Thursday, 30 April 2009

Value Added Twats

As you may have heard, there’s this job going at NotAmstrad. The pay will be bang on £100,000 which is much less than the runners-up will make from media appearances, and in order to succeed at it, you’ll need to lose all sense of personality or ambition and develop a strong appreciation for sitting in a storecupboard with no windows. Still, that’s months away and for now you’ve got a telly show to make… welcome to The Apprentice.

I’ve realised that every time I get to do a recap it’s a really dull week so I apologise in advance for this one and the rather dull task, it’s clearly my fault for being on the rota. So, onwards.

Last week Kate stormed to victory with an advert that had a jingle I’ve still got in my head a week later, whilst on the losing team, Philip bulldozed everyone into thinking selling breakfast cereals to children using a character called Pantsman, who is allowed to wear his pants outside his clothes, but you’re not because eating the cereal means you don’t put your pants on over your clothes. Everyone was confused, Kimberly proved to be a cream puff, but not in the least bit ruff or tuff and was FIRED and Steve recapped it all for you a little further down the page.

Crackden Apartments. Philip finally answers the phone in his pants, but it’s too late to try and get us interested in you now, cuntwipe.

This week we’re off to an auction house in Chiswick and in this place people come to have their products VALUED and sold. Get the emphasis there? Good, because the next think Sralan says is that this task is about selling. He’s then all cryptic and like ‘sell them but don’t take everything at face value’.

More team swapping, which makes Ignite and Empire meaningless as team names. Anyway, Kate and Noorul swap, presumably on the grounds that swapping possibly the best candidate with possibly the worst one will make the teams more even. Ben and Philip are the team leaders which automatically means there’s no-one to root for this week.

Sralan asks if everything’s clear – it truly isn’t.

Sralan PTCs that they have ten items but don’t have to sell them all, they do have to sell them at the right price and the right value. This wasn’t particularly clear from his instructions earlier, although it was revealed on You’re Fired that the written brief was a little clearer. The items they have to sell include a rug, some shoes and a box of books. Ben tells Imnite they need to value their items.

Ben VTs that he is a natural born leader and that’s what Sandhurst saw in him, and situations when he’s under pressure, under gun fire, is when he can lead. Interestingly, his voice wobbles a bit as he’s saying this.

Over at Egpire, Philip says he and Lorraine fight but he doesn’t want that any more. He then tells Lorraine off for looking at a rug which isn’t important. He VTs that she’s erratic, for example, she’s looking at a rug made ‘about five years ago’ and that she’s volatile.

Ben decides to ‘lead from the front’ and takes seven items to sell, whilst Philip divides his team’s articles in half.

Philip is convinced the skeleton has the highest value and goes to see a dealer in old curiosities. They tell him it’s amazing and ask if he’s sold that kind of thing. The dealer says no, it’s too new, and suggests they try the universities.

Ben ‘leads an assault’ on book dealers. Interestingly their pile includes some sort of Take That annual circa 1992. The VO tells us the booksellers know their stuff but can’t be rushed. After a few seconds, Ben starts to ask for a decision on a costume book, which the dealer says is worth £10 at the most. After a couple of valuations, Ben leads and says he can’t take any shit ‘I’m fed up of these book people talking shit to me for too long’. Debrabarr says they just want to talk at you. Ben then snarks that this is a horrible task for him to be PM of so will no doubt blame the task if it all goes wrong.

Philip still has his skeleton bone-on whilst Lorraine is keen on the rug. Philip says ‘it’s a nylon rug, made in the last year, try and heed some of my advice’. Lorraine tries to persuade him to get a valuation and he dismisses her.

Ben’s team go to another book dealer with their first edition Octopussy – it’s a James Bond specialist store, so they’ve struck gold. Debrabarr negotiates well and gets £100 from him. Ben shakes his hand, just in case you were worrying he didn’t totally nail that negotiation with his ace skillz.

Philip and co wheel their skeleton into a pub and accost some customers asking if they are doctors or nurses. Philip then shouts out ‘anyone interested in buying a skeleton?’ Someone asks how much and says he’ll give them two quid. Another man asks what it retails at. Philip says £250-300 and the man offers £150. They agree on £160 cash. Margaret says they were very lucky ‘they found someone in a bar who’d wanted one all his life’ but that they learned it was worth trying. I think she might be vaguely impressed at their gall.

Kate tries to flog another book to a market trader and they debate over whether or not she has hungry eyes, and I think he's trying to come onto her a bit which makes me feel rather queasy.

Yasmina and Ben sell some jellied eels in melting ice for £30 to a fishmonger who doesn’t seem keen but thinks getting on the telly might boost his business.

The voiceover tells us that the Indian rug is worth over £200. At this point, everyone I was watching with exploded with glee.

Philip tries to sell it at a flea market and the sellers all think it’s too expensive for them to afford. Margaret says this must be one of the most stupid activities they have ever engaged in. Lorraine VTs that she keeps bringing up the need for the rug to be valued and keeps being told it’s a piece of shite, so she;s quite confused as to whether it’s a gem or a piece of shite. Heh, love Lorraine a little bit today.

Noorul’s found a taker for the skeleton, and both the voiceover and Yasmina sound amazed he’s managed to sell. It’s apparently worth over £150 (not £250-300). They meet a man who says he’s a student and therefore needs a discount. He offers them £50 and Noorul flounders for an eternity before Ben steps in and says he appreciates the man’s a student, ‘but it’s springloaded on the jaw!’ They agree on £60.

Yasmina and Deke go to some rug shops in North London but are told it’s too expensive for that area by several shop owners, who clearly wouldn’t know a piece of one year old nylon shite if it walked into their shop rolled up. Oh, wait…

Philip and co try selling door to door, but people don’t seem to need rugs. Margaret is speechless and apart from Lorraine, they’ve ignored its true value all day and they’ll be lucky to get £10 for it the way they’re going on.

Two hours left and Ben can’t get a buyer for the commode. He suggests selling it as ‘an accessory, rather than what it actually is’. A dealer says it’s not interested as he doesn’t have clients for those types of chairs. They ask if he’ll buy it for a fiver. He says he’ll give them a fiver to go away. Ben wonders if they should offer people money to take it. He calls Debrabarr’s half of the team and tells them to get rid of the rug and come back to him. She says they don’t have time. Yasmina bitches that Debrabarr’s tone of voice is horrible, and she clearly hasn’t forgiven her for futureblackbabygate.

In Greenwich market, Ben’s trying to offload his remaining five items, including vintage shoes worth over £100. He suggests selling them as a load of crap for £1. Nick VTs that they’re treating the whole thing as a ‘flog-off’ and Ben needs to get a grip.

Thirty-five minutes to go, and Philip still has the rug and he ‘cannae believe they cannae sell it’. A market trader tells him she doesn’t have the clientele for it. Philip has not heard a single word a trader has said to him all episode. I imagine Philip’s head is like Homer Simpson’s when he has that little cartoon jingle going on in it all the time, only in Philip’s head is a loop of him singing the ‘pants on your head’ song and guffawing at himself. They call out at a passer by and ask if he wants to buy a rug. The man asks if it’s blue. Philip says he needs to sell it and will offer £50. The man says he wants blue. Mona says ‘there’s blue in it’. The man is all ‘are you avin’ a larf?’ He says he’ll give them £50 because it’s brand new (and he’s on telly). He goes off and Lorraine says ‘that was the gem’ and she feels the rug and the shoes were the valuable items. Philip says ‘you never fail to disappoint, you didn’t say anything about the rug all day and now you’re changing your tune’. A whole nation throws darts at their tellies.


Sralan says some of those products were worth more than you thought, bit like him, not much to look at but worth lots. He asks if Ben was a good team leader. A couple of the team go ‘alright’ in the most damning-with-faint-praise way ever. Sralan asks if he’s tired. Ben says ‘exhausted’. Sralan says ‘never mind’. He asks Ben if it was too tough for him. Ben says yeah but no but yeah but no.

He asks if Philip was a good team leader and if they've gotten over last week. Lorraine says yes, they were professional. Philip talks about the books and Sralan makes a racialist slur by saying he can’t understand Philip’s accent. He asks if anyone else made valuations. Lorraine says she wanted to value the rug but no-one else did and she didn’t want to cause trouble like on the previous task. Sralan says ‘but you were right last time’. Yes, and you told her off for it. Margaret calls her the ‘Cassandra’ of the team, which no-one else in the room gets, but Margaret is clearly on a BBC-sponsored mission to educate and inform us about classical mythology, so now we all know that Cassandra was a 'prophetess' who was always right but nobody listened to. Sralan says Lorraine needs to speak up, which is exactly the opposite of what he told her last week, so I think the poor bladdy woman's on a hiding to nothing, and tells Philip off for not taking any notice of his team.

Sralan will be calculating profit/loss on what they sold against what the items were worth. Impire make a loss of £96 and Egnite make a THUMPING net loss of £269. Sralan says as far as Philip’s team are concerned they won, but not for him as they made a bladdy loss. He says Philip’s mind is like concrete, fully mixed but set in its ways. Heh. He says their prize is truffle tasting, but not the chocolate kind. Kate cheers and everyone else looks nonplussed, presumably as they’d prefer chocolate.

The other team need to prepare themselves and they’re gonna need that bladdy commode as one of them’s gonna get fired.

At the meal, Philip says he’s always wanted this to happen to him, although we’re not clear what the ‘this’ is and he says there must be a real difference between cheap wine and other stuff because what they’re drinking is really smooth. No shit, Sherlock. He toasts ‘Cassandra’ for putting up with him and she looks displeased because she knows he's learned fuck-all this past couple of tasks.

Loser café is looking even more crumbly than ever. Yasmina says ‘it’ll be interesting to see where Sralan points us to apportion the blame’, clearly proving she will know how to read a boardroom should she end up leading a team in there. Interesting. Debrabarr VTs that she doesn’t know who’ll get fired but it won’t be her.

Sralan says anyone with half a brain cell would sit down and work out where the gems are in the pile of stuff and work out what to sell. Why didn’t that happen? It didn’t happen in the other team either, which might suggest that your instructions were a crock of shit. I’m just saying. Sralan says they failed in identifying prices and seemed to think it was important to sell at any price because for the first time ever they were clearly thinking of previous tasks. Nick says Ben closed the deal with the skeleton. Noorul says ‘no he didn’t, I did’. Nick says erm no you dickweed, you floundered about and Ben had to step in.

Sralan asks Debrabarr what the problem was and she says the division of items didn’t work, they should have divided them equally. Yasmina jumps in on her very quickly and says she’s making the same point over and over again and Debrabarr is just a vortex of negativity. Debrabarr says she sold the most and didn’t cause any rift in her group (Ben: ‘that’s cos I didn’t let you’). Nick says Ben was instrumental in the books. Debrabarr says ‘Nick, how can you say that? I sold it and Ben was just there’ and although SHE DID NOT just shout at Nick, she is actually completely in the right here. Ben flounders, because he knows he did fuck all, and ends up saying ‘are you disagreeing with Nick?’

Sralan tells her off for talking to Nick like he’s a second-class citizen, and really, she should totally know better than to react like that in the boardroom, but I can understand her frustration. However, making an enemy of Nick is never a good move, and this could come back to bite her in future weeks.

Sralan asks Ben who he’ll bring back. Ben says when you decide you look at how people have done over the whole competition. Sralan says ‘no you won’t, that’s my job, you pick on this task, you asswipe’. Ben says he’ll bring back Noorul and… Deke. Deke and Sralan are all ‘Deke? Read the room’ so Ben says ‘oh no no I was deliberating between Deke and Debra’. Debra says BRING IT LOSERBOY and Ben flimflams that he’ll bring Debra, he doesn’t know what James contributed. Sralan asks if he was bringing back Deke because a village was missing its idiot. In the end it’s Debra and Noorul. Noorul says ‘you’d better have good reasons for bringing me back’. Oh, Noorul.

Nick, Margaret and Sralan conflab and Nick says Ben’s lost his fighting spirit, and this from a man who got an offer from Sandhurst. Margaret: ‘he didn’t actually GO there, though, did he?’

Sralan says Ben looks like a defeated man. Ben says 'I CAN WIN', which is apparently this year’s MAKE ME PM and 'the man to my left doesn’t have any qualities'. Noorul tries to defend himself and the two of them shout over each other. Noorul says he was brought in because he had the balls to say the strategy was flawed because the others were shitting it in case speaking up puts them in the bottom three, which is the only insightful thing he’s said all series. Ben shouts that his strategy was fine. Debrabarr tries to argue and he shouts at her to shut up and LET ME FINISH. Debrabarr says ‘when you’re finished, will you let me know?’. Heh.

He moans at Debrabarr about being ‘corrosive’ and she says they should have divided the items up. He says ‘that’s got nothing to do with it’ (even though he had five items to flog at the last minute). They all bicker and Ben shouts and whinges that the other two shout too much. He says he brought Debrabarr back because she was rude about booksellers. Pot. Kettle. Debrabarr helpfully reminds him of this and he sniffles about how he didn’t and his MUM IS DEAD. Oh, wrong show.

Sralan asks Noorul why he shouldn’t be fired. Noorul says he sold three items (also: is it just me, or does Noorul look like a Halloween mask with those big dark circled hollow eyes of his?), and names the skeleton as one of these and the bike as another. Sralan says he sold the bike at a lower price than anything else. He says Ben is volatile and didn’t do anything, he’s rude, arrogant and doesn’t let anyone speak. This is usually the cure for Sralan to make some comment about how someone reminds him of his youth, so I’m not excited it’s going anywhere. Sralan says Ben talks down to so many people, he’s getting a rick in his neck looking up. Noorul thinks Ben should be fired.

Debrabarr thinks Ben should go for being an asswipe and Ben thinks Noorul should go because Sralan hates him and has had it in for him for weeks he’s sat on the fence throughout the competition. Noorul tries to defend himself and Ben goes ‘just let me finish (big huffy sigh), just let me finish’. Noorul tells him to speak properly and justify his reasons. Ben fails to do so.

Sralan asks why Ben shouldn’t be fired. He says I’m a good leader and I’m really really good at it and I CAN DO THIS. Noorul says Ben’s always on about his magazine deals. Ben says ‘that’s unfair, I say that erm, as a joke’. Sralan’s bladdy eyes go through his bladdy eyebrows.

Sralan is worried Ben is a broken man because of his age, which is not 24. Ben shakes his head. Sralan says Noorul is a bit lucky and other people have been outraged he hasn’t been brought into the boardroom when they were. Debrabarr, I can’t put up with someone with a mouth like yours, trust me love, you’re nothing special (but you could easily come in second). However, Noorul, to no-one’s surprise whatsoever, you’re fired. He tells Debrabarr never to shoot her mouth off like that again but fails to warn Ben for being a total cunt. He says whoever employs Noorul better get a receipt. That’s us isn’t it, from our taxes? Money back, NOW.

Coatwatch, boring and grey. How appropriate. (Although I’m secretly excited that it’s grey and not black). Noorul gives the usual ‘Sralan made the wrong choice’ spiel, but I don’t think he believes it.

Crackden apts. They are split over who should return, but ‘Cassandra’ thinks it’ll be Debrabarr in a shock firing. Ben and Debrabarr return. Deke tells Ben he gives it all mouth and then he crapped his pants. Beginning to love Deke, despite him clearly being a bit crap.

Next week: trade sales, which is always cause for much epic failery, although two sales tasks in two weeks is a little badly planned.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Brand of Gold

Week Five
TX: 22nd April 2009

So, you guys? I hear Sralan Sugar is looking for someone to hire for a job with a six-figure salary, and he likes to talk about it without moving his lips while reading the FT in a helicopter.

Last week: Sralan gathered the teams in Kew Gardens to tell them they would be making cosmetics for Lush an unspecified Poole-based cosmetics company. Ignite attempted to catch more flies with sticky, messy honey than with vinegar, Noorul PMed by standing in the background and hoping everyone got on with it so he wouldn't look back, Kimberly had a fight with Philip while Lorraine tut-tutted at them, while Empire put too much sandalwood in their otherwise lovely product and ended up spending over £700 on fragrances in oils, bringing back a bladdy loss, and while Ben was nothing less than a cunt all episode, Paula couldn't escape responsibility for the financial fuck-up and was fired.

This week: 6am. Some people are already up: Noorul is ironing a shirt (one of Ben's, unless anyone else this year has sufficiently bad taste to wear coloured shirts with white collars), while a fully-clothed Debrabarr answers the phone to NotFrances. Sralan wants to meet them all at the Imax next to Waterloo. Phil, his paunch and his ugly tattoo think they will be making movies. Everyone else gets up and puts their clothes on and beats an eager retreat from Crackden Apts before all the hobos can throw stones at them.

At the Imax, everything is larger than life, including Sralan (who is on screen, just to clarify, he hasn't been nibbling on a fairy cake labelled "eat me"). The reason they are here is because there's a 1500 square-metre billboard outside, one of the largest in the country, which commands top dollar with advertisers. This segues rather roughly into the task, which is to create a brand identity for a new product of Sralan's: breakfast cereal. Surely you'd just called it Amsflakes? Cheeriams? Golden Alans? I would be so good at this task. Once they've branded it, they have to make a TV advert. Sralan has laid on one of the world's biggest advertising agencies - they've got two days to make the ad and pitch it to the agency, but it will fall to Sralan to decides who wins. Then it gets a bit weird because Nick and Margaret (in the theatre with the contestants, not on the screen with Sralan) pipe up who they will be following: Ignite for Nick, Empire for Margaret.

London porn. The teams drive off to the agency, while Mark Halliley fills us in with a bit more information on the voiceover: the campaign must feature a brand-new character and a well-designed box. Kimberly will be leading Ignite, and she's excited because she's been waiting for this task ever since the beginning, being a marketing consultant and everything. Obviously, because we saw how well the food task went for Rocky, and all the wonderful contributions Noorul made to the chemistry-based task. Kimberly tells Noorul and Philip, who share her car, that they are going to have to trust her. Philip immediately commences blameshifting, telling Kim that he will do what she tells him (lie), but if it doesn't work she'll be accountable for it. Kim grimaces. [They never learn do they? Noorul has the look of a man who knows he is safe for this week at least - Fiona]

Over in the Empire taxi, Kate (the artist formerly known as Dr Addison Montgomery) will be PM, and she begins by informing Ben that there will be no "sex sells" messages this time.

The team arrive at the McCann Erickson agency, where the walls are painted with all kinds of "kooky" "creative" "inspirational" bits of artwork, which would probably leave me feeling suicidal if I had to work there longer than three minutes. First job is to sample the cereal, which is made of bran flakes, rice puffs and dried fruit, and looks like the sort of thing I used to feed to my hamster. Before it died. Possibly of malnutrition. Kate's team focus on the child-friendly aspect of the promotion, and Ben says that he's trying to get into a child's head. I don't know why he doesn't inhale a small child in order to gain their powers, given how much he looks like Kirby. To his credit, Ben's actually hooked onto a good idea, likening the bits of dried fruit to rubies and gold coins, and takes the thought forwards into a treasure hunt. Deke suggests a pirate theme.

Over at Ignite, Kim and co are brainstorming characters. Philip puts forward the first of many idiotic ideas which will flow in an unstoppable torrent of mental diarrhoea from his brain over the course of the task, that of a "cereal killer". Kimberly tactfully suggests that would be more suited to an adult market. [and even then no - Fiona] Lorraine wants to rip off the Munch Bunch by having a gang of fruit-themed characters including "Berry Mary, Sweet Sugar, Apricot Sue, Banana Man, Branflake Ben" and so on. The inside of Lorraine's mind is a terrifying place. Philip twitches throughout at the temerity of someone daring to have another idea after his obviously superior cereal killer motif was shot down. Kimberly tells him off for cutting Lorraine off. Philip informs everyone that the only adverts worthy of note are the ones that make him laugh, like "a monkey playing drums". I never really thought of that as being an advert that would make you laugh, but perhaps estate agent humour works differently. Philip's next shitty idea is "it's so natural, it makes you feel naked, but with pants", which is nonsensical, and not in the good way. Nick winces. Lorraine thinks mothers may not enjoy pants jokes, but Phil thinks the kids will love it. Kim asks if anyone else has any ideas. Given that the rest of the team consists of Mona, Noorul and Howard, I doubt you need me to tell you the outcome of that.

Over at Empire, Kate has split the team, and Yasmina and Debrabarr are doing "market research" (they're in the cereals aisle in Sainsbury's). They debate their precise place in the market and examine a variety pack, noticing that all of the cereals in it have cartoon animals as mascots. They call Kate, who thinks that their strongest ideas are the adventurer and the pirate. The general consensus seems to be for the pirate, with a bird on his shoulder, and then Deke, with a strange and newly-acquired gift for economy, suggests combining the two into a parrot pirate. Yasmina likes this idea. Ben doesn't think the parrot should be the treasure hunter, and it all gets a bit muddled here as Deke says the parrot is "like Robin" and Ben wonders which kids ever grew up wanting to be Robin, and Kate calms the waters by saying that both the pirate and the parrot pirate are strong ideas. That she can say this with a straight face (well, as straight a face as you can have when you are afflicted with sidegob) earns her my respect. Kate votes for parrot, and Ben acquiesces quietly. No, really.

Ignite are still brainstorming - Lorraine is still pushing for her NotMunchBunch, and imagines all the characters jumping out of a bowl. Phil terms to Kimberly and grouses "sorry, I forgot Lorraine was Steven Spielberg's cousin". I wish I could say this was the most assy thing he does all task, but it gets so much worse. They switch, and Phil pitches his pants idea (in every sense of the word), which has been extended into the idea of a morning where you're so tired and confused that you put your pants on over your clothes, and thus there is nothing left to do but dance in your pants. And then he sings his jungle, to the theme of 'The Chicken Song' from Spitting Image. No, REALLY. He gets a grudging round of applause from Noorul And The Silents at the end, and sucks his bottom lip all "yeah, I ROCKED THAT." Lorraine thinks this is "verging on being silly now". Verging? "What, as opposed to Apple Sue?" snips Philip, who is not six years old, despite all appearances to the contrary. Philip VTs that he doesn't care what they think, but if they go with one of their ideas instead of his and it proves to be unsuccessful, he'll pin them down for it in the boardroom. Interesting that he doesn't state what will happen if they go with his and it still fails epically. Oops, spoilers. Kimberly asks if Mr Pants is okay with everyone, and Philip insists it should be Pantsman. "The team decides on...Pantsman," narrates Mark Halliley, in a tone that suggests he can't quite believe it either. Lorraine passive aggressively says to no one in particular that she doesn't like either name or the idea in general. Philip pulls a bitchface.

Over at Empire, the team are sketching out their parrot pirate. Deke's parrot pirate has a wooden leg, which Kate likes. They brief their designer ("you can see I'm no threat to your job," Deke tells him, and I'm noting this because it will be important later) and Kate says they want crossed spoons in their Jolly Roger. I love how the editors aren't even trying to build tension this week, with the showing of Empire's many great ideas and Ignite's complete absence of same. The parrot is called Captain Squawk, by the way. Kate thinks he looks like a happy, friendly pirate. Deke worries first that it looks like Orville the duck, and then on the same train of thought that it does not look parroty enough. Kate assures him that the colouring will be key. Debrabarr runs in and screams that no one can stop her hypothetical black baby from playing the pirate parrot on the grounds of skin colour. Or maybe not.

Ignite brief their costume designer on how Pantsman can look like a superhero. They want to stand out on the shelves, and I've watched this scene about four times and I still don't really get what they're arguing about. I think the gist is: Kimberly has picked out certain colours based on what their competitors are using - whether that means they're using the same ones, or deliberately using different ones, I'm not sure. Phil doesn't want them to just ignore some colours without proper debate. Kimberly asks him to trust her. Philip says that it's not that he doesn't trust her. Lorraine tells Phil to can it. Phil tells Lorraine to stick it up her hairy cunt and not to ignore him when he's making a valid point (because as we've seen throughout this episode, Philip is all about making sure everyone's point gets a fair and equal hearing) and then they all sit there calling each other names for six hours. Kimberly uses her "tired mommy" voice to tell Phil it's just a brainstorm, and asks Lorraine for her input on colours. Lorraine likes "that green one". "Green's horrible," snaps Philip, arbiter of the right to a fair hearing. Kimberly VTs that when Phil doesn't get his way, he throws a tantrum. Yeah, we spotted that, thanks.

Empire, 4pm. Kate has sent Yasmina and Deke off to sort out their jingle. Yasmina tells the composer it should be piratey. Guys, call off the search, I have your perfect vocalist right here. Deke hums a few bars of what will eventually become their jingle. James sings it as he's imagined hearing it, and the words are "A bowl of this a pirate makes/So have yourself some Treasure Flakes". Well, it's not going to give Max Martin any sleepless nights, but it achieves its point well enough.

Ignite go to meet their composer (interestingly, the narration only lists Kimberly, Lorraine and Philip as being in the party, but Howard is there too). Kim briefs the composer, who basically has a Tim Canterbury/Jim Halpert (depending on your preference) expression on his face the whole way through. Phil, of course, has some music and lyrics he's scribbled down, and "treats" the composer to a rendition. "I've just done your job for you," he says, because that's exactly what a total shithead would say in this situation (compare and contrast with Deke's brief for the designer earlier, 400 words minimum, handed in by Friday please). Lorraine's face is sour, and the composer notes this. "I'm not 100% sure about any of it so far," says Lorraine, under the misapprehension that this is the time or the place for that conversation. "You're changed your tune!" says Philip, which: no she hasn't, and then Lorraine informs us that she's "okay with it, but not overly okay".

Outside, Howard patiently explains to Lorraine that her comment was inappropriate, and to Philip that it was not necessary for him to jump at the bait, and that basically they should take whatever personal issues they have and either thump each other or hump each other on their own time. While this is all going on, by the way, Project Manager Kimberly is making notes in a folder. I'm just sayin'.

Empire are working on Captain Squawk with their designer, and the box is looking really good. Crucially, they decide to design all sides of the box rather than just the front, with Ben sensibly suggesting that they would have "more strength" in their pitch doing it that way. Seriously, what the hell happened? It's like he and Philip both grabbed an ornamental skull while yelling "I wish I could change places with you!"

Kimberly calls her designer with their box ideas - and basically does the whole thing over the phone. "Are you actually coming back to the agency?" he asks. That's a negative. Nick VTs that it's a branding exercise where the product is the hero (though it's no Pantsman, obviously) and that they spent far too little time with the designer, who may well just produce something rudimentary given the vague directions he was offered.

9pm, and Empire are too busy bickering to get anything done. Philip thinks Lorraine is being negative, and compainterviews that she let an idea "progress" for three or four hours before complaining about it, which kind of flies in the face of what we saw, so whatever.

The next day, and Debrabarr is signing for the teams' cereal boxes. Huge surprise: Empire's is very professional-looking and awesome, and they squeal as they examine it, giving universal approval. "I think that colouring is very unisex," says Debrabarr of the almost entirely blue box. Hmmm. It is a great box, though. And of course, Ignite's box (branded Wake Up Call) is a piece of shit. "Was it not supposed to have fruit on it somewhere?" asks Lorraine. Noorul notes the lack of any information on it. Indeed, all it says is "one of your three a day" - three whats a day, precisely? Three bowls of cereal? Because fruit and veg is five a day, as we all know. Kim is unhappy with the box, but it's entirely her fault, so whatever. At least she likes the apple-green colour. So that's nice for her.

The teams are now tasked with recording their jingles and shoot their ads. Team Kim go to Asda to buy cheap pants (as opposed to selling cheap pants, which is what they'll be doing when they make their advert) and Howard and Lorraine put on various pairs of white underpants over their clothes while laughing uproariously. "I hope you're going to buy that," says an unimpressed Asda employee. [She rocked, if she'd been team leader none of this would have happened - Fiona]

Empire have booked a professional vocalist to sing their jingle. Deke worries that she sounds too American when she sings. We get a shot of what I can only assume is the lyrics sheet, headlined "Aar Me Harty" - hee! Yasmina interprets on Deke's behalf that he was asking her to be a bit more animated, and their vocalist sings it in a more clearly enunciated way. Deke says he feels like Ringo Starr. Next stop: narrating Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends! Deke interviews that it's so nice to hear something that he started with "crappy humming" turn out so professional, and he's delighted: "I feel like a monkey learning to use tools." Oh Deke, against all my better instincts I'm starting to love you a little bit. [Me too - never saw that coming - Fiona] Yasmina and the vocalist record the finishing touch: a shout of "TREASURE FLAKES!" to go over the vocals at the end. Incidentally, the very first thing I said on my original viewing when we saw that Empire had booked a professional vocalist was "I bet Philip records the vocals for his team." You just wait and see if I'm wrong.

The rest of Empire are in the Rainforest Café to film their commercial, with Ben dressing up as Captain Squawk. Aesthetically, it's a vast improvement. Kate is directing the ad, and they've hired a hired a child actor. Kate explains that the story is of a small boy being bored with his dull, gruel-like breakfast cereal, and will daydream of being transported to a desert island where he meets Captain Squawk, and he will be transformed into a pirate when he eats it. "Am I actually going to eat it?" asks the child actor. Kate pulls a helpless face and asks him if he could try to do so, and the kid explains that he's got a nut allergy. Margaret grins. She interviews that the ad might be too ambitious.

Ignite are filming their ad in Ealing, west London, home of Sarah Jane Smith and your humble recapper for today. Kim greets someone who I assume is the cameraman, and tells him (with a flourish) that she's going to be the director. "Are you? Great," he says, sounding unconvinced. Noorul will be playing Pantsman, but interviews that when he's not needed he wants to help Kim out behind the scenes, because he does "amateur photography" as a hobby. Interpret that as you will. Kim makes Noorul-as-Panstman [also a vast improvement - Fiona] hide in the garage so the kids they've hired to do the ad don't see him when they arrive.

In a Soho recording studio, guess what? Philip is recording their jingles, and tunelessly crashing his way through what is meant to be a scale of some kind. Nick grimaces. As Phil records the song, we see Mona pulling a face which either indicates a state of closed-eyed mellow bliss, or a total inability to look at Philip because of secondhand embarrassment. I'm guessing the latter. At the end, Mona tells him it was "really good" and Phil smugs that he got it in "one take", because that's "what I do". Mona suggests that he might want to "tune it" a bit next time. "Thanks Quincy," replies the always-open-to-constructive-feedback Phil. "He's certainly got some confidence," notes the composer drily. "I think he might think he's Bono." And really, I can't sum it up any better than that. I might as well just pack up and go home now.

Over at Empire's shoot, Ben is almost dying of heat-exhaustion inside Captain Squawk. And that's it.

Back at Ignite's ad, the kids meet Pantsman for the first time and...don't bat an eyelid. So much for "all kids find pants immediately hilarious". Incidentally, Howard and Lorraine are playing the kids' parents, in the most implausible showmance since Claire and Alex on the Morocco task last year. Nick notes that the kids don't find the idea funny, but those actually making the ad think it's hilarious. Oh dear.

It's 6pm, and Kate's team reunites in the edit room. Kate hears the jingle for the first time. Her eyes widen as she listens to the jingle, which sounds really good, although we'll only end up hearing the last five seconds of it in the ad itself. She likes it, but would prefer a male vocalist, so the poor anonymous session singer's work is removed and Ben records the vocals instead. It sounds...kind of creepy. Outside in the corridor, Yasmina thinks Kate made that decision too hastily.

It's 10pm and Ignite are at the agency practicing their pitch. Mona is delivering the pitch, badly, and Kim is facepalming throughout. Kim explains what she wants in the pitch, and Mona takes exception to what she considers to be Kim's too-narrow focus on the children, since the task dossier instructs they are supposed to appeal to the whole family. I think she's rather missing the wood because the trees are in the way. Kimberly gives up, as all good PMs do. Mona says that since Kim is so good at this, she should be doing. Kim thinks it's too late. Mona doesn't like Kim's negative body language. "I'm sorry you've misinterpreted my body language," Kim non-apologises.

The next day, and presumably everyone's had their Wake Up Call because nobody is wearing their pants over their clothes. We're reminded that the cereals must appeal to kids and their health-conscious parents, and we see the room where the pitch will be made. The "hard-nosed executives" who are leading the room are Chris McDonald and Nikki Crumpton, who probably aren't terribly happy about being called "hard-nosed", I would've thought.

Empire come in singing their jingle, with Debrabarr leading the pitch. It's a measured and professional-sounding pitch, explaining where their idea came from and indicating the assets of their character. They show their advert, and it's a bit messy: if Kate hadn't explained the storyline earlier, I wouldn't have had a clue what's going on. Oh, and the original vocalist's work is used for the actual jingle at the end, it's just Ben recording the parrot's voice about how they've put treasure back into breakfast or whatever, which seems a fair compromise. The advert finishes, and Margaret laughs. Nikki tells them that they've done an amazing strategic job, but that having targeted both audiences, they may have missed both of them. An Anonymadvertiser says that if they tried to pitch this to a supermarket they'd be laughed out of the room because of how it has every single benefit available. I'm not so sure that's true, but anyway. Kate calmly explains that perhaps they have overcrowded the box, but "as a parent" she wouldn't be complaining that the product delivered on so many levels. Outside, Yasmina and Ben congratulate her on an excellent response.

And then, Ignite. Pantsman's entrance earns a round of applause. Mona's pitch, however, does not. It's barely even in complete sentences, attempting to claim that when you eat the cereal you won't dress up like Pantsman because only Pantsman is Pantsman and you are certainly not Pantsman. Everyone in the audience is like "who in the what now?" They play their commercial, which is shitty in terms of content, but structurally sound and probably looks the most like an actual advert of any commercial ever created by a team on this show. Chris is unimpressed with the pack, and how Pantsman works with Wake Up Call. Kim says they would like to make some amendments to the box. "What, like have panels in the back?" Chris oh-snaps. Nikki correctly theorises that they had the idea for pants and then worked backwards: she likes the character, but questions the role he plays in the advert - is he telling her to wake up, or to put her pants on? Philip attempts his whole "it's not SUPPOSED to make sense!" thing again, once more putting forward that monkeys don't really play the drums to Phil Collins (there goes my whole belief system), but Chris is not standing for this bullshit at all. I think I might love Chris.

The agency "calls" Sralan, and we get a series of hilariously staged "reactions" from Sralan in his car, which are quite clearly being made to NO-ONE. Chris and Nikki offer some enigmatic opinions which sort of don't give away who they're talking about, but also sort of do because one team clearly sucked and one team was clearly quite good.

It's boardroom time, and NotFrances sends everybody in to see Sralan. He starts with Ignite, and asks if Kimberly was a good team manager. Philip answers in the affirmative immediately, because he got what he wanted the whole time, and Lorraine tentatively interjects that she doesn't think Kimberly was a good PM because she kept giving out "mixed messages". I kind of think she was giving out no messages really, but Lorraine's fight here is clearly with Phil, so whatever. Kimberly explains how they brainstormed, and Philip's idea was pants, and Philip claims he was thinking outside the box and pushing boundaries. Sralan points out that the young'uns nowadays tend to use pants in a derogatory fashion. Lorraine said she wanted to keep it more simple, and that the team misread the brief. Sralan asks what her idea was, and she goes back to the five man band with Apple Sue and Benjamin Branflake, and Sralan curlty informs her that this would not've been in line with the brief, which asked for one character only. "Shall we see this advert?" asks Sralan. "Sure," says Kimberly, at the exact same time that Lorraine says "do we have to?" And seriously, Lorraine, there is voicing your dissent, and then there is being a dick for no good reason. Shut up. We see the technically-sound-but-otherwise-crappy advert. Sralan tells Director Kim that the agency thought the execution was very good.

Sralan turns to Empire and asks if Kate was a good team leader, and gets unanimous approval. Sralan notes that Kate must've been good if even Ben approved of her. Heh. Kate explains how their idea came about, and then we see their incomprehensible advert. Sralan thinks the parrot sounds like "a rather hoarse Ian Paisley". The agency said that the execution of the ad was weak. Sralan examines the box, and Kate explains how they all had input into the box. He particularly likes the cereal bowl and crossed spoons instead of a skull and crossbones, and Debrabarr says that this was Deke's idea. Aww, I love it when a team actually works so well together that they don't mind giving one person credit for a legitimately good idea. Deke says that he didn't want something on the front of the box looking like it was poisonous. Fair enough.

Sralan regards Ignite's box with barely concealed disgust. Lorrainesays that she thinks the team didn't think they needed to do the box, because when she brought it up, blah blah blah - Sralan tells her to shush.

Decision time: obviously Kate wins. Was there ever any doubt? Sralan likes the box and the character, and Margaret thought they worked very well as a team. Hooray! Their reward is Laughter Yoga, whatever the fuck that is. Outside the boardroom, Empire all hug each other and look genuinely thrilled by their victory. Savour this display of unity, folks: it may be the last one we get.

Ignite's work was "total garbage", as Sralan doesn't understand how they could base an ad campaign around pants.

Empire do Laughter Yoga. It looks like a crappy-ass prize.

The Crumbling Remains Of Loser Café. Kimberley VTs that the team was unhappy with Lorraine, that "it was a bit like working with Eeyore". Heh. Lorraine says that everyone is looking at her like vultures ready to pounce, Philip sneers that she always paints herself as the victim. Really, they're both right and they're both wrong, but most importantly, they're both total assholes. Outside, Lorraine and her Reflections Glasses say that the team views her as a scapegoat. Lorraine points out that Kimberley was the experienced marketeer. "You can't blame it all on her," says Philip, despite having made it clear at the beginning of the episode that his plan was to do precisely that if Kimberly didn't indulge his every whim.

Ignite return to the boardroom. Sralan singles Lorraine out for complaining, and Lorraine claims she didn't "understand" the campaign. He asks why she didn't force her way through, and she claims that she did, but it was just perceived as negativity. He asks the team where they lost the task, and Philip thinks they tried too hard. "Maybe you tried too hard," retorts Sralan, adding that Nick told him Philip bulldozed his shitty pants idea onto the rest of the team. Philip claims he was "strong in his opinions". Sralan tells Philip that there are times when Philip needs to shut his mouth. I would prefer it if those times were all of them. Sralan then turns to Kimberly, who ought to have been brilliant at this given her background. Kim cautions that she is "not a creative myself, I manage creativity". I find this idea that all creative types need intense supervision lest they lose all sense of perspective a little odd - my job is creative (of sorts, at least) and I'm still expected to know who my audience are and tailor my work appropriately. Anyway, Kim thinks that without a workable idea on the table, she could just do the best with what she had. Sralan thinks the whole thing should've been shot down at pants, and asks where Lorraine was then. Lorraine says she was against it, and Philip counters (smarmily using "quote unquote" in his answer) that Lorraine said her daughters would love it. Lorraine clarifies that she always thought the campaign was funny. "Funny maybe if it was in the middle of a Harry Enfield sketch," says Sralan, apparently unaware of any comedy to emerge after the mid-1990s.

Margaret doesn't understand the lack of logic: Pantsman, who wears his pants outside his clothes, telling people not to wear their pants outside their clothes. Kimberly says that she raised that, but people (read: Philip) told her that superheroes wear their pants outside their clothes as a matter of course. Sralan reminds her that she was PM, and therefore the boss, and yet she seems to have run on the assumption that whoever shouts loudest gets their own way. Kim says it wasn't like that, even though it was. Sralan asks Noorul if he had an idea, and Noorul says that he did, but before Noorul can elaborate, Sralan suggests that Noorul's idea was to hide in the Pantsman suit to avoid doing any work. Wow, Sralan totally hates Noorul.

Sralan asks why Mona did the pitch and not Kimberly; Kim explains that she's not completely comfortable in front of an audience, like she isn't already talking herself out of this job fast enough. "You do that for a living," says Nick incredulously. Sralan tells Mona off for lecturing the client on what's in his product. "I felt like I was in nursery school, being patronised and lectured," sighs Margaret. Sralan asks who was responsible for the box. Howard says he suggested the colour so it would stand out; Sralan thinks it would stand out on the catfood shelf. Kim attempts to explain (but ultimately ends up digging a bigger pit for herself) by saying that they ran out of time on the first day because there were so many arguments. Translation: I'm such an ineffectual PM that we were late for everything. Kim blames Lorraine for causing the arguments, and Lorraine sniffs that she's been on three winning teams where arguments were not needed, and she was just trying to stand up against The Evil Forces Of Pantsman - something which Howard deems to be untrue.

Time for Kimberly to decide who to bring back: Lorraine, and "just because it's his idea" Philip. Really? "Just because it's his idea?" Not because he was completely fucking unprofessional, utterly deaf to anyone else's opinion, persisted in engaging in school playground style tantrums and a general A-grade cumstain all over their entire task? I don't get why everyone is willing to make excuses for Philip's total inability to behave like an adult when they're all so quick to call Lorraine on hers.

Anyway, Noorul, Mona and Howard are excused, while the remaining three are sent outsidse while Sralan and his advisors deliberate. "They took logic and tortured it until it screamed," Nick thinks. Sralan thinks that Kim's CV implies she should've had no problem with this task. Well, Lee McQueen's CV implied he completed his course at TVU, and it still wasn't true - and you hired him. Margaret thinks that Philip still believes this was a good campaign. Nick thinks Lorraine might be an awkward one.

The three are summoned in. Sralan thinks Lorraine may be a troublemaker. Lorraine says that she has great instincts and was unsure about this task from day one, and she feels she's being used as a scapegoat. Kim retorts that Lorraine sucked the energy out of the whole team. They argue amongst themselves, and Philip sits to the side scoffing. Lorraine says she won't be positive about something she doesn't believe in. Philip interjects that Lorraine was extremely negative two hours before the task finished, but they never heard a peep out of her before that, which goes against EVERYTHING WE'VE SEEN. "Oh, that's interesting. I thought I caused eight arguments?" enquires Lorraine. "Yeah, you did, but some of them were on a personal level and not about the task," smugs Philip. Lorraine then claims she put more into the task then anyone else, which Philip deems ludicrous, and quite why they're arguing over who put the most effort into a product which was crap from start to finish, I have no idea.

Then things get weird, again: Kim would like Sralan to know that while people have had trouble with Lorraine on this task, Kim herself has ALWAYS championed her. "That's very romantic of you," sneers Philip. "Can you get to your point?" If I were Sralan, I would've fired him right there for that alone, because someone who behaves like that has absolutely no place in anyone's office. Lorraine and Kim argue amongst themselves until Sralan shuts them up.

Finally we get to the meat of the matter: the stupid pants idea was the problem, and that idea was Philip's. Sralan brings out a particularly torturous hunter/eagle simile, where Philip is about to get shot. Philip then brings out "I'm just a bloke from Durham who sells houses with a big head," which would appear to be this year's "I'm a nice Jewish boy like yourself, Sralan", and claims that neither Lorraine nor Kim have a chance of winning this, whereas he can win it. Oh, just fire all three of them and be done with it, Sralan. Philip then grouses that the other three, who were "flying under the radar", have gone back, and he's still there. Sralan asks Philip who should go home, and Philip says that although he's had his problems with Lorraine, he's "frankly disgusted" with Kimberly for bringing him back and letting the others go that she should be fired. Oh yes, how ill-thought-out of her to bring the person who had the moronic idea that sandbagged the entire task back to the boardroom. "That's so typical of how you think," smiles Kimberly eerily. "It's just a temper tantrum."

Kim then changes tack and claims she brought Philip back for the temper tantrums, despite the wide open goal with "it was his crappy-ass idea that ruined this for everyone and he still thinks it was a good one, just in case you were unaware of how utterly deluded this chump is" written all over it sitting right in front of her. Nick notes that Philip can indeed throw a strop now and then, but is it reason enough to have him fired? Kim claims it's disruptive to the team as a whole. Then Lorraine throws her oar in and claims that she wouldn't have brought Philip back in even though she hates him and AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH. HOW ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE WHO THINK PHILIP DOES NOT DESERVE TO BE BACK IN THE BOARDROOM NOT ALL FIRED RIGHT NOW FOR THEIR UTTER FUCKING STUPIDITY?

Sralan asks Kimberly why he shouldn't fire her. Kim claims that she did the actual good parts of the task, like the commercial editing. Phil thinks that he and Noorul did most of the editing. Kim thinks she did "like, 95%" of the editing. Phil argues that she wanted to ditch the scene at the beginning and again, it's very interesting to compare this culture of blame-shifting on this team to the way the other team were so happy to single others out for praise. Srlan asks Lorraine why she shouldn't be fired. Lorraine thinks she could've PMed this better than "the expert herself".

Time to summarise: Sralan is trying to weigh up whether Lorraine is responsible because she was disruptive and upset the timeline on this task. Kimberly has a marketing background and should've walked this, but ruined it for herself by accepting that rotten idea, WHICH WAS PHILIP'S AND WHICH IS WHY HE IS HERE, GOD. Philip is cocksure and bulldozes ideas through, which is not what Sralan wants.

So who gets a reprieve? Lorraine, who hasn't had a chance to be PM yet. Kimberly is like the final scene from The Wizard Of Oz - she looks impressive, but there's nothing behind the curtains, and she is fired.

Sralan tells Lorraine and Philip to stop fucking bickering, and tells Lorraine that if she does get to be PM next week, which he hasn't decided yet, some of the people remaining kind of hate her guts. He dismisses them.

Outside, there are no hugs, just kisses on the cheek as Kim turns her face away. No coatwatch this week as we don't ever see it in full, but it looks black and dull, just like everyone else's.

In the cab: Kim thinks Sralan fired the wrong person, and he will see that eventually. However, if Sralan doesn't want to hire her, she's hurt and upset but there's nothing she can do, so she's going to find something else to do and make the best of that. That's actually fairly reasonable.

Back at Crackden Apts, Ben says he would sack both Lorraine and Kim, because Philip's so fucking wonderful, apparently. "Maybe all three of them will go?" wonders Kate with a laugh. Oh, if only. Philip and Lorraine smug their way back in. "Would you guys agree that your idea was pants?" asks Ben. Lulz ensue.

Next week: selling task! The teams have to sell ten items each for a profit, and Philip and Lorraine fight again. Oh joy.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

The Smell Of success

Tonight I make the executive decision to dispense with the striding, the suitcases, the belligerent boss bit. Still that took as long to type as it does to watch.

Last week it was all about exercise. The teams were told to invent a piece of portable fitness equivalent. James Bingo Buster was a great idea (better than sexercise) but sadly it became an evil box of doom that even Ben slapping his arse couldn't sell. Debra was busy being right on sister but the team did come up the body rocker that looked almost like a real fitness product. Maj got fired. Just like that.

We open with some nice peaceful ducks and London porn. That doesn't sound right somehow....

The phone rings, the fish look worried and Kate answers the phone. She is dressed head to toe in black – whose funeral - or is she really a ninja?

Cue undressed apprentices – not very sexy, teeth brushing and Noorul in a very red vest. Phil seems to be having his make up done, metrosexual indeedy. [I'm thinking this series' trend of women answering the phone in their pyjamas will make a lot of people very unhappy. We all know it's supposed to be men in pants - Rad]

The cars take them to Kew gardens, not just a park, a leading botanical research centre. In the temperate house the very drably dressed candidates gather. Paula is wearing a dress that makes my eyes go blurry.

This week is all about natural body products. Its a lucrative market worth more than 3 billion in the UK alone and its not just women spending the money its men. The task is to produce 2 natural body products and sell them to the public. The teams are mixed up, Yasmina, Debra and Paula move to Empire and Howard and Kimberly move to Ignite.

Sralan decided that as he has been 'quiet' (slight understatement there) Noorul will be the Ignite team leader. Paula will lead Empire.

It's simple the team that makes the most amount of profit will win. The one that doesn't will lose and from that team one of them will be fired.

Sralan VT about needing good profit margins and keeping the cost down. Make it for pennies and sell for pounds.

Paula is happy with her team and on her way to Dorset dismisses some of the other team as weak. In her VT she says she shouldn't be dismissed by anyone just because she comes from the public sector.

VT Noorul – He is not here to be managed by people, he is a natural leader. Right-o. In the Ignite cars Noorul seems confident with his team as Phil wears make up, so he was having his slap done by Kate first thing then. Phil confirms he has 'a fair grasp of the market'.

Poole in Dorset in the mad scientist lair aka an industrial estate, o the glamour. Ben is taking a back seat? Really? He doesn't buy soap? What even after all that time he spends in the gym? They should be aiming for women he says. OK so sit there and be quiet then. No? Thought not. They quickly decide on soap and shower gel.

Ignite look non nonplussed – er soap and bubble bath? O everyone is very fired up! Much puffing up of cheeks and eye rolling and blank stares (and that's just Noorul).

Each team need to select a natural ingredient to use in their products. Empire are liking seaweed (and with mint?) Ocean fresh and all that. Paula acts like a team leader and quickly makes the call in favour of seaweed. James suddenly trying to be team leader reminding Paula about cost. You were in charge last week love but I fear your words may prove prophetic. Paula asks for Ben and Yasmina to keep her on track with costings.....

Over at Ignite Noorul goes into teacher mode and tells them not to talk at once but hey at least they are talking. Phil thinks apples and berries are awesome. Howard VT – Noorul is already struggling and they are off to a shaky start.

Paula sends Debra, James & out on a boat to pick seaweed. In the 'lab' Paula, Ben and Yasmina are doing their best Chris Lloyd impression, mixing and sniffing. [Those bottles looked like Lush ones - at least the font - Rad] Ben pours water in to a pan. This impresses Yasmina, 'look at the chemist' she coos to Ben who retorts he has 'DNA level chemistry'. I assume that's a good thing?

Paula mentions cost again, someone could sit down and work out how much its going to cost. That's a good idea, that, Paula. A very good idea.

Ignite have now decided on honey and Lorraine, Kim and Phil are dispatched to get stung, er collect honey from local bees, but they don't know how much to actually get. While Noorul and co prat around deciding how much, the 3 in bee keeper suit get very stressed and squeally and basically COVERED IN BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES.

Why would you go get in the kit and stand by the hives until you know how much you want?

Back on the beech with Empire they collect seaweed and are scared of crabs. They have a huge bucket of seaweed and then call the lab. 300 grams is all they need as Paula says it will be an 'infusion'. James is knee deep in crab shit – it looks like water to me.

Mr Simon the perfumer is here to help with fragrances. Yasmina and Paula sniff little strips of cardboard and pronounce one unfortunate concoction smells like Tequila and dog. That would make lovely shower gel? Surely the more they sniff the less they'll smell. Ben is still on his 'girls know about soap and shit but I'm a MAN so will stay here doing my DNA level chemistry'.

Sandalwood £1200 per kilo and Cedar wood £26 per kilo and Yasmin and Paula can't get that straight. O dear. I replayed this bit and Paula says sandalwood and lavender, then cedar wood straight afterwards. Simon asks her to clarify and she says sandalwood Hmmm. Simon thinks they got a bit confused. No shit Sherlock. [The man from Lush, sorry, the anonymous smelly things business place, could have actually said something here. It was a bit unfair. Also, watching it on replay - totally Yasmina's mistake - Rad]

Paula and Yasmina sit down to work out the cost. Not only can they not tell the difference between cedar and sandal neither can they tell the difference between 3 grams and 3 percent. £1.97? That's all you'll pay? Round it up to a fiver? Hmmmm

Kimberly in charge of brand identity. She is a marketing director. She wants to call the honey soap 'Honey I'm Home' [which sounds very Lush - Rad]. Phil says she must have big splinters in her arse from sitting on the fence. I am paraphrasing. He gets a bit shouty and says she is stressing him out but I am not 100% sure what she's done to annoy him.

Paula does the Empire branding. She has chosen 'Rock Poole', which is clever as all the ingredients are from Poole. I like this. Debra thinks so too but she also picks up the huge expense of Sandalwood – no it's OK she's told we only bought half a gram. Er no – 450 grams actually, Yasmina is just pouring a huge beaker of it into the bubbling vat of Georges Marvellous medicine. Maybe she thinks that's what 3 grams looks like. Nick purses his lips.

Nice bit of Lush product placement. [I knew it! - Rad]

Team honey's concoction looks much more appetising but maybe too much like food. The print deadline is looming and Kims' team need a batch code. She is asking Noorul for it when Phil snatches her phone and gets more and more angry and Geordielike sounding and tells her and everyone else to get some balls. She's going to give him balls apparently and as she's at ball height, he better be careful.

Lorraine tries to diffuse the situation and the poor graphic guy timidly points out he's done at last. [I felt sorry for the graphics guy - I always feel sorry for the graphics guys on this show - Rad]

Phil is going to roast Noorul (Mags agrees Noorul is shit) if they fail. But it's OK because the profit margin for Empire isn't going to be healthy is it? Lorraine apologises to poor graphic guy for being so argumentative and unprofessional. [And is kind of unprofessional in the way she phrases it too, but the ticked-off mother aspect was funny, so I'll let her off this time. - Steve]

Empire are boxed up and ready. Now they just need to work out the actual cost per unit so they can price up. 87p per item all in? Having stalked round the periphery, Nick feels his moment has arrived and asks them how much they think they spent on fragrances. He tells them they bought 450 grams of sandalwood Yasmina is non nonplussed, 'no half of 450 grams – shit'. Indeed. Kate's face makes a perfect pink O and the penny drops with a resounding clang. 'Would it surprise you to learn you have spent more than £700?' continues Nick. Paula yes you may well look stunned and yes you are shit at costing, but good deflection on to everyone else. Nick having dropped his bombshell and 'leaving it with them' stalks off. Surprised he has told them!

Next day they all try out their products. Queue more shower scenes but still nothing interesting to report on that score.

Paulas' team are doubling their prices, as well she might (but it would have been funnier if they didn't know.) The soap is beautifully packaged with little labels tied on - seagrass?

Honey soap sounded good but the reality is sticky. It sort of gloops out of the wrapper. It feels nice says Mona, 'slippy and smooth' which is not going to be much a USP for soap really.

The team have 8 hours to sell their products. Half of Empire are based at Portobella market – right next to a hot dog van. One smells nice and one doesn't. Other half at Bond Street tube.

Ignite are at fashionable Carnaby street – in Bee Keeper outfits. They are selling theirs as sets for a fiver and now its called Honey with Love. The rest of Ignite are doing brisk business at Camden Lock. Selling the softness as 'freshness' which is smart.

Lunch time at Portabello James tries to stick a bottle of bubble bath in someone's face. They justify the price by saying how expensive the sandalwood is, a fact surely engraved on their very hearts now and the trendy Notting Hill set are not put off by the price. Nicks looks happy with them.

On Carnaby Street the bee-keepers are happily selling. Well except Noorul – no sale. The sweet smell of success eludes him and the honey can't hide the whiff of desperation. O dear sweepy.... Noorul pulls out of Carnaby Street *snigger* sorry and gets lost. He decided on Bond Street Tube station, hardly a prime selling location as already discovered by Empire who swiftly moved on.

Empire has steady sales so James suggests upping the price by 50p which somehow feels like a shitty thing to do but that's probably because I am not a good capitalist. [I thought they were selling it pretty cheaply even after the price rise, if you compare it to the prices of Lush and similar - Rad]

Noorul's decision to move has badly back fired. People don't want to stop.

At Camden Lock 'customers are melting away' and half the stock unsold so Kim, Howard Phil call Noorul and ask to start selling for £1 but Noorul says 2 for £3 till he gets there. Phil can't believe it and neither can I. Its a bit late to try and impose his authority on the situation and for once I can understand Phils frustration. [I get why they were doing this, but I'd be scared of buying something so cheap for fear of what it would do to my skin - Rad]

Portabello the last dash – Ben is selling very well for a man who thinks soap is girlie. [Ah, but selling is MANLY, GRRR. Or something. - Steve]

Noorul is stuck in traffic on his way to Camden. He shushes Lorraine and Mona is pissed off. Howard begs to be allowed to use his discretion and Noorul finally gives in.

Paula's team sell all their remaining stock to a stall holder. Wins. OK I am actually impressed, I think I have done a total U turn and now want Empire to win. They have come up with a product I would buy and done their best to recover from their huge fuck up. At least Paula has been involved with her team.

Lorraine starts trying to berate rockers to buy honey stuff for his mums. Has he been buzzed? That's a bit personal where I come from. He runs away as well he might. Even Phil thinks she's being scary. Finally we are flogging at 2 for £1 – suddenly I think Paula's team might have got this in the bag – thanks to Nick's heads up. They sell out - somehow that feels profound.

London Porn

Showered, washed and perfumed, it's time for an appointment with Sralan.

The usual opener of 'were they a good team leader?'

Phil and Howard enjoyed working with Noorul. Mags comments that enjoying working with someone and them being a good team leader aren't the same thing. She hands Sralan Ignite's products like they are dirty nappies. Phils confirms they are, in fact, luxurious. Noorul starts to list the contents but SA says it sounds like a bladdy cocktail. Noorul as a chemist and science teacher should know how to make soap shouldn't he?

On the Empire side of the table, James and Ben put the boot in straight away and I am surprised (more fool me) because I thought they had all worked together to try and overcome the small miscalculation. Rather than answer the question Ben already tries to start blaming Paula for the costings. Sralan tells Ben to not read out half the bladdy magna carta and Ben shushes.

And so to the all important figures:

Ignite have sales of £900. 85 They spent £406.88 making a profit of £493.97

Empire had sales of £1073.20 but they spent £1141.24 leaving a £68.04 loss

Damnit I was rooting for them. If they had only gone for cedar wood. Nick laments that if only Paula and Yasmina hadn't confused themselves and opted for cedar wood, they would have made a profit of £598. Ouch.

Sralan says her keeps banging on about controlling cost, what's going on? What's going on is they don't listen.

Noorul's team wins and the prize is a sushi and sake evening. Making and eating. Nice. Fishy fingers. Noorul declares they 'absolutely destroyed the other team' - Noorul you did not destroy the other team – you just fucked up less. Phil quips 'whose he going to sake-e?'


In loser cafe, Paula insists she delegated costs to 2 financial people and it wasn't done properly. But wasn't it her and Yasmina choosing and working it out? Kate says they should have costed from start to finish. Paula mentions that 'Ben did come over and have a sniff' again that has different conitattions to me but I assume she means he gave the costings a cursory glance. Shes probably going to take Ben and James in then? Ben will 'rip her to shreds' if she tries apparently.

I like Paula's hair by the way. I wish mine looked like that.

In the boardroom Sralan comments that he likes the products far better than the honey shit produced by Ignite. Kate gives credit to product and packaging to Yasmin and Paula. But it's a good product at the wrong price. Paula's 'fragrance for a fiver' comment comes back to bite her bum. Ben was too busy mixing to do any more than take Paula's word for how much it was all costing. He says 'yeah I should have been doing costing but I was like making stuff and Paula said it was a fiver and stuff so it's not my fault'. So even if its a problem with costing and I was meant to be doing it but its not my fault., Nick points out he was only 3 metres away. 'Yeah' says Sralan, 'you weren't in Scotland.' Indeed.

Debs reiterates that if they had chosen cedar wood not sandalwood Sralan feels that the product was good and that's all down to Paula. He compliments Paula on the presentation, in particular the soap and Ben jumps in that was him, so basically everything was him, comments Sralan, except the costings.

Oh, she's bringing back Yasmina and Ben. Interesting...

Ben looks at her like he actually will rip her to shreds.

Sralan suggests they hang on to some of their lovely soap because if they think they are sweating now they soon will be.....

Paula knows how to work out redundancies on a calculator says Sralan menacingly. So why couldn't she work out costings for a bar of soap?

Paula reiterates that she nominated Yasmin and Ben to take care of costs and that she would oversee them. That translates as, 'yes I asked you to do it and then I tried to do it myself and and THEN I remembered why I wasn't doing it in the first place.'

Paula calls Ben 'an idiot' for not checking her costs. Want to talk about idiots he says? This bit is verbatim because I don't like Ben but this is a pretty impressive smack down:

B: 'We're talking about idiots now? Well lets talk about £5 and £700 if you want to talk about idiots (Sralan's eyebrows disappear into his hair line) at the end of the day you made a complete balls up of it, you two were the two responsible for the cock up with the fragrances, you were the project manager, you were the one who should have been going on about me getting involved with the costings if you wanted me to and -'

P: 'I asked you to'

B: 'If you let me finish (because I haven't quite obliterated you) and the next day I sold my bloody heart out for you just to do damage control.'

P: 'The cost of the fragrances was a cost, it wasn't a cost on its own. I asked you to look after costs and you didn't' (eh?)

I don't like him but that's pretty persuasive. Sralan looks shocked that Ben managed to construct a comprehensive put down.

Ben says fire Paula. Yasmina says Paula too but puts it but slightly nicer. Ben tells Paula she 'didn't just get it a bit wrong, she got it very wrong'. Paula brands Ben a bit of a thug and so he drops in his scholarship to Sandhurt because this relates to his ability to sell how? That is bound to score points with Sralan – not. Neither is him interrupting Sralan's summing up. Why do they never learn not to do that? It is rude anyway but just stupid in this situation.

Yasmina has gone 6 steps forward and 10 steps back, its not looking good which of course means she'll have to be project manager another day. O Sralan is getting tricksy!

Paula is deemed ultimatley responsible for the fatal mistake and fired.

Hmmm why do I suspect that Ben is this year's Tre? He isn't going to win but he is such a villain that we can all hate so he'll be around a bit longer mark my words. [At least Tre was occasionally funny. Ben's more like Sophocles or Paul Torrisi, and just typing those two names makes me feel a little gross - Rad] Still Ben can't shut up, 'talk any more and you'll talk yourself out the door'.

If only.

Coat watch – black and a coat. O Lucinda how I miss thee let me count the ways!

In the cab Paula says she's gone for making mistakes and not lying or cheating. Therein is the problem. Going on past series that's what clinches you the win isn't it?

Back at the crack den Mona is quite upset and Yasmin for a moment seems genuinely sad she had to turn on her 'mate' until she adds she'd do it again to any of them because now she knows she can.


Next week Pirate Parrots, a giant smurf, healthy breakfast cereals and Sralan has one of them for breakfast. Yes folks, it's the TV ad episode.....

Thursday, 9 April 2009

'All the way down to my groin region'

So, last week a whole bunch of people who know nothing about food were expected to create a catering company from scratch and then cater for some allegedly high end clients, and also sell sandwiches at lunchtime, in That London. Results were not spectacular because even the two contestants who own catering-type businesses don’t actually cook, and nor should they. Yasmina won because she understood that in the world of The Apprentice, profit is everything and repeat business is nothing, so she spent shit-all on food and made an actual profit. She also managed to make a genuinely successful, non-cringey motivational speech; a feat in itself. Rocky and the boys lost their everloving minds and decided that a theme and wasting money on costumes was a good idea. And made a loss. And Sralan does not like a loss. James likened losing to his cat dying. Howard realised he was in no danger and so sat there like a fishy. Rocky went home because he seemed to think that That London necessitates charging about a jillion pounds a head for a piece of cheese on a toothpick. Alarmingly, thanks to iPlayer, I can inform you that all the Sralan is a giant tycoon, recap blah nonsense only takes three minutes. It feels like a month.

5.55 am. Lorraine answers the phone. She’s wearing some seriously cute striped men’s boxers with a bit of ribbon, and a seriously uncute turquoise camisole thing that, let’s say, does not provide her with the support she requires [What was this all about? Everyone knows the boys answer the phone. In their pants. - Rad]. The cars are coming in 30 minutes to fetch them to go to Lee Valley. Lorraine bounds down the corridor, tits bouncing around like a couple of excited Labradors, to tell everyone. People seem confused/not to care. In the background, wearing an orange hoodie, Phil looks disgusted. Quelle surprise. Kimberly removes some seriously giant curlers from her hair. Phil can’t be bothered with the boardroom experience today. James is nervous, as well he might be because he’s a gibbering simpleton, but he thinks that it’s motivational. Ben says he’s not nervous and that whoever’s up against him, ‘their arseholes will be twitching like rabbits’ noses’. I’m saying nothing. Phil and James basically laugh in his face because he’s ridiculous. He doesn’t notice.

They arrive in Lee Valley, at the Olympic training ground. There are no sandwiches in sight. Sralan, of course, claims that it is one of the greatest athletics venues in this country, because, in the words of Eve, he’s ‘only fucking with the baddest, don’t associate with lame’. Not everything has to be best, Sralan. Sometimes things are just things. Debrabarr looks like she’s going to cut a bitch, but I think that’s just how her face looks at rest. He tells them that in these CREDIT CRUNCH times people can’t afford gyms so the teams have to design a piece of portable exercise equipment, which they well then attempt to sell to retailers. Sralan mixes the teams: Kimberly and Sidegob Kate (sorry, Steve – your Grey’s Anatomy references are far too outré)[Dammit! - Steve] [Three weeks, three bloggers, three nicknames for Kate, guess Fiona has the casting vote next week - Rad] go to Empire. Philip and Noorul go to Ignite. Thank God boys versus girls is over already, though I wish it didn’t happen at all. They should make it ‘all the people sitting down in the first boardroom meeting to say hi to Sralan are one team, all the people standing are another’. Or! Make them choose their own teams after knowing each other for five minutes. That would lead to far more entertaining fuck-ups and minimise all the creeping women are bitches stuff we get.

They have two days to design, prototype and sell. The team with most orders will win. A losing team member will be fired. Obvs. Debrabarr wants to lead because she knows the girls’ skill sets now. Lorraine wants to lead too; she says she’s calmer ‘than a lot of other people’. Philip and Noorul both want Debrabarr. Lorraine asks if she can manage diverse personalities and Debrabarr says she can. Paula emerges from the shadows, and says, ‘I think it’s your own personality you’ve got to manage as well’. HA! Debrabarr displays her Will Cut A Bitch Face again, but this time it is With Intent as opposed to In Repose. Paula, having done her One Line Of The Episode, swoops her cloak around and disappears back into the night with only a tinkling of bells and a faint smell of mango and papaya shampoo (What? I just think she’d smell like mango and papaya shampoo. Tell me I’m wrong.) Debrabarr completely disregards the ‘manage yo personality, beyotch’ line and gets confirmation that people are happy with her as project manager. Lorraine is a little put out. And dressed a little like an air hostess for a former Soviet national airline. Debrabarr, rightly, says that the whole big problem is getting the product right in the first place.

James wants to lead Empire. People called him a banana skin and he wants to prove them wrong. After some discussion, including Sidegob going ‘Are you up for it, are you up for it?’ with a genuine smile on her face (people appearing genuine on here is rare enough for it to be worth mentioning), James is boss. Howard looks lovely in a kind of beige-gold shirt and tie of the exact same colour. He suggests fitting in with what people do every day and suggests something that works in the shower. Ben gets thinky face for a bit and then says that sex sells, which yes, but then goes on about a tool that you use while having sex, which NO. Kimberly says maybe ‘personal home use’ would be better and James puts the final nail in the coffin of Ben’s creepy Sexercise idea.

Debrabarr’s team can’t even decide what bits of the body to exercise. Mona waves her leg about. Phil doesn’t care out his legs, he cares about his arse and abs. They wiggle in their seats. Nick is not impressed. Debrabarr says that ‘none of us are creative in our thinking’ and emphasises that the product will be the problem.

Ben demonstrates tricep dips, to beat bingo wings, and says that they should do like a sprung seat to make that easier as you move up and down. Actual good idea! The fact that he continues to do tricep dips for about twenty minutes while talking and then however, makes him look like a bit of a cock. James splits the teams and puts Ben in charge of design. He’s with Maj and Kimberly. Ben goes on about how this product is for those pathetic weak wastrels who can’t do pushups, unlike his magnificently manly self. They debate the name Bingo Buster. James, showing real commercial flair, suggests Rear Arm Mechanical Improver. James says that the design man will either laugh or get a hardon. Sidegob hides her face in shame. Howard suggests Wing Worker, as a joke. James goes ‘that’s it, marvellous!’. Howard shakes his head, saying in disbelief, ‘I don’t think it’s marvellous!’ Love Howard a little bit.

Philip says four foam cubes that you can stack, called the Core Cube. Like a Swedish ball. It didn’t even occur to me til I heard the right name that it’s actually a Swiss ball. [Yes, surely Swedish balls are the ones that you buy in Ikea and are made of meat? - Steve] Debrabarr wants an ankle exerciser to stop old women getting deep vein thrombosis. Right. They argue a bit. A gym lady tells them that the whole point of a Swiss ball is it being a ball and thus wobbly, which causes you to resist and is good exercise. The cube will do ‘nothing to work the core’. She also hates the ankle exerciser. One hour before designers and Team Debrabarr has nothing. [This task seems to have been actually really hard if you don't know your physiology. Interesting to have a manufacturing task that didn't just start and end with market research. - Steve]

Mona, Yasmina and Paula shop for kit to wear in the ad. Debrabarr has said the poster should have Mona and Noorul. Mona says Noorul shouldn’t be in the ad because he’s ugly and sucks, basically. Yasmina agrees and phones Phil to tell him to be in the ads, saying ‘he’s good-looking and stuff’. Phil says Noorul is good-looking. Yasmina changes tack and says that if they have Mona and Noorul, it will be the ‘ethnic minority sportswear club’. Debrabarr gets white persons’ guilt and starts going on about her imaginary black baby and how she doesn’t live in Vietnam (because Vietnam, among the many things its known for, is known for apartheid?) and she’s the boss so she won’t countenance The Rasizms. Mona says she kind of agrees, and Yasmina says she’s Iranian, so she can say stuff about people of other races without being An Racialist. This got a shitload of press attention but is basically dealt with in moments and means nothing, but here we go. A) Yasmina pretty much only said that because ‘Noorul is an ugly wimp’ is a bit harsh. B) Mona and Noorul are from different places and are thus ‘ethnically diverse’ if not skin-colour diverse. C) White people are stupid and demand to be included in everything because of Political Correctness Gone Mad so Yasmina is right in a sense even if it’s entirely peripheral to her argument. D) In the context of the show, Yasmina is totally wrong because I) Sralan will never exactly say ‘there are too many browns in your advert’ and II) there will be many other reasons to slag off your adverts, I’m sure and III) the adverts end up being close-ups anyway. E) Point D is particularly disappointing given that Yasmina won last week in large part by understanding that this show is pretend and actual commercial decisions that would be viable and relevant in the real world are utterly pointless here, but F) She wasn’t arguing for a white person, she was arguing for the moderately attractive, fairly sporty person who happened to be white. G) ‘I’m Iranian so can say racisms’ doesn’t really cut it even though she wasn’t really so much racist as missing the point.

The fitness product must retail for under £30. Sidegob, Fishy Howard and James visit a store. James messes up some exercise thing. Sidegob finds the and best-selling by far is a chin-up bar. Phones Kimberly and says don’t make it complicated and ‘don’t go crazy and turn it into a home gym’. Kim, Maj and Ben go to a gym and decide … to make it complicated. Maj, especially, wants to add in a thousand wires and contraptions and bells and whistles and, basically, turn it into a home gym [for £30. Hmmm. - Rad] . Kim tries to return to focus to bingo-wings, but to little avail.

Debrabarr’s team still have no idea. In all senses. Phil now wants the bum ball. That you sit on and wobble about. It’s actually just a Swiss ball but smaller, in concept, but we do get to hear Phil say, ‘thinking about, you’re getting your arse done as well.’ It works better out of context. Lorraine talks about some weird board thing that sits under the desk to be played with and keeps your ankles healthy. Nick facepalms. Debrabarr is like ‘we just need an idea. Any idea.’ They settle on the bum ball, but it look like they incorporate the weird ankle thing into it, too, in the end.

At the designer Ben pushes the complicated idea. Of course. In some great detail. Demonstrating exercises by waving his arms around. Stoppit.

Back at the house. People cheer and shit. Ben does some more tricep lifts because he’s a dick. Phil says they’ve been telling him how good the product is and he’s dying to see it. The PM should possibly have been there for the design part? Maybe?

The next day, the prototypes arrive. Ignite’s bum ball, now called a Body Rocka, is a plastic board, flat on one side, with a hemisphere on the other, so you can sit on it to wobble about for your core, as Debrabarr does, or use as a pushup tool, as Mona does, with much grunting. It actually looks fairly professional and decent, which is, of course, entirely due to the design agency and nothing to do with the contestants.

The home gym is now called Home Multitone. It looks shit and cheap and is too complicated. It’s a big black box, and kind of looks like an amp, or speaker. I’d like to point out that Ben is wearing a shirt with a very fine blue and white vertical stripe but white collar and cuffs, with a pink and black striped tie, and pink spotted braces. Learn to dress, you prick. Sidegob and Fishy look kind of appalled. Ben’s very pleased with himself. Phil’s not excited. Go to the fucking designer then and choose the product.

Lorraine wants to pitch. Debrabarr makes her pitch to the team and if she’s shit she’ll reassign the role. Clever! She’s a bit shit. She pronounces words weirdly. She says it’s ‘blown everything of its kinds out of the market’, which she totally can’t say without evidence, and that children can use it to have a ‘stable stability’. Debrabarr makes the excellent point that Lorraine doesn’t really say what the product is or does. But is still letting her pitch. For some reason.

Sidegob and Ben are to model. Ben’s like ‘these fat shits are disgusting and make me physically sick, but I would probably bang Sidegob’. He pumps up his muscles using a camera tripod, because he is a dick. Sidegob talks at length about her make up and dislike of acrylic nails and how if she puts on her fake tan at night, she doesn’t need to wear foundation. Anyone? Nope, me neither. Howard takes the photos. He tells Ben to be a little less QVC. Margaret looks bemused. Howard says in this amazingly sarcastic voice, ‘Oh, look at Ben and Kate, using their multihometone’. Love you, Fishy.

Yasmina is taking the photos but Debrabarr tells her how to take photos in excruciating detail. Yasmina is a little upset and says that under Debrabarr you’re just being barked. Nick says Debrabarr can’t leave well enough alone and is ‘in there with the long finger’. [I await the prostate exam task with eagerness. - Steve] Nick hates Debrabarr.

James picks a picture for poster – it’s Ben opening the box, but not Ben exercising. You can tell Ben’s annoyed he didn’t get to show off his masculine manliness.

Lorraine practises her pitch. She’s really fucking awful. She says ‘dumb-balls’. Sat in the car she’s like ‘I’m not sure’. Debrabarr looks appalled but doesn’t do anything. CUT HER OFF. You still have time to make someone else pitch.

Powerhouse Fitness. They pitch the Body Rocka. Noorul does some exercises on the Body Rocka while Lorraine stumbles and blurbles through her pitch. She calls it functional, as though it’s high praise as opposed to something that is a basic necessity for something to work. Noorul does ‘advanced’ exercises and talks about his groin area. Debrabarr says that Lorraine pitches like she’s hearing impaired or a bit stupid. But still doesn’t pull her off the pitch.

Totally Fitness for Empire. Sidegob demonstrates the thingummy with Ben. She explains its many functions and the guy goes ‘all bases covered’ and seems moderately impressed. Sadly, while Sidegob, who’s doing a good job, is talking about how easy it is to store, Ben fails to close it up and fiddles about with it, basically giving the lie to Sidegob’s pitch. The Totally Fitness men say they target the mid-to-high end of the market and are not going to direct people to that when there’s a £2,000 home gym going in the same store.

At Totally Fitness again, the Body Rocka is pitched. Lorraine says that it works on ‘instability’. I think she means inner stability. They try to sell it as a rival of the Swiss Ball. Mona explains her exercises a bit, talking about her bottom muscles. The guy is like, you can’t do enough on it, compared to a Swiss ball. Debrabarr goes on about the portability, which is about all she’s got going, but the man says they sells thousands of Swiss balls. Phil calls it the iPod of fitness products for no real reason. As they leave, Debrabarr leads them in a rousing chorus of ‘Backstreet’s Back’, where she goes ‘Rock your body’ and the rest of them go ‘Yeah-eah!’ It’s bizarre and kind of cute.

John Lewis for James and co. Sidegob pitches with Ben again. She’s actually fairly good. Better than she was at describing canopies. Afterwards, Howard says to Ben, ‘Can I suggest you don’t slap your own arse … While it was helpful to point out the arse area, I’m sure they know which bit it is.’ Love Howard! Continue making moderately bitchy but also relevant comments, Fishy, and we’ll get along fine.
Howard tells Ben not to slap his own arse.

Lorraine pitches to John Lewis. She’s still shit, calling it ‘dynamic’ and ‘inspirational’. Noorul explains how he’s tightening his buttocks – the John Lewis guy goes ‘I’ll take you word for it on that one’, finally referring to the elephant in the room of Mona and Noorul referring to their intimate areas – and also says he’s working his ‘glutus’. Really not so hot with the Latin, our Noorul. [Glutus is just as cute as Caesar. Glutus is just as smart as Caesar. People totally like Glutus as much as they like Caesar. - Steve] Debrabarr says you want some? They say exclusivity? Debrabarr’s like umm? NOOOOO!! Don’t do it! Sralan hates exclusivity. [In fairness, I think his main objection to it last year was that Princess Lindi was in no position to actually offer it because she didn't own the product. That's not the case here, so possibly if it made good business sense, he'd support it. Maybe. I don't know. - Steve] Phil says we need a serious offer, the guy’s like ‘what’s serious?’ Yasmina steps in and says it’s £14 a unit, and says take 20,000 for 6 months’ exclusivity. John Lewis say no. They kick in the music of doom, but seriously, the fact that they’re asking for exclusivity in the first place is a good sign, no?

Powerhouse Fitness. Sidegob pitches again. The man says it looks a wee bit 1970s. Ben performs some exercises, but using the machine closed up to do tricep lifts and whatever from, as opposed to the step and the cables and stuff. Their selling point is that it’s a box, basically. But, you know. So is a box.

NotFrances sends them through. Sralan looks at the products and says ‘some interesting stuff there’. It’s kind of sad how much better the Body Rocka looks than the Big Ole Box Of Springs That Is Also A Box.

Sralan asks if James a good leader. The whole team’s silence speaks volumes. Ben pulls a face and says he was hardly Winston Churchill and Sralan says it was more like Churchill the nodding dog. Product placement! The giggle politely. Sralan asks if they like their product. Ben says that it’s amazing, almost as amazing as his huge girthy manly penis that is manly and amazing. James didn’t like the end product but did think the idea was sound.

Debrabarr. ‘Good leader?’, asks Sralan. They all say yes noncommittally. He specifically asks Mona, who says, ‘Yeah, she was okay’ but in a way that makes it not damning with faint praise. Sralan confirms that it was Phil’s idea, which it sort of mostly was but not exactly. Phil says he was proud of the product. Sralan asks who pitched. Debrabarr says Lorraine was an okay pitcher and certainly tried her hardest. Which certainly IS damning with faint praise. Debrabarr says Lorraine gave 110% and Sralan goes off on a weird little rant about how that’s 10% wasted, then. You funny little man. [I think he was trying to call them on 110% being nonsense in some bizarre way - Rad] Phil says she was fantastic and it’s easy to criticise at a later stage. Lorraine gives a little strangled ‘thank you’.

Powerhouse placed no orders for Empire. Ignite got an order for 80.
Totally Fitness also placed no orders for Empire. Sidegob shakes her head but kind of looks amused. Ignite got 100.
John Lewis ordered 500 from Empire. James suddenly sits up, alert, thinking that maybe he hasn’t utterly failed after all. Nick tries to create tension by saying Yasmina went in too high with the exclusivity option and she’s stupid and made of fail and blah. But John Lewis still ordered 10,000. Holy shit. A 10,180 to 500 victory. Owie. James looks crushed. Sidegob still looks amused.

Sralan says that Phil and Lorraine deserve special thanks but let’s be honest. Phil’s idea bore the slimmest resemblance to the product they ended up with, which was rendered good by some very good designers and prototype-makers. And in terms of pitching, well, man. They succeeded despite Lorraine, not because of.

The winners get to listen to Katherine Jenkins in a private recital. That’s really really not a treat. Poor bastards. Sralan makes a funny about how the Empire doesn’t strike back, and sends them off to the café of death. Ben says in the café of death that the product was good and they were unanimous on that. Outside, to camera, James says the product looked like a rubbish box with wires, an upsidedown telly and that’s his hunch where they went wrong. No shit, Sherlock. Maybe if you’d paid any attention to the product that you were trying to sell you’d have been able to intervene. Ben says to camera that he’ll be vulnerable in the boardroom but he’ll ‘bite James’s bloody teeth out’ if he turns on him. I don’t even know what that means.

Fucking Katherine Jenkins sings Fucking Hallelujah and it’s the worst thing ever. Bizarrely, Debrabarr and Yasmina are holding hands. I guess they’ve made up over Racismgate. Maybe Yasmina promised Debrabarr that her imaginary black baby can be in the next advert they do, pinky swear for reals. [I'm hoping for Hot Lesbian Action, personally. - Steve] Mona either looks really moved, or like she’s having some gastric pain, or just really bored. Paula continues to be my stealth hero by looking distinctly unimpressed.

Boardroom, Sralan says he doesn’t know what it is, ‘that product over there’. He tells them, in case they hadn’t realised, that it’s always the product that will win this sort of task. James, as PM shouldn’t you know what the product actually is? James says that, like, Ben was very enthusiastic, so he thought he might get in the way and he didn’t want to jeopardise the creativity ‘by being there’. Fire his ass right now. He didn’t want to fuck stuff up by his mere presence. He’s talking about himself and saying that shit.

Margaret steps in. They started off targeting women. Margaret asks Kimberly, as part of the design group and also a woman, if she thinks the Torturous Box of Rusty Springs and Razor Wire For To Make Benefit Of Health appeals to women. Kimberly says that on reflection, and in a quite measured, not turning on her team sort of way, that actually no, probably not. Maj gets all up in her grill for no fucking reason going on about how she said she’d buy it before and she needs to make her mind up. Fuck off Maj. Kim says that what she actually said is that she’s not the person to ask, because for exercise she plays tennis and goes dancing. Margaret gives an unwarranted eyebrow-raise.

Sralan asks who went to the designers. Ben says it was him, Maj and Kim, using ‘myself’ wrongly in the process. Sralan starts on Maj saying he doesn’t do anything and sits there, via a bizarre segue about his grandson’s maths homework. Maj says he doesn’t ‘talk for talking’s sake’. None of them mention the fact that the entire problem is that Maj actually did talk, and was the one that suggested changing the simple bingo-busting device into some weird cross between one of those Chinese finger traps, a Slinky, and one of those little wooden ducks in the under-fives’ playground that rocks back and forth, rendering it complicated, almost certainly too expensive to produce for their mandated £30 pricepoint, unappealing, more useful when it’s locked up and used as a big block of wood, and severely unportable, thereby missing pretty much everything they were supposed to do.

Sralan tells off Howard for sitting on the fence. He says that he isn’t and that it’s always easy to blame the PM, but in this case it comes back to the product and Ben got so excited that he had blinkers on. Ben’s like ‘You never said nothing!’ Howard’s like ‘I said I wanted to carry on brainstorming’. Ben’s like ‘You never said NOTHING! And you never had no ideas! All you did was write things down! Also you’re a faggot!’ The last isn’t said, but you can tell he’s thinking it.

Sidegob, leaning forward on the table and sounding utterly bored, probably because she realises how far from the firing line she is, says ‘in terms of aesthetics, they said it looks like a box’. She’s so stirring. It’s kind of great. Sralan says that yes, indeed, the box does look like a box. Powerhouse says that the best thing was taking the sample away at the end. Ha! Sralan says they missed the target audience. A lump of wood with no creativity. They sit there wondering why they didn’t get any orders, but Sralan, he knows. It’s because ‘the whole thing sucks!’ Sralan asks Sidegob who she blames; she says the design team. Maj leaps to Ben’s defence because at least there was an idea, and says that the blame goes to the project manager for ‘wrong decisions’. Mealy-mouthed cunt. ‘Manager for wrong decisions’. That means NOTHING. James tries to say that Maj was a bit of a follower this week but Maj jumps in to say that James fucking loved the product when he saw it and he’s suddenly changing his tune. Ben says that he’s ‘never seen anyone so pleased as when it was whipped out the next morning’. I’m saying nothing.

James entirely rightly says that he couldn’t say it was shit once it was already there because it would destroy morale. Sralan tries to pick a fight over it, but whatevs. James is buffoon, and he freaks me out because he looks like he was built on a slightly different scale from normal people, but if he’d turned around and said that their prototype, which couldn’t be changed, was shit and he didn’t like it, it would have achieved nothing. He should have been there to prevent it being shit in the first place, of course, but once the job’s done there’s no point in bitching people out over it.

James brings back Maj and Ben. Howard, Sidegob and Kim go back. Sralan has a little chat with Nick and Margaret. Margaret says Maj was a ‘bit of a passenger’ and again, no, he was integral to fucking up the whole thing. Nick says Ben should know more, bodybuilder that he is. Sralan is wise to the fact that Ben so far has been an ass with nothing god to say about anyone. Then says that basically James should know better by the age of 31.

They come back in. Sralan says to James that Ben and Maj will turn on him. James says, slightly more eloquently than ‘I didn’t want to fuck it up just by being there because I suck so much that it distorts space-time and can actually break prototype exercise equipment’, that Ben was so enthusiastic and seemed so sure of himself that he felt confident that he didn’t need to micromanage. That’s a better reason for why you let them go off by themselves, certainly.

Srlan says Maj just hangs about not doing anything. Maj says he can’t do more than he’s told to, and that he can’t just ask for more stuff to do. Yes you fucking can. You take stuff on. You volunteer. Sralan says maybe it’s a lack of confidence in Maj’s abilities. Maj is like ‘I’m very confident’ and Nick’s like ‘No, maybe everyone else has no confidence in you, dillweed’.

Sralan goes on about Ben having the only idea. He says that nobody else had any ideas at all. Not true! Howard had something about using stuff in the shower. Which, okay, rubbish, but could maybe have gone somewhere. Maybe. And they might have had more ideas if they hadn’t settled on Ben’s sprung seat quite quickly: ‘you didn’t keep suggesting things after we already made a decision’ isn’t really a valid criticism. James says that idea is one thing but translating into action is another, because he trusted Ben to take the idea, which was good, and translate it into something better than that piece of chipboard and rust. Ben says blah blah blah and then that James bringing him into the boardroom was ‘the stupidest move he’s made yet’ and then sits back looking incredibly pleased with himself for his little bon mot. Seriously, we’re talking Smug Level: Louis Walsh right here.

James says ‘I did almost everything right’, only just stopping himself from saying ‘I did nothing right’ and his only mistake was trusting Ben with his heart instead of seeing the Fail with his eyes. Phil, panicky moron that he is, gets a bit overwrought. Ben is an unprofessional cunt and goes on about James nearly crying. Only thing grosser than crying in business is picking on someone for crying in business.

Sralan says ‘boardroom twice in three weeks, James?’ James is like, ‘I’m getting better! I’m 31 years old and have almost learnt basic concepts like paying attention and doing up my shoelaces!’ Ben is like ‘it’s easy to pass the buck to the designer but you’re the project manager and you should have been managing the project and ensuring that I didn’t get distracted and lightheaded when all my blood flowed to my penis when I got a massive erection from seeing my own reflection, allowing Maj to sneak in and add a lawnmower and a cocktail-maker to the exercise machine. Kim was probably thinking about puppies or rainbows or something.’ Ben and Maj both want James gone. Shocking.

Margaret thought James was a decent leader but falls apart in the boardroom; she sees a Jekyll and Hyde side to him. Maj is hanging around too much and isn’t really doing anything: can a leopard change its spots? But he’s not doing nothing! He’s been very busy ruining things! Ben stuck his neck out and ‘it would be grossly unfair’ for you to go. Which kind of made me think Ben would go, because Sralan is, of course, the master of the grossly unfair firing. Sralan fires Maj for not contributing. Good. Good that he was fired. Not good reason, because he did stuff. Just bad stuff. Sralan tells James he was so nearly out the door, like several times of ‘seriously dude. You were so nearly doneso. You don’t even know it. So close.’ but Margaret saved him because she sees some spark in him or something. James is clearly not long for this world; frankly, fire James too. And Ben, for being an asscrack.

They’re not making Coatwatch fun this year. Black. Kind of a Nehru collar. Dullzorz.

In the taxi, Maj is annoyed that James is ‘still fighting for a job with Sralan.’ I wouldn’t worry, sweetie. It’s not like he’s going to get it. [Eh. He hired Michelle after she spent the Topshop task sipping champagne in the VIP area. I wouldn't rule anything out. - Steve]

Derbrabarr says that Ben should go, right, cos it was his idea, right? Howard says that Ben distracted them with his sex sells rubbish and Sidegob says it distracted them from ‘proper ideas’. Debrabarr says she doesn’t really care cos their failure is her success, ‘not to be nasty’. Kimberly says ‘it is kind of nasty, but that’s okay’. Ben and James return. People cheer and so on. Debrabarr, weirdly, leaps on James. Like, pretty much wraps her legs round him jumps on him. It’s odd.

Next week, beauty products including porny shots of Mona and Ben in the shower (separately), and ‘Tequila and Dog flavour shower gel’.