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.

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