks made of fail and multiple bullshit firings later, here we are at the final. If you weren't here last week, the rottweilers ripped them to shreds(ish), Lee got found out as a CV-enhancing liar, Claire was Claire, Helene had a tragic background (wrong show) and Alex was 24. And young. And 24. And Lucinda got fired for being too zany. Booo, but also good for her, because Not Amstrad strikes me as a very grey kind of place to work anyway.

And in a SHOCK! TWIST! Sralan decided not to have a mere two people in the final but to have four, because they were all 'credible candidates' (read: he wanted them all to work at NotAmsrad for a few months so he could see whose spirit he'd managed to crush the most). And in case you've forgotten, here's a brief recap of our runners and riders:

Lee McQueen
Has an unfortunate habit of speaking about himself in the third person, knows what he's talking about, even if he's never made that explicit to the rest of us, is the only person in the country (perhaps the world) who knows what a reverse pterodactyl looks and sounds like, only spent four months at uni before dropping out, not two years, can't spell and looks somewhat older than his 30 years. However, he does have a degree of task competence, is a good motivator and team leader and Fiona likes his bottom.

Helene Speight
She has large eyes that mean she can sometimes look quite attractive and at other times like a Kit Kat clock (circa Charlie Brooker). Is tall and looks like she could be quite imposing, but somehow misread her brief and thought it said 'quiet' imposing so has thus stood around in the background most of the time. She is a ballsy woman. Depending on who is editing that week, she is either very competent or doesn't do anything, except perhaps bitch at Lucinda, but as that's not an option anymore, she'll have to actually do some work this week. Sralan doesn't like her much because she is 'tainted by working for a big corporation' and is a bladdy woman.

Claire Young
A German Shepherd/Rottweiler hybrid (in her own words), Claire has gone on the bigest journey (drrrrrrrink) of the series, from being loud mouthed and bitchy, to being a bit less loudmouthed and a bit less bitchy. But hey, this is The Apprentice, any progress at all is a miracle. She is generally competent and likeable and she wouldn't kiss a snake for a million pounds, not even if Sralan told her too, but she would suck the lips off that Paul fella who did the interviews last week.

Alex Wotherspoon
Alex is young, he's only 24 you know. Has an annoying habit of pouting and chewing the inside of his cheek. Is 24. Has hypnotised all his project managers, Sralan, the interviewers and even Nick Hewer by his good looks and magic cock. Is 24. Allegedly sold rocks for £7000 a week with his brother. Has achieved a lot for his age, which is 24. Is a passive aggressive, defensive prima donna. Who is 24.

Tonight we will be watching Claire and Lee and Alex and Helene, with an assortment of former candidates, trying to create and flog some new men's fragrances. Join us at 9 for the inevitable crushing disappointment as Alex wins. It's the final cuntdown!

In the car on the way to meet Sralan. They are at a posh restaurant - or semi-posh, as he 'doesn't have £800million from splashing out on lobster dinners' (circa Claire). Lee tells Sralan he supports Tottenham Hotspur. Nicholas deLacy Brown, that was what you should have said in week one. Helene talks about how they all need to raise their game, and there no strong, oops, I mean, weak link now. Sralan makes a feeble joke about Lee paying for their meals. My sides.

NotFrances calls them, but they seem ready this time, boring shot of Lee shaving (but at least no more shots of Michael in his pants). Today's destination is an empty art gallery. Fiona says it's the same one we've seen before, which it probably is. Some dreadful music plays in the background.

Srlan tells them there'll be two teams: Claire/Lee, Alex/Helene. They will be joint team leaders (how does that work?) A motley parade wanders in to help them: Jenny Celery, Raef, Sophocles, The Best Salesperson in Europe, Matt Lucas and Simon. The Best Salesperson is the last to be picked, so so much for her mad salez skillz. Wot no Lucinda or NDLB? Gip. He tells them the task: design and pitch a fragrance. Both losers will 'leave this process' (not get fired) and one of the people in the winning team will win. Sralan desn't say what criteria he will judge that on.

In the cab Helene lies to Alex that she would have chosen him over the others t work with and in their cab, Lee and Claire discuss being sick together. Yum.

The fragrance has to retail for £29.99 and they show lots of good adverts of men's frgrances to show us what they won't do tonight.

Lee and Helene have Kevin, Raef and BSIE on their team. Alex reminds us he is 24 years of age, he is young, he has the full package. Fiona doesn't want to think about Alex's package and then dissolves in girly giggles so I think she protests too much.

Lee's team has Jenny Celery, Simon and Sophocles. Claire, Sophocles and Simon do a focus group with sme very manly men who may or may not be lorry drivers or similar, as they are wearing some kind of polo shirt uniform. Their plan is to buck the 'metrosexual trend' and go for a 'macho brand' and I smell the scent of FAIL already.

Lee says he doesn't know many men who don't want to smell like James Bond. Fiona says she's married to one.

Alex's team don't know what to do. Kevin and Alex laugh about him smell like 'stimulate'. They discuss brand titles: enigma, trust, connect. Helene, BSIE and Raef hate them all. Kevin bitches that Helene isn't good at making decisions (says him). Fiona suggests they call the fragrance domineering.

Back with the other team, and Celery is wearing some kinky boots.

Kevin pieces to camera that he left the programme too early (srsly?) and wants to prove things today. He and Alex meet with the designers but have no roduct name to base the design on. The designers look exasperated as designers on this show always do. Kevin tells the designer he wants it to feel like the exterior of a stress ball. The designer tells him that his idea is ludicrous.

They have some kind of funky bottle design now, but no name. He tries to describe it to Helene but she is panicking about the name. He says 'you're not panicking are you?' She clearly is. He tries to describe the bottle and she says she has to go. Clearly there is more going on than we are allowed to see but clearly Helene is getting the LOSE edit, at least for now. The Best Salesperson in Europe bitches about Helene.

Lee is in the car making beatbox noises and talking about glow sticks and lights going on a roulette wheel. Clealry he has a nu-rave mets casino theme for his party. And that's what he's talking about. We are told he has won the most tasks of those left but he is nervous about pitching. Yes, because he sucks at it.

Today they have to sort out their presentation and design their advert. Raef is doing his auteur director bit for the campaign for 'Dual', which arrives in a very '80s style silver and black canister. Nick is all like Helene sucks, I LOVE ALEX. Nick is 'buoyed' apparently.

Helene is at a fragrance house and they play twee music that Fiona tinks may have been used in the House of Elliot. She points out that Alex and Helene aren't working together. They discuss fragrances, the perfumier suggests chocolate, curry, candy floss. Helene worries that you don't want to smell like a chicken balti.

Lee's idea is to revive 'the old fashioned gambling gentleman' and the location for their ad is a nightclub. Sophocles is behind the camera again, proving that neither he nor Raef have learned from the task fail before. Lee pulls a sex face and the whole nation feels dirty. He porn directs the models with phrases like 'you've wanted him for months'.

Helene and Alex bitch at each other about what time to get out of bed. They are like an old married couple; Claire will be jealous. Jenny M intervenes and bitches for no reason. They waffle on some more about what time to get up and it's a bit tedious.

Alex accuses Helene of being defensive which is the biggest case of pot and kettle the world has ever seen.

Claire and Lee hang their adverts and they are shockingly, awfully, terrible, like a low-budget 70s film with a leading man that looks like Lee without the scars. FAIL. But then all adverts produced in this show are FAIL so it means nothing. They practice their pitch and Lee stumbles. Here we would ask why Claire isn't doing it but we imagine they both have to do something. Claire tries to encourage him but he is very downbeat.

Alex and Helene are in the car, sitting as far apart from each other as possible and not speaking. Helene has her hair up and it doesn't look great. They and their team arrive at the location. The fragrance smells very chocolatey and they all look worried. Fiona thinks they have formulated the new chocolate Lynx.

Lee is stuttering outside and Claire is being all encouraging.

Time to practise the Dual pitch. Alex is pitching to a fake customer called Adam, who is 26 (not 24 and therefore not young), who works in a bank (doesn't sell grit) and it's all very reminiscent of Mavis, the home shopper.

Kevin says he wants to inject something into Helene (erk) and tries to show them how to pitch. Right.

We see the guests arriving, among them are 'top people' from perfume houses.

Roulette are up first, and here I think they should have just called the bottles Alpha and Rennaissance. Claire cries a bit and Lee says he's worked his tits off (with Helene and her balls, this Apprentice series is very gender challenged). At the event we have a casino layout, with a Christopher Lloyd lookalike juggleing glowsticks and some Moulin Rouge style dancers. We are confused and wish we had drugs and alcohol to help us make sense of this.

Claire pitches that gambling is important and this and fragrance are two booming industries. She gives cliches about placing a bet and really she is way too cheesy. Lee is up and says their guy is Wyan who is sick of metrosexuality and wants to look like a man and smell like a man. The guests look unimpressed and snigger at the smell like a man bit. The advert is rubish but at least shows the perfume, along with cheesy shots of the roulette and the couple. It's about forty years out of date though. The strapline is 'make the roules' which doesn't fit with the name Roulette. Claire says men are sick of smelling like their girlfriends and their fragrance smells of amber, Oriental spices and animals. Lots of gay botoxed men stick white strips up their noses.

They have some questions. One woman says she doesn't want to be endorsing gambling through her own brand. Claire BSes about the man who uses the perfume making his own rules. Claire says she hopes the other team balls it up because she wants to win. So you want to be the least worst then? Lofty ambition.

Alex and Helene have some martial-arty-shadow-boxers to launch theirs. Alex tells us we are going on a journey tonight (drrink). He tells us about Adam who lives in a cosmopolitan 24-hour society, and wants to release his inner self. He is the opposite of Wyan then.

They unveil Dual. Helene says there is nothing else like it: yuo can take out a 25mil bit from it but it isn't clear what the big bit does. She says it is something new that will stand out and their pitch is all a bit basic but probably better than the other team's in fairness. Their advert shows a young man being a twat, with some shape shifting action going on and a Raef vo about 'Dual: release your inner self' but the product doesn't appear til the end which Sralan won't like. One of the people in the audience loves the ad, says the message is coherent and Sralan is smiling. FUCKING ALEX IS GOING TO WIN, NO?

Someone asks them if they've done their pricing research. Alex says it would cost a few 'percentage points' more to make. What about pounds and pence, pretty boy? Sralan is sitting near Tim.

Some people there like the product but not the packaging. Some say Roulette owuld work immediately but wouldn't sell for long.

The voiceover growls that Sralans boardroom beckons, in the air the scent of victory andthe smell of defeat. The music playing sounds like Eminem's Lose Yourself and as they go into the boardroom, may I just point out the photos on the waiting room wall were taken by Dave Gorman.

Sralan asks Michael how Claire and Lee were. He says they were great. Jenny Celery and Simon don't say much, having been muted out of the whole programme so far. Claire says consumers want to smell like a man not unisex. Sralan tries to find out whether any of the apprentices are metrosexual. All but Simon, apparently. And Sralan and Nick, I imagine. Sralan questions them on the gambling. Claire says they were careful not to use gambling or chance in their ad or presentation. Nick says roulette=gambling, debt, misry. Some of the experts said the fragrance was 70s, which is exactly what we said some paragraphs up. We know our stuff.

Oh, Alex and Helene's team are Renaissance apparently. Alex tells them about the problems of deciding on a name. Kevin says Alex made all the decisions. Helene says she isn't surprised by the response ad that she helped guide the team discussions and chose how to spell 'dual', a job Lee McQueen clearly wouldn't have been able to do. Sralan says their fragrance was distinctive but he didn't like it. He asked Helene what she wears. She says Angel. Sralan said people had said it smelled like Angel/Amen. Sralan asks who designed the bottle and Alex pussyfoots around the fact that it was the designer's idea.

Sralan thanks the mostly quiet former apprentices and they leave. He tells 'Alpha' they made a mistake with the name roulette, that Lee's presentation has improved and Claire's Q and A was brilliant, but Q and A doesn't sell. Sralan tells Renaissance that the business side had slipped their mind because the packaging would cost 3-4 times more than the standard fragrance bottle. Sralan talks a bit of maths and says they have nothing left for marketing. He accuses them of not doing their sums and Helene says they didnt before Alex can pretend they did in some kind of roundabout way.

Sralan said the task was made up of several elements to bring his concerns to a crescendo and see whether they've signed on (what, like the 12 losers do each week at their local jobcentre plus?). Alex and Helene are fired and though I am sad that Helene is gone because I have her in a sweepy we are both very happy Alex is gone and Fiona is excited because Claire is her sweepy. And Alex is a cunt. We are so glad Alex has gone.

He cries in the car. He's only a baby, only 24, you know. Helene says they failed because of the bottle and blames Alex basically. Neither of them gets to wear a funky eviction coat. Alex goes on about being passionate and not eating. Fiona points out that Claire's been eating. And Sophocles proably. Alex is heartbroken.

We, and the nation, are probably going to be happy whatever. Margaret says they worked well together and managed the team well. I call Lee to win because the ballsy woman always, always comes second.

For some reason all their team are back in the boardroom, oh, it's to give opinions. Michael says Claire has shown tenacity and strength because of being in the boardroom. Simon says if you'd told his eight weeks ago he'd come back and champion Claire he have been surprised, but he loves both of them. Jenny Celery says Lee is an amazing guy and a real gentleman (which is not always true, as Sara and Lucinda could both attest to).

Claire pieces to camera that Lee would have cracked under pressure were it not for her. Lee says he WANTS it, because it's all about that andnot about competence.

Fiona thinks Claire will win, which is the opposite to me. Essex council have apparently offered an unspecified job to the runner up, so wit-woo, they both have the chance of some underwhelming work ahead.

Sralan asks why he should hire them. Claire says she has improved and she wants to keep improving. She says she is tougher than Lee and won't crumble, that she has more drive and she wants it more. Lee says he wants it more than anyone else in the process, that he has shown his leadership and sales abilities and his skills make him the next apprentice. Claire says she's proved it because most people would have cracked under the pressure. Randomly, Lee's gramar is better than Claire's today. Sralan questions Lee's self-confidence and whether he can keep going. Lee says he does and pulls himself together. Sralan says Claire has a point about resilience and Lee is good, doesn't she think? She says she's not interrupting.

Sralan worries whether Lee is a one-trick pony in terms of skills and he's not sure whether he can put up with someone like Claire. He likes Claire and Lee is very convincing. Lee - you're hired.

No alarms and no surprises and Claire joins Saira, Ruth and Kristina in the ballsy woman comes second camp, which I have been saying for weeks. Lee and Claire hug and she cries. Fiona says it's good because she's not sure what else Lee can do.

Lee is in the car saying it's unbelievable. Fiona says it looks like he really did want it.

Lee won a job selling advertising video screens. Umm, good for him.

That's all from us, but there'll be more bitching in August with The Bitch Factor, and join us for more Apprentice action next year! Probably!

Live! Tonight! Crushing Disappointment!!!

Don't forget to join Fiona and me tonight, from 9pm, where we will be blogging the final. LIVE!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Release the hounds.

Week Eleven. Original air date 4th June.

Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. These people want jobs. Sralan is as a god to you loathsome plebs. You know the score. Previously, the team tried to sell rides in cars. Michael’s insult your customer and then cry technique failed and he was, finally, fired. Lee was the ‘latest in a long line of project managers’ to clash with Lucinda.

Alex got £10,000 of business selling rides in shiny cars to men with small penises who wanted to compensate for it. He really was terribly good at that. Hmm. And apparently the economy really is in a bad state, because inflation is spiralling so badly that the £8,000 Alex made last week has risen to £10,000 in just a week. Stupid show. Sralan told Helene she was boring and shit.
Early morning call. Various candidates perform various ablutions. Shirtless Lee. Whatevs. Not/Frances phones. They’re off to one of Sralan’s head offices. They all know this is when Sralan sets his personal attack dogs on them. Lee is nervous because he’s going to get ‘an arsechewing’. His words, not mine.

Lucinda earns over £100,00 a year, and has been on the winning side on eight out of ten tasks. And should have won the icecream one except for stupid flukey last minute sales. She’s determined and stuff. Claire has six losses, the most. [Except Alex has also been on the losing team six times, and unlike Claire, has actually been the project manager of a losing team. Funny how that got brushed under the carpet. - Steve] She says losing is character building. I admire her stoicism but it’s not like she could say anything else. Lee has never been brought back in to the boardroom on a losing team. He tries to draw a football analogy. And fails.
In the car, Claire goes ‘it’s so exciting’ in a crazy voice. Heart Claire a little bit.

Alex draws attention to the fact that, at 24, he is YOUNG. His CV is not ‘long in the tooth’. He’s dynamic and agile. I’m not sure what he thinks the final job is going to be, where agility is part of the remit. Oh well, at least he didn’t say ‘supple’. Or ‘lithe’. Helene is a pricing leader for a global corporation. I still don’t know what that means. She claims she has a good CV and it’s not bullshit and she’s giving everything she’s got. Yawn.

Funky spy music plays as the cars pull up. Lucinda is resplendent in red. Sralan introduces the interviews. His rottweilers will report back and three people will get fired tomorrow.
Lee’s claims that his arse is on the floor because he’s shitting himself. Enough. I don’t even want to think about Alex’s arse, let alone Lee’s. [I still think about Lee's arse on occasion, but not in this context - Fiona]

Sralan’s rottweilers are:
Property magnate Paul Kemsley. He is assigned to go after strength of character in the candidates. He calls Alex boring.
Claude Litner was Sralan’s troubleshooter but is now his own boss. He calls Lucinda unemployable.
Gordon Catchup, CE of Viglen, says to Claire ‘you’re not the apprentice are you?’
Karren Brady, MD of Birmingham City football club, is A Bladdy Woman. She has to focus on personal strengths of the candidates, because god forbid a woman actually try to assess people on business acumen. She pwns lee on his skills.

All these people, with the possible exception of Brady, are vile, so I reserve the right to have spelt their names wrong and refer to them as different people.

Lee again says he’s nervous. WE GET IT. All his hard work could be out the window.
He says ‘good to meet ya’ to Paul. First impressions, Lee. Paul says that Lee’s CV says he uses humour to lighten things and asks Lee to perform his ‘reverse pterodactyl’ impression. Lee wheels his arms backwards and squawks. It’s bizarre. And I want to know what a forward pterodactyl looks like, and why a reverse one is necessary. Paul didn’t find it funny, and Sralan wouldn’t either. He asks why Lee didn’t say no, that it was a serious interview, and he wasn’t going to mess around. The answer is because Lee is a puppy dog who is so desperate to please that if you kicked him in the face he’d apologise for getting spittle on your shoes. But he tries to prove his seriousness, by giving an example of when he fired a 42 year old man with kids, who begged for his job. Nice. [And going on what happens later, I bet he totally made this up - Rad]

In the waiting room, Lee complains to Claire he was called nice. Claire’s like, that’s good! Lee says nice guys don’t win. Claire’s, like, ‘oh’. [Tim Campbell, nice guy, winner. Michelle Dewberry/Simon Ambrose - hardly nasty. Winners - Rad] [Tell that to Simon's former tenants. - Steve]

Claude says Lucinda is unemployable. She says that she’s a contractor and has never been out of work, so she’s not unemployable, you twat, as people keep employing her. He says ‘isn’t it because you’re unemployable?’ and somehow tries to twist the fact that Lucinda can swoop in and demand a massive amount of money for various companies into the fact that she can’t get a permanent job. It’s the weakest argument ever. He says that Lucinda is shit at teamwork. That’s fairer. She does tend to pout a bit when she’s not in charge. He asks how it was with the team mates. She says it was a struggle.

Claire says to Helene that Lucinda will stutter and get told to shut up and does a little posh ‘em.. hem…but I’ impression which, though mean, is not inaccurate. Lucinda says people don’t like her because nice voice and funny dress sense. Claude says ‘what about listening?’ Lucinda reiterates that she can do teamwork. Claude remains unconvinced. In the waiting room, Lucinda says to the others, ‘What am I doing here? Do I want to be a permanent employee with little diversity? I’d be crawling the walls.’ [Why does anyone want to work for NotAmstrad? It sounds dreadful. I still don't think Tim or Michelle have recovered - Rad]

Claude talks to Claire. He doesn’t like how she’s been in cosmetic, it seems, because he rants on about it. She was a club rep. OH! That makes so much sense. She claims that she likes a drink and likes boys, but hasn’t done anything her grandma would be embarrassed by. In her company, she increased profit to £8million. She’s on £85k, her bonus was £27k. He says that she’s shit at negotiating and should have got more money if she made that much profit. Outside, Claire says he was hot and Neanderthal and she should have sucked his lips off. [Yet another mental image I didn't need - Fiona]

One of the male rottweilers says to Alex, ‘you work in a supermarket?’ Alex is like, was fuck you I’m a regional manager. The bloke, says ‘Your CV is shit’. Alex thanks him. Karren asks Alex what his substance is. He says I’m great for my age, which is 24. I’m the best 24 year old ever and have achieved more than should ever be possible for one so very, very young. I’m practically a foetus. Karen says, ‘I ran a football club at 23, twatnut, what else you got?’
Claude questions why Alex has ‘English (fluent)’ listed on his CV. Is that not a given, pretty boy? [Well, Lee probably couldn't put that on his... - Steve] Alex says that he, at 24, is better than his friends, who are also 24, and went to private school for 14 years. Claude asks Alex what he’ll offer Sralan. Alex says he’s adaptable. And 24. Claude is like stop talking shit and give me something to work with. Alex claims to be ‘motivational’. So he doesn’t really say anything at all.

Helene talks about how she’s ballsy and a rottweiler is like ‘you’re not ballsy, you’re A Bladdy Woman’ and she’s like ‘I ran a team of all male engineers, and took over from a man in his 40s and they resisted and I whipped their sorry arses into show, the same way I will do yours if you continue to question my ballsiness.’ He’s like, but you ‘re leaving that job, with the implication that she can’t handle it and is, in fact, not ballsy, and she’s like yes I fucking am leaving cos I’m better than that job.

Brady asks Helene her best most defining experience. She talks about her alcoholic parents meaning she had to leave school really early and fought her way up. Credit where it’s due, she isn’t keen to talk about it and doesn’t seem entirely to rely on it, so she’d never get anywhere on the X Factor. Karen asks if it makes Helene a stronger candidate? Yes! She then tells Karren she struggled with the process cos she’s not used to being surrounded by 15 gobshites. Which, HA!, but also, perhaps not the best turn of phrase in a job interview.

Lucinda meets Paul. She likes pressing flowers, scuba diving and Chinese medicine. He then says she’s not a serious business woman. Because if she were a serious business woman, she’d be a man. He say she’ll probably fuck off and open a yoga retreat in Nepal. Because yoga is the same as aromatherapy and Chinese medicine if you’re A Tough No-Nonsense Businessman. Lucinda says that if she’d wanted to open a yoga retreat in Nepal she’d have done it by now. He says ‘are you motivated by money?’ and Lucinda totally pwns him with ‘no, because I earn in excess of what they’re offering’.

In the waiting area, they all sit about and bitch about Lucinda not wanting the job. Lucinda says she’s struggled with the process of people cackling and shoving. She says the process wasn’t fair. Paul is like ‘you’re a stupid gobby bitch who likes flowers and I hate you because you’re not a cunt’. Lucinda says, ‘nice to meet you anyway’.

Alex is told to find some energy. He goes on about being on full commission, which proves he has Hardcore Biznizz Skillz. His family got forced to move out…so they went to a farm and sold rocks and made money. And that’s entrepreneurial. Well done. I might have missed a step, but I swear that’s what he said. [He did - he and his brother sold rocks and made £7000 A WEEK. Of course they did. - Rad]

Scary cellos of doom.

Claude rips apart Lee’s application because he made about a million spelling mistakes. Lee is disappointed by his ‘grammical’ errors. Claude is like, did you do a degree pussy boy? Lee’s like, nah I’m thick. I did a two-year course for my catering managerness. Claude is like the uni says you were there 4 months! You lying little scrote. Cluade is worried that someone’s able to bullshit and Lee’s like i’m not going to bullshit and Claude’s like you just did. Lee’s got a blip in his integrity but he was ashamed about being thick. Poor Lee. It’s not his fault he’s badly educated and perhaps dyslexic, but lying on your CV for The Apprentice was bladdy stupid.

Helene’s form said ‘I’ve dipped my toe in the sea of success and am ready to dive into the ocean of opportunity.’ Oh man.

Claire says Sralan calls her big gob motor mouth but she doesn’t like all talk and no action, and she gets things done. She expects high standards and if she wants an email by 10 am she wants it there at 10 am. If she didn’t get it, she’d yell, and if she didn’t get it again, she’d stop working with that person.

Karren’s like why do you want it Lucinda? You earn more money, you’re doing what you like. Lucinda says it’s not money, she wants to be the best she can in a role that stretches her. Karren, being a nasty bitch, goes to the appearance well and is a bit snide about Lucinda’s colourful clothes and berets. Lucinda says that she stands out, which isn’t a bad thing, and the minute she opens her mouth they know she means business. Lee asks how she did. Lucinda says she felt better in the afternoon than the morning andnow she does want it.

Lucinda to-cameras that she’s glad to do it because she’s not a quitter. She’s got the skills and credibility and personality. Claire says for every her you need 10 quieter people, but people like her bring the business forward. Lee talks about being thick some more and says he made a mistake and learned from it. Not so much a mistake as a deliberate act, piggy, but I’ll let you off.
They’re all done. Back at the house, Lee says, ‘tomorrow, three of you will get fired’ and Alex is like three of YOU? Helene says there’s no shame in going in final five. Other than the shame of wanting to be on The Apprentice in the first place, of course.

Next day. Board room./ The rottweilers sit opposite Sralan, like candidates. Sralan thanks them for their time and so on.

Gordon says Alex is nice, positive, really wants the job. He was impressed that Alex was commission-only. Paul says he thinks Alex will be surprised because he likes him – he’s young (JUST 24!!!) and ambitious. Karren says he’s charming and good looking. We cut back to her interviewing him about his good looks, and she says he should embrace it and shouldn’t be ashamed of it. Sralan’s like ‘I’veve always traded on my looks’. They lol. Karren says Alex is The Apprentice. Nick suddenly loves him too. Paul says ‘junior apprentice’ and suggests he might need more training up. [They have all been hypnotised by has magic cock, just like all the PMs were. It's the only explanation! - Rad] Claude don’t like him.

Another bloke says Lucinda is brilliant, intelligent, and would be a disaster. Paul says she could aromatherapy the office. Because she is A Bladdy Woman and women only know about flowers and Lucinda is the floweriest of all. Karren says shut up you cunt. Sralan says she was on winning tasks eight times, and was great at leading. But is she good at being a team member? Margaret is like she’s shit at that, and has tantrums. Gordon says she’s shit and she doesn’t need the money. Sralan says ‘I’ll make you be her boss if you’re not careful.’ [Hee - Rad]

On Lee, Paul says the dinosaur impression was shit but Lee is nice. But he winked on his way out, which was bad. So Lee makes a bad first impression and a bad last impression. Good job. We see Karren making Lee sell her a crappy biro. He does quite well, but I’m doubting Karren’s business sense if the best challenge she can come up with is ‘sell me this pen’. Karren says it was good. It’s his big chance cos he’s cheesy and brash. George brings up the two years at uni lie. If he’s done as well as he’s claimed then he doesn’t need to do that. He’s got a hang up on his qualifications. Paul’s like, I lied about my qualifications too! It’s fine! Claude won't dismiss Lee out of hand.

Karren thinks Claire is fantastic, She knows everything about her business, and is a doer, and ‘if you don’t give her a job, I will’. She’s been on a journey. Oh, sorry. I mean, Been On A Journey. Claude doesn’t like her. Paul says she’s nice and he can see her in the canteen leading people in the Birdy Song because she is A Bladdy Woman. George says she won’t shut up. We cut to Claire gabbling about how she talks. Sralan talks about how she listened when he told her to shut up. One of the rottweilers says it’s an act and that she actually won’t shut up, ever. Which, so what? Whether she’s shut up or has pretended to shut up, so long as she’s quiet, who gives?

Claude likes Helene. She had a hard background. Sralan says ‘don’t care!’ [You cared a lot when it was Michelle, enough to fawn all over her and give her the job, you tosspot - Rad] Claude is like, ‘if you let me finish you cunt, she left school early because she was forced to work and not cos she’s thick and she’s actually kind of awesome’. Karren agrees. Paul says put her in the backroom because she is A Bladdy Woman and can’t be trusted. Karren says she lost her way a bit, but her upbringing is significant. Sralan says blah ‘I don’t like sob stories’ and Karren’s like, shut up, she’s good, her background is relevant, and she didn’t want to actually talk about it. Sralan thanks them all and especially Karren for being a lady. Srsly. He’s like, ‘and thanks especially to Karren for being A Bladdy Woman and giving us important perspective on Bladdy Woman issues like how the candidates smell and whether or not kittens are pretty’. [I'd have been more offended by this if Karren hadn't spent so long focusing on how pretty she thinks Alex is. - Steve]

Nick says that it’s odd that there was no clear favourite. Is it? Sralan says there are five good candidates and ‘Let’s call the apprentices in’. Apprentices in potentia, surely? Sralan says it was different from a task but still difficult. Sralan says to Alex – they don’t think you came alive in the interviews. Did you not think it was important? Alex is like I totally did but I don’t lose my temper. [No, he just gets snitty and defensive. That's way better. - Steve] Sralan is like I don’t like people who lose their temper. Alex manages not to lol in Sralan’s face and is like, l’m softly spoken but gave it my best. Sralan says Lee has worked in recruitment so it should have been a breeze. He asks what Lee thinks of people who overflower their CVs? What would you have done if someone had lied about education on their CV? Lee says he’d evaluate how important the lie was. Sralan says it puts into doubt how true the rest of his CV is.

Sralan says Claire took on board the too much talking thing. But you were talking again. Claire says they were intimidating and she’s chatty. So awesome. He says aren’t you lying and pretending to be quiet just to please me? Fuck off. That’s a bloody stupid thing to say and it doesn’t even matter. This really looks like they’re trying to build a ‘justification for Claire not getting the job’ edit. She says ‘I’ve changed since the first week, but I don’t think I should change completely.’ You go, girl.

Sralan says to Lucinda that as team leader, your teams thought you were great, but when you’re not in charge it’s crap. Lucinda says ‘I do like authority’ and Sralan says ‘I’m the boss’ and she’s like ‘I know you twat’. Another bullshit argument because, yes, she wouldn’t be in charge of everything, but she’d clearly be in charge of whatever wrecker’s yard in Basildon Sralan puts the apprentice in.

Alex sweeps in with a bit of ‘oh mim mim mim, by the way Miss, she said she didn’t want it’ and Lucinda’s like ‘I said I wasn’t sure, but I thought about it, and I do’ and Alex is like ‘you’re an airy fairy bitch’ and she’s like ‘I don’t need the job I want it, I’m taking a pay cut, so it’s obvious I want it, unlike you fucking wimps who are desperate, I can afford to do this for the hell of it’. Helene and Alex mim mim mim some more about how they do need the job. [Alex is such a disingenuous little snake. That was unforgivable, and I hope that every potential employer watching realises what a total bastard he is and never hires him for anything ever. - Steve]

Sralan says he has to decide who’s leaving and tells Helene that he’s a bit at sea with what she’s got to offer. Helene says ‘I’m not good at sales, but I did lots of things, unlike these twunts who do sales all the time and did sales when they came here, proving that they’re good at selling watches from the lining of a jacket, but little else. I’d have got fired from my Big American Company if I was shit, simple as that.’

He tells Alex that he’s young but ‘I want someone rounded’. Alex calls himself a partially painted canvas.

He tells Lucinda she’s a very clever lady, but asks if she’s channelled it correctly? She says she found it horrific to go through the process. He says ‘I warned you’. She’s like I lead awesomely and you know it. He says she’s too zany. And is fired. [Still - too zany is a fine enough reason to be fired - Rad] She gets her wheely case and leaves.

Lee is told to defend himself on CV lies. Lee says ‘I deliver! I have never failed to deliver as a leader or team member.’

Claire – ‘same thing, come on’. Not the same thing cos she didn’t change her CV so doesn’t have to defend it. She says she took a lot of critique – she means criticism – but kept coming back for more because she wants to learn. He goes on about how she talks too much and doesn’t listen. WHICH IS NOT TRUE.

But I’m going to let you stay. I’m going to let you all stay! Woohoo! Party! So yeah. They’re all in the final except Lucinda. Great. Sralan says ‘unusual final, but fair cos they’re all contenders’ [Or 'they're all bladdy useless, so let's see how they get on with a few months' working at NotAmstrad before I decide - Rad]

Eviction Coat watch. Kind of white and black giraffe print. Awesome, of course. Sralan says she’s a mystery and will never be in the company. Nick says ‘damn straight, girlfriend’. In the cab, Lucinda says she hasn’t been herself. She doesn’t yell about how she is great. Her accent wasn’t liked, the way she dresses wasn’t liked but she doesn’t care because ‘I am who I am and I don’t have to answer to them’. Go you! Heart Lucinda. She’s too good for this shit.

The final task is making a scent for men. It’s two teams of two. By the looks of it, Lee, rather than Claire, will be doing a sales pitch [and ditto for the other team, Alex pitching instead of Helene], which is an idea made of pure grade-A fail.

And next week we will be LIVE! BLOGGING! the final, so come and join us...

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Jesus Christ, supercars!

Week Ten: Original airdate 27th May 2008

I've just noticed this week: the opening titles of this show clearly include Sralan Sugar saying: "Don't start telling me you're just like me. No one's like me. I'm unique." So why, precisely, is Michael Sophocles still there, if not the fact that he reminds you of a young you, Sralan? This show makes less and less sense every week. If I tuned in to next week's show to find Margaret speaking Urdu while hanging upside down reading a Candace Bushnell novel and Nick clog-dancing on a panel of glass while Lucinda makes curds and Alex sits in the corner gibbering "I'm a good boy" over and over again, I wouldn't be in the least surprised.

Also, whenever he exclaims "this is outrageous!", I want to shout "this is contagious!" like in that song from Peep Show, but maybe that's just me.

Previously: Sralan told the teams to advertise tissues, and Raef promptly had a heart murmur at the thought of doing anything so shamelessly commercial when there is art to be made. Raef hired Sian Lloyd and didn't use her, Lucinda fought with Lee and Alex, not that I can blame her, Michael Sophocles was responsible for everything that was ever awesome, and Raef got the boot. Now, six remain!

Early morning, establishing shots of the house in broad daylight at what is apparently 7am. Isn't it normally a lot darker than this at 7am? Did the clocks go back at some point during filming [probably - it would have been in the Autumn so that would make sense - Rad]? Anyway, Claire answers the phone, dressed in a vest top and trousers with her hair fairly neat which suggests she's been up for a while. NotFrances says that Sralan would like to meet them in the breakers' yard in Wembley, and they must be ready to leave in half an hour. A bleary-eyed and shirtless Michael Sophocles (DO NOT WANT) asks Claire where they're going. A suddenly bedheaded and white towelling robe-clad Claire relays this information to Lee. Bad continuity editor! No biscuit! "It's not going to fucking stop, is it?" whines Michael Sophocles. It will when you get fired, asshole.

Michael Sophocles interviews that he's worn out, and says that in the past few weeks he's had it harder than anyone. Primarily due to being shitter than anyone, but that's not for here. In a rare moment in which he's actually quite sweet and endearing, Michael Sophocles confesses that he needs to win this task, but he keeps saying that and he keeps losing. Aww.

Random shot of a nightgown-clad Lucinda walking down the hallway and kicking what appears to be her pink beret out of the way. If so: awesome.

London porn. Breakers' yard in Wembley. Alex is wearing that ridiculously overstated coat with the collar popped which makes me want to punch him, and he's not even said anything yet. Lucinda is disappointingly sporting just a plain black dress with a red overcoat and no sign of a beret. Perhaps she's ill.

Sralan explains the task: it's all about cars. The teams will be finding customers to rent "very special cars" to, but not the scrap cars, but supercars. The aforementioned cars drive into the yard, and Alex and Lee pretty much ejaculate on the spot. For a second I think about poor useless Kevin and how much he would've loved this task. And then I forget all about him again. The team that returns with the most amount of lease money will win. Michael Sophocles will be the Renaissance team leader, and Lee will lead Alpha.

Narrator Mark informs us that supercar rental is a fast-expanding business. I don't really get that, personally, because I'm not really sure what the point is of hiring a flash car for a couple of days. Surely the whole point of being seen in one of those is so everyone can coo over it and go, "ooh, is this yours?" I would've thought it ruins the effect if you have to answer "until 5pm tomorrow, yes." But then I drive a Ford Fiesta and I earn less than £30k a year so I suspect I'm really not the target market here. Lee interviews that it was a jaw-dropping moment when the cars arrive. True to form, he sits in one revving the engine and says, "That's what I'm talking about!" Sigh. I've grown so very, very tired of Lee and his novelty catchphrases [catchphrase, surely? There's only one - Rad]. [Well there is also CUMOOOOON which normally preceeds whatever it is he is talking about- Fiona]

Each team must pick two cars, but the cars vary in rentable value, from £600 to nearly £3000 a day. Michael Sophocles interviews that he abhors cars and that they're alien to him. Oh dear. He and Claire eye up a Ferrari at £675 per day, which is one of the cheaper options. Lee likes the Zonda, which is apparently one of the rarest and most expensive cars in the world. Also: one of the ugliest. Trufax. Also, it can't be rented by the hour. This one is £2750 per day. To anyone reading this who's considering renting that car: I think it's only fair I warn you now that we will never be friends [However, I'll be friends with you if you buy me lots of nice food and drink and lend me money without expecting to ever get it back. I've turned so amoral since I stopped going to church on a regular basis- Rad]. Claire engages in one of the first of many shots in tonight's episode of women struggling to exit the car in an elegant fashion while keeping the colour of their underwear a mystery.

The PMs have to choose which cars they want, and Michael Sophocles wins the toss. Michael Sophocles picks the Ferrari F360, while Lee plumps for an Aston Martin which is the same price as the Ferrari. Michael Sophocles's second choice is something called a Spyker (don't look at me, I know as little about cars as he does), which is £1200 a day. Lee deliberates of his second choice, but goes for the Zonda. Lucinda looks apprehensive.

The task will end at Canary Wharf, and Sralan has arranged for marquees to be erected for the candidates to sell to city boys. I steel myself for the possibility of seeing my ex-boyfriend at some point during the show. Before then, they have to decide where the big money punters will be. Personally I would've spent the entire day at Canary Wharf, but perhaps that's against the rules.

Alpha are brainstorming ideas, and Lucinda suggests a promotional raffle, which Alex thinks is a great idea and Lee concurs. And I think we all know that where these three are involved, such mature and harmonious professionalism cannot last long. Alex suggests 100 tickets at £30 a pop. Lee's impressed.

9am. The cars are outside the house, and the teams are looking at where to take them. Claire is being very efficient and telling Michael Sophocles where all the city boys and stockbrokers can be found, identifying areas such as Spitalfields. Nick interviews that city boys like fast cars, but since Nick also interviewed that rich people would never go to Birmingham, I don't tend to take anything he says as gospel any more. Michael Sophocles is already floundering. In a meeting, Helene puts forward the brilliant notion that they need to find people with a lot of money. Well, duh. She then grouses in an interview that Michael is miserable and doesn't like cars. I'm sure Helene is doing a lot to rouse the team's morale in the temporary absence of her team leader's spirit fingers, though. To conclude the general sense of epic fail, Michael Sophocles can't even remember the name of his cars [of which there are TWO, it's hardly a stall full of fish - Rad].

Over on Alpha, Alex is confident of a win and loves selling, so he can't wait to get out there and start. I feel really sorry for Lucinda, being stuck with Lee and Alex on this most testosteroney of tasks. I'm surprised it didn't cause her to spontaneously grow a beard. Risk Manager Lucinda, however, is scared of sales, but promises to try her hardest.

At 10am, Renaissance leave. Narrator Mark explains that the two teams must split, which means one person from each team must work alone. On Renaissance, this person is Michael Sophocles, who explains that this is because he wants to prove that he can do something on his own. Cut to Helene and Claire in the other car. Claire: "How do you think Michael is?" Helene: "Shit." Claire: "I think he's shit as well." Heh.

Back at the house, there's an argument breaking out over whose idea the raffle was, since Alex is trying to claim it was his. Lucinda points out that it was hers, Alex disagrees, Lee sides with Alex. Lee then correctly says that it's not relevant right now whose idea it is, which causes Lucinda to snit that it's "so unjust", and Alex to say in the most passive-aggressive way possible, "you can have the idea if you want." Oh, how magnanimous of you. TWAT. God, I hate him. Lucinda complains about not being given credit, and Lee complains in a separate interview that Lucinda won't let it the fuck go. And really, everyone's right and wrong all at the same time here, so let's just move on. There's then a scene where they're trying to open the ludicrously large glass doors out of the house and Lee drops his papers on the floor while Lucinda strides outside and ignores him, which I expect to turn out to be important later and yet it doesn't. Hmm.

Lucinda does not want to be by herself, and Lee assures her that she won't be. Alex says that "if it was [sic] me, I'd want the two best salespeople selling the most unique [sic] product which is the Zonda", and grammar fans across the country gently weep. Lee then says that he agrees with that, but he doesn't want Lucinda going on her own, in the sort of manner in which one might talk about sending a four-year-old into a public lavatory, while Lucinda is right there. Ass. "That's your decision," says Alex, every bit as passive-aggressive as before. He is such a shit. Lucinda gets on the passive-aggressive bandwagon, saying that if they want her to go on her own, and they obviously do, then she can go on her own. Lee enquires if this means she wants to go on her own, and Lucinda confirms it does not. Jesus wept. Put together, this team has a collective level of emotional maturity just shy of that of my slippers. Lee and Alex set off with the Zonda, leaving Lucinda to fend for herself.

Michael has taken the Ferrari to Knightsbridge, for reasons best known to himself, since I would've thought your average shopper there on a weekday would be older and female and therefore not even remotely your target market. Michael Sophocles interviews that he is a born salesman. He erects a sandwich board on the pavement as a bunch of teenagers look on with barely-disguised amusement. Claire and Helene, however, have gone to Spitalfields with the Spyker, and soon gain the attention of nearby office workers.

Helene interviews that people don't always like the cheeky sales patter, and sometimes people want a professional chat. Helene tells a prospective punter that the car is very unique (AAAAARGH), and that it's important that you know how to drive it and know what you're doing. If anyone's keeping score, that's totally the moment where she would've lost me. Claire, on the other hand, has got the patter going with a besuited chap, and gets Helene to rev the engine for him. It pays off, and Claire gets a two-hour rental worth £250. The man says his wife is going to kill him. I am so Team Wife.

Lee and Alex arrive at the London Stock Exchange with the Zonda. People everywhere are photographing it with their camera phones. Losers. Lee tries the patter with a few people. For the record, Alex and Lee are dressed up in dinner suits with bow ties (Alex's is done up, Lee's is hanging rakishly around his collar) and look utterly ridiculous. Alex in particular looks like a little boy playing dress-up, and Lee really needs a fucking shave. Lee's sales patter seems to amount to "can I interest you in a Zonda today?", which isn't hugely impressive [Alex's sales patter probably revolves around flirting, just like he's flirted with all his team leaders and thus avoided the boardroom so many times. But knowing Alex, it will be passive-agggressive flirting. If you can get passive-aggressive flirting. - Rad]. [Believe me you can, remember my university stalkers? - Fiona]

The Aston Martin is being sold by no one, because Lucinda is being kept busy perforating raffle tickets, which she considers to be a very important job. Oh, Lucinda.

Knightsbridge sidestreet. Michael Sophocles stands all alone with his sad little sandwich board. He phones Claire and tells her the area's dead, and Claire says that she doesn't know what to say to that. Heh. Narrator Mark says that Londoner Michael Sophocles uses his local knowledge to pick a new location. This would, presumably, be the same local knowledge that led him to deduce that central London is nearer to north London than it is to south London, yes? Michael Sophocles's brilliant new plan? To go to Portobello Market. Oy. He thinks there will be more people there. More people, yes. More prospective leasers of a performance car, I very much doubt it.

Spitalfields, Claire racks up another deal for three hours. Helene appears to be standing there with her hands in her pockets spouting vague platitudes to Claire's customers. Claire gets yet another deal.

1pm, and the Zonda isn't selling. Even with Lee's foolproof sales technique? Lucinda arrives in the hope that Lee will help her sell the Aston Martin, but no dice. Lee tells her he's staying there, and asks if she's happy with that. Lucinda reminds him that she said she wanted to be with someone, and Lee basically says "tough shit, you're doing it on your own." I understand his reasons for wanting to stay, but don't say "is that okay with you?" if you haven't got a plan b lined up in the event of a negative response. Lee tells Lucinda that he wants himself and Alex as the two strongest salespeople to stay with the Zonda, at which point Alex greases up and smarms "Lee, am I all right to go back to...?" and Lee dismisses him. Alex is so foul. Alex, Best Salesperson in Europe With The Possible Exception of Jennifer Maguire, then ambles up to someone and indifferently asks him if he's interested in renting a Zonda for a day. Yep, I can see why you'd want to keep those l33t sales skillz in the mad money zone. [I would have thought it makes more sense to have a 'strong' salesperson with each car Fiona]

Lucinda complains that she said from the start she didn't want to be left on her own, and Lee says he isn't going to hold her hand. Lucinda objects to his terminology, and Lee asks her what she'd call it, then. Oy. He is really not a people person. Lucinda says that she needs "support", and Lee offers her support - over the phone if she needs it. Lucinda accepts this with barely disguised ill grace and slopes away looking tearful. And just for the record, while I think Lee has handled most of these meetings appallingly, Lucinda has hardly covered herself in glory here either. Lee continues to push for deals, with what looks like little success, and by mid afternoon they still haven't got any deals. One chap, however, suddenly displays an interest and Lee invites him to sit in the car. Lee sits in the passenger seat and Alex hovers around the driver door, essentially blocking the guy in, and that's the kind of bullshit sales tactic that would have me out of there sharpish. The man does not agree with me, however, and books the package. Lee celebrates with Alex: "We done it together mate, thass what I'm talkin abahhht." Give me strength.

Portobello Market. Fruit and veg stalls everywhere, and an extremely incongruous Ferrari driving down the middle. Michael finds a parking space behind a lorry, and I can tell you now that in the unlikely event of me looking to hire a Ferrari, I would not lease it from a man standing next to a pile of cardboard boxes in a fruit and veg market. Many people look admiringly at the car, but no buyers. Michael Sophocles tells the camera that "without wishing to sound snobbish, these people aren't really wealthy enough." Yeah! Dum dums! His luck looks in, however, when one man expresses an interest, and all goes well until the man asks about insurance and Michael Sophocles admits there's a £5000 deposit. Fuck me. Yeah, now I definitely would never hire one of these cash-devouring monstrosities. The man is less enthusiastic at the prospect of losing five grand, despite Michael Sophocles's protests that if you have the car for half a day, there's only around a 2% chance of you writing it off. Heh. The man is not so keen any more, so Michael Sophocles pulls out his best sales pitch: "Go on! Go on!" The man says he has to walk away now because he's worried he'll sign up. Michael Sophocles tries to talk him into taking an hour at least, but the man cannot be swayed. Michael runs after him and asks if he can go with him to his meeting. This is just sad [and quite frankly terrifying - Rad]. [At this point I am sure Rent Boy has actually become seriously unbalanced - Fiona]

Lucinda in her car phones Lee to ask if she should sell the raffle tickets or not. Lee says yes, but not if she can only sell one or two. Lucinda points out that she can't tell at the point she sells her first ticket if she's only going to sell two more, and asks for clarification. Lee: "If you go to an area where three people walk past, don't sell them a raffle ticket each because you're only selling three." Yes, but I don't think it was basic mathematics that was troubling her here. They go back and forth like this for ages, with Lucinda asking him to make a call one way or the other, and Lee telling her to use her own judgement but not to only sell one or two. The whole thing is ridiculous - Lucinda may well be trying to utterly abdicate responsibility for the idea she fought so hard to claim for her own, but Lee's "sell tickets, but know before you sell how many you are going to sell" advice is totally useless and impractical. Lucinda hangs up and laughs despairingly. At the other end, Lee's all "just fucking make a decision, man", which: take your own advice, jackhole [And to think in the early stages, Lee McQueen loked alright. Now, like all the rest of them, he's just a dick - Rad]. [I don't think even referring to himself in the third person is going to save him now - Fiona]

Lucinda tries to sell the Aston Martin, but keeps calling it a Zonda. That's pretty unforgiveable. Not that it makes any difference because she's not getting any interest anyway, though she seems to be having fun. Nick observes that Lee and Alex have disowned Lucinda, and as a result she has retired into martyrdom, which is pretty much on the money.

5pm, and everyone's heading to Canary Wharf to go head-to-head selling to boorish bankers. Lucinda asks to shadow Lee before setting off on her own to pick up some sales skills. Unfortunately, Lee crashes and burns repeatedly, so what she learns is negligible. Michael Sophocles is trying to sell to some non-povs, and has written the name of his car on his hand. Heh. Claire continues to make deals, but for hours, not days. She interviews that it's difficult to get them to sign up for days or weekend. Helene tries to pitch to a really skeevy guy, who, when asked which one he likes the best, replies "You." Helene gamely flirts back with him, but I'm pretty sure she's mentally calculating the number of showers she will need before she can truly feel clean again.

Thus far, only Claire and Lee have made sales. Lucinda tries to sell the Zonda as being "almost like a Batmobile, but heavier." [Are they going to be lifting it? - Fiona] The inside of Lucinda's mind is truly a fascinating place. The Really Skeevy Guy gets a good grip on the gearshift of the Spyker while Helene smiles wanly and focuses on the smell of money. Lucinda mispronounces the name of the Zonda. Alex comes close with a couple of guys, but they need to go away and think about it. Alex interviews "Inside my brain, I am meant to be a high-calibre salesman. I've worked for ten hours, and I've not sold one hour of a car." The inside of Alex's brain sounds a lot less interesting than the inside of Lucinda's. Lucinda gets a sale! Only £65, but it's "better than a kick in the teeth", as she says.

Docklands porn. Michael Sophocles tries to flatter a man into a sale by telling him how good he'd look in the car, but it backfires somewhat when the man returns the compliment. I'm thinking Michael Sophocles and Helene might actually have had more luck with an out-and-out prostitution task this week. It's not like he hasn't got form, after all. Claire and Helene go to spy on the other team, just in time to see Alex do a day's deal on the Zonda. Noooooooooo! I do not want to live in a world where Alex succeeds! Michael Sophocles offers to throw in a bottle of champagne for a day with the Ferrari, and lands the deal.

9.28pm, with moments to go, so you know something crazy and last-minute is going to happen. Renaissance are winding down, but over on Alpha Alex gets a call from a guy he met earlier who wants to go through with the deal. They've got 60 seconds to get his signature, apparently, though I refuse to believe the footage that follows took place in less than that. Anyway, Alex's client signs, and Alpha are happy.

Boardroom. Sralan asks Lee about the distribution of the team. Lee admits that Lucinda was sent off on her own, and Sralan asks Lucinda if she was pushed to one side. Lucinda says she was, but says that she was impressed by her own improvement during the day. Sralan is amused by this, and asks if she landed any sales. Lucinda skates around the issue for quite some time before revealing her total as £65.

Sralan turns to Michael Sophocles and asks why he didn't go for the top price cars. Michael Sophocles says they didn't think they could shift the higher-end vehicles, and with him and Helene on the team, he's probably right. Sralan asks where they pitched up, and is perturbed by the revelation that Michael Sophocles went to Portobello Market. Michael Sophocles is forced to admit he made no sales during the day.

Figures! Margaret says that Renaissance did a number of deals for £2,114. Nick says that Alpha came roaring through with a total of £11,815, over £8,000 of which came from Alex, and Lee made £3,400. Sralan is impressed with Alex, who is so getting the winner's edit right now [which can so fuck off because he's an utter cunt. I don't like any of them much, but he's my least wanted. Except Sophocles, obviously - Rad]. Sralan twists the knife with Lucinda by saying that she's learnt so much over the past 10 weeks that she sold £65 out of £11,000, which is kind of a dickish move. Lucinda tries to protest, but Sralan cuts her off - probably for her own good. Alpha's reward is wine tasting at a Mayfair hotel. Renaissance are dismissed.

Loser Café. Michael Sophocles thinks maybe it was the choice of cars. Helene says that the other team managed to sell days and they didn't. She adds that she wouldn't have expected herself to do that, coming from a non-sales background, but she would've thought Claire and Michael Sophocles could've done it. Helene truly is the master of the post-failure CYA arrangements. Michael Sophocles thinks Helene should be fired for being "insignificant" in this task. Michael Sophocles vows to go to the boardroom "full of stout heart". He really isn't that annoying in this episode, which is annoying of itself.

Final boardroom. Sralan tells Renaissance he's trying to see where the remaining finalists would fit into his organisation. He berates Michael Sophocles for his lack of sales, to which Michael Sophocles responds that there were no customers. Is that the worst boardroom defence ever? It has to at least be in the top five. Sralan points out that they picked the locations, and asked Michael Sophocles to say what he's good at. Michael Sophocles says he's a fantastic salesman, but Sralan points out that he didn't sell anything, and was outmatched by Claire.

Sralan turns to Helene and says that her "posture" reminds him of the Mona Lisa. I suspect he means "composure" rather than "posture", unless he has a problem with Helene sitting up straight. Helene bats back that her "posture" may be restrained, but that's because she was brought up to show respect, and not to bang the table. Hee. Sralan repeats that he's trying to think where she would slot into his organisation, and that he's struggling to figure out what she does. Well, he's the one with her CV, so he's probably got a far clearer idea of what a "Global Pricing Leader" does than the rest of us. He points out that Helene sold nothing at all on this task, and that Michael Sophocles is a disaster zone and that she might be wondering what he's still doing there. SHE WOULDN'T BE ALONE. Sralan explains that Michael Sophocles (a) is very young and (b) has some good points about him. He doesn't elaborate. He says that Claire has a mouth the size of Blackwall tunnel (hardly fair, since Claire's really toned down the outspokenness lately), but is a great salesperson and presenter. He's seen nothing from Helene, however. Helene admits she's never done direct sales, and that this side of things was always going to be difficult for her, but she isn't riding on anyone's coat-tails. Sralan disagrees, and says he has intuitive feelings about people, which is why Michael Sophocles is still there, but he hasn't got a reason for Helene to be around next week.

Sralan asks Helene who he should fire. There's a Pinteresque pause while Helene tries to come up with the most valid answer that isn't "me" before she names Michael Sophocles. Sralan says it's easy to name Michael Sophocles because he's the team leader. Helene protests that she's stood up for him in the past, but he was extremely demotivated going into the task and failed to lift his own or the team's spirits.

Claire has been sitting quietly throughout, and is asked for her opinion on who should go. Claire says that in terms of figures Helene should go, but that Michael contributed the least as a team member. Michael Sophocles, clearly seeing the buzzards circling, says that while he is young and naive, he thinks he's shown "glimmers of brilliance" while he's been here. Sralan scoffs at this, as well he might.

Sralan begins to sum up by saying that he's at a period where he needs to get rid of no hopers in his organisation, and right now he's got two of them in front of him. I get excited at the prospect of another double firing, but to no avail: he sends them all out so he can have a think. When the candidates have left, Nick says that Helene has no impact and is unmemorable. This is true; half the time I forget she's still on the show. Sralan mulls over a double firing, but I will not be fooled again. NotFrances sends Renaissance back in.

Back in the boardroom, Sralan asks them all to explain why they should stay. Michael Sophocles begins by saying that he's only been working for a year, [a year?! - Fiona] and he's got raw abilities that can be shaped. Oh my God, he's Pirate Jessie. He adds that sometimes he miscontrues how much he wants this, but it means more to him than anything and he wants another chance [I am so sick of his crappy boardroom whies. He gives the worst boardroom of any candidate EVER - Rad]. Helene refers to her excellent track record with her previous company, saying that she delivered every year and was promoted annually as a result. Sralan says that he deals with big companies every day, and basically goes on a five minute rant about how he's a salt-of-the-earth type who grafts all the livelong day while people in big corporations sit on their arses and don't do any work. Michael tries to cut in and Helene shoots him down with a curt "this is about me, actually, at the minute" [win - Rad] and tells Sralan that her company doesn't suffer fools either and would've fired her if she wasn't pulling her weight. She says that she's here because she wants to work for him, and adds that what annoys her about the other candidates is that they think she shouldn't be there because she's from a large corporation. Sralan tells her that she comes "tainted" with seven years experience of an environment that doesn't exist in his corporation, adding that there are no "cosy carpets" at their place. What the hell? I now have images of the halls of Viglen being bare planks of wood with hooknails sticking out of them and all the staff walking gingerly along the perimeter, desperately trying to avoid falling into the various gaping chasms that exist along the way. Helene says that it would have been easy to stay, but she came here to challenge herself, and that Michael's inexperience doesn't make him any more suitable. [Helene so gave good boardroom here, and yet you could just see Sralan going 'but ya're a bladdy WOMAN' in his head at anything she said - Rad] [She has been unremarkable but I have a lot more respect for her after the way she stood up for herself - Fiona]

Sralan notes that Claire is "uncharacteristically quiet" and Claire replies that she's "trying to regulate how much I talk". Michael Sophocles giggles at this, as do I. Sralan tells Claire that he's seen improvement and results out of her in the past ten weeks, so she will not be fired. So it's down to Michael Sophocles and Helene. Michael Sophocles has been in the boardroom a lot, and has, by his own admission, fought hard. Sralan wonders, however, if his luck is running out. He turns to Helene, who tries to speak in her own defence, but is cut off [which he never did to Michael these last few weeks. But then Michael is like the son he never had. Helene, like Lucinda, whom he also cut off mid-speech, is just a woman. Gah. - Rad]. He says that he doesn't know what she's about, and all she has going for her is that she works for a big corporation known to be mercenary, but he worries that she'll expect too much cosiness, or something. Helene tries to protest again, and someone - I think Nick - coughs loudly, presumably as code for "shut up, you fool!"

Final judgement time: Sralan has to make a difficult decision, but this time Michael Sophocles is fired. He thanks Sralan for the opportunity and exits. Helene and Claire go back to the house.

Coatwatch: long, dark, black, unremarkable.

In his cab interview, Michael Sophocles thinks Sralan liked him and saw echoes of himself in there, which he's pleased about.

Back at the house, Lee doesn't care who goes. Alex is wearing a stupid scarf thing. Helene and Claire return to moderate approval, and Claire gleefully relates how Helene was very nearly toast [which was weird, considering they've been portraying Claire and Helene as BFFs for the last few weeks - Rad]. Lee says that he's pleased to be in the final five, and Helene agrees. Lee's next goal is to get to the final, so he apologises that three of them will be fired. Har har.

Next week: interviews! Karren Brady! Lee squawking like a twat! [Alex getting fired? - Rad] [We can hope - Fiona]

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

'Snot Fair

Epiosde 9

Aired May 21, 2008

Last week our hapless heroes hosted stalls at the national wedding fayre in Birmingham. Claire sold some dresses well, Lee McQueen was FACKIN TALKIN ABAHT pants, Raef dressed as a teddy bear, Michael and Sara failed to sell any cake, Michael was an utter cunt in the boardroom as usual, and Sara was fired.

Claire is the one on the phone to (Not)Frances today and doesn’t sound all that excited. I think we need men on the phone in every episode, as they always give a little bit of flirt action to poor old Frances. The women just don’t seem to care. Anyway, Sralan wants to meet them at the National Theatre. There is a lot of piano music in the background. Is Myleene back?

We see Michael in his pants, which is an image made of DO NOT WANT. Alex is topless in bed, which is better, but the spoilsport only lets us see his shoulders and head. Booo, pretty boy! [At least we didn't have to see much of his weird scrotal chest hair. - Steve] Everyone knows that’s all you’re here for!

We see a VT of Raef ding up his cufflinks saying that everyone has got to that point in the game where they have realised there are six people stopping them. We see the candidates leaving. Lucinda is working a bright blue beret and a bright red coat. Brave, but probably foolhardy.

London porn, including added South Bank bonus feature.

Sralan is changing the teams again and it takes me ages to figure out which is which. Anyway, it transpires that Alex, Lucinda and Lee are this week’s Alpha, leaving Raef, Helene, Claire and Satan as Renaissance. Sralan sayss he knows Michael begged to be project manager, but Raef and Alex are doing it. HAH!

Their task is to produce packaging and TV ads for boxes of tissues (and we are back to rather tenuous locations for giving out the task, I think). I thought they said it was print ads, too, but seeing as there is no mention of a print ad ever again, I must have misheard. [No you didn't - that's what the poster image they were working on was for, I think. - Steve] [But other than that it was never mentioned again - Fiona] Now, let’s just recap the rules of the advertising task from previous years, shall we kids? 1) Both ads will be made of fail and will be absolutely awful 2) the one that plugs the product most heavily will win. That’s it. Do we think they’ll have got that?

Anyway, the voiceover tells us that the tissue industry is big business and Sralan wants the ads to be mini-dramas. I sense an ‘oh dear’ moment or two along the way. Raef tells us that he has theatre in his background and just loves advertisements. Michael Sophocles did drama and musicals too, and apparently he and Raef were both in Guys and Dolls. Though not together. As far as I can tell. Anyway, Michael starts singing, and please no. Raef is very excited about directing his own little 30 second feature apparently.

We are briefly at an ad agency, where Nigel from EastEnders tells them the box of tissues is the only thing they can’t change.

Alpha are having a branding session. Lee McQueen tries to plug the name ‘cozinose’. Lucinda says it sounds like a pair of socks. [It actually sounds like cosytoes whch is what you put on a pram - Fiona] He suggests atishoo, which they all like. Lucinda is working a nice black top and a black and white skirt with red scarf. Anyway, it’s all rather jolly.
Renaissance are keen on a montage for their advert, involving such exciting shots as a mother wiping a baby’s nose. They brainstorm names. Claire says they should go with ‘I love…’ like ‘I love NY’: ‘I love my nose’. Helene: ‘I love my tissues’. Hmmmm, hardly the snappiest name, ever. [In fact I don't get that particular mental leap at all - Fiona]

Back with Alpha and Lucinda is having a bit of a ball. She is brainstorming about a mother dropping a child off at the orphanage, which would be so win. Except they’d lose the task, but whatevs. She says they should use shock tactics so people will remember, and suggests homosexuality. [Last time this was used in an advert on The Apprentice it was made of epic fail, so it's good they didn't go with it. That said, I would have loved to hear more of Lucinda's idea, just because it's Lucinda. - Steve]

Alex doesn’t think anyone would buy it. He says Lee would come over to his house and say ‘there’s that gay box of tissues’ and that’s the reality. Lee McQueen doesn’t stand up and say he isn’t a homophobe, so maybe he would. The voiceover tells us Alex wants a family feel and he is going to meet the designer. Lucinda says she’d like to be there as well, and Lee probably would, too. The voiceover tells us that Alex has dispatched her to look at locations. Lucinda VTs that maybe Alex thinks she’s too domineering. I kind of like domineering Lucinda – well, she’s better than wet blanket Lucinda of a few weeks ago.

The Alpha boys are with the designer, looking at [vomit inducing-Fiona] pics of kitties and kiddies and probably hoping this will keep the ladies interested in them. Margaret tells us all the pictures they look at involve blankets and don’t go together well or help get the message across.

The voiceover reminds us that Raef and Michael have backgrounds in musicals and theatre and they start waxing lyrical about the roles they have played and Raef looks like he might cry/cum over one story but won’t tell it all to Michael in the car/in front of the cameras because it’s ZOMG too emotional.

Michael tells us he was in OLIVER - Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber, are you watching? He starts singing. Badly. But I’d still rather he was Nancy than Pirate Jessie Sidegob.

Claire pieces to camera about enjoying the brand task, and has been hanging round with Raef and Lucinda for too long, because she pronounces it ‘tarsk’. She says Girls Aloud will buy their tissues. Er…?

Raef has booked Sian Lloyd for their advert because she has a wholesome mumsy look. Which she really doesn’t, so big WTFs all round, I think. They discuss Lembit Opik and Raef says he had a thing for a cheeky girl. Michael says don’t we all though? No.

The boys' ad is set in a school. And for some reason, my brain hears this as a boys’ school and remains under that confusion for most of the episode, as you will soon discover. Anyway, they meet the contact lady there. Raef asks ‘are you Sarah?’ She replies ‘Louise’. It’s not clear if they got her name wrong or if this is just a different person from the one they spoke to on the phone. They are shown the kindergarten (which means this is a private school, as all normal schools would use the terms ‘nursery’ and ‘reception’). Michael says they could see Sian coming in here. Raef is unconvinced. He wants it to say school. Michael is bewildered and says it does say school. We see them outside on the crappiest playing pitch ever. It’s seriously the size of a slightly-larger-than-normal back garden. Raef says he can see Sian as a spectator, in this great space. He then pieces to camera about wanting to wear his cravat as director tomorrow and this is the moment where I fear that this could be the end of Raef, and Michael could well live to smite another day.

Alpha are holding casting sessions – Alex and Lee want the family in their commercial to include a sick child, which is all very X Factor. A cocky boy unconvincingly says ‘How can I go to school if I’m ill, that’s the thing?’ and sounds not ill at all, and would probably receive a clip round the ear and a ‘get dressed’ from his family instead. [Ah, so you've met my mother then? - Steve] [Well she's met mine...-Fiona] Desperate Jordan and Scary Sam are not Oliver and are now in need of work, get them in. Lucinda is not convinced. She says as a woman there are things she wouldn’t want in the advert and suggests they might be being a bit sexist by ignoring her opinion. Alex gets annoyed and he and Lee bitch about Lucinda not having any input, which shatters my dreams of Lee/Lucinda love a bit. Lee then says he’s never seen this side of her, and sounds a bit sad, so maybe all is not lost. Some more people pretending to be a family come in. Alex says he is ‘gonna let you freestyle, be off the cuff’, which makes him sound a bit Street . The parents go very OTT about the kid (a little girl who looks not unlike a baby version of the central character from Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit) [See they are sneaking in a subliminal gay message - Fiona]. Lucinda says it’s not interesting to see a bog-standard family, and you’d be better off watching Neighbours. Of course you would, because Neighbours is the bomb. Ahem. [I was a bit gutted to hear her dis the mighty Ramsey Street Residents- Fiona]

Back with Renaissance, and Claire says Raef is too much into the berets and big hair and cravats and she and Helene need to keep him in check. Seeing as they haven’t been shown together all episode, I’m not sure how this keeping in check is working. Raef and Michael are upstairs listening to music, miming being Sian Lloyd in a car. Michael is eating yoghurt, Raef says ‘look what you’ve done Georgie, all over your face’. I get the feeling we are watching Raef and Michael foreplay and it’s not a pleasant feeling.

Their brand name is Mytissues. The girls show them the box. It’s nice, all blues and whites, but perhaps a bit like every other tissue box out there. Raef tells the girls they’ve done a good job.

Alpha’s ‘Atishu’ box is yellow and colourful with pictures of families and kids blowing their noses on it. Lucinda says it’s ugly, who wants to see people blowing noses? Alex and Lee say they thought it was OK. Lucinda bitches to camera about Alex being useless, which may be true, but so were you for the first half of the series, so be careful. There is then a bit where she says Alex is naughty naughty naughty, but I missed what it was about as I was texting Fiona about our collective fears for Raef. Lee pieces something I don’t understand to camera about if you are short staffed you need people to come together, and this didn’t work for Lucinda. In the car, Lee asks why Lucinda volunteered to go to the house if she wanted to work on the creative side. Lucinda says ‘I didn’t fucking volunteer!’ (and her purple beret is back). Lee asks her why she didn’t say she was creative and wanted to work on that side of things. Lucinda points out that she did. We are seeing Lee’s ugly side, a la the week he yelled at Sara, and I don’t like it. Are the women in the house refusing to sleep with him or something? Cos he’s being a bit of a misogynist prick. [There is a misogynist theme this week, the voice over keeps calling Helen and Claire Raef's girls which pisses me off in several ways grrrrr - Fiona]

Back with Renaissance and dreamy music plays whilst the voiceover tells us they are waiting for their star. Well, Michael and Raef are. Claire and Helene are off somewhere being busy at not getting fired this week. Sian Lloyd appears, looking very blonde and extensiony. Michael almost bows to her. They show her the tissues. She says they are nice, did they design them? Raef says it was their colleagues. Had Michael got a word in, he’d have said he did it, blindfolded, with his feet, in thirty seconds flat, no doubt. Nick shows up after being absent all episode (this episode seriously lacks Nick and Margaret) and says you use a celebrity for what they are known for – Sian Lloyd is a weather girl, and they are getting her with a kid being a mum, wiping his nose. [They should've got Kerry Katona, wiping the kid's nose with an Iceland carrier bag and offering him a boozy brownie as consolation. - Steve]

Sian asks them why they don’t want her to do something relating to weather. Raef says she is wholesome and lovely, and I can only presume he wants to bone her, despite that mental image being wholly made of DO NOT WANT. Sian pieces to camera and says if they’d googled her, they’d know she has nothing to do with kids, she’s not a mum and she’s not really that wholesome (which makes me like her) although she’s flattered they think of her like that.

We cut to the shoot. Raef and Michael have their boy wank club behind the camera and Raef tells Michael he should be the next Fellini. There are no words.

Back with Alpha, and Alex is directing. A blonde mum asks the Oranges… kid how she feels and gives her a tissue. The parents improvise really fucking badly and the dad says the tissues are anti-bacterial, she’ll be fine. He rubs her nose, which is a bit eww, considering she is al germy as she hasn’t used a tissue yet. The kid doesn’t look very ill. Alex can’t work his black and white stripy shirt, but it appears he is friends with Lucinda again.

Back at the school (which I still think is a boys’ school at this stage). Raef and Michael are with some naughty boys on a bench. They say this is the final scene, where the tissue is handed from one kid to other – he says to the right hand boy that when you wipe away the tears you can smile and OH SO MUCH HOMOEROTICISM. They stole Lucinda’s idea about tissues for the gays. Raef says something incomprehensible about wanting something like Woody Allen, or DiCaprio, and they think they’ve got that with the bench scene.

In the edit suite, Raef asks about a close-up of the product. Michael says that it looks bad. We see Sian telling the boy he’s forgotten something. Raef says ‘The close up is tackiness par excellence’ (which Michael ends with personified. I don’t think tissues personify tackiness, but then I believe giving 110% is mathematically impossible, so clearly I’m not smart enough for this show).

Alpha are looking at their pack shot. It’s surrounded by greenery and pink flowers. Lucinda is distraught that there are some dead flowers there. Bless. [In fairness to Lucinda, that's exactly the sort of thing I'd expect Sralan to pick up on. - Steve] Alex says that Lucinda wants to be in control and if sitting in the middle in the edit suite makes her feel good, it’s fine by him.

The voiceover tells us that the ads are to be thirty seconds long and that Michael and Raef are viewing their directors' cut. Heh. ‘When you say nothing at all’ is playing and Raef clicks his fingers and pulls a ‘hey’ face when the chorus kicks in. The commentator tells us their epic movie is twice as long as should be. Michael asks if they need the first scene with Sian Lloyd. Raef says, of course, where is he going to get the tissue from? (OF COURSE) Michael, for the one and only time in his life says something sensible: ‘but does it mater, can’t he just produce the tissue?’. Raef says ‘but she’s a celebrity’. Michael would rather keep the homoerotic scene. VT of Raef saying he and Michael have a symbiotic relationship but he’ll still put his foot down if Michael doesn’t agree with him.

Claire and Helene reappear from nowhere, where they have been hiding all episode. Helene looks good in jeans and a vest. She should give up on the power suits. She’s scrubbed up much better in the dress last week and the casuals this week. Helene’s portrayal is the most inconsistent of all the candidates this series. She’s either bolshy and bitchy or competent and COMPLETELY SILENT. It’s weird. Claire says they can’t see the product in the ad at all. Raef says the close-up looked tacky. Which it did, because you didn’t take any time to film it properly, Mr Cinematographer. Claire tells the camera that the branding is bad and she says she can see Sralan saying ‘I can’t see any bladdy tissues in the ad’. She says it’s embarrassing, she wouldn’t show it to her family, let alone the biggest ad agency in the UK and would leave it out of the pitch.

Raef says that if one thing will fail it it’s if people don’t believe in the product itself. What, if they don't believe in tissues?

We are shown that the audience for the pitch includes several people from the ad agencies (who no doubt all begged to be there for the lulz) and Sralan.

Claire is going to pitch for Renaissance, she tells us that she and Helene created the brand whilst the boys were busy playing director. She blahs in the presentation about this being a unique thing for the tissue market – to fill a gap in the market for something fun, as opposed to other tissues that are like politicians. Que?

Cut to Lee blahing in Alpha’s rehearsal about when people think of tissues they thought Kleenex... now they think Atishu. They all start arguing. Margaret says the last thing you need 20 minutes before a pitch is two other people telling you what to do.

Back with Renaissance, and Helene says their ad is the first in a series. That appears to be her only line this week, folks. Still, I have her in a sweepstake, and not speaking usually = not getting fired, so that’s fine by me.

We see the advert. Michael voiceovers that in any kind of relationship we all need a little bit of comfort. Sian Lloyd is only shown giving the tissue to the boy, no face or voice. Here comes the homoerotic scene – oh no, it’s a girl!!!!!! Ooops! A tissue box is shown underneath the image at the end. Helene says (oh, a second line) their ad shows the relationship between boy and mum, boy and girl, tissue and consumer. It’s bollocks, but confidently presented bollocks.

Lee pitches for Alpha. He says he’s here to introduce a new product, the name is derived from us all needing tissue and it also says what it is. It’s aimed at the female genre, and I think he means demographic. He says the ad depicts family life, happy family life and the reason why is that Annie has a cold and their tissue has allowed the family to come together and spend quality time with each other. He doesn’t sound like normal RUARGH confident Lee Mcqueen at all. He doesn’t seem to know WHAT HE’S FACKING TALKIN’ ABAHT.

They play the terrible family ad. There is a deafening silence.

Alpha come off and feedback to the camera. Lucinda says the audience were fidgety and bored. Alex says yeah, but it was the first time with a real audience (and it’s a pitch, not a play, you don’t have EIGHT SHOWS A WEEK to get it right, like the Nancies do), they thought there’d be three people, then they found twenty, and Sralan, and Nick, and Margaret.

Nigel from EastEnders and two other people sit with Sralan deconstructing the adverts. The comments generally go along the lines of ‘awful’, ‘crap’, ‘made of fail’. Or words to that effect. One man says something positive, which perplexes me.

Claire and Lucinda give pre-boardroom comments. Claire says the task has shown that behind every successful man is a woman and that she and Helene were managing the boys. From another room, apparently. Lucinda says she is ready and prepared to fight her corner, (NuFierceLucinda rocks) and she does think they may be going in.

In the boardroom of blue, Sralan asks Raef how he broke the team up. Raef says he thought the best two people for packaging were Claire and Helene. Sralan asks who was responsible for cinematography. Raef says he and Michael have had experience on the stage and Michael has directed. Sralan says ‘have you?’ Michael says he had his own theatre production company at uni. I predict this was a one-man operation. Still, it’s not quite as audacious a claim as Tre’s five international business offices or whatever it was last year. Sralan jokes to Alpha that they are in trouble as we have Spielberg and Fellini in the room.

They show the ad again and the girl is smirking, not crying (so much for acting ability) and Sian Lloyd is really not in it much at all.

We move to Alpha. Sralan says Lee’s presentation was fumbly and poor and he lost him out of boredrom. That’s not what I’m fucking talking about, indeed. Nick continues his love for the lady candidates this year by saying Claire didn’t have one note. Sralan says, quite proudly, she did it straight out of her head, a bit jabbery, but that’s Claire. Sralan loves Claire long-time.

Sralan asks Alex about his team. Alex says Lee was fine, it was his first time with Lucinda and she was abrasive. Lucinda says she wanted to do the creative part as she used tissues. Lee tries to drop her in it as he did in the car by making out she didn’t ask, and he really is being a bit of a bastard again today. Lucinda reiterates that she did. Sralan says their garish box might stand out, and he likes the name.

He shows the video and Renaissance wet themselves at the crappy family ad with the ‘You are the Sunshine of My Life’ soundtrack, as well they might, had they not produced an equally terrible advert, with Ronan fucking Keating on. Sralan asks their opinion.

Raef uhms and says the telly ad lacks any subtlety. I understand you need to make it clear what selling, but… Sralan interjects: do you? And Raef completely fails to read Sralan, who is sending out clear THIS IS THE ADVERTISING TASK. THE TEAM WITH CLEAR BRANDING ALWAYS WINS messages. Rafe burbles about artistic quality. Michael has read Sralan and says yeah, ours was better quality but theirs showed the product more. Indeed.

Sralan jumps in with you can’t tell what your bladdy product is (an almost exact copy of what Claire predicted) and YOU LOST not just for me, but for the people wanting to sell tissues. Your ad was better quality but you couldn’t tell what the product was. Which I believe is the exact same boardroom scenario we have had for this task four years running. Sigh. He points out that the other team with their crappy ad and crappy box kept saying tissues, antibacterial, kept throwing it in people’s faces.

Their prize is shopping at Harvey Nicks, which beats archery any day.

Sralan is working quite a nice white tie with blue circles and spots on today. I feel I should compliment his vast image improvement this series. [That eye bag plastic surgery gubbins didn't make much difference though did it? - Fiona]

Michael says he feels terrible, he’s never felt this bad in life before, he put his heart and soul in etc. In the café of crap, Helene says she feels she did an impeccable job, which she may have done, but we didn’t get to see it. Raef says the boardroom can be a place of fireworks but they will present a unified front. No-one echoes this sentiment, least of all Michael. Raef says he and Michael were in the editing suite, period. He says the other team’s ad was vulgar, and if that’s what ads about these days, god help us. Oh, Raef, you’re so not cut out to work for Sralan. [And have obviously never seen a real advert - Fiona]

Havey Nicks porn, all lights and snazzy oufits. Lee tries on a boring suit, Alex looks funky in a hat, scarf, jeans and jumper combo, Lucinda wears a sparkly ‘Cant Get You Ouf Of My Head’ type dress. They all say it is the best treat EVARZ.

Salan tells Raef, ‘I didn’t send you out to remake Ben Hur’. Raef says yes, but he wanted it to be artistic, quality direction. Sralan points out that artists’ bread comes from clients like him who want to show the product. Raef says there was a close up and he will take responsibiltity but YOU (MS) said it was vulgar. Michael says we both were, we both removed it. Sralan asks where does I love my tissues come from? Do you love your towel, your bar of soap? Claire owns up (unlike a certain toady someone beginning with M) and says it was her idea, it was late in the day when they came up with the brand.

Sralan asks why Sian Lloyd was there: why cast and pay for a celeb if you don’t use them? He says he can understand if it’s about the weather or being upset cos her boyfriend blew her out for a cheeky girl, but she’s not even a mother, what’s the point? Raef says they wanted a celebrity, we live in a culture of celebrity. Sralan says but I didn’t notice her, I blinked and I missed her.

To no-one’s surprise, Raef will bring back Claire and Michael. With regards to Claire, he says, she has worked in marketing and he and Michael haven’t.

Sralan, Nick and Margaret chat. Sralan says 'poor weatherwoman what’s she doing there'? Margaret says the box was awful, the ad was awful, the name was awful. Sralan says they have two despondent gentleman (Raef is a gentleman, Michael notsomuch) and Claire will come in with 50 rounds of bullshit and deafen us all. They’ll have to see which one really wants to stay in.
He calls them in and says Raef has experience in acting, so needs to give a rendition of why he should not be fired. Raef says there are times I fall flat on my face and I will learn and get up again. I’ve only been in this threesome once (unwanted mental image. Very, very unwanted) and that was in week one and I will pull my socks up.

And here, kids, is where it gets just bizarre. Michael says ‘everything you liked in this advert, everything good about it was DOWN TO ME’. Of course. And I invented the wheel and sliced bread yesterday Sralan, pick me Sralan, I could play Oliver Sralan. Raef is, rightly, all ‘what the fuck?’ Michael continues: ‘the emotional pull, the only decency in this task came from ME’. The scary thing is that I think he actually believes it.

Raef says that’s gibberish and they both did it together in the edit and if he’s taking credit for it, he has to stop being the person who tries to escape sinking ship. Word, Raef. I hate Sophocles so much. I know in a few weeks it’ll all be over and I’ll be hating on Big Brother contestants or something, but right now, so… much… rage. [But then, Raef wanted Michael Sophocles to take full responsibility for the removal of the pack shot about two minutes ago, so he's not coming out of this with a particularly bright halo either. - Steve]

Claire says they both said they got lost being artistic, and they needed tissues in there. Sralan says Claire is always self-preserving in the boardroom why didn’t she act like that on the day? This is a pretty good echo of what he said to her the week he fired Simon, so let’s hope she pays attention.

Claire says the situation was emotional, they’d been in there all day and there was too much testosterone and spunk flying around. Except she only implied that last it. Sralan asks why she wasn’t forceful in there and putting up a fight. He says not wanting to salvage a win for the team shows selfishness. [What bollocks. She told them, if they didn't listen it's no one's fault but their own. I'm sick of Sralan blaming the women for not stopping the men from fucking up. - Steve] [You and me both Steve - Fiona]

He turns to Michael and says ‘you think you’re proud [of the ad], but I’m not looking for art directors’. He turns to Raef: ‘You put yourself across as Mr elegance, perfect. You have all the words, enthusiastic, ‘will do this for you’… but I’ve never said this before, I think you’re lucky that you’ve only been in this boardroom once. The one of you that is going is the one I think is full of hot air (which could be all three, surely)… Raef, you’re fired’. And as despondent as we all may feel by this, I think we knew it was coming. Michael Sophocles is a cockroach. [And a cunt. I was surprised by quite how angry I felt about his survival - Fiona]

He has nothing more to say to the others and sends them back to the house. Margaret says that was a close call, Sralan agrees. Nick says he’s sorry to see Raef go because he’s a decent bloke but behind all the elegance and all that flowery language, there ain’t much there.

Coat watch – black, formal, high collared, boring. Raef, you disappoint me so much.

The house look a bit shocked but also a bit resigned at who comes back, seeing as I can’t remember the last time the boardroom didn’t have Claire or Michael in it, they probably partly expected it. They asked what happened. Michael says nothing much happened except Raef’s gone and it was a difficult ordeal cos he was a good friend to me. Yeah, but not so good that you didn’t stitch him up. Raef in cab says he is sad because of Michael and him and their friendship. And this is all played out like an epic love story, except they haven’t been on teams together for ages, so it seems a bit out of the blue.

Anyway, join us next week when the teams have to rent sports cars to special clientele, and Lee and Lucinda wear matching clothes. Yay!