Saturday, 27 November 2010

Crunch time

Week 8: 24th November 2010

So, Sralan summoned 16 more of the country's best business minds (in other words, he summoned Liz and Stella and then a bunch of people who were sufficiently mad, self-involved or incompetent to make excellent television) to London, ensuring along the way that none of them were Steady Eddies or Cautious Carols. We're all up to speed on this bit now, aren't we? Shall I just get on?

Last week: the teams were charged with making some lame-ass "experience" DVDs to flog to people in Westfield who were busy looking for the shop that sells magic beans. Stubags was PM for Apollo and proceeded to utterly annihilate the small reserve of goodwill he'd built up in previous weeks by reverting to acting like a total choad. On his team, Joanna and Stella realised that Stuart (/all men) was useless and resolved to just decide things without him (/start an amazing lesbian commune). Sandeesh PMed for Synergy, and inexplicably allowed Doucheface Jame to convince her that a cheap film made on an indoor ski slope in Milton Keynes would look glamorous on film. In the end, Jamie's film was so shit that even Liz couldn't sell it, while Stubags' racing theme idea proved more commercially viable, so Apollo won and Stubags inflated like a blowfish having an orgasm. Jamie was rightly called on his incompetence in the boardroom but managed to woobie-face his way out of it (which is pretty much the only trick he has), and Sandeesh rather suicidally chose Chris and Liz to join her in the boardroom, and ended up getting bladdy fired.

Early morning, and the phone rings at the Apprenthouse. Jamie trots down the stairs in his pyjamas to answer it (his t-shirt has a pocket in it. Why? Who needs to store things in their pockets while they're sleeping?) While Jamie speaks to NotFrances, we're treated to a shot of a towel-clad Chris shaving his face, and may I say that is one incredibly hairy chest. And if I may speculate, the fact that the hair stops rather abruptly at his shoulders makes me think that someone's been waxing. As the other Apprenti get ready, The Disembodied Voice of NotFrances instructs Jamie that everyone must pack for a two-day foreign business trip, taking clothes for all weathers. Stubags and Laura arrive in the hallway to find out what the news is, or possibly because they're part of Jamie's Axis Of The Aggressively Useless and can't bear to be separated from him for too long. They cheer when they learn they're off overseas. A topless Christopher has lots of ugly tattoos. None of them are of an octypus, though, as far as I can tell. Stubags speculates that they're being sent to a warzone, and while I would wholeheartedly endorse such an idea, Christopher meets it with the derison it probably deserves. [Plus I guess he might have actually been to a war zone - Fiona]

They depart. Apprentaxi 1 carries Chris, Christopher, Jamie and Liz. Chris wonders if anyone speaks any languages, and Liz says that she speaks very good English. The comic stylings of Liz Locke, ladies and gentlemen! She'll be here all week. Jamie thinks that Christopher is "good at speaking rubbish". No! Stop! My sides! Essentially, they've established that they speak no other languages between them, and are possibly screwed.

The cars pull up in Belgravia, quite near to where I work, and which is also home to around 40 foreign embassies. Jamie recognises the German flag. "Gah, I hate the Germans," says Christopher, apparently without a shred of irony, though Chris, Jamie and Liz all seem to find this amusing rather than repellent.

Continuity misfire: the candidates troop up some stairs, with Liz clutching a conspicuously large handbag, which is nowhere to be seen as they enter the room in which they will receive their briefing. I for one will not sleep until I learn WHAT BECAME OF LIZ'S HANDBAG. Sralan arrives and tells them that technically they are on German soil. Christopher clutches the soles of his feet and screams "AAAAAGH, IT BURNS!" Not really. But then, they're at least one floor up and in a room with hardwood floors, so technically they're not on any kind of soil at all. Sralan informs the teams that Germany is Britain's largest European export market, and this task will give them a chance to get involved with it. They'll be representing two small UK crisp companies who are keen to break into this lucrative market. They'll be coming up with some new flavours and taking some samples to Hamburg, where they must get some orders. The team with the most orders wins (surely the team with the most money wins, rather than the most orders?) and someone from the losing team würde entlassen haben. Er, I mean, will be bladdy fired. He dismisses them, although sadly none of them are sufficiently on the ball to bid him farewell with a sunny "Tschüss!"

Suddenly, we're in Hamburg. Blimey, that was quick. The snack market here is worth millions of euros (I initially typed "smack market" there, which may also be true, I don't know) and is filled with strong continental flavours. Which seem mainly to involve chilli and paprika, from the establishing shots we're given. Somewhat confusingly, the teams don't appear to have actually arrived in Hamburg yet and are still in London, devising their crisps. I feel the editors are missing a trick by not soundtracking this section with Craig David's 'What's Your Flava?'. There are no team switcheroos, by the way, so Apollo still consists of Stubags, Joanna, Laura and Stella. Joanna asks if anyone feels especially drawn to being PM for this task. Stubags gets right in to say that he has to "rule [himself] out" because he's "absolutely knackered after doing it last time." Nick rolls his eyes. Word, Nick. Stella puts herself forward for project manager, as does Joanna, while Laura "would be happy to be project manager as well". Far be it from me to think the worst of people, but I think she's doing that knowing full well that the team will choose Stella and therefore she's just making it look like she's not dodging responsibility. I'm on to you, Laura. Stubags votes for Stella, because "you can't stop Stella from planning", which he seems to think is some kind of awesome backhander, even though it's...not. I mean, I fail to see the intrinsic hilarity in a leader who has some degree of forethought behind their actions. This is presumably why I'm the sort of fuddy duddy who didn't vote for BoJo in the London mayoral election. Stella accepts the challenge. Stubags smugterviews that Stella is neither the best person for the job or a good PM (based on what, exactly?), and claims this is all strategy. If they win, they get a treat, and if they lose, Stella goes home. Yeah, Stubags. In a team comprising you and Laura, Stella will be the one going home. This isn't nearly the win-win you think it is, bucko.

Over on Synergy, Chris, "the candidate with the worst boardroom record" (hee) volunteers to be PM. Chris gives a stirring speech about how he's lost three times in a row and is desperate not to notch up a fourth failure. Well, I know that would swing my vote! Chris says he'd rather have his destiny in his own hands. Flavour-wise, Chris thinks people need to feel comfortable with what they're buying, and Liz thinks it should be strong and traditional to the heritage of Germany with a modern twist. So, Sauerkraut and Angela Merkel flavour? Christopher starts writing flavours on the board. "Sausage!" yells Liz. "Get sausage in there!" You can make your own jokes here, I'm not going to lower myself. That's what she said. Sorry. [you are also here all week yes? - Fiona] Chris suggests goulash, which makes Jamie click his fingers in excitement, because he's That Guy, even though goulash is traditionally, y'know, Hungarian. Over at Apollo, Stubags thinks they should be going for British flavours, like sausage and egg (*boak*), because you "don't get more British than that". Anyone? No, me neither. Joanna suggests a Sunday roast theme, which Stella takes on board and asks for more suggestions. Joanna follows this with "curry pie" flavour (mmm, pastry-flavour crisps) or "curry chicken tikka masala". As opposed to the other kinds of chicken tikka masala? "It's a theme, but it's not going with this," says Laura, pointing to where she's written "traditional British" on the board. Racist! Joanna thinks they need to be passionate about their flavours. Laura complainterviews that they could've come up with better ideas if they'd not had Joanna sat there going CURRYCURRYCURRYCURRYCURRYCURRYCURRYCURRY at them. Oh just you wait, Laura, she's just warming up at this point.

At midday, the teams split up - the PMs stay in Britain to oversee the crisp making (Chris keeps Liz with him, while Stella keeps Laura), and the others head for Germany, flicking through some little German dictionaries, apparently provided by the show. Joanna has never been to Germany before, Stubags has been quite a few times, and boasts that the language barrier is never a problem for him. Christopher practices some German which turns out to mean "thank you for taking me up there sweetie and listening", according to the subtitles. I need some brain bleach. Or perhaps some Octi-Kleen. Stubags tries to impress Joanna by counting to 20 in German, but he gets 12 and 17 wrong. I knew that German A level would come in handy one day.

From there we head to Fairfields Farm in Essex for some potato porn. A Fairfields representative tells Chris and Liz that this is an exciting opportunity for them, as a small business, to break into an overseas market. Chris tells them about his goulash crisp idea in a shot that's framed with a container of something called Lecithin Ultralec P. Maybe they should just go with that: Lecithin Ultralec P flavour crisps. OM NOM NOM. In Hamburg, Jamie and Christopher discover the local delicacy of currywurst. Jamie tries to show off by ordering "zwei Currywurst bitte" and then is completely flummoxed when the woman in the shop replies to him in German. Wah WAHHH. When the food arrives, they seem to enjoy it. Unfortunately we used up all of our "sausage-as-penis" jokes in episode one, so I'll just keep going. They call back to base with the currywurst suggestion. So the two people who have actually sampled currywurst are suggesting the two people who have not sampled currywurst attempt to recreate the flavour of currywurst? That seems...impractical.

Stella and Liz are at Darling Spuds in Gloucestershire, and the representative says that they go for quirky flavours. My kneejerk resistance to the word "quirky" rears its head again. Stella and Liz come up with beef and chilli and paprika and stilton, apparently off their own backs, though this seems a bit odd when you consider the phonecall they'll be getting soon. In Hamburg, Joanna and Stubags are doing market research in a supermarket, where they spot a lot of paprika- and curry-themed flavours. Joanna captures a German Charlie Brooker-like and asks him if he likes crisps. He likes hot flavours, like paprika. Joanna asks him if he likes English food, and he reels off a list of English foods like fish and chips and shepherd's pie. Joanna asks if he would like to see those foods coming over here in crisp form, and he would not. [Because he is wise - Fiona] Stubags interview that paprika, curry and sausage are the three key flavours of Germany, and that sausage is the only one currently missing from the crisp market. They go to a sausage merchant, who shows them lots of different types of sausage, like white sausage. "I've got one of them," says Stubags. Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't jokes about your penis either supposed to imply that it is hilariously colossal in an egotistical way or hilariously small in a self-deprecating way? Cracking a joke that hinges on the colour of your penis being the same colour as the rest of your skin is just...pointless, surely? Sausage-eating montage. I'm not sure what the candidates are meant to be learning from this, but what I am learning from it is that Stubags never turns down a free meal. [Does this news really surprise you though? - Fiona]

Joanna calls Stella and says that the Germans like paprika, sausage and curry. Stella reports that their current flavours of choice are Aberdeen Angus and serrano chili, Yorkshire stilton and paprika, and Wiltshire ham and Worcester pickle. Joanna isn't sure the Germans will like those, because they like curry, paprika, sausage and NOTHING ELSE. "Let me just say this," Joanna continues. "What you need to incorporate with these crisps is sausage, curry..." Stella interrupts to say that they are making these crisps now. Joanna: "SAUSAGE CURRY PAPRIKA." Stella: *headdesk*. Post-conversation, Stella complains to Laura that Joanna was just telling them what Germans eat. "We eat bacon and eggs, but we don't eat bacon and egg crisps," she reasons. And...that's not quite what Joanna's saying, but I see Stella's point. I hardly think the best way to crack the German market for a small independent British crisp company is to arrive and do a bunch of flavours that the major German corporations have already got a lock on. Back in Hamburg, Joanna complains to Stubags: "Have I got my point across clearly enough? I want a sausage, I want curry, and I want a paprika." Take out the paprika and reverse the order and you've basically got Saturday night for most of the girls I knew in high school.

Back in Esex, Chris and Liz are working on their modern German flavours, and we're told they can take two flavours to Hamburg. Currywurst is confirmed already, and then he and Liz (and Karren, who's following them) sample smoked sausage and sauerkraut flavour, which Liz proclaims "horrid". Karren gags. The goulash flavour goes down much better. In Gloucestershire, Stella and Laura sample their beef crisps, which go down well, the stilton ones, which do not so much, and the ham and pickle ones, which have ended up tasting like prawn cocktail, apparently. Let me transcribe the decision making process for you, verbatim.

STELLA: So we're going for the beef and the stilton, yeah?
LAURA: Your call.
STELLA: But are you happy with that?
LAURA: Yeah, I've told you what I think, I think you need to make a call and we'll go.
LAURA: You want to go with -- you want to go with, don't take my call, take your own, I'm not the PM!

Ladies and gentlemen, a blame shifting masterclass, courtesy of Laura Moore. Subtle, wasn't it?

Both teams create some sample batches to pitch to the German retailers, while the Hamburg-based candidates set up some sales appointments. Stubags holds a phonecall in poorly-accented-but-otherwise-passable German, while Christopher just asks if they speak English. Stubags' command of German goes downhill quickly, as the next call sees him asking "sprechen Sie mit Herr Langdorf, bitte?" (which means "do you speak with Mr Langdorf, please?") He introduces himself as Stuart so he does not have to refer to himself as "Herr Baggs". Hee. Joanna and Stubags tackle some cafés in upmarket Lakeside, while Jamie and Christopher head to a less glamorous part of town. "If I wanted sexytime, I think I would come here," says Jamie in some sort of Brüno-type accent. He and Stubags really are neck and neck in the Who Can Sound Like More Of A Cunt With Their Own Sense Of Self-Amusement Olympics. Stubags and Joanna head into a café and ask to "sprechen Sie mit der Manager?" (again, "do you speak with the manager?") The manager speaks English, fortunately, and Joanna explains that they're bringing some new flavours of "chips" over. And when I watched this episode live, some of the candidates were getting a bit of stick on Twitter for saying "chips" despite not speaking a single other word of German, but I think ultimately this is the right call. After all, if you can only be certain that they'll understand one word, it may as well be the word that describes what you're selling. Stubags interviews that he and Joanna have different sales styles, she's rude (imagine that!) and talks really fast, while he tries to be friendly and make an attempt at the language. "Attempt" being the operative word. Stubags says that he must sound like an idiot to them, but he thinks it sounds slightly endearing that he's trying. Sorry, no, you don't get to describe yourself as "endearing". That's one of those words like "feisty" and "quirky" that you should only ever apply to other people. They make more appointments; Stubags says "das ist wünderbar!" a lot. [It is bottom clenchingly reminiscent of a porn film I once er heard about - Fiona]

Christopher is on the phone to the Marriott hotel chain trying to make an appointment. "Spreche de English?" he mangles. The man they need to speak to has appointments free at 9am or 1pm. Christopher asks for the 9am appointment, but as he's confirming that, Jamie holds up a finger to indicate they should take the 1pm appointment instead, so Christopher rearranges. They celebrate their awesome appointment-booking skills. Joanna and Stubags then phone and book the 9am appointment. Stubags says that tomorrow's a new dawn and a new day. "Let's make some money," says Joanna, not spotting the cue to join Stubags in an impromptu acapella rendition of 'Feeling Good'. Christopher interviews that he thinks they've had a great day of appointment booking despite the language barrier.

7am, the next day. The rest of the candidates arrived overnight, and the teams plot their sales strategies. As well as the team's own appointments, Sralan has lined up some large local businesses to meet with them. Stella is concerned with their itinerary because she won't be at any of the big meetings. "It's going to have to be about trust, I think," says Stubags pointedly. The teams head out, and the Apollo subteams have been mixed up from the day before, so now Stella is with Joanna and Stubags is with Laura, thereby reconstituting two-thirds of the Axis of Aggressive Uselessness. Laura asks Stubags how he'll think Joanna will do in the pitches. Stubags does an offensive impression: "Hiyuuuuuh. D'yer wanna buy some crisps?" He then makes fun of Joanna for talking too fast and those of us who know what's coming will enjoy the irony of this particular whinge. As it happens, Joanna is actually quite calm and normal-paced in her sales pitch, although she does say "all the people of German" at one point. Marriott Man enjoys the Aberdeen Angus steak and chilli flavour, despite the parlous absence of A SAUSAGE, A CURRY AND A PAPRIKA. The English stilton (is there another kind?) and "prapika" crisps go down well with Tomas the Marriott Man, who thinks they'll increase the beverage sales, and they close a deal for 80 packets per day, 7 days a week. Tomas wants to sign up for three months rather than six, and Joanna goes for the hard sell, suggesting they order for a year with a cooling-off period, so Tomas meets them halfway(ish) at six months. Stella does the sums, and that comes to €5,040, excl. delivery. Joanna tells Tomas he can keep the sample crisps to share with his friends, since he liked them so much. Heh.

Stubags and Laura go off to one of Sralan's appointments. Stubags warns Laura about Joanna talking too fast the day before, and Laura promises she'll talk slowly. They meet with a major food distributor, Mike's Sandwich, and Stuart introduces himself and Laura (getting his word endings mixed up and making Laura a man in the process) and slightly mangles his way through saying they're happy to be here. "Oh my God, you're speaking in German," says the distributor, sounding horrified. Laura then rattles her way through her pitch at a rate of knots, including such gems as "the world has changed" (the jukebox is back!), "we have a pretty good idea of where Germany is going with the crisp market" and my personal favourite "this is one of our lines that we've introduced now because this is recent at the moment." Just imagine I didn't put spaces between any of those words and you'll have some idea of what Laura sounds like. The distributor doesn't follow her, but Laura just gets faster and faster. After bringing out the samples, Laura brings out the big finish: "I have every confidence that the people that are buying these are the people that are going to be the people who will make success in the coming years." Given that she clearly can't even speak English, I'm very glad she didn't attempt German. The distributor does not like the crisps, but will speak with his people and he will also be seeing other people (i.e. Apollo). Outside, Stubags admonishes Laura for talking too fast and thinks it's a poor sign that he wouldn't commit to an instant sale. Laura doesn't see what else she could've done. Slowed the fuck down, perhaps?

With no appointments until later, Jamie and Christopher are selling door-to-door. They pitch their crisps to a café owner, who seems to think they will be "funny chips". The goulash chips are described as tasting "fat and strong", while the currywurst simply get a "no, I don't like it". There's a hilarious closing shot of Jamie and Christopher exiting while the café owner sees them out and shouts "bye!", waving cheerily. I love this guy.

Chris and Laura head to one of Sralan's leads, the Karstadt chain of department stores. Liz pitches about the gap in the market for bringing "German flavours to the German market with a British style of cooking". I'm not sure that's so much a gap in the market as it is something that NOBODY WANTS. Karstadt Lady cannot taste the currywurst in the first batch, and thinks that she wouldn't have known what the goulash crisps were supposed to taste of if nobody had told her.

Jamie and Christopher head to a bagel café, where Christopher opens with "Guten Tag. Spreche de English?" Jamie smarms "Guten Morgen, not Guten Tag" behind him, correcting the only part of the sentence that wasn't actually wrong in the first place. God, I hate him. Jamie pitches to a member of staff who speaks English that they want to introduce a new style of crisps "that would go with your lunch." Continuing to explain that which does not need explaining, he says that you would have your bagel (and he fucking mimes eating a bagel at this point, because he seems to have confused "speaks English as a second language" with "was recently whacked on the head with a bowling ball"). Unfortunately, the person he is speaking to is not the manager and has no authorisation to make such a purchase. "Where's he today?" asks Jamie, like: nice assumption, you misogynist pig, and the answer is "I don't know." Heh. Chris rings for an update, and Jamie informs him that they've been "working like troupers" and have "had fun". Oh good, because that was the point of this: TO HAVE FUN. Shithead. He covers that the crisps have been very well-received. "Sounds like you've had some good sales," Chris fishes. Silence from Jamie and Christopher.

With three hours to go, there are lots more appointments. Chris and Liz go into a coffee shop, where Chris opens with "wir sprechen keine Deutsch, sprechen Sie English?", which, while not perfect, is probably one of the day's better attempts at German. Luckily the owner speaks awesome English. Stubags and Laura pitch in a bar. Chris and Jamie pitch to another bar, where the manager likes the flavours and orders €980 worth of crisps.

Laura and Stubags have another big meeting ahead with a hotel chain, the Hyatt. Laura thinks they need a big order. Unfortunately, Stella and Joanna have beaten them to it, and suggest on the phone that Stubags and Laura go on to the next meeting. "So we're going to this independent tiny store now?" Laura snots. Stella rightly points out that it doesn't matter who does which appointment, as long as the orders come in. They hang up, Laura glowers. "We've got order books, so it's total bollocks that it's not important." Sweetheart: you've got order books so that you can TAKE ORDERS. Unless you were told beforehand that you would be judged on individual sales (which happened on air for the week four task, but we weren't shown that happening here, nor is it raised as an issue in the boardroom later), then you've got nothing to worry about. Besides, I'm sure Sralan is capable of realising that you are unlikely to sell as many products to a small retailer as you are to a large chain, and is able to judge relatively. Your only issue is if you fail to sell anything, which would probably be your fault for sucking at sales in the first place. Laura protests that she gives up: "I don't even give a shit any more." Stubags, however, does give a shit and isn't giving up. "They're pieces of shit!" Laura fumes. "They've left us with some shitty cafés." Stubags argues that this is how business works. "This is not how business works!" huffs Laura. God, what a fucking princess. Stella and Joanna go to pitch.

1pm - Liz and Chris arrive at the Marriott ready to pitch, but unfortunately there's nothing doing, as Tomas tells them that he already placed an order with the other team this morning. Liz tries to get him to sample their crisps all the same, but he says that he's placed a large order with them which will keep him going for a few months, so he cannot do a deal with them. Liz and Chris keep trying, with attacks like "we're here for one day only" and "I think you would like to be one of the first people to promote this product". Tomas (rightly) calls them unprofessional for persisting when he's already repeatedly told them he's not interested. As Tomas leaves, Liz tells Chris not to worry. Chris and Liz call Jamie and Christopher, and break the news that the Marriott already met with a British supplier representing two new flavours of crisps this morning, and placed an order with them. The look of gradually-dawning horror on Christopher's face as the penny drops is truly delightful. After the call, Christopher claims that there was "nothing they could do" about the timeslot. Except they had the 9am booked, and Jamie arbitrarily changed it without any discernible good reason.

As if to truly pile things on for Synergy, Joanna and Stella are back at the bagel shop where Jamie did his Marcel Marceau impression earlier, except they've actually managed to get an audience with the manager. And guess what? They make €213 worth of sales. Cut to Stubags and Laura, as the latter falls out of a cab. Hee hee hee. Laura just wants to go back to the hotel. I imagine Stubags wants her to go back to the hotel as well. They proceed to the "crappy café". Laura whingterviews that she thinks they could win, but she hopes they don't, because she thinks Stella has "treated us outrageously". I think around eight million viewers would argue that Stella has treated you awesomely, you total waste of space. Stubags pitches to the café owner, who tells him that their usual minimum order of ten boxes is too many, so they compromise on five. Interesting point of note: Laura's order book just says "APOLLO" on it rather than "Laura". Does she even have her own book?

Stella and Joanna scarper around looking for last minute sales, as do Jamie and Christopher (who incidentally are also selling five boxes at a time, so the whole minimum order thing, assuming it applies to both teams, isn't being that heavily policed). Laura can't walk on the cobbles, complaining "I thought I was doing corporate pitches, not running around cafés." Has she even seen this show before? She must have known there would've been an element of spec sales at some point in the day. The pace gets increasingly frantic as more sales are made, and more Apprenti scamper between shops with their sample packets. Chris and Liz arrive at Mike's Sandwich, and speak at the speed of normal people. This, combined with the apparently pleasing flavour of their crisps, nets them good feedback, as the man tells them they distribute all across Europe. His order is not placed immediately either, so clearly his is one of those "learn how well you did in the boardroom" jobs.

And with that, the sales part of the task is finished. Dammit, I can't believe we got all the way through it without a single candidate saying "ich bin ein Hamburger".

Back in London, the team head to Sralan's office as a long montage of London porn tries to make us forget how pretty Hamburg looked. NotFrances sends them through to the boardroom. Incidentally, Chris is wearing a blue tie and Jamie is wearing a red tie. Now all we need is someone with a sort of mustardy yellow tie and we've got a re-enactment of the Leadership Debates. Sralan enters and turns to Apollo, asking if Stella appointed herself team leader, which she says she did. Nick points out that Stubags ruled himself out on grounds of extreme knackeredness. Stella giggles. Sralan asks if they were happy with Stella as a PM; Joanna says yes instantly, Laura says yes very quietly (well, someone's easily swayed, isn't she?) and Stubags makes a holy show of claiming that his comments are entirely unrelated to the fact that she criticised him last week, but he thinks they could have had more structure. Also: more racecars. Stella says that the point is that they immediately came to the conclusion that they wanted to sell something indicative of Britain, she made the decision, they moved forward, and she was very happy with what they were doing. Sralan brings up the appointments he set up, and asks who went to them. Stella says that she and Joanna went to the department store (which, unless I had a seizure and blacked out, we didn't actually see), and Stubags and Laura went to the distributor. Stubags says that he made an effort with the distributor and introduced them in German, at which point Sralan makes the obligatory "Herr Baggs or Herr Brained?" joke to polite titters from the gallery. Laura says that they knew the distributor's line was gourmet so it was a good match for their product, and he was interested in the flavours. Sralan "hmm"s a lot at this and asks Laura if she talked at this speed when they met him. Stubags said that he told Laura to slow down. Sralan confirms that the distributor didn't understand Laura because she spoke too fast. Sralan explains the importance of speaking "export English" where you slow down and accentuate. And do a little mime. Oh sorry, that's just when Jamie speaks "patronising cunt English".

Synergy next. Chris says that he's aware that people might think he's become complacent, and he was keen to show it wasn't so. Sralan asks him if it wasn't a bit condescending of them to attempt to take British-made German flavours over to Germany. Chris says that they weren't trying to reinvent the wheel, because if people don't want to eat the flavours, it's a waste of time. Sralan enquires about the appointments they set up independently, and Jamie says that their first appointment was at 10.30am, so rather than "sit on our laurels" (you rest on your laurels, Jamie, you don't sit on them) they hit a street with lots of cafés. Sralan points out that they spoke to the wrong people in certain cases, and that they need to make sure they're speaking to someone with the authority to buy.

Time to talk numbers. First of all, the orders from Sralan's companies that he set up. Apollo got a small trial order from Karstadt of €135. Synergy also got a small trial order, but theirs only amounted to €68. So one of the biggest retailers in Germany bought a total of €203 from both teams. Oh dear. Mike's Sandwich placed a large order with Apollo for €7,455, and placed an order for €14,289 with Synergy, whose pitch really impressed them. Stella looks crushed. Now for the door-to-door sales, which incorporates basically all the appointment they set up for themselves. Syngery got €3,638 worth of sales that way, giving them a total of €17,995 while Apollo managed sales amounting to €11,737 giving a total of €19,327. Sralan congratulates Apollo on generating more business from their own appointments than the ones he set up. Nick singles Joanna out for her impressive persistence in sales, and says that she was really "firing on all cylinders" by the end of the day. Their reward is a shopping trip to some of London's biggest designers in Mayfair, where they'll get enough money to kit themselves out with new clobber, and then afterwards they'll get to stay in a nice Mayfair hotel. That is a pretty kickass reward. Apollo escape and hug it out in the antechamber. Synergy are also excused, somewhat less joyfully.

Scandalously, they are not directed to Loser Café this week. I don't know where they are, but it's definitely not Loser Café as we know and love it. Liz pouts. Chris sighs, and says it's devastating to have lost again. He interviews that it's his third week in a row "in the bottom three", which doesn't look good for him. He says to the others that sometimes you lose and you just think "if only that twat hadn't done that" (no, he really says that), but this isn't one of those occasions. Except it is, because if Jamie hadn't nonsensically moved that Marriott appointment, they might well have won by a sizeable margin, so I believe Jamie is the twat he's searching for on this occasion. Jamie smugterviews that he hasn't worked with Chris much (except he's worked with Chris on tasks 1, 2, 7 and 8, which is half the competition, so: shut up, Jamie) but he knows he's been in the boardroom a lot and he's probably going to be the fall guy because he was there at the big pitches. Yeah, if only they'd had Jamie's awesome mime skills, things might have been VERY different. Chris hopes that his past successes will count in his favour.

New Bond Street, if I'm not mistaken: Apollo shop for new threads. Or at least Stella, Joanna and Laura do, while Stubags sulks in the corner, either because Stella won, or because he's being forced to shop, or possibly both. Stubags balks at a pair of boots that cost £800, claiming you could buy a car for that, like Stubags would ever look at a car that cheap. Joanna tries on a hideous floral print dress, and is surprised that Stella doesn't like it. Joanna then drags Stubags off to buy new shoes for the boardroom, "because they've seen better days". Stubags finally emerges from the changing rooms wearing...a jumper, shirt and jeans. Such a departure from his normal look! Stella lampshades this by saying "sorry, what have you got on from here?" I love Stella when she's bitching at Stubags.

Sralan HQ, Brentwood. The Disembodied Voice of NotFrances sends Synergy in. Sralan tells them that he's sick of them turning up as the losing team. After only two weeks! He's probably just annoyed that he still can't fire Laura. He asks where it went wrong. Chris says that the door-to-door sales weren't good enough because they won on the pitches. Sralan reveals that Apollo had nine appointments to Synergy's six, and made a lot of money from those appointments. Chris asks if there was one order that was especially large, JUST OUT OF INTEREST, I'M SURE HE WAS IN NO WAY DIRECTED TO SAY THIS, and Sralan's all "funny you should ask" and brings up Christopher's unfortunate moving of the Marriott apointment. Chris claims that the moving of the appointment is news to him. Sralan tells them that by the time they got there, the other team had beaten them to it and landed a €5,000 order. "The early bird catches the worm," says Sralan, telling them they should always take the earliest appointment. Chris says that they originally booked the 9am slot, but Jamie wanted to go for the 1pm appointment, at which point Jamie makes an "OMG WHY AM I GETTING THE BLAME FOR THIS?" face. And admittedly Christopher is slightly embellishing the events of that point, because Jamie never actually said "can we push it back to later on in the day?" like Christopher's claiming, he just waggled a solitary finger. I mean, it's still entirely his fault, but I think Jamie's incompetence speaks for itself without anyone having to fanfic over the top of it. Sralan asks Jamie why he did this, and Jamie says that he's trying to recall it in his brain, "and the early word catches the birm, without a doubt". Hee. I believe you mean "early bird catches the worm", Jamie. Bird is the word.

Chris is all "this is the first I heard about you having a choice". Liz jumps in too, saying that if they had known about it, they could've had some say in the slot that they were given. Jamie snots that he's not going to be "the fall guy" here, despite it being his mistake, and Sralan's all "I'll pick the bladdy fall guy, innit." Jamie apologises snottily, with the caveat that "I just see where it's going." Yes, you being held accountable for your own mistake. I fail to see the problem here, apart from the fact that you're a blame-dodging pillock. Sralan then rounds on Chris and Liz for their desperation when they learned that were no sales to be had, that they purportedly offered to sell Tomas any flavour he wanted. I hope there was an "if you know what I mean" on the end of that. I mean, they're the two most attractive candidates (YMMV, obviously), it's only natural. Chris says they wanted to try hard rather than give up the ghost. Karren says that they tried so hard that they upset poor Tomas. Sralan then discusses the bagel shop, where Jamie and Christopher attempted to pitch to a random Anglophile employee while Joanna and Stella returned later and sold 111 boxes because they actually made an appointment. Sralan points out that regardless of whether Synergy get somewhere first or not, they're still not selling. Chris claims that the quality of their appointments wasn't good, at which point Christopher pipes up that the quality of the appointments was fine, because they sold good orders to little shops. He points out that Chris and Liz didn't make the big deals with the hotels while he and Jamie were selling to cafés, and Chris points out that one of the hotels was a no-go thanks to Christopher and Jamie. Jamie's all "if I can interject" and says that the two teams were divided into small independents and big pitches, and out of four big pitches, only one of them worked, so there is, he thinks, an underlying strategy issue here because if Chris and Liz had done that well on the other three, they wouldn't have lost. Liz and Chris point out that there was nothing they could've done to clinch one of those deals, and Chris adds that there was money to be made at the bagel place, but Jamie and Christopher didn't manage it. I'll say this much for Chris - he does give good boardroom.

Sralan asks Christopher for his opinion on why they failed. Christopher says that he and Jamie "upsold to the maximum" and tries to shift the blame to Chris and Liz, saying that the retailers could've still placed an order with them because they had different flavours. Except they weren't willing to, because they already had an abundance of crisps in general. How is that so hard to understand? Chris makes this point for me, thankfully.

It's time for Chris to decide who to bring back, and on the basis of the reasons he thinks they lost, he's bringing back Jamie and Christopher. Liz gets sent back to the house; the other three stew it out in the antechamber. After they're gone, Nick asks if Chris had a handle on the whole expedition - Karren thinks he didn't, and that he probably thought six appointments was good going. Nick thinks it reflects poorly on him that he knew so little about what was happening on the other sub-team. Sralan wonders if Christopher is just a "hole-digger and wall-builder" but on this task, he couldn't sell. As for Jamie, he "started off very, very good" (that's news to me) and is sliding downwards.

NotFrances sends them back in. Sralan tells Chris that this is his sixth time on the losing team, and his REZ-HOO-MAY says he doesn't take losing well. "Is this a message that I'm getting from above telling me you're a loser?" wonders Sralan. Chris thinks he's not responsible for any of those losses, and that he's just been unlucky on the teams he's been in. Sralan scoffs at this, saying that there's no luck in business (which is bollocks, of course there's luck in business. How else is Cheryl Cole a millionaire? Through her TALENT? Don't make me laugh.) Chris says that he wants to win, and that's why he stepped up to be PM. Sralan points out that this is Christopher's first time back in the last three, and that's because he gets on very well with people and they respected him for his physical hard word. However, Sralan worries that he's working hard at the logistics side of things, which are all necessary in business, but not necessarily what he's looking for. Chrhistopher says that he puts himself up for things, he doesn't speak German, he doesn't really enjoy going to Germany (luckily he leaves "because I am a massive xenophobe" off the end of that sentence) but he gives it his all and made some great appointments. He takes it as a compliment that people like him, and that's important. Sralan says that he's not liked by a lot of people, so it's not that important. Christopher says people like him because he's upfront and straight-talking, just like Sralan is.

Jamie's turn: he says that he's been making strong decisions every task, PM or non-PM, and says that he still made a boardroom record as PM even when he lost. Can you really lay claim to the record when someone else outscored you? Like, just because you would have beaten the record if the other team hadn't been there doesn't mean you can claim it afterwards. Sralan asks if he's a better candidate than Chris, and Jamie says that on the statistics so far, he is. He says that he wanted to be PM, "everyone said Chris, everyone put their hand up, and we went round the table." Except we all saw that bit, and Jamie put his hand up for Chris to be PM, so he is FULL OF SHIT. Also, Christopher didn't put his hand up. Jamie continues that he's been an excellent "pillar and support" to the PMs each week (yeah, tell that to Melissa) and that they've won tasks based on his strong decisions. Sralan asks him to name one "gem of brilliance" that was a task winner. Jamie says that he could go through each task and give examples, but he'll cite the first task (which, if you remember, his team lost), claiming that people were coming to him by 12 o'clock, asking for his decisions (Chris makes an excellent "we were?" face at this). He then segues into how he was TWENTY FOUR when he started his own business, and has learnt a lot of people management. Sralan points out that he has said precisely nothing, because he was asked for specific examples from the past eight weeks. Jamie: "There's been excellent gems throughout." So, nothing then?

The music starts ticking. Sralan tells Christopher and Jamie they weren't well organised when they went off to Germany. Jamie, clearly having not heard the legend of Paloma, attempts to speak here, but Sralan cuts him off. Chris, on the other hand, has lost three quarters of the tasks, and may be too big a risk. Sralan tells Jamie that he was getting good messages from Nick and Karren in the early stages of the competition about him, but he's sliding downwards. However, Christopher is a hard worker who does get on with people, so he's FIRED. Oh, because he's not got the spark of entrepreneurialism that Sralan's looking for, ostensibly. But largely for being too nice, and also for hating German people. Christopher exits. Sralan tells Jamie and Chris that he doesn't want to see either of them in the boardroom again "because it's getting untenable".

The boys hug it out. Christopher leaves the building. Coatwatch: grey, double-breasted, complete with scarf. Back at the house, the Apprenti are slightly surprised to see Jamie back, and very surprised to see Chris back. "I thought you were a goner!" says Stella. Chris says that he thinks what's saving him is that he's done some good things. He gives no examples. Stubags says that "it's getting pretty empty in here." And yet Laura is STILL THERE.

In his taxinterview, Christopher is sad to have gone, but he's just going to have learn from it, deal with it, and overcome it. That's actually reassuringly mature.

Next time: the buying and selling task! A last-minute arrival! Someone goes out blind into the marketplace! Join us then.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

You're the star! You'll wish you weren't

Week Seven
Aired 17 November 2010

Previously on The Apprentice, the Apprentots were tasked with devising and advertising a new cleaning product. In the mind of Sralan, a cleaning product that necessitates the keeping of a child slave in your cupboard is marginally worse than a cleaning product that turns women into octopodes (oh yeah, not octopi, not octopuses, octoPODES, baby) [I think you'll find that's octypodes, actually - Joanna] and then makes them give their husbands handjobs, so Synergy won again. Some more. The karaoke prize afforded Stella the opportunity, via the medium of side-eye, to reveal how much she holds this entire process and everyone in it in complete contempt. It's going to be kind of a theme.

6 am. A fully primped and preened Laura answers the phone (which incidentally, is the same model as I have in my flat and cost about a tenner from Argos. Apprentice Luxury Home!!). [Hard Economic Times, DRINK - Fiona] NotFrances tells her that Sralan will meet them at Pinewood Studios. The cars are arriving in, you guessed it, thirty minutes.

Stubags dashes up the stairs in a dressing gown, dangerously close to showing us his stubags. Laura doesn't know what Pinewood is. Sandeesh is sure it's a f....urniture warehouse. So near and yet so far. Stella stirs and asks how many challenges Chrisbates has won. Two, is the answer.

They get to Pinewood. Sandeesh says 'this must be a famous studio'. Well done! [Not famous enough, clearly. - Steve] The big bluescreen is drawn to our attention. Sralan parps on about how big and amazing and best the films made here are, and how amazing the bluescreen is. The task is to make backdrop videos and then film people in front of them, selling the resultant DVD to gullible morons at Westfield. Sandeesh and Chrisbates become Synergy, Stella and Joanna become Apollo. Sralan makes Stubags the boss of Apollo and Sandeesh (finally!) boss of Synergy. Stubags is smug about this, Sandeesh looks terrified and cowed.

Apparently this cheap DVD bullhockey is a new market to tap into. Mmm hmm. The teams have some pre-prepared backdrops to choose from – speedboat, rollercoaster &c. Synergy discuss their options, while Stubags calls it a waste of time and argues with Joanna (looking a lot less Sadako). Stubags phones up to reserve the footage before they've decided what they want. He calls a vote while on the phone and treats Laura like a petulant child. Which she kind of is. He interviews about how the only place he fits in a team is at the top.

Sandeesh interviews that when Sralan said she does blahddy nothin' 'those words resonated' and she doesn't agree. They didn't resonate then, petal. If she wins a task as PM, she'll prove him wrong. Good luck with that. (SPOILERS!)

They also have to film their own backgrounds. Jamie kind of bludgeons his team (that is to say Synergy) into a skislope background as that will appeal to kids and let them dress up. Stubags meanwhile thinks that the affluent twentysomethings of Westfield will like a motor-racing backdrop. He actually thinks this shizz will sell to adults, you guys. [I still struggle to see anyone this would appeal to - Fiona] He claims it's aspirational. Joanna says the fair is good because families will like it. Stubags is like 'Nah! Adults like cars!'. He's a total bulldozer. Nick says that Stubags leaves him 'trembling with irritation'.

The teams split – some to shoot the backdrop, some to learn the technology. Liz directs Chrisbates in some Bollywood dancing in front of a filmed background. He looks unconvinced at best and jokes he'd like to buy it. Liz asks the sensible question of how many DVDs they can create in an hour and get told 4 at most.

At Brands Hatch, Stubags talks cars a lot and says he has to rein in his own masculinity, and makes sure every day of his life is packed with fun. Stubags gets to drive a car. Laura films. Poor thing.

Elsewhere, Stella and Joanna have to work out how to market it. Stella suggests 'ride of your life' and immediately thinks better of it as she and Joanna descend into innuendo. (In YOUR end-o!) They try to call Stubags but he's rather busy zooming round a race track. Laura answers the phone, and says that Stubags is driving. Stella and Joanna share a look of pure rage, and Joanna (who I'm hating a bit less, by the by) asks 'Is he taking the piss?'

Army Chris and Jamie, accompanied by the comedy music of fail, go to Milton Keynes for an indoor ski slope. Mmm, aspirational! Jamie, doing nothing to dull my loathing, uses in all seriousness the phrase 'ski-legs'. Chris says that they need to make the video more fun because 'penultimately' they're aiming it at kids. What does he think penultimately means, please? In pursuit of said kid-friendliness, Jamie skis in a big penguin suit.

Having finished driving around, Stubags decides that they need to focus on kids. Indeed! But Stella and Joanna have been trying to work on adult stuff all day and they're a bit pissed off.

The teams buy props. Ski stuff for the ski team, and Joanna and Stella go to a toy shop. They have the good idea of buying a car for their race scene. Crazy, I know. Nick's following and asks where Stubags is. Stella says at Brands Hatch, racing. Nick chews a wasp.

They need to buy raw materials – blank DVDs and so on. Liz says they've got 11 hours and then says they can do 8 an hour. Either she's gone mental or is expecting two people to burn DVDs. So they go for 88, plus a few for wastage, and get 100.

Stubags tells Stella to buy 50 DVDs. He has a think. Then cuts it down to 30. He tells Laura that Stella and Jo will be complaining about how he can't make a decision (they are), but what they mean is THEY can't make a decision, and need to be spoon fed. 'Where's the spoon?!' complete with motions. Laura looks less than impressed.

Back at the house, they preview the DVDS. Sandeesh decides Chrisbates and Liz will be in front of house, 'enticing the children', Army Chris will be burning DVDs and Jamie will be an errand boy running back and forth. HA!

Joanna absolutely rips into the DVD and says it's shit. It kind of is. [Seriously. Who would buy this? - Rad] [I know! I am still totally non-plussed by the whole idea. Now if it was star in your own music video that would be something else - Fiona] Stubags says he's got to where he has because he's successful and makes decisions based on impulse and if you can't do that you won't be successful like he is, then has the gall to ask if there's anything else, as though his little self-aggrandisement session has dealt with any questions.

At Westfield, Stubags has decided Jo is out front, Stella is making DVDs, and asks Laura where she wants to be. She says she'd rather be out front and Stubags ensures that she's happy with it and if they screw up on sales, it's her fault. She agrees.

Joanna (wearing upside-down fairy wings for some unfathomable reason) sells effectively to kids and families. She encourages the kids ('Drive faster! He's catching up!') and is generally really quite good. In the back room, Stella is efficient and makes notes. Stubags laughs and says that he remembers everything in his head, and Stella, patience running thin, says 'My bosses have been drumming into me for years to write things down'.

Karrren bitches about how Sandeesh's team is wasting sales time by training the people who weren't there to use the machines. Jamie raises that point and she says it doesn't matter, and bitches about how it's 'no flipping reason'. The ski videos are... not selling well. Or at all.

Jamie tries to sell. Sandeesh tells him to fuck off. He says he's feeling underused, and claims that he's been the best at sales in every task. Which: Liz Locke's £100,000 worth of baby-death babygros says hi.

Absolutely brilliantly, Joanna and Laura are giving medals to the kids if they 'beat the car' and as Nick points out, they ALL beat the cars, and the kids love it. Stubags says to raise the price to £15 a DVD from £10. There's an altercation with one guy who saw the previous price and they eventually sell it to him for £10. Laura gets snotty saying he would have paid and it's like, love, you can charge more for the future DVDs, but you can't up the price on the people who've come to pick up the one they already arranged.

Jamie tells Sandeesh et al they look stupid in suits selling ski stuff. Chrisbates counters that the clothes aren't the problem, it's the price, and they cut to £8, to some success. Sandeesh says anything is worth a go. Inspiring. Jamie pisses and moans about being a delivery boy and I laugh in his face.

Stubags has a stack of uncollected DVDs. At the end of one of them, it's poorly edited and there's a few seconds of some stranger's child pops up. Stubags – Master Of Quality Control. They sell it for half price. Stubags say 'Whose fault's that?' and Stella points out that it's his job to check them. [This was another Melissa/Christopher example of sucky PMship but getting away with it. It's like a series theme - Rad]

Liz gets all secret squirrel and comes and looks at the other team. And buys a toy car, to use in front of the motorbike race archive background. (Basically ensuring that no matter what happens, she's safe, as it's the best idea anyone had all day.)

Stubags phones round to get people to collect their DVDs. They tell him to stuff it. Task is ovah!

NotFrances sends them through to the boardroom. The question of how Stubags was as leader is greeted with deafening silence. Jo says more direction was needed, and Stubags asks for more feedback, to Sralan's chagrin. Stubags talks about how they upped the prices and a few people were annoyed but it was mostly fine. Stubags calls selling for the proper price 'goodwill' and Sralan calls it getting caught out. Stella, on being asked, says that it's a good thing she was in the back room making notes because Stubags says he just remembers shit and it would have been a disaster. Stubags says she's 31, to which she says 'I'm 30 actually, not that that's got anything to do with it'. Stubags goes on about how taking notes is somehow an awful sign of her failure as a human being (as opposed to being useful on a task where getting things right is hugely important – it's not like 'oh, one bacon sandwich is the same as another'. It's DVDs. Of their children), and Sralan basically says that all the shit that Stubags has in his head isn't much good if he gets hit by a bus, leaving Sralan's Notamstrad empire in the lurch.

Sandeesh gets a moderately positive response as PM. Jamie says he championed skiing because it was exotic. (Milton Keynes! Forget Whistler and Chamonix.) Sralan tells Sandeesh off for having to explain to Army Chris how to work the machine, and Karrren jumps in to say they lasted an hour. Jamie says he wasn't happy at being the 'courier' but attempts to claim that he was the saviour of the task because he saw everything and gave feedback. What. A. Douche.

Apollo's profit was £262.50; Synergy's was £222.97. Stubags swells up like a pufferfish having an orgasm and simultaneously vomiting. It's massively disturbing. They get a champagne testing, and Stubags says 'I'll keep some on ice', his obnoxious twunthood in full swing.

At the tasting, the champagne lady directs them. Stubags he no like champagne. I think he's more a Red Stripe guy. Possibly a Stella Artois if he's feeling classy. He pulls faces and Stella asks if he's had champagne before, and, in a scary insight, he says that it's what you get free when you go into a nightclub. Stella laughs in his face, and bonds with the champagne lady about how it's an acquired taste. The champagne lady is clearly utterly appalled by Stubags. Stubags likes the younger champagne more, and Stella says 'You don't like mature, complex characters, do you?' and when he blithely agrees, just goes 'Hmm' and totally raises her eyebrows at the camera. Stella LOVE. Stubags makes a 'sparkling victory' joke and Stella's face is loathing personified. The rewards are normally the worst bit of the show, but that was golden.

Loser cafe, and Jamie, of course says he's amazing and it's not his fault guv. Tragically, Sandeesh still thinks she made 'good strategic decisions' about things – including assigning the DVD burning to the people who didn't know how to do it, presumably.

They go back into the boardroom. Sandeesh says again some more that she put people in good roles. Sralan tells the total lie that recruitment, in which Sandeesh works, is about getting people in the right roles. As opposed to just shoving people in any old where to get paid. Sandeesh claims that it wasn't a mistake to teach Army Chris the machines, despite the fact that they lost by less than £40 and with an hour's more sales they almost certainly would have won. They also spent too much money on DVDs and promotional stuff like posters. Chrisbates says that costs were Liz's job.

Sralan tells them off for their huge overbuy on DVD (110 bought, 55 used) and says that their price drop was a bad idea, especially as the car that boosted sales came AFTER the price drop.

Jamie tries to claim he didn't say he was amazing but that his role was important. Sralan ain't buying. He says Jamie was disregarding the team leader; Jamie says nuh-uh. Karrren says yes you were, and she felt sorry for Sandeesh. Chrisbates jumps in saying Jamie was irritating and got in the way, and 'it comes across as negative and sulky'. Jamie says 'was I a hindrance?' and Chrisbates says 'Well, I wouldn't say it was helpful.' Jamie goes on some more about his wonderful feedback and Chrisbates elucidates how buying the car and dropping the price, which boosted sales, had nothing to do with the feedback from Jamie. Chrisbates is very very good in the boardroom. Also his posh monotone buzzsaw voice is totally hot. [What is it with my fellow bitchers and Chrisbates? - Rad] [He has lovely lips! - Fiona] [You're both mental. Steve, back me up on this, please - Rad][Sorry Rad, you're on your own on this one. - Steve]

Sandeesh, because she is utterly totally batshit mental, after prevaricating, brings in Chrisbates and Liz, because the problems came with costings. [I ALMOST understood her here. If this were real life, she probably had chosen the right people, but because it's television and Chrisbates and Liz are clearly going nowhere, this was something of a suicide bid. - Steve]

Out they go. Nick says they messed up. Sralan says 'Stuart Baggs the brand' (Ha!) sold fewer for more. Sandeesh sucks and fails but works hard. Back in they go.

Sralan asks if Chrisbates and Liz are surprised to be there. Chrisbates says yes, because they did all the work. Sandeesh says that Army Chris and Jamie didn't mess up specifically, so she had to bring Chrisbates and Liz because they were there when everything was done. Thereby giving Chrisbates the chance to say that she should have been spreading the work more evenly that having him and Liz do 'marketing, buying props, seeing the demonstration, doing the costings and then also sell it'. Sandeesh tries to interrupt but Chrisbates just continues that he and Liz are being penalised for doing 80% of the work, just because a couple of mistakes were made. He's totally calm and unflappable throughout. He really is very very good in the boardroom. Sandeesh tries to say again that she assigned roles well (she didn't), and Liz says that it's not fair to blame her for the overbuy on the DVDs because they were all there when it happened.

Sralan says that Stubags sold at a much higher price. Chrisbates says maybe, but they clearly sold a lot less. Sralan goes off in a really meandering tangent to just say they dropped the prices too easily. Liz says that it wasn't her fault, and Sandeesh says it was Chrisbates's fault. Liz said it happened too soon; Chris says Sandeesh should have thought of it more.

Sralan says that Chrisbates has lost lots, and Chrisbates has an awesome 'Unh? And?' kind of reaction, then going on to say that he's still awesome regardless. Sralan says that these kinds of task show how people can operate in all areas. I'm about to say that yes, but the job at the end won't require the winner to stand in a shopping mall selling shit to randomers and then I think hmm, I'm not too sure I want to commit to that prediction [that's sort of what Lee McQueen did, isn't it? Ish? - Rad].

Sralan tells Sandeesh that she's shit and always in the boardroom. She says 'yes, but I'm honest'. Sralan's like 'Huh?'

Liz tells Sralan that she's amazing and great and awesome.

Sralan tells Liz that she should have picked up the error on the costs of DVDs; he tells Chrisbates that sometimes people think they can cruise through but they can't; he tells Sandeesh that it's clear there was no planning.

Liz gets the fire-tease, but then in a surprise to nobody, Sandeesh is finally fired. She says 'thank you anyway'. Somewhere and for no reason she understands, Paloma punches the air and cries out with joy. Sralan says he thinks she lacks killer instinct and I think 'Paloma had that and you didn't like it' but then I figure that was less killer instinct and more, you know, being quite willing and able to actually murder people without breaking a nail.

The cabterview is kind of sad, and Sandeesh is clearly really upset, but says she'll succeed anyway.

Back at the house, Liz says that Sralan asked if she and Chrisbates were surprised to be there. Jamie, because he's a dick, is like 'Was he after my blood?'. Liz and Chrisbates are like 'No. Shut up'. Stella then says 'it's lucky for us that you made so many screw ups, because you could have won. You should have won' and then gives an utterly wicked, mischievous glance at Stubags. Stella LOVE. Again. She hates Stubags even more than Phil hated Lorraine, but her hatred is a stiletto under your ribcage when you least expect it, while Phil's was a foghorn blasting directly into your face for ever.

Next week, the teams are off to wunderbar Deutschland [me too! - Rad] to sell British foods. Stubags appears to be having a ball.

Friday, 12 November 2010

A Clean Sweep?

Week 6
Aired 10 November 2010

Last time on The Apprentice our poor Apprenti were cast out in the cruel and cold third world of the NORTH to sell (literally) rubbish 'London' fashions. Ruth and I realised (just in case we were in danger of ever forgetting) that Meadowhall pisses all over the chips of any other shopping centre. Paloma wouldn't have got fired if she had stopped talking. But she didn't. So she was.

It is 7.30am at Apprentice towers and surprise surprise the phone rings. I pray for a fully nude streak to the phone by Chris Lovely Lips Bates but they are all having a lie in. He doesn't even sleep topless. [Frankly, people have been really letting the side down since Simon Ambrose and his tiny pants. It's almost like they've all given up. - Steve] No NotFrances on the blower this morning but Sralan in person. Stella opens the door fully dressed and chipper and escorts him into the building before running around telling everyone to come as they are, meaning Stubaggs gets pwned for wearing a polo shirt.

It is the advertising task this week and this big house needs lot of cleaning so they need to create, package and create TV and Radio adverts for a cleaning product. It will culminate in a big pitch for advertising experts. Sralan wants someone who hasn't been team leader in both. Gobby Jo owns a cleaning company... PM surely? [But she's already been PM. Besides tasks that speak to people's skillsets don't seem to be going down too well this series, eh Melissa? - Rad]

Stubaggs puts himself forward for Apollo and says it isn't just about skillz but keeping everyone together. For example, Alex is phenomenal with advertising apparently. Alex agrees and says "Absolutely - I am advertising, marketing and PR". That worked so well last week for you eh? He VTs "I am not a corporate clone, yeah I am outside the box, if I was an apple pie the apples would be oranges and I am crazzzzy." (Please not quotes may not strictly speaking be actual quotes). [Also? I'd like my apples to be apples if it's all the same to you, Alex, thanks - Rad] Stubaggs senses the PM role slipping away and says "OK whatever but failure is not an option. If we lose, the PM's head is on the chopping block."

Over at Synergy OtherChris is PM by default and has the win in his sniper sights.

Both teams have smelly water cleaning fluid in a plain bottle that they need to brand and sell. They sniff the options on J cloths. Stella wants Fairy meets that Country Life butter advert with colour and passion. [John Lydon and Nanette Newman? That I'd like to see - Rad] Meanwhile Alex is getting the Apollo brainstorming going by mostly disliking everyone's ideas. Chris Lovely Lips [Oh, Fiona - Rad] Bates suggests Germinate which Alex doesn't like and thinks the ad agency will laugh it off despite others in the team liking it to. In the car with Alex, Laura bum licks that she doesn't like Germinate either. It is blatantly going to be Germinate isn't it? It is going to have a Pantsman ad isn't it? [I'm hoping for GerMN8 myself. They could get failed 90s boyband MN8 to reform for the commercial and everything - Rad]

Alex and Laura call the other car try and push their 'Helping Hand' suggestion, Chris Lovely Lips Bates, Stubaggs and Sandeesh mock this suggestion mercilessly, all 'its a helping hand, a bit better than water'. The teams head to mother and baby focus groups, because Mums clean, natch. In the mum and toddler focus group Germinator gets a laugh, helping hand doesn't. "What colour would you think of?" asks Stubaggs. "Yellow" says one mum. Meanwhile Laura and Alex look at the cleaning aisle in Asda. Laura wants to make it fun, Laura suggests Blitz, Alex says "yeahbutno bombs and shit o but yesbutno they'll all be dead now". Laura pouts "I just thought, you know, quick." [In Remembrance Week as well. CLASSY. - Rad]

In the Synergy camp SniperChris is totally buoyed up by the suggestion of one mum to go for an octupous theme - eight hands are better than two for their product. Jamie & Jo say "er no" but he says "yes and it is a brand identity and I like it and that is that. I know you are trying to talk Jo but lalalalalal I am not listening. End of."

Chris Lovely Lips Bates is at the ad agency trying to sell an ad idea that is a hybrid of the bounty/plenty and Mr Muscle ads. A big strong man cannot remove gravy stain - o noes! In bursts a small puny child brandishing Germ-O-Nator and saves the day. Kids with a cleaning product? Oh well - hasta la vista gravy. Laura in just a small U-turn says "nothing in the supermarket was fun so yes let's do that. Jasmin blossom ha! Bring it on baby."

It is official, Synergy are going for Octi-Klean. Orange bottle, friendly octopus- what isn't to love? Next door the Germ-O-Nator bottle seems to base its look on the Leon film poster. Karen interviews that there is possibly an issue with their choice of colour scheme. Laura spots an issue in that they are using a child to advertise a product that specifically says it should be kept out of the reach of kids. Alex says "yeahbutnobut it'll be my neck on the line."

It is 7pm and SniperChris is auditioning for a wife - for their ad [this made no sense - why need a female actor if they don't need a male one? Surely either hire two actors or use two apprenti? I can only assume the female apprenti were too repelled by Chris's idea - in which case, why didn't they nix it? - Rad]. Queue lots of women telling off pretend children and Chris shouting 'who's your daddy?' and 'sex sells everything' - what is the idea for this ad again? This is also going to be a Pantsman ad isn't it? Surprisingly he chooses the youngest, least gurny and prettiest woman. The one whose inhalation of a fresh lemon scent seems to hypnotise him. Perv.

8am the next day and Apollo take delivery of their Luc Besson style bottle. Maybe they could sell it to hit men to clean up and do a BOGOF with plastic ground sheets for wrapping up the bodies? Alex thinks we have an iconic bottle, everyone else thinks we have a label. Synergy seems mostly happy with their lot although Jamie suddenly feels octopus says bathroom but he is "going to work with it but basically it is a bit shit." ['A bit' - Rad]

Anyway next job is TV and radio ads [No print ad for them to fall out with the designer over? - Rad]. Stubaggs is nailing the 'radio voice'. A sparkling career in local radio awaits or perhaps doing the voice overs for straight to DVD Danny Dyer films. Each germ has it's own 'comedy' accent. Influenza is cockney apparently much to the sound man's disgust. The death of a germ sounds much like Stubaggs vomiting. Domestos meanwhile must be thinking this all seems a bit familiar....

Joanne and Jamie record their radio ad. Suddenly it becomes apparent just how stupid the eight hands strap-line is. Well, it becomes apparent to me but they still seem to be thinking it is fabulous. The rest of Synergy are in a kitchen somewhere. Nick is disgusted with the stereotypical basis for the ad. Basically, the woman so carefully hand-picked by SniperChris is cast in the 'cleaning wife' role. Distasteful enough, but compounded with the not so sly insinuation that she will be using one of those eight hands to grope her 'husband' once she has cleaned up alone like the good little woman she is and I start to get the rage. [While I get the boak. - Steve] If they both cleaned up they would have four actual hands. Just saying.

Over at the set of Germ-O-Nator the movie, Chris Lovely Lips Bates in tight black turtle neck is groaning and straining over an older man groaning and straining over..... a gravy stain. In a cloud of smoke a slightly nervous masked child enters brandishing cleaning products. They are loving their work, will anyone else? In the recording studio Stubaggs is still loving the sound of his own voice. Laura is a bit board and tries to jump ship to the TV ad but Alex says "yesbutnobut we can't take on any more people." Laura interviews that she and Alex have the skillz and he isn't letting her use hers!

At the climax [apt choice of word there - Rad] of the Octi-Klean shoot Chris has wine and a sofa and now he wants chemistry with his leading lady. Nick continues to fizz about 50's stereotypes and I vomit at SniperChris's leer to the camera as he says 'eight hands are definitely better than two'. For fuck's sake I don't even have the words for how bum clenchingly, vomit inducingly, dick wavingly smug it all is. [Neither did Nick - he called it "schmaltz", which is definitely not the right word for what Synergy came up with. - Steve] Jo and Stella seem to be quite happy leaving Nick to seethe for the rest of us about how sexist and backward it all is. Where is Raleigh shouting SHAMEFUL when you need him? [Aww, I miss Raleigh - Rad]

It is 6pm and Apollo are back at the agency. Laura has already started working on the pitch what with that being her special power. In order to continue to piss Laura off Alex gives Sandeesh the pitch not her. Laura says she is "not liking the start", Sandeesh says "whatever" Alex says "yesbutno". He really is Vicky Pollard and that fence he is sitting on ALL THE TIME must be leaving giant splinters in his arse. Outside (where else) Laura interviews that no-one is listening to her (again) and it is all shit and whatevers.

It is the morning of the pitch. Alex & Sandeesh are in the car. He asks for a read through and Sandeesh says "yes and I can stab myself in the eyes please rather than talk to you?"

At the agency it is the Apollo Germ-o-Nator pitch first. Entering to the radio advert, Sandeesh says "so cleaning and stuff. Look - the black and red is eye-catching" The experts don't look convinced but do mostly smile at the advert. Sandeesh finishes on a high, "like e-coli and influenza this product is going viral" So is herpes. "How often have you laughed at this advert Chris Lovely Lips Bates?" asks one ad man. He replies "Like every time thanks." "Hmm" says ad mans face "you are easily pleased." Hasta la vista Apollo.

Next Jamie pitches Octi-Klean - they did research and last year a quarter of men admitted they would forego a night of passion if the house was dirty - where are these men? I don't know how I'd feel if Mr Fiona chose to forego the possibility of sex just because I hadn't cleaned the kitchen (like the good fucking wifebot I am!). Meanwhile the MODERN WORKING woman said she needed help getting the cleaning done.

The advert is sphincter squeezing. SniperChris' wifebot looks exactly like that - a robot. "So when your actress walked on the set dressed as an octopus did you think WINS" the ad guy asks? "Erm so maybe not but hey you are remembering something yeah so win" replies Jamie. Relationships are improved at every level by Octi-Klean it seems. The woman can clean up after her whole family and still have energy for sex. *speechless*

The ad massive report back to Sralan - travesty, distasteful, poor execution but who are they talking about? Possibly both teams... [Seriously. Two weeks of both teams doing well and now a week of both teams failing. There really shouldn't have been a "winner" this week. Or, indeed, on any advertising task given they're nearly always abysmal - Rad]

Not Frances sends them to their death - er, I mean into the boardroom.

Was Alex a good team leader Apollo? Silence.... Roll the ad.... 'Right' says Sralan "so whose was the idea." Possibly sensing impending doom, "please sir it was Chris sir" says Alex. Sralan looks perplexed "Er so radio ad says germs and TV ad says deep stain remover? Cos the name's OK but it doesn't fit with the ad."

Turning to Synergy, Sralan asks if the team utilised Joanna, what with her having a cleaning company. SniperChris says "yes we listened to Joanna with her insider knowledge." Jo says "not so much. " Roll the ad, "one of your late night DVDs Nick" quips Sralan. Cripes, here comes his feminist side -he is not impressed with layabout Dad and little woman angle [The bladdy woman didn't even make him any bladdy tea - Rad]. Nick accuses Liz of being all over the octopus idea like "a tramp on chips" when it came up at the focus group.

Sralan and the ad agency are in agreement and somehow Synergy haven't technically lost rather than won because although the ad was shocking, they did show a basic understanding of the task. They just did it very very badly - much like my GCSE science result. For the winners a karaoke party (man these are shit prizes) . For the losers, at least one person is going home.

Sralan tells Apollo that technically they have lost and that their product is the worst thing he has seen in a bathroom since Psycho.

Synergy murder 'We Are The Champions' in a karaoke booth and I want to stab them a little bit. You didn't win OK? You just lost slightly less than the other guys.

In loser cafe, Alex surprisingly disagrees with Sralan's decision. Alex asks for feedback on himself and gets silence. Wait, what is that noise? The sound of knives being sharpened?

Back in the boardroom and Alex is on the back foot straight away by trying to go after the other team first and is shot straight down by Sralan. "Look your product looks like a bladdy car de-greaser and why is Posh Spice on the front?" sneers the baggy eyed one. [I really did think it was a female model on the bottle as well - Rad] Alex says "we wanted something to stand out". In fairness, it would. Sandeesh (who has HUGE eyes) says "well the focus group said yellow was the colour and shit." Chris Lovely Lips Bates says "yes I took the helm of the TV ad" and Stubaggs says "yes, hasta la vista was mine" although we all know it was Arnie's first.

Karren summarises that they got "lost in the ad, lost sight of the product and plus cleaning fluid should be nowhere near kids, IT SAYS SO ON THE BACK OF THE BOTTLE AND YOU USED KIDS IN THE AD NUMBNUTS." Laura stresses she did bring this up but she wasn't allowed to go anywhere near the TV ad. Alex accuses Laura of "being angry all day". I think he stops short of saying she had PMT - just. I can't believe I am defending Laura but she DID ask for more involvement and she DID point out the issue with children + cleaning products = bad. Laura is obviously gutted when Sralan says the ad company said Sandeesh did a good pitch. That being THE ONLY GOOD THING about their whole performance. Might be useful to take note of this, I feel.

Alex decides the failure links to the TV ad so he is bringing back Sandeesh and Chris, "and Sandeesh should have said the bottle should be yellow." But Sralan says "but Sandeesh provided the only good thing in the whole task you bladdy idiot" and even Chris mans up and says "yeah bring me back but not her, doofus". Alex sticks to his guns anyway. This is foolish on one hand, but at least he is not being quite so easily manipulated as previous team leaders. What is it with Sralan arguing every time they choose who to bring back? Laura, who might as well have a neon arrow above her head saying FIRED AS SOON AS KTHANX is told she has got off scot-free. Off you go back to the house with Stubaggs.

Karren tells Sralan that Sandeesh may have done a good pitch but very little else so maybe she is a good choice to come back. Oooh dissent in the ranks! Still Alex is going to talk himself out the door anyway. In double talk.

As they troop back in again you can't help but feel a little sorry for the chipmunk, he must know his orange apple pie is cooked. He starts his defence as predicted. In his day job he is a marketing manager not a creative. Sadly Sralan just told him quite clearly he didn't manage shit. Chris says "yeah but you should have brought Laura back." Sralan says "it wasn't just the ad, though that was shit, you totally lost your message" and Alex says "that was all Chris fault." "Whoah, hang on Dad, I mean Alex" says Chris, "you loved it and you were the boss." There is a fight and some shouting and then Alex sends Chris to his room.

Sralan is still going on about bringing Sandeesh back and Alex now seems to be hanging this purely on Sandeesh not mentioning yellow from the focus group. Chris looks disturbingly like a Thunderbird but points out that if Alex thinks merely changing the colour of the bottle would have made a difference then he is a fool.

Alex says "Chris is responsible and I never liked Germ-O-Nator anyway." Sandeesh says "look Alex was shit end of." Sralan says "you shouldn't have brought Sandeesh in so she goes home now. Alex you should have been the expert here and it went miserably wrong. Chris you shouldn't have taken the helm and you did and it was unforgivable and cocky but the positive things you have done previously have saved your cute little butt. So Alex off you toddle." Alex thanks Sralan, Nick and Karren and is gracious outside wishing Chris well and inside the holy trinity brand him a decent bloke.

Coat watch, black, big buttons, bulky but nice red scarf.

In the cab Alex does a Darius and says he will have a record deal and shit be successful and he doesn't need Sralan anyway.

Next time working with animals, children, penguins and blue screen - no, I really have no idea either but join us and maybe we can figure it out together.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Paloma Faithless

Week 5

November 3 2010

Last time on The Apprentice: Babies were saved from certain death! Soho Sex Shops engaged in a turf war! Melissa reinvented the English Language and was FIRED, but the others will be karmically retributed so it’s fine!

I still have to look away during the spoilerific opening montage in order to avoid working out who gets fired when. I hate the opening montage this year.

Early morning at Apprentice Manor and Stella runs downstairs to answer the phone, an activity that’s rare for female candidates on this show. The disembodied voice of NotFrances tells them to pack an overnight bag and head to the Fashion Retail Academy, whatever that is.

The boys hope they’ll be going to Milan and Jamie says his wife will be gutted if they go to Paris. Stubaggs The Brand laughs and says that’s ridiculously optimistic. Heh.

Outside the Fashion Retail Academy (near Oxford Street, apparently), Stubaggs whines that he hates fashion and the likens it to selling magic beans because you can make a lot of profit, which is surely the kind of thing ENTREPRENEURS would be into, so whatever.

Sralan tells them that London is a hotbed for young designers and they’ll be selling the wares of these young designers to the public in The Trafford Centre in MANCHESTER, which is in THE NORTH where it is not a hotbed for young designers, apparently. Sralan says he’s going to sort the teams out and make it “fair” because it’s a fashion challenge and that’s wimminz bizness, innit, even though it was the male contestants who were all giddy and ‘oooh Milan, Paris’ when they heard it was a fashion task.

Liz is going to lead Synergy and Paloma Apollo, presumably because they look the most like supermodels and therefore will know all about fashion, innit? Oh, Sralan, you do stereotype.

TraffordCentrePorn! I kind of like the Trafford Centre but it’s a bit gaudy. MEADOWHALL 4EVA.

Each team is getting an empty shop unit (TOUGH! ECONOMIC! TIMES!) to set up as a boutique.

Apollo up first, and Paloma asks ‘who is a fashionista?’, immediately saying she’s looking at the two girls (WOMEN, Palmoma, dear God). SIGH. Alex confesses to being a retail guru, immediately setting himself up for a potential boardroom visit. A ‘very famous professor of retailing’ taught him retailing. [Doctor Pepper? - Steve] He interviews that he loves retailing and intends to make millions out of it, that it’s like honey.

Over with Synergy, Liz interviews that she loves fashion but would rather buy than sell. Oh, Liz. Jamie says he doesn’t do fashion and that his wife buys his clothes for him. Oh, Jamie. Less than ten minutes in and I’m already disappointed in the lot of them. Liz tells the team they need to be professional, interested and love the product because they’re representing the designers.

The voiceover reveals that, as well as the shops, they also get to have a mobile outlet. Alex says he used to work at the Trafford Centre and knows it like the back of his hand. Cue comedy fail? He suggests Central Peel Square, which is apparently near where Synergy’s store will be. Paloma says she’s pleased they’ve got Alex as he used to live in Manchester and she’s never been to Manchester before. Seriously? I thought Manchester was one of those places everyone’s been to at some point, even if it was only on a school trip to Granada Studios.

In the Synergy taxi, Jamie says Mancunians are behind Londonders by a couple of years and you still have to wear shoes in clubs. What, as opposed to being barefoot? Apollo are with a clothing brand Cassette Player that makes “cartoon couture”. Their designer blurbs about their brand being ‘future primitive’ whatever that means. [I think it means "made by hipster douchebags for hipster douchebags". - Steve] She shows a really nasty late 80s-style jacket that costs around £1000.

Apollo are with sleazy designer guy ‘EG’ who aims at ‘sexy, confident’ women and we see a rather generic-looking dress, with the camera lingering on the model’s arse as sleazy designer guy describes a sexy woman all being wrapped up in a neat parcel. Liz says she’s worried that they have a designer price tag and says they need a low-end store. I am guessing they might all need a high-end and low-end designer, though this isn’t clear.

Jamie and Stella visit a boutique for their vintage wear, whilst Alex and Stubags visit Max-C (sp?) where Alex babbles about how much he knows Manchester and how great their spot in the Trafford Centre is – this becomes Paloma’s budget range.

Next up are Liquorice, who sell some sparkly clothes covered in sequins. Everyone likes them, but as someone who owns a sequinned top, they’re a bitch to wear – if you don’t have a jacket or cardigan on, they scratch you to fuck whenever your arm rubs against them. Washing sequinned clothing can also be a pain. Can you tell I am not exactly fashion-forward in my approach to life? The designer says one of their dresses was worn by Pixie Geldof. Apparently this is meant to be a selling point. The woman from Liquorice goes for Synergy because she liked their approach better.

Laura mopes in the taxi that they didn’t get it. Does Laura do anything but mope? [She has rows outside shops sometimes. - Steve] They next go to ‘Fashion Junky’ who recycle old clothes (which they call upcycling, pretentious so-and-sos) – turning BIZNESSWEAR into fashion. Their clothes look rank and I can just imagine Sralan being all ‘what the BLADDY hell is that?’ at any employees who wore them. Chris Bates poses in an outfit and asks Karren how he looks. ‘Very nice’, apparently. There is a zip on-off attachment to the waistcoat he was wearing which I think is tacky, but then I’m not a SRSBIZNESSLADY, unlike the candidates who all love it.

In the taxis, Paloma and Alex start arguing about their remote location. Remember how, in the earlier meeting, Alex told them all that the location was near the Synergy store, and Paloma thought he was the second coming? Now she’s all ‘I don’t want to be near the competitors’ and trying to pretend she hadn’t lapped up that EXACT CONVERSATION earlier. I previously liked Paloma but she’s not coming across well tonight. Alex says it’s a prime location with a lot of footfall and she says she’ll take his word for it then bitches ‘might have been an error on Alex’s part’. Laura says that Paloma’s trying to land Alex in it. Alex, in a rare moment of contestant awareness, replies that she’s trying to identify a thing she can blame on you in the boardroom, so be careful of that’. We cut to Paloma giving a triumphant bitch-face. A soap opera couldn’t have done that scene better.

Apollo touch up their suits and Stubaggs says tramps recycle clothing and can’t believe they will charge £300 for the items.

The Trafford Centre, two hours before the centre opens. The contestants love their empty units. Paloma’s boutique is called ‘One’. Alex says when people enter a shop, they immediately turn right. I’m trying to mentally picture going shopping, and in Meadowhall at least, I think most of the doors force you to turn left or straight on into the shops, so, hmmm. Surely you turn whichever way the doorway forces you to turn?

Synergy’s shop is called ‘The Collection’ and their initial layout of the merchandise would give Mary Portas a heart attack, as they seem to have used fixtures from a charity shop that closed down in 1991 and Joanna points out that it looks like a jumble sale. Jamie breaks one of the dummies.

Over at ‘One’, Chris B and Laura are modelling the clothes and Stubaggs gets a dig in. Sandeesh is then positioned outside to beckon people in. She stands awkwardly with her legs crossed muttering ‘we’ve brought London fashion to Manchester for one day only’. If there is one person in that centre who is actually from Manchester and impressed that ‘London fashion’ has deigned itself to visit the backwards north, I’ll wear one of those skirts made of ties that Apollo are flogging.

Karren says that Apollo’s boutique looks good, which it does, all swirly fonts, picture frames and nice furniture. Alex panics and tells Paloma you can’t see the clothes and tries to make them move everything around. Paloma whines that he’s doing her head in.

‘The Collection’ doesn’t open on time because Liz is getting changed, causing the Centre manager to come and tell them off. Whoops.

Over at ‘One’, we see Laura flogging tat to children and Paloma trying to flog an ugly dress made of ties that people are surely only trying on for the gimmick, as no-one is buying.

‘Synergy’ force poor Stella to sit in the window modelling. Haven’t we learned that Stella hates modelling from previous excursions? Nick says she looks like an Amsterdam prostitute. Ouch.

Christopher is giving out leaflets advertising their store, while Chris B and Laura race down to the other end of the centre to find their stand. They whine about it being too far away from the shop. It’s unclear what’s going on here – are they allowed to flog products at the stand or not? Because if they can then location shouldn’t matter as much as if they can’t. They make Alex go on the stall and he asks some lads who look very unlikely to buy their kind of product if they like a jumper. They reply ‘not really, no’ and Alex pleads for them to visit the shop anyway and reels off some complicated directions telling them exactly which stores it’s near. Oh, Alex.

Then, in a moment of audacity even the most deluded Apprenti wouldn’t be brave enough to try, Alex says ‘Why don’t we say that Fearne Cotton and Alesha Dixon will be visiting our store today?’ Sandeesh points out ‘Because that’s a lie’. I mean, wow, Alex, you already know you’re in the firing line, are you deliberately trying to sabotage yourself? Alex says it would generate excitement. Fearne Cotton wouldn’t generate any excitement in me, more the urge to commit GBH.

Synergy seem to be doing well. A teenager likes something, Liz says she looks great and the girl says ‘shall I ring my mum?’ Cute.

Apollo run an advert on Trafford Centre TV at Alex’s request. Nice idea. But their TV channel isn’t presented by GEORGEY SPANSWICK (*doodles Meadowhall’s logo with big love hearts around it).

Jamie tells some girls they could wear the sequinned dresses with “nothing underneath”.

Paloma’s team try and flog their recycled gear. One guy blanches at the price and she tells him it’s 100% wool and he looks smoking. She then threatens to chase him round the centre. Oh, Paloma.

Alex and Laura go to the food court and watch their advert, which looks good, whilst Stella and Jamie see it. They start to panic and say they need to ‘get selling’. Chris B tries to sell the tie dress to a woman whose little girl tries to snuggle underneath it. Chris B tells her she’ll be the only person who owns this dress. The woman suggests she’d be the only one who wants to, and he says lots of people have tried it on but she looks the best. Chris wonders what the price is and Paloma says £300. The woman then buys another garment, too. Well, it’ll be a talking point at parties, anyway.

Nick interviews that Apollo got their ad on the ‘jumbatron’ and asks ‘what have we done? Plonked some flowers on the counter’. So Nick is actually a member of Synergy now? Will he possibly get taken into the boardroom? Liz rings the designer and negotiates to sell the products at 20% off. Weirdly they have a naked pair of dummy legs in their window. Joanna and Christopher stand outside and shout at people to come in. Jamie snits that they’re being market traders and Joanna bitches that he’s doing nothing with his posh, lah-de-dah voice.

Last minute panic and the Apprenti desperately try to flog things. The stores look a complete mess when it’s all over, but they’re all satisfied (though it appears neither sold out).

Boardroom time. The disembodies voice of NotFrances sends them in.

Synergy said Liz was a good team leader. Liz starts to talk about how she wanted to be team leader and Sralan’s all ‘Whuh? I made you team leader’ and Liz is ‘Yeah, but I so would have done it anyway if you hadn’t’ and she said she was excited to work with this team. Given the other team had Alex, Stubaggs and Sandeesh, I’m not surprised she felt that way. Sralan asks if they only had female fashion and she said yes because she felt sparkly party dresses would go down well in THE NORTH where everyone gets bladdered at the weekend to escape from the torment of not living in beautiful, fashion-forward London. I paraphrase, but if Jamie had spoken that’s exactly how he’d have put it.

Sralan tells them off for having an ugly shop and opening late. Liz said they were slightly late and Sralan pointed out that 45 minutes wasn’t slightly. Sralan tells Stella how she reminded Nick of a hooker. Poor Stella, always being degraded. [Either that, or Nick's just always thinking about hookers. - Steve] Apollo agree that Paloma was a good team leader and she says they sold men’s fashion as well because Chris B wasn’t comfortable selling to women. Sralan points out that Chris did well on the sales. Chris B, by the way is my current tip to win, with Stella as runner-up. Paloma said he was brilliant, he sold a £300 dress. Karren interjects: ‘Made of Ties!! That was a good sale’. You’re not kidding. The attention turns to Alex and his Manchester experience. Karren points out that his location sucked and Alex says, yeah it did, but everyone else got to look at the map and none of them stopped me. Sralan says a man who never makes mistakes never makes anything and Alex says he made a mistake and he admitted it.

Figures: Apollo £3223.43, Synergy: £3760.37 – again, two pretty successful results. I am slightly worried that this batch appear to be more competent than previous contestants. The winners’ reward is a nice box at the races. Hmm. Better than a barbecue or Myleene Klass playing piano, I guess.

Jamie tells his teammates they have a 5/1 chance of getting to the final and a 10/1 chance of winning. They all congratulate themselves.

In Loser café, Paloma says she can’t think what else they could have done. Alex asks if the recycled fashion was maybe too expensive. Paloma intervies that Alex is 100% responsible for the task, “not just” because of the location issue but because he doesn’t have much business common sense. Chris B is gutted because it was a narrow defeat and they did loads of things better than the other team. Paloma says the promotional area was a wasted opportunity. Alex interviews ‘I think Paloma will blame myself’. Yathink? He should be fired for using ‘myself’ when he means ‘me’, quite frankly. [Myself agrees with this sentiment wholeheartedly. - Steve] I hate it when people do that. He says he thinks Paloma has met her match and she will be fired. Oh, Alex.

Back in the boardroom and Sralan says the reasonably priced party dresses were the product of the day. He points out that Paloma, Sandeesh and Chris went to pitch for that and that the supplier’s feedback was that they would have the wrong image for her products. Paloma says she thinks it was because they wore suits to the pitch and she might have thought that they looked too corporate. Chris and Sandeesh say they were shocked that she didn’t go with them and Sandeesh says she personally ‘conveyed a real passion for fashion’. Nick reveals that she said Synergy had more confidence, they were more extrovert, had more sparkle and would understand the market better than Apollo’. Paloma pulls an epic ‘oh no she di-uhn’t’ bitch face. If I were the designer, I’d be quaking in my sequinned boots. She is on Paloma’s list.

Sralan says the figures show Synergy sold “a lot of that stuff”. Good with the maths is Sralan. Nick says Synergy sold £1000 more of the party dresses and Apollo sold of their biggest seller. Sralan says they didn’t get the right product. He says Chris’s £300 dress accounted for a third of the sales of the recycled clothing, so it perhaps wasn’t the best choice. Paloma says they didn’t have an issue with the product. Sralan, who’s just told them they did, is all ‘you didn’t have WHAT?’ Oh, Paloma.

Paloma says if they’d put more effort in and sold four more dresses… and Sralan cuts her off and says four more dresses isn’t the issue. She says more effort on sales and they could have won. Sralan’s all ‘hmmm, nah’ and disregards her, whilst Paloma takes a sip of water, confident she’s won. She is probably going to get fired here at this rate but at least she’ll go out being a kickass bitch while she does it.

Sralan turns to Sandeesh and asks what she actually does. She says she had “creative input” on the early part of the task and she was involved in the pitching, which, Sralan reminds her, they failed at. She says she made sure the store looked good and did the pricing. Paloma steps in and defends Sandeesh, saying she pulled her weight. Paloma could have taken her down there, given Sralan was gunning for her. I know she’s all ALEXALEXALEX but you’d think she’d look for another easy target to sit alongside Alex and her.

Sralan turns to Alex and says he was walking around with a placard on him like the people who say ‘the end is nigh’. Alex doesn’t see how that’s a bad thing. He admits he chose a bad spot but was eager to jump in first. Sralan says jumping in first was a good idea but not to get the wrong spot. Alex points out he got the TV advert. Karren approves. Sralan asks if it was played three or four times, and Stubaggs says three or four times an hour. Alex says he thinks it more than made up for the mistake he made and Paloma said it didn’t make up for it at all because she hasn’t worked hard enough to make anyone else on the team a scapegoat and he’ll hang, dammit. Except I can’t see this leading to anything other than Alex getting a warning and Paloma backing her bags right now – unless it goes to a double firing, which would be a bit bullshit given they still did pretty well.

Sralan sighs that Alex has a lot of excuses. Alex and Paloma bitchface at each other. Paloma says Alex is a given to come back, for the promotional pitch “and a number of other things”. Sralan looks forward to hearing those. She says everyone pulled their weight but she will judge someone ‘as a candidate overall’. That’s not actually your job, Paloma. She chooses Sandeesh, whose eyes go bug-eyed and ‘WHUH NOW?’ I assumed she would bring back Stubaggs, but now I could see a Sandeesh SHOCK! FIRING! Sralan clearly hates her so it wouldn’t be unexpected.

Sralan asks Paloma if she’s trying to be him, bringing Sandeesh back for previous weeks’ tasks. Paloma babbles but can’t answer. He sends them all out.

Sralan says it’s weird that she’s trying to do his job for him. Nick says she’s arrogant – smart, but arrogant. Karren says Sandeesh is good at logistics but she thinks Sralan is looking for someone with strategy. Aren’t logistics part of strategy? Sralan says he doesn’t know whether it’s actually Alex’s fault or whether he just rubs people up the wrong way.

NotFrances sends them back in. Sralan asks Paloma to tell him why she brought back Sandeesh and Paloma says for this specific task, it was hard to ‘pin something on her’ which reveals quite a lot about Paloma, I think. She says on this task, Sandeesh did perform, but as a candidate she’s not as strong as some of the others and hides behind menial tasks. Paloma then says it would be unfair to dismiss someone like herself who is a very strong candidate when Sandeesh is rubbish. Sralan says ‘so you’re saying she don’t do much?’ Paloma says that’s a harsh word. Actually it’s several harsh words, none of which make grammatical sense, and Paloma adds the qualifier ‘in relation to other candidates’.

Sandeesh says that in this task, Paloma was calm for once and wasn’t destructive to the team. Oh, Sandeesh, you’re meant to be sinking the bitch. She’s your mortal enemy, dammit! She continues that in all previous tasks, Paloma has been [destructive] and she takes credit for other people’s ideas. Sandeesh says she herself has good ideas and Paloma interrupts saying ‘I’m a strong candidate, I don’t need to hide behind anyone’s ideas’. Sandeesh says Paloma’s been more destructive than constructive and Paloma pulls the hammiest faces you can imagine (save, perhaps, Pamela Stephenson’s) in response.

Sralan says to Sandeesh he’s getting the impression the task failure is being blamed on Alex and his pitching spot. She’s really not reading the incredulity in his voice here because she says it was because of that and Sralan’s like “REALLY?” and she says not just that, he was also scaring the customers. Alex says he’s being made a scapegoat because of his one mistake but he doesn’t believe that mistake alone would cost them the task. Paloma then says ‘can I just rebut that?’ and Alex says he wants to finish speaking. He says thousands of people passed the shop and footfall should have been sufficient. Sralan’s all ‘uh?’ Alex said he secured the ad and Paloma starts screeching that Laura did that. Sralan tells Paloma to let Alex finish. Alex says Laura acted in the video (I don’t think you ‘act’ being yourself, but then who knows what happens in the minds of the Apprenti?) but he secured it and Paloma mouths ‘wow’ and sarcastically says ‘well done’. Seriously, Paloma, you’re not helping yourself here. In fact she’s coming across like she’s about to have a breakdown and shoot everyone in the room with a gun, which would be a novel way to end the episode, I guess. Alex ends by saying he doesn’t buy the story that the promotional area would make or break the task.

Paloma says ‘you did not sell, my friend’ (BURN) and he was terrible and scared customers away, but everyone else “got it”. Alex says ‘got what?’ and she says ‘selling’. Alex said he’s worked in retail and Paloma said he was intellectualising things. Alex says he has sales figures to prove he was selling. Paloma says all he gave her was the theory of how to lay out a store, though I can’t see how that’s a bad thing, assuming he knew what he was talking about anyway (a big assumption, granted). Has she never seen Mary, Queen of Shops? Sralan asks if it’s an Alex hate campaign and Alex says it is, and that Paloma put him on the door to drum up business because he was good at it and she replies that she never said that, because he is a TERRIBLE ABOMINATION OF A PERSON. Or something to that effect. Alex asks how she would know, because she was inside the shop. She says she was watching him. He snarks that she’s lying her face off to protect herself. She said ‘he’s an irritant. They all said it to me, they said it to me’. She’s going into full on Blanche DuBois mode here, isn’t she? It’s actually kind of scary to watch her losing it given how collected she’s been normally.

Karren says Alex sold five items, which was the same number that Sandeesh sold. Sralan asks Nick if Alex is ‘irritant or not irritant?’ Irritant, obviously, because he’s on this show and they all are. Nick says he is sometimes a bit ‘over-effusive’ but not totally irritating. Faint praise, you are damned with it, Alex.

Sralan says sometimes when people gang up on somebody, there’s no smoke without fire but it’s easy for people to point fingers when they’re covering their own arse. He thinks Alex rubs people up the wrong way. Sandeesh showed him her true colours when she didn’t read Sralan at all and kept blaming Alex when it was clear Sralan thought the whole ‘promotional area was to blame’ thing was rubbish. Paloma is cool (though she’s been pretty mental tonight) and takes no prisoners, but he’s concerned by the way she does that. Paloma asks if she can say one last thing and he lets her. She says she has a good track record in generating large profits for big organisations and wants to do the same for him but the other two don’t have a good track record ‘in business’. I can’t think he’ll take too kindly to her treating him as a charity. Sandeesh and Alex are all ‘you don’t know anything about us!’ Alex calls her rude. Paloma says Alex has no negotiating skills and is a ‘presenter’. Alex says she’s incredibly negative and he’s not a presenter. Paloma says she’s being honest and shooting from the hip.

Sralan says Alex sounds like he’s a disaster but he’s been set up as the lackey. He may be bladdy useless, but he’ll get another chance to prove he isn’t. He says he didn’t like Paloma’s outbursts and from his FORTY YEARS IN BIZNESS, his gut feeling is that he doesn’t like what he sees. He says she’s talked herself out of it and if she’d shut up, someone else would be going. Funnily enough, Paloma is fired. I think the other contestants’ lives would have been in danger if she’d gotten any more crazy, so awesome as she could be, it’s probably the safest decision.

Sralan says he must be bladdy mad to keep useless Alex and Sandeesh, who does naff all. Cheer up, though, Sralan, you’ve still got Stubaggs and Jamie, so the future’s bright, eg?

Coatwatch: Black double-breasted thing that seems to have a button undone at the bottom, possibly because Paloma has gone so mad she can’t even do her own clothes up properly. She cabterviews that the reason she went was because she was too lippy in the boardroom but he knew she was a strong candidate so it was his loss. Oh, Paloma. You would never have fitted into the notAmstrad lifestyle of sitting in a windowless cupboard flogging useless tat.

Chris Bates thinks Paloma will go. Nobody else gets an opinion. They all seem quite happy to see alex and Sandeesh back, not least, I suspect because that means they still have a couple of pieces of cannon fodder to go up against in the boardroom. Alex said things got personal and Paloma said he was an irritant, which Stella finds hilarious, probably because it’s true, and is shocked/possibly impressed that Paloma said that.

Next week: Creating and advertising cleaning products! Stubaggs makes gun gestures (which went down so well for Alexandra in Big Brother and Emily in X Factor)! Military Chris and Jamie make sexist jokes! Laura says their campaign is bollocks! Stubaggs looks like he might be the new Philip! Join us then!