Friday, 29 October 2010

Life's a pitch

Week 4: 27th October 2010

So, y'all got the memo right? The one about how we're in tough economic times (though London porn remains a growth industry, fnar fnar), so Lord Sugar (or Sralan as he will always be known to me) summoned 16 of the country's brightest business prospects to London. Well, 15 plus Melissa, anyway. They're here to compete for a job with a six figure salary (though due to the aforementioned tough economic times, those six figures are now approximately £1000.00. Either that or the big twist at the end of the series will be Sralan telling us that we've been mishearing him all these weeks, and the remuneration he was offering was actually six figs, and celery.) They must work as teams but shine as individuals, as they demonstratively have not been doing so far. And all but one of them will be fired [much like the rest of the nation, in these TOUGH ECONOMIC TIMES it seems - Rad]. Hooray!

Last week: they had to make some serious dough, tee hee. Melissa and her self-applause were appointed temporary leaders of Synergy, despite her mistaken belief that you can charge £64 wholesale for a solitary bread roll. Luckily for her, Shibby's team were even worse and fucked up their corporate order, and didn't manage to beat them on street sales. Synergy won, though Sralan suspected this happened in spite of Melissa's leadership rather than because of it. Sandeesh was a lazy undermining sow, but Shibby was a crap manager and a terrible human being, so he was sent home.

So what's happening this week? Well, we begin with the phone ringing, and it is answered by StuBags, in his dressing gown. The Disembodied Voice Of NotFrances tells him that cars will be arriving in half an hour (natch) to take them to the Science Museum. I went to a massive party at the Science Museum once. It was excellent, and I was sick in the toilets. In the Apprenticars, noted intellect Jamie thinks the task will be something to do with science or museums. Seriously, even the contestants on America's Next Top Model are better with cryptic clues (such as they are) than this lot. What a sad day for British enterprise. Melissa, tellingly, is asleep. Since the alternative is listening to Jamie, I suspect this will be the best decision she makes all episode.

Sadly, there is no party awaiting the Apprenti on their arrival at the Science Museum - just a series of display cabinets filled with inventions, Karren and Nick, and eventually Sralan himself. He informs the teams that the building is full of objects that have helped to transform the world we live in, but they all started life as someone's crazy idea. I scan the room for any sign of the Cüüli, the Book-Eeze, Coco Electric or even Pantsman, but nothing doing. Sralan has lined up 10 manufacturers who are looking to reach a wider audience - the manufacturers will pitch their products to the teams, and the teams will then pick two items apiece to try to flog to commercial buyers. Everyone will have individual order books, and Sralan expects everyone to sell. He sends Alex over to Apollo to balance the teams, and then sends them all on their merry way.

Sralan provides us with the obligatory in-car interview about how selling to commercial buyers is way harder than selling to the end consumer, so he's lined up some appointments with "some of the country's biggest retailers". The trick will be matching the product to the retailer so they can take advantage of the leg-up he's giving them.

First things first: time to pick team leaders! When the preliminary match of kiss chase fails to yield an obvious winner, Syngery opt for their second plan - nominating themselves. Melissa nominates herself, saying that she feels that she has something to prove (boy howdy) and that this task once again "speaks to [her] skill set", and I don't know where she's hearing all these voices in the first place, but they do not appear to be conveying the same message to her teammates. Jamie also wants to be PM, so Joanna asks who's got the relevant experience. Melissa makes a hilarious "me, duh" face and puts her hand in the air, and Jamie says "Mel has," sounding entirely unconvinced, while he has "just got 12 years of property experience and absolute business savvy". It goes to a vote, and everyone except the two nominees votes for Jamie. Jamie gives a little celebratory arm pump, because he's kind of a tool.

Over at Apollo, Chris nominates himself, and appears to be running unopposed, so he becomes their PM for the task. In a mousse-tastic talking head segment, he tells us that he's proven already that he's very good at pitching and selling, so he's ideal for this task. Except for the part where he was so appalling at pitching on the beach products task that Stella tried to take it away from him, until he pouted and sulked like a toddler. You know, like all the best businesspeople do.

The inventors are waiting outside, and the first man to meet Apollo is pitching Fine Light - "the no-knife facelift!" He asks for a volunteer from the crowd to try it on, and Paloma appears to get the short straw, ending up looking like she should be standing behind Kylie Minogue. Nick pulls a lemon face in the background, demonstrating that he would've been the ideal test candidate for such a device. Chris thinks there's a lot of money to be made in cosmetic surgery type products. Synergy, meanwhile, are shown the Back Pal, which is a small device contained on a strap that you slip over your shoulders, and basically it beeps at you when you're slouching. Essentially, it's like a tiny, portable version of your mother. Jamie pulls a face of non-comprehension. StuBags thinks they should file it under maybe.

Over at Apollo, someone's making my favourite pitch of the episode - a sort of home gym contraption (aieeeee) which Chris demonstrates by getting on his back and sticking his legs in the air. And really, there are all manner of disgusting, puerile, sexually suggestive comments I could make about just how porntastic it looks, but for once I'm going to take the high road and not say any of them - although the hilarity is compounded when the inventor says that Chris has "never done anything like this before" and Chris is all "how do you know I don't do this at home?" While lying on the floor with his legs in the air. OH GOD, THIS IS KILLING ME. Laura makes an appreciative face, though whether it is the product she appreciates or Chris's buns of steel is left to the viewer's own interpretation. Sadly, Chris does not think this product is a good fit for any of the retailers they're scheduled to meet, so it looks like a no for the Buttsex-O-Matic. A sad day for all of us, I feel.

Synergy are now being pitched at by an American lady who has a male model (I assume) in tow to market the Rip-T, which is one of those devious pieces of clothing designed to make you look far more buff than you actually are. It's a nice idea, but it's somewhat ruined to me by the incredibly obvious piece of stitching that runs across the whole thing just below the nipples, and basically screeches "THIS IS A FLAB-MOVING GARMENT." Jamie asks what the RRP of the product is, and he's told that it costs £50 retail. StuBags thinks that he might stock it as a gimmick item if it were £10, but he doesn't think the units will shift at that price. The same woman pitches the same product to Apollo, and Liz notes that "all that stuff like men's grooming" is big business right now. She's got a point, but I'm still not convinced that the sort of metrosexual, fairly vain male she's presumably envisaging is going to be that interested in this product, because they'd probably already have spent a lot of money on gym memberships to make sure they didn't need it in the first place. Trust me, I'm something of an authority on vanity. They all examine the product very closely, and they appear to say yes to the t-shirt.

Synergy are being shown a two handled gardening fork to prevent back pain, as the voiceover informs us that one of the appointments will be with a DIY chain. Stella thinks it's a good product, "but is it something that will fly with B&Q?" Well, so much for the no-names-mentioned thing, then. Next up is a water- and energy-saving showerhead, which the inventors claim can save up to £240 per year for a family of four, and should retail at £24.95. Jamie thinks it's an easy sell. Stuart agrees that it's a no brainer, because you're essentially selling "free money". Just like those people in Nigeria who keep e-mailing me! Synergy snap up the eco shower. The inventor tells them that the wholesale price is £12.95, but they'll go down to £9.95 if they can convince someone to take over 1000 units.

The final invention of the day (which is the seventh - so what happened to the other three Sralan promised us?) is the Babyglow, a sleepsuit for babies that changes colour if they get too hot. The manufacturer demonstrates this by blasting a doll wearing the suit with a hairdryer, and frankly, if you're going to do that to your children, you have bigger problems than you can solve just by purchasing a new sleepsuit. Liz's face lights up, though, so we know this is a hot product (no pun intended). Chris thinks it's "the best thing I've seen today." Synergy are equally keen, and Stella tells the manufacturer that they have quite a few parents on the team, and Jamie interjects that they've had five children between them, to which the manufacturer responds "Have you? Excellent." in a tone that suggests this is the most useless piece of information anyone's been told on this show since Saira Khan made everyone reel off a list of their favourite colours in the art task in series one. StuBags asks if a baby would be dead if it reached 39 degrees celsius [I hope not, my 4 year old was that hot last night and still seems to be alive - Fiona], and the manufacturer lady says that that would be "dangerous", and Stuart clarifies that you don't wait for the whole Babyglow to turn white before wondering if maybe something is wrong with your child - any hint of colour change should be enough to alert you to a problem. There are shots of the other members of the team here looking uneasy, and the implication is that StuBags is asking too many questions, though I don't necessarily think the questions themselves are inappropriate - but he could perhaps have worded them in a slightly less SIDS-obsessive manner. The product sells at £9.95 for trade and retails at £24.95. [! I always knew these products trade on the fact that parental terror is limitless - Fiona] Stuart asks if the trade price is negotiable for bulk sales and it apparently is not. After the manufacturer leaves, the team talk excitedly about the product while Stella berates StuBags for the way he spoke to the representative. Jamie intervenes and says that there is a fine, fine line between love and a waste of your time. Sorry, that should be "between making a hard-nosed commercial decision and being rude", and he's worried they might just have lost the product because of that.

It turns out one of the pre-established appointments is with the country's leading online baby shops, so both teams plump for the Babyglow. Now, this is where I get a little confused, if you'll permit me a sidebar. Was this appointment scheduled for both teams? If so, we only saw one product that was at all baby-related, so unless you were planning to give your child a facelift or teach them how to have anal sex, the team that didn't get the BabyGlow would be guaranteed a wasted appointment. Or is there just one appointment available with the online baby retailer, and whichever team represents the BabyGlow gets it? It would've been nice to have had this explained a little more clearly.

Anyway, back to business. Chris speaks to the inventor, and Apollo win the commission. Synergy make the same call, and as soon as they hear the words "thank you for your offer", they know that it's a no-go. With the BabyGlow off the table, Christopher and Jamie suggest they take the shower head and the spade, since hardware stores would be likely to stock both items. Stella, however, is concerned about their appointment with Debenhams (and this appears to be a mandatory appointment for both teams, hence my confusion above), because she thinks it's not the sort of place you'd go shopping if you were looking to buy some gardening equipment. (I was considering a "do some hoeing" joke there, but decided against it on the grounds that the leg exerciser alone has almost entirely swallowed my allowance of sexual jokes per individual recap, and I'm only 13 minutes in.) [They really have cranked up the innuendo quota this series haven't they? - Fiona] Jamie's adamant that they have a gardening section ("they have tables and chairs" - like, that's PATIO FURNITURE, you dink, that is not gardening equipment), so a vote is taken and the team selects the twin-handled spade and the showerhead.

It's 3pm, and Apollo are heading for their first appointment. Laura crows that they have the best product on the whole list. Jamie, meanwhile, is in the Synergy Apprenticar with Christopher and Melissa working on the pitch, and confuses John Moores University with the non-existent (as far as I know) John Wayne University [John Wayne University would be great! As Survivors taught us, gun-toting will be an essential skill when the TOUGH ECONOMIC TIMES get so bad that we need to fight over the last tins of beans in Netto - Rad]. This is the appointment with Debenhams that Stella mentioned earlier, and Jamie, Melissa and Christopher are first to pitch. He falters a little in the introduction to his showerhead pitch, and when the Debenhams buyers see the product, they point out that they don't sell showers, so it's "not necessarily in keeping with the rest of the offer we have." This, by the way, is business-speak for "you are wasting your time." Melissa attempts to salvage the pitch by saying that it's something unique that would be well-launched in the stores and people would appreciate it. The Debenhams buyers are still all "...but we don't sell showerheads." [I read that in a Trevor & Simon style - that shows my age doesn't it? - Fiona] Jamie attempts to give in gracefully, but Melissa's not finished yet: "it's not completely obtuse, I think it does fit in somewhere there, and it would bring you different buyers." Karren interviews that Melissa never listens, she just talks and talks, and she's basically just winding the client up at this point.

They move on to the spade, which Melissa pitches. What we hear of her pitch is reasonable enough, but they hit the same wall: "we don't sell garden tools." Alternative line reading, "we don't sell garden, [you] tools." Melissa's response? "You started with the shower, you could always expand your hardware store and end up with the spade." Yes, except THEY HAVE ALREADY SAID THEY ARE NOT GOING TO BUY THE SHOWERHEAD FROM YOU. Sweet baby Jesus. Head buyer asks why this product would be in Debenhams. Melissa says that if they were looking to launch themselves into that market... "--but we're not," Speaking Buyer tells her firmly. Synergy pack up their sad soil and their shower and depart, with Melissa complaining about the heavy load she's been left with, while Jamie and Christopher are, no doubt, silently complaining about the heavy, Melissa-shaped load that they have been left with.

In somewhere that looks like a lunch/break room, Chris is practising his pitch, which is some godawful bollocks about "metrosexuals" and "the GQ generation". Still, at least it isn't "the non-body-sculpting t-shirt is DEAD!" I guess they're saving all the death talk for the Babyglow pitch. He says he'll be better at it when he's in there; Alex lies that he's doing well as it is. Liz makes notes. They go in to meet the Debenhams buyers, and Chris begins by pitching the Rip-T. I would say their first mistake is that they haven't got anyone actually modelling it, and therefore there's nothing in this pitch to suggest why someone would want this product, because it's clearly the sort of thing you sell visually. Instead, Alex is just holding it up and rotating it occasionally. He'd have been better utilised refilling everyone's water bottles, quite frankly. Lady Buyer asks whether they intend for it to be sold as Men's Clothing or an Undergarment. Chris thinks it's an undergarment, and Lady Buyer thinks £50 is a bit pricey for underwear. Liz pitches the Babyglow, and what we see of her presentation is smooth, clear and effective. Alex adds that it's a product that's going to make waves: "it's the sort of thing you're going to see on breakfast TV." I don't know why, but that really made me laugh. One of the buyers asks if there are lots of chemicals in it to effect such a reaction, and Alex non-answers that it's a safe product, and they wouldn't be pitching it if it weren't. Apollo depart, and the results of these corporate pitches will be revealed in the boardroom later.

At 10pm, the teams return home, to prepare for tomorrow's round of pitching, which includes the DIY superstore. Jamie says that he wants the pitching team for that to be him, Chris and Joanna. "What's wrong with me?" grumbles Melissa. Well, that would seem to be the $64,000 question. She snarls at Jamie that she does this for a living: "Stop doubting what I can do." The rest of the team roundly ignore her, and Melissa heads for the kitchen, where she complainterviews that she has a very strong "skill set", and if people are threatened by her that's fine, but they shouldn't set out to undo her. "He thinks he can do a better job at [sic] me at my job," Melissa seethes. "Idiot!"

8am the next day. The teams depart for a day of hard selling. They've got 10 hours to make sales anywhere in the country that they can. The Synergy Alpha Team - Jamie, Christopher and Joanna - are heading for the south coast to meet the DIY chain, and Joanna pitches to individual retailers over the phone. She turns out to be good at cold calling. StuBags, Melissa and Stella are left to cover London - but since the retailer that Joanna just made the appointment with, which apparently has 500 branches nationwide, is based in Leamington Spa, Jamie wants to send them there instead. Joanna takes the phone from Jamie and asks Stella who's going to be leading the pitch. Stella stalls, knowing this is a loaded question, but Melissa is furiously pointing at herself with her pen, so Stella caves: "...Melissa." In Apprenticar One, Jamie is concerned that Melissa will talk them out of a big sale.

Chris, Alex and Liz have their first appointment in Peterborough, and visit some local boutiques with the BabyGlow while they're there. The first business owner they speak to quite like the product, but not the packaging, and she's not sure how well it fits in with her store. Chris suggests a small initial order, but she shoots him down. Outside, Alex translates that she didn't think it was appropriately packaged for a high-end store, and the team seems to feel this is an acceptable criticism of the product.

Back in London, Apollo Apprenticar Beta - that's Sandeesh, Laura and Paloma - are cold-calling. Paloma reminds them that they'll all be looked at individually by their sales. "As long as we've all got a fair opportunity, that's all I ask for," says Laura. They head to a store on an appointment that we're told was pre-arranged by Laura, and Laura leads the pitch to the shop owner, though Paloma and Sandeesh also chip in. The owner places an order for 12, and Sandeesh fishes for her orderbook, though it seems as though the sale goes to Laura. Outside, Laura complains that they talked over her pitch and tried to get the order in their own books. Now, I can understand her issue with the latter point, because that is fairly underhanded behaviour, but in regard to the former...what were they supposed to do? Just stand there and nod? If you're going to send three people in to pitch something, then it makes sense for all three of them to talk. Frankly I don't see why Laura couldn't have pitched it on her own, unless production rules and camera crew limitations meant they all had to stick together all day. Essentially Laura's main grievance is that people won't sit there quietly and wait for her to get on with it. [As we have seen previously, talking over her is a cardinal sin and likely to end in tears. Hers. - Fiona] I predict a big future for her in the corporate world, I really do. Anyway, Paloma clarifies that she did not get her orderbook out (though it did kind of look like she was considering it). In Apollo Apprenticar Beta, Sandeesh says that they did agree that was Laura's pitch because she set it up, and the orders went in the book, and the subtext seems to be "so why the hell are you being such a giant dildo about this?"

It's 11am, and Synergy Team Alpha are in Rowlands Home Hardware just outside Portsmouth, meeting with the owner, Destiny's Child singer Kelly Rowland. Okay, fine, it's not her, but the guy they do speak to isn't named, so I'm just taking a little artistic licence here. Jamie pitches the showerhead, and Kelly is interested in the product, but not at the given price of £12.95. Jamie convinces him to take 1,000 of them, since he has four stores, and thereby lowers the price to £9.95, giving them just shy of £10,000 on their first order of the day.

Team Beta are in [Royal - Rad] Leamington Spa, ready to pitch to the plumbing wholesalers. Joanna is clearly still nervous about Melissa pitching, as Stella is currently talking her through their planned pitch over the phone. Joanna asks if Melissa is confident doing the pitch for her. Melissa's all "for you? Whuh?" Jamie tells them that because Joanna "opened the door" for them, she'll be getting 50% of any deal that goes through. Melissa is not happy with 50%, but Jamie and Joanna aren't budging.

Inside, Melissa pitches the showerhead, unless my ears deceive me, as "an eco-friendly, utility-reducing product." I beg your pardon? I'm not even sure that makes any sense, and even if it does, it doesn't sound terribly appealing to a consumer. "Buy this! It will create less practicality in your home!" StuBags sets up the demo model, but the waterflow is pretty feeble, and the buyers look rather unimpressed. Melissa points out to them, under the misapprehension that this is in any way reassuring, that it comes with a 12-month guarantee. Brilliant! So if they all fail like the demo model did, you'll have to give refunds on all of them! While Melissa continues her pitch, behind her StuBags surreptitiously unscrews the shower head and sucks water out of it. No, seriously. He really does that. The buyer lady says that the £12.95 price isn't attractive, and Melissa asks what sort of price she was expecting. Buyer Lady thinks six pounds. Obviously, the team can't agree to this, so Melissa falls back on her "I'm sure you could sell it!" routine. It's a no from the buyers, but Melissa won't let it go. We don't see the part where they're forcibly ejected from the building by security, but I'd be willing to bet it happens. Still, I'm sure Melissa feels a lot happier about allocating 50% of zero sales to Joanna.

Apollo Team Alpha heads to, the appointment that Srlan set up for them. Liz pitches again, and is fluent and confident as she was before. One of the buyers asks if £24.95 is an affordable price since they're trying to change people's buying habits. Chris thinks you can't put a price on safety. The buying team think the packaging could be better, but on the whole, they seem fairly impressed. Inexplicably, Chris, Liz and Alex sing along to 'The Love I Lost' back in the Apprenticar, played through the tinny speakers of the Apprentiphone. Maybe it's hold music for someone they're cold calling? I dunno, but it's kind of cute either way, especially Alex's very earnest way of singing.

Apollo Team Beta are now attempting to flog the Rip-T in central London "to some guys in Soho", as Paloma puts it. The gays, in other words. Sandeesh leads the pitch in American Retro, and they agree to take 12 of each design in an assortment of sizes, which amounts to £780 worth of sales. Not too shabby. Nick chews a whelk in the background. Further down Old Compton Street, Paloma leads the next pitch to another homosexual-friendly retailer, and the shopholder thinks the t-shirt is just right for his market - he wants to take "25 maximum, to start with", but he wants exclusivity in Soho. Now, bear in mind that the lady in American Retro said "12 of each design" - I don't know how many designs there are, but there must be at least two for her to have phrased it like that, so at the very least, they must have sold her 24 t-shirts. Is it really worth reneging on that deal just to sell one more t-shirt to this guy and give him exclusivity? Personally, I would say no. This, to me, would be the time for a polite "sorry, we're not in a position to offer exclusivity" and a retreat. And bear in mind that that was my reaction even though I didn't yet know the rules of the task as far as exclusivity was concerned.

Sandeesh explains that they've already had an order placed in Soho. The retailer responds that "for the nature of his business", he would want exclusivity. I note that he is selling Calvin Klein underwear in his shop; I can't imagine he has exclusivity on that. Perhaps he has exclusivity on all those brands of poppers behind the counter? Who can say? Paloma goes for the upsell, asking him if he'd consider taking 200 if they could offer him exclusivity "within this perimeter". Sandeesh asks the retailer (whose name appears to be Jason) if he'd mind if they just popped out for two seconds.

Indeed, they literally do just that - they stand about two centimetres outside the shop, pretty much blocking the doorway, and have something of a barney. Sandeesh is concerned about the professional embarrassment that she will endure by having to return to American Retro and cancelling her order - an embarrassment that, it seems, will be totally mitigated if she gets half of this deal. Paloma's not on board with that - she's more than happy to give Sandeesh whatever share of this order is equal to what she'd lose from cancelling the other one, but not half. Laura, in turn, is not happy with this outcome either, because she "just went in and closed that deal!" So yeah, remember earlier when Laura was very territorial about not muscling in on pitches that other people started? Not so much any more, it seems. And we certainly didn't see Laura doing very much in that deal; perhaps the editing cut out a superlative pitch from her, but it did seem very much as though the closing was done by Paloma. Paloma raises the point of them essentially working on a rotating system and taking in turns to lead, but Laura thinks she "helped in that pitch, a lot." Right, so now she's downscaling from "closed that deal" to "helped a lot". Pretty soon she'll be demanding a share of the orders just because she wasn't actively trying to murder the shopkeepers or something.

Incidentally? They are still RIGHT OUTSIDE THE DOOR. I'm fairly certain Jason can hear every unprofessional word they're shrieking, and this is perhaps the one time of the episode where Nick's bit-of-chicken-stuck-between-back-teeth face is actually appropriate. Anyway, Paloma points out Laura's earlier "no shitting on your own doorstep" rule, and Laura responds that she was the one who came up with the conditional deal, to which Paloma responds that she was "just about to" do the same. Ah, theoretical sales. My favourite kind! At this point, I'd really be hard-pressed to say which member of this team is more ridiculous. The only person who isn't looking a complete lunatic right now is Sandeesh, and who'd have thought I'd be saying that after last week? Paloma snorts that if they don't go back in, he's going to change his mind (I think he probably changed his mind the second they started having this conversation) and Laura shrills after her that she doesn't agree that she deserves "nothing for this", with Sandeesh hilariously trying to shush her to no effect, and Laura even more hilariously ending this decisive argument with "don't make me talk like this in front of the client!" Paloma goes in and takes the order.

They phone Chris from Apprenticar Beta, and he asks how it's going. Paloma sighs that it's going "all right", explaining that she's negotiated a deal for 200 t-shirts with exclusivity in Soho. Chris asks if they've already signed the deal. After several attempts at not answering the question, Paloma says that yes, they've signed it. Chris fumes that any deal which is dependent on them speaking to the manufacturer again is not going to count. Interesting. So I'm guessing that there was some element in the briefing, which we were not privy to, which made it explicit that terms like exclusivity had to be agreed with the manufacturer beforehand, and I'm guessing that arrangement wasn't made here [and this was also the exact part where the Apprenti screwed up on that ice cream task a few series ago, so you'd think they'd know better - Rad]. Chris tells them to "keep it as it is" and move on, though whether that refers to them leaving the order for 200 standing and hoping for the best, or not going back to cancel the order with American Retro, I'm not entirely sure. Either way, it all looks a bit of a mess.

It's now 5pm, and Synergy Team Alpha are at the head office of the DIY chain in Southampton. Quite why they're bothering to cover up the name when we can clearly see "B&Q" printed on the revolving door, I'm not entirely sure. Jamie pitches both the spade and the eco-shower head, which he promises will "give you a new shower sensation". Is it like a sneeze, only better? The buyer says that they're clearly excited about their product, and Jamie goes in with an offer of 100,000 units of the showerhead, which Christopher explains will lower the wholesale price to £9.95 per unit. "Our company has ambitions," says Jamie, earnestly, "and our ambitions is [sic] to be your supplier." High dreams indeed! Jamie thanks "Catherine" for her time.

Elsewhere, Synergy Team Beta spot a hardware shop and run for it, with time running out. Except it seems more like a bath and shower shop when they actually get in there. Stella leads the sale, and says that the price for the showerhead is £12.95, but they "may be able to negotiate on that." The retailer asks what sort of quantity they'd be talking to merit a discount. Stella says that they'd be looking at a minimum of ten boxes of six units (60, just so we're all keeping up), which she could sell for £10.95. Except we all know that she can't do that at all, because the manufacturer said that he'd only give discounts for sales of over 1000 units. They close the deal, such as it is.

At 7pm, the teams are wrapping up. Chris informs Apollo Team Beta that they've sold 38 more units of the t-shirt for about £980, while Jamie tells Synergy Team Beta that they've sold £12,000 worth of stuff. But they won't know the full figures until they hit the boardroom. Jamie goes over the sales from Synergy Team Beta - StuBags has sold nothing, Stella has sold 60 shower units (breaking the terms of the agreement with the manufacturer, so - nothing), and Melissa has sold six spades. So basically Melissa is the only person on that sub-team with any sales that actually count for anything. Christopher thinks this is "scandalous", adding "they call themselves salespeople at pitches? Bollocks!" for good measure. And judging from that little display, I'd say Melissa's not the only person on that team who's losing their grip on the English language.

The next day. London porn. Sralan's atrium. NotFrances tells the contestants they can go through to the boardroom now. Karren looks up as they enter and does a Gail Trimble hair-flick. I love the lighting/grading in the boardroom sections - I love how it makes all the people with naturally pasty complexions look positively translucent. Sralan enters and greets the teams, speaking first to Synergy. He asks who the team leader was, and I don't know why we have to go through this every week, because the two team leaders are always the people sitting in the centre. Then again, you can make good money in the business world by going into people's offices and pointing out the fucking obvious (I believe it's called "consultancy"), so perhaps they're reflecting the market. Sralan asks if Jamie was a good team leader, and everyone seems to nod - even Melissa - with Joanna going as far as to say "definitely". Sralan points out that they wanted the BabyGlow, but didn't get it. Jamie tells him that they had "five children on our team", and I'm sure your minds all went to the exact same place that mine did with that comment - even Sralan seems to be thinking it, judging by the look on his face. Jamie clarifies that they were mothers and fathers with five children between them, and everybody laughs. Ho ho ho! Jamie says they felt they'd be a strong team to represent the product, but clearly the manufacturer felt differently. Sralan asks why that might have been the case, and Jamie blames Stuart, who "sometimes speaks before he thinks". Karren interjects that what the client said was that "you didn't listen to her". Now, it's unclear here whether she's saying this directly to Stuart or to the team as a whole - my interpretation is that she says it to the whole team, but your mileage may vary. Sralan tells them that they have to be "professional, but respectful". Surely the two go hand in hand anyway? Is it common to be professional, but not respectful? I mean, I work in the media, where a large percentage of people are arseholes anyway, so perhaps I'm not the best judge at this point. [I work in insurance. So maybe I'm not the best judge either - Fiona] Anyway, Sralan gets even further from the point by going on about how you have to be respectful to people even when they come to you with something that isn't very good (a lesson which he doesn't appear to have shared with his interviewers), because they might come back with something that you do want. Right, except this manufacturer came with something they did want in the first place, and they fucked it up by talking over her. Don't you have a hoary, generic business anecdote that's actually appropriate for the situation?

Anyway, they went with the double-handed spade and the showerhead which, as Sralan points out, essentially made their visit to Debenhams entirely pointless. And again, this is where I raise the "which of this appointments were scheduled for both teams?" argument. Did they essentially book two appointments at all of the major retailers (Debenhams, B&Q, Kiddicare etc) but Debenhams was the only one both teams showed up to? And if it wasn't mandatory for the teams to go to any of the appointments, why did Synergy waste their time in Debenhams in the first place? Was it just because it was in London, as opposed to Peterborough or Southampton, and they figured it was at least worth a shot since it was nearby? Was it (dare I say) because the show made them go there so they would have some amusing scenes of epic fail to amuse us? I mean, I don't particularly care what the rules were, but as a viewer it annoys me when the show doesn't actually make them clear to the viewers. If I'm going to sit here calling Synergy idiots for trying to sell spades and showerheads to Debenhams, I'd like to know if they actually had any say in the matter in the first place. (Arguably they could've just picked different products if they knew that they definitely had to pitch to Debenhams, but again - we don't know that this was the case, and this is why I found this whole part of this episode very frustrating as a viewer.)

Jamie says that they lost out on the first product they wanted, so what he had to do - "nimbly", he claims - was to match the products he had to each other to make the best use of their time. Which isn't a terrible idea, although you are basically taking the risk that if you don't have much luck with the hardware retailers in general, you're screwed on two counts rather than one. Also? You were divided into two teams. There was nothing to stop you from picking one hardware item and one from any other field and then allocating one item to each sub-team, so three of you go off to pitch to hardware retailers and the other three go to pitch the Back Pal to office supplies retailers or the weird leg gym thing to gay porn producers. Sorry, Jamie: I'm not buying what you're selling. And judging from the stats that are about to be revealed, I'm not the only one. OOH, BURN!

Sralan moves on to day two, and says that he'd had a "bit of feedback" from Karren about the shower manufacturer's rules, whereby they could sell at £9.95 for over 1000 units, and under 1000 units at £12.95 apiece. We all know what this is leading to: Stella's sale of 60 shower units for £10.95 each. Jamie says that he only learned about this in retrospect (nice abdication of responsibility there, Jamie, to which I say: you should've briefed them more clearly, then), and Sralan says that those sales are disallowed.

Over to Apollo. Chris says that the second choice was the t-shirt, and Sralan asks if Nick was the model, ho ho ho. Chris says that he did offer to Nick, but he declined, ho ho ho. Nick interjects at this point: "try Alex", and everyone's still all ho ho ho, and am I the only one who found that incredibly offensive? [No - Fiona] "Look everybody, Alex is a fatto, let's all POINT AND LAUGH!" Leave the schoolyard bullying to the contestants, Nick, if you don't mind. Alex, to his credit, laughs with everybody else and says that he felt he would've been "misrepresenting the product". Presumably because he's actually a perfectly normal size and shape. Then he goes home to eat his feelings. That's what FATTIES do, right?

Chris says that he think the pitches went well, but Nick says that he found Chris's style "monotonous", which is rich coming from the person whose entire purpose on the show now amounts to standing in the background looking like he's trying to suck the shell off a hardboiled egg. However, Nick says that the "content" of the pitch was excellent. The conversation turns to "the battle of Old Compton Street", and Sralan says that he's sure the manufacturer didn't agree to exclusivity. Paloma claims that was a "contentous" (sic) issue, and Sralan dismisses "both of those orders", though whether he means the sale to Jason and the sale to American retro, or the (presumably) two sets of orders that were rung up with Jason (one to Paloma for that deal, and one to Sandeesh to make up for what she lost in the cancellation of the other order) is unclear. Nick was disappointed in the lack of harmony and the "rolling brawl" that happened in the street. "That was a contentious issue," says Paloma again, though at least she uses the right word this time.

Results, then: Apollo made £3725.90 in street sales, excluding those that were disallowed, while Synergy made £12,768.80 on the same terms. Debenhams placed no orders with Synergy, but Liz sold £19,900 worth of BabyGlows. Synergy got a "brilliant" order from B&Q of 6,000 products across both spades and showers (which is considerably less than the 100,000 worth of showerheads Jamie was apparently aiming for) for a total of £63,750, giving Synergy a total of £76,518.80. Meanwhile, Apollo (Liz) sold 10,000 BabyGlows to Kiddicare for a total of £99,000. I love Liz's reaction here - she basically scoffs at the figures in disbelief, which is really endearing [Liz for the win! I mean the bullshit late firing in TV shopping week or its equivalent a la Naomi, Miriam etc - Rad]. The smarter members of Apollo have already realised that their Kiddicare order alone beats Synergy's entire figure while Nick confirms their total as £122,625.90. Apollo congratulate themselves, but it shows how important it was here to get the right product - not that I'm dismissing Liz's pitching skills, because she was good and I'm sure that helped, but they got no orders from the big retailers for the T-shirt at all, so having the genuinely exciting BabyGlow product essentially saved their asses.

Sralan declares that total a record for the boardroom, and tells them that they'll be going off to a spa resort as their reward. Outside, everyone hugs Liz. Back in the boardroom, Sralan tells Synergy that when he heard their total, he assumed it would have led to a win, but regretfully it did not. And now one of them is going to get FIRED.

Spa resort. Chris gets some kind of clay massage. Alex and Liz get an incense treatment, which makes Alex laugh because it smells "like a bonfire". Someone stretches Paloma's legs and Laura gets a facial. Then they all relax in the jacuzzi, and poor Alex is still wearing a t-shirt because he was WOUNDED BY NICK in the boardroom. He's so going to need therapy, the poor lamb. Also, Liz has an awesome rack. Sorry, but it had to be said.

Loser café. Furious violins of failure on the soundtrack. Everyone agrees that they performed poorly. Joanna tells Team Beta that they all "knew the score" regarding the price of the showerheads. Melissa says that they spent four hours not making any sales - "and when you got to your pitch, you still didn't make any sales," Jamie snits. Ugh, he's vile. Melissa says that the plumbing wholesalers wanted the showerheads for six pounds and "there was no room for manoeuvrement". Heh. I love Melissa's made-up words. "Don't try and clutch at straws!" Joanne shrieks. I love how nobody is blaming Stella for this sizeable fuck-up that was entirely of her doing. Melissa insists that she's an excellent pitcher. Jamie disagrees. Jamie says outside that the entire sub-team was a mess, and he wishes he could take all three in to the final boardroom.

Vestibule. Uncomfortable silence. NotFrances sends them all back in. Sralan says that while they did make an impressive amount of money, they still lost, so blame will have to be apportioned somehow. He breaks down the sales - the subteam of Melissa, Stuart and Stella contributed £897 to the total figure of over £76,000. Also, just so we don't forget - if Jamie's conversation with Christopher and Joanna in the car was accurate, then the entirety of that £897 came from Melissa. So for all they were chewing her out at Loser Café, it's not like she was the weakest performer on the task, at least in terms of raw numbers. Jamie says that they had products that worked and sold, so the two people who do this as a day job "ironically come back empty". Except Melissa didn't come back empty-handed. Her figures may have been pathetic, but she did sell something. I can't believe I'm defending Melissa - and in fairness, I'm not defending her really, because I still think she performed terribly on this task and her pitching was cringeworthy, but I don't understand how Stella is skating by without being called on her failure this week. StuBags says that he's a good salesman - "although I think 'good' should be left for other people to judge" - but his skills weren't fully utilised. Ah, that old standby - "my project manager stifled my awesomeness." Sralan points out that Joanna found a lead for the plumbing wholesaler which Team Beta then squandered. StuBags says that his instinct was to pitch to small- and medium-sized businesses, as the manager is always likely to be in and you'll get an easier sell. That's not actually a bad strategy, either, especially when you're essentially asking people to take a risk on a new product. Even the big retailers (as B&Q demonstrated when they declined Jamie's suggestion of 100,000 units and went with a more reasonable 6,000) won't want to place a massive order straight away, they'll want to start with a moderate trial and then roll it out across the chain if it's successful, so you could, in theory, deliver better results by targeting a lot of small businesses (if you managed to sell to all, or at least most of them) than you could by targeting one big retailer. Sralan disagrees with me, however, and calls it a "flawed strategy", because B&Q placed an order for £63,000. I scream, "Yes, but they were asking for £1 MILLION" at the television, but Sralan does not hear me. StuBags says that the sub-team was stymied by Melissa, and he's confident that they would've seen a different result with the plumbing wholesalers if he had led that pitch. Melissa asks, not unreasonably, what her ability to pitch had to do with the end result, since it was the manufacturer's price that was the problem, and points out that he didn't even test the demonstration model before they went in. Karren says that the feedback she received was that Melissa was "very annoying" ("really?" asks Melissa, genuinely shocked) and she repeated the same thing. Melissa says that she can only speak for her success in her day job. At this point, Jamie leaps in and snots that Melissa gives her pitch, then the client asks questions, and then Melissa gives her pitch again with a bit more on top, and that's why he didn't let her do the B&Q pitch, claiming that he "subtly" took her off and...let her do the exact same job on the other sub-team? Yeah, good managing there, dickweed. Also, "subtly"? Stop trying to make your inability to directly manage Melissa sound like an admirable quality. You were too afraid to confront her and tell her why she was off the B&Q pitch, you dillhole. God, I hate him [I have him in a sweepstake so I feel I should defend him. I mean, I can't, but I feel I should - Rad].

Sralan asks Stella how she, as someone who normally keeps on top of the numbers, managed to "stand by and allow 60 shower heads to be sold below what the manufacturer recommended?" Well, she didn't so much stand by and allow it as engineer the entire thing. It's really odd how no one wants to blame her for that. Stella says it's "very embarrassing", but blames Melissa and Stuart for not stopping her. Sralan calls bullshit, and says that she was aware of the manufacturer's set prices, was she not? Stella claims she was "not concentrating" on that, and then amends that to she "didn't hear" it. Jamie is aghast that someone could leave the office without a price. And while I personally suspect that Stella is lying to cover her own arse here, I still think if Jamie were any sort of manager, he would have made sure they were fully briefed on that score before leaving the office - even if only to subscribe to the same CYA strategy that Stella is using. Come on, on this show, dodging liability for any fuck-up is the key to success. Prevention is better than cure! Stella says there was so much discussion on focus that she'd lost focus. Christopher thinks this is rubbish: "if there was confusion, pick up the phone!"

Time for Jamie to pick who to bring back. He says that he doesn't have much on Jo (nice) because she set up appointments and sold and helped in the pitches, and ditto for Chris. Since "on paper", Melissa and StuBags should've had the fattest order books, that's who he's bringing back. Stella, Christopher and Joanna are set back to the house.

Sralan asks Jamie, StuBags and Melissa to step outside. Karren is shocked that Melissa thinks she's a good pitcher. Sralan thinks Jamie talks a good game (really? I'm surprised you can tell amid all the "ummmmms" and "errrrrrrs" that pepper his speech) but he couldn't control the sub-team, and StuBags is bubbling over and lacks self-control.

NotFrances sends the trio back in. Sralan tells Jamie that his half of the team seemed to work well (Jamie cups his chin in his right hand and leans on the table) and this got him worried about management skills, "and could you stop leaning on the table like that?" Snerk. Maybe he needs a Back Pal! Sralan asks Jamie if he was "out of touch" with the sub-team. Jamie thinks absolutely not, and he worked his hardest to try to help them. Melissa disagrees - he didn't give her any feedback (which, by his own admission as detailed above, is absolutely true) and that he just gave her one-word sentences with no expansion. "Do I really come across as a one-word person?" asks Jamie. Yes, you do, but I can't print the word I'm thinking of in a family-friendly recap. Melissa asks how that could help her learn. Jamie says that he had to tread on eggshells around her because she's like a firework - he just lights it and it goes crazy. "I am not like a firework that goes crazy!" Melissa protests, hilariously. Jamie claims that he told her she's like a "machine-gun, and I said that to you, and that's more than one word." Yes, well, excellent counting skills, shithead, but you're still not really answering Melissa's point of how you didn't give her any constructive feedback. I mean, yes, there's certainly the point to be made that Melissa shouldn't need coddling to that extent, but when you're dealing with someone who's as clearly oblivious to her own inabilities as Melissa is, then saying to her "you're like a machine-gun" and expecting her to a) recognise it as criticism and b) know what to do with it demonstrates your lack of skill as a manager. Joanna somehow managed Melissa in a way that didn't derail the rest of the team. Hell, even Laura managed to do it. I refuse to believe it's that difficult. Jamie says that he put faith in her at the retail store, "and once again the machine gun was going off". StuBags interjects that while he knows he's not perfect, Melissa was very aggressive in this pitch and he actually saw the buyers lean backwards to get her out of their personal space. Melissa retorts that he offends someone in the vicinity every time he speaks, and she doesn't think it's fair for them to gang up on her, as it wasn't her fault they lost the BabyGlow, which probably would've won them the task. "I have always maintained my professionality," she insists. Hee hee hee.

Sralan says that she lists her negotiation skills as her best attribute and she claims she's teaching her boss how to run his own business, but he's seen nothing that corroborates this. He wants to know what he's missing. Melissa says she has a bag of skills that could be useful to him, and she feels that she's thrown herself into all the tasks with 100% commitment. Sralan thinks she's thrown herself in, indeed, but nothing's come out the other end. Except for, y'know, gaseous emissions. Melissa, unwisely, argues that she project managed on the last task and won, and Sralan asserts that the victory had little if anything to do with her. It's Jamie's turn to beg for his TV life, and Jamie says that he's worked hard "since hour one" and has been the best salesperson. Somewhere, Liz Locke is all, "I beg to differ, BITCH." He continues that the PM is always leaning on me and he's always happy to help. Sralan, correctly, is all "...and?" Sralan tells StuBags to speak concisely about why he should stay. StuBags Alex Wotherspoons that he's 21 years old and quite successful - he's achieved everything with little resources, and with Sralan's huge resources, he can make millions for him. And then - oh, this is disappointing - he refers to the well of "I'll show you what I can do when I'm a project manager", as mined effectively by Sandeesh last week, though he does at least vow to "fall on my sword if I fail." [How I wish the 'make me PM next week' line automatically triggered a trapdoor under the offending persons chair - Fiona]

Judgement time: Sralan thinks Melissa has faced tasks which are in line with her day job, but she's not living up to her own, self-established reputation. StuBags is young and can't control his mouth. Jamie didn't have control of the others. Sralan tells Jamie to remember in future that when he leads a team, he needs to make sure he's got everybody covered. But that was just a fire-tease, because Melissa is a loose cannon, and she's FIRED. Melissa stands up and hisses "well done, ganging up on me. Horrible people." I'm not sure that's entirely fair - I think StuBags only spoke against her once, and that's hardly "ganging up on" someone. Though I daresay that may have been Jamie's logic in bringing back StuBags as opposed to, say, Stella, because he thought he'd be more effective in presenting a united anti-Melissa front. And if that's the case, then I feel sorry for anyone who feels they need help to get Melissa fired. Melissa, people.

Melissa struts out to the antechamber in her bizarre, shoulderpadded bolero jacket, and Sralan lets Jamie and StuBags go. Jamie attemps to shake Melissa's hand and she snatches her hand away - stay classy, Melissa!

Melissa Cohen Coatwatch: seen only from afar, but mid-length, double-breasted, not nearly as mad as her suit jacket.

Back at the house, Joanna thinks Melissa should be fired. Christopher says that she's obnoxious and doesn't listen. People cheer for the return of Jamie and StuBags. StuBags tells them about Melissa's "ganging up" comment, and Jamie says that he treats everything with "business minds, not personal" - like, yeah, that's why you were such a grown-up about not getting PM last week, ASSWIPE.

Melissa taxinterviews that some people set up to get her, and they succeed. "Karmically, they will be retributed. The universe speaks louder than I do." I wouldn't bet on it.

Next week: taking London fashion to THE DIRTY NORTH! Assuming all the candidates are not savaged in the first five minutes by whippets and people in flat caps, we'll see you then!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Making d'oh

Week 3: 20th October 2010

Previously on The Apprentice, the Apprenti were tasked with inventing a new snazzy tool that would revolutionise going to the beach and bring Sralan (I just can't say Lord Sugar) untold wealth beyond the likes that videophones and screens in GP surgeries could possibly bring.

They didn't, so much.

Synergy Boys Plus Stella invented a towel that could hold a bottle of water or a mobile or medicine for your baby or a cure for cancer or the components for your perpetual motion machine, or something. The Apollo Girls invented the Worst. Thing. Ever. A book stand for the beach, which contained about seventy five moving parts, at least twelve of which were made from razor blades and broken glass, it didn't permit you to read your book without taking it out of the rack to turn the pages, and blatantly couldn't support anything more substantial than something like Nick's Guide On How Not To Be A Sour-Faced Bitch. Which, you know, would be a single-page pamphlet with a picture of Nick shrugging, and the word 'Dunno'.

Astonishingly, Apollo only just lost, and probably wouldn't have if Laura hadn't refused exclusivity for the Booky Death Trap with, like, the largest chemist in the country. However, lose they did (no sales! None!) and despite Laura being an indecisive sap who makes other people suck just by being near them, and Joanna being a strident unmanageable beast, Sralan fired Joy. Because … she was also there? We also got a delightful view through the lens of Karrren Brady's mind, whereby women arguing are bad because they represent ALL WOMEN AT ALL TIMES. There are no individual women; just various interchangeable cyphers, variations on the theme of Woman, and thus what one does reflects on all of them, because how are we supposed to tell them apart? Behave nicely, or a Good Girl might get mistaken for you and suffer the consequences. Gross me out, Brady.

We also learnt that Chris Bates is surprisingly hairy [woof - Steve] and that Stella is pretty much worth the rest of the Apprenti put together.

6.30 am. A fully dressed Alex answers the phone. 'Piccadilly in thirty minutes!', he squeals, as though the cars ever arrive at any time except half an hour after NotFrances phones. Apprenti ablutions are performed, and into the cars they trot.

They're at Fortnum and Mason, which is famous for its afternoon teas. Cakes and pastries and bread and rolls and so on and so forth. Sralan says they turn flour into serious dough. The Apprenti give this the contempt it deserves. Seriously, Sralan, when even your soulless shills won't laugh at your jokes you're a step away from being Bruce Forsyth. Watch your step. Sralan has set up two bakeries for the two teams, along with some clients who want to order some bread products. Get lots of orders and win win win! It's the team with the most profit that wins, not the most sales. He warns that they have to make their sales or have disappointed customers. SPOILERS!

Sralan claims that he's tired of the squabbling and stuff, as if that weren't the whole point of this programme, so he's doing a reshuffle. Shibby and Chris became Apollo, while Melissa and Joanna become Synergy. We are now completely beyond Boys Versus Girls and it's only Week Three. Small mercies, I guess.

They've got commercial sales and also have to do street sales.

Time to decide who's PM! Jamie and Melissa face off. Melissa wins, for the ostensibly good reason that she works in food wholesale, and claps herself obnoxiously. And also weirdly – her hands are like somewhere around chin level. She also keeps saying that things are her bag.

Shibby takes charge for Apollo, with nobody else even attempting to. He interviews that he may be a business virgin but has intelligence and entrepreneurial spirit to succeed. Mmm hmm. Shibby likes the idea of two chocolate things. Muffins and brownies.

Synergy can't decide what to make. Mel's food industry expertise leads her to say: 'In my experience … people buy … it's dififcult to say.' Jamie tries to lead from below and get a decision, but can't direct the fail that is Mel [I was actually surprised at her fail being all about lack of confidence and knowledge rather than... well, the kind of fail the other team got into - Rad]. The teams split up, and they go to the bakers without even knowing what to bake.

They arrive at bakeries that can 'anything made with flour' [Not Angela's bakery that Mary, Queen of Shops visited, then - Rad]. Liz Locke takes charge. Chris Bates and Sandeesh start making bread. The innuendo count gets off to a good, if disturbing, start, with Liz Locke says 'Guys, can you just come and have a look. Look how purple they are'.

Mel still won't make a decision. Chris yells down the phone; Jamie is worried. They decide on 'mixed fruit jam croissants'. That's not a thing!

Shibby et al have decided on prices before they meet the clients, and we specifically see Shibby say that they should tell the clients that they can make anything they want.

On the South Bank, at a 4 star hotel. Mel leads the pitch. Joanna's hair has gone dead straight, and combined with her white shirt and tendency to stoop, she looks like Sadako from The Ring. Alex introduces 'Le pan artyzan' – his French accent is BAD. Mel gets the idea of what they want and then plays with her calculator. Chef dude is not impressed. Nor are the other dudes. One dude tells them to go off and do their sums and come back again. They do sums out in the hall. One of the hotel dudes has to go and get them FIFTEEN minutes later. 'I find that quite disrespectful', he says, as well he might. Mel says that a roll is £1.82 per unit because apparently not only can she not do maths, she has never bought bread before. They discuss in the car what abject failures they are.

Shibby, Laura and Paloma, at the same hotel, offer £60 pounds for 1000 rolls. Paloma talks them up to 1500 and then gets them on to muffins and croissants. Paloma kills it; she's totally smooth and professional and gets them to just keep ordering stuff. Whether that was a good idea, well, we shall see. They need to make 1,900 baked items before breakfast! Outside, Paloma goes 'did you like the upsell?', seeking validation in a way I didn't really expect of her. Laura's like 'we all did well'. Yes Laura, you were excellent at sitting there doing absolutely nothing. You knocked the complete inert inactivity out of the park.

Shibby's kitchen has made street sales items, and then Shibby phones through with the order. It goes something like: white bread rolls 250 brown rolls 250 sundried tomato rolls 250 pumpkin seed rolls 250 poppy seed rolls 250 multigrain rolls 250 walnut rolls 250 basil rolls 250 rosemary and garlic rolls 250 chocolate rolls 250 strawberry rolls 250 goose rolls 250 unicorn rolls 250. Also 400 croissants. Liz Locke goes 'CROISSANTS?! We're not making croissants!' and Shibby says 'We are now'. I kind of get the impression that the bakery part of the team didn't know about his 'You can put it anywhere you want' approach to selling baked goods. Liz Locke says that they've got limited capacity; Shibby says they've got to make what the client wants. Then, and this seems totally insignificant but is apparently crucial, Shibby says 'Call us back'. Sandeesh goes on about how it's the stupidest thing she's ever heard and they're not doing it. In the car, Paloma says it's kitchen team's fault for not prewarning about how much they could produce. Liz Locke says they'll make what they can make.

Mel's team make croissants and bagels for street sales because they've got no commercial orders. Stuart goes on about why he's awesome and he'd be pitching the shit out of it.

Mel goes on about how she's pitching but can't do numbers, but wants someone to help with it. Jamie gets stroppy and says he's already helping, so Mel turns to Alex and says she might have to hand over the numbers 'to yourself'. SEETHE. Alex agrees, with a bit of reservation. They go to a coffee shop chain. Mel fucks up more and doesn't know how much her products cost, or weigh. Alex steps in with the weight of the muffin and says they'll be 80p per unit. The coffee people talk them down from 80p per unit to 70 and a deal is done. Sadako has sat their croaking and creaking and clicking the whole time but contributes nothing. Jamie says Alex saved the day. Which he did.

Sandeesh bitches and won't make stuff. Her exact words are 'I'm not listening to them with their stupid order'.

At A Top Restaurant, Shibby, Paloma and Laura (yes, she's still there. Honest.) offer a price for baguettes. The Top Restaurant needs 400. Paloma tries to say 'we'll do all of it'. Shibby says 'Nah. We're, like, already making stuff for someone else and this would be, like, totally difficult, because we're not very good at making stuff, if I'm honest'. Client says 'Whuh? Then whatchoo doing here?' Paloma says that it's up to Shibby to decide. He tries to sell half the order, half-heartedly, but in the end says no to it. Which, while it was probably the correct thing to do because they've already got a massive order to fill, but, as Paloma says when they're outside, 'Do you wanna know my feedback? Terrible!' He huffed and puffed his way through the whole meeting. Shibby says we can't do it. Paloma says it's his fault and it isn't, really. It's kind of Paloma's fault for not realising that they've actually got to make these things. If she could sell like this on something like last week's task where they're selling imaginary units, she'd be amazing.

Mel et al turn up to the bakery to do some baking. Christopher, admittedly with great finesse, gets em them all going. He's an army man dontcha know.

At the Apollo bakery, Shibby's bakers got some 'splainin to do. The bakery team bitch about not knowing what to do. Which is where the Shibby saying 'call us back' thing comes in, because it gives Sandeesh, Chris Bates and Liz Locke plausible deniability on the order. Even though, as Sandeesh in particular demonstrated, they refused to try and fill the order. And could, you know, have actually called back to check like Shibby said. Though Shibby could also have called to check on the progress. Basically none of them are acquitting themselves well here. Karrren bitches on about something. I don't know.

Christopher gets things done. Nick frots himself dry and says military about a thousand times. [Because military training works so well on this show - Rad]

Shibby and Sandeesh fight. Again. Some more.

Shibby wants a stock take to see how much they've made and yells at Sandeesh about how it's easy for her to just put stuff in a box, but they need to know what's going on more. In the car back, Shibby and Paloma bitch about Sandeesh. Laura does says and does nothing. Again. Some more.

5.30 am the next day. They get up. Stuart is excited about selling. They have to sell to the public and deliver the commercial orders. In the car, Laura warns Shibby, 'he is going to batter you; I'm warning you.' At The 4 Star Hotel, of their 1,900 items, of the rolls and rolls and rolls and rolls and rolls and rolls and croissants, they've got nothing except some muffins. Oh, well, no that's not fair. They also have 16 bread rolls. Out of the 1,000 they promised. Chef Dude is understandably pissed off and says 'We took it on trust guys' and calls its 'Absolutely farcical'. He also sounds kind of amused, though, and let's be honest he clearly had a backup plan for, well... this. Shibby is like super apologetic and they end up compensating him £130. In interview, Chris Bates sounds frankly baffled by the whole situation

At The Coffee Chain, Mel turns up with her products. The Coffee Chain Man likes the rolls, but says that their muffins are hideous and nasty and retro and he could never possibly sell them. They do, indeed, have scores of glace cherries on top, looking like … pustules or something. He refuses them, but they still get £60 for the bread rolls

Le Pan Artyzan is ready for business. Nick says Stuart is good at selling. Mel talks BAD French to people who aren't French and, in another innuendo, says 'Let them smell it, let them smell it'. She gives really super aggressive hard sell of the 'You're not leaving til you buy something' variety. Stella says it's not happening and that they need to move somewhere else.

Shibby's 'Bakers Indulgence' stall is in Covent Garden. Chris Bates is dressed as a oven. Karrren says that Shibby and Chris Bates are doing very well because they understand that people are there for the Covent Garden experience and expect to be accosted and grabbed at and to have to run the gauntlet of awful horrible human statues and men dressed as dogs in pet carriers. Sometimes, Karrren, people (ie me) work in Covent Garden and just want to get to the cash point and pop into Boots for some toothpaste without getting the Covent Garden experience. But. We. Can't.

Laura and Paloma sell. Sandeesh doesn't. Because she's a surly hag. Paloma complainterviews that Sandeesh is just standing there expecting people to come to her, while Paloma and Laura are scooting about selling like dynamos.

Later, Mel, Alex and Stella are still at the same spot in Soho where they weren't selling anything. Stella says they need to move, again. Mel's like 'I'm deciding where to go!'. Alex interviews that they need to move. He tells Mel she's making excuses. She's like AM NOT! Alex says she's dragging her heels. She then has the audacity to complain about him 'dragging his heels' in the pitches. You know. The pitch to the Coffee Chain where he saved her arse and secured the sale. They bicker. She says he's got a GCSE maths problem. He says her inability with figures is her fault and also he got an A* in his GCSE so NER!! Stella tries to tame them, because Stella is actually a grown-up.

Le Pan Artyzan sell out.

Paloma et al sell their muffins and do pretty well. So does Shibby on the muffins. Laura tries to sell the bread. Shibby tells her to shut up and fuck off, basically. Because the muffins muffins muffins muffins muffins. That's basically his logic. MUFFINS!

Mel and co go to Camden and try to sell to cafes. Nick pulls a face. They get a tenner for a whole tray of products. They jump up and down with excitement. Nick's like 'nah', you sold it, but for a pittance. Calm yourselves.

End of task.

NotFrances, who is at present completely invisible, sends them through.

Sralan addresses Mel. She says three of the four skillsets spoke to her – it sounds like they get a list of what they'll need for the task? Sralan asks if she was good. Alex says great at selling but poor at pitching. She says why didn't you help? He's like, you're a food retailer, and so I thought maybe the food retailer was the best person to take charge in the meetings regarding food retail. She's like you could have helped with those complicated number things. Sralan's cuts in to say that, in fact, Alex did help. Sralan asks about the hotel and Mel, to her credit I guess, cops to it being a disaster. Nick goes on about the fifteen minute absence for about the same length of time. Sralan asks about the factory and Nick says military some more. Christopher is a SOLDIER and a HERO and good at KITCHEN CONTROL.

Apollo. Was Shibby 'Doctor Doolittle or Didalot?' Even this secures a polite titter but beyond that there is total silence. Chris Bates says good effort. Sralan says it's lucky they're not the medical panel. Indeed, what with Shibby's warning from the GMC for unprofessional behaviour, it would be terribly unfortunate if they were also his team mates. Shibby says he's not pitched before, but they didn't go according to plan, and that just cos somebody gives them an offer, doesn't mean they have to accept it.

Synergy sold £999.37 with costs of £139.50 for an £859.87 profit; Apollo sold £974.92 with costs including compensation of £308.93, for £665.99 profit. Some of Synergy are good at the maths, because they clap once the Apollo costs are read out. The treat is Eastern dining and glamorous Arabian dancers. Sralan gets a dig in at Mel for being shit. An awful insight into Sralan's brain that I really didn't want

At the Loser Cafe, Shibby says heart and soul wasn't enough. Paloma interviews blames Shibby for his bad decisions. Liz Locke says the sales were like 20 quid difference so it was what went before that was the problem. Shibby interviews that even without the compensation they'd have lost, so did everyone pull their weight? [I love that that was his defence strategy. "I'm so shit, we wouldn't have won even without my enormous fuck-up." - Steve]

At the SexyArabian Cafe Of Snakes And Titties, Jamie interviews that Mel is a sucky bitch who sucks and 'there's only one thing Melessa should do right now. Learn'. Alex and Stuart dance with a snake and a titty lady. Christopher looks appalled. Jamie says 'a win's a win' and toasts Mel. Worra snide little bitch he is.

NotFrances, who has now manifested herself as an entire hand, sends the losers back through.

Sralan makes a 'breadwinners? More like breadlosers!' funny. He asks about the hotel order. Paloma says Shibby told them to pitch everything, so they tried to maximise the order. Clever clever girl. She could feasbily be blamed for them taking on too much, but she's laid the blame for that with his instructions. Shibby admits he should have had 'a firmer grip on saying no'. He says he was pressurised by the two women either side of him, as if Laura could pressurise anyone into doing anything. Shibby says that if it wasn't for him, they'd have had a bigger order from The Top Restaurant too. Karren says he was like a sulky child and does some mildly amusing huffing and puffing to illustrate.

Sralan asks about the factory team's response. Liz Locke says they were shocked at the volume. Chris Bates says they didn't know it was definite. Laura finally sparks awake and is like 'why would we bother with a potential order?!' Karren says the lack of communication was the reason for the failure.

Sralan attacks them for failing to deliver, and for the sixteen rolls, asking where the two fish were, in an admirable attempt at a Feeding the 5,000 joke that ultimately doesn't really work. A swing and a miss is better than his usual standard of just standing there not even realising the ball has been thrown, though. Sralan says that it was totally wrong to offer compensation, because in this show there is not a 'next time' and even if there were, a company who you fail on such a massive scale, delivering just over 1% of what they ordered isn't going to use you again even if you do compensate them.

Paloma and Liz made lots of money, Sandeesh not very much. Paloma was in charge and Shibby says he wanted regular phonecalls to update him, as though that means anything. Paloma says 'Oh, Shibby, please' and brushes him aside, and then says that they made lots of money. Shibby says Sandeesh didn't sell much and Sandeesh says that she was securing the customers for Liz Locke and Paloma to sell to. Hmm, not convinced by that, but the other girls don't question it. In a gross insight into Shibby's brain, he says that Sandeesh could have walked around with her top off to secure sales.

Sralan asks why the bread was left over. Shibby says 'Nobody wants bread in Covent Garden' and Sralan asks why they made it in the first place.

Sralan asks whose fault it was; Sandeesh jumps in blaming Shibby. Via an awful joke I can't bring myself to transcribe, Sralan asks who he's bringing back. Sandeesh and Paloma. Right, in that Sandeesh was stroppy and did nothing and Paloma kind of got them in the mess in the first place But so so wrong because they will tear him to pieces.

Sralan, Nick and Karrren talk. Shibby is rubbish but sells. Paloma is so safe. Karren likes that she upsold. Sandeesh does nothing.

Why did you bring in Paloma? Because they were on a different wavelength. Paloma jumps in and shuts him up: 'Let me interject and say the facts.' and goes on to explain how The Top Restaurant wanted ciabatta but they talked them to baguettes. Which, if she did that, Paloma is again awesome in that a baguette is far easier for the kitchen to make. Shibby just picks on the volume that was ordered – '400!' he cries. Paloma says that she was given instructions and that Shibby was an embarrassment. Shibby says they were on different wavelengths and Paloma agrees: 'I'm a businesswoman and you're a joke; that's the difference.' PALOMA 4EVAR.

Shibby tries to say Paloma and Laura both doubted Sandeesh. Paloma's like Nah! That never happened! Paloma says she didn't question Sandeesh's role, because 'you're the one that brought it up.' Ha! Love. Sralan asks why Sandeesh has no sparkle. She says she'll be PM next time. Oh Sandeesh, no. Shibby says Sandeesh has got some attitude probems, and Sandeesh says she ain't got no fucking attitude problem, fuck you all. Sandeesh's rez-you-may says she wants to lead Sralan to be world domination. Sralan basically calls her Hitler.

Sralan asks who's responsible. Paloma says Shibby all the way, because 'you don't have the fundamental skills … I'm sorry to tell you that Shibby'. She's so amazing. Sandeesh agrees. Shibby says he's got two ears and one mouth and he'll use them in that ratio. He's a doctor, laygennelmen!!

Sralan says why should I keep you? Shibby is like 'I started a business! Just like you Sralan!!' and Paloma pulls a hilarious bitchface.

Sralan says he doesn't want to hear anything, but Paloma can't stop herself saying 'I shouldn't be here, Lord Sugar.' In a typical Sralan Has Total Insight moment, he says he thought Paloma thought she was 'superior' (which, yeah, she thinks that because she's better than the rest of them bar Stella) but Karrren has saved her.

Sralan thinks Shibby is smart but don't do nothing. Sandeesh don't do nothing neither. Shibby is fired. Sandeesh will be PM. At some point! Sralan will choose! Not you!

Coatwatch: A weird double-breasted number, with buttons all the way to the collar.

Cabterview: he sold the most (true) and Sandeesh got away scott-free! Boo! Whatevs.

At the flat, Sadako thinks Paloma's getting fired because on all the previous tasks 'I don't think she does a lot'. You mean when she ran the sausage machine, and when she directed the photoshoot? Yeah, she does nothing at all. Fuck off Sadako. Alex wants Shibby back. Somehow I'm not surprised. Paloma says Sralan looked at Shibby and asked why Paloma was there, but he couldn't give an answer and 'his time was up'. Paloma and Stella final please.

Next time, the Apprenti discover that hairdryers can be used to kill babies, and Chris Bates gets in some stirrups and opens his legs ever so wide.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman

Week 2: 13th October 2010

First things first, the wonderfully named Raleigh Addington has left the Apprentice. And for once it is not due to a diva strop but because his brother was wounded serving in Afghanistan and he wanted to be with his family. Brother Ed is doing fine and Raleigh now works for Tickets For Troops. Which is nice.

So while we were catching up with all that, the usual over confident striding, sneering and sound biting is going on. I am still not convinced this lot aren't an improv class from the Sylvia Young theatre school, do business people really come out with this much contrived shit? Oh wait, I should know - yes they do! So, no Steady Eddies or Cautious Carols for Sralan and in the interests of climate change, no more crap!

Last time, sleep was lost, rusk and mincing abounded, some got more banger for their buck than others and Dan Harris experimented in leading a team by insulting them, shouting at them and doing none of the work. Shockingly this tactic was less than a stellar success and he was fired.

5.30am and Sralan wants them at Terminal 5 Heathrow. Sleep is for wimps people! In the car Jamie and Shibby declare they simply have to 'beat the girlies'. It's digital Sralan as opposed to the real deal. He tells them 'don't get bladdy excited cos you aren't going anywhere - beach holidays is where it is at peeps. So you need to design, produce and pitch a new beach accessory' - he says. I may have paraphrased slightly. Stella is sent to the wolves - I mean boys - as they are a man down and to keep them in check.

Stella says she knows how to handle men, she works with serious business men and can whip these boys into shape. Did Sralan actually say she was in charge? [I wondered that too. - Rad] She starts off all narrowed eyes and what she won't accept and the boys fidget in their seats.

Laura steps up for the girls. I say steps up, but she sort of begs them to say she is great and her skill set is good and then when they do starts stamping her mark all over the place - don't rush straight in with design ideas stupid! She can adapt to any personality that is thrown at her. Why do I suspect that will come back to haunt her?

Synergy dismiss Shibby's idea of a third arm to ease the application of suncream on the back of your neck. Instead they decide quickly on a towel bottle holder that keeps your water cold and you can use as a pillow. Stella accepts the idea as nothing else has been suggested and that's that. The girls are talking over each other, shaking their heads at each other's ideas and rolling their eyes. Passive aggressive much? No decisions look likely here for a while.....

Chris, Chris and Alex are sent off to beach. Alex takes the op to arse lick about Lord Sugar and his team who took a risk on the videophone. He repeats himself. Yes, yes I think we have all got the idea that you lurve Sralan and chums. In Bogner they try and interest the cold Britsh public in the cuuli - with umlauts over the 'uu' for eyes.

Jamie's VT - When I open my mouth, I'm not holding back like a champers bottle who will explode if I don't get it out there.. They try and explain the idea to the designer who seems more interested in imagining Jamie wet and naked on the beech.

Apollo are still nowhere near making a choice or even having a good idea.

Paloma, Liz and Sandeesh are at Brighton beach searching for inspiration. They look a bit silly on the beach, in their suits, just saying. With half an hour left to submit their idea, Joanna's book readers keep coming up and Laura keeps dismissing it on the basis of their being 'no research pointing towards it' and she doesn't know if she can go forward on it - oh no wait - she can. She literally goes from the depth of despair complete with bridge-of-the-nose rubbing and agonising soul searching to 'let's do it' in 5 seconds.

Karren is not impressed with the lack of decision making and suspects that having 30 seconds to design their unique book reading aid will end in fail. The 3 on the beach think this is a bad call.

Tomorrow is photographing the product, Chris, Chris and Alex want Stella to 'take one for the team' and be photographed in a bikini. This is because they are allegedly pitching to women, bear this in mind when they actually pitch later... [If they're pitching to women, surely Chris Bates should be the one parading around in a swimsuit? - Steve] She is worried she might have other things to do and won't be the project leader anymore, she will be a model. Ignoring her obvious discomfort with the idea, not to mention the fact THAT SHE SAID NO, they all go swimwear shopping - sweet Jesus they want one with tassels. 8pm and the boys are back with a classy, cowgirl Daisy Duke looking outfit [they're in fashion! Well, Steve's BFF Katy Perry sings about them in her song, anyway - Rad] and somehow Stella has been talked in, she will do things she would rather not in order to win. Hmmm what happened to being able to handle the boys? [I'm not sure who I was more disappointed in after this - the boys for coercing Stella into the swimsuit when she was clearly uncomfortable with the idea, or Stella for...wearing the swimsuit when she was clearly uncomfortable with the idea. - Steve] More to the point why did it have to be a woman in her beach garb? Why couldn't they stick Chris B or Alex in a pair of speedos? ['S what I'm saying! - Steve]

Apollo are still working. Oh Liz, don't talk over Laura - she can't deal with it or control them. With something of the brink-of-a-nervous-breakdown-teacher about her, Laura keeps telling them they are making it difficult to facilitate anything. They ignore her. (God her eyes are really blue even outside the boardroom.)

The prototypes are here. As Synergy struggles to open the box, Stella compares opening the box to having a baby - you know its in there but not what it look likes. I'd put money on her being childless. The towel is deemed very cuuli LOLZ. The girls' book-eeze meanwhile comes in 8 pieces and they can't work out how to put it together. Joy isn't keen, she was happy with the principle of going with the unique idea, but basically it is a steaming pile of shit.

Sunny pitches are required. Up steps Chris B who deems the age of the beach towel to be dead. Nick says he is too monotone,it is a holiday product not a nuclear submarine. Stella ditches Chris B for Jamie in the nicest way possible, 'please don't take this the wrong way... we need to nail this and I'm not sure you are right....' Chris B pouts and he does have lovely lips and once Stella's in the car becomes a stroppy teenager, all 'won't damage my confidence cos I don't care its just piss poor and shit yeah'? [He is this year's Alex Wotherspoon, isn't he? Can anyone verify if he is TWENTY FOUR or not? - Rad]

Melissa starts trying to pitch using 20 words where 1 will do. She can sell ice to the Eskimos - by bamboozling them with even more words for snow? Joanna calls her on it, a row begins and Laura walks out for a little weep because she can't do it, she should have right of speech and they KEEP TALKING OVER HER.

At the Synergy photo shoot - Alex has Stella on her back (in a photo studio)and Nick is instructed not to look at her. She is mortified and thankfully we are spared most of her embarrassment.

Paloma is in charge of the girls sandpit sorry photo shoot. This means lugging bags of sand up 4 flights of stairs.

Sandeesh VTs that she is Princess Paloma, she only talks to be heard.

Photographer Paloma deems that 'this is the money shot', though not like any money shot I may or may not have ever seen.

So posters printed, pitches rehearsed and prototypes ready it is off to face the big boys. First up Chris B introduces the Cuuli from Synergy Beech products to Boots. Right Chris B is pitching on the basis on Chris F using the Cuuli - Chris F would be a man so that blows his whole explanation for making Stella strip off out of the water [I still can't believe she did it rather than making them do it, but then misogyny and BIZNESS are never far apart according to this show - Rad]. The nice ladies from Boots points out despite their claims, its less stylish and cool and more rolled up towel. In the girls car Joanne tells Joy off for being sorry for having an opinion. Joanna is doing my head in with her battering ram style of erm being but she is right on this one. Joy's constant apologising could be perceived as passive aggression.

First up for the girls is World Duty Free. They build the item easily... sort of. Melissa is sure people are looking for this, the ladies from World Duty Free are not so sure. They ask whose idea it was and Joanna proudly proclaims it is hers/ In the car Laura is fuming and says it was unprofessional and they worked as a team. Joanne decides this means they want her to lie. 'If I wouldn't have said that it would be bullshit' retorts Joanne. Those earrings are huge and she could start a fight in an empty room.

Next up at World Duty Free is Synergy. Nick is gurning and Chris B's not getting better at his natural story telling pitch style.

Kit to Fit for the girls and the sandbox. Melissa tries to set the scene, how hard it is to find the right position to read on the beach. But that isn't exactly what she says. Is confortability a word Melissa? Have you all lost the ability to construct grammatically correct sentences?

Next in the lucky Kit for Fit people get hammered with the cuuli pitch which seems to go slightly better although Nick looks very board. There is a distinct swagger in Chris B's declaration of the death of the beach towel.

Final pitch of the day for Apollo is Boots. They like the canvas bit of the book-eeze but overall it is clunky. Melissa says sure 60 million times and then Boots say we have given you quite a lot of help here (what by saying its a bit crap?) and we would want exclusivity, the team aren't just going to give that away. Outside Sandeesh says exclusivity is a bad idea if a company has 1 shop but maybe not with Boots [and also, the team that screwed up on exclusivity a couple of years ago, whom I assume Laura was afraid of becoming, were bollocked because it was someone else's product they offered it on. This is their own - Rad]. Still Laura sticks to her 'it's too early to be talking like that' guns

In the boardroom the boys praise Stella as a team leader - presumably for taking some clothes off. They start to recount the idea behind the cuuli and Nick looks like he wants to stab himself to death. Sugar draws the link between German umlauts and Germans and beach towels. Casual xenophobia of course but no one notices these things, presumably because they are still mesmerised by the crazy blue boardroom eyes.

Turning to the girls Joanne takes all the credit for the bookeeze. Laura starts to explain how she literally had 2 heads on, Joy doesn't plead the 5th and I get a bit lost. A few of the girls look so similar I am struggling to identify who is who.

So it is the moment of truth.

Apollo got no orders - FROM ANYONE. Not even Boots placed an order, Karren says they blew it not giving exclusivity. So nil points across the board is a first. Joy looks distinctly tearful, possibly because she foresees how this is about to play out, I know I do.

Synergy have no orders from World Duty Free or Boots but Kit to Fit have ordered 100 units.

The boys are off to Wentworth Golf Club for private coaching. Yay. If I was on this show 'd complain about the prizes. The high tea looks nice and everything but it wouldn't make up for the fact you have to play bloody golf first.

Karren still can't quite believe the girls turned down an exclusive option with Boots. Nick says the only good thing to come out of this task was that Stella kept Synergy together. Sralan comments it is hard to control that women power, Karren comments that she has been telling him that for years.

Its all smiles and fun on the golf course, Jamie sticks his pinkie out whilst drinking tea and Stella gloats that the girls are in that 'grotty cafe' - sorry @Bridge_Cafe.

The girls are off to loser cafe. Joanne is shockingly now back tracking and brands Laura a clown for not closing the deal with the chemist. It is all hands up, in faces and heads are starting to pop. Best get them back in the boardroom before the hair pulling and scratching of eyes begins.

Ding Ding round 2 in the boardroom. Joanne agrees the product might be unique but it wasn't good. Joy points out there were other ideas on the table, Laura says there has been lots of criticism but not many positive suggestions. Sandeesh admits to assaulting - sorry, elbowing Laura when she didn't bite Boots' hands off straight away. They were all elbowing her apparently, she must be black and blue.

Laura feels managing the team was like running a circus, cue more eye rolling. Joy admits she may have been intimidated by some of the noise when challenged on why she didn't stand up more. It quickly descends into 'I'm just saying the truth, am I lying'. Sralan asks Joanne if she is the trouble causer, others disagree but Alpha Karren off screen announces 'you are Joanne' and that is that.

Laura is bringing back Joanne and Sandeesh, she would happily bring back the whole team if she could. Sandeesh and Joanna say she has done the wrong thing (and they will get her after school). It descends into shouting in midst of which Sandeeh proclaims she gave 150% (drink) ooo bloody amateurs says Sralan (drink). Karren is disgusted with the way they are representing women and should be ashamed of themselves.

'You are representing businesswomen today and it's outrageous how you're behaving. Seventy-five per cent of my management team is women and I've never seen anything like this'.

'Young women out there who want to do something like this, and you should be an example to them.'

Yeah think on that says Sralan. I am warming to Karren a bit now [I like her too, but where are the speeches about the infants parading as men on this show letting their side down? Rad].

Wait a cotton fuckingminute folks - Sralan says you need to justify your choice of who you bring back and Laura changes her choice to Joanne and Joy!

Sending them to wait outside, the holy trinity all look slightly shell shocked. It isn't a bladdy wrestling match or a boxing match. Not-Francis sends them back in for the final bout.

Laura justifies her change of mind because Joy didn't contribute enough. Joy says because she didn't want to take part in a cat fight, maybe she was intimidated by the noise. She is bringing back Joanne because she didn't contribute to any other ideas as she was so fixated on her own idea and she was the hardest to manage. Sralan adds disruptive and loud, Joanne says passionate, Sralan says not so much.

Joanne blames Laura. Laura says she has proved she is willing to take risks and make mistakes but she doesn't make them twice. Look! It's on her CV and everything. Joanne says don't fire me because I am prepared to put myself forward but I was too passionate. Joy retorts 'well I made sure we made good sausages last week and I said I didn't like book-eeze' and erm that's it.

The decision. Is it just me or is this somehow lacking? We know where this one is going. So does Joy.

Sraln's declaration is thus: 'Laura you enter the annuals of apprentice fame by getting no sales. Joy you can't avoid getting your head on the chopping block. Joanna you wind people up and I can't have that going forward, I am not buying the description of passion..... (in it til the rottweilers then?) Laura got a pathetic result but seeing as they don't shut up in front of me I know it wasn't easy. So Joy you are fired' (I actually said 'man' and facepalmed). Joy says 'no' and walks out meanwhile Sralan tells Joanna she is on her last chance (definitely in it till the rottweilers).

Sralan deems the cardinal sin to be not pulling your weight. In fairness Joy could have pulled a 10 ton weight while naked and painted bright blue and no one would have noticed with all the bitching. [Neither of them hugged her after leaving the boardroom. Cold. - Rad]

Coat watch - black, boring but nice pink scarf.

In the taxi she muses she is disappointed but probably couldn't have handled the screaming much longer.

At home Yoda, sorry Jamie, has wise words for the group. Its a not a crime to make a mistake, its a crime not to learn from it. Joanna says she is learning not to be a gobshite

Next time they turn flour into serious dough - selling buns and more fighting.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

A total sausage-fest

Week One

6 October 2010

Having a year and-a-half off has meant the news series of The Apprentice is very welcome. Junior Apprentice earlier this year was a good replacement (and gave us time to get used to Karren, rather than Margaret *SOB*) but there ain't nothing like the real thing, err, baby.

As usual, the pre-credits VTs tell us nothing about which contestant is which, but by the power of the internet I am able to put names to faces. We're reminded that it's the job interview from hell as we learn about the contestants from themselves. These, folks are your candidates:

  • Chris Bates: nothing mediocre about him, supremely intelligent, ambitious, an all-round gifted individual - like Katie Waissel/Vogel/Lola Fontaine, perhaps?
  • Melissa Cohen: Charismatic, intelligent, a damn good businesswoman, at the top of her game, unbeatable.
  • Stuart Baggs: an absolutely fantastic salesman, everything he touches turns to sold.
  • Alex Epstein: a bit of a maverick, believes you absolutely have to stand out these days, you've got to be different, not just another corporate clone.
  • Liz Locke: Looks like Chanelle from Big Brother 8, pressure brings out the best in her, young, adaptable, agile, will be the last woman standing.
  • Shibby Robati: The token Asian wideboy (see Tre, Syed etc), success and money motivate him, his first word wasn't mummy, it was money (he almost completely cracks up at this. Heh).
  • Some other losers who don't get to say anything yet.
Is it just me, or do this lot seem like parodies of Apprentice contestants? [All I know is I was watching through my fingers from 30 seconds in - Fiona]

Apparently later in the series we get 'something special: zero sales' which is very exciting. We're told that Sralan (whoops, sorry, Ludsuga) [It just doesn't roll off the tongue, does it? - Steve] has gone from a council estate in Hackney to the House of Lords, and we see footage of him entering the House in his ceremonial gear, which looks utterly bizarre. I'm trying not to look at who's in the future clips as I don't want too many spoilers - and the clips are full of them. [My boyfriend looked, and immediately worked out who was going home this week. Nice work, editors! - Steve]

We open on the boardroom at midnight (it's not October 31st yet is it?) NotFrances ushers them through. The boardroom still has that ridiculously bright blue lighting.

Ludsuga says he's read all their CVs and on paper they all look good, but then so does fish'n'chips. The contestants all give the obligatory half-laugh. We're reminded that we are in TOUGH! ECONOMIC! TIMES! (drrrrrrink!) and in THIS CLIMATE they need to stand out from the crowd. He wants someone dynamic and ambitious who is prepared to take a risk. He's not interested in any 'Steady Eddies' or 'Cautious Carols' (the phrase Cautious Carols trended on Twitter last night. Hee.) despite several previous series that have proved that risk takers are expressly what he doesn't want and steady types are.

Everyone's blue eyes look crazy as usual in the boardroom.

Ludsuga (anyone mind if I go back to calling him Sralan now? Other than the man himself, I mean) tells them they're going to be working through the night at Smithfield Meat Market to manufacture and sell sausages, which are one of the nation's favourites and sell in 'bucketloads' apparently. Very precise.

Nick will be following the ladies, and Karren the men. We're reminded that Karren was the youngest ever director of a public limited company. Sralan says these are TOUGH TIMES (if you're playing a drinking game you'll be bladdered already by now) and people will either sink or swim, but he don't do life jackets. In our first 24-hour task ever, they have to make the sausages through the night and then sell them in the morning. Oooh, cruel!

Stuart Baggs tells his fellow team-mates he's from the Isle of Mann and owns a telecommunications company. To ram home the point about him being a 'character', we get another VT of him telling us that people aspire to own a flash sports car, maybe a house in the country, he's got all that already. He asks, where is his glass ceiling? (answer: he hasn't got one - though as a man the term 'glass ceiling' isn't really applied to him anyway, is it?). In what is surely going to be the most referenced quote of the series, we learn that he is Stuart Baggs: The Brand. He's also confident, unique, successful, yadda yadda. Shibby says he's a surgeon (in which case, what the HELL is he doing wanting to work in a broom cupboard selling boxes or whatever the job will be for 100K a year?). Then, so as to look like a srs bznssman, he says 'but I also run my own company... er companIES'.

The lowdown on some of your other contenders:
  • Raleigh Addington: just come out of university, been hit by the recession a bit, hasn't been finding a job that easily, really wants this.
  • Stella English: worked in banking for thirteen years (and her team mates boo her at this, which would be funny where they not all in business anyway and probably also part of organisations CULPABLE FOR THIS CRISIS etc), left school at fifteen with no qualifications (TICK!), works for a top-notch investment bank (but presumably has no maths skills going on her previous statement? BLAME THE WITCH for the FINANCIAL MELTDOWN), nothing is out of bounds for her.
Stella tells the women they've got to win this task. Err, no shit, Sherlock. Alex says he's not a sausage expert (the first of many glorious puns tonight) but he is a foodie. He says if they're British sausages they can emphasise the Buy British angle. Yeah, very creative. Alex VTs that he was made redundant recently so he could actually do with this job. Apparently people like him don't come along very often, with that unique blend of creativity and commercial nous. His creative suggestion? 'Britain's Best Bangers'.

Team name choosing in a nearby pub. Stella says they need a team name that alludes to success and victory. Michelle says they should call themselves 'winning women', in all seriousness, which is the most hilarious and useless team name suggestion in many a series. The others point out that the teams will get mixed soon enough, which would be the reason to keep it in my book, just for the comedy lulz. Laura Moore suggests Apollo because it was successful and they had the slogan 'failure is no option'. Everyone likes it. That was quick.

The men's team. Stuart suggests Fusion, which is the name of a lovely cafe opposite my work building, so I'd rather they didn't. Chris suggests Synergy because the teams are going to keep changing but have to work together. [Cheat! That was already used by one of the teams on season five of the original Apprentice in America. - Steve] Stuart keeps saying 'it's got to be Fusion'. Someone else says that sounds a bit cliche (and Synergy doesn't?) and Stuart replies 'it's where we're at, cheap and disposable'. HA! Chris says they won't always be selling cheap and disposable stuff. They vote, and Synergy wins. Well that was all a bit straightforward. Don't tell me this year's lot are actually going to get things done.

Team leader time. Liz asks if anyone's got any management experience. Melissa says she has, and she's doing a module on food distribution, but there's no way she's taking on the poisoned chalice of being the first task PM as they always get fired. [First task losing PMs who got fired for that loss: Ben Stanberry, Andy Jackson. First task losing PMs who did NOT get fired for that loss: Saira Khan, Alex Wotherspoon, Mona Lewis. I'm on to you and your lies, Melissa. - Steve] Two of the quiet ones volunteer, and Joanna takes it on. None of the men want to do it, but Dan eventually says he will. He tells them he'll lead and they'll do all the work. No-one except Karren seems to have clocked that he's serious.
  • Joanna Riley: most people will underestimate her, doesn't have the fancy qualifications, has gotten by on common sense, which most people in business don't have (burn!).
  • Dan Harris: believes that in business there's no place for skirkers or passengers, insists the people that work for him deliver, can intimidate people, is all about getting results, doesn't care.
Foodie Alex suggests they have pork and 'ham' sausages. FAIL. Joanna suggests lamb and peas. Almost as bad. Dan suggests lamb and stout, the sort of thing you would see in a pub (I don't eat meat but is lamb the best choice to go with stout?). Alex says, Boozy Bangers (yeah, if you want to hit the Iceland 'Boozy Brownies' demographic), Fruity Bangers and Fiery Bangers, three very distinctive flavours. Jamie tries to interject and Alex retorts that these are the names families would love. Jamie says, 'what, boozy', and Alex replies 'that's for the dads. Dads would love a boozy banger'. Tonight, the jokes just write themselves. Jamie: 'So we're just going to eliminate the mums?' Alex: 'Yes'. Oh so much weird homoeroticism.

Karren tells us it was like being back in the dressing room and I really hope we don't get too many more football allusions. I don't really mind Karren, but I miss Margaret's references to random Greek myths and suchlike. She says Dan is really aggressive. [Which is like telling us bears shit in the woods, I remain unconvinced by Karen - Fiona]

Stuart looks at their information and says a sausage with 70-95% meat can be called a gourmet sausage, whilst anything with less than 42% meat can't be called a sausage 'so there's no point in giving people extra meat they're not going to appreciate'. [I'm sure I read that on a gaydar profile once. - Steve] Somewhere, Jamie Oliver is weeping. He says they should go for 42% and 'stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap'. Well, it worked for Yasmina last year.

Joanna feels strongly that they need to sort the sausages out. Melissa says she's coming from a different perspective, which would be what, exactly? Ignore the task? She says the costs need to make sense. Joanna says they need to decide what the sausages are first and then they get into an argument over nothing.

Meat porn. *Vomits*.

The men try and go for the cheapest meat on sale, and Stuart tells someone their meat is 'well too cheap'. Both teams prove to be pretty rubbish negotiators. Joanna and her half talk to a butcher about the meat content. The butcher reckons you need at least 60-70% because people "want a better sausage" (hee). They decide to go for the gourmet sausages. Liz says they're too far down the line to change things and Melissa says that they just got an expert's opinion so they shouldn't ignore it, which might be the first time a candidate on this show has ever said anything vaguely useful. Joy, who hasn't given us a VT yet, skips up to a man and says 'please sir can we buy some more'. I suppose it's better than offering to kiss him for favours, like some years' women teams, but blech.

Nick VTs that it's risky to spend more but they will be able to charge more.

Stuart asks a butcher about a cut and is told it's brisket, at which he goes 'it's WHAT?' Dude, I'm a vegetarian, and I've heard of brisket. They do more rubbish negotiating and the traders totally whoop them. Stuart then says in the cab that they're pushing crap and the sausages are going to taste rancid. It was your idea, fella.

Each team has their own 'sausage factory'. The men are told that if they use a lot of rusk, they need to use a lot of water. Is anyone writing this down? [Those sausages are going to be about a millimetre wide by the time they've been cooked. Bleurgh. - Steve] Dan asks if they're all giving him his full attention, then he barks orders at them and tells them not to fuck up. He then asks, and I quote 'who's doing the mincing?' [Immediately I looked for Nick, then realised he's following the other team. Such a missed opportunity. - Steve] He then swears at them again.

Joanna gives out jobs to her team. They're making pork and cider, chicken and chilli and lamb and mint sausages. Paloma is 'getting to grips with the end result'. Cue shots of machines being sheathed and premature ejaculations. The editors are most clearly not above these things (and nor am I). Apparently, 'it's a bit of an art form getting the perfect sausage'.

Lots of shots of rusk as we see the boys' budget bangers in production. Blee! Karren tells us that Dan's management style is just to stand around shouting orders at people and not doing much himself. The sausages aren't mixing well, but Stuart says he just wants to 'pack something' and would rather sell a dodgy sausage than no sausage. There's a lot of shouting and faffing as no-one seems to know what they're doing. Voiceover: 'So far, not a sausage'. Shibby shouts that they 'need it moist'.

The girls are finding it hard to pack their sausages because they're so big, and their costs seem to be too high. The men's sausages look revolting (badumtish). Stuart asks what flavour they are, and no-one seems to know. He shouts 'it's your funeral' if it goes wrong at someone, which, not necessarily. And also? Great teamwork. Dan is confident they'll turn it around. [I just wanted it publically noted that I have added then deleted several comments in the last 2 paragraphs on the grounds of taste. I think we are being very restrained here guys - Fiona]

Alex says it's 'Sausage Saturday'. One of the anonymous men says they should promote them as being handmade, with 'no nasties'. Erm, trades description act, anyone? They go to Portobello Market. They're wearing dreadful straw hats, but they grill some up and get some interest. Alex says they're the freshest sausages, made from local, er, regional (how big a region?) meat. Stuart stands in front of an old man pushing sausages in his face and tells him to buy them. When the guy refuses, he shouts 'but they're gonna go off!' He tells someone that supermarket sausages have "lots and lots of food colouring in" (whereas these just have lots and lots of rusk). He sends someone away with 'if you have any problems, please feel free to keep them to yourself'. I do wish they'd introduce an element where dissatisfied customers can get their money back. Jamie tries to tell him to calm down but Stuart snits that he's sold the most, so Jamie can cram it.

The girls are targeting 'well-heeled' businessman. Liz's technique is to ask a man 'do you think your wife would like a different sausage at all?' [That's a blatant fish for camera time if ever I heard one. I'm on to you too, Liz. - Steve] A customer asks Stella if she's tried one cooked. She hasn't, so they stick the griddle on. Nick comments that they should have done that earlier.

The boys are selling well, and Dan takes half the team off to doorknock on houses and asks if they want some sausages. Funnily enough, no-one does. Dan tries to bully a camp landlord into buying them and he doesn't. Nobody inserts a slightly homophobic sausage-related joke here. They leave and Dan swears at his team. Nice. Chris says they can't go to Sloane Square because their hotels are too swanky to buy their shit produce, but Shibby suggests they can sell them to hostels 'for the tramps'. Nice target market there, Shibby.

The girls' sales are picking up, and we see someone really hating the taste. Whoops. They target businesses and go to a local restaurant. The chef comes out and asks what breed the chicken is. The response? 'Free range'. Bless. Joanna introduces herself and Melissa tries to then introduce Joanna again. Melissa starts to bitch fight with Joanna because she wants to close 'her' sale. They bitch fight in front of the client. Melissa's argument is that you have to close every deal you start because it's 'pro-fesh-un-al-isum'. Nick pulls his disapproving face in the background.

Alex is trying to palm off their sausages as 'the finest deli sausages in London'. We see close-ups of the sausages grilling. They look rank. Dan has a brilliant idea: 'Let's do a stocktake!' His half of the team whine about it being a stupid idea but do it anyway. The girls sell more to a pub and fail at negotiating, but then say they 'absoultely knocked one out of the park' anyway. The girls sell out. Shibby sells to a cafe but fails to negotiate. The cafe owner retorts 'it's your sausages, I don't need 'em'. I'm sure there was one of the men saying '100% meat' the first time I watched this but I missed it this time around so maybe I'm just imagining they said that.

NotFrances sends them through to the boardroom. Nick tells Sralan that Melissa was asked to be project manager, declined, and was a snippy little bitch to Joanna all day. Sralan asks Joanna if she's unable to control a team. Joanna replies that no-one else put themselves forward and then all of a sudden the egos came out, and acquits herself rather well, I think.

Sralan makes a terrible 'who was the hot dog and who was the banger' joke to the men. Dan is slouching back in his seat and Sralan tells him to sit up straight. Excellent boardroom burn, there, Sralan. Figures. Apollo took £860 but spent £538.84. Profit £321.16. Synergy took £593.33, spent £247.43. Profit £305.90. Not much in it, though were quality control and the honesty of their marketing taken into account, the girls would have walked it. [Although by the same measure, Yasmina wouldn't have got anywhere near the final last year, let alone won. - Steve] Nick comments that Stella and 'Elizabeth' are hot on their figures. ZOMG! SEXUAL HARASSMENT! Oh, he means their maths. The women get the "prize" of being the first to see the house, and a champagne barbecue. [Shit prize though the banger bbq was a nice touch - Fiona]

Sralan decides he's not staying up any longer (even though he could have been in bed all day for all we know) and they can come back the next afternoon for the boardroom. Wow, Sralan likes his lie-ins.

Late night loser cafe. Which is a 'sister cafe' to The Bridge Cafe according to their Twitter feed. Dan says he didn't take a hands-off approach because he didn't want to get his hands dirty, but because he chose to manage it. He said they can criticise him for it but they're *BLEEP*ing glad he did it. Yes, because they know you're more likely to get fired, numpty.

The girls are at the new home, which looks very nice indeed, with a grand piano, a pristine kitchen, a pool (or hot tub)... and a barbecue grilling sausages. Some treat.

Boardroom time (again). Stuart Baggs The Brand says he'll take an empty suitcase in because he won't be going home. [I am hoping he pulls the same trick everytime he is in the firing line. I want to see him stride out to the taxi and ask if he can swing by the house- Fiona] Alex says Dan has a big mouth and people with bug mouths can get away with murder. Especially on this show, if the last few years are anything to go by - except at the interviews stage, anyway. Dan thinks he was a great project manager.

The men all snip. Dan says the door-to-door selling didn't work. Stuart said it worked for the girls. Sralan asks if Alex was responsible for the mixing fail, Alex says it was Raleigh (pronounced Rawley apparently). Alex says it takes a sausage maker years to get it right, Sralan points out that the girls managed. Shibby says Dan was out of his depth, Dan rubbishes this and says he was a manager. He said he didn't sell, despite being a sales director, because he was a manager, and he was working with a YOUNG group who needed patronising. Whoops, "managing". Jamie said he had to rein Stuart in. Stuart says you have to be like that. Karren tells him he's too aggressive. Jamie calls him 'cringeable'. Is that even a word? [I think it's Dairylea's latest lunchtime snack. - Steve]

Dan brings Alex and Stuart back with no hesitation.

Sralan says they're a load of old washerwomen. Karren says Dan just pointed the finger and did nothing, Alex just stood behind the griddle and Stuart is too agressive. Stuart babbles that if there IS a problem he'll address it, and he sold, if not THE most, at which Sralan butts in that he didn't sell the most, and Karren points out he only sold fourteen packs. Stuart looks like he's wearing pink lipstick and seems put out by this because he feels he sold a lot of sausages and he tried his hardest. Sralan points out there's a difference between trying hard and bludgeoning your way through life, and Stuart shouts 'I'M NOT AN AGGRESSIVE PERSON'. Sralan asks him what his brand is. Being TWENTY ONE (not twenty-four as that's Alex Wotherspoon's brand) and being unique, apparently. He says 'sat across the boardroom table is one of THE most successful people Britain, if not the world' in a kissass way, but it totally sounds like he is saying 'as' one of, i.e. meaning himself. I had to rewind it a couple of times to realise he meant Sralan. Apparently Sralan's allowed to criticise him but the other candidates aren't. Riiight, that's going to go well. [Plus he looks like a chipmunk - Fiona]

Dan whines that he managed the team over and over. He and Stuart have a big argument about nothing. Alex says Dan was a bully, not a manager. Dan eyerolls. Rude sod. Dan says Alex was responsible for the sausage making issue. Stuart says Dan produced nothing. Dan whines 'I was a manager' again. Dan says he shouldn't be fired because he's an entrepreneur. Sralan says you don't call yourself an entrepreneur, other people call you that - though I'm sure most contestants on this series have referred to themselves as such. Apparently he made and lost two and a half million at some point, which presumably means we can blame him FOR THIS CURRENT CRISIS.

Stuart says 'I'm passionate, I'm a grafter are terms thrown about in this boardroom, and I'm all of those things, but I'm not a cliche', must to Sralan's amusement. Seriously, did Stuart Baggs: The Brand just come out of a random Apprentice character generator? I refuse to believe he's real. He says if Sralan gives him 100K, he'll make it back tenfold or give the money back. Sralan says he had an offer like that from Nigeria once, which is actually quite funny for him.

Alex has been working for 'one of Britain's top entrepreneurs'. Sralan points out he was let go. Alex talks about all the good people who are struggling in THESE TERRIBLE TIMES. Sralan says the task was to test them under pressure. Dan gets the blame and Dan's fired. He doesn't even have the grace to say 'thank you for the opportunity'. Sralan lies he was halfway to getting rid of Stuart as well and won't be putting up with him for much longer. Anyone like to bet he'll be around until the rottweiler mauling?

Coatwatch: long, black, severe.

The other apprentices want Alex back but neither of the others. Alex said he feels like he battled Mount Everest and it felt so good to be in the boardroom. Except at the end where you nearly cried, eh? There's a weird pewter aeroplane statue in the house.

Dan says he's not happy, but he knew that as PM he was likely to go.

Next week: They sell beach holidays, and maybe we'll discover who the other half of the contestants are. Join Fiona then!