Tuesday, 21 December 2010

How Stella got her groove back

The final

Broadcast 19 December 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boardroom time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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