Tuesday, 21 December 2010

How Stella got her groove back

The final

Broadcast 19 December 2010

We’ve had eleven episodes of backstabbing, bitching and Baggs the Brand, and tonight, either Stella or Chris will be the lucky recipient of a soulless job with NotAmstrad. Welcome to the Apprentice final!

Dara O’Briain welcomes us, which is a little jarring, as if we’re about to have one of those US Apprentice-style reveals in the studio. We’re not, we’re just having You’re Fired tacked onto the main show to make it look as though they are one and the same. They’re not, and all that happens in YF is the runner-up hogs the airtime with everyone fawning over them, the winner gets to say about two words, the Junior Apprenti are wheeled out and Arjun’s voice has broken, Amanda Platell gets threatened with a pointy weapon (oh, if only) and we learn that Nick, Karren and Sralan’s best bits all smooshed together don’t add up to one tenth of a Margaret. So we won’t be bothering with that. Onto the srs bsnss of, well, bsnss, then.

Credits. Still no joy for Steady Eddies and Cautious Carols. Steady Stellas and Cautious Chrises though, are A-OK.

Previously on The Apprentice, we had the interviews. Stubaggs and Jamie were ripped to shreds by the rotties, Joanna blubbed and got a stringed-up version of the theme tune, whilst Stella and Chris remained rather unflappable and went through to the final.

Stella and Chris taxinterview about how happy they are; Chris in his usual monotone. I think this may be why I don’t get the Chris Bates lust everyone else has – that drone. Oh, and his slightly angular features.

The phone rings at apprentitowers, and Chris answers, in a dressing gown. Gone are the days of Simon Ambrose and his green pants. He lies about how excited he is, whilst Stella lies about how much it would break her if she didn’t win. They are finally given a cab each to the Langham hotel (And in these TOUGH! ECONOMIC! TIMES! Scandalous!) where they meet Sralan, Nick and Karren in the empty bar.

The returning candidates this time are: Christopher, Paloma, Shibby, Melissa, Liz, Joanna and Jamie. No Sandeesh, weirdly, no Stubaggs, possibly because Sralan still had the hump with him, no Joy because no-one even noticed her first time around, and no Dan, because presumably he’d suck the life out of everything so hard. Chris is first to pick and goes for Jamie. Stella then picks Joanna, Chris Liz, and Stella Christopher. Then Chris picks Alex and Stella Melissa, which has really got to smart for Paloma – Alex and Melissa over her? She really must have made herself unpopular in that house. To add insult to, well, insult, Chris then picks Shibby over her. Shibby! Stella is landed with Paloma, which does mean she has a team that looks more awesome on paper than Chris’s but also has several times as many control freaks on it.

Their task is to make an alcoholic drink, design the bottle, design an ad campaign and pitch it, so it’s exactly the same as the last few finals. The final tasks are always a bit sucky, no? The product must retail at £20, and they have the luxury of three days to do it all in.

The voiceover tells us that alcohol is worth £40 billion, and they have to create a new spirit brand for the ‘over 25s’. I assume this is because 18-24 year olds aren’t allowed to be in drinks ads or have stuff directly marketed to them. Living in a university city I can vouch for how much of a joke that is, but anyway.  [Ditto!  I really did not know this which shows how well that stratergy has worked - Fiona]

Both Stella and Chris tell their teams they’re happy to have them back. Joanna suggests something with heritage, Stella asks if she means whiskey and Melissa talks about bourbon cocktails at bars she’s been to lately. Stella wants to appeal to everyone and worries women won’t like it. Oh, Stella. You disappoint me. Melissa says you can mix it with other things and it’s lovely.

Over on Chris’s team, Alex takes the lead in discussions, ruling out vodka because it’s reached its peak. Yes, ladies and gents, Alex and Melissa are the ones leading the discussion right now. Be afraid. They go for the idea of rum. Liz asks what gooseberry is like, as she’s only had it in a pie. Alex says pomegranate is the ‘hot fruit’ in the UK right now.  [I can't hate Alex, that would be mean, but neither do I think he really knows anything about anything - Fiona] I can imagine pomegranate with vodka, but rum? Stella’s team are getting into the bourbon idea.

Stella’s team go to ‘a top end supermarket’ (which is Waitrose). They start looking at Disaronno when they’re talking about mixing old and new bottles. Really? I mean I love Disaronno, but the bottle hardly sells it.

Alex and Liz are tossing around British names eg crown, crown jewels. Liz wonders about colour, Chris doesn’t want to muck abaht with colour. They don’t say anything specific here. Chris opines that it’s not a good idea to ask someone to put their lips around the crown jewels. Heh. [*silence*- Fiona]

Stella likes the idea of something blue. A blue bourbon? I can’t see that flying. Gin, yes, vodka yes. Bourbon? Hell to the no. Paloma loves it, but Joanna says you’re happy when you’re blue. A whole genre of music feels misunderstood, right there. She then states that blue is gay. It is? I thought it was more the colour of terrible alcopops. But I guess a few gay people drink terrible alcopops. I dunno, boys help me out here? They then go to their marketing men (I think?) and start talking about honey and cinnamon, flavours entirely associated with the colour blue. The men hate the colour blue for the drink. Despite all the ‘let’s appeal to women’ spiel, there are no women here.

Chris looks up posh bottles of booze (that cost more than £20) and mentions that he wants a clear drink – but only to Jamie and Alex. He goes into a posh offy and floats the idea of ‘cube’ for a flavoured rum, or calling it cube3 – and having three flavours. The off-licence man doesn’t rate the idea at all. Also: three flavours? Hard work much?

In the taxi to meet the bottle designer, Stella’s team have no name. Stella looks lost as Paloma babbles about honey and spice sounding cheesy for a name, and puts on her thinking face. Paloma asks how she feels if a guy buys her a ‘honey and spice’. Stella: ‘drunk hopefully’. Hee.

Chris wants trilogy or trio. Get off the idea of three drinks, guys.

Stella is apparently team ‘Synergy’ as she has a folder with a sticky label with it written on. In the car they toss around ideas about young urban professionals and come up with the name Urbon (although Stella spells it Urboun in the car).

Melissa and Christopher are tasting honeyed bourbons and want something with a kick. The lab lady says they can add more honey notes or more vanilla notes. Christopher likes honey and cinnamon. Helpful.

Liz and Shibby are tasting their drink, of white rum, pomegranate and bitters. Liz pulls a face. Shibby tries to get himself more airtime by saying ‘so you spit rather than swallow’ as she spits it out. Crass. They both pull faces but declare it alright without much enthusiasm.

Chris also lacks a name. He’s fixated on the idea of three because it’s got three (main) ingredients. He asks for a pyramid, which is like a prism. Hmmm. A pyramid’s not that much like a prism, and neither is like a three sided shape, but anyway. Jamie agrees that the name Prism sounds cool, which is fair enough, I guess, albeit a little 80s. He starts babbling about his clear drink with its three elements, and we cut to the lab, where Liz is insisting the drink be pink. For all that is made of this pink vs clear thing later, we haven’t actually seen Chris tell Liz and Shibby to make the drink clear. He may have done, off-camera, but who’s to say? The lab lady asks if it’s a bit feminine. Shibby does a limp-wristed motion and says he’d drink a pink drink as pink’s the new blue. As we already know, blue = gay, so presumably they’re wanting the pink pound (so to speak). Chris calles them and asks if the colour is clear, Liz says no, it’s a watered down reddy pink. Chris says it sounds effeminate, Liz says it’s not pinky, it’s not girly. It so is. Shibby says it tastes great with Coke. [One bottle of fail for 'Apollo' - Fiona]

Pomegranate and Coke?? Karren looks fed up. Come on, Brady, pull off an eye roll at the very least!

Chris’s package seems to be a big pink triangle. Oh my…

Stella’s name is now ‘urbon’ and their designer uses a much nicer font than the designer of Chris’s bottle has used, with a plainish bottle.

The teams meet with some advertising standards people about the content of the ads. Stella’s team are told they’re not allowed to do bingey drinking so should looking for long drinks not shots.

Chris’s team talk about buying a girl a drink on a date. The ad lady says you’re not allowed to link drink to sexual success. Jamie says it’s not about that at all, it’s all about her eyes, lips, mouth and hearing her swallow. The woman is like ‘lips are sensual you doofus’.  [Mrs Jamie is a lucky woman eh? - Fiona] Chris wants to know if they can have a raised eyebrow. The woman headdesks. Oh, she should just wait until she sees the finished product. Chris asks what they should wear. The man says they have to be clearly over 25 so should wear things ‘the older generation’ should wear. I’m used to being classed as the ‘older generation’ by my students, but now an ad man’s doing it, that’s just taking the piss, frankly. Chris asks if it should be cardigans and pipes and the ad people are all yeah, but without the pipe.
Chris is back in the house being flummoxed, as if you can’t use sex in an ad then what the hell can you do? To be fair, he has a point. Drink is there to a) get you laid, b) make you forget about a rubbish day, c) make you do silly things and often d) all of the above – yet you can’t do any of those things in an ad.
The bottles arrive. Stella’s team have thankfully gone for bourbon-coloured bourbon, no blue in sight. The main body of the bottle looks quite nice, with a raised font, but the neck and cap look a little, as my friend Phil put it, ‘like HP Sauce’. Chris’s bottle is a long pointy red thing with a silver top, which looks like a health and safety hazard [but an excellent addition to any bar fight - Fiona]. It also looks like it might be difficult to package and cost a lot to make -will this do for them like the extravagant perfume bottle did for Helene and Alex in series four? Also: Prism still sounds more vodka than rum – prism’s all glacial and cool and crisp like vodka, whilst rum tends to be all Carribean islands, sailors and pirates. Chris VTs that he’s the kind of person who thinks outside the box. Really?

At the ad shoot, and Chris’s team have a barman trying to make a cocktail, he sucks and is twitchy and doesn’t get the pomegranate seeds into the glass. Karren says they might not get it made in time. The concept for their ad, by the way? Three different friends (two women and a man) having a good time to represent the three aspects of their drink.

Stellas team also have a sucky bar person. Where did they hire these people? She says the women in the ad will order it to get over this (non-)issue about not women drinking bourbon, in a way that makes it sound like a SERIOUS SOCIAL PROBLEM. Then one of the men in the ad orders the drinks for everyone. Le sigh. Nick says that Stella’s team aren’t fighting. Do we need to add a ‘yet’?

Chris tried to motivate his models by saying ‘yeah’ and trying to be hip as he gets them to ‘imagine’ they are in a club. An empty club. In daylight. Oh dear.
We see photos of what I take to be Stella’s kids in the house. The house looks a lot tidier now the others have left. As they head off in the cabs, we see a delivery van with ‘prism’ written on. Nice coincidence there.

Stella needs to write her speech and she and Paloma disagree about whether to say young or youthful professionals.

Over at the other team, Jamie says Chris is too monotone. No shit Sherlock. Jamie tries to get him to intonate. Fails. Jamie’s all ‘we want 25-35 year olds who drink at home’ (check!) and ‘in high end drinking establishments’ (erm, do you count Wetherspoons and the local indie-rock dive where most of the clientele make us feel young as high-end?)

Chris’s room has bacofoil masks on the wall, which seem to evoke the 1980s’ obsession with Pierrots and othersuch gaudy theatrical décor. OK, hands up, I did like Pierrots at the time as well. But Chris Bates (I keep wanting to type BATES here) WASN’T EVEN BORN.

Stella is trying to run through her speech. Joanna says Stella needs to do market research (at this stage of the game?) then snips at Stella for daring to look at Paloma. Paloma, Melissa and Joanna start bitching incoherently and Chris whines that he wants to hear Stella’s speech. His ears are freakishly big.

At the Prism launch, people are handling the bottle, which is looking cumbersome. It can’t be easy to pour. ‘Life in a Northern Town’ plays (or is it the Dario G ‘Sunchyme’ song that samples it?) with three terrible townie dancers.

Chris’s speech tells us there’s a huge demand for rum based cocktails, as we cut to a man drinking it and pulling a face. Their print ad looks like it’s straight out of 1983. I can’t work out if this is because their ad designer sucked, or if it’s a deliberate retro nod to those of us in their ’25-35’ age bracket who are a bit nostalgic for those times, even if we were busy playing with My Little Ponies rather than drinking Campari. The barman throws seeds all over the place, and despite the advertising standards people asking them not to link the drink with sex, the concept of ‘three friends’ turns out to be essentially a threesome in the toilets of an empty bar. Classy. Still, the slogan that 'Prism reflects every side of you' is a good one.

Chris is asked a question – the bottle would look good in a backlit bar but what about in a retail environment with the points? Chris says it’s designed to be taller than its competitors. That’s all well and good, but it’s not going to fit on shop shelves, is it? Never mind it potentially being a pain to package and transport, and it will certainly never fit into an optic. I may be overthinking a mde-up product here, I grant you. The tram go backstage, where their dancers are all huddled around in thick winter coats. Oh, the party brand image, so hollow and lacking in substance.

The Urbon launch has some male dancers some kind of sub-JLS type dance. I do wish this show would stop with the dancers in the finales. Their ad features cheesy metrosexuals who can’t act, with Hammond organ music in the background. It’s not a triumph, but at least it’s not using pomegranates spilling their load as a metaphor for grubby toilet sex or whatever it was Chris’s ad was doing.

Some woman in the crowd is incredulous that the bottle is both masculine and feminine, and Stella’s all, yeah you sexist, everyone can drink it. She’s then asked about whether it just appeals to city folk (/smug cunts) and responds, rather awesomely that she’s planning to move to the country if this takes off and will be sipping Urbon there.

Some people in the crowd say Stella presented better but the other drink tasted nicer, as Urbon was overspiced. Someone else says Prism would work well in a backlit bar.

Boardroom time!

Stella talks about doing a classic with a new spin for both genders but they didn’t know what the name would be when they went to bottle design. Neither did Chris’s team, but this isn’t mentioned. Sralan said that would have helped. Stella talks about how they essentially winged it. Sralan says it’s a good name but the drink tasted a bit strong without a mixer. Stella admits it was, and says that she delegated that (as did Chris). Sralan says maybe she should have gone to taste it, but Stella points out that Melissa and Christopher drink the stuff and she doesn’t so they’d be better placed to tell. Fair point, Sralan, fair point Stella. Surely people talking sense in the boardroom isn’t right?

Sralan says there was a lot of criticism about the colour of Prism at the launch, and suggests people thought it was not a male product. Chris says Liz and Shibby were asked to do a clear drink (or were asked in his head at least, like when your mum thinks that by thinking she’s told you something she’s actually done it) but went for natural colouring. Sralan gets a quick pop at Shibby in before they move onto Chris’s monotone delivery. Nick says it got a bit better. Shibby says Chris can take five words to say something, not twenty. Sralan claims that he likes that, despite claiming only a couple of weeks ago that Stubaggs’ field of ponies made total sense. Joanna says Stella’s adapted well to the tasks, and Christopher says she’s cool and level headed. Alex fails in his act of Team Chris solidarity and says they are both level headed and Sralan should take both of them – he would. Like Alex is ever going to be in the position of employing people. Sorry, a bit below the belt, BUT TRUE.

Sralan likes the three-sided bottle, three elements thing but thinks Stella’s bottle looks a little too much like a vinegar. He likes the concept and name, though.

He sends them out to talk to Nick and [insert long pause while he remembers her name]Karren. Karren bigs up her woobie Chris and Nick bigs up Stella. I can’t really call Stella anyone’s woobie, can I?

NotFrances sends them both back in. Sralan tells them to be proud of themselves and then they get to plead. As an aside, do we know if they did the requisite ‘work for NotAmstrad for ages’ thing this time around given there was such a long gap between filming and the series being shown? They clearly filmed this boardroom then, not now, given how both candidates’ appearances have changed (well, a bit) in the interim.

Stella says she is consistent, proactive and drives things, and has the best task record. Sralan says Stella has experience , 10 years on Chris. Chris says he’s done well in tasks (given how often he was on the losing side so often I’m not sure this is a wise move) and talks about selling the tie dress mostly. He then, ridiculously, tries to bring out the ‘I’m like you Lord Sugar’ card, despite being the one who is probably LEAST like Sralan, at least since Raleigh left. (And I didn’t even see Raleigh in the You’re Hired audience. SHAMEFUL).

Sralan is unsure if he wants someone with experience or someone young to go ‘through the hassle of training with’. That’s kind of the point of an apprentice, Sralan. Stella points out that she likes her current job and has left her family to do this, which proves she wants the job. She then goes a fraction nuts (but not full-on Paloma nuts) and says she has the passion Chris doesn’t have. Chris interjects and says she can talk about herself all she wants but to leave him out. Stella dismisses him with a ‘thank you’. Oh, Stella, stay classy.  [I really thought she might blow it at the last minute and trying to diss Chris at this point seemed pointless - Fiona]

Sralan says Stella is well liked and works hard and has had a tragic background determination. Chris has some great entrepreneurial ideas (but would lose you 20% of your business). Sralan does a hire tease by saying he won’t worry about the other candidate, making out he’s chosen Chris, but no, the winner is Stella.

We don’t see Chris’s coat, but Stella’s is the same boring black business jacket she had on already. Stella taxintrerviews about how she’s just ‘Little Stella’ from a humble background, which she doesn’t really need to do as she’s got the job now. It’s not revealed what super-duper task Sralan has given her in NotAmstrad, sadly.

And that’s our lot for another year! Join us next series, unless we have been karmically retributed by then!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Third nipples and key cogs

Previously on The Apprentice, the teams (by now who can possibly tell who’s a Synergist and who’s an Appolonian?) had to run tours in London and make loads of lovely wonga. Like so many tasks, success or failure rested entirely on getting one person on side, in this case the awesome smug bitch from the tourist centre, which Chris Bates succeeded in doing by making the daring innovative masterstroke (massive glaring miscalculation that fluked into success) of giving the tourist centre 20% of all his team’s takings. Chris, Jamie and Joanna won, despite the fact that their tour was a ghouls and ghosts tour, in the day time, on a bus, and consisted solely of Jamie talking about Sweeney Todd as if he actually existed for about fifteen hours and revealing that the Thames is the second biggest river in London, the clock on the Tower of Westminster has a width of 20 diameters, and that that building that looks like a gherkin is called the Gherkin because it looks like a gherkin. Stella took her tourists round the East End and showed them, like, piss-stained mattresses and used needles and bankrupt nail salons, but also sang Knees Up Mother Brown, thereby deftly disproving the idea that she is too cold and corporate, the only criticism levelled at her the whole series. And isn’t that what really matters? The failure rested entirely on Liz and Stubagg’s utter inability to sell tickets, so Stella was never going anywhere. Despite Liz being smart, competent and selling £100,000 worth of baby death thermometer suits, Sralan got utterly snowballed by Stubaggs’ display of ‘I’m just like you Sralan, I’m an entrepreneur’ and ‘I’m a field of ponies’ and Liz was fired for not being dynamic (for not being nearly as exciting a prospect for evisceration at interviews as Stubaggs).

For yes, indeed, it is time for interviews, and as has become traditional at Apprentbitch Towers, I’m here to guide you through.

Jamie answers the phone, Stella wakes Stubags in a rather maternal fashion. Stella says she’s never failed an interview, Jamie thinks it will be long, hard and drilling (that’s what SHE said!), Chris thinks that Sralan would have fired him by now, and is proud of his CV. With seven victories, Joanna has the best record, but she’s nervous because she’s not done many high level interviews, and says she’s been seen as ‘just the cleaner from Leicester’. Joanna criticises Jamie’s suit and says Chris looks better, and Jamie likens Chris to John Major (‘John Major was called John Major because he was a major; he was also the first Prime Minister of London’).

Jamie sells property in Cyprus. He thinks his abilities are a little bit ahead of everyone else. No, that doesn’t quite make sense. Stella left school with no qualifications, grew up on the biggest council estate in Europe, but now heads up a division at a major Japanese bank. Stubaggs has a telecoms business on the Isle of Man, and believes that when Sralan said he saw a bit of himself in Stubaggs, that ‘that was the biggest compliment you can pay somebody’. Hmm. I think ‘nice shoes’ probably beats being likened to Sralan.  [Getting ID for me everytime - Fiona]

They arrive at Viglen. The candidates wait half way up a staircase, Sralan yells at them a bit, three are getting fired, they go back down the staircase. Stella says ‘We’re gonna be here allllllll day’, with much relish. The interviewers this year: Claude Littner (global troubleshooter), who offers Chris a chance for a tough interview or an easy one without bullshit (Chris opts for no bullshit); Alan Watts, litigation lawyer, is told by Stella that she’s not here to make friends (HOORAY!); Viglen boss Bordun Tchatchuk pulls Jamie to shreds over his use of the phrase ‘solely responsible’ and Jamie bitches about the ‘smallest hole’ being picked up on (you say smallest hole, I say outright lie); and, finally, last but most, MARGARET MOUNTFORD, bitches! Stubaggs goes in and says ‘Margaret!’ and ‘pleased to meet you’, (which, I have told you cretins before, it’s ‘How do you do?’ because pleased to meet you is too informal) and she takes him to task. He says he feels like he knows her, she’s all ‘you don’t’ and he calls her Miss Mountford.

Margaret reads out Jamie’s CV (by CV I mean application form at all points), that the most interesting thing about him is his third nipple, and then that the biggest lie he’s told is that he has a third nipple. Margaret asks ‘is that supposed to make me laugh?’ and then calls Jamie puerile. He clearly doesn’t know what that word means. It’s awesome.

Alan tells Stubaggs that he will do anything and has no ethics, and that the worst lie Stubaggs told was that a competitor was going bust. Alan says not only is it dishonest, it’s defamatory. Stubaggs says he has integrity, but that in an interview he’d be like ‘Hire me, not those twats’ and Alan says ‘You should be saying hire me because of X, Y, Z’ and not worrying about the other people. Stubaggs thinks it’s over, but Alan comes back to the defamation, and Stubaggs tries to brush it off with ‘We’re all young once, we all do silly things’. That gets about as short shrift as you’d imagine. In the waiting room, Stubaggs makes a lol about ‘I’ve got the job!’ and explains how what you say has to tally with your form. Stella says that it depends on how you filled out your form (ie, don’t bullshit and tell lies) and Stubaggs says he promises that Stella won’t sail through without criticism. Stella’s face is all ‘We’ll see about that’.

Stella meets Claude. He asks what she’s accomplished in. She says she’s got ten years of banking experience, and Claude tries to be all ‘what you switching for then?’ and Stella’s like ‘I came in with no GCSEs and no experience and worked my way up and am awesome’. Claude says that she’ll be switching from a corporate atmosphere to an entrepreneurial one (and for goodness sake, it’s still a CEO type position for a company that’s part of a multi multi million portfolio of businesses; she’s not going to be opening a whelk stall or selling dusters door to door); and she says that she can create income and run something and not just assist in the process. Claude actually says ‘okay’ and drops the matter, which should kind of indicate how well she dealt with it all. They all ask how it went. Stella says ‘good’. Jamie asks her to elaborate and Stella just says ‘good’ again. All the other candidates look kind of freaked out by Stella’s implacable calm. [She just psyched all of them out, interviewers included - Fiona]

Bordun meets Joanna. He asks her about what she knows about Sralan’s companies. She says ‘Viglen’ wrongly, and then she reveals that she knows nothing about what Viglen or any other of Sralan’s companies do. She doesn’t realise that Sralan has not got Amstrad any longer. She apologises, and is horribly flustered, and says that it’s unprofessional; Bordun says it’s not unprofessional, it’s unprepared. The whole thing is rather uncomfortable.  [She suddenly seemed a lot younger than she has previously - Fiona]

Margaret and Chris next. He’s rather bigged himself up on his CV, saying he’s ‘revered’ as a theology scholar. Margaret pulls him on the word revered, saying it’s ‘awed respect’ and Chris, to his credit, owns it and says that yes, in his school he did have awed respect and he was top five in the country, so he’d have respect from anyone who did the same course. Margaret tries to criticise him for being ‘fixated’ with his academic record, but Chris says he’s not and he’s not that into bragging about his achievements. Margaret says he’s good at bragging, though. [Look I lead the Chris Lovely Lips Bates love round here and even I found that one hard to swallow... - Fiona]

We cut to Claude and Chris, and Claude takes an utterly ridiculous tack of criticising Chris for stopping studying law and changing subjects. He tries to say Chris flunked, which Chris dismisses by saying that he didn’t flunk, he chose to change his course. Chris says that he didn’t want to continue studying law when he didn’t want to be a lawyer; Claude says that law degrees can be useful in business; Chris says perhaps but lots would be irrelevant; Claude says how would you know, you didn’t study it; Chris says that he studied it for half a year; Claude says ‘That makes you an expert does it?’, which Chris just bats away with ‘No’. Claude says that Chris did something and quit it and therefore fell at the first hurdle, and that because Chris didn’t pursue his Politics and American Studies degree (after getting a first by the by) that his interest can’t have been that great. Claude then goes on to the fact that Chris got his good job in a bank, but quit after nine months, so Chris is a quitting quitter who quits. He quit his law degree and he quit his job (umm… so that he could be on The Apprentice) so he’s a dirty quitting quitter who quits and the only thing he won’t quit is quitting because he loves quitting so much, the quitter. Chris is like ‘that’s bullshit and I wouldn’t quit the job with Sralan because it would be amazing and the only way you would get me out of the building is through force’. Claude looks utterly ridiculous through the whole exchange. Partly because Chris just deflects all the criticism but mostly because a 24-year-old who changed his degree for one he liked (and excelled in) and then left his job so that he could be on The Apprentice cannot in any way be characterised as a serial quitter. I get that the interviewers have to be all grr scary attack dogs, but find something better to attack than that. [It was utterly ludicrous and well done Chris for not rising to it - Fiona]  Back outside, Chris tells the guys that he thinks he held his own and answered the questions well. (He did.)

Jamie now. He talks about how he wasn’t academic, and Margaret pulls him up, saying that he seems to blame his parents for it because they didn’t push him. Jamie admits his results weren’t good and Margaret’s like ‘Not good? They were SHIT.’ (Cs to Fs, by the way.) Then a lengthy, massively boring exchange with Bordun and Jamie about Jamie’s dodgy timeshare business or whatever it is. His partner in Cyprus doesn’t have any shares, and Jamie says the other guy does no work but takes half the money, and that they’re going to part ways. Bordun asks if Jamie is not, in fact, a bit shit, as he’s supposed to generate sales, and if Bordun can create 35% growth in a market that is shrinking by 8%, then Jamie’s breaking even is hardly being an ‘excellent salesman’. Bordun says Jamie is looking for an ‘escape chute’ and then Jamie comes out and tells the other candidates that it was a really good interview but you can tell he’s totally dissembling.

Margaret and Stubaggs. Stubaggs says he has hundreds of ideas and wants to invent with Sralan a tiny microchip that you can track anywhere so that you can find your lost pets. Margaret’s like ‘my cat’s already chipped’ and Stubaggs says yes, but you still have to find the cat. This chip you can track remotely. ‘And that’s just one of my ideas’. I desperately wish we’d heard more. A toy car that makes you feel like a grown up because it has a really vrooomy engine noise! Ear warmers for your field of ponies! A machine that gives scores to decide who’s won when you get into street fights about ticket sales for bus tours of London! The mind boggles. Margaret ask if he wants to be an apprentice or a business partner, and Stubaggs says ‘absolutely both’. Margaret says ‘Both?’ in full ‘A HANDBAG?’ mode. Stubaggs says that he’s going to work 24/7 for Sralan and Margaret, witheringly, says ‘And give it 110% no doubt?’ and Stubaggs, utterly failing to hear the contempt dripping from the words, agrees eagerly. Oh Stubaggs. [Ms Mountford reads The Apprentbitch doesn't she? - Fiona]

Stubaggs meets Claude now. Claude, dickishly, refuses to shake his hand. Claude is utterly furious about ‘Stuart Baggs the brand’, going on about ‘You’re not a brand’ and ‘Don’t try to tell me what a brand is, you are NOT a brand’, and Stubaggs says ‘I think I might be.’ Claude asks why Stubaggs wants the job, and Stubaggs says he’s a big fish in a small pond, and Claude says ‘You’re not a fish’. [Claude has anger issues - Fiona]

Claude meets Joanna. She says her company isn’t huge but it gets her by and is doing all right. Claude says that that isn’t very ambitious. She doesn’t want to be a cleaner, she wants to be a successful businesswoman. Claude says it’s a two-way street and she wants direction, but what can she bring? She says that she hasn’t got the qualifications, but she’s got the business instinct (or ‘inkstink’ as she puts it). Claude says she hasn’t, because she’s giving up on her business too quickly. He praises her, seemingly genuinely and enthusiastically for having the ‘gumption’ and ‘strength of character’ for starting a business, but it’s ‘ridiculous’ and ‘a great shame’ that she doesn’t want to expand it. Outside, she says it’s ‘like mental torture’.

Alan says that Stella is clearly skilled at management, but she’s just a ‘very very very good PA’. She says that that’s insulting, that she’s a senior manager on the trading floor and the only woman (at that level presumably, not at all) in a Japanese bank. Alan says that she started as a PA and she says yes, but she always set her sights much higher.

Bordun reads from Chris’s CV that he’s ‘the strongest ever’ candidate and Chris says that he’s done well on tasks, broken a sales record, but you’d expect that for a candidate and he’s also got the intelligence and business nous.

Alan wants to know what he should tell Sralan about Joanna. She says she’s ‘a decent person who wants to do well’ and has outlasted people, who, on paper are much better than her.

Now, in a section that made Jamie’s Business Facts earlier look positively thrilling, we get Part One (Of Eighty) of Bordun And Stubaggs’ Insight Into Telecommunications Law On The Isle Of Man. It goes on and on and on. Suffice to say, Stubaggs claimed to have a fully licensed telecoms company but in fact only has a licence to be a broadband ISP, which costs £350 and anyone can get. Bordun claims that ISP stands for ‘internet service protocol’. You know, to be fair, on the Isle of Man I figured it would be a licence for two cups and a piece of string. Stubaggs reveals that he doesn’t even know Bordun’s name. Upshot: Stubaggs is a lying shit who doesn’t have the licence he claimed to on his CV.

Interviews! Are! Ovah!

Joanne to-cameras that she’s desperate to go through. Stubaggs says he’s the only one to take Sralan out of the recession. Stella says she needs to get to the final, ‘and then the real work starts’.

Sralan chats to his attack dogs in the Boardroom. He calls Margaret one of the best advisers he could have. Damn right!

Margaret likes Joanna; she started a successful business and deserves a lot of credit. Claude says much the same, and we cut to Joanna saying ‘I don’t no longer want to be known as Joanna the cleaner’ and Claude says she doesn’t have to be, she can Joanna the MD of a cleaning company; Bordun calls her a self-starter. Sralan says she was a bit of a bull in a china shop and a bit defensive, and Margaret says that if she started mouthy, she’s learnt because she interviewed very well.

Alan says that Chris has straight As at A-level and a First in his degree (which, if that’s all it takes, I’m available Sralan), but left his bank job to be on The Apprentice, and because he felt the bank wasn’t recognising his talents. Alan and Bordun share a lol about how you shouldn’t wait for praise for Sralan because it won’t be forthcoming.  [in that joking way that means they really ARE desperate for any crumb of praise - Fiona] Bordun says that Chris was ‘monotonous’ and that he was trying to get him to crack, but he hasn’t got that tenacity. Karrren disagrees, and says he’s awesome, and they chat for about twenty minutes about how he has a buzzsaw drone but the actual words are smart. Margaret says that Chris is obsessed with his academic achievement (which really isn’t that valid because what else can he point to?) and that he probably likes to spend evenings admiring his certificates.  [I know what I'd spend evenings doing.  Sorry Rad. Again - Fiona]

Jamie next. Margaret, she hate Jamie big time and ‘found it hard to sit through 15 minutes with him’. There’s a lovely cut back to interviews where Jamie claims to be a ‘key cog in a wheel’ and Margaret says ‘in any wheel?’ and Jamie says ‘I’m a key cog’ about fifty times. Margaret says ‘It doesn’t mean anything, does it, “I’m a key a cog”?’ and Jamie says sorry, to which Margaret says ‘Don’t apologise, it’s a fact’. God I’ve missed Margaret. Margaret tells Sralan that for an apparent selling genius wideboy he seemed a bit nervous. Karren, quite astutely, says that Jamie relies on his confidence and he’s lost it so he’s got not much left. Bordun says he hates Jamie and his blame culture, his parents, his business partner, etc. Claude says that Jamie’s ‘business’ is just a get rich quick scheme. Bordun says that Jamie does at least have property experience, which might be useful.

Claude says Stella is smart and great, and would be amazing for a major corporate, but what would she do here? Bordun says that Stella is the admin queen but doesn’t see much beyond it (Stella has a vagina and therefore should be fired). Karrren says ‘she’s more than that’ and Alan says that she hasn’t had the chance; she started as a PA, is clearly intelligent, and has had roles created for her because she’s indispensable. Nick says she’s ‘entirely decent’ and you ‘could trust her to the end of the Earth’. Bordun’s like ‘but admin! (vagina!)’ and Margaret’s like ‘good for her, for doing what she excels at’. Karrren says that Stella’s always given a good account of herself and remained professional, and when she got called corporate she immediately went out and did Knees Up Mother Brown, which doesn’t entirely disprove it but show she’s willing to listen and adapt. Alan says it’s a gamble, but one that could work. This whole section was delightful. Bordun yelping ‘admin vagina!’ and being utterly shouted down by everybody else in the room. So good.

Stubaggs now. Margaret’s criticism is basically ‘He called me Margaret’ and she doesn’t see the need to say anything else. Claude says he’s a dreamer ‘though he claims never to sleep’, and has technical knowhow, and could be considered. Bordun’s Isle Of Man Telecoms recap, now, saying that ‘anyone’ could have the licence for broadband, ‘even you Karrren’. Karrren takes that in better grace than I would.  [I was actually baffled that sentence left his lips and that she didn't twat him for it - Fiona]  Alan raises the whole ‘lying about a competitor going bust’ thing.

Sralan thanks his attack dogs and they depart. The candidates go through.

Sralan tells Chris the feedback was mixed and wonders if he was a bit daunted. Chris says they were a bit of a grilling and maybe he didn’t get his passion across, but he was always told you should be composed and concise in interviews and that’s what he tried to do. He really is very, very good at the boardroomy interviewy bits. Sralan goes on about Chris’s obsession with his academic record and Chris makes explicit ‘other than my ten months’ work, that’s what I’ve got’. Sralan asks about the law degree and Chris says he was always encouraged ‘be a banker, be a lawyer’ but now he wants to build his own career.

Sralan tells Stella that they think she’s corporate too. Sralan persists with the lie, again, some more, that NotAmstrad is in some way not a corporation, that they need to start stuff. Stella says she’s proven that she will go in at the deep end and that maybe she’s misunderstanding, but they seem to be saying she just takes instruction, and that’s not true. Nick says she’s maybe struggling to break out of a straitjacket career. She says maybe, but her companies created roles for her (the implication I think being that they did it to fit her abilities), but she’s not going to apologise for doing her job well, because that’s what she’s paid to do. Sralan says ‘absolutely’, when she says this.

Sralan tells Joann that they were surprised she didn’t know much about business. She says she’s 25 (!!!) and doesn’t have experience, and wants direction. She could go and get a big contract, but she doesn’t want to do that, she ‘deserves to be a businesswoman’. It’s again rather sad, as though she doesn’t think she’s good enough, or that the company she started isn’t an achievement. She says that she’s got the business inkstink again.

Sralan tells Jamie that he’s got a blame culture, that he blamed his parents for not pushing him in education, and his partner for the business. Jamie’s like ‘I don’t blame him!’ and then goes on to blame him. Sralan’s like ‘I get it, you twat’ and says ‘everybody jumped into Cyprus when the market was good, were you one of those?’ and Jamie is like ‘I also went to Bulgaria’ and Sralan is like LOL YOU FAIL. Jamie says the recession hit hard; Sralan says ‘Blame game LOL!’ Jamie says it was his fault, it’s about making mistakes, learning and moving on. Sralan totally ignores it and moves on to Stubaggs.

Stubaggs said it was probing and hostile. Yet more about Isle of Man telecoms. Stubaggs is still trying to weasel out of the fact that he lied about his licence. He also says ‘I’m a wireless network’. A wireless network AND a field of ponies!  [There is no start to his talent! - Fiona]

Sralan says that his advisers sat around the table and said that Stubaggs is ‘full of shit, basically’ and Sralan is then very angry that Stubaggs’s claims have made Liz be fired, and it makes him sick. ‘I’m annoyed with myself that you have been allowed to come this far through the process’, says, Sralan. ‘I’m annoyed with myself. Stuart, you ARE fired.’ Stubaggs at least gives a ‘thank you for the opportunity’. In the cab, he’s got a horrible indigo scarf. He cabterviews that he was misunderstood etc. No you weren’t, Stubaggs. You’re a total chancer and they finally spotted it. At least maybe this will finally render true Sralan’s insistence that people saying ‘I’m just like you Sralan’ isn’t a total free pass.

They give their little ‘hire me’ speeches. Stella starts to say that she’s been pigeonholed as corporate and amazingly, Sralan says ‘forgive me for bringing that up so many times’, and to forget it and just says what she’ll do. She has a wealth of experience, and has shown in her life, that she’s not just intelligent, she makes things happen. ‘I’ve made my whole life happen’ and in any one of your companies I’ll do the same thing.

Jamie just spouts about a hundred thousand nonsensical clichés about wanting to get involved and even when Sralan says ‘you’re talking in clichés’ Jamie just goes on to say some more, with a side helping of his whole ‘I was there at every single win and big decision on every task on both teams and am a key cog’ bullshit that he likes to spout.

Joanna says she is raw and has business inkstink, and while she’s ‘ashamed and embarrassed’ that she doesn’t know that much about business, but she’s outlasted people with better CVs ‘and that speaks volumes’.

Chris says he’s not the finished article, but he will think of new ways of doing things and will approach things differently. (I think his business genius/utter fluke on the tour task last week is his trump card there.)

Sralan starts with Joanna. He says they all admire here, and while she doesn’t like what she’s doing, she should get to like it, because he regrets it but doesn’t see where she’ll fit. He says she leaves with her head held high and ‘I’m sorry to say, you’re fired.’ She’s crying, and Chris gives her a comforting pat, but it’s the patented Nice Firing, and I think she deserves it. Some weeks I hated her, some weeks I thought she was great, but I hope she’s not so ‘I am a worthless cleaner’ any more.  [110% agree, I didn't like her to start with but she did try and use the feedback (last weeks incident with Jamie aside).  She lost all her confident facade in the interviews and I was sad for her - Fiona]

Sralan goes to Stella. She gets a total ‘Oh, god, get it over with and fire me then’ face, but with no flim flam at all, he puts her through to the final. Obviously.

Jamie gets ‘I think you’ve come to the end of the road. Jamie, you’re fired.’ Ha! Not an abusive Stubaggs firing, or a comforting Joanna firing, just an ‘Are you still here?’ dismissive flick off. About all he’s earned. To his credit, he at least congratulations Stella and Chris.

Stella and Chris hug and giggle.

Jamie cabterviews that he thought he was through because he’s so amazing. Blech. Joanna cabterviews that she knows that she’s not the cleaner, she’s ‘definitely Joanna the businesswoman’. Hooray!

Next week: lots of the fired ones return. They have to create an alcoholic drink. PALOMA IS BACK. Yay, yay, yay. Stella and Chris have been my total favourites, and this is the final two I’ve wanted since Paloma went, but they’re both resolutely uncreative so this’ll be interesting to say the least.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Magical Mystery Tour

Week 10
Aired 8 December 2010

Last week on The Apprentice, the Apprenti tried to locate 10 items and purchase them in 10 hours for the least amount of spondooles without the aid of google. Jamie bullied a jeweller, Chris & Stubaggs told stupid lies but despite getting only 7 items compared to the girls' 10 they won and Sralan finally got the opportunity to fire Laura.

Jamie jogs half heartedly to answer the phone to NotFrances (and then we have a nice topless shot of Chris brushing his teeth and a not nice shot of trouserless Stubaggs looking like an overgrown school boy). In half an hour the cars will arrive to take them to Wandsworth bus garage. In the boys car Stubaggs is of the opinion that 'the unknown is like walking in to a room of knives blindfolded' - m'kay.

They all look a little confused except Jamie who is working that enthused and engaged thing but just comes off as gormless. Sralan brings them up to speed pretty quickly. The London bus is an icon to all tourists apparently and the task is to set up and run a London bus tour company. Sralan is giving them an open top bus (but not to keep) so they can run bus and walking tours. He mixes the teams up: Jo to Synergy and Stubaggs to Apollo. [Otherwise known as the 'make sure the only person who likes Stella is on the other team' manoeuvre. Cunning. - Steve]

Over 26 million people visit London every year. The teams must get some of them on the bus, round the sights and off the bus for a 'themed' walk. Stubaggs is PM for Apollo. Stella suggests the East End for their tour theme and that for their walk they could visit pearly kings and queens and a jellied eels stall. Liz and Stubaggs look pretty unimpressed but go for it anyway and somehow dump all the work on her as the 'nearest thing they have to a cockney' [I have no idea how that works - Rad] and start hedging their bets early just in case 'if she is too cold and corporate we'll blow it. If we blow it, it is her fault.'

Joanna, Chris and Jamie are up for a Ghost, ghouls and Sweeney Todd theme at Jamie's suggestion. With Joanna in charge she gets starts by getting potential tour guide Jamie by the balls - 'if you fuck up I am taking you off this yeah?'

In the East End Liz and Stubaggs are scoping out places to stop on their tour. Their COCKERNY accents and rhyming slang are as good as you might expect. Liz totally insults a jellied eel seller by asking him to cockney it up. He looks stunned and a customer(?) verbalises for him how patronising and generally shit that is. In the car, Stella is trying to show she is fun and not uptight as she somewhat painfully practices her tour spiel. She is not cold and corporate K? Got it? Good!

At London Bridge Joanne and Jamie are also completing a recce but can't find ghosts, Jamie wants to escape Joanne and go to the pub because Joanne is a rottweiler who is nagging him to death. 'Do you know what you are doing Jamie? Are you sure Jamie? Aren't you a bit shite Jamie? Get a move on Jamie. Don't cross the road without me Jamie.' Interesting that Synergy choose to have the person who will be giving the tour involved in deciding where the tour will go - just saying.

Liz and Stubaggs seem to be randomly wandering about looking scared of Londoners and insulting the East End. There doesn't seem to be a lot of forward planning happening. Joanna is still sticking her boot up Jamie's arse while Nick gurns. When Jamie finally snaps at her she says he is 'scaring her and acting like a mad man'. Never seen a mad man then. She feels he is being aggressive, not her and she feels threatened... WTF? I know that Jamie divides opinion and he can be a prize smug twat more often than not. I know that he has been mostly monosyllabic in his replies to Joanna but she has not stopped whinging at him. Joanna is normally pretty aggressive herself so why she is playing the poor defenceless and intimidated woman here is anyone's guess. [I assume the punchline to all of this is them ending up in bed together. Or is that just what happens in soaps? - Rad]

Cockney tour sorted, Liz and Stubaggs are trying to set prices. They think £30-£35 seems quite reasonable. As well as selling directly to the public the teams can also pitch to London Visitor Centre who will promote the tours in return for a cut of the sales. Apollo pitch their 'Cockney' tour first. The nice Visitors' Centre people seem quite happy with the pitch but ask if the customers get to keep the bus afterwards for that price [Ha! The Visitors' Centre were so much better at "business" than either team it was hilarious - Rad]. Stubaggs and Liz offer them a 25% cut of the tickets the Centre sells despite being told they normally take 35%.

While Joanne and Jamie flog tickets to the public, Chris sexy buzzsaw pitches the 'chilling and terrifying Ghost and Ghouls' tour to the London Visitors Centre. Their prices are a more reasonable £25 for adults and £10 for children or 2 adults and 2 children tickets for £50. He offers them 20% of their TOTAL revenue, hang on - including the tickets Synergy sell directly to the public. The Visitors' Centre bods obviously can't believe their luck and double check several times that Chris means 20% of EVERYTHING and he confirms that yes he does. Going back to Jamie and Joanna, she picks straight up on this and interviews that this is foolishness. Chris says blah blah sexy lips commercially viable whatever. [I'm beginning to suspect that your interest in Chris is not entirely based around his business acumen, Fiona. - Steve] Colin from the visitors centre shockingly rings to say they are going with Synergy - well no shit Sherlock.

Back to the Apprentmansion. The tour guides are practising their spiel. Jamie's Sweeney Todd speech is pretty gruesome.

6.30am the next day and the Apprenti are all getting dressed in a sort of bus driver/air hostess mash up outfit. In the blue corner we have Synergy and in the red Apollo. Chris looks like Parker from Thunderbirds, just hotter. [I did not want that mental image, thanks - Rad] [No, me neither. - Steve] [Sorry - Fiona]

Both teams have got 3 scheduled tours. Stubaggs says 'tourists are just bags of money' he will 'dip into *slurping noises*'. Honestly he is being a vile little toad and if he wants people's money he should at least try and hide the contempt he so obviously holds them in.

Joanne goes to the Visitors' Centre and tries to get out of the 20% of ALL revenue deal. She tries to pass it off as Chris not understanding what he was offering. Shockingly they don't budge - well why would they? They are making money whether they actually sell a single ticket or not. It doesn't really reflect well on them either, the deal is done and it was the basis that the Centre choose to promote them on so they should just suck it up now and not try and weasel their way out of it.

Both teams seem to be doing a good job of selling their tickets but as the buses set off they are hardly packed [it probably didn't help that it looked like a miserable day and the buses were open-topped - Rad]. With the buses gone the remaining team members are out selling tickets. Stubaggs starts following Joanna's customers and trying to 'neutralise them' by promising them a £4 cheaper fare. Here is where Joanna should be channelling her anger (and her fist straight into his flabby face).

Stella is doing a reasonably factual presentation. On the 'Ghost & Ghouls' tour Jamie is enthusiastically but incorrectly imparting little factoids. For example the Thames is London's second largest river and Big Ben's face is '20 diameters wide' - everyone looks confused. 'O look that is Westminster Abby - you can go there, it's a church'. [Essentially, this episode was one giant facepalm, wasn't it? - Rad]

Stubaggs is now trying to mug customers directly outside the visitors centre because 'they went with the wrong team'. Petulant much? The nice lady comes out and tells him to move. First he tries the whole 'it's a free country and pavement and you don't own it and shit'. When that doesn't work he says 'maybe the fair thing to do would be to call the police?' That is a a bit of an epic leap! She just laughs at him and says 'now fuck off my land'.

Jamie's group are now off the bus being treated to gems such as 'see the building that looks like a gherkin? its called a gherkin... cos it looks like a gherkin' [Except... it's not actually called The Gherkin at all - Rad] [Indeed as all Me Too! fans know it is actually Harlequin hospital where Dr Juno works - Fiona] [Still, if allocating names to things based on what they look like is acceptable, then I feel entirely justified in calling Jamie a Smug Bollock-Faced Cunt. - Steve]

Stella meanwhile has a real Pearly King for her show and tell, it might make up for being stuck right next road works.

In the west end Stubaggs and Liz do battle with Chris and Joanne in Trafalgar Square. Stubaggs has a system which wholly consists of approaching anyone that Synergy talk to or even look at. When Chris tells him to fuck off he starts with 'are you gonna hit me?' which confuses Chris because er no he isn't, specially not with a camera crew with them. Another epic leap there Stubaggs. Thanks to Steve we can enjoy the whole exchange:

Chris: "Seriously, Stuart, fuck off."
Stubaggs: "No, YOU fuck off, this is our pitch."
Chris: "This is OUR pitch."
Stubaggs: "Go on, hit me then."
Chris: "I'm not going to hit you."
Stubaggs: "But you mouth off..."
Chris: "Shut up Stuart, you fat twat. Why don't you fuck off down there?" [I love it when posh boys swear. Chris can call me a fat twat any time. As long as he calls me, if you know what I mean. - Steve]
Stubaggs: "That's professional, isn't it?!"
Joanna: "Just ignore him, he's not worth it!"

Meanwhile Stella has got lost in the arse of the East End - ooops. Mind you after Liz insulted Mr Jellied Eel earlier it might be for the best that she has no idea where she is meant to go. Of course if Stella had been included in the location scouting exercise there would have been a better chance of her knowing where to go. After wandering around, asking passersby for directions she suggests they go back to the bus and everyone looks relieved. While Joanna and Chris are pulling in the punters for Jamie, Stella has a mere 8 people waiting for the next tour. Is everyone enjoying themselves she asks? She threatens them that they will be singing Knees Up Mother Brown. An interestingly toothed man giggles, everyone else looks bored - and now she is announcing landmarks after they have gone past them.

Jamie's Sweeney Todd story is getting ever more gruesome. Some of his tourists are starting to look a bit sick. Do any of them actually know this ISN'T A TRUE STORY? [I suspect Jamie doesn't. - Steve] Stella is now reduced to showing her customers graffiti which may or may not be a Banksy. It is hard to tell who is less interested, her or her 8 customers.

In a moment of inspiration Jamie gets a rousing version on 'London's Burning' going as they go under London Bridge. Stella and Mr Strange Teeth's version of Knees Up Mother Brown is less of a success.

As Synergy's final tour departure time looms, they have no bookings from the visitors' centre and Joanne and Chris aren't having much joy drumming up custom. Apollo have got their last tour booked an hour later at 4pm and they have nearly a full bus, due to dropping the price to £15. They don't have to hand anything over to the visitors' centre unlike Joanna who just gave them a huge wodge of cash. Joanna fears if they have lost this will be why.

Boardroom Time!

Synergy say they got on 'OK' and Nick says Jamie was very good at being the tour guide. That is pretty fulsome praise. [Especially given that he was shit - Rad] Chris tries to justify the 20% of EVERYTHING to the Visitor Centre and pretends that was exactly what he meant to do. Sralan says it was 'adventurous' and takes umbridge at Jo trying to backtrack with the centre and says she should have stuck by her team.

On to Apollo where Stubaggs is quick to 'give' Stella credit for the cockney tour idea. Sralan bitch slaps Liz by commenting her idea of a London tour would have been a walk down Bond Street. Ouch. [Bladdy Wimminz love shopping right? - Rad] Sralan brings up the turf war in Trafalgar Square which Chris dismisses as 'handbags at dawn and whatever'. Stubaggs has some sort of fit which is the only possible explanation for his assertion that MUTUAL RESPECT TOOK OVER. Sorry but WTF?! Chris walked off because you were being a twat.

And so it is down to the facts and figures. Apollo's total profit was £834.30 for their 3 tours. Synergy made a profit £1099.43 AFTER giving their 20% cut to the visitors centre AND only doing 2 tours presumably - Chris Lovely Lips rolled the dice with his 'innovative way of doing things' and came in with a good win. They are getting flown to Jersey to look at people 'collecting' oysters and a Michelin star slap up meal. Outside the boardroom there is much rejoicing because it isn't a shit prize for once! [I beg to differ - Rad]

In loser cafe Stubaggs is gutted. Stella says she put her 'heart and soul into the task' and reckons Stubaggs is for the chop and Liz would 'assign blame' to him too. Stubaggs thinks 'they are all to blame'. I think his shitty behaviour means he is a goner.

Whilst flying to Jersey Jamie hilariously keeps up his tour guide persona, Joanne balks at eating raw oysters and they all go for a nice meal, toast themselves and the sweet taste of success.

Back to the boardroom for Apollo round two. Stubaggs surmises that they were too expensive and that lost them the Visitors Centre and that screwed them up. Sralan doesn't disagree, offering them 25% commission isn't that high plus 25% of nothing is nothing plus they would have expected to be offered 35%. Maybe if Stubaggs hadn't been working on the basis that he could financially rape tourists for as much money as he wanted he would have got further. Sralan sees Chris' 20% global commission deal as a shrewd business move. I suspect he would have called it something else if it had lost Synergy the task.

Sralan turns on Liz, 'you have a business degree and have you actually shown the ability to deal with things in a special way', special how exactly? Liz blows some hot air, shares the blame with Stubaggs and no one makes eye contact with her. U-oh....

Stella says she wanted to throw herself into the tours and show she wasn't corporate and wooden (that really stung didn't it?) That seems fair enough to me but our favorite baggy eyed mogul goes after her for doing the 'easy job' and says she should have been doing 'more business related stuff and shit'.

Stubaggs deals with the charge that their tickets we ridiculously over priced and says they did drop their price through 'negotiating' on the day but Karen says tourists don't want to negotiate. 'Yeah' Sralan says and 'Liz sold twice as much as you chipmunk'. He sends them outside so he can talk to Karren and Nick about the last 10 weeks.

Karren says Liz and Stubaggs were both to blame for the price and they had no structure. Nick says Stubaggs 'won't acknowledge he sold half the amount of Liz'. Plus he whispers on Sralan's shoulder 'you can always get rid of two....' Stella doesn't really seem to be figuring in this much.

The trio troop back in. Sralan turns first to PM Stubaggs, 10 weeks ago he was making outrageous claims about making money for Sralan and being a rough diamond. Stubaggs launches into a speech about being so committed to making Sralan huge sums of cash he will work 24/7. 'I don't want a night watchman and a fly has enthusiasm' say Sralan 'it headbutts a window over and over again'. Stu explodes into such passionate and vomity hyperbole that I can't transcribe it. No I can't because I am being sick. 'I'm not a 1 trick pony, I'm not 50 ponies, I have a field of ponies waiting to run at this'. Sralan sums it up well, 'at 21 you believe in what you are spouting but not so long ago you believed in the tooth fairy too'.

Next up is Liz. She talks about her 'energy and determination'. 'Yeah great whatever. Where is your spark of genius' says Sralan and more pointless cliches are banded about. Liz points out she could launch into hyperbole too but it wouldn't mean anything. O Liz do you not know how this works? I am getting a bit bored, but then how many ways can you beg for your reality tv career life in business speak?

'So, steady Stella what are you going to say to me?' asks Sralan. Stella goes for it big style 'I've gone from being practically homeless to being here - I AM MICHELLE FREAKIN' DEWBERRY'. You might as well go back to the Apprentmansion.

Back to Stubaggs, 'I'm only 21, I have my own company and we make 3 million annually and my mum and dad didn't give my nothing but a tenner to buy yo-yos to sell at school. And I bought a flat with my money at 18 and people always say my parents must have given it to me and they didn't and it isn't fair.' Sralan sees himself in young Stubaggs but also thinks it all sounds too good to be true. 'Betting on me will be a punt but one that will pay off massively' replies Smugbaggs.

Sralan sums it up, 'Stella's been in the boardroom more times than the other two. But you have taken on our feedback and even sung Knees Up Muvva Brown. Stubaggs you are a loose cannon and childish, am I a businessman or babysitter? Still you gave good pleading and I get off on that shit. Liz you present well and work hard and always deliver sales. I am looking for something special, I need someone unusual not just someone who can only do talking or sales. What Stubaggs says made more sense so working hard and being consistent is great and all but I am looking for someone special so I'm firing you and keeping the over sized toddler in the middle! He sure is special.'

Sralan may say he doesn't fall for bullshitters or people who say they are just like him but er hello? Michael Sophocles mark 2?

I am all WTF and so is Liz. Yes Sralan you are getting soft in your old age. Please tell me this is just so he can be ripped apart by the rottys. If you tell me that I might forgive you.

Outside the ballroom Liz tears up. The goodbyes are surprisingly warm between all 3 but especially Stella and Liz.

Coat Watch - cream short mac with black trim. Channelling Kim Novak and looking as polished and perfect as ever. Liz taxiviews that she is gutted and devastated and that maybe one day Sralan will be knocking on her door. Presumably she will laugh and then slam it in his face if he does.

Back at the house everyone expects Stubaggs to get the boot and no one expects Liz not to be there. They are really genuinely shocked when Stubaggs struts through the door waving his willy before indulging in a bit of 'Final 5' yeehawing.

Next week it is the rotweilers rip you and your CV to shreads round also known as 'the interviews' and hang on to your hats - MAGS IS BACK IN THE BUILDING PEOPLE!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Fail of the century

Week Nine: 1st December 2010

Previously: Sralan sent the candidates to Germany to sell British crisps. Deutschland war wünderbar für Herr Baggs, aber es war nicht so schön für Christopher, weil er die Deutschen haßt. (There are probably about a billion grammatical flaws in that sentence, so I'm not going to attempt any more German after this.) [I spent the last eight days badly attempting German so I'm not going to insult anyone else's efforts - Rad] Laura gave Stella absolutely no reinforcement of any kind and then somehow managed to make herself incomprehensible without even attempting to speak the local language. Joanna fared much better, and helped to bring Stella's team to a decisive victory. Jamie was told that he was slipping down in Sralan's estimation (hooray!) and Chris was the losiest loser to ever lose, but it was Christopher who got fired for...filling holes, or something. I forget. Also, he was kind of a xenophobe, but that didn't seem to actually factor into his firing.

This week: 5.30am at the Apprenthouse, and the phone is ringing. And ringing. And ringing. Finally Stella appears at the top of the stairs, in her dressing gown and with a towel wrapped around her hair, muttering "for God's sake!" The cameraman appears to be trying to get an upskirt (upgown?), but she's patting down the lower half of her robe with her hand to make sure that doesn't happened. She picks up the phone, and the Disembodied Voice Of NotFrances tells her that Sralan wants to meet them at Tower 42 in The City, and the cars will be outside in - guess how long? That's right, half an hour. Although probably more like 28 minutes after how long it took anyone to answer the phone. Stella, true to previous form, hangs up without saying "thank you" or anything to that effect. I'm going to go out on a limb and opine that Stella is not a morning person.

Stella runs back up the stairs to deliver the good news in a very pissed-off tone of voice, sniping to no one in particular (and therefore to everyone) that she "can't believe how lazy you lot are". Jamie tells Stubags that Stella got out the wrong side of the bed this morning, because she shouted at him. By these standards, I must get out of bed on the wrong side every Wednesday, JAMIE YOU FUCKING SMUG CUNT. Chris shaves while seemingly wearing the same dressing gown that my boyfriend has. What with this and Stubags constantly wearing the same jumper that I've got (and, coincidentally, I am wearing it as I write this), we're beginning to look like some kind of tribute act. It sucks that he gets to be Chris while I'm stuck being Stubags though. On reflection, I'd rather be Laura than Stubags. Joanna has tea (possibly coffee) and toast. Liz blow dries. I'm painting the picture - it's morning. Y'all with me now? Stella irons a shirt while interviewing that she's here to win, and declaring that at this point it's a test of stamina and nerve. Stubags, in turn, interviews that the winner will be the person who gets the most sleep, because it's knackering getting up so early every morning. Well, at least that explains why mid-task-napper Tyra Sanchez won RuPaul's Drag Race. Laura opines that Chris and Jamie had a rough ride in the boardroom last week and that "their cards have been marked". She should know - hers have been marked since week two. Jamie tells us that he needs to show Sralan that he's still got his spunk. Er, spark. Sorry. But it did sound a bit like spunk.

The candidates head out to the Apprentaxis on their way to the financial district. There's some very odd incidental music here, which feels like it should be used to accompany one of those cut-scenes in an RPG that explains the backstory of the Land of Cutsplice, or possibly something that you'd play in an episode of Grey's Anatomy when they're about to kill off a major character . It goes on forever and just feels entirely incongruous. Incidentally, it is pitch dark when the teams enter Tower 42, and yet it is light by the time they arrive in the (entirely empty) room where Nick and Karren are waiting. That's one tall tower, folks. Karren kind of looks like she doesn't want to be up this early. Sralan arrives in his own private lift just as the ridiculous music finally finishes, and explains to the teams that lots of wheeling and dealing is happening beneath them. They're moving on from sales and marketing to purchasing and negotiating, so it's time for the "buy these ten items at the lowest possible price" challenge. The team that spends the least will win, and someone from the losing team will be bladdy fired. Sralan says that they're going to go "back to the very beginning" - they're bringing back Christopher, Sandeesh, Alex, Paloma, Melissa, Shibby, Joy, Raleigh and Dan! No, not really, they're just going back to "boys vs girls" (ugh), so Stubags is co-opted back to Synergy, and Liz back onto Apollo. Karren will follow Synergy and Nick Apollo. They're instructed to be back in the boardroom by 6.30pm.

The teams troop on to more unoccupied rooms in Tower 42 (tough economic times, dontcha know) as we're informed that they have ten hours to go, and ten items to buy. Synergy review their list. "Truffles - that's the food, isn't it?" says Jamie. They're off to a flying start, clearly. Another of the items is "Bluebook", which Stella thinks might be "some kind of directory". Stubags doesn't know what it is. Another item is "plain single tikka", which prompts Stubags to make the obligatory curry joke, while Stella identifies it as "Indian gold". They also have to buy chicken feet, which Liz is sure they can get from butchers. As you'll remember from previous iterations of this task, there's no internet permitted - just an A-Z streetmap of London and a bunch of telephone directories. My boyfriend queried this, saying he couldn't find any legitimate reason for the candidates not to be alowed to use the internet - and in fairness, I can't remember the last time I was charged with finding something out for work and told in no uncertain terms I couldn't google it, but I imagine it's all down to trying to make the task watchable - watching Stubags blunder around on a wild goose chase for half an hour is invariably more entertaining than watching Jamie google "plain single tikka". They've got £1500 to spend, and they're not allowed to accept the first price they're quoted. Sralan interviews that it's a very simple task - he wants to see who can drive the hardest bargain.

Liz is PMing for Apollo, and thinks that they need a strategy, so they need to identify the best places to focus on when looking for specific products. This does seem like a fairly sensible call, so well done Liz. Liz starts dividing the items up between various team members (we see her allocating the sewing machine to Joanna and the tartan to Laura). Liz interviews that the task is all about getting the items to avoid getting penalties, and going straight to the supplier because "we've no time to shop around". Oof, that's where alarm bells rang for me - okay, so you might not have time to do a lot of shopping around, but I think it's a bit foolhardy to assume you can get the best price the first place you go to, even if you've phoned around beforehand. [Especially when half the task is explicitly about getting the cheapest price - Fiona] Also, why is Liz captioned as "Elizabeth Locke" when everywhere else on the show, including in the narration, she's "Liz"?

Over at Synergy, Jamie thinks they can get goods for trade price if they're cunning. He tells Stubags and Chris to start at 70% below the asking price, which he thinks will be "kicking around their cost price". That's not the only thing that'd be getting kicked around if you tried that shit in my shop, let me tell you. He advises them to have a tactic - even better, "a story" to explain why they need these specific items. So, in other words (the ones that will be catching the birms if they're early enough), it's time to crank the bullshitometer up to fourteen. Jamie smugterviews (because he's incapable of doing anything else) that Sralan has a close eye on him, and that he thinks Jamie's flame is going out, so to prove that this is not the case, Jamie while be flying solo while Stubags and Chris get to team up. And I'm no Jamie fan, by any stretch of the imagination, but that seems like a good call to me. If the numbers dictate that someone must go alone, it probably should be the PM. Jamie's mouth runs away with him as he finishes by saying that he plans to live by the sword, and then realises that that particularly analogy doesn't generally end well.

Synergy head straight out, while Apollo remain in the tower to make some calls to locate the various products that they need. Joanna rings up about the sewing machine that's on the list, while Liz and Laura both appear to be tracking down the tartan. Joanna finds someone who seems to have the sewing machine. Stella speaks to someone who directs her to Ealing Road in Southall where she should have no trouble tracking down a plain single tikka. "It's the Indian equivalent of Hatton Garden," the man tells her. Speaking of Hatton Garden, that's where Jamie is, as he attempts to track down a plain single tikka without yet actually knowing what one is. He enters a suitably swank establishment and explains that he's looking for something specific. The merchant doesn't know what a plain single tikka is, but when Jamie explains that it's 22ct gold, he's all "yeah, that's not a problem" and basically the two of them get into an incredibly annoying conversation where they're both so keen to be top dog in the deal that neither one of them is actually giving out enough information to allow the deal to happen. I kind of want to reach into the screen and shake both of them. Eventually the merchant cops to the fact that he's got every variety of gold under the sun: 22ct gold, 5ct gold, white gold, black gold, pink gold, Ari Gold, Whoopi Goldberg and Band of Gold on DVD. The only problem is he doesn't know what a plain single tikka is - and since Jamie doesn't either, they're officially at an impasse, and they call it a day.

10am. Stubags and Chris are in their Apprentaxi, making calls, trying to find a Bluebook. A bookseller they speak to informs them that "apparently" (always an encouraging start) it's an American literary magazine, published between the 1920s and the 1960s. And I know that these tasks generally do ask the teams to track down fairly obscure items, but the boys really should've smelt a rat on this one. Stubags and Chris hit Charing Cross Road to find the specialist booksellers. Stubags interviews that they've struck lucky by finding out what it is so soon. He's pretty pleased that they're going to get it before the other team does. The bookseller they consult doesn't seem terribly convinced he can help them. Back at the tower, Joanna's on the phone to someone else asking about the Bluebook, and discovers that it's something to do with The Knowledge (that's the test you have to take to be a black cab driver in London, just in case you were unaware) and, yes, that sounds a bit more like it. Her contact gives them a tipoff of where to find it. Nick interviews that Joanna's doing rather well.

After two hours of calling, Apollo hit the streets. First of all, Joanna and Liz go to a school for cabbies in east London to obtain the aforementioned Bluebook. The man there quotes them a price of £75 for all four parts of the book, or £20 for an individual book. Joanna turns on the charm, saying that they were thinking more like £50, because the man on the phone said he'd look after them, flirt flirt. It works, and they get the books for £50. The honking soundtrack of failure accompanies Chris and Stubags back on Charing Cross Road as they continue to hunt for their obscure American literary magazine without any great success. Chris now seems to think it's a military magazine - who fucking knows, at this point? Jamie's still in Hatton Garden. Karren checks her watch, as one of the jewellers he consults hears "tikka" as "ticker" and thinks it's a watch. Chris and Stubags phone Jamie to report that their feedback indicates they won't find a Bluebook today, while Jamie confesses his own problems with the plain single tikka.

Over in Southall, Stella and Liz have located a plain single tikka - this one appears to be in the form of a heart-shaped pendant, though whether that's true for all plain single tikkas I couldn't tell you - Google just keeps showing me pictures of curry. Stella asks what price they can offer, and the man in the shop quotes £195. Stella haggles saying that she doesn't want to have to walk up and down to source another (always a brilliant tactic - "I'm too lazy to go elsewhere, lower the price!"), so Laura offers £160 for cash, and they shake on it. Laura tells Stella that was awesome. Jamie finally finds someone on the phone to tell him that a tikka is an "Indian headdress-type thing" and hotfoots it to Wembley. Once there, he enters a fairly upmarket-looking Indian-run jewellery store and tells them that he wants a good price on the item, "otherwise I'll go to Southall". NO! NOT SOUTHALL! ANYTHING BUT THAT! The woman in the shop quotes him £180, because of the price of gold at the moment. Jamie replies, "I'm thinking £130, and we've got a good deal." I'm thinking he's a fucking dick, but that's by the by. The woman is unwilling to go that low; Jamie holds his head in his hands melodramatically. He threatens to go to Southall again, and a man (who I presume to be senior to the woman he's dealing with, possibly the manager) overhears and comes over to tell him that the price of gold is high at the moment, in a "don't mess with me" sort of tone. Jamie's all "listen, that's my price, I go to Southall", and at this point I really want someone to reply, "fine, fuck off to Southall then, you smug shit" [I was shouting that at the TV by that point - Fiona] because...seriously. The man offers him £140. Jamie: "Unless I get my price, I'm going to go to Southall." ARGH. He would be EATING that plain single tikka by now if this were my shop, let me tell you. The man insists on £140, Jamie insists on £130 and it's hard to see here because of the camera placement, but it rather looks like Jamie grabs the guy's hand to shake on £130 before he's even agreed to it, and that shit is seriously not on. Don't manhandle people at the same time you're trying to bankrupt them. Jamie eventually capitulates to meet in the middle at £135, and the man laughs that he's losing money on this deal. This is where I suspect the presence of the cameras has a lot to do with the success of a deal - I don't think anyone would've got away with that had the shopkeeper not been handed a release form to sign informing him he was being filmed for BBC One's The Apprentice with an audience of around eight million people. I don't know the specifics of how this task worked - whether the vendors involved were somehow reimbursed for any losses, or if any sort of coercion went on to allow the candidates to make some of the cheekier deals, but I can't help thinking there's definitely more to all of this than meets the eye. Anyway, Jamie gets his tikka for £135, £25 less than Apollo paid. Karren impressedterviews that Jamie has two qualities that make him good at negotation - he doesn't take no for an answer, and his persistence gets him the price that he wants. [He is still a smug twat though - Fiona] [He might be good at negotiating/bulldozing, but you're not likely to ever do business with him a second time - Rad]

Noon, Charing Cross Road. Chris and Stubags are still looking for the Bluebook. Stubags interviews that different people keep giving them different answers regarding what it actually is, and they're still not sure if they really know what they're looking for.

Joanna and Liz are looking for the sewing machine. It's actually an antique model, which I swear is the exact same kind my former flatmate had. They should've gone to her, I'm sure she would've given them a good deal. The given price for it is £69, and Liz suggests £50. The man in the shop says that's not possible, and £60 would be his bottom price. "I'd love £55", says Joanna, and I absolutely crack up at this even though I have no idea why. I think it's just the way she says it. Liz tries for £57, and the man asks her if that's her lucky number. Liz says that they have limited funds available, and he agrees to sell for £57. At which point they hand over £60 to pay for it, which kind of makes the whole "we have limited funds available" thing look rather transparent. [Actually face palming at this point - Fiona] Joanna interviews that she doesn't think Liz is pushing hard enough, and she thinks that even the retailer was quite surprised that Liz dealt at £57.

Jamie's tracked down the same model in a shop in Camden, and there's a bit of confusion where Jamie introduces himself and the man in the shop repeats "I'm Jamie" for some reason, so Jamie - understandably - thinks that the man's name is Jamie, except it isn't. I can't really make sense of it. The man shows Jamie a certificate of some sort and tells him that he's been there since 1937, and Jamie's polite enough at sounding interested even though he's clearly thinking "can we just get the hell on with it?" The machine's on sale for £59 with a five year guarantee. Jamie tries to get it for £20, and the man's having none of it, telling him that he'd need to tell him where he could buy one for that price for that to happen. Heh. Jamie asks if they can forego the guarantee and settle on £35 - they can.

Over in the Apprentaxi, Chris finally gets someone on the phone who tells him that the Bluebook is to do with The Knowledge, and he and Stubags both cackle with relief. They ask a taxi driver where they might be able to get a copy, and he directs them to a place, looking right into the camera as he does so. Hee. They're just on Tottenham Court Road at the moment, if anyone cares. Over at the place they were directed to, they meet my favourite Supporting Character Of The Week, No-Nonsense Taxi Lady. She tells them that the books are £20 each, or £70 for the lot. Chris says he won't be able to pay that. No-Nonsense Taxi Lady: "That's the price, sorry." I wish No-Nonsense Taxi Lady worked in that jeweller's in Wembley, I really do. She'd have made mincemeat of Jamie. Chris says that he can't pay £70 but he desperately needs these items. No-Nonsense Taxi Lady: "Just buy one, then." Hee hee hee. Chris asks if they've ever given anyone a discount, and No-Nonsense Taxi Lady says no, they have not. Someone seemingly senior, by the name of Derek, arrives and No-Nonsense Taxi Lady basically explains to him that they've got a couple of chancers here (she's a bit more tactful about it, mind) and Chris starts spinning some total bollocks about how his brother's got to take his test on Monday but he lent Chris the books and Chris left them up in Nottingham and then Nottingham exploded and also his dog ate it. Both Derek and No-Nonsense Taxi Lady are openly laughing at this obvious cock-and-bull story, and I kind of want to marry them both in a giant bigamous ceremony, and Derek eventually says that if they put a pound in his charity tin, he'll let them have the books for £61. I wonder if that technically counts as a purchase price of £62, then? Either way, they buy the books.

Elsewhere, Laura and Stella are attempting to buy tartan. He quotes a bottom line price of £70 cash for two metres of tartan. Laura tries to go for £50, and he tells her that's impossible. Stella's willing to settle for £70, but Laura tries £60, then £65, to no avail. I mean, I respect that she tries, but she does so in about the most apologetic way possible, which I don't think is going to convince anyone to give her a discount. Stella knocks him down to £69, and interviews outside that there's a fine line between negotiating and being rude, and I'm beginning to think she's never seen this show before if she thinks they're genuinely not asking her to cross that line. Laura interviews that Stella's holding back in the negotiations, and they have to be a bit rude and cheeky if they want to win. I hate it when Laura's right. I don't quite know what to do with myself.

The teams have four hours left. Laura and Stella look for chicken feet. Jamie tries to buy a 4m-length kitchen worktop, but finds only 3m ones wherever he calls. Stubags and Chris get the laptop memory, priced at £22, for £10, though I'm not sure which poor neglected relative features in their sob story for that one. Laura and Stella buy the chicken feet, and they smell. The chicken feet, not Laura and Stella. Liz and Joanna plot a route that goes Vauxhall, Charing Cross, Camden Town, then Boardroom. "Then treat," laughs Joanna. So I'm guessing the boardroom is nowhere near Brentwood, then? Stubags is shopping for plates, and is given a list price of £3.45 per plate, which he assumes means they can get them for about £2.40 per plate, but the guy's not falling for it. They pay £145.00 in total, though I don't know how many plates they have to buy, so I don't know what they actually end up paying for them.

Mid-afternoon, Liz and Joanna buy the laptop memory, bringing their total items up to seven. Synergy only have five, and Jamie's still striking out on the worktop, being told it's a product that needs to be ordered. As it happens, Apollo ordered theirs earlier, and are picking it up from a warehouse. Jamie is beginning to despair.

Over on Apollo, Stella has actually lost her damn mind and is on the phone to Harrod's to ask about truffles. Yeah, I'm sure Harrod's is the cheapest place to get them, love. The next thing we see is her making another phone call asking if Marco Pierre White is in today. Does she really think it's that easy just to get him on the phone? I really can't imagine it is. Since MPW is unavailable, Stella tries Gordon Ramsay, by phoning one of his restaurants. Laura tells Stella that they're wasting their time. Their Apprentaxi cuts up another car. Laura insists to Stella that they're going about this the wrong way, and that they should be looking in east London. I don't know if she's on the right track there, but I do know that they certainly shouldn't be looking in Knightsbridge. Someone finally answers the phone, but it turns out that Stella has just phoned the reservations number and they have no information about truffles. Shocker, I know. Jamie is stuck listening to hold music.

Stubags and Chris are on Regent Street hunting for tartan, and bickering about what Chris perceives to be a "structureless" search, which Stubags snipes that getting pissed off won't help anyone. Karren looks at her watch again, and interviews that there's no organisation here, as the boys haven't even rung up to find out if the shops have what they're looking for. She points out that it's late in the day and she's starting to get concerned for them. Stubags and Chris return to the Apprentaxi and call Jamie to tell him that they're struggling, and Jamie's all "bitches, I wrote the book on struggling today". He asks if they can "brainstorm" quickly, only to be interrupted by Chris trying to call someone else. God knows if I were on the phone to Jamie, I'd be trying to call someone else as fast as possible too. Stubags thinks Jamie feels like he's been fired already. Chris gets a "number not recognised" tone and grumbles incoherently, although still making more sense than Laura's pitch to the crisp manufacturers last week. [And doing it with more sex appeal (sorry Rad) - Fiona] [You're all under some very weird spell. Does he hypnotise you when his eyes go bluer than blue in the boardroom? - Rad]

Stella and Laura are in Knightsbridge, and finally track down someone with the truffles they're after, being quoted a price of £2000 per kilo. Yikes. They call Joanna and Liz and tell them that they're outside a restaurant willing to sell to them, and they just want to check to make sure they have the authority to buy them. Liz says that as price will be a big issue, she wants them to call her once they've set the price to make sure it's agreeable to her, as they have a "ballpoint figure" (HAHAHAHAHA) of £2000 per kilo. Stella asks what they should do if Liz isn't available, and Liz says that in that case they'll have to make a decision by themselves, but she does want them to at least try to call her.

Stella and Laura go to the restaurant, and Stella tells the manager that she's been booking there for many years. He asks how many kilos they need, and Stella tells him 50g. Now, a bit of rudimentary maths here tells us that, given their guide price, they ought to be looking at paying less than £100 for 50g of truffle. Stella tells them that "more than" 50g is probably okay as long as it's not less. I'd quibble here - if they're paying by the weight, then surely they should be bringing back 50g and no more? One truffle is weighed at 56g, Laura asks if they can cut a little bit off to get their 50g, and the chef says "no, not really". Stella asks what they can purchase it for, and they're quoted £270, which is a ridiculous price if the price per kilo is £2000. That's nearly three times what they should be paying. Laura tries to negotiate down to £200 - still double what they should be paying - and the owner says £210, as Stella's a regular customer. Laura says they'll definitely come back for dinner if they can shake on £200 now, and they do, with the owner telling them they're getting six extra grams, except they're not because they paid well over the odds in the first place. Stella calls Liz and says that they tried to call her but didn't get an answer - now, I don't know if this is true or not. We didn't see it happen, but that doesn't mean it didn't. Anyway, Liz says that she's had the phone with her all the time, Stella confirms that they paid £200 for their truffle, and the conversation ends. Stella tells Laura that £200 is exactly what they were supposed to spend (mathematics fail), while Liz tells Joanna that she thinks £200 is a lot of money to have paid.

5.15pm. Stubags and Chris find their tartan. Time for another ridiculous story: Chris says that he's going to a Scottish wedding this weekend and he's taking it as a birthday present for his nan. THAT DOESN'T EVEN MAKE SENSE. Karren makes an excellent "the fuck?" face behind them. They're quoted £47, and Chris says he doesn't want to spend over £20. The tartan man says that the least he can sell for is £29. Chris says he hasn't got more than £25 in cash, and Stubags, craftily, interjects that really he's only got £23. They eventually convince him to sell it to them for £23. Chris tells him that his "nan" will be very happy. The tartan man says that he's not that happy. Karren interviews that they're telling bizarre stories which are "a bit Laurel and Hardy", and while it's not a technique that she would use, it seems to be working for them. [They are still straight forward lies - Fiona]

With less than 30 minutes to go, Apollo are racing to Camden to get the last item on their list - 48 white dinner plates. (Which means we can now work out that Stubags paid around £3.02 per plate.) Liz says they'll have to get a jiggle on. Over the phone, they discuss the time crunch with Stella and Laura. Liz points out that if they don't buy the plates, they get a penalty of the list price plus £50, which they don't want to do. The boys are four items down, but Stubags and Chris are looking for truffles. Chris thinks that restaurants are a bad idea because they'll charge over the odds (boy howdy) so they scoot off looking for a fine food retailer. Karren warns us that they need to move quickly. Chris and Stubags appear to be in a shop selling chocolate truffles, which is not what Sralan wants, but the man there tells them there's a place up the road which should have what they want. Liz and Joanna burst in to see "Tony" in the kitchenware shop in Camden, and open by saying they're in a rush - like, nice way to set out your bargaining position, ladies. "We have no time to negotiate - here, have the upper hand!" Stubags and Chris are quoted £150 for truffles - over the odds, perhaps, but already less than Apollo paid. Chris asks if they can pay around £100. "Well, we can, but you won't get 50g," says No-Nonsense Truffle Lady. I love her too. Tony quotes Liz £132, and she tries to negotiate down a bit, "we're in a rush, we've not much money!" Seriously: worst bargaining strategy ever. It's even worse than "I'll go to Southall." Liz patronises Tony that he'd be doing her a massive favour. "I'm not used to doing things in this rush," Tony complains, and Liz switches his pen on for him. Heh. Chris begs and pleads to be given the truffles for £100, and despite the lack of a sick nan or something, manages to close the deal. Liz tries to get the plates for £112, and Tony compromises at £120. Tony kisses her hand. "Oh Tony, don't, you're making me weak at the knees!" gushes Liz. Yeah, that's kind of gross. He's sold you some plates, Liz, you don't have to sell him your dignity.

The teams all charge back to the boardroom. We see Jamie arrive in the antechamber, while Chris and Stubags and Liz and Joanna race. Stella and Laura arrive. It's close indeed. Stubags and Chris make it just in time, with much celebratory shouting. Liz and Joanna do not.

We're told that Chris and Stuart got five of the ten items, while Jamie only got two. They'll be fined £50 plus list price for each one they missed. Jamie smugterviews (again, he really has no other mode) that he'll be blamed for those failures, and he holds his hands up, but this is not how he wants to go out. Liz's team will be docked £50 for missing the deadline, but got all 10 items. In some interviews that were presumably conducted between arriving back and entering the boardroom, Liz interviews that Sralan will be impressed with their performance, while Laura interviews that they negotiated well and got every single product on the list. She can't wait to hear the results.

NotFrances sends them in. Sralan reminds us that we're back to boys vs girls, and asks Apollo how they got on. Liz says that they wanted to get some firm leads before they set off, and then they'd focus on looking for the other items in the areas they were already in. Sralan clarifies that they were planning it out before they set off. Stubags thinks "oh noes! Stella has infected Liz with her EVIL PLANNING SICKNESS." Sralan asks Laura and Stella what they did, and they talk about going to get the tartan, before heading to Knightsbridge for the truffles, and Sralan's ears prick up at "Knightsbridge", leading him to deduce that they didn't get a bargain there. Stella says that they were told they were difficult to source. Sralan jokes that they usually sniff out truffles with a pig, and Stella's all "yes, but Stubags was on the other team." Sralan asks what their strategy was, and Liz said that they took it in turns. Sralan enquires about them returning late, and Liz says that they did, and they take that on board - at which point Sralan interrupts that they're taking so much on board, they sound "like a container ship". Oh, all right: heh. It's a £50 fine for their late arrival.

Over to Synergy. Jamie says that as PM, he thought it was only fair for him to go solo, and he wanted to show Sralan that he still had fire in his belly, and bullshit in his brain. I may have added that last bit. Sralan asks what his sales tips were, and Jamie says that they wanted to get onto a level where people knew where they were coming from, trying to buy at cost price. Chris and Stubags giggle about the lines they spun, and Karren says "you were told by Jamie to have a story, and you certainly had some stories." Turning to the Bluebook saga, Sralan wonders if they were not a bit like headless chickens in their approach. Sralan asks what Stubags and Chris bought, and Stubags reels off a list, likening it to The Generation Game, to Sralan's non-amusement. Stubags and Chris got five items, while Jamie only got two, and Jamie says that he hit a brick wall repeatedly with the kitchen worktop. Sralan says that he's not setting a very good example as team leader.

Results, then. Apollo's expenditure including fines was £1094.50. Syngery's expenditure, including £511.50 worth of fines, was lower at £1,020.50. Liz literally cannot believe it. Jamie's smugness hits new record levels. Karren tells them that they bought really well. Liz, clearly PISSED OFF, asks if they're allowed to ask where the major differences were, and Sralan's all "oh, you'll find that out in due course, lady", and tells them they're bad negotiators, simple as that. Synergy are off on the Eurostar to Paris for the weekend. In the antechamber, they hug it out. Sralan tells Apollo they paid double what Synergy paid for some items. He's going home, and suggests that Apollo go off to think about what they did.

Apollo go for the late-night coffee of sadness. Liz interviews that it's "devastating" to have bought all the items and still lost to a team who didn't buy three of them. Laura thinks they didn't negotiate hard enough, and feels embarrassed. She thinks the boardroom will be a bloodbath, and she doesn't think Liz's management was very good. Stella thinks they should've shopped around more, and interviews that if you go up for PM, you have to do a good job, and you have to suffer the consequences if you don't. She insists that she's not here to make friends and she'll tell it as it is. So I guess Stella wants to appear on fourfour, then.

Gallic music. Synergy depart for Paris. All three of them attempt to murder French, having already commited GBH on German last week. SOMEBODY CONFISCATE THEIR PASSPORTS. Also, I so want someone to turn to Jamie, shrug, and say a win's a win, since this is a Melissa Victory at best, but as my boyfriend pointed out, neither Stubags nor Chris were actually around when he committed that little act of pissy bitchitude, so he remains uncalled on his bullshit. C'est la vie. They tit around Paris in berets. Nuff said. [I am convinced they were sent to Paris for as long as it took to shot that little montage of cliches and bundled back on the train home - Fiona]

Boardroom. Sralan tells the ladies they've had "more than overnight" to think about this - so does that mean they had to wait until Synergy got back from France to do their boardroom? Or is this just Sralan attempting to plug the continuity hole that would be caused by the men being there upon Apollo's return when they're supposed to have the whole weekend in Paris? Who can say? [Or maybe their flights got cancelled several times due to fucking snow and they ended up living in Germany for EVER. Oh, sorry, getting them confused with me. Easily done, I have been to the Trafford Centre and eaten Paprika crisps in Deutschland lately - Rad] Sralan enquires about Liz's strategy, and Liz says that it wasn't like they went in looking to get specific discounts - they all knew they were going to pay as little as possible, but she thinks that the time spent locating all the items ate into their shopping around time. Sralan thinks the brainstorm time was usefully spent, but they didn't work out what the prices should be - "you went out blind into the marketplace!" And a bit of credit to the editors here - that line was used in last week's trailer for this episode, and who would've guessed, given the way both teams started, that it was actually eventually used on Apollo? That was a lovely bit of misdirection. Liz says that with things like the sewing machine, they were hard to find in the first place. Sralan then gets needlessly misogynist, saying that the task might've been easier if he'd sent them out looking for Louis Vuitton bags or Chanel shoes. Why stop there, Sralan? Why not add Tampax to the list, or cupcake holders, or any of the other things that Bladdy Wimmin know about? He tells Liz and Joanna that they paid £57 for their sewing machine and the boys got it for £35 - he thinks they lost because they treated it as a treasure hunt.

He turns to Laura and Stella for the tartan, and Laura says she was trying to go a lot lower than £69 for it, but Stella said it would be fine. I think this is the wrong argument here - I think the problem was not that they didn't try to push hard enough for a discount, because that guy wasn't budging - the problem was that they didn't just abandon that shop and try to get it cheaper somewhere else. Laura doesn't feel she and Stella gelled well as negotiators. Stella says that the mistake she made was trying not to be rude. Sralan says that he heard Stella was a bit wooden and "too corporate" - Laura nods and agrees, like, shut up Laura - and suggests that Stella's not adaptable enough, and sometimes the corporate presentation doesn't work with the small shopkeeper. Oh, what the fuck ever - like this task bears any relation to the job they'll actually end up doing. The whole "too corporate" thing they're levelling at Stella tonight is stupid - no matter how much Sralan fancies himself as a cockney sparra wideboy, they're competing for a clearly corporate job. "Too corporate" should be an issue in Britain's Next Top Model, perhaps, but not here.

The truffles come up again - they overpaid by £100 for these. Stella thinks she got overexcited in finding them, and focused too much on obtaining it rather than price. Laura thinks they started off with too high a price point because of where they were. Nick says that if you want a cheap suit, you don't go waltzing down Savile Row. No, you go waltzing down Savile Row to stare at the topless models in Abercrombie and Fitch. DUH. Stella says that in the restaurant, Laura mentioned £200 as a price, which made it impossible for them to negotiate below it. Ooh, well played. Sralan says they should've offered £70, since they'd have just been called idiots but could've negotiated up from there. Sralan brings up the £2000 per kilo guide price, which Nick says came from Stella, and Laura says that Stella suggested after they left that they'd overpaid for the truffle. Which, again, seems at odds with the reaction from Stella that we saw, but just because we didn't see it doesn't mean it didn't happen. Liz says that she told them to call her before they made that decision, and that she made sure they would be able to contact her. Interestingly, Laura and Stella present a united front here, saying that they couldn't get hold of her and the line was engaged. This makes me suspect that this is genuinely what happened, because as we'll see in a minute, Laura has no trouble bailing on Stella if she thinks it'll save her own arse, so I don't see why she would've defended her here if it hadn't actually happened like that.

Stella continues that they were given the brief to get in there, buy it, and get out - Liz bristles at this, asking when she said that, but Sralan tells her to let Stella finish - and they were too focused on buying there and then, which was a mistake. Liz said she never said that in her brief, and Joanna asks why they didn't raise that with Liz if they considered it an issue. Well, largely because I don't think anyone considered it a problem until they lost, by which point it was too late.

Sralan asks Liz to decide who's coming back. Liz says that the fundamental errors came from Stella and Laura, so they'll be coming back in. Joanna goes back to the house, while Stella, Liz and Laura retire to the antechamber. Joanna whispers something to Liz as she hugs her. In the boardroom, Karren says they mustn't forget that the whole process is about finding someone to work for Sralan. Liz is considered shrewd, bright and high energy. Sralan likes that Laura admits to her mistakes, and Nick thinks she's no walkover. Yeah, I got that impression when she was PMing and left the room in tears too. Sralan thinks that Stella's corporate background explains her behaviour, and Karren would like to see a bit more personality from her. Seriously, with the sob stories and the desire to see more personality, I'm wondering if they think they're making The X Factor all of a sudden.

The Disembodied Voice Of NotFrances sends them back in. Sralan doesn't think Liz picked up the most important thing as PM, identifying the price they should be paying. Liz agrees, and says she holds her hands up to that. She didn't recognise the products, and that threw her in terms of locating them. Laura says they had to keep calling whenever they got a quote because they didn't know what was a good quote and what was a bad one. Sralan brings up the £2000 per kilo price for truffles again, so the item that they really screwed up on turned out to be the one they actually got a price for. He points out that simple maths should've told them they were overpaying. Stella says she'll hold her hands up for the screw-up, and Sralan says that they're always holding their hands up and taking things on board. "That's the first time that I've said that!" Stella protests. She says she won't be in this position again, and she feels that her reserve is counting against her, but her record speaks for itself. She hasn't kept her job for 13 years just for pressing a calculator, she won't give up. She also thinks she's a good salesperson, which is something she's never done before. Laura disagrees - she thinks that in the two tasks she's worked with Stella (maths fail again: this was actually the fourth task that she and Stella had worked together on) she thinks Stella took more of the credit than Liz did for the numbers on the first task, and that was a joint effort, and Liz is all "yes, that is something that I did not raise but yes I am bothered by this too" and JESUS CHRIST. For starters: grow the fuck up, both of you, and also, that has nothing to do with Stella not being good at sales. Laura also thinks that Stella was extremely hard on Stubags in the DVD task - again, nothing to do with sales, and also, if your main plan of attack is "poor, mistreated Stubags", you really should just give up now. Stella says Stubags is Stubags, and anyone who witnessed what was going on in that room would sympathise with her. Heh. Liz says that Stella gives off a "negative, cold persona" which gets people's backs up and doesn't bring the best out of people like -- you guessed it -- Stubags. Stella disagrees, because she's led twice and won twice, "so I don't see your point, to be honest." The fact that the rolling of her eyes is audible here does make me suspect that Liz is not entirely off the mark in her assessment, but Liz can still shut up all the same, because all of this "our glorious leader Stubags" stuff is making me feel slightly nauseous.

Sralan turns to Laura, saying that he hasn't seen her for the past few weeks. Laura says that she's 22 (yeah, and the rest) and her CV speaks for itself. She's never had to be aggressive. She says that if you do something well on a losing team, only the bad things get spoken about (I'm not sure that's entirely true) and if you're on the winning team, the PM takes the credit for everything. She really is obsessed with people apparently stealing the glory of others, isn't she? But wait, it gets better: "When I was project manager, it was a complete shambles, so I've never really had the chance to speak up for myself." Yep, that's her defence. Laura is so weird. Sralan reminds her that she led the first team never to get an order. "It wasn't my proudest moment," Laura agrees. Sralan tells Liz that not setting a price point was disgraceful. "I take that...completely...I agree," says Liz. HA! She cites her record as a good salesperson and pitcher, but she takes full responsibility for the fuckup on pricing. He asks her who takes the blame. Liz says that Stella and Laura were working together so it's hard to apportion blame, but Stella had the numbers for the truffles. Sralan poses the same question to Stella, and Stella blames Liz for not managing them properly, telling them now that they've fucked up when she was telling them on the day that they were doing well. Liz brings up the damned truffles again and Stella's all "THIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT TRUFFLES!" Liz argues that when they've already done a deal, as they had with the truffles, there's not a lot of sense in her retroactively nitpicking it - and she does have a point there. Same question to Laura, and she fingers Stella, who she thinks has made more errors than Liz on this task and is -- wait for it -- "extremely corporate. It is something that everybody in this process has said." Now Stella brings up the truffles again and Laura's all "I'm bored of talking about truffles!" and Stella says that everyone likes talking about truffles when they're trying to blame the loss on her. Laura reiterates that Stella is "extremely corporate" and MY GOD NO ONE CARE.

Decision time. Sralan tells Liz that sometimes people who start out well get complacent, and that she failed to recognise the most important part of this task. Laura mustn't forget that she's 22, and perhaps therein lies the issue. "But to me that's what's so fantastic..." Laura begins falteringly before Sralan cuts her off, and in some ways I'm sad that I never got to hear the tale end of that sentence, because I'm sure it would've been bonkers. He's not sure if Stella is made for his organisation, as she is CORPORATE and he doesn't know if he needs corporate-style people to do the VERY CORPORATE JOBS THE PREVIOUS WINNERS HAVE BEEN USHERED INTO. Fuck me. "And for that reason I'm going to...move on to you, Laura, where on balance, I think we're at the end of the road here." Ooh, nice swerve. Laura protests that she wants to be PM, and hasn't had the chance, she's put herself forward for the past three weeks. Oh sweetie - the fact that you were outvoted for PM three weeks in a row is not going to go in your favour. Also, we saw what a mess you made of PMing first time around, I don't think anyone wants to see it again. Sralan tells her that the truffle buying was blown when she said £200, so Laura is fired.

Laura exits. Sralan tells Liz and Stella they're still here because of their past performance. They leave, and both hug Laura apologetically in the antechamber. Liz sounds tearful. Coatwatch: grey with flecks of white, appears to be knitted. Laura says in her taxinterview that she wasn't surprised to be fired, but she thinks that Stella will not be the next apprentice. [Me neither. It'll be Chris Bates, or possibly Liz - Rad]

Back at the house. Chris is pleased that Stella is in the boardroom because she's been walking around "with a smug face" for ages and he wants her taken down a peg or two. He is saying this to Jamie. The irony, it burns. Chris thinks Stella will return, but her card's marked (you can fucking talk, Chris, you might as well give the boardroom as your permanent address) and he hopes this will "knock the wind out of her overinflated sails." Yeah, I'm guessing Stella's not popular.

Liz and Stella return. Stella says she's sorry to disappoint them. Liz is in full passive-aggressive mode, telling the others "Stella thought I was a bad manager, which was quite interesting." Stella says that they've all had a pop at each other in the boardroom, clearly viewing this as just standard boardroom practice (and in fairness to Stella, it is) and Liz chokevoices that Stella said she was a bad manager and didn't lead at all, which she thinks was unfair and an exaggeration.

Seriously. What a fucking crybaby. I can overlook a lot of Liz's shortcomings in this episode because I think she's been a fairly solid performer overall, but bringing up that sort of shit outside the boardroom, in front of everyone, is needlessly unprofessional and just makes you look like you can't accept criticism. Stella says that she's entitled to say her opinion. "I disagree with you," says Liz, and Stella's like, well duh, of course you do, we were both fighting to save our asses. "Anyway," mopes Liz. "It's a shame that Laura's gone. She'll be missed." Yes, by fans of arse-covering, incoherent speech, terrible leadership, tearful meltdowns and arguments in shop doorways, but she's no loss to the competition, so serve yourself up a giant plate of Shut Up, Liz.

Next week: bus tours! Natty uniforms! Stubags and Chris possibly coming to blows! I can't wait.