Sunday, 31 May 2009

As seen on TV

Week Ten
TX date: 27th May 2009

It's the task we've all been waiting for, says the BBC announcer. Dude, you're not kidding. I reserved this recap at some point during last year, because the home shopping tasks are generally epic. But I'm getting ahead of myself, aren't I?

London porn, 'Dance of the Knights', job interview from hell, etc. The opening of this show gets a bit samey after a while, doesn't it? I wish it had titles like the American version. Come on, don't tell me you don't want to see Yasmina attempting to smile naturally for the camera right up in your face every week.

Oh God, I just paused on James with his legs wide open doing his labour face in the birthing pool. That's five years of therapy, right there. Last week, the teams sold baby stuff at Earl's Court. Lorraine PMed for Ignite with a handy pushchair and some headgear, while James and Empire attempted to flog birthing pools and rocking horses with little success. Eventually, Ben's ultimate wish to "let me FUNUSH" was denied forever and he was sent packing. Six remain!

6am, and Lorraine trudges down the hall in her PJs to answer the phone. Sralan requests their presence at Ally Pally (or Alexandra Palace, if you want to be pedantic about it), and they need to bring an overnight bag. Everyone fumbles about in semi-darkness to get ready in a frankly inadequate amount of time, and James admits that he'd like Sralan to see him be capable of winning a task for a change. This is accompanied by footage of him filling the steam iron with water from the kettle, which doesn't exactly fill me with confidence. Howard VTs that they are close to the finish line and today could be his last day, but he doesn't think about it like that, because he doesn't think it will be - he sees himself in the final and he thinks Sralan does too. And at this point, four-and-a-half minutes into the episode, I knew Howard was going home this week. Thanks, editors!

Ally Pally, north London. It is windy. Everyone stands on ceremony as Sralan pulls up un AMS1. This is where the first live television broadcast came from, and so we segue into this week's live TV challenge - home shopping, hooray! Sralan has arranged with "a TV company" for the teams to go and see products on live TV - the team who sells the most will win, and the team that does not will lose, and one member of the losing team will be fired.

In AMS1, Sralan interviews that this is one of his favourite tasks (yay, me too!) - it's about choosing the right products for the right target audience. He is not, repeat NOT, looking for TV presenters. "And don't we know it," mumble Miriam Staley and Naomi Lay from wherever they are these days. The teams head off to Peterborough on their way to Britain's "second biggest TV shopping channel". Only second? Was the biggest one too busy, or something? Anyway, I assume it's Ideal World they're off to. In the Ignitaxi, Howard volunteers to PM. (Also, seriously? Isn't this meant to be the credit crunch Apprentice? Make them take the fucking train!) Lorraine thinks they should choose products that reflect their personalities. Howard corrects her that they need to pick products which reflect their target market. They arrive, and it is indeed Ideal World. Empire, meanwhile, still haven't decided who will be PM. It's between Yasmina and Debrabarr - Debrabarr wants to be PM every week, but also doesn't really give a rat's ass. Yasmina really does want to be PM, so Yasmina is PM. "Happy?" asks Yasmina. "No, not really, but it's the best of a bad bunch," replies Debrabarr. Yasmina asks if Debrabarr might be a little more enthusiastic, and the answer is basically "fuck off", although said in as unaggressive a way as it's possible to say that. Seriously, Debrabarr is weird. She VTs that Yasmina can sometimes stifle the other strong members of her team.

The teams have two primetime slots which would normally shift tens of thousands of pounds of crappy craft accessories. Before choosing their products, the teams watch a lady selling Bridget Jones-style slimming pants. Each candidate will have to take their turn at directing from the gallery and presenting in the studio.

To begin with for Empire, Yasmina calls a meeting and tells everyone to go with their gut instinct. She advises her team not to go for anything too expensive. The team splits up - Yasmina accompanies James, while Debrabarr goes off on her own. Jasmina examine a Water Pik, which James shoves in his mouth and remarks "that's really quite painful" - possibly, I'm guessing, because there wasn't any water in it, fool. Debrabarr plays with a nifty remote controlled car for £14.99, down from £29.99. More products: a hair grip for Debra, a "grabosaurus" for Jasmina (essentially a large set of claws for picking up leaves and stuff in the garden). James thinks it's an excellent thing for his father. Jasmina are also shown a window-cleaning kit, of which two parts appear to be magnetic and leap together in Yasmina's hands, causing her to go "wargh!". Ah, if only I knew how to make gifs, I would be making one of that moment for sure. Next is the Polo Pancho - 100% man-made materials, ladies and gentlemen! "You can get polyester that's man-made?" James clarifies, hilariously. Nick facepalms in the background. Jasmina try on the Polo Pancho, which looks hideous, but is only £9.99. Yasmina thinks it's a good product.

Meanwhile, Ignite are rehearsing, and it is going badly. Lorraine is attempting to flog a sat nav, and keeps encouraging the viewers to exceed the speed limit and crash their cars. Kate gives Lorraine handy selling points over the talkback, and Lorraine replies to her out loud. A member of the gallery crew turns and looks at Margaret, all "is she for real? SERIOUSLY?" Lorraine talks about accidents again. "She can't talk about accidents!" frets the professional director. Lorraine goes to pieces, and then the rehearsal is over. "That is what you call car crash television," giggles Lorraine afterwards. "I don't even know why I'm laughing, because I'm not going to be able to sleep a wink tonight worrying about this."

It's up to Howard as PM to decide who has to do a solo slot when they go live. Kate has a go at flogging the sat nav in rehearsal, pulls a lot of "I don't know what the fuck I'm doing" faces and leaves a lot of dead air. The director gently coaxes Howard to get her to speak, and Howard just sits there looking a bit lost. The director gives him some options, and Kate manages to get to the end, somehow.

It's Howard's turn in front of the camera, and it's only at this point that I realise he looks just like he ought to be working for anyway. Lorraine tells him he looks handsome on camera, and Howard giggles. Howard is actually surprisingly good in his rehearsal.

Time to decide who flies solo. Howard asks his team for any feedback they might want to give: Kate is pleased her slot didn't go smoothly because it's good practice. Lorraine tells Howard that he looked and sounded great on TV, which would've been fine if she'd stopped there, but she sticks a shoehorn into her mouth just to make sure her footwear slips in nice and easily, and adds "no offence Kate, we all know you're very good". Kate, apparently, does not take this well and starts pouting, prompting Lorraine to claim that Kate's giving her "dagger-eyes". "I will give you dagger-eyes if you keep saying that," snips Kate. Lorraine attempts to stop digging by telling Howard that the camera likes him, and shuts up. Kate tells Lorraine that comments like that are disruptive to a team, and sometimes you need to just not say anything at all. And really, I'm no Lorraine fan, but when asked for feedback on the team's performance, is "I thought you were the best of the three of us" really that offensive? Perhaps a lot ended up on the cutting room floor here, but it does rather seem like Kate was quick to take umbrage at an insult that wasn't really there. Howard decides to put Kate on her own, and he will go with Lorraine - which is a fair enough decision, based on the evidence he has to hand, because he thinks that Lorraine needs to be supervised, and clearly if he leaves her in the same room as Kate there'll be nothing left but a pile of hair and claws after half an hour.

On Empire, Yasmina has chosen Debrabarr to present solo - presumably before they've even rehearsed. Debrabarr demonstrates an onion slicer while Yasmina VTs that she'd totally employ Debrabarr to work for her, but she'd put her desk in a soundproofed box and make her sit by herself at lunchtime, or something. Jasmina rehearse their double act, and I do mean double act, because they take it upon themselves to start acting like a couple, calling each other "darling" and referring to non-existent times where they got lost on their way to a restaurant because they didn't have a satnav. Well, they've got more chemistry than Alex and Claire, at least. The only problem is that they spent so much time on their skit, that they don't actually say anything about the product. Debrabarr tells them to smile, and Yasmina pulls out a terrifyingly stilted grin that is likely to give me nightmares for weeks. Hmm, maybe I don't want US-style opening titles after all.

It's 5.15pm, and Ignite are picking their products. Howard and Lorraine look at a product that takes care of the hard skin on your feet. "Instinctively, I like it," says Lorraine, who's really taking the Cassandra thing too far now. Next they look at a set of polystyrene cats, which you stick sequinned pins in to make them look slightly less terrifying. Only slightly, mind. Howard interviews that none of them watch shopping channels, so their personal feelings are irrelevant. Lorraine and Howard play with an air-guitar with an infra-red beam, which looks quite fun. Kate examines a low-fat chip fryer, and a hideous leather jacket with leaves stuck all over it, which comes in bronze, silver and gold tones. It's not quite as hideous as the Wolf Spirit jacket, but it's not all that far off. Only this jacket isn't even funny, it just leaves you with a deep sadness inside you where your soul once was.

Howard and Lorraine play with a £229.99 toy dinosaur, that develops a personality the more you play with it. Lorraine's first Irish line of the episode comes in when she attempts to stop the dinosaur from being spoiled by holding it by its tail: "Now, you see, you don't like that, do you?" It is ridiculously cute, but Howard points out that you could buy a Nintendo Wii and several games for the same price. Lorraine thinks that it's different, and that parents do spend that sort of money on children. Probably not outside of Christmas, I shouldn't think.

Lorraine VTs that Howard doesn't take risks, and she thinks the next apprentice has to be a risk-taker.

The teams return to their hotels, and look at the products they'll be selling - but the twist (in as much as it's the same thing that happened the last time they did this task) is that each section of the team will be shilling the products that the other one picked. So, Howard and Lorraine must sell Kate's hideous jackets and chip pan, both of which are over £100. On Empire, Debrabarr is selling the "dinopick", as Yasmina puts it ("Grabasaurus, you muppet!" - James), at £24.99 - their most expensive item - and the £9.99 polo poncho. Jasmina will be selling the remote control car and the three pack of elasticated hairgrips at £17.99. Yasmina thinks they haven't got any high-risk products, because everything is a sellable price, so they can go for volume. Back at Ignite, Howard and Lorraine show Kate what they've picked - the sequin-pin cats, and the air guitar, which is £14.99.

The next day, the teams have some time to get to grips with their products, so Debrabarr tries out ways of wearing the polo poncho, while Howard declares Lorraine to be the queen of all things chip-pan related (which Lorraine disputes, because she's not actually used it yet). Presumably it's quite a lot of time, because the next thing we know it's "prime-time" (which in my experience starts at 7pm, back in my TV scheduling days) and they're about to go on. Sralan, of course, is watching at home. The clock in the studio, by the way, says 5pm. That totally isn't primetime by any stretch of the imagination. Jasmina begin the evening's entertainment by demonstrating the remote control car, and Yasmina gets an unfortunate case of verbal diarrhoea: "Look at that! It's so easy to use, isn't it? Such a great gift. Look at the lights on it! It's just absolutely gorgeous. I mean, I love it, don't you love it, James?" In the gallery, Debrabarr tells Yasmina to stop talking and for James to talk about the price. She has to say this three times before anyone actually listens. In doing so, James looks wildly from left to right trying to determine which camera he's on. Ouch. They move on to the hair grips, and start out well enough with a bit of a skit along the "is there something different about you?" lines, but it all goes wrong rather quickly when Yasmina says the price is £9.99, despite the price on screen (which is the correct one) showing £17.99. They give out the wrong price at least four more times before Debrabarr corrects them, and there's another awkward moment as Jasmina give out the correct price. Then they demonstrate on a model, and Yasmina makes a bit of a pig's ear of it as the real director pulls a face in the gallery. Time for James to turn on the patter: "If you're not fast with this, you're going to be last with this, so stop spying, and start buying." I can't imagine Noel Edmonds is having any sleepless nights after this.

Time to switch: Jasmina run up to the gallery while Debrabarr takes the floor. And here's the biggest surprise of the episode: Debrabarr is actually rather good at this. While still not actually sounding like a human being in any way, she softens her voice a bit and sounds about as ingratiating as Debrabarr is likely to get. She demonstrates the polo pancho, and on James's instruction to tell the audience how lovely model Sheila looks, starts giving Sheila the flirt eye and going "how stylish do you look?" Seriously, I can only apologise for the fact that my command of language cannot do justice to the amazing weird brilliance of Debrabarr on Idealworld. She even calls her "regal", it's amazing. Next, Debrabarr moves on to the grabosaurus, and seems to be really getting the hang of this - very calm, very informative, and even friendly, in an aloof sort of way. And they're done - coming off the air, Debrabarr cringes "that was terrible!" even though we all know it wasn't.

Ignite prepare to go live. Howard is worried that Lorraine will panic and deviate from the script. First of all, they're shilling the jackets. "What a lot of bling," remarks Sralan in his office. Lorraine does seem to be doing rather better this time around, quite possibly because it's a lot easier to be natural when you have someone there to interact with. She tries on the jacket, and works up a bit of pattern with Howard about how she'll definitely wear this to her next party, but she might not invite Howard to join her because she's got a long list to get through. It's charmingly insincere in the way that people on shopping channels inevitably are. Before we know it, they're on to the kitchen to sell the low fat chip fryer, where Lorraine takes the lead and does quite a good job. Seriously, if the basis for winning this task were how much you improve between rehearsal and performance, Lorraine would've walked it. Kate's direction, quite good during the first segment, rather falls off here, amounting to little more than "who likes chips? We like chips! Chips chips chips!" Lorraine tastes some chips, and Sralan complains that they're talking about the product without giving out the web address or the phone number. Howard offers Lorraine another chip, causing Sralan to groan. Lorraine starts talking about how she doesn't normally let her daughters have chips, in her second Irish line of the episode, and still no info is given about the phone number.

They're off, and Kate takes over. She speaks in a very odd, overpronounced way while selling the sequinned cats, and desperately tries to convince the viewers at home that the cat has a personality because it wears a bell. Up in the gallery, Margaret cracks up. She seems to be having an awful lot of fun this year. Kate moves on to selling the infrared air guitar, which sounds awfully tuneless because she doesn't strum it very much. "I'm just having such a fantastic time!" lies Kate. "This is so much! I'm releasing my inner rock goddess!" She even does some headbanging. This is the most embarrassing thing I've seen on TV all week, and I saw Susan Boyle try to flash her knickers during her concession speech on Britain's Got Talent. Finally, it's all over. Mercifully. I've almost turned myself out with all the cringing at this point.

The teams return to Sralan's boardroom, and NotFrances sends them all through. Howard cops to being PM for Ignite, and Kate and Lorraine say that he was a good team leader. Sralan tells them off for taking too long to explain the low fat fryer and not spending enough time talking about the price and how to get it. He also tells them that the animal craft kit was a tough sell, and Kate says it wasn't exciting to demonstrate. However, Sralan says that the jacket and the fat fryer were good product selections because they were of high value. Note how they were the two products Kate picked. I'm just sayin'.

And with that, we move over to Empire, who banked on much cheaper products. Sralan says that in his opinion the higher-ticket items like the fryer were better bets, and that their product selection showed an excess of caution. He addresses James's stumbling in front of the camera, and reads out a viewer feedback e-mail thanking Ideal World for their new comedy hour. Hee.

And so it's time to find out how much was sold. Nick gives the results for Empire - total sales of £1,541.88. Margaret gives the results for Ignite - total sales of £1,376.73. Which means that, volume-wise, Team Yasmina must've really schooled the others. Sralan congratulates Debrabarr, in particular, who sold lots of ponchos, apparently not far off how many the channel said they would sell during a normal slot. Nick says that Debrabarr was very good, and the channel staff said she took to it like a duck to water. Redemption edit! The reward is going off with an aerobatic flying team for a private flight. Team Yasmina zoom out into the antechamber and hug each other with glee. Back in the boardroom, Sralan tells Ignite that compared to the channel's forecasts, the sales of the hideous jackets were abysmal - they may have picked the best products, but they didn't execute it well. He dismisses them. After they've gone, Nick says they should, by rights, have stormed this, and it shows bad salesmanship.

Is it can be reward tiem nao? Team Yasmina strut out in their flying gear and take to the skies. This does look like a pretty kickass reward, in all fairness. I'm not saying I wouldn't have vomited, but it looks awesome.

The Crumbling Remains Of Loser Café. Kate is disappointed to have lost by about £200, and that they could've won if they'd only shifted two more fryers. Howard VTs that he's ready to fight his corner, and he thinks Lorraine should go. Coincidentally, Lorraine VTs that Howard should go because he's not a risk-taker. Back in Loser Café, Lorraine says she'll go in there defending herself rather than attacking Howard or Kate, because if she bows out, it'll be with integrity and grace. Well, there's a first time for everything, I suppose.

Boardroom 2: Electric Boogaloo. Sralan says that as it's week ten, there's a lot from the past weeks for him to take into consideration, though he'll be focusing on this task first of all. First of all, Sralan raises the sales figures - only one animal craft kit was sold. Howard says that he and Lorraine know nothing about the craft market, but picked it because they thought it would be easy to demonstrate. They'd hoped it would be an impulse purchase. Sralan counters that he's looking for a business flair - people who can spot something that's worth something, even if they don't like it themselves. Howard sticks to his guns that he thought it was a good product, leading Sralan to be all "aha, so you think Kate did a bad presenting job, then?" It's totally like the three-pronged calling attack in Mean Girls, with Howard as Cady, Kate as Gretchen and Sralan as Regina. Meanwhile, Lorraine sits next to them, writing "Philip is the nastiest effing skank I have ever seen" in the burn book. Howard protests that Kate was a good seller, but they wanted to focus on the air guitar - wrong move, because according to Sralan, they sold less than 10% of what they should've sold with that too. Asked for her opinion, Kate claims they weren't easy products to demonstrate, adding that she gave her all on the guitar and doesn't know what else she could've done. Sound like you weren't preoccupied wondering if there were any Toffee Crisps left in the vending machine, maybe?

Margaret wants to know why they didn't go with the dinosaur. Lorraine says that she wanted that one and should've pushed it through on her instincts (drink!). Howard is asked if he was nervous about the price, Howard says he was, but he considers Lorraine's idea of pushing that product to have been weak. Margaret points out that it was a good product, and a different product, but Howard says that he wasn't sure if people would spend that much on a novelty item, and that he ultimately "wasn't comfortable with the dinosaur product". It's okay, Howard. Show us on the doll where the dinosaur product touched you.

Kate chose the fryer and the leather jacket, lest we forget. Sralan points out that they are the top-selling items in their categories, but Howard and Lorraine only sold 5% of what they'd expect with the jackets - if only they'd sold two more, they would've won. Howard explains how he was concerned Lorraine didn't understand the fryer product - that she did well on the night, but that the presentation beforehand was lacking. Sralan turns to Kate and says that he's complimented her on her presentation skills in the past (though let's not forget "I've heard of bellinis" too quickly, shall we?), but he wonders if it all went to her head, because he thought she was robotic on the TV. Kate doesn't think she was terrible, especially not compared to those losers Lorraine and Howard. Wow, she really does not like having her telegenicness challenged, does she? Kate sold a total of £277 worth of goods, compared to Debrabarr who sold £940 worth of goods by herself. Wow, that is one hell of a blowout right there. Kate blinks.

Who's responsible for the failure of this task? Kate thinks they should've pushed the fryer more, and that Lorraine didn't even know the instructions were in the recipe book. "Well, it's very straightforward," counters Lorraine. "You just put the fat in, put the chips in and turn it on, Sralan." HA! I loved that. Howard asks if it was that straightforward, why was she not more prepared? Lorraine asks if she's being set up as the blame here? Kate says that if they'd sold two more fryers, they wouldn't be here right now, not that she's pointing fingers or anything. Also, Kate's left eye looks kind of lazy here. Lorraine thinks Kate's passing the buck, and isn't taking responsibility for the failure. "When the chips were down, I stood up to the mark." Hee. Sralan asks Lorraine who should go - she thinks Howard, because the whole thing was too structured from the outset.

The dramatic music kicks in, and Sralan is ready to take into account everything that's happened in the moments leading up to this, so he sends them all outside while he ruminates, as well he might. Margaret says that Howard would have things running like clockwork. Sralan thinks that Lorraine is always too steps behind, but Nick thinks he's underestimating her, because her gut instinct is so often right. Kate maybe thinks she's better than she really is.

NotFrances sends them all back in. Sralan tells Howard that he considers him to be a bit of a cautious man. Howard asks why that is. Sralan says that the sort of person he's looking for can't just do the same thing all the time. Howard says that he's a good communicator and works well in teams, but also works well as a leader. Nick thinks Howard isn't a warrior. Howard refutes this, saying that he's very ambitious, but Nick thinks Howard's actions belie his alleged ambition.

Over to Lorraine - she thinks that she's been at the forefront on every task, and believes she has natural business acumen. Sralan asks why she wants to work for him, and Lorraine says that she's spent ten years out of business raising her children, and this is a fantastic opportunity for her.

Kate's turn. She says she's been a strong team player, hence this is only her second time "in the bottom three" (this is not American Idol, Kate), she's put herself up for the big jobs, she's not a one-trick pony, she's really ambitious and she really wants to work for Sralan. Sralan says that nothing great has been achieved by enthusiasm only. Try telling that to Anneka Rice. Sralan thinks Kate's slipped back in his estimations: while she says she's not a one-trick pony, he feels she might be. Howard is a "steady Eddie" - we're going through tough times at the moment, and the winner of this contest needs to be "something special". So...we don't want someone calm and risk-aware looking after things in the months following a near collapse of the banking system? O-kay, then. Lorraine talks a good game, and Sralan doesn't think her age is a problem, but her "slow burner" comments worry him because sometimes she makes her mind up too late in the game.

So who goes? Howard, duh. We all saw that in the first five minutes. Howard shudders, thanks Sralan and leaves. Sralan tells Lorraine and Kate that it was a very tough decision, that he hasn't got time for "ordinary people". They're dismissed. Howard hugs them both goodbye, and it seems fairly friendly. Coatwatch: difficult to tell because it's blurry, but it appears long and dark. I've been really let down by the coats this series, quite frankly. Howard taxinterviews that he's gutted, because he wanted to make it to the end. If Sralan thinks he's risk-averse, he'll try to be more maverick in the future.

Back at Crackden Apts, everyone's sitting in near silence. Kate and Lorraine's return is met with squeals. "Four girls and one boy!" chirrups Debrabarr. "I feel like Hugh Hefner," remarks James. Ew.

Now just five candidates remain. Next week: interviews! Shock horror: Debrabarr is asked if she's ever told someone to "eff off" at work! The only thing surprising me there is that she didn't reply "no, I told them to fuck off". James claims he "puts a leash on people who spunk money up the wall" for a living! And "a number" of people are fired. Please God let it be a two-person finale this year. The four-way last year was beyond ridiculous.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Maybe Baby

For those of you not paying attention, this programme is a serious attempt by Sralan Sugar to find a dogsbody to pay a 6 figure salary to for doing some stuff for his company Notamstrad.

Last time the hapless hopefuls had to re brand Margate. Ignite decided to re-brand the sea side by not re-branding and aimed for families. Empire shot for the moon and targeted the gays. Mona was so far out of her comfort zone she needed a passport to come back, MarGAYte was overlooked as a tag line and with regret Mona was fired.

The 'answering the phone first thing in your undies' sequences have been a let down so far. And this week - argh a Ben torso shot and Debra in her PJ's - no need!

They are off to meet Sralan at University College Hospital. James VT - he knows he is skating on thin ice and Sralan is waiting for it to crack. In the cars they are guessing what the task will be be based on their destination. Howard suggests whatever they think they should go for the opposite and they'll be closer. Debra thinks its a race to administer mouth to mouth to the largest number of presumably dying volunteers. The team with the most left alive win. I think not although it does sound like a reasonable idea for a Big Brother task. [Well, you can volunteer if you want, but I wouldn't put my life in the hands of anyone in that house - Rad]

In a maternity wing, Nick looks very uncomfortable and they are all wearing nice blue shoe covers. They have to have a stand at the Baby Show, choose 2 products from those offered and the team who sell the most (and makes the most) wins.

Its time to mix up the Magnificent Seven. Ben and Yasmina go to Empire and Howard to Ignite. Interestingly Sralan picks the mums and dads as the team leaders meaning James leading Empire and Lorraine leads Ignite. Yes they have procreated - are you scared yet?

Before we go any further I should tell you right now. I am a woman, I have given birth twice, I am not cutting them any slack this week and I fully expect Ben to invoke my wrath more than usual.....

Shots of babies and the Baby Show. I want to say baby show porn but obviously that's wrong. Anyway some babies are cute, some not.

The first job is to pick the 2 winning products that are going to fly off the stand and make the teams a fortune. Lorraine has been to the Baby Show previously as a mum and says she went to get furniture but ended up buying lots of impulse purchases too and suggests this as a strategy, 1 high end item and 1 impulse type buy. This is wise.

James and Ben are already disagreeing. James is not so fussed about timing as getting the products right which is OK up to a point. They have 6 hours to choose the products. Start the clock!

In the cars some classic conversations:
James randomly announces 'One thing that is really important when you’re breastfeeding is the mother needs to be happy. Because if she is a little bit anxious there is something in nature which switches off the tap in her breast.' (He is correct sort of although I suspect the majority of Apprentbitch readers will not be so bothered about this trufact so I will abstain from any further comment)

Debra has learnt something new. 'James! I didn’t know I had a tap in there mate!' (She has no soul and no heart so why not tittaps?)

Ben actually makes a funny, that's funny: 'Do you know the left one is hot and the right one is cold?' Is he actually going to be less of a cunt this week?

In the Ignite-mobile Howard seems pleased Lorraine is in charge rather than James. 'How many people is James going to ask “when is it due?” when they are not pregnant?'

In Holland Park James and Yasmina are viewing the 'latest' birthing pool. So basically its a big paddling pool but with sturdier sides for the labouring woman to lean over. Course James is straight in demonstrating full blown labour. Only a person whose never done it will mock it but I stop swearing at him when it becomes apparent he does seem to know his stuff. Mags looks like she finds the whole thing slightly distasteful. The woman showing them the pool tells them she took 5k in 3 days at a baby show. Pound signs flash in their eyes. James knows the pool will target a smaller market but with potentially higher return.

Debra and Ben are looking at a protective head cap. I can tell you every mum I know thinks these are stupid. Ben says he wants his kids to get cuts and bruises. Nice. 'Its CODSHIT' says James. Indeed it is. They sort of look like those velcro hats you wear to play that game where you catch the ball with your head - or did I imagine that?

Meanwhile Lorraine views the take off pushchair - it collapses quickly and easily. Wins. I actually want this pram, I never want anything I see them trying to flog. I feel this is a good sign. But somehow I think it will prove harder for anyone other than Mr Demonstrator to collapse and put up. Its priced at £135 - not bad for a buggy but a little high end for a stroller, (come on people keep up). Still they'll throw in a changing bag.

Kate and Howard are looking at shoes for babies - with high heels - these caused outrage in the parenting community when they came out. Even the woman pitching them says shes had death threats - OK I am exaggerating but only slightly. These things are pointless and foul and really whatthefuck? I will not launch into a rant because it will be incoherent and mostly involve 'argh' over and over again. [I echo your 'what the fuck' and expect a Daily Mail expose by the middle of next week - Rad]

Debra and Ben are looking at rocking horses, built to order by a man wearing pressed jeans and a nice shirt. Known as best rocking horse makers in the world, they sell to kings and queens and the price tag to match - £1500 plus VAT. Eeek. Ben mounting and rocking in any sense turns my stomach. They love the horses. If they sell one they are quids in -this is true but oh so risky

Now Lorraine is in the birthing pool. Its not complicated guys, you get in, it makes the worst pain of your life a bit more bearable. The selling lady is getting a bit biological now and encourages Lorraine to find but her coccyx and pubic bone. Nick looks worried as well he might and Lorraine declines to grab her crotch on national TV.

Now Kate and Howard are at protective head gear HQ. It may be nice to see kids wearing the gear but the kids don't look happy. The kid is thinking 'fuck you mum I look like a total Dick on national TV'. In the car Kate says she wants to play on the guilt factor. Grr like parents need anymore guilt heaped on them and if your 6 month old falls over as in they were stood unaided never mind walking, you have a prodigy on your hands so you need to call Mensa not stick a thud hood on them. (I trademark that name right now by the way)

James is now at the buggy take away and he likes the pram. Lorraine has decided she wants the pushchair and the birthing pool. Howard agrees and says only 2% of women have births at home so we'll go for the pushchair and to balance it go for the 'thud guard'. Lorraine corrects him that its 2.2% but whatevers.

Debra and Ben go for the horse, the horse, they are all about the horse. At gun point from James they are forced to choose something else, they suggest the pram. James compares the buggy that folds differently to a laptop that folds differently - like you'd be bothered. I'd LOVE to see a laptop that folded differently and anyway and he has kids? I'd kill for that pram! I can only assume he has never had to collapse a pram under pressure and the gaze of a whole bus full of cunts and then hold aforementioned pram for the whole journey. He plumps for the pool.

Back at Crackden Towers, Lorraine is trying to demonstrate the buggy, you know the one that comes up and goes down easier than a tarts knickers? She may have broken it. It's pissing her off. Howard says they need to be able to smoothly put it up and down. Thankfully the hat just goes on your head.

£1700 of horse next door. James' pep talk consists of - sell the bloody (bladdy?) rocking horse.

On the way to Earls Court James is determined someone will buy the horse. If sheer force of will alone can make it happen they'll be OK, they are all straining so much they appear constipated. Lorraines notes that if the other team have chosen the horse then 1 sale will blow them out the water. [A risky strategy but sometimes it works on this show - Rad]

At Earls Court they have prime sites and start checking out the competition, Ignite aren't worried - until they see another stand with the take away buggy. So not exclusive then. Lorraine is kicking herself for not checking whether others exhibitors would have it and shes kicking the buggy because she can't work it.

9.30am they have 7 hours to sell. Yasmina is selling the birthing pool by giving a ever so slightly graphic 'my brother was ripped from my mothers womb' birth story. Lorraine tries to demonstrate the buggy. Badly. Customers not impressed, Howard not impressed, Nick says Lorraine is making a complete 'Horlicks' of it. Not as good as codshit. Now the customers showing them how to do it. Face palm.

Customers are giving Empires 'stable' a wide berth - so they take the prices off.

Yasmina sells a birthing pool. It's pulling in the preggy ladies - in fact some look like they might need to use it there and then. James describes how it opens everything up so far the baby jumps out - have forgiven his labour impression but worry he may get done for false advertising when these women actually give birth.

The toddler hard hat is selling well - just my opinion here but actually like many similar products it's stupid and can actually be dangerous as it gives parents a false sense of increased safety. Howard seems to think it babysits and entertains the kids, 'just make sure hes still in the room' (but basically you can ignore him).

Horses not happening. They are still under starters orders and other such horse race inspired witticisms.

Lorraine's team have got finally got the buggy licked. Mr Fiona really wants one now, I am resisting the urge to google them.

Empire have now got kids on the horses, for free rides . Ben says its not just a rocking horse, but an heirloom. One dad pissed off cos he can't sit on it too. Debra is realising if they don't sell the horse its her and Ben that pushed for it.

O no! A customer tells them another stand is telling the buggy for £100 meaning that anyone who was interested earlier in the day and planning on coming back has gone to the competition. With 15 minutes to go another exhibitor is after a horse but wants £200 off. Debra pushes for full prices and pushes some more. She even offers to work for a day, for a week if he buys it at full price. Drop the price woman, they can't drop the price Debra says whatever and they loose the sale.

James feels like he's been dumped, his football team's lost and he backed a losing horse. Ho ho.

Oh James. I have grown to really like you. If he has sense he'll take in Debra and Ben 'if' he looses.


Ben lays straight into James. James confirms the products chosen, risky strategy says Sralan. James gives a surprisingly comprehensive reason for not choosing the pushchair - too expensive. And as noted earlier it is more expensive than for a basic stroller but I think he underestimated the USP.

Lorraine was a good team leader, Kate describes their strategy of high and low price items. Ben justifies why he didn't choose the head gear. Sralan calls Lorraine on getting totally busted by someone else under selling her
Empire - sale £722
Ignite £1660.89
Treat - National Portrait Gallery to meet Gerald Scarfe for a caricature each - quite cool but quite low budget. [Cool for us, rather than them, surely? A Scarfe caricature, whilst acurate, is rarely flattering. Still, better than Myleene playing the piano or Kathryn Jenkins warbling - Rad]

At the National Portrait Gallery - champagne, carnival of animals (- fossils) and a man with a voice like sex and a wicked pen.

Loser Cafe. Debra tells James they should have gone for the buggy and James should be fired. Ben also says we should have got the buggy not a birthing pool. What short memories these 2 goldfish/piranhas have. Like the horse wasn't a problem?

Sralan and Nick start on the everyone needs a buggy and 2% need a pool. Fuck that - its the horse that shit all over it. Debra takes it on her sizable chin and admits the horse was a distraction, suddenly Debra was pushing for the buggy? when? Debra and Ben have definitely decided to tag team James.

Yasmina says they choose the pool because the seller had a proven track record. They get into some random calculations. The pool was at a reduced price so people were coming to them.
Sralan doesn't understand why they couldn't give the reduced price for the horse. There was no special offer Ben, leaving a deposit is not a special offer Debra. £1500 is better than £0.

James is bringing back Ben & Debra but if he could he would take in Debra twice if he could. Sralan notes it's the 4th time all 3 have been in the last 3.

Mags doesn't know how they didn't ask for a discount, Ben thinks too much of himself, Debra is over powering and James is disorganised.

Ben is all don't fire me I have raw acumen and talent as per. Sralan say so like where? Ben gives more bluster with no back up. He can complete at world class level, bladdy sandhurst - Sralan NOT impressed: he was a Jewish bugler. [He also referenced Sandhurst types not being able to cook on a bean can a la 'cheese from Makro' Paul, which made me LOL - Rad]

James is a senior manager but he is a nice guy who makes sensible decisions. I can get on with people he informs Sralan, Debra would have half notamstrad on strike in a day. Sralan tells him not to worry his pretty little head about that and anyway there is no room for Mr nice.

Turning to Debra, Sralan tells her that Nick and Mags are not your fans. He continues that shes alienating people, causing aggro and is a BLADDY WOMAN. Debra responds that her personality might be abrasive but she is good at her job, passionate and fearless and 'that's me' - but she's not ruthless. She wants to go from a lump of coal to the diamond he wants - zirconia snorts Sralan.

Debra, after prompting from Sralan, takes responsibility for the horse while still managing to blame James. He responds by making the point that he would have been a shit PM if he had given them the mandate to choose items and then ignored their opinions.

The verdict:
Ben is showing promise, Debra - no one likes you and James you're nice but you are maybe too nice. There is light at the end of the tunnel, Ben shakes his head, but the light's gone and BEN is out!!

He sits outside and weeps slightly.

Debra has escaped because she is belligerent. Remind you of anyone?

Debra hugs Ben - god he is tiny

Coat watch - black and boring.

Mags says Ben's raw material is good. I am so confused, he wasn't that much of a cunt this week. I actually think it should have been Debra rather than him and I didn't think I'd ever hear myself say that! Everyone says they'll be shocked if Ben has gone and shocked they are.

In the taxi Ben is adamant he is better than James and he is still tearing up. All these babies has made me soft and for a second I feel a glimmer of compassion for him.


Thursday, 14 May 2009

Summer gays , drifting away

Previously on The Apprentice... Our hapless heroes thought they were going somewhere exotic but they went Oop North. Mona didn’t go for any of Sralan’s ace leads put pulled off some awesome negotiations. Lorraine’s team picked some rubbish items and Philip, Ben and Kate couldn’t be arsed to sell anything. In the boardroom Philip was a dick, Lorraine snitched on his relationship with Kate, Kate wiped the floor with both of them and Philip was fired, which was a joke. According to Philip.

It's 5.10am(!), and NotFrances calls. Mona, barely awake, answers the phone. The cars will be with them in half an hour and they have to take an overnight bag. Sunrise over London porn.

This week’s tenuous venue is the Millennium Dome the O2, built ‘about ten years ago’. Yes, Sralan, for that big thing that happened ‘about 10 years ago’ called the millennium. Anyway, it rebranded successfully (allegedly, although I defy anyone to see a picture of it and not think of it as the Dome first) and so they’re going to rebrand Margate. Considering the wealth of creative brandng talent on show so far this series, I bet Margate can't wait. They're surely kicking themselves over Philip's firing last week when he could have come up with a wonderfully inappropriate concept this time around as well.

The teams have two days to come up with a ‘marketing makeover’. In team one, everyone wants to be the manager, especially Howard, but Debrabarr tells him he can be the subteam manager if he wants. I can't work out whether she's incredibly harsh here or just incredibly awesome by deciding she's PM and not engaging in any debate. It's pretty forceful, whatever.

In team two, Yasmina and Kate are wearing matching waistcoat/tanktop combos. Yasmina wants to be PM and everyone else agrees.

Mona apparently knows Margate well and says ‘it’s all about families’. Which, yes, it's a seaside resort, that stands to reason. Howard and James say that’s not rebranding. Howard asks how they feel about the gay market. Mona says she’d rather go with families but the others want to actually rebrand as per the task remit, so the gays it is. Mona PTCs that Kent is not a place for the gays and no gays are in Kent. Kent says no to gays!

Over in team two, Lorraine says with the ‘economic downturn’ (drrrink) more families will want to holiday in Britain. The team quickly agree to sell to families.

Lots of London porn and twiddly classical music.

In team two’s car, Lorraine is working a Jenny Celery-esque scarf and discussing things with Ben and it’s all rather amicable. It's actually quite amazing how the dickwipe quotient in that car has decreased by about 110% (drink!) since Philip left - even though it still has Lorraine AND Ben in it.

Mona and James discuss how they need to find out what’s going on in Margate.

Team one – Empire, apparently – are casting for their models. They have two men and Howard asks if they’ve ever done any same sex modelling? They say no. Howard then gets lots of boys to touch each other up for his and Debrabarr’s pleasure.

Margate, we are told, is ‘just another faded seaside town’. Cue lots of shots of broken glass and boarded up shops. However! Margate needn't be sad, as the candidates will fix all of this! Or! The producers have just dealt the Margate tourist board a nasty blow.

Mona and James talk to the locals and say they want to rebrand Margate. The locals say ‘that’s our job’. They mention attracting the gays. The locals are all well up for it, but Mona keeps trying to talk them out of it. Kent is up for the gays after all!

Yasmina and Kate, still in matching outfits, audition for the ‘perfect’ mum and dad. They get people to flash their legs and chests. These auditions are really just an excuse for a good old perv, aren’t they?

Ben and Lorraine are looking for something to make Margate special and attract young upwardly mobile (hello 1987) families. They settle for a nice shot of some rockery in what’s either a park or a crazy golf course, I can't really tell, with a view of the sea behind. Ben VTs that Margate is hardly the Seychelles. He comes up with a slogan ‘shellebrate family fun’ and phones Y and K with this. They lol and are all ‘NO WAI’. He then says something about it being the epitome of British culture and they LOL some more. Lorraine suggests seeing it through children’s eyes and they are up for that.

Mona talks to a pre-op transsexual and asks if Margate is for the gays and then asks what her sexuality is. She is told about waiting for the op and asks so ‘are you a boy or a girl’ and says 'you can't tell' (which: you could tell a mile off, sorry) seems rather shocked by the whole thing. Oh, Mona. The complete horror of this exchange doesn't work so well in recap but it's essentially something only to be watched through the gaps in your fingers.

James phones back and says everyone’s thought it was time to move on from the blue rinse brigade, and they’re onto a winner.

8am, the morning of the photo shoot and it’s all fogtastic. It will be interestinf to see if Sralan can blame then for the bladdy weather in the boardroom. I wouldn't put it past him. Lorraine and Ben call Yasmina in a panic and she’s all ‘get a nice shot, we want background with lots of space in’ and not really getting the whole weather situation.

Over at team gay, five models are pretending to be lesbian and gay. The lesbians are clearly in a three-way setup. Progressive! Not only is Margate embracing the gays, it's embracing threesomes! Brilliant! Mona asks them to pose. James hangs on to a pole-dancing pole. Nick says it’s all looking a bit stiff and wooden (heh) and they’re not getting much direction. I'm not entirely sure why Howard isn't in team Margate, as being the creative one, it would seem to make more sense.

Ben is taking control of team nuclear family and making lots of square ‘framing’ gestures with his fingers to show he knows what he is doing, right. It's all very Michael Sophocles, film director, except even crapper, which I wouldn't have thought was possible.

In London (because there are no design guys in Margate, clearly), Yasmina lays out her leaflet, whilst Debra and Howard are struggling with their posters – Howard thinks there’s too much text and there should only be four words. The design guy sits and stares into space. Debrabarr's, all 'I dunno, four words isn’t many'. Howard says you’re not listening to me, which, no, she’s just not convinced, Fishy. At this point I assume they'll come up with a compromise, you know, more than four words, but less than oooh, let's say ten. Let's see whether this happens, shall we?

James is taking a shot of two ‘gay’ men with ice-creams and says ‘not too much suggestive licking guys’.

Ben is back ‘framing’ again and says ‘none of this horrible stuff; more of the sea, less of Margate’. The Margate tourist board put their collective heads in their hands. Lorraine thinks the shots are too boring (families sitting down) and wants an action shot with them jumping for a beach ball. In London, Yasmina receives the photos and bitches that they don’t have enough empty space for the text. Ben rings and she says ‘Ben you dickwad, where’s my empty space? And you Lorraine’. Lorraine’s all ‘you don’t put text on photographs in posters’ which: when was the last time you saw a poster, Cassandra?

Debrabarr and Howard have a discussion. Debrabarr suggests comparing Margate to Manchester and Brighton, as the next big gay destination. Howard says ‘thought you knew about Margate?’ It all seems very civil.

Yasmina asks Lorraine what she thinks of the poster. Lorraine says 'I think the photo should be the centre'. Yasmina says 'we need to finish it and then talk about it afterwards'. Lorraine’s all ‘that would be too late, numpty’. They then have a big fight. We see the poster and it’s a random image of a child and parent doing pottery with a slightly random font choice - a nice font, but rather formal for a child-oriented thing. Kate tries to bridge over the troubled waters a little.

Team gay aren’t convinced by their leaflets because they don’t have enough content and the design guy doesn’t have enough time to get all the content on. It’s not clear whose fault this is. They leave a big space in the bottom right hand corner, which Nick points out and they decide they have to leave it. In the taxi, Debrabarr says she’s pissed off they didn’t finish the leaflet. Howard asks if there’s an image, a colour, anything in the gap. Debrabarr says no, they left it empty. Howard pulls the face of one who knows they've just lost.

They now have to pitch to ‘industry experts’ and the people of Margate. First to hear the pitches are two industry chiefs and a tourism expert.

Kate’s team show their posters and Kate gives a reasonable presentation that sounds confident and mentions how they played on the British weather. One exec asks if they took their logo off, would they recognise it as their campaign? They say yes, the blue is key, the ad execs say, well not really. The logo is a wave with margate on, and the design is all blues and whites, which is quite nice, but it all looks rather formal rather than ‘fun’.

Howard pitches for team gay. He starts by asking ‘do you know Margate?’. One exec withers ‘yes’. Their posters are ridiculous and I can only deduce that their graphic designer is either a fake, or hates the gays/the candidates, because regardless of the 'creative direction' of the candidates, no graphic designer worth their salt would even contemplate something that looks like this. They've used ugly as hell fonts and a nasty beige colour that all looks so amateur, and there are several paragraphs of text on each poster, although some of their photos could be nice if used differently. Essentially, it looks like a year eight poster produced in a PSE lesson to promote some sort of 'issue'. Howard fudges the blank on the leaflet saying it’s for adverts. One ad man says ‘posters should be under 10 words, yours has 70’. One ad lady says ‘your leaflet isn’t finished, is it?’ Mona says it’s a work in progress, and really, just hold your hands up and say you ran out of time.

Pitching to Margate. Kate pitches through children’s eyes. Slogans say things like ‘see the children enjoy themselves’ and ‘award winning sandy beaches’ which seem more parent-oriented to me, but, hey. One lady says Kate’s pitch was ace but the leaflet image looks like an oil slick and she thought they might offer something different. A man says it’s solid, safe and pedestrian, they want to promote arts and culture and there’s nothing there. Kate says some nonsense about long-term strategy and this being the first campaign in a lengthy rebranding. Oh Kate, you know how this show works by now, and longevity is never a factor (except when offerng exclusivity on other people's products like Princess Lindi and The Best Salesperson in Europe).

Howard says people associated Margate with dull, grey, old people and the camera pans to some older, grey haired officials. Ooof. Howard explains their publicity better than he did with the execs. A woman says nice pitch but dreadful visuals – we can’t read the posters. Howard says, yeah, you’re right. The man who told Kate they were safe then tells them off for limiting the marketing just to the gays. What the hell does Margate want? Howard says where the gays lead, everyone else follows.

Boardroom time, and there’s a shiny blue screensaver on NotFrances’s desk to match the shiny blue lighting and shiny blue eyes. Mona is now wearing Kate and Yasmina’s shirt/tank top uniform.

He asks Ignite how they came up with a family theme. Yasmina says they had a bit of discussion. Sralan interjects as to why she was PM. She says they all wanted her to do it. Sralan: hmmm. Sralan asks about their ideas and the others try to claim they had some brilliant ones. They go on about children liking the beach and Sralan points out there weren’t any children on their rather arty beach shot. Surprisingly, Lorraine doesn't bang on about her unused beach ball photo here.

He asks who put themselves forward as Empire team leader. Debrabarr says she and Howard wanted to. Sralan asks how did you decide? Howard says they agreed on a compromise. If compromise means Debra telling you what you're doing, then sure. Howard explains they chose the gays because it was all about rebranding. Sralan says yes, but your marketing sucks. Howard says ‘we had some clear points’. Sralan says, yes, very clear and shows two blank sides of paper. Fail. He asks Debrabarr who was weakest on their team. She says James and Mona.

The marketing people marked the teams out of 10. From the Margate jury, Team gay: 4; Team nuclear family: 7. From the pro jury, Team gay: 4; Team Nuclear family: 7. It seems to boil down to them having nicer looking publicity and an actual slogan, which is fair enough, even though they didn’t really do any rebranding, and if they'd lost, you just know Sralan would have taken them to task for this. They win some fast car driving, which is probably a bit more fun than laughter yoga. James almost cries.

At the car track, Ben has an orgasm to the camera and they all whoop a lot. Last year's apprentices collectively shudder as watching the fast cars evokes the memory of the supercar task.

In the café of doom, Mona says the fail was because Margate hates the gays (even though they clearly love the gays as we all saw). She then asks if Debrabarr only left an hour for the leaflet. Debrabarr says we wanted to wait for you. James says we lost because our leaflets and posters were shit and turned around in five minutes. Trufax.

Sralan says they made a bold statement about going for the gay market, then whispered the message. Howard says ‘we didn’t want to alienate people’. Sralan says the people were all up for the gays, you just sucked. Sralan says the posters were confusing. Margaret says they should have one big picture and only ten words. Howard says they wrote too much text. Sralan says who wrote it, you or her? Howard and Debrabarr say they both did. Sralan says Mona, you live in Kent, so why didn’t you give them hints? Mona says yes I live there but Debra didn’t listen [to my homophobia]. Sralan says Nick and Margaret say Mona doesn’t have many ideas and where’s her creativity? Mona says she found locations and spoke to a gay, which must mean she's creative and progressive, right? James says she was inappropriate at times. Mona says it was because she was uncomfortable with the subject. Mona says she didn’t agree with the concept. James says whatever your own opinions you need to leave them aside and get on with it. James has come a long way from the doofus of the early weeks, hasn't he?

Sralan says this leaflet isn’t finished. Debrabarr flusters and Nick says you said it was designed for advertisers. Margaret says they didn’t like being lied to and it blew the trust between advertisers and clients. Sralan: 'you’d have been better off saying to them…' Debrabarr: ‘I had Mona in my ear for 15 minutes and couldn’t get on?’ Sralan: 'exactly'. James says he and Howard had no responsibility. Mona says she and James were shocked that nothing was done when they arrived. Debrabarr says the Margate team weren’t creative enough. No-one takes any responsibility. Debrabarr: is it just the images and text that were wrong? (Well, no, it;s the lack of them in the case of the leaflet) Sralan: maybe it’s you. Debrabarr’s bringing back James and Mona. Sralan says you couldn’t bring Howard back because he did loads, although he was also with the 'designer' so I'm not entirely sure he should escape all culpability.

Margaret says they didn’t get a lot of support from the team in Margate, Sralan says Debrabarr needs to think on her feet more and stop lying, although surely you end up lying if you think on your feet too much?

He asks James for a rundown as he hasn’t had much time to talk to him in recent weeks. James says Debrabarr is a bulldog and difficult, but at least she's consistent, whilst Mona blows hot and cold. Debrabarr says Mona wasn’t up for it. Mona says ‘why did I talk to a gay person if I wasn’t?’ Debrabarr says they gave her limited ideas. James and Mona said she thought their ideas were great. Sralan asks who was responsible for the lousy posters. James says Mona was responsible for 15 minutes and Debrabarr for six hours. Debrabarr says I was sat in front of the computer but I needed my team and I wish I was you two sat out eating fish and chips. She and Mona fight a bit.

Sralan tells Mona she sits in the background and doesn’t do anything. Mona says ‘with all due respect Nick and Margaret are not always there and don’t always listen'. What's with the candidates trying to hate on Nick and Margaret this series? Sralan says she just says what she thinks people want to hear. Sralan accuses James of also taking a backseat. James says he doesn’t. Debrabarr asks what he did. He says he sorted out all the photos and didn’t have time to look at the posters. Sralan says he’s playing a clever game to make sure he doesn’t get brought back into the boardroom. James says if he’s looking for someone who says yes Sralan no Sralan three bags full Sralan, that’s not him, he's not a knucklehead. Unfortunately James, that's exactly the kind of person Sralan wants in his organisation.

Sralan says Debrabarr is bossy and can’t afford that in his organisation (but she'll be a good one to come second, or to go out in the rottweiler stage). He says James is a court jester, but he’s not looking for that, and with Mona he doesn’t see any creativity and has to think abot where she would slot into his oh-so-creative organisation. He thinks she might be right at the end of the pier in this process. Mona, with regret, you’re fired. He’s going to keep his eyes on James. I'm not getting why Sralan still hates James so much. I mean, he sucked royally at the start, but he's seemed pretty competent recently, and everyone else seems to like him.

Coatwatch: boring black but with a fetching green scarf. Note to other candidates: if you must wear boring black coats, accessorising is the way to go.

In the cab we hear that Sralan was wrong because Mona’s a stronger candidate, but she’s not going to cry over it.

Crackden apts. They’re not sure who will be back. Lorraine really likes Debrabarr but thinks she’s gone. Ben hopes it's James because to send back the weakest would be an ideal situation for him, because he knows he's going to get fired soon anyway. They return and Debrabarr says she’s ace so she knew she wouldn’t go, and she thought James would go before Mona. Ouch.

Next time: the candidates scare small children at a baby goods sales fair.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

I've had my Phil of you

OK, right. Last week the task was some kind of horrific Boot Sale Challenge writ large, where the teams had a selection of items that they had to sell for more than the asking price or make a loss. It wasn’t made clear to the viewers, and possibly not the teams (though I am inclined to blame it on general Apprentice incompetence) that for everything they sold, the book price would be deducted from the money they made, thereby resulting in a massive loss on all the high-value items the teams understandably focused on selling when they would have been better served on making a tenner on the cheap crap and not selling expensive stuff at all, avoiding the crushing losses they ended up with. Stupid show. The teams – and who even knows which is which any more? – split into two Power Teams of Awesome (Howard and Kate; Yasmina and James. Final four please) and two conglomerates of people who are either hateful, suck, or are hateful and suck. As with Boot Sale Challenge, losses were inevitable, but Ben’s team lost more worsererly, and he brought back Noorul and (showing a remarkable ability to read the room, normally lacking in contestants) Debrabarr. Despite Ben sucking hugely in the boardroom, saying little beyond spluttering protestations of ‘let me finnush!!’, Noorul got fired because he really serves no discernible purpose. In the show/life.

The boys [in clothes! - Rad] all camply fight to answer the phone. Howard gets it, wearing a strange jungle print hoody. They have to pack an overnight bag; promptly everyone is like ‘Hey! We’re going to Ibiza!’ and they’re off to meet Sralan at the London Gateway. Nobody knows what the London Gateway is. Phil goes on about bikini-clad women, because he’s a gross cliché. Ben says ‘Gateway suggests it’s a gate to somewhere.’ James pulls ‘are you for real?’ face. They see a sign and realise it’s the London Gateway Services. Kate says ‘mmm, a service station!’ in that voice she does.

They get out and meet Sralan in a car park, in the rain. It’s all very Deep Throat. Or would be if it was dark. If you’re looking for power play indications: Phil holds an umbrella over himself and Mona; Howard over himself, Kate and Lorraine; James over himself and Yasmina; and Debrabarr over herself and Ben. Phil – that’s his idea of being a gentleman; James – actually a gentleman; Howard – partially gentleman, partially Kate probably wouldn’t hold it because it would ruin the line of her all black suit, and Lorraine can’t be trusted to hold an umbrella without getting something wrong; and Debrabarr probably just went ‘Give me that!’ and snatched it from Ben’s nerveless grasp.

You’re going North! They all lol. Sralan has laid on 12 companies (deluded individuals); they choose two to represent, and sell their products in Manchester and Liverpool. Everybody must sell. He doesn’t want to hear they were doing marketing. As ever, this is the Sellprentice. Mona and Howard go to Empire. Ben and Yasmina go to Ignite. STOP IT.

Ha! They drove all the way. Lorraine think it would be embarrassing if they lost and Kate says she’s very confident in the team’s ability. Ben goes on about Kate being good at sales and Phil says ‘I’d buy anything off her’.

Mona wants to PM for James, Howard, Debrabarr and herself. James say he’d be happy to, but it looks like she desperately wants to. Mona gets all pissy up in his grill, saying ‘it’s not desperation, to correct you, James’ and he’s all ‘chill, lady, I was just saying you seem keen’. Lorraine puts herself up for PM. She goes round and gets a consensus on it, quite effectively – Phil saying that he’s been told off for not giving her a chance before so he’s happy to here. She explains she’s a gut feeling kinda gal and a slow burner in terms of her thought processes. She hasn’t driven her ideas through, but she will now that she’s PMing.

Manchester Hilton. Twelve up and coming designers. Bastardised Dragon’s Den. Drillmate to catch your drilling dust. LoJo ball, a kind of beanbag seat thing. The two stores Sralan has lined up are a hardware superstore and a home furnishing chain (Heals). A coat rack made of pipe with taps and nozzles on. Lorraine loves it – ‘I’ve got a great instinct from that one’. Yasmina says are you mad? Ben says it won’t make much money.

Guy brings Lovers’ Lead – two-handed dog lead so you can both walk the same dog. He demonstrates by cuddling Yasmina. Yasmina loves it. The lead, not the cuddling. Lorraine says it’s embarrassing. Over with Mona et al, the guy says that 10% of lead sales goes to Battersea Dogs’ Home. Oh! Those cardboard cat boxes – like a fire engine and a plane for the kitty to play in. Lorraine’s team likes it; it has a big mark-up and Lorraine thinks it will sell a lot.

Expandable bag – The Pod – for a bike. It clips on the side and holds your shopping. Yasmina asks if it drags the bike down. The guy says no, they’ve tested it and it’s fine.

Next, something that I only hear as Lippy Silk Bag, which I’m sure isn’t right. It’s a sleeping bag suit, with arms, legs and a hood. Mona says she has to try it and gets in, loving it bigtime. I can’t think of anything more upsetting! I would get so hot and panicky. She gets consensus on the lead and the Lippy Silk Bag. Howard says – what about these stores we’re seeing? They won’t buy them. Mona says yes but we can coldcall tomorrow so it’s fine. Margaret makes Howard’s point again.

At the sales meeting, Lorraine starts off sucking as usual. Yasmina gives a very neat little pitch. The guy says what about making the bike wonky? Yasmina says ‘Buy two and balance’ rather than, ‘it’s been tested and it’s fine’. Lorraine then says ‘let me introduce you to the cat playhouse, for CATS!’ You can’t introduce people to inanimate objects, Lorraine. And then tells them to buy 6,000 cat boxes. Yaah. She says in the cab it was her worst pitch in twenty years. Some exercise shops would disagree.

Mona lines up a meeting. Debrabarr and Howard go to the hardware store. The guy doesn’t seem keen on the lead. The sleeping bag doesn’t fit their price range or product range! Howard tries but… he says it has ‘leg items and arm items’, but gets points for saying ‘different from’. They want to sell it for £89, and the lady’s like ‘erm, how much does a sleeping bag cost?’ and Debrabarr and Howard don’t know and the shop folk are like ‘you FAIL’, but it’s kind of the fault of the show, given that they’re not allowed the internet and stuff. I mean, they could have phoned around for prices, but that would be pretty low on their priority list. Heals tell Howard and Debrabarr that the products don’t their brand values and are not stylish. They’ll have to sell tomorrow instead.

At Heal’s, Yasmina and Lorraine pitch. Yasmina says, ‘let me introduce to you The Pod’. It’s contagious! Yasmina does specially well with selling the Pod, focusing on its design fitting the Heals brand, though she does stumble on her words a bit. The lady says ‘both could have a place’.

Kate Ben and Phil try and to put together the cat box. Lorraine calls (‘Hello, Kate speaking!’) and asks how the meetings were. They’re like ‘there were meetings? We were playing. Soz’. They got one meeting from 10, no 12, um 15!, no more like 20! phone calls. They blatantly phoned one person. Lorraine isn’t impressed cos she would have had to do more in telesales.

Next day. Mona and James got to a camping store. Mona becomes sales GENIUS. She tries to sell him the Lippy Silk Bag. She says the minimum order is 24 at £49.50 although the guy doesn’t want to take a massive amount. He says bring the price down? She says buy more? He says how many? She says ‘I won’t say 60, but can we say 50?’ (Talking herself down to seem reasonable. Clever!) He says 40. She talks him into 45 at £48. To secure a £1.50/item discount, he agreed to buy another 21 of them. Dude got snowballed. [Best negotiation since the heady days of The Badger - Rad]

Phil and Kate flirt in the car. Ben’s secured a meeting with the UK’s biggest pet retailer. Yasmina tells Lorraine she’d like to share the pitch; Lorraine is like nuh-uh I’m boss. Yasmina gets a bit snippy – basically to say you suck at pitching. It’s kind of ‘as PM, I’ve decided…’
‘… with all due respect’
‘I’ve made a decision’
‘Without listening to me?’
‘I’m very good at sales’
*rolls eyes* ‘So am I’
‘Tough shizzle, I’m pitching’.
‘You’re extremely patronising!’
‘I’m leading you can help!’
‘Okay, let’s go!’
For about twenty minutes.

Debrabarr and Howard go to the pet store. The same pet store! Dun dun duh! The lady says she likes the lead – it’s a new lead, which she thought wasn’t possible – but that doesn’t mean it will sell, and takes 200 on trial. Debrabarr leads the pitch, Howard says 200, it’s hard to tell who really makes the sale.

Philip, Kate and Ben go to Chester for their one appointment, a cycle store for the POD. Guy’s like it’ll get in the way. Kate says inventor says no. Phil cycles up and down to prove the point. Guy’s like no, anyway, don’t want it, bye.

Yasmina and Lorraine chat on the way in, seemingly getting on, all shall I say hello first or you? Maybe we can have a little cake afterwards. Ooh, that’ll be nice. They expect to sell 20,000. It’s the same main lady from the pet store, but a different second lady. ‘Introduce you to…’ again. Lady’s like ‘who’ll buy it?’ Lorraine’s like ‘it’s a gift item’. That doesn’t answer the question, though. She then goes on to say ‘how many do you want, then?’, which can work if it’s jovial, but it totally wasn’t. They want 50 on trial. LOL. Not really 20,000, now is it? [This show and animals is never a good combination. Cat calendars and dog walking 'straps', anyone? - Rad]

On the phone Lorraine tells Ben et al she expects a sale or it’ll look poor in the boardroom. Ben and Phil bitch about Lorraine some. Kate rubs her temples like she’s got a headache.

Lorraine says to Yasmina, ‘I want t know what’s causing distractions on the other team, and I just hope, for Kate, Phil and Benjamin’s sake, that it’s not Kate’s beauty’. Yasmina pulls an AWESOME ‘true dat!’ face and soars back into the lead as my favourite.

James and Mona try and sell more. Debrabarr and Howard go on to a meeting that Debrabarr set up. Howard asks for the sale so he can have a sale. Debrabarr says no, because why should she, but we’ll get more and the next one after this will go to you, we’ll both get sales, promise, which is actually fairly reasonable. Howard moans a bit more and she goes, ‘look, there you go’ and hands him the phone and says set up more meetings, ‘go for it’. Then Howard says it’s not about Debrabarr making the sales, it’s about the team, and threatens to subdue her with the lead. Then hush! Because if it’s about the team, your individual sales don’t matter either. Bad fishy.

Another pet store. Lorraine calls it an extraordinary treat for a cat. Dude’s like ‘it’s a cardboard box. I have those’. Yasmina and Lorraine judge northerners for a bit. Unsophisticated coal-eating bastards.

At a ‘top city centre department store’ (apparently not ‘top’ at all and rather a giant Poundland, pretty much). Kate tries to pitch. Told no. Nick says it’s like getting in the cat plane and trying to fight Battle of Britain; bit laboured Nick. Analogy fail.

Back to London. Lorraine has A Feeling that Heals will do well.

Sralan asks if Mona was a good team leader? People are like yeah. She says the team co-operated. They did the lead and sleeping bag. Sralan’s like but I got you these big stores yeah? Mona’s like yeah but we liked these products. The big stores took nothing. Zero. Sralan’s like ‘It was a waste of my bladdy time to lay these meetings on! It’s like a bet – you’ve got to bet on what’s going to go well, and you DIN’T!’.

You’re not going to sell a sleeping bad in a hardware store, he says. Unless it’s a hardware stores that sells camping goods. Which is loads of them. And a really fucking stupid point to make. He says this about fifty times for about six hours. I’ve précis-ed for you.

Lorraine? Good leader? ‘Lacked some structure, I would say’ says Kate, and that Lorraine relies on instinct. Which Lorraine said herself and can’t complain about. Fuck, Kate gives good boardroom. Sralan asks if they paid attention to whether the products would sell. They did get some orders from Sralan’s magic meetings of joy.

Empire made £4,501. Ignite made £1,302! Fuking heck. Debrabarr says ‘Thank God!’ VIP Rolls Royce-type helicopter over London at sunset. Pretty cool. [So they can share in the London porn all the rest of us get bombarded with! - Rad] Compared to some of them, anyway.

Only Lorraine and Yasmina made any sales. Sralan tuts. Lorraine made £800-odd and Yasmina £500-odd.

It looks like the helicopter only seats four, so it’s a good thing Ignite didn’t win, really. They toast Team Empire! as if that means anything this season of shuffling.

Dingy café of death. Lorraine says one appointment? She and Yasmina made five the next day and sold at four of them. Phil’s like ‘oh, that bitch is going down, bitch, mystic Meg is back in the crystal ball’. Yasmina says ‘oh well, It’s what we signed up for isn’t it, a bit of pressure.’

They go back in. Sralan’s like you didn’t sell you didn’t sell you didn’t sell for about six years, all ‘Donna Noble has left the library’. Philip’s like I was told off for being bolshy before, so I kept my mouth shut. In front of customers?! No, no in front of customers. Then what are you talking about!? ‘It wasn’t for want of trying’, Phil says.

Phil says they are three of the best sellers. Lorraine’s like ORLY? Is that a fact? An Sralan’s like ‘clearly it’s not a fact!’ Kate says she’s good at selling so far, but they couldn’t get their foot in the door. Margaret’s like ‘that’s part of selling!’

Sralan says never underestimate me. I want to make sure it was fair. Sralan had SPIES phoning to find out if they could get meetings. And they could! So you suck! [I loved this bit. Sralan's not usually so sneaky or competent - Rad] Lorraine didn’t sense any urgency – did you Yasmina? Yasmina’s like, no, no I did not sense any urgency, Lorraine. We had the same problems, but we managed to get some meetings. Ben’s like ‘I got meeting!’ Lorraine says yes, you did, it was great and you can so tell that Ben is broken, because that’s the end of it whereas before he would have just gone ‘Let me finnush!’ a thousand times and said again and again ‘I got that meeting, so how can you say we were bad? That’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever said’.

Sralan picks up on Lorraine wanting them to buy 5,000 catboxes. She says she messed up. Phil says, ‘what did your instinct tell you?’ because he’s a douche. Lorraine says she got it wrong. He says ‘mmmm, not for the first time!’, because he’s a douche. He says a chimp in a pair of dungarees could have sold better at the big pet store.

Phil says again about how he’s better at selling than Lorraine and he and Kate could have done better. Sralan’s like how do you know that? Phil just knows. Lorraine’s like ‘you know nothing about my sales technique’, and well, I do, and it sucks, but Phil wasn’t there so can go suck a fuck. [I presume Philip's sales technique would just involve throwing a tantrum if people look like they might not buy - Rad]

Lorraine says Phil puts her down all the time and he says, ‘look what happens when I don’t, we lose.’ Which makes no sense. Yasmina’s like Lorraine did great, actually. Phil’s like I could have done better. So could Kate. I just know. Margaret says ‘you just know?!’ in full ‘A handbaaaag?’ mode.

Sralan turns to Kate; at the department store they couldn’t sell anything. Kate’s like the other places had more potential. Kate’s like ‘it’s a cheap shithole’. Nick’s like DO NOT MALIGN THE BEATUIFUL STORE. YOU FAILED. Lorraine says she didn’t sense urgency; and Sralan asks if she is suggesting deliberate lack of support. She says ‘I’m very straightforward’ (and for God’s sake please stop introducing people to inanimate objects and saying ‘Oh, I am this and this but hopefully that won’t upset you’ because it’s passive-aggressive and gross. Phil is a dickwad, but Lorraine is pretty useless and just incredibly offputting as a human being) but she thinks that they wanted to lose so that she’d go home.

Phil’s like ‘why all this defense of Lorraine?!’ Yasmina’s like ‘I’m not defending her, I’m stating a fact.’ Then Phil goes ‘you deal in instinct!’ and just goes off on one for about twenty minutes calling Lorraine a cunt and I can’t be bothered to tell you because he’s vile. Sralan’s like ‘have you finished?’ and ‘I don’t care if three of you get fired today because it makes my job easier.’ Lorraine brings back Kate and Philip, ‘based on facts’.

Sralan says it’s obvious they hate Lorraine. She’s alienated Kate and Philip. Margarets’s like ‘not Yasmina and Ben’ and Nick’s like ‘not this week’.

They come back in. Philip’s CV says he’s arrogant and cocky. Philip’s like he is arrogant but needs it kicking out of him, and he was much better this week and was responsive to Lorraine. Christ, do you think he actually believes that? Scary. Philip’s like ‘I won last week!’ Sralan’s like, nah, you lost less. Philip’s all ‘I can’tdo anything right with you! I call Lorraine a stupid bitch, and you don’t like it! I fail less badly than Ben and you don’t like it!’ Sralan’s like if you could bring me anything that you did this week, anything at all, then maybe we could talk, but you’re just bitching out Lorraine. Philip says she’s trouble. Even Lorraine is like whuh? Sralan’s like the Bodyrocka is great, but you’ve sucked ever since. Phil says ‘I sold three items last week’ as though that’s somehow an achievement. Nick says ‘tell us about Pantsman’. [Moment of the week - Rad]

Sralan – Kate how come you suck now? Trying to oust Lorraine by failing? Kate, again being really really good at the Boardroom, says that she fully expected to be there because it’s unacceptable to have no sales but til now she’s been great and has never been brought to the boardroom before. Sralan asks what she means by slow burner in the thought process. She’s like I get there slower but more CERTAIN. Phil says that he didn’t want to be loud and bolshy because he’d been told off, and I think he genuinely believes that ‘stop being an aggressive bellend and yelling at Lorraine’ means ‘and don’t make any sales, because that involves talking’.

Lorraine says they were having a jolly day out, then plays her dagger, saying there’s a ‘close friendship’ between Kate and Philip. Kate stares venom but then rolls her eyes, it’s like less then a second from ‘you bitch!’ to ‘oh, this is dumb, I’ve got this covered’, as she goes on to prove. She says she wouldn’t let personal matters compromise her business skills, and it’s a cheap tactic to claim that it was. ‘I’ve got no loyalties here, Philip or otherwise’ and then goes on to say at ‘on the same token’, it wasn’t Philip’s best task, he took a step back, but she’s here for the job and she wants to win. I love her. She is so good at this game.

Sralan summarises thusly: Kate you’re good. Phil: You’re a cunt. Lorraine: you alienate people and I don’t want a slow burner. You shouldn’t still be learning because ‘you’re not 22 years old’. [Or 24 - Rad] He’s not clear about Lorraine. But he is clear that Philip is an aggressive dillhole with no manners, so he’s fired. And as if to prove the point, rather than ‘thank you for the opportunity’, Philip mutters, ‘Joke!’ to himself. It’s like, dude. If you hold the entire process and all the people there in such contempt, why do you care anyway? Annoyingly, if that cowardly custard guy hadn’t withdrawn in the first week, he would totally have fired Lorraine as well, which would have been win.

Coatwatch: dull.

At the flat, ‘Kate will turn on Phil like that’ says Yasmina. Clever girl! Lorraine’s like ‘don’t underestimate me’ as though her being safe was anything to do with her, and not to do with Phil revealing again that he’s a hot spitting ball of rage that shouldn’t be trusted around humans. ‘I was literally being ripped apart’. No. You weren’t. Kate says ‘you played the Kate and Phil card!’ in a seemingly jovial, oh we’re all buddies here way. Everyone’s like WHUH?! Lorraine says she had to. Kate’s then switches to ‘I’m offended you would ever imply my personal life would affect my business’ and then stares hot poisonous loathing at Lorraine. But also kind of stares into the middle distance happily. Presumably planning various methods of torture. Lorraine will not come out well from any future showdown.

Next week: rebrand Margate. ‘Not too much suggestive licking, please guys’.