Week Eight - Originally aired 14 May 2008
Sralan. London. Tycoons [of tomorrow - Rad]. Blah. 15 minutes later the show starts. Previously on the Apprentice, the teams went to Marrakesh, the better to prove to Sralan their mad haggling skillz. Lucinda looked fabulous. Sara proved able to bargain. Claire wished she were Alex’s girlfriend. Alex pouted. Again. Some more. Lee acted a bit of a twat, but less than he has done. Raef was a gentleman with some strange ideas about dressing up in ethnic garb. Helene was invisible. Michael claimed to be a good Jewish boy but didn’t know what ‘kosher’ meant so Sralan threatened to strip him off in the boardroom and find out just how Jewish he really was. Jenny Celery was vile, cheated, lied, and was fired. Jennifer was fired…for being a girl, maybe? It’s hard to tell. No valid reason, anyway. Nick and Margaret pwned all and sundry, including Scottish seats of learning. The mystery of NotFrances continued apace.
Early morning call. 6 am. Raef answers in his smoking jacket. Danse Macabre plays. (Not)Frances tells them that they’ve got to go to a church, bringing an overnight bag. Claire feels that she is gaining momentum. Helene would fire these people but has to work with them and doesn’t like it. Shut up. They arrive at the church, and it’s the one used in Four Weddings and a Funeral. In a far less tenuous way than normal for this show, the task involves weddings. They’ve each got two stands at the National Wedding Show in Birmingham. The team that sells the most will win.
Sralan rearranges them teams. Alpha is now Raef, Lee, Lucinda and Claire, while Renaissance is Helene, Michael, Sara and Alex. That hardly seems fair, in terms of putting all the likeable and/or competent people together [Alpha is always team likeable though, so it's not that unfair - Rad]. At the wedding show, they will sell dresses and ‘romantic accessories’. Dildoes?
In the car, Claire goes on about being a girly girl who loves dresses. Raef doesn’t fancy marriage. I love Raef the Toxic Bachelor.
Helene tells Renaissance that she used to model in bridal shows, looks around desperately for validation that she still could, receives none, and becomes PM.
Lucinda is PM for Alpha. We don’t see the discussion but presumably it’s because she is always stunningly well turned out. Claire suggests that one pair go to all the dress stores and one to all the accessories stores, so that they can make informed decisions, having seen all the options. I’m loving Claire again. [Me too - Fiona] [Me three! - Steve] She’s generally right, and ever since Sralan said, ‘stop being a bitch’, she has done.
Michael says split up the teams into north and south London for convenience. Helene agrees.
Michael says that they need to be professional and passionate. Sara agrees. Michael and Sara go to see designer Ian Stewart. His dresses sell for £2,5000. Michael says he likes that it’s not the same line of dresses and goes on for a bit about how he loves the dresses. Then says to camera that he feigned interest very well and that’s what he does for a living. For, like, a minute, he's just like 'yeah man, I can be interested in any old shit'. Sara and Michael slag off the dresses in the car and say they’re hideous. They’re in Brixton.
Helene sees another store. It sells coloured dresses (as opposed to traditional white or ivory) for less than £900. One is called soft scoop? Helene says it’s an acquired taste. The lady says celebrities like coloured dresses and raises the spectre of Jordan’s toilet-roll cover pink monstrosity as if it were a good thing. [Jodie Marsh wears them too, also said as if its a good thing - Fiona] Helene says the price offsets the objections about the dresses being kind of repulsive.
Claire and Raef visit the Ian Stewart dresses. Claire was chuffed to see the dresses and thinks Lucinda knows she’s a girly girl, which is why she let her see the pretty dresses. She asks where they are sold, he says worldwide. On the phone, Claire tells Lucinda that she was in wedding dress heaven. [I do wish Alex and Claire had been on the same team, so we could have seen the Morocco sequel - Rad] Mr Stewart won some wedding designer prize for four years running.
Lucinda and Lee are at a cake shop. Eating cake. To ‘test’ it. They cost £600. ‘Is that expensive?’ For a cake, yes. For a wedding cake, not really.
Raef and Claire are at a Bigger Brides store. Claire holds one up and says ‘Oh Raef, maybe I should get a boyfriend’. Love Claire. In the car, Claire and Raef discuss the fact that maybe selling Bigger Bride dresses and also cake might be a bad combination. Raef says, let’s face it, they’re fat because they love cake, but then he laughs so I think he’s being silly and not a cock.
Sara and Michael are at a cake shop. Sara’s been on a cake course. Sara loves cake.
Alex and Helene are looking at personalised wedding lingerie. Like, cheap red nylon pants with your name written on it in rhinestones. Apparently that’s nice. Alex is a bit horny and carried away with the panties. Helene loves it. She uses ‘yourself’ wrongly, telling the pants lady that she love it and ‘if the team chooses yourself too’ they’d love to work with her. No no no no no. The team can’t choose ‘yourself’. Yourself is reflexive and the only person that can do things to yourself is you. Gah! Fire her right now, just for that.
Michael’s cake seller is £545 for a 5-tier. Which isn’t that expensive, really. In the car, Michael says that they should have seen all the dresses to decide. Which, yes, that’s true and it was a good decision when Claire made it across the team barricade. But given that you suggested a geographical split, it’s a bit late to start kvetching (you see what I did there, Michael? Kvetch is a Yiddish word. You should know that, as a good Jewish boy.) about it.
Helene says that no-one will buy the cakes at a wedding fair. And, damn straight they won’t. You’ll have come from miles to the wedding fair, but you’ll want your cake to be local, apart from anything else.
Lucinda also likes the slutty wedding underwear. It’s cheap, so it will sell, is the apparent logic, rather than it is being nice, which it isn’t. Lucinda is resplendent in scarlet and black.
Raef and Claire dash to a BHS. They sell mix and match separates for bridal wear. Some of the stuff is actually really nice, in a simple, non-meringue sort of way. And they only cost £95. Claire likes it the most. Raef likes Ian Stewart the most. And no matter how pretty they are, you’re going to have to sell about 30 dresses for every one Ian Stewart dress to make up the price difference, so they’re not a good choice. [Besides a woman spending £95 on her wedding dress won't be arsed to travel all the way to Birmingham NEC - even if she lives in Birmingham - Fiona]
Helene and Michael are on the phone. Helene asks about the Ian Stewart dresses. Michael says they’re like from Beauty and the Beast and Les Miserables. Although he pronounces it LEZ Mizrahb. Helene says that she doesn’t want Ian Stewart because if you’re spending that much on a designer dress, you want the designer there. Which is a fairly good point. Only fairly, though.
Lucinda and Claire discuss over the phone what to do. Raef likes Ian Stewart. Claire likes the BHS ones. They discuss and decide on Ian Stewart. It’s all very civilised. Raef argues his point, Claire presents hers, then comes round to his point of view.
Both teams want the pants as their second range. Helene tells the pants lady that they’ve secured White Rose Collection. Which made me lol, because one of my journals at work is for stoma care, and the White Rose Collection I know is one that makes clothes for women that they can discreetly hide their colostomy bags in. Maybe the pretty colourful dresses do have colostomy pouches in. It would explain some of the ruching.
Lucinda tells the pants lady that they’ve got Ian Stewart and explains who he is. The pants lady is thrilled, because she has heard of Ian Stewart and would love for her cheap viscose and glitter crap to be associated with the other end of the market. The pants lady wants Ian Stewart dresses and therefore she apologises to Helene. She takes it in her stride but is clearly disappointed. Lee arroogas some more. I like you Lee, when you’re not being a cock, but stop with the ‘Come on! Arooga!’ nonsense. [Unless its during sex - Fiona] [I will never be able to look your husband in the eye again - Rad]
Helene’s team end up selling cakes. Michael says they’re expensive so if they sell a few they’ll make a lot of money. Yes, but see above re: Helene’s objection to selling cakes at a fair. And it does seem a bit unfair if there was only one non-cake option in the ‘accessories’ bit of the list, because…what if you don’t want to sell cakes? What about a florist? Or a shoe designer? Or hats for the mothers? [I thought this too, I can only guess they thought whoever went for designer dresses would also go for cake? -Fiona]
Lucinda was ecstatic when she saw the dresses. Claire tries one and cackles and says ‘it’s massive’. [Massive maybe but notice she couldn't do it up - Fiona] Lee asks if people will pay £2k for a wedding dress at a show, with the implication that only poor chavs would go to a wedding show.
Over with Renaissance, some of the dresses are short and slutty and gross. They didn’t get the dresses they saw at the store, so they’re a bit miffed.
The day of the fair. They’re selling until 6 o’clock in the evening. There’s a cake stand right next to Renaissance’s stand. They’re like, ‘oh balls’.
More than 70,000 visitors expected. I think I might have put an extra zero there when I was taking my notes. ‘Perhaps perhaps perhaps’ plays. Helene says to camera about how it’s all about the soft sell, the magical day, making the bride feel like you care about what she wants and that sort of thing.
On Lucinda’s stand, the big name brings the people in. There’s even a queue. Lucinda says ‘it doesn’t even need fitting!’ to one woman trying on a dress. The lady looks a bit ‘hmmm’ when she hears the price. As well she might.
Across the way, Alex is trying to sell a dress to a girl, telling her it’s a good colour for her skin tone, and it’s short, which is nice. The girl buys it. Fair enough. If Alex told me something made me look pretty, I’d buy it.
Filler shots of crowds and a wedding catwalk show and that sort of crap. [Wedding porn? That sounds so wrong - Fiona] [Maybe, but I'm sure I've seen something like that. Not that I look at porn, of course. Ooh, look over there! *runs away* - Steve]
Lee is selling the pants and stuff. ‘It’s proving an easy sell’ says Voiceover Man. Lee says it’s doing well but they need to back it up with wedding dress sales. Claire tries to talk a girl into buying a dress. Raef says to camera high risk = high gains, but on his head be it if it doesn’t pan out and they lose. [Is it just me or is his hair very helment this week? - Fiona] A girl loves an Ian Stewart dress but doesn’t buy it. She wants to go away and think, which is fair enough, given that it’s £2,000 on a dress.
Nick says to camera, ‘we’re not in Knightsbridge, we’re in Birmingham!’, thereby making explicit the previously only implied ‘only chav scum will go to a wedding fair’ idea, with an added blow at the whole of Birmingham, for fun. [I was in Birmingham at the weekend. It's nice! Shut up, Nick. - Steve]
Alex keeps telling girls about their skin tone. It’s, like, his one selling point. ‘It looks really good with your skin tone.’ Sara and Michael try to sell the really expensive cakes. Sara tells some girl that they’ll liase on the cakes for months and discuss ‘the floral arrangements’. Which, outright lie, surely? Unless she just means the cake will match the flowers. Michael babbles on at some hapless women. Alex says to camera that Michael pushes too hard because he’s used to telesales and there it’s important to keep people on the phone by being talkative and energetic, but it doesn’t translate into face to face sales, because it comes across as aggressive. Possibly the most observant and intelligent thing Alex will ever say.
Some girls want to phone the groom to discuss the cake purchase. Sara is like ‘GIVE DEPOSIT NOW! PHONE LATER!’ and actively discourages some girls because she’s so pushy and they’re like, ‘um, no thank you, creepy intense cake lady'.
Lee has sold over £300 worth of pants. Lee guesses the size lower than the ladies buying actually are, to flatter them, which is a good idea, but he’s super-obvious about it, guessing a size 12 lady as an 8. But then, I can work out girls’ bra sizes just by looking, so… (I haven’t done it for a while. Don’t test me.) Lee says he’s buzzing and passionate. ‘Let’s sell more knickers!’ [Lee is loving the pant selling so much I can't help but giggle - Fiona]
Helene sells another dress. She says to camera that the price is the big selling point, in that they’re not a bisquillion dollars. Michael tells some girls they’re only giving the cakes to a few brides. If by few you mean none, then sure. [I don't get this either but then he is talking utter shit - Fiona] Michael says they don’t want to decide on cake without husbands. Obviously. As though this is some astonishing revelation, rather than something Helene alluded to about a month ago.
Michael says he’ll kiss a girl if she buys a cake and is generally slightly creepy and over-eager and fails entirely. [God, he is a dick - Fiona] Lee wants more footfall. We see another girl try on an Ian Stewart dress, but still no sales. Raef says to camera that at 4 pm he was questioning his judgement because they’d sold no dresses.
Lucinda puts Lee on dress selling, to use his mad skillz. In a rather bizarre little interlude, Raef puts on the pants company promotional teddy bear outfit. In order to sell designer dresses that cost a few grand. Because nothing says haute couture like a cross promotional giant teddy bear from a company that Bedazzles your name on the gusset of your panties. Lee says to a lady that it’s a beautiful dress, but then says ‘I’ll let you have a talk, I’ll step away, it’s a bit much pressure.’ Lee is good at sales. He understands that screaming ‘IT’S LOVELY BUY IT BUY IT NOW!!’ isn’t always the best tactic.
Raef wanders about in the teddy outfit and basically freaks people out. Lee says if they don’t sell a dress, they’ll lose the task.
Michael is still trying to sell cakes, and tells a girl that he doesn’t want her to regret not doing it. The bride phones her groom to get his opinion on one of those tower-of-cupcakes cakes. Michael has somehow convinced her that this is a revolutionary cake concept, and not totally Los Angeles circa 2002. Her groom wants a traditional cake. Michael then basically abuses this girl to her face, and tells her that it’s her bloody wedding, a traditional cake is dull, and if she doesn’t buy the cupcakes cake she’s a fucking pussy whose husband will probably beat her because she’s so incapable of asserting herself. When this fails to result in a sale, he pouts and nearly cries, and to camera calls people dumb-dumbs because they’re not buying his revolutionary cakes.
Earlier customers come back to the Ian Stewart stall. Lucinda tells one girl she’s stunning. Lucinda is wearing a wedding dress in purple – kind of a dusky night sky purple. She looks stunning. A girl buys a dress! Claire says to camera ‘it’s not like going to the supermarket to buy a chicken’ and that people have come for the whole day, so it’s not surprising they’ve taken their time over such a big decision. [This was what I'd been expecting to happen for about half an hour. A £2,500 wedding dress is not an impulse purchase. If Alpha were going to make any sales, they weren't going to do it until the end of the day - but they'd had Claire laying some excellent groundwork, so I was confident they would. - Steve]
Sara tells more women they don’t need their groom’s permission for the wedding cake and says that they’ve tried the cakes and know they taste good.. ‘They’re not disgusting, are they?’, she asks. She says again and again that what really matters is the taste. And, for a wedding cake, not so much. Taste matters, but appearance matters as much, if not more. It has to fit in with the bride, the bridesmaids, the floral arrangements and so on. And yes, some grooms won’t give two shits about all that stuff, but lots will. She doesn’t think she was too pushy. But she totally was. She says that she has to push or people will leave, which is fair enough – they say they’ll come back and don’t, and she wants to secure the sale. But she’s still wrong, Because if you say, ‘I know it’s a big decision, go away and have a think, and come back later’ people will do so, rather than saying ‘I’ll come back!’ as a way to extricate themselves from the scary woman shouting about cake.
Claire sells another dress, with a bolero jacket, noting that they’ll remove the flower from the jacket so it can be worn in the hair. There was something very efficient and pleasant about the way she did it that I really liked. [Totally. I think I said this elsewhere, but she was acting like she was there because she loved wedding dresses - which, in fairness, she probably does - rather than because she was there to make money. I'd have bought a dress from her, and I am neither betrothed nor a girl. - Steve]
Margaret and Nick take the money from the teams. London porn.
Claire says she might as well throw herself under a bus if she doesn’t win. NotFrances sends them through. Sralan comes in and asks how the PMs were. Alpha sing Lucinda’s praises. Sralan says they hated her a few weeks ago. Nice, Sralan. Lucinda explains the split of the teams – two to the dresses, two to the accoutrements. Sralan asks how the decision went and they tell him about the Ian Stewart dresses. Sralan’s, like, big risk! Raef says the whole big risk big reward thing. Sralan asks if he’s taking the blame and in a mealy mouthed way Raef eventually says, ‘if needs be' [I did think it was about time someone claimed responsibility and was all 'go Raef', until he then mumbled something about team efforts - Rad] ’. Lee confirms he was selling sparkling pants and is now a foremost expert ‘on how to sell a thong’. [You're Fired pointed out that Margaret's look at this point was priceless, the saucy minx. Someone, somewhere is writing Margaret/Lee McQueen fanfic. Not me, though, I'm still all about Lee/Lucinda - Rad]
Alex said that ‘myself and Helene’ (and Alex, see above my rant about reflexive pronouns. You’re using it differently wrongly, but you are still WRONG) saw two dresses and Michael and Sara saw the other two. Michael says it was a bad decision because they couldn’t decide on which dresses as they weren’t fully informed. And yes, but splitting the teams the other way was your idea, maggot, and you only said it was a bad idea in the back of the car halfway through the day, rather than mentioning it to, erm, your PM. Ass-hat. He wanted the fancy dresses of Ian Stewart. Helene loved the dresses they ended up with.
Nick says they made £5752.99, 600-odd on knickers, the rest on three dresses. Renaissance sold five dresses but no cakes and made about £1,900. zomg wtf pwned. Nick talks about Claire’s sterling sales work, which is nice. And she really has stopped being a bitch. Sralan’s got them a spa visit. Team Competent for the win! [I get the impression they all got on well and actually enjoyed the task which is a nice change - Fiona]
At the spa, Lucinda says they’ve done very well and thanks everyone. You see? You thank your winning team for their work! Well done, Lucinda. They cheers over some tea. Claire doesn’t like it. ‘Maybe I’m too northern,’ she says. They’re go into a ‘fire’ room and do some primal scream therapy shouting. Unsurprisingly, Lee is down with the shouting. Claire cracks up, then Lee. Scott turns to me and says, ‘more firing, less relaxing’.
In the horrible abandoned café of death. Michael says low-risk doesn’t pay off. Alex said no cakes were sold. Sara says they were all great except Helene. Helene’s like, they’re cunts when you lose, they turn on you all of a sudden. Michael’s like, Helene’s shit.
DLR glamour shot. NotFrances sends them in. Sralan asks why Michael didn’t push for the posh dresses. He says he did. Helene says he didn’t. Margaret quotes from her pad, ‘quite niche, quite expensive, not to everyone’s taste’. Ha! Sralan tells Helene off for the team split and she totally doesn’t say that it was Michael’s idea. Helene says he didn’t argue for the Ian Stewart dresses strongly enough.
Sralan turns on Alex, who is a six-time veteran on losing teams. Helene says he did really well. Sralan is like, yes, or maybe he mesmerises people because he always loses but no-one ever says he’s bad. [Alex is totally the Jennifer M of this series (not to be confused with the actual Jennifer M of this series, of course) - always getting away with doing fuck-all just because he's got a pretty face. - Steve] Alex says he made three quarters of what little money they did make and Sara should go cos she sold too little. Sara says, ‘but you said you’d do the selling of the dresses and I brought people over, so fuck off.’
Sralan says that the wrong dresses were double-fail because it meant the team didn’t get the pants, which were a good seller. (And made them sell cakes? I demand to know if there other, non-cake, options.) Sralan says ‘oh, you wanted cakes, Sara and Michael, didn’t you?’ They say yes and admit it was a mistake but claim that they sold hard. Margaret swoops. Too hard, she says, and gives feedback from customers, using the words ‘relentless’ and ‘bludgeoned’ and ‘scared to buy a cake’.
Sralan says Sara transmits but doesn’t receive. She talks talks talks. You have to be interested in people and converse with them, ‘not bang bang buy my cake buy my cake’. Sara cops to desperation in the last half hour and being too pushy to get a sale at that point. Michael says they were just trying to make a sale.
Sralan says, basically, you two suck and golden boy over there has an appreciation society [Although he did also point out that Alex always loses - Rad]. Helene says Alex doesn’t deserve to be fired. So Ssralan knows she’s not bringing Alex, and he grudgingly admits that maybe Alex is good (or at least, least worst – srsly, on what grounds could she possibly bring the man who did not make the decisions about cakes or dresses and made three quarters of the revenue) [three-fifths, surely? They sold five dresses, and Helene sold two. It's nothing to boast about, either way. - Steve] and not just doing pouty hypnosis, although pouty hypnosis does seem to be Sralan’s preferred explanation. Helene is bringing back Sara and Michael, just for clarity.
Sralan says two of them could go. Margaret says all three. NotFrances sends them back in.
Sralan tells Helene she chose the wrong dresses. She claims that nobody strongly advocated the Ian Stewart dresses. Michael says he doesn’t want to get upset but he’s getting upset and they lost because of poor product selection. Sara jumps in. Sralan tells her to shut up, pwning her from side to side about she’s supposed to be a barrister but a judge wouldn’t let you jump in so wait your damn turn, missy. Michael says he’s a scapegoat. Sralan’s, like, ‘what? You chose the shitty cakes and saw the dresses that won for the other team. It’s not scapegoating when it’s actually your fault.’
Sralan tells him off for the hard sell. Michael says he didn’t give it the hard sell. He totally did. And if he didn’t, I don’t want to see his hard sell. Presumably it’s conducted at gunpoint. [Or with GHB. - Steve] Sara says they started off being nice, talking about. colours and flavours and this and that. She babbles. Sralan wants to smoosh her face on the cake and tells sara to shut up. Again. Some more.
Michael blames Helene. Helene blames Sara. She speaks at people, and doesn’t read body language. Sara says what did Helene do, nothing that’s what! Helene sold two dresses. Sara goes on about teamwork and Helene says ‘it wasn’t a team’.
Sralan summarises: Helene chose shit stuff and was shit. Sara has been shit for weeks and alienated customers. Michael is full of apologies and ‘putting your hands up’ but can’t actually stop being shit. Sralan has heard enough nonsense. He says he has a dilemma as to who’s going and then immediately says, ‘One thing I’m sure of, Sara, you’re fired.’ Not much dilemma there. She slopes off.
He tells Michael that he’s at the end of the rope. Yes sralan, I was wrong, no sralan, Blah. Michael is such a limp dick. Sralan is this close to firing his sorry ass. Michael begs to be project manager again, on the verge of tears. Let me prove myself, blah blah.. Fuck off, that trick is played out. I’d have fired him right there for even contemplating going back to that well. Don’t say that shit, and don’t fucking beg. Have some damn dignity. This isn’t the X Factor. [Not to mention the fact that he pulled that same shit last week and then didn't actually take the post this time around. Tit. - Steve] But Sralan is congenitally incapable of firing Michael sends them both back.
Once they’re gone, Sralan says ‘talk about cat with nine lives’. Nick looks at him with absolute disgust. Seriously, the WTFness of Nick’s expression is incredible. Scott says ‘talk about a dick who can’t see what’s in front of him’.
Eviction Coat Watch. Black. Vaguely military cut. Uneventful.
In the taxi, Sara says she’s cant have people telling her what to do so she’s not good in a team. Yu-huh. You do realise that even if you won, you’d be working for Sralan and not replacing him as Boss of NotAmstrad And That Computer Recycling Thing?
Back at the house, once she and Michael return, Helene says it was save yourself time, as there are seven of them and one job, so six are going to go. Which true, but you didn’t argue your case very well. You could have destroyed Michael if you’d thought about it for a moment, but instead you were fortunate enough that Sara turned out to be babbling aggressive freak in the end. [That so disappointed me. I really thought Helene would give good boardroom - Rad]
Next week, they sell tissues and make tv ads. Oh noes! They split up Team Competent [That's fine - less chance of one of them being fired - Rad]. Lucinda says, ‘I didn’t fucking volunteer!’ I love Lucinda saying fuck.