Sunday, 7 June 2009

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

Welcome to the liveblog of the final of series five, and more importantly, of Margaret's last shift (sob). I reserve the right to go back in and insert observation, commentary etc after the event due to the pressures of liveblogging, and I'm sure some of my collaborators will appear in the next couple of says to comment, so do come back and see what you've missed.

So, we've had eleven weeks of catering fail, Pantsman, exercise 'boxes' and Lorraine's line of Irish per episode. We're down to two finalists - Kate and Yasmina, either of whom would fit the 'pretty competent one' box that winners so often tick, so who will be given the role of ballsy woman runner-up? We'll find out in an hour, but my money's on Kate to win... or maybe Yasmina...

Previously on The Apprentice... the five remaining candidates got ripped to shreds, and James, Lorraine and Debrabarr went home, and unusually, I felt sad for all of them. Normally there's at least one in this stage that I love to watch being chewed to pieces (Paul Tulip, for example).

The finalists piece to camera about how much they want the job, and Yasmina says it doesn't matter if you come 2nd or 20th as she really wants the job.

They go to Bankside in London for their final briefing. Yasmina's got her hair up and a swirly black and white blouse thing on, Kate a white blouse and grey skirt.

Here come the losers to be on the teams. Yasmina wins the toss and Picks howard. Kate's first pick is Ben (???), Y - Lorraine, K - Debrabarr, Y- James, K - Kimberly (Philip must be crapping his pants). Yasmina picks Philip and Kate takes Rocky. What this says about Philip and Kate's relationship, I'm not sure. I'm rather upset Paula the fierce and Noorul the poor aren't here. Someone in the chat room I'm in bemoans the loss of upside-down-mouth Anita. [What, no love for Mona? She went on a journey! She talked to a transsexual! - Steve]

The task is to make and market a brand new box of chocolates. Chocolate is, we're told, a 3.5 billion pound industry. In the offices of a 'top London ad agency', they have to decide on a target market. In team Yas, James ponders selling for men and Philip says 'what about quirky?' Yas brings the two ideas together and says to market at a woman to buy for men might be quirky.

In team Kate, Ben suggests going down the route of marketing to couples as chocolate can be sensual and then says 'it could be like having a threesome with your box of chocolates'. Um. Kate quite likes the his'n'hers idea.

The teams now need to come up with an idea for a box. Let's hope Kimberly doesn't get involved here. Ben draws a 69 on a page and says he's being 'deadly serious'. Kate calls him a fool, because it's romantic, not perverted, and he gets the huff.

Team Yas ask a focus group of men if their girlfriends buy them chocolates. They all say no, and they don't think women would buy chocolates purely for the men. Now, I'm no dating expert here, but surely men would like their partners to buy them chocs? All the men I know love chocolate, plus that chocolate flavour Lynx has gone down a storm, hasn't it? Anyway. Philip says it's a great misunderstood idea, like Pantsman - people didn't get it at the time, but they will do eventually. Yasmina says 'er no, that's not a good example'. They discuss product names - Cocoa, CocoElectric, and having a display of electric shocks. Eh?

Kate's team like the idea of pairs, two's company, perfect match. From nowhere, Kimberly says 'three's a crowd'.

Team Kate experiment with flavours - strawberries and champagne, lavender, sea salt - all nice, but all rather expensive for their 'mid-brand' chocolate. Do we know if price is a factor here? We know how much Sralan values profit over quality...

Kate asks if £13 (what it might cost) is a valid price point for a 'night in' box of chocs. It sounds more like a special occasion box of chocolates to me rather than a Friday night with a DVD type, but I suppose it depends on what they're aiming at here.

Yasmina's team love the idea of Coriander and Orange, which is surely more of a soup kind of idea? Now cardamom and orange chocolate, THAT is lovely, but coriander? They also discuss peppery caramels (surely salty caramels is more usual?) and chilli.

Kate's team settle on 'Intimate' for a name, which Nick rightly rubbishes, and links to 'feminine freshness'. [In fairness, it was originally 'The Intimate Chocolate Company', which I thought was rather good, but then the box design had INTIMATE in size 46 font and the rest of the words practically minuscule, which was what made it sound Tampaxariffic. - Steve] People in the chat room I'm in say it sounds like Tampax, and seconds later, Debrabarr repeats this exact comment. They throw some names around and settle on 'Choc d'Amour', chocolate of love.

8am, and the printers have sent a sample box. The cocoa elctric box is black with pink writing and a pink ribbon (how manly) which looks exactly like the boxes Thorntons use for Eden. It's a nice box, but is pink the right colour here?

Commercial time, and Kimberly resumes her role as director. Two models are sharing a 'romantic night in', feeding each other chocs in a vaguely porny way.

Yasmina's team get their sweets, they're round flavoured. They try the strawberry and basil ones and Howard pulls a face. Now Rococo sweet basil and lime chocolate, that's how you get basil in chocolate, my friends. Anyway, Margaret asks which she should try and they say chili. She tries one and says she's 'waiting for the explosion'. They ask if she wants another and she says one's enough, thank you.

Philip is trying to chorograph his team's ad. A nation facepalms.

Yasmina is directing hers. She tells the model, who resembles Ziggy from Big Brother to put one in his mouth. He asks if it's strawberry and basil, pulls a face and asks if he can spit it out. Heh. [Even better: Yasmina says "no." - Steve] [But he does anyway and hands it to her, how rude! - Fiona]

There's a bit of decor for the venue shopping, which I miss...

Kate tells Kimberly her advert is a bit cheesy and 80s and says she wants the girl to rip the man's tie off and then be seen with chocolate smeared all over her face. Mmm, sexy. She looks ridiculous, like a three year old after a meal. Nick says Kate's given it some 'bite', so maybe he sees something we don't. [Or he has watched films we haven't - Fiona]

The Cocoa Electric team look at the faces in their ad. They all look 'shocked', but shocked in a 'holy fuck what the HELL is this shite' way, rather than a 'wow! Unexpected pleasure' kind of way.

They decide to put their lightning logo in the centre of their ad and Philip nearly comes at his own genius and channels Lee McQueen with a 'now that's what I'm taking about'.

Kate PTCs that she's confident because it's the only state of mind she can have, but she might be different tomorrow. Yasmina says she's excited, it's going to be the biggest night of her life, and more exciting than getting married. Is Yas married? Can someone check? [I can't find anything one way or another - Fiona]

The venue for the launch gets everyone excited, and we see Kate rehearsing her speech and talking about their romantically themed flavours. Her team are setting up candelabras.

Yasmina rehearses and asks Lorraine if she makes sense when babbling on about electric shocks. Lorraine says 'erm, no not really' and Yas bemoans the fact that she'll never be Martin Luther King.

Kate's presentation and she pronounces it 'shock d'amour' which brings the other team to mind. Their slogan is 'for him, for her, to share' (not for teh gayz, clearly). She mentions the 'current economic climate' of course and says staying in is the new going out. Her podium is covered in roses. She tells people to taste the chocolates. There are six flavours, all with romantic names, [I saw 'couples caramel which is not so much romantic as shit - Fiona] but she doesn't tell us what they are. She tells us they cost £13. Sralan says £13 is a bit much. Kate says you can buy them in nice shops, supermarkets, duty free, er anywhere you buy chocolate.

Their advert looks rather cheap and the woman smearing choc on her face looks nasty, but the idea could be good with a bit of polish, I suppose. The box looks attractive, but rather small... Kate says she believes it's a romantic experience, and really more than just a box of chocolates.

A man in the audience questions their margins, basically pointing out they seem to be aiming a more high-end product at a more mainstream market, which I agree with. In a posh shop, you may pay £13 or more, but in Asda or Tesco, you're going to balk at going over a tenner, aren't you?

Team Yas. She's wearing a pink dress and Philip has a strip of pink Michael Stipe-like strip make up across his eyes. Of course. They have pink lighting anf a group of dancers dancing to Electric Six's 'Danger! High Voltage', which is a little tacky. Sralan looks confused.

People I'm chatting with discuss Yasmina's scar and whether she got it from Voldemort, thus inspiring the logo. Ouch.

Yasmina starts by saying 'let's talk about the concept' and says things like 'take some strawberrry and basil, what do you get? Cocoa electric'. The audience look befuddled. Yas presses on and says she knows they don't all have a box (fail) but they can see it's a nice box. They have 18 chocs and plan to sell for £6.

The ad shows people of both sexes (I presume they've gone away from the male thing then) reacting to eating a chocolate as if they are having an electric shock, with appropriate sound effects (and the Electric Six soundtrack). The problem is, they look as if they're having an unpleasant shock, not an exciting one. A woman in the audience asks why an electric shock is pleasant. Yasmina says well they didn't want to go down the lightning striking route (which could hardly be seen as pleasant either), but it was unusual. A man asks if the flavours work, Yas asks if he's tried them. He says, of course, that's why I'm asking. She says they've had positive feedback, especially about the strawberry and basil. Lots of people laugh. Oops.

Someone else says £6 sounds cheap. Yas says they can make them for 7p each so it'll work out OK. Some people giving vox pops say they love the concept but aren't sure anyone would buy a second box after trying them. Ouch.

Pre-boardroom chat. Yasmina doesn't think she could have done any more. Kate says she won't bitch about Yasmina but just tell Sralan why she should be the next apprentice. London porn. Dramatic music.

Boardroom. Sralan jokes to James about being prophetci and this being the chocolate factory. James says he's got Lorraine's gift. Lulz all round.

Sralan asks how they enjoyed it and Kate says she did, and her team all say she's great. Debrabarr says she thinks Kate would be a good winner. Kate explains about their laboured process of name choosing.

Sralan says that Yasmina's team went for the 'cheap end of the market', and I wonder if they would be better swapping round - couples for a night in would go for cheap, whereas posh high-end stuff tends to have weird flavours. Yas says their research showed men didn't buy choc and Sralan agreed. Sralan says their chocolate was shockingly bad and tasted really cheap, unlike the other team's chocolates, some of which were really good. He says she got there with the money but not the product (in a reversal of the Noorul/Paula cosmetics fight. I *would* liken it to the food week, too, but neither team produced quality then).

The team jump to her defence and say she's fabulous and a great talent. In her Irish moment of the week, Lorraine says they're both great finalists. Philip doesn't stick up for Kate, in a further moment of 'hmmm' about their relationship.

Nick says he was sitting with some top chocolate people who said they;d hire both of them, and Nick says he was really proud of them both. Aww. We then see some snippets of Nick, Margaret and Sralan saying how great they are (but we don't know which comment applies to which of them contestants).

Sralan says this will be the hardest decision EVER as they're both great and asks them to tell him their best bits.

Kate says she liked winning her pitches and people working well with her. Sralan says she's a good presenter and liked, but he needs more than that. she says she's got 'good business skills'. He asks what her ambition was, and she says she wants to work in a company to become a commercial director. He says 'so title means a lot to you' and she says it's the kudos and achievement.

Yasmina says her highlights were learning things she hasn't done before, and she was nervous last night to pitch against the personal pitcher. She says she was pleased to win three PM-ships [Pleased she got that little trufact in there - Fiona] and liked being a good project manager or working alongside good ones. He says you, unlike Kate, have your own business, twenty staff, that's an achievement. He says 'do you understand my dilemma?' She says, yes I do understand, but I feel that letting me go would be a big risk. Sralan says he doesn't want to put 20 people out of work. She says they won't be as her brother will keep them in work.

Kate may have given a better performance in the task, but Yas gave a great boardroom there...

Sralan likes them both, but he's worried about where Kate would fit in in his organisation and what she would do. He says to Yasmina that he got 'made' in his own business and didn't need anybody else, he could do it himself, and he thinks she can do it herself too, and if he took her on, would she resent him in the next few years. He says they're the best he's ever had in the final in this boardroom (and aside from Ruth Badger, I'd agree). His instincts are telling him... big pause... Yasmina, you're hired.

Kate looks gutted but says she's pleased for her. Yasmina promises to be the best apprentice he's ever had. Margaret smiles.

And on that note I'll leave you there, before we have to face a future without soon-to-be-Doctor Margaret Mountford, sadly (and without Sralan (or even Ludallan) if the Tories have their way). Personally, I'd love them to take a break so they can come back and have to call Margaret Doctor Margaret (and Nick can get himself a funky title in that time), but ratings matter, so we'll see you for series six no doubt (or even Junior Apprentice).


Gareth said...

Thanks for a fantastic blog. I've lost count of the number of friends I've shared this (and the Bitch Factor) with. You even motivated me to start my own blog, so double thanks.

In case you're interested, here's what I wrote about the final yesterday

I've also covered it here:

and here:

Rad said...

Aww, thanks. We're glad you like the blogs, and liking yours too!