Thursday, 1 May 2008

Card sharks

Episode 6
Original airdate: 30 April 2008

Previously: the teams had to make ice-cream and sell it. Lucinda's team started well, but Claire's team got a highly valuable last-minute deal to scoop the victory. Lucinda claimed in the boardroom that Helene called The Best Salesperson in Europe "evil", which Helene denied, and Princess Lindi was fired, taking her awesome coat and weave with her.

6.30am. Darkness. The phone rings, and a sleepy Lee McQueen stumbles downstairs to answer it. Sleep attire update: sleeveless t-shirt and long pyjama bottoms. I deem this acceptable. Lucinda, to no one's surprise, apparently sleeps in a giant billowing nightgown of the type last seen sported by the Pevensie children as they disappeared through the wardrobe heading for Narnia. The Disembodied Voice of NotFrances tells them that Sralan wants to meet them at Hackney Town Hall, and the car will be there in half an hour. That is one of many reasons why I would fail hugely on this programme; it takes me at least three times as long as that to get ready in the morning. Lee thanks NotFrances politely. Upstairs Alex (I think) claims to have been awake for an hour and a half, "waiting for that bastard phone to ring", as Kevin puts it.

BeretWatch: Raspberry. Lucinda leads the team into their car. Voiceover Mark tells us that Sralan's roots are in Hackney; he was born and brought up there, and it was the place where he founded his business empire. Before it got moved to Brentford, but we're not supposed to talk about that, so shhhhh. He joins Nick and Margaret to face the teams. Sara is wearing a rather fetching mustard-coloured jacket. Sralan tells the teams that his birth and marriage were registered in Hackney, and if his blood pressure rises any further in the boardroom, his death will be registered there too. The candidates all smile politely, because if there is one skill at which they have all exceeded expectations, it's corporate toadying. The awkward segue here is that births, marriages and deaths are usually followed up by greetings cards. (Does anyone send marriage cards? Engagement cards, yes, anniversary cards, yes, and you buy a present for the the wedding, but I've never sent a "you got married!" card in my life.) [I always send wedding cards, Steve, and very rarely engagement ones. Who is right? There's on ly one way to tell.... FIIIIGHT - Rad] The task, then, is to come up with a special occasion and make a range of five cards covering that occasion. Once they've done that, they'll be pitching to three of Britain's biggest greetings card retailers. One team will win, the others will lose, and one member of the latter team will be fired.

Sralan calls on Michael Sophocles, and says he needs to get to know him better. From what I've seen of Michael Sophocles, I wouldn't advise it. Sralan tells Michael he will be team leader of Alpha, so Michael sidles over to the Alpha team. Kevin will be the Renaissance team leader. And truly, if there were ever a more fitting meeting of the non-minds than between Kevin and Michael Sophocles, I've not witnessed it. The teams are dismissed, and get into their cars and leave Hackney, thereby showing us that there really was no reason for them to have been there in the first place. That discussion could've been had in Hanwell, or Hillingdon, or Barnet, or Ashby-de-la-Zouch, and it wouldn't have made any difference. Though I'm sure Hackney Council were glad their borough got shown looking clean and sparkly on a nice sunny day, which really doesn't meld with my experience of Hackney at all, but let's move on.

Michael Sophocles is looking forward to working with new people, and is expecting open-mindedness from everyone, he says. He adds that lateral thinking is imperative. There are murmurs of assent, so I can only assume that what he said is apparently not total bollocks if you're from a business background. We're treated to an obviously pre-show VT of Michael saying he'd screw over anyone to win, because he, like everyone else on this show [Except Nick and Margaret, obviously - Rad], is an ass.

In the Renaissance Car, Sara thinks this will be an exciting task, because they have lots of creative people. Alex is wearing a lovely overcoat, but is still an utter tosser - you can tell by the way he's pursing his lips that he's already wondering who to finger to be fired in the event that they lose. Kevin says he couldn't be happier with his team, and another pre-show VT from Kevin shows him claiming that as a leader he inspires devotion, that people want to work for him because he makes their lives inspirational. This was where I texted my boyfriend and informed him that less than 10 minutes into the programme, Kevin was already inspiring serious lulz. Kevin goes on (and on and Ariston) to say that he had his first house by the age of 20, and a second house and a Porsche by 23, and now he wants a Ferrari. Do you want to make the obvious "penis extension" comment here, or shall I? [Can I just call him a total dick instead? - Fiona] He wants to be the most successful businessman the world has ever seen by the age of 40. I'm sure Bill Gates is terrified right now.

Alpha arrives at Hallmark's London studio, and have one day to invent a new occasion for their cards. The Best Salesperson in Europe suggests National Joke Day. Michael Sophocles thinks Cosmetic Surgery cards are the order of the day, though I assume he does not mean by implication that there should be a national day where everyone should have cosmetic surgery - he's just an idiot. Raef makes the bizarre point that women are happy to tell people they've had a boob job, but "more intimate" surgery like nose jobs is not the sort of thing you blab about. Oooookay. Michael Sophocles clarifies that this is aimed purely at the families of those who have had surgery. Proving that there is too such a thing as a suggestion you should keep to yourself, the flipchart (drink!) behind him says, brilliantly, "7. Aliens". Happy Aliens Day!

Renaissance. Jenny Celery suggests a Prom Day card, before suggesting an Environment card. Because really, what says "I AM ECOLOGICALLY AWARE" better than mass-manufacturing paper products that serve little to no purpose? Seriously, I know several people who do not buy cards any more because they're a waste of resources (either that or they're just tight), and I judge every single member of this team for not pointing out there and then what an absolutely fucking moronic idea that was. Sara suggests a religious theme like Eid cards, which she's had trouble getting hold of in the past, which is no doubt an excellent niche market to tap into, but is still not an event that they have created. Claire interrupts and asks Jenny Celery for more detail on the environmental cards. Jenny Celery's chin is fucking huge here, by the way. Jenny Celery elaborates on a possible Save the Planet day (because it can totally be done in 24 hours, with the power of a greetings card!) and Kevin adds that supermarkets are big on the eco-conscious theme nowadays. The supermarkets in Guildford where he shops, no doubt. Alex chew his pen. Kevin checks that everyone knows what they've been assigned, and they set off to "nail Alpha to the floor".

Voiceover Mark tells us about the pitches they will be making tomorrow: one is to the Celebrations group, with 288 stores across the country; one to Tesco; and one to market leader Clinton Cards. I have to quote this next piece of word vomit from Jenny Celery verbatim, because it's hilarious: "I would send a card to as many friends as possible to say look, start doing something about the huge impact that we're having on our environment. We're destroying the world with our actions. Let's take some action to counteract that." I bet her friends, assuming she has any, would love that. Incidentally, throughout this monologue Sara is busy looking through a dossier and taking notes, while Alex is staring off into space and pulling faces. This will be important later. Sara says they need to target the largest market possible, which causes Jenny Celery to snip that she's not going to target the smallest market, is she? Wow, professional! Sara tries to explain that she thinks pets might be a good idea, and Jenny Celery talks over her about how they need more than one idea, and basically does not let Sara get a word in edgeways. Alex continues to pull faces and stare into space (while wearing his lovely overcoat). All of this: important later. Sara complainterviews that her ideas are not being heard, which makes her think they must be rubbish, but when she brings them up again later, people want to know why she didn't say anything sooner. Because they're assholes, Sara - surely you can see that?

Sara, Jenny Celery, and Alex (whose coat does not look nearly as lovely from behind, and kind of makes him look like a monochrome Carmen Sandiego minus the hat) go to Clintons for product research. We see shots of cards "from the cat" and offering "diet congratulations", which confirms my belief that the greetings card industry is essentially pure evil. Jenny Celery asks a member of staff if they have any cards about losing weight or best friends, which they do, but that they don't have any support the environment cards. The employee does not add "because that would be utterly counterproductive, you total cretin", but you know she's thinking it. Outside, Jenny Celery interviews that the environment cards are "coming out on top", looking very pleased with herself, not that she doesn't usually.

Kevin agrees to go with environment cards, and is in the car with Claire on their way somewhere. He rhapsodises about how they can change the world, but only if the major retailers back them, so people can go out, buy a card, read some facts, and make a difference. Hopefully by vowing not to buy any more unnecessary cards. Interview Claire compares Kevin to a pitbull terrier, saying that he bites quickly and is arrogant, before adding that a lot of people in the house think he's got short-man syndrome, which is AWESOME and makes me love her [Claire is growing on me a lot, too - Rad]. Back in the car, Kevin tells Claire that pitching is what tiggers he does best. Interview Claire says that Kevin takes everything very seriously, but has a fun factor of zero.

Alpha team, consisting of Lee, Helene and Michael Sophocles, are also in a branch of Clinton's doing research. Michael Sophocles suggests they ask some people, so they go to the nearest pub and grab two drunk guys. Kidding! In a nearby shop (Card Fair, maybe?), Raef phones Michael Sophocles with an idea: how about a Singles Day for those who cannot celebrate Valentine's Day? This goes down well with Lee and Helene.

Lee and Michael Sophocles do research on the streets with actual real people this time. Michael Sophocles is embarrassingly overbearing, as usual. A group of young girls like the idea of a Singles Day, and suggest it should be the day before Valentine's Day. Team Alpha heads back to the studio to work on their Singles Day concept. Michael asks for a volunteer to do the pitch, since he's used to doing presentations over the phone rather than in person. In other words, he's one of those assholes who cold-calls you and tries to sell you broadband or something else you either already have or do not want. Ass. Everyone volunteers to do the pitch, and Michael Sophocles selects Raef to do it. Another pre-show VT, this time that one we've all seen before of Raef referring to the spoken word as his "tool". Fnar.

Renaissance head home to brainstorm designs for their cards. Kevin asks if anyone was good at poetry at school. Judging by his effort of "a house with no insulation / Is a crime against the nation / Don't be a cheat / Keep in the heat / And protect our next generation", Alex obviously was not. He looks ever so pleased with himself nonetheless.

Jenny Celery interviews that she's delighted the team is so passionate about her environmental idea. Emphasis on the "mental", no doubt. She claims to have talked Kevin into downsizing his Porsche for a bicycle. Don't do it, Kevin! Otherwise we'll have to add Boris Johnson to the long list of people you're likely to get mistaken for! Kevin brings up the subject of the pitch, and asks the others how confident they are that they could do it well. Claire says she'd be very confident, that she deals with pitches every day in her line of work and it doesn't faze her at all. Sara thinks on this occasion Jenny Celery or Claire would be the best person for the pitch. Jenny Celery is "hugely passionate about the project" and has a strong sales background. Kevin is "150% confident" (drink!) that he can go in there and nail the pitch, and decides that he should do it. Well, that's democratic. He thinks they should work together on what to go into the pitch, and then he can put his own personality into it. Sara looks a tad doubtful, perhaps because she alone has realised that Kevin's personality smells like rancid toxic ass. Interview Kevin brings on the hubris by saying that he's confident he can win an argument with Sralan Sugar about the environment, and that anybody who doesn't think the environment is worth saving is going to lose. Kevin has made many mistakes this week, but I think his utter failure to differentiate between "people who don't want to save the planet" and "people who consider this particular business venture to be unsustainable, hypocritical and massively flawed" is probably the most parlous one.

Raef is in bed, practicing his pitch to Lee and Michael Sophocles. Lee is very impressed with Raef's belief in his product. [I am very impressed with Lee - Fiona]

7.30am, the next day. The teams are off to shoot pictures and design their cards. They must be ready to pitch by 6pm. Kevin and Sara go to the design studio, where the chap in charge assumes Kevin's name is Alex. Heh. (This presumably implies that Alex made some kind of confirmation call to the design studio, which makes a sum total of two constructive things he has done on this task, assuming we can give him credit for the assy poetry.) The rest of Team Renaissance are at the photo shoot, with Jenny Celery and Alex trying to coerce a boy on a tricycle who looks like a MiniPops version of Chad from High School Musical [and also: that Ashleu/Sideshow Bob character from The X Factor the other year - Rad] to smile. MiniChad cries. [So would I if I had the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Jenny Celerie) gurning at me - Fiona] I'm not necessarily sure the two things were directly related, but it's funny, so I'll let it go. Jenny Celery fashions a skirt out of bin bags. It's pretty good, actually.

At 12.15pm, professional model Tom arrives. Not wishing to be unkind, but Tom is kind of ugly for a professional model. I know that Miss Tyra taught me that models are often not conventionally pretty, but he's kind of pale and scrawny and just not what I'd picture a male model to look like. Though it becomes clear soon after that he has not been hired for his face, but for his ass. Tom will be wearing a kilt, which will be blown up with a fan, which per Jenny Celery "will produce a serious message about people utilising wind power to use global warming". If she didn't exist, you'd have to invent her. Tom does a practice with his pants on, then Jenny Celery offers him a thong. Claire clarifies it's a women's thong. Hee. Tom, who's clearly a good sport, wears the thong. I hope he also remembers to -~SmiLe wiT HiS EyeZ~-. Back at the studio, Sara laughs at the picture and says it looks like Kevin, first of all, then she decides it looks like a woman. Hee.

Margaret finally interviews what every sentient viewer has been thinking: that it's very strange to send a card to promote environmental issues when it will be made out of paper and require an envelope and other such waste products. She also expresses concern that the card will contain "some sort of sermon", which she thinks is not what people want. Sara asks Kevin what he thinks of the card. Kevin says nothing.

Over on Team Alpha, Michael Sophocles is supervising the design and has sent Lucinda, Helene and The Best Salesperson in Europe to co-ordinate the shoot. Because that's not a recipe for disaster or anything. True to form, Michael Sophocles has not officially delegated responsibility to anyone. Oh dear. Lucinda says they need to discuss it between the three of them there, presumably to avoid any confusion between them and three completely separate people elsewhere. "No one's telling you what to do," Helene non-sequiturs. Essentially what this boils down to is a passive-aggressive argument between Helene and Lucinda with each deliberately pushing the other's buttons, and The Best Salesperson in Europe sat in the middle wishing she were anywhere else right now. Arriving at the studio, Helene wants to direct because she had a lot of the ideas. Helene interviews that Lucinda is always looking for an argument and trying to court sympathy. She's pretty on the money there, but Helene really hasn't behaved that much better either. Models arrive, and it has been decided that The Best Salesperson in Europe and Helene will direct the shoot, while Lucinda takes charge of the props. The first photo is for a card aimed at single mums.

At the studio, Michael Sophocles is working with Lee on the layout, but has a problem about the location of the apostrophe in "National Singles Day", if there is one. So he rings the Telegraph and asks for the editing department. Seriously. He then bitches that they're taking too long, and phones the British Library. A chatty-sounding woman says that it's a difficult one, and that she can check and ring him back, while the ever-charming Michael Sophocles rolls his eyes and make finger-gun gestures under his chin. ASS. They get a whole selection of conflicting answers, much to Raef's amusement.

Team Renaissance have done their pictures and are heading back to the studio. Claire thinks Kevin should have his pitch ready by now, since they've been working so hard, and hopes that he isn't going to drone on. Voiceover Mark informs us that the pitch is in two and a half hours. In the car, Claire thinks Jenny Celery should be doing the pitch, not Kevin. Alex says that he voiced that to Kevin last night, which my Alex-English dictionary translates as "KEVIN SHOULD BE FIRED SHOULD THIS GO DOWN THE SHITTER. NOT I."

They arrive back at the studio, and Kevin hands them the inside of the card to look over. Claire questions the italics, and Kevin tells her the font decision has been made, so Claire asks why he bothered to ask for her opinion in the first place. Point to Claire. Kevin sends Jenny Celery, Claire and Alex off to start work on the pitch while he and Sara finish off. Claire says that Kevin is stressed.

Over on Alpha, they've been arguing about the apostrophe for three-and-a-half hours, so Michael makes an executive decision to put the apostrophe after the s so they can get on and print. Back at Renaissance, Kevin puts his pitch together with a lot of help from Claire, who babies him through it. It becomes increasingly apparent that Kevin may have two houses and a Porsche, but he lacks a clue. Kevin realises he's fucked, and suggests Claire should do the pitch. Claire thinks that Jenny Celery should do the pitch. Jenny Celery and her chin are amused that it has come back to her at this late stage in the game. She says she wanted to do it yesterday, but is not prepared to do it at two hours' notice. She interviews that she was not willing to accept responsibility for Kevin's failings. Nor indeed her own, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Pitching time! Alpha arrive at Clinton Cards HQ, and Raef pitches their Singles' Day idea. The cards look fairly good, but Male Clinton Executive questions the timing of the event, saying that they will have turned 40% of the store over to Valentine's Day in the run-up to the day itself, and he would be reluctant to have this fighting for space with one of their major seasons. They then head to Tesco, which is apparently No.2 in the greetings card industry, a fact that makes my soul die a little. I bet it kills them that they're not No.1, as well. Raef opens by bragging that they've just come back from a very positive meeting with the market leader, and I still haven't decided if that's a brilliant strategy or an appalling one, so I shall just keep going. Mr Tesco doesn't think people want to celebrate being single the day before Valentine's Day. Lee says that many single people despise Valentine's Day and they want to tap into that market and encourage them to be proud of their singledom. "Right. Who's going to send the card?" asks Mr Tesco. Silence.

Outside, the team discuss the issue with the date. Michael Sophocles and The Best Salesperson in Europe think the date is scuppering their pitch, while Raef thinks that to do so would be to undermine the whole thing. Michael Sophocles decides to remove the date from the pitch. They head to the Celebrations Group. Ms Celebrations asks when National Singles Day would be, and Raef flounders around being "open to suggestion", which she correctly reads as them not knowing. Lee interjects that they want to make sure logistically it's viable for the retailers, which is a very shrewd move at this point. Michael Sophocles smarms that he has single parent friends he would love to send that card to, because they're "a forgotten part of society". Really? Okay.

Team Renaissance pitch. Kevin tells Alex that the concept is so strong, he'd really have to balls this up for it not to sell itself. Well, he got 50% of that statement right. They go to Clinton's first, and Kevin opens by quoting statistics, which instantly puts me in mind of Nargis and the cat calendar and this was when I knew with absolute certainty that Renaissance would lose. Kevin's pitch is stilted and kind of angry. Female Clinton's Executive asks him who his target consumer is, and Kevin starts rattling off some nonsense about the diverse audience of the Live 8 concerts, who were totally there because they loved the planet and not because they wanted to see Madonna for free. Male Clinton's Executive makes this point too, and asks Kevin what the motivation is to go into the shop and buy this card. Kevin says their market is everyone. Jenny Celery opens her mouth wide and sticks her foot right in it by saying that she has cut down hugely on the number of cards she buys because she's aware of the environmental impact that they have. That's her entire point, in case you were wondering. And she still doesn't realise why this product is horribly, fatally flawed. Moron. Female Clinton's Executive asks if they really think that card will make somebody smile, and in fairness, it would make me smile because I would know that it was what got Kevin fired (oops, spoiler), but I see her point.

Oh, and this is where it gets awesome. Kevin: "If you don't put your weight behind it, then it's just the same as the US saying we don't care about pollution." OH YES HE DID. In the lady car, Claire derides Kevin's lack of presentation and wonders if they might've found him just a teensy bit angry, while in the man car, Kevin says to Alex that he doesn't have any concerns about the product, and that if Clinton's don't want to support it, they are an environmentally unfriendly company. Alex smiles to himself, safe in the knowledge that he can sit back and let Kevin get himself fired. "If that's the attitude everyone takes, then we're not going to be able to save any planet," mourns Kevin. Yep. You're certainly not going to save Uranus. (No, I'm not above that joke.)

At the Celebrations group, their buyer asks if an eco-conscious person wouldn't be more likely to send an e-card. Kevin thinks they wouldn't, because the point of this card is to be educational. Which apparently an e-card cannot achieve. He throws out some more statistics. The Celebrations Buyer thinks the message is good, but doesn't believe a card is the most appropriate medium. So Kevin suggests balloons, which totally won't pop over the sea and choke the fish and seagulls or anything. Outside, Claire advises Kevin to tone down the aggression in his pitch. I like that she at least has the decency to tell him that. Kevin goes in to pitch to Tesco, and their buyer doesn't seem to have any great objections that we see. Kevin calls for a Team Renaissance hug, though why he'd want to give the likes of Alex and Jenny Celery any more of an opportunity to stab him in the back is a mystery to me.

Boardroom. Sralan asks Michael Sophocles about his idea. Sralan asks who sends the Singles Day cards. The Best Salesperson in Europe says that you could buy a card for your friend or your sister at the same time as you're buying a Valentine's card for a loved one. Sralan makes the point as a retailer that he wouldn't want it jostling for space at one of his busiest times, and asks Michael Sophocles if he would reconsider the idea. Michael Sophocles does not recognise a leading question when he hears one, so he says no. Sralan asks for feedback on Michael Sophocles's leadership. Lee says he was good. Sralan asks for Nick's feedback, and Nick says that he did well, but brings up the four hour apostrophe catastrophe. Margaret laughs. Nick facetiously mentions the involvement of the editor of the Daily Telegraph. Michael Sophocles starts to roll his eyes, and Sralan tells him not to be so impatient because he's asking him a question. Michael Sophocles says that it was three hours, not four, somewhat impertinently. He is going to get such a smackdown later, you mark my words.

Sralan turns to Kevin. Sralan looks up scornfully at the idea of a Love Your Planet week, saying that cards are for personal sentiment, not political rhetoric. He asks who did the pitch, and when Kevin says that he did it, Sralan asks if the team thought he was the best man for the job. Claire says no, that she thought she or Jenny should have done it. Sralan remembers that Claire is a retail buyer by trade. Claire says that Kevin was determined to do the pitch himself.

Results. Tesco first of all: they bought 6000 cards from Renaissance, but only 1500 from Alpha. Clinton's didn't buy any cards from Renaissance, and another 1500 from Alpha. Celebrations didn't buy any cards from Renaissance either, and bought 19,500 from Alpha. Seriously. That there is one ass-whoopin', served up steamin'. Michael Sophocles screams (literally screams, I tell you) "COME ON! COME ON!!" and thumps the desk in triumph, looking like a murderous toddler. Margaret's look of horror is truly priceless [Although not as priceless as Nick's revelation on You're Fired that he and Margaret were texting about this on their way home. Also awesome on YF - Jenny Celery and Claire laughing when they found Little Britain cards with Matt Lucas on in the shops - Rad]. Sralan chides him for his outburst, which he says was like something you'd hear at a football match. Alpha's reward is a private recital from Myleene Klass. That is so fucking lame [I know! They could at least have got Barrowman to sing as well - Rad]. Alpha leave.

Sralan tells Renaissance that he could tell from the get-go that their idea was no idea, and that two leading specialist retailers agreed with him. They head off to Loser Café for the deconstruction. Kevin proves he has learnt nothing by saying that the concept is still strong, it's just not marketable. Claire thinks the first and second pitches were unclear. Jenny Celery, now acutely aware that she is royally in the shit, seizes upon the person she perceives to be the weakest: Sara. She tells the others that Sara contributed no ideas. Sara points out that any attempt she made to contribute ideas were shouted down and ignored by Jenny Celery. In an interview, Jenny Celery says that Sara delivered nothing but a smug look in the corner, and contributed nothing to the team.

I'm already overlong here, but let's just analyse that statement, shall we?
1) How does Jenny Celery know what Sara did or did not do for the vast part of the day at which they were working in entirely separate locations?
2) To say that Sara contributed no ideas is an untruth. Her religious cards idea was good but not in keeping with the task. Her attempts at conveying her ideas for pet-related cards were ignored, as were any other ideas she may have had.
3) What precisely did Alex do, if not sit there looking smug and doing as little work as possible? [as ever - Rad]

Myleene plays for Alpha. The Best Salesperson in Europe bobs her head to the music, which is kind of adorkable.

Boardroom 2: Electric Boogaloo. NotFrances sends the candidates in to see Sralan. Sralan repeats that he does not see the point of sending these cards, and tells Kevin that they went off on a misguided environmental crusade. He asks for the prime innovator of the eco-card, and Jenny Celery admits it was her. Sralan says that the last thing an eco-conscious person would do is buy a pointless card, and Kevin disagrees. Kevin says they were not trying to preach (lie) and Sralan rightly calls bullshit on this.

According to Sralan, better card ideas for today would be bereavement cards like, and I quote, "sorry to hear that your eleven-year-old beautiful child got shot in the head by a hoodie" or "sorry to hear that your loving husband with two children got kicked to a pulp". Well, if he will insist on living in Hackney. Sralan says that Clinton Cards thought the pitch was dreadful, that Kevin was cocky, preachy and arrogant. He asks if anyone else volunteered, and Claire and Jenny Celery raise their hands. The ever-reliable Margaret says it's a good idea that Jenny Celery did not do it, because she admitted in a meeting that she tries not to buy cards in order to be eco-friendly. Sralan is all, "bitch said what?" Jenny Celery says that the concept fulfils a hole in the market if pitched correctly. Sralan: *facepalm*.

Sralan reminds Kevin that Claire is a retail buyer, and that a good manager knows when to step back and let an expert use their own skills. Kevin says that when he tried to prepare the pitch at 3pm, he asked Claire to take over. Sralan correctly identifies this as Kevin having bottled it, though Kevin denies this. Claire explains that Kevin claimed to have known what he was doing, and that she tried to help out. Margaret points out that Claire tried to push Jenny Celery up to do the presentation instead.

This is Jenny Celery's moment to pounce on Sara, claiming that Sara did nothing on the first day (lie) and that while they at least tried to deliver success, Sara wasn't even a part of that. Frankly, I would've thought that "Sara contributed nothing to this wretched and flawed idea" is a ringing recommendation for Sara, but I doubt Jenny Celery sees it that way. Sara says that every time she tried to put an idea across, Jenny Celery attacked her. "That is absolute rubbish!" Jenny Celery says, attacking Sara. Jenny Celery asks Alex for support, and Alex, lazy fucking weasel that he is, tries to support Jenny Celery's view of events, but thankfully Sara, for once in her life, refuses to be shouted down and tells him to shut up and let her finish. Sara asks Kevin to back up her assertion that they worked very hard together designing the cards. Sralan says that he's old and wise enough to know when people are ganging up on somebody, which at least makes him smarter than Donald Trump, so he's going to discount 75% of what he heard. Sralan asks Claire who should be fired, and Claire says Sara, which is pretty snakey of her considering how hard she was gunning for Jenny Celery earlier. Kevin also names Sara as the one he would fire, because he has not one single lone thought that was not placed in his head by someone else. Sralan asks Kevin who he will bring back into the boardroom, and Kevin says Sara and Claire, thereby setting up his own firing. Excellent work there, Kev [he really was one of the most muppetlike contestants this year. How did he get as far as this? - Rad].

Sralan deliberates with Nick and Margaret while the three candidates wait outside. Sralan says Kevin is "not mature enough", while Claire should've taken over the pitch. He calls NotFrances to send them back in. Sralan asks Kevin what Claire is doing there. Kevin whimpers that Claire has commercial experience, which he lacks, and he feels that with her experience she could've recognised their product wasn't marketable. Sralan rightly points out that it was Jenny Celery's idea, and it would've made more sense to bring in Jenny Celery rather than Claire. Sralan asks Claire why she didn't step up and take over the task, and he doesn't understand why so much blame has been placed with Sara. Claire says that on the past three tasks, Sara has said afterwards that she had a great idea that wasn't listened to. Interesting. Sara is pretty efficient here though, asking Claire if she genuinely believes that the reason they lost is not because they had an utterly unmarketable product, or that they pitched poorly, but because Sara was allegedly not working hard enough at a point when Claire was not even present to witness it. Advantage Sara. Sralan asks Kevin why they failed, and Kevin admits it was the product, and is thus asked why Sara has been brought back in. Kevin parrots back a version of Claire's earlier answer.

Sralan asks Claire why they failed, and Claire says it was the product. Sralan asks her why, then, Jenny Celery is not at the final table. Claire: "I've got no idea. Kevin?" Hee. Kevin says that Jenny Celery worked very hard and very creatively, and Sralan says that she did so on a poor idea, and he suspects that she ran the task, which Kevin hotly denies. Kevin lies that he had complete control. Sralan asks Kevin to explain why he should not be fired. Kevin whines that Sralan will not find a more loyal, hardworking employee than him. Bitch, that reason didn't work for Simon so it sure as hell isn't going to work for you. Sralan expresses concern that all Sara does is moan. He tells Claire that they've had their run-ins, but he thinks she's learning from her experiences. And finally, he tells Kevin that the task was a fiasco, and fires him. Hooray! He sends Sara and Claire back to the house.

Kevin leaves. Coatwatch: a long, fairly dull black number with a round collar. It's not a patch on Lindi's coat last week. In the cab, Kevin says that he's angry that people are still in the house who should not be there, and he truly believes that Sara should've been fired.

Back at the house, Lee wonders who's coming back. Nervously, The Best Salesperson in Europe says that she would've fired Kevin. Jenny Celery's neck snaps around ninety degrees. "And not Sara?" she screeches. HO, SIT DOWN. The boardroom is over. Your muckracking has no place here. Sara arrives back and someone screams "told ya!" Lucinda gives Sara a hug, though her reception is lukewarm at best. I'm guessing Sara is not well-liked. Claire reappears and says that Kevin talked himself into his firing. Michael Sophocles says that Kevin should in no way have been fired this week. Bitch, you were ON THE OTHER TEAM. What the fuck do you know about it? Lee, who had previously seemed like a decent bloke, and who stood up for Lucinda last week when no one else would, suddenly flips: "If I'm project manager next week, and I've got to manage people like Sara, I don't know what I'm managing. If four people out of five thought you didn't contribute, why are you sitting on that sofa?" [I am no longer impressed with Lee - Fiona] Yes indeed, what possible reason could four people have to gang up against someone on a competitive reality show with a substantial cash reward for the winner? Sara says that it was a team effort, and that she contributed to the market research, and Lee interrupts: "The facts are this (sic): if you don't perform, you're out. Simple as that. And if you don't step up to the mark, you're going to the boardroom. Simple as that. End of story." I suspect the last story Lee McQueen got to the end of may have been one from the Janet and John series. Anyway, he's obviously got a nasty streak to him. Alex tries to pile on too, but Raef defends Sara, saying that Sralan has made a decision and there's nothing to be gained from grilling Sara. Alex falls back on the "but it's my opinion" argument, so beloved of the arrogant and wrong the world over.

"Did Sara's lack of contribution mean you failed the task? No it didn't," says Claire. This riles Jenny Celery: "Oh, so in future I'll take the easy option that will guarantee I can not work as a team member?" Well, if it means you won't be offering any more dipshit suggestions in future projects, I would say that's an excellent approach. We fade out on the candidates all arguing, and that was a deeply unpleasant way to end an otherwise highly enjoyable episode.

Next week: bartering in Marrakech [an opportunity for Michael Sophocles' ace negotiaon skillz to shine once again - Rad]!


Sarah said...

Great blog, as ever

I thought the way they went for Sara at the end was absolutely disgusting. Unless she's a kitten killing nazi on the side and that's been edited out, it was just bullying - I just can't believe they'd talk to someone's face like that. Not even to her face really, just about her, in her presence. I think I might still be in shock!

Lee McQueen has gone so far down in my estimations. And Jenny Celery - haaaaaaaaaaate. Liked it when someone said to her in the back of the car "You're the man". Indeed.

Liked what Sara was wearing at the start - mustardy jacket and black leather gloves. And also all of Lucinda's outfits of course, especially the wee willie winkie nightdress.

Tellygirl said...

I was AMAZED that any of the retailers bought any cards at all. But unlike the candidates, I do my research and a quick google reveals that:
Clintons have about 700 stores, so they bought two cards per shop
Tesco have nearly 2000 outlets, so let's say nine cards per shop
- hardly ringing endorsements!

Cool recap, nice work. I can't believe that Raef is looking like the best of this sorry bunch at the moment, I initially hated him!

CCB said...

It was revealed on "You're Fired" that "7. Aliens" ended up on the flipchart because Lee McQueen suggested that the day aliens land on earth would be "an event" (true) and that people would want to send cards to others about it (er...not so much).

Also revealed was the fact that Nick and Margaret text each other, which is a fabulous concept for so many reasons.

Samuel said...

To be honest, i'd think i'd rather receive a child death by hoodie card than something that lets people condescendingly remind you how crushingly lonely singledom must be.
Aliens day can't come soon enough, really.