Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Fishy business

Welcome to a brand new series of The Apprentice. And we will be here to guide you through each step of the way…

We open on London porn (drink) as we are reminded that this is the job interview from hell, and that from across the country Britain’s ‘tycoons of tomorrow’ (ooh, that’s new) are heading for London…

We get our obligatory suitcase shots and pieces to camera.

Our first apprentice, a chiselled man, says that ‘there are two types of people in life: winners and the other one: I can’t say it and I wont say it’. I mark him out already as someone who will find this quote coming back to haunt him in the boardroom. And what’s his name? Seriously, show, you’re introducing us to sixteen candidates here, you could at least name them for us. Don’t just assume we’ve all memorised all their names from the promo material. [It speaks volumes for how thoroughly I devoured all the previews that I didn't even notice they weren't captioned. Ooops. Anyway, this was Ian, I think. - Steve]

The second apprentice (whom I do remember from the promo material as Sara Dadha) talks about playing to win being her strategy, and really, if that’s the best they can come out with in soundbites, then they are screwed. Number three is a posh fellow who says he is a natural born salesman, and the spoken word is his tool. Number four (And seriously, are we not getting names for any of these people?) is an Irish woman with a nice golden-yellow top and rather scary Barbie pink lipstick who says that as a salesperson ‘I rate myself as the best in Europe’. Again, I feel this comment may backfire in a future episode…

Now, I know who number five is, because I have seen his website. This, my friends, is Nicholas de Lacy Brown (NDLB from here on in because it’s easier). He says ‘In my law degree I got a first class honours, in my Maaarsters I got a distinction. There is something inherently within that means I have to get to the top’ and I can’t see this going down well at all with Sralan who isn’t exactly renowned for his love of smart alecs. Or lawyers.

Number six is a bloke who says he is here to get his dream job and is happy to cut people out of his life if it thinks it will help him be a success. I hope his friends and family are watching and realise how high the regard he has for them is.

Apparently that’s all the candidates we have time for right now, because we are about to meet Sralan (cue helicopter and yacht porn). Sralan left school at 16, sold car aerials, is responsible for computer giant Amstrad, which he recently sold for £125 million (which doesn’t sound that much) and now ‘controls a vast empire’. Ha! I love that even voiceover man doesn’t actually know what Sralan does. He also ‘has the ear’ of the Prime Minister, apparently. [That's nothing. Captain Jack Harkness has the hand of a Time Lord. - Steve] I hope that means a hilarious task in 10 Downing Street or something later on. We then see lots of clips of Sralan being cross and of the contenders arguing, and all this is backed by NEW dramatic music with lots of emphasis. We see a few upcoming ‘you’re fireds’ but nothing to match the ‘you’re a lightweight’ or ‘you’re a total shambles’ of previous series. Booo. Oh, and is it just me, or was the ‘no backstabbers, no arse-lickers, no bullshitters’ slogan missing? I can’t cope with the change.

Back to the familiar background music, we see the candidates waiting in the boardroom entrance. Someone is wearing very strong pinstripes. This area hasn’t changed. BUT HOLD ON A COTTON PICKING MINUTE? That person calling them in didn’t sound like Frances. Have they replaced her? What IS going on?

The candidates enter the boardroom, which looks a bit bluer, and more glowy. [This means everyone appears to have bright blue eyes, and Sralan and Nick look even silver foxier than usual - Fiona] Sralan is wearing a rather scary aqua-coloured tie. Sralan gives them the usual ‘nervous? You should be’ speech and the arrogant Irish one looks smug and as if she’s taking the piss out of him a bit. I think this may be relevant for future reference.

Sralan goes through the normal rigmarole of explaining there are two teams, there’ll be tasks, they’ll come back to the boardroom, someone is GANNA GET FIRED. He calls it a business bootcamp (and, seriously, no more invocation of The X Factor, kthankxbai). He reminds them that ‘Mary Poppins I am not’. Although Mary Poppins was pretty efficient and got those kids in shape so maybe she wouldn’t be a bad future host if Sralan ever gave it up. He introduces Margaret Mountford, who has ditched her trademark grey suit for a very severe black polo neck combo and some fierce new specs (please can they stop messing with the format already?) Fortunately Nick is exactly the same as ever. They both practice their ‘looks’.

Sralan goes on about how the candidates will be living in a ‘beautiful house, well actually it’s a disused factory. In my day they used to make glass, now they convert them for posers like you’ (Heh. But also: a new house?). And in another NEW! TWIST! he tells them they aren’t going there yet but are getting on with the task straight away. Which means we don’t get the bitchy cocktail party bit this episode, I’m afraid. Booo.

The task is that they have £600 of fish each to sell around London. There is another reminder of the rules yadayadayada. An anonymous blonde woman (who I know is Lucinda Ledgerwood, but this show has resolutely forgotten to tell us anyone’s names) is wearing a very bright green jacket. The ladies are more colourful this year than usual. The gents are not.

We see more candidate videos, except they aren’t even new candidates, they are ones we saw in the first bunch of clips. The posh man says that ‘when mere morsels quake, I don’t’ and Sara says that ‘business is simple: it’s about making money, making money and more money’. We then see the family hater man from before who is Michael Sophocles, a telesales ‘executive’. He says, ‘I am arrogant. What are you gonna do about it?’ Nice. I don't believe him though. He is more Samuel than Syed, I think. [I agree. I should think a hallmark of genuine arrogance is a total failure to recognise that anyone would be offended by your own obvious brilliance. - Steve]

We focus back on the task, which, in case you have dropped off, is selling fish. Sralan says that says some of them think they might be executive level people thinking, ‘oooh I don’t wanna get my hands dirty, that sort of thing’ and reminds us that he got his hands dirty as a salesman (DRINK).

We see a few of those tense in-car moments, but seeing as we DON’T KNOW WHO ANYONE IS YET, they aren’t that interesting.

And onto the infamous name choosing bit. The boys, as usual, have a big old fight about it. A blonde guy who looks and sounds like a Matt Lucas character (and will be called Matt Lucas until I learn his name) suggests ‘Alchemy’ because it’s all about making magic. Michael suggests ‘Dynamic’ or ‘Impetus’ which: no. Someone else we don’t get to see suggests 'renaissance' because it means rebirth and the team are involved in change. Pompous guys suggests 'Gravitas', because it means weight. Everyone ignores him and plumps for 'Renaissance'. Pompous guy looks pissed.

Over to the girls’ team and Lucinda suggests 'Alpha', because it means dominant, it’s the beginning of the Greek alphabet, also looks like a fish. (Which: it so doesn’t. Also, Alpha is the name of a very well known introduction to Christianity type course so it’s hardly a new and innovative brand name. Eclipse, now that was a brand, eh, Jadine?). Anyway, they all vote for 'Alpha'. And it’s at least better as a name than First Forte.

On we come to nominating the team leader. The best salesperson in Europe tries to pass the buck to someone else straight away because she’s, you know, like, to be on the floor and that (read: knows the girls’ team always lose in week one and the team leader always gets fired). A ginger lady whose name I also know because initial press coverage said she was Jenny Celerie (it’s actually Celerier, but let’s not remember that because Celerie is better) also ducks out, and northern prettier version of Kerry Katona, Claire, ends up taking it on. We see her little intro clip where she compares herself to the family German Shepherd dog, because she is always crashing into things to go and get what she wants, which is a bit of a clumsy analogy, but whatever. Also: this is the last candidate intro we get, so we have met (I think) seven of the sixteen candidates. WHY? I know their intro bits are all on The Apprentice website, but srsly, this is just remiss.

With the boys team, and a northern bloke says ‘we were looking at you mate’ to the pompous bloke. He stutters and says ‘I wouldn’t feel confident at this stage’ (Read: I don’t want to be the first fired). [This from the guy who said "where mere mortals quake, I don't," about two minutes ago. - Steve] A young boy steps up and says ‘I’m a regional sales manager of 14 (at the age of 14?? Work experience is better than it was in my day). I’ve never had a problem stepping up to the plate’. The pompous guy mumbles some crap about ‘I’m not passing the buck, I just do not want… I’m only used to managing myself’. Liar.

We see the vans and are told that the teams must work out what each fish is and what to sell it for. Footage of their feet walking. One of the girls has funky purple shoes. I think it may be Lucinda Ledgerwood as she is later shown in a purple slanty beret hat and a purple dress. There is a shot of Sara being a bit bolshy with a fishmonger as they discuss location.

The boys having location fight whilst wearing some oh-so-sexy white boots and blue aprons. The boy says he’ll make an executive decision and ‘on my head be it’. They decide to go to Islington (out of a choice of four locations). Of course, the girls are already in Islington. They are reversing the van along the market, and we see shots of bemused market traders and pedestrians. One marlet trader calls out that ‘it is total bollocks, we’re not allowed our vans here’. Maybe there will be some repercussions from this later? Anyway, another unidentified contender (she’s actually called Lindi, but in the promo she says she’s royalty, so she gets called Princess for now). Voiceover man says they have to identify and price 22 boxes of fish. They have red aprons – better than boys’ blue. Sralan has given them a file of pictures, but before they have time to set out their stock they’re surrounded by a mob of ‘bargain hunters’. Princess asks the customers what they usually pay, and Irish chaotically sells some lemon sole.

Cut to Nick. Hooray! He says it is swamped because they are selling it below wholesale prices: for example, dover sole is being sold at £5 a kilo less. Methinks the editing has gone a little awry here as they can’t surely have been swamped as soon as they arrived, but whatevs.

The boys traipse through. Michael says girls getting there first is the main issue, and they need to get to it straight away, no faffing about. And seeing as faffing about is a core component of teams in this show, I don’t think he will get his wish.

They dish out jobs. The boy is called Alex (and looks a bit Alexy, well, a bit like Alex Sibley from BB3, anyway). The job of identifying fish is given to ‘entrepreneur Rafe’. So that’s the name of pompous git. NDLB is pricing. The VO says that ‘he’s achieved at the highest academic level (which: no. Even two of your humble Apprent-bitch team have achieved higher levels of education than him and we know people waaay more educated than us. Still, we can feel a bit superior over him, which is nice). We see an intro clip where NDLB says he once got a B, which was a failure to him, having got straight As through school – other than that he’s never had a failure. [As revealed on You're Fired, NDLB's B was in French. I got an A*. Quel dommage. - Steve] And as we know he hasn’t a hope in hell of winning this show, I think his first failure is not too far away.

Alex goes to copy a local fishmonger’s prices (and disappointingly, doesn’t get chased) and decides to undercut the fishmonger on lobster. NDLB prices them at £4.90 each (not £4.90 per lb as Alex wanted) Michael then offers a customer another lobster for half price (seriously? WTF?). Margaret (yay) says they made a complete mix up, and that it’s easy to sell lobster for £5 each when it should be £10-15 each.

Girls’ team. Princess bargains with some customers and loses so sells her stock cheaper than it is priced. Er, top quality sales, there. Lucinda Ledgerwood (still in fetching beret) looks disgusted at the fish. Voiceover man informs us that after two hours, the girls’ stock is still not properly labelled. Chaos ensues as they have to reprice and relabel.

Boys: NDLB goes to the girls’ stall and sees that the girls are pricing lobster at £23 per kilo. He goes back and has an argument with Alex about pricing. Rafe acts as a self-appointed ‘peacemaker’ spouting some conflict resolution business mumbo-jumbo. NDLB tries to pass the buck – ‘I’m doing all the pricing, I can’t be responsible wah wah wah’. Dick. We see Michael speak to camera in a ‘later’ shot saying Alex was bullying Nick andd trying to make him a scapegoat. It didn’t really seem like that, but hey.

Back with the girls, and Sara counts money. They have only made £440, with ¾ of the stock sold. They have a big argument about who was responsible but it doesn’t go anywhere. Claire then takes Princess and a couple of anonymous others away to flog half of the remaining fish in an ‘upmarket area’.

The boys discover that ‘expensive monkfish tails’ have been labelled as turbot. The boys have an argument about it (and where are they all? We only ever see five of them – what are the others doing?). Rafe’s eyebrows are very disturbing. His hair even more so. What IS it? It looks like an avalanche sliding down his head. Northern man does a bit of barrow boy shouting.

Voiceover man tells us that teams must clear all their stock as Sralan doesn’t want it in the boardroom. The boys try to sell some to a chippy. We then see a shot of one of the boys (possibly Northern man) failing to chop a head off a fish, and then, and even worse failing to cut the fish it in half – just mushing it up. This is really not for squeamish vegetarians like me, especially when its eye spurts open. He says to the others that it’s alright because ‘she’s putting it in a stew anyway’. The customer looks less than impressed.

The girls try to flog their fish to a restaurmant for £150, eventually getting £125. Lucinda Ledgerwod is still wearing her beret.

More London porn.

The boys try to sell fish in a solicitors office. A man swears at them! He gives them the V! Oh no, my mistake. He actually says get two. At the stall, Northern bloke weighs and prices the fish up before the others go back to the solicitors. Alex says they should get £130. The sales team say to (another) solicitor they’ll sell it all for £100. He says £50. They offer £80. He says no. The boys have a fight amongst themselves. The solicitor guy says ‘the customer’s always right, yeah?’ Basically, he knows they are completely useless and he totally owns them here. Go solicitor guy. I miss The Badger. She’d have sold it for £300, I bet. Oh, and is Rafe wearing eyeliner? He looks like Noel Fielding‘s corpse. I am going to have nightmares tonight.

They go back to the others and Michael says he negotiated as much as he couldm and couldn’t get any more. Rafe said it wasn’t Michael, it was all of them. Yes, you were all a bunch of pussies who got completely pwned.

More London porn.

Taxi rides: the girls are eating crisps and sarnies in theirs, which is cool, and makes a change.

NDLB says he thinks the boys’ team is already split in half (them against us: us being Michael, Rafe, him and an unseen candidate who is also in the car). Alex says the shining stars were Simon (who?), Ian (who?), Lee (who?) and ‘myself to some degree’.

Princess says Claire was very vocal but not very dominant for someone supposedly managing million pound budgets.

Dramatic music. DRINK!

In the board room, Sralan establishes who led the teams. He asks if Claire was a good team leader, and the girls give a half-hearted yes. Sralan questions the logic of having the whole lot of them in the same place for four hours, and of their team organisation. Claire said the others just started selling despite what she was saying about pricing: ‘apart from hitting someone over the head with a fish I don’t know what I was supposed to do’. Sralan harrumphs that it was a ‘Bloody mess to me’.

When the boys are asked if Alex was a good team leader, half nod. NDLB says no, he emphasised the wrong things. Rafe babbles something about positivity being eradicated. Michael says spats went on. Sralan asks ‘do I detect a split in camp?’ Alex says it was split cos of delegation – different tasks. Rafe says there was a rift ‘because there was’. Right. A tall anonymous bloke says Alex had a strategy that they (Rafe and co) didn’t want. Alex says Lee, Simon and Ian did well. Michael gets strop about Alex singling out his friends for praise. Alex says Michael also did well and what do you mean friends, they only met today.

The figures: boys came back with £632.69 – profit of £32.69. The girls came back with £753.98 – profit of £153.98. So, for the first time ever the girls win in week one. Yet another NEW! TWIST! Sralan snipes about both profits being a bit poo, and sends the girls home to the new house, saying Jean Christophe Novelli is there to cook for them.

Alex looks nervous. Sralan bitches about the boys being a bloody shambles (DRINK!), and asks him to bring back his boardroom buddies cos ‘at the end of the day one of you is gonna get fired’ (DRINK!).

Oooh, I’ve just noticed. No-one has mentioned the dreaded 110% tonight! [Yet - Fiona]

The driver, wearing the biggest Bluetooth earpiece thing EVAR (bet it’s Amstrad), takes the girls to the new house. What. The Hell? It’s completely different. There’s a yellow ramp thing that looks like a piece of cheese, a spiral staircase, an oval table, a huge kitchen. It’s all very open plan and feels a bit Big Brother. What happened to the old house? There is general all-round squealing and Jennie Celerie sits in a large sunken bath.

The boys are in the café of crap. Alex asks how they can accuse him of causing a rift when they only met today. Rafe said he didn’t say Alex created it but there was a rift and Alex may have exacerbated it.

Back at the house with Jean Christophe – will he be serving his frozen food ready meals range that ‘is as good as the real thing’? Haha – it’s fish!!! The girls pretend they are happy about this but, clearly, no.

Boardroom. Sralan is using a very boring phone. What happened to the video phone thingy? Not Frances at least gets the lines right: ‘Sralan will see you now’. In the boardroom he says ‘I gave you pictures, I gave you the wholesale prices, what else could I do? It’s like Janet and John’. Nick says the girls’ pitch on a normal day outsells theirs by 5: 1. Salan asks how Rafe got the fish ID wrong. He says ‘I got ONE wrong’. Margaret calls him and says he got THREE boxes wrong. Heh. Sralan calls NDLB on prices. NDLB says he doesn’t see what he did wrong. Some of it was to do with identification. And what the hell is his moustache thing and hair cut? Posh boys can’t do hair, clearly. Nick says didn’t it strike anyone that £5 lobster was bloody cheap? Matt Lucas boy says something I don’t quite get about them getting fifty quid.

Shock! NDLB and Rafe are coming back in. They bitch stare Alex. I am worried here. The two posh boys clearly make good telly, but Alex is the only vaguely fit one so please let him stay. [Indeed. The contestants are generally more attractive this year, but I would've been crushed to lose the most obvious eye candy before the obligatory answering-phone-in-underwear shot. - Steve] Sralan sends them back to the house for tomorrow

London Eye porn.

On the way back, the chiselled anonymous bloke pouts and shakes his head. Back at the house, I notice that Tall bloke’s jacket doesn’t fit- it’s too small for him. Why am I so obsessed with what they all look like today?

NDLB bitches to camera about being a scapegoat and says ‘I’m relying on Sralan to see through the reality of the situation’ which makes no sense whatsoever. Next morning. Rafe says ‘I am going to fight to the death… a gladiatorial battle… I will come out on top’. Alex looks dishevelled like he’s had no sleep. He looks so doomed. But will Sralan really keep two posh boys in? Rafe is wearing a red tie and cravat and grey suit. He looks like an uber sinister member of Kraftwerk.

Defence time. Alex says he was the most adaptable, he’d never sold fish before but sold fish today, that he was not here to make friends, but here to be the apprentice. NDLB says a barrier has been drawn between the educated and the gritty sales people, which is the single most twattish thing I have heard anyone say on this show, ever. Perhaps. Alex says ‘I am educated, just cos I don’t go on about having a Masters in law. I am educated, I find that quite insulting’. NDLB then digs himself into a deeper hole: ‘Sralan, if I can explain to you, I am into art and culture. I don’t like to talk about football like some of these guys do’. Lest we forget, he is talking to Sralan the famous footie fan. [He might as well have started listing all the ways the Commodore 64 was superior to the Amstrad CPC if he wanted to be fired that badly. - Steve] Sralan asks ‘what’s that gotta do with work?’ NDLB says it’s about the division. Sralan: ‘you think theres a cultural divide’? Alex: ‘so I’m an uneducated guy who’s into football?’ Sraan: ‘I don’t care who I employ, they could be cockneys or toffs like yourself’ He asks if Rafe agrees with NDLB. Rafe: ‘I’m just finding this conversation incredibly boring. Sralan: ‘Well I’m sorry if I’m boring you. Rafe: ‘No no not yourself, this debate. I get on with prince or pauper’. Sralan: ‘Prince or pauper? And you’re the prince are you?’

Alex chips in that he is privately educated, has a degree and has ‘worked transatlantically since the age of 21’ (and what does that mean? He’s worked on a cruise ship?) Anyway, it’s quite good, because he is totally calling the two posh ones on their snobbery. Sralan asks NDLB if his degree was outstanding, why wasn’t he outstanding yesterday?.

Sralan asks Rafe why he shouldn’t fire him and Rafe says ‘I gave it all one hundred and ten…’ and here Sralan interjects, which is awesome. He obviously hates that phrase as much as me. He says these are just words, clichés, what did you do? Rafe: ‘by the way it’s not just words, I LITERALLY left with my hands bleeding’ (if so, why didn’t we see any blood porn, eh?). Alex then gets a little bit awesome (but only a little bit). He tells the other two they each sold less than fifty pounds worth of stock and each completely messed up the tasks they were given.

Sralan gives a beardy stroke (DRINK!). He says ‘I’ve been in business 45 years’ (DRINK!) and if someone identified the wrong products they would be fired ‘no question of a doubt’. He calls them all on their general rubbishness before delivering his verdict: ‘Nicholas: you told me you got an outstanding pass from the bar, you told me you were devastated when you got a B in your French, well now you’re going to be even more devastated because you got a big F from me, you’re fired’.

Alex he stayed because he put himself forward, and repeats this when talking to Nick and Margaret. Margaret says he wasn’t any good as a team leader, but none of them were prepared to do it.

Walk of shame time, and HANG ON A MINUTE, yet ANOTHER new building. Will you please stop fucking with things?! This is a big glass chrome thing that looks a bit warehousy, not a patch on the hotel type building of yore. Eviction coat watch: a big black trenchcoat thing that makes him look rather like a war villain or something. Margaret says she was surprised how badly he spoke up in his own defence. (Especially considering he is so outstanding at law and all that).

Back at the house... oooh, nice big garden. Northern man says he thinks Rafe is the kind of guy who could talk himself into getting fired by telling SAS he’s wrong. He’d be amazed if Alex doesn’t walk back, thinks the buck stopped with NDLB. The gents walk up the cheese ramp, everyone cheers. [Heh. It did seem that NDLB is not likely to be missed. - Steve] This new place is not like a proper cosy living room as in previous series, and the sofas look uncomfortable. Rafe says it’s one of the ‘most scariest things you will ever ever do’ (umm, the spoken word is his tool). NDLB in the bitch cab uses some crappy law metaphor for why he should have stayed in and it was all Alex’s fault. If it were it left to him he would always succeed. Oh, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Next week: virtual Sralan tells them to start a laundry business. Cue dirty linen metaphors.

You’re Fired highlights:

- Rafe says ‘the spoken word is my tool’. Adrian Chiles: tool is just about the right word there.

- NDLB is tiny. He wears creepy shades and a white tie. His hair is different but still weird, and he has a sinister mini beard thing going on.

- This set hasn’t changed. Thank fuck. All this messing with the format has worn me out.

- Some ace unseen bits of NDLB saying ‘I am from a sophisticated background, therefore its not always easy to mix with people who do come from a less cultured, a less privileged background’, and chatting to chiselled bloke in taxi, who says ‘what kind of art do you do’? NDLB: ‘Well, some people compare me to Dali’ (Who? Who are these people? I’ve ‘seen his art). Chisel: ‘Well, you know what my mum says, if you can piss you can paint. Adrian Chiles does on to rip the piss out of NDLB’sart which is rather ace but probably a bit disrespectful.

- Karren Brady reminds us Rafe said about not ‘quaking in his boots’ unlike ‘mere mortals’ and then completely pussied out of leading the team, and we see a seriously awesome boardroom clip where Sralan says to him ‘what is all this stuff about faced death many times? Where have you faced dath many times? A hairdressing shop?’ Word.

See you next week for all kinds of laundry-related mayhem!


Tiggerboy0301 said...

Watching any program is always better when i can recap it with you guys! Please please please keep it going (drink!)

wordsmith_for_hire said...

Um, the gurlz won last year in week 1 - that awful baldy bloke insisted on being project leader for da boyz and made a complete bollocks of the job and got fired.

Sarah said...

Oooooh I'm loving this! Thanks guys.

My thoughts - Sralan selling his company for £125m or whatever sounds kinda like when Dr Evil asks for "one hundred million dollars" and everyone laughs at him - When they sent the 3 back to the boardroom why did they all have to go in separate cars - carbon reduction people! - Are the contestants getting younger or am I showing my age?

I'm already fearful that there won't be a moment to rival the "I AM your boss - You're nothing to me" moment from the opening credits last year.

Christopher said...

Nitpicking the comments : the girls lost in week 1 last year ; that "awful baldy bloke" got made their PM in a job swap with Jadine as part of a Surprise!Twist!

Nitpicking the otherwise awesome entry : The girls did ACTUALLY win in week 1 of series 2, because they were led by the amazing Karen. Of course they probably flirted with the punters a little bit, so Siralan made them beg for the victory in literally the most angy making moment of the show's long anti-feminist history, but it was still a win.

Rad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rad said...

Christopher - you're right. I got the fruit and veg and crappy calendar weeks the wrong way round in my head.

wordsmith_for_hire said...

I also, sadly, concede defeat. I'd forgotten about the PM swap in week 1.

Fiona said...

Alex looks like Ethan Hawke. It was bugging me for nearly the whole episode.