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!