Saturday, 14 May 2011

A little APPrehensive

Week 2: 11 May 2011

Previously on the Apprentice, the rules were changed and now Sralan is looking for a business partner, not a lackey. It kind of makes a lot more sense that way, with all the wheely dealy business havey people not having to give up their own businesses to earn 100k selling bannisters from a business park in Kettering, or whatever Sralan normally lines up.

Also, the Apprentices had to 'add value' to fruit. Edward's attitude can be summed up as 'SMASH IT'; this extends to juicers. The boys (that is, Logic) lost, and Edward got himself fired by bringing in totally the wrong people. Inventor Tom, slightly doughy Orlando Bloom Leon, and 'charmer' Vincent Dinosaur stood out in my mind. The girls (as far as I'm concerned, Galvanised) won and got a reward that I have already forgotten. Cassandra-like Susan Ma (totally right, totally ignored), lost member of Eternal and stone-cold bitch Edna, and hater of poncey stuff like pasta, vegetables, spelling and That London Ellie grabbed my attention of the girls.

Fifteen remain. God. We're gonna be here a while, kids. Oh my god! At five in the morning, Tom answers the door already in his suit [has he never watched this show before? That's NOT how it works - Rad]. They get a laptop couriered to them rather than a phone call. A LAPTOP. Sralan is there on the screen. It's like a really really bad Mission Impossible sequel. Sralan says that it's appropriate that he's on a computer, because this task involves something technological doowizzery. It's a market that's exploded – 'mobile phone applications, better known as apps'. Thanks for that clarification, Sralan. They've got to make an app (Edna, in a hairnet, looks horrified) that will go on sale for one day. The team with the most downloads after one day will win. The other team will have someone fired. The cars are arriving in ten minutes.

In the cars, Glenn wants to put them on the map and prove why they're there. Melody wants to win twice in a row. Leon says there's 'APProximately twelve hours', Jim asks if they're APProaching where they need to be, Leon says it's APPsolutely important to get it right and then Vincent Dinosaur asks if they had an APPle and everyone is utterly silent. Leon looks out the window. I think I might love Leon. [In fairness to Vincent, that "silence" couldn't have been more obviously inserted in the edit room if there'd been a clock in the background jumping backwards and forwards in time. - Steve]

The teams get to GrAPPle the app makers. The chairman gives them apps for dummies, but our readers are all hip and hAPPening and internet-savvy, so I don't need to tell you that, right?

Leon puts himself forward as PM. He was thinking of an App for his (fast food marketing) business and also wants to impress Sralan. Gavin doesn't really care about that. Vincent Dinosaur puts himself up to. Glenn is a software writer. Jim says he'll do it. Eventually, weirdly Jim then leads the vote for Leon and he wins. If you can call it winning.

Edna puts herself up for the girls. This is gonna be gooooood. She to-cameras, basically 'I'm an utter bitch. That's my management style'. Melody's like 'nobody else wants to, so YAY EDNA?'

Edna sends Felicity and some others to do surveys on the street to ask what people like, how many apps they get and so on.

The boys think of 'toilet paper word of the day' and a bubble wrap app that you can press to make popping noises, I guess? Bubble wrAPP. If they'd done that, they would have won by a bloody landslide. Touch-screen phone, run your finger over it to make bubble-wrap popping noises. Everybody would download that. Tom suggests an app that tells you the temperature in London a year ago today, and a traffic light. Leon says, 'just a traffic light?' bemused but trying to encourage him. Leon reminds them that this is going global. They then utterly disregard this, by going for Glenn's regional insult app, with people with accents saying funny things.

For the girls, it's actually worth verbatiming Susan. You also have to imagine this punctuated with shots of Melody giving deathglare and Edna shaking her head and mouthing the word 'no'.

Susan: 'I've just thought of this, um, I think it's a brilliant idea. Okay, so imagine if you've got two people sat next to each other and um, okay, hang on a second, so you're you and I'm me and I say, “Okay, um”. So, if I ask you a question like “Where do you think we are?” and I say “Okay, I'm going to ask my phone where we are right now”'

Edna: 'Sounds a bit complicated Susan...'

Susan: 'Nononono. Can I just finish my idea cos I don't think I'm explaining this very well. You type the answer but when it, what it actually shows up is um here is my question. So you type … Does that make sense?'

No, Susan. No it really, really does not. Edna interrupts again

Susan: 'So the text that comes up … Can you please just let me finish?'

Edna: 'Susie, no.' Susie! Such a bitch.

Susan: 'Because I've seen it before and it's a great idea …'

So not only does it make NO sense, it also already exists. Edna finally shuts her down, and Susan is a bit frustrated. Edna to-cameras that Susan likes to talk and talk and will sulk, and that if you don't like her way of doing things, you can get off her team. They have no time left, so Susan isn't allowed to explain. I'm kind of annoyed because I really want to know what she was talking about. Truly, Susan Ma's App may have displaced Hannah Cherry's Invention as the greatest Apprentice mystery of all time. Melody pinches the bridge of her nose like she's trying to head off a tension headache.

The boys come up with the name 'Slangatang'. Leon again points out that it needs to be global (I didn't notice that he said that the first time) and despite worries that it could be offensive, they're all like 'YAY SLANGATANG!'

Felicity comes back up from surveying, saying people like time-wasters. She thinks of an annoying noise app – like popcorn in the cinema. An app to annoy people. The app man says it's totally feasible. Trying to come up with a name, they somehow they agree on Ampi App, as suggested by … um … a brunette chick I totally don't recognise. Ampi App is a bad name, but they also thought of 'Useful Noises', so you know. Small victory... [Someone on Twitter suggested An-NOISE - Rad]

Susan bitches in the car about the 'massive age gap' between her and Edna and points out that Edna had no ideas herself. Melody says shut it, I don't care, leave me out of it. Melody's kind of wicked.

The boys look for photos to be the 'face' of their app. By just photographing people in the street with their mouths open. Tom has a ruler that's a piece of paper that says 'ruler' on it, presumably to get the right distance between camera and face. They go back to the designer – it's going to be the same face each time, with different cartoon hats to show the accents. Gavin isn't sure about the app, but thinks time will tell.

The boys cast themselves as the voices. They don't seem to be insults so much as stereotypes. Alex goes Pakistani for Welsh, as is the wont of people who can't do accents. The things are like a Welsh person saying 'I absolutely love rugby'. It's not … an insult. [Or slang, for that matter. - Steve] Nick doesn't get it, but thinks he might be too old. No, Nick. It's just that bad.

Cut to some of the girls arguing really loudly, with Karrren looking on appalled. But, zounds! They're making an annoying arguing noise to record for the app! Oh, Editors! You fooled me thoroughly. [Not going to lie, I totally fell for this. - Steve] Melody makes kitty noises, very seriously, shushing people so she can, like, Be In Her Cat Moment. Susan says to camera that she's not convinced by the app and thinks they're heading for disaster. Then she records herself mooing.

The teams come up with blurbs for their apps. The joke 'apportunity' is made by Jim in his blurb, along with phrase 'hilarious local vocal'. The boys love it... I'm not entirely sure why.

They need to go to technology review websites. It's going to be Leon, Jim and Vincent Dinosaur going to the sites

There's a gaming expo. Edna decides that Melody, who has been giving talks to groups of teenagers for thirteen years, won't be as good at pitching to them as she, HR professional and soul-devourer, is. Um. Melody explains that she's used to presenting to groups of three thousand young people. Edna says she's looked at strengths and limitations and that's it, basically. 'I want to do the pitch because shut up' is her logic.

The slangatang looks really cheap, and it isn't insults any more, just things people say. Ampi Apps doesn't really look much better. There are now annoying, animal, and celebration noises. Ellie says she's worried about the randomness. Melody to-cameras that she doesn't really like it, and that there are better ones out there, but she's still going to give it everything. Good girl. Also she is bizarrely formal and says applications every time, not 'apps', which is awesome.

In the car, the boys already have 50 downloads. The girls seem to have none but are hopeful.

Sralan has made appointments with 3 tech sites. The Apprentices are trying to impress them and failing singularly. Melody screws up, saying Pocketlint has 37,000 unique hits a month, which is extremely impressive. They're like 'We have over a million.' Melody's like 'Oh.' A man asks 'Is that a picture of an elephant and the sound of a dog?' Team Galvanised are like 'Quirky!!' 'Do you have the sound of an elephant?' 'No.' 'Oh.' [I was teaching postmodernism to my A-level group earlier that day and this was still too postmodern for my brain to take - Rad]

Vincent Dinosaur also totally mucks up with Pocketlint. He starts with 'Hi chaps'. And he says they're going to introduce them to slangatang. No no no. No more introducing of things instead of people. He's just stuttering and pausing. And saying meaningless little soundbites without actually telling them anything. And also making no sense. And finally asking for help. Jim steps in and helps out, quite confidently explaining the marketing and stuff. Nick loves Jim long time.

They go to a tech fair at Earl's Court. The boys are dressed up in various uniforms to match the slangatang accents. Some dumb people seem to LOVE slangatang. Edna is pushy and abrasive. I, for one, am shocked.

The girls are at techcrunch Europe. The boys are at the 'global online technology magazine' (ie Wired.) The man from Wired says 'there's a basic issue of taste here, surely?' and says they're racial stereotypes. The guys say they aren't, Jim claims it's done sensitively. The man asks 'how do you avoid racial stereotypes if you've got an Aussie guy in a cork hat?'. He is my new favourite, and should get the job. Jim in the car thinks they didn't have any reservations about the app. Um. Were we in the same room?

In the car, Melody wants two of the three sites to feature them, but says 'What can you do? The pitch is only as good as the product.'

Slangatang is app of the day at Pocketlint. (Melody says 'Boo to slangatang!' I love her so much.) Slangatang is up at tech crunch too. The 'major online magazine' (that is Wired) has Ampi Apps. The girls don't really seem to understand that that's good because Wired is massive and global. They're like 'We got one!' and try to cheer themselves up.

Apparently there is such a thing as 'twittering technologists' and there 500 of them at a conference. Edna is pitching for Team Galvanised. She marches up and down like a scary dictator, wearing black leather gloves, marching about, speaking softly. 'Ampi Apps is big, Ampi Apps is bold, and Ampi Apps is noisy'. She seriously looks like she's going to kill them all one by one. She's going to share a secret with you and you and you [she's the worst secret keeper ever - Steve] – download Ampi Apps. It's just bizarre and creepy, the whole thing.

The boys pitch MUCH better. They tell the audience to text 'SLANG', point out that's its free, and make them get their phones out right there to download it. They give free doughnuts to the first 50 downloads. People don't often do stuff on this show that's actually genuinely impressive, but they ran it absolutely perfectly.

Afterwards, Melody says 'I think we're all thinking we might have just got thrashed'. Edna stares like a Gorgon, this full-on rictus grin not leaving her face for like ten seconds. It's amazing. Karrren makes the very valid point that Edna didn't talk about how to download the app or anything actually useful, and didn't use her time well.

Felicity thinks Edna's pitch was bad and she knows it. Leon is confident of winning.

Boardroom. Sralan self-aggrandises for about an hour about starting a business. He chats to Leon and asks if he was 'Steve Jobs or out of a job?' Leon explains how they've made the plan to make money from their app by micropayments – making extra characters available, I guess. Which is awesome, but this is The Apprentice and everything here is about the short term one-off task. Sralan talks about how the boys didn't get Wired, the biggest one. Vincent doesn't understand why they didn't get wired, and Logic are shocked that the Wired guys thought it was offensive. Jim, terribly affronted, makes a bullshit thing about Ampi Apps being 'offensive to the ear' and Sralan is all 'Yes, but yours is ACTUALLY OFFENSIVE'.

Sralan asks whose idea Ampi Apps was. Felicity says it was hers. He asks if they all liked it; Melody says no, and five out of eight say they didn't. Edna says they seemed to like it at the time, and Felicity is all 'first I've heard!'. Sralan asks why Edna went to the fair instead of the websites, which were much more valuable. She waffles and says they were the right people for it. (She blatantly wanted to play dress-up and go to the fair.) Ellie says she doesn't normally pitch, but she thinks they did OK. Sralan's like 'Well, you got one.' Ellie says, 'the big one, though', and grins. If this show was only decided on the criterion of 'having a clue', we could just cut to a Melody Ellie final right now.

After six hours, the boys got just under 3,000 and the girls got just under 1,000. After a day 3,951 downloads for the boys. Karrren says 'the world woke up' – it's 10,667 for the girls. TEAM GALVANISED! Sralan says 'Oh' and it's wonderfully expressive. They get to go a Michel Roux Jr restaurant [I wish this was a show with Michel and Monica Galetti. They should actually be on every reality show. Can you IMAGINE how much Monica would rip these losers to shreds? - Rad]. He gives Edna a kiss. They all freak out like a sitcom studio audience. Susan absolutely pisses herself laughing. Melody sips her wine and says, 'Is that victory I taste?'. She's so awful. I love her.

They sit in the Loser Cafe and talk about how it wasn't offensive. On and on. Glenn's like 'we had 500 people laughing on that stage'. They can't get their heads around the fact that it was a global thing and their app was very UK focused, even allowing for the Australian. So mostly, your app is going to offend lots of people, and the only people it won't offend are the ones who won't even give a shit about it. It's not the best, really. Funny how Leon did mention several times the globalness and then just didn't do anything about it.

Sralan yells at them. Tom says that they lost because Galvanised got Wired. Sralan, a bit disingenuously I think, says that he doesn't care if they got on the website, because people just didn't want their product. To an extent, maybe, but you really can't discount the importance of that publicity the way Sralan is trying to. He says they didn't get that it was a global product, and Leon cops to that.

He tells off Jim for his shitty production description. The girls' first line is 'screeching chalk and animal snorts are all part of the Ampi App'. It says exactly what you get. Slangatang goes, as we discussed, 'apportunity for hilarious local vocal'. Sralan says 'I'm bored'. He signposts MASSIVELY that he wants Jim in the final boardroom: 'Do we all agree, here, that these words was one of the reasons this task failed?' He really hated the product description, you guys.

Jim goes on about how he takes part and Alex sits back, and Sralan's all 'Mmmhmm!' and Z-snaps. Alex, kind of bitchily and awesomely, says that Jim saved a pitch but not the big one.

At first I'm very excited about Leon's ability to read the room, because he brings in Jim and Alex. However, Jim – and credit to him I guess – says that Vincent Dinosaur fluffed and Glenn made the shitty app in the first place. Leon then hums and haws, and says 'Do you want me to change?' and changes his fucking mind about who he's bringing back. Fire him right now. I totally love Leon but you don't let yourself get steamrollered like that. He brings in Alex and Glenn. Glenn tries to do a Jim, and fails utterly. Brilliantly, Jim says 'The PM's made his decision'. [Jim is my sweepstake candidate, therefore GO TEAM JIM! - Rad] They all go out. Sralan chats to Nick and Karrren. Karrren says Alex fights in the boardroom but is invisible otherwise.

The boys come back in. Sralan says that the person who wrote the description is gone. He really hated that description, guys. He asks why Glenn is there. Glenn does try to defend himself. Basically it boils down to the app was bad, that was Glenn's idea, but Leon was PM and backed the idea so it's his fault. You know, the same argument that happens in every single episode of the Apprentice. 'Your idea was shit.' 'You should have stopped my idea being shit.'

Leon says that he's come to Sralan having started a business with nothing, no investment. Clever boy. Alex says some more about how he's not hiding away, slicing bread and if he got the job he wouldn't be hiding way. Sralan's like, 'Damn straight, bitch.' He says that Leon's got his own business but still failed. Leon then, awesomely, says 'We're looking at this as a twelve-week process and I can guarantee that you won't make the finals'. Alex looks a little shocked and doesn't even try to defend himself. Sralan asks who should be fired, and Leon says Alex without hesitation.

Alex says that Leon should be fired because he makes bad decisions. Leon just says 'no'. Sralan says that Alex is a good talker, but he's 'not starting a business writing speeches'. Wow, he's still so burned from Stubaggs. He's not sure that Glenn is the rare person that can combine tech savvy and business sense.

Leon's been in the bottom three twice in two weeks, but has been saved by the fact that he's got a business and has achieved something. Alex has got the reputation for not doing anything. It's not just a job, it's a business partnership, and if Alex thinks he can hide he's wrong. BECAUSE HE'S FIRED! Oh, snap! I feel a bit bad for Alex. Not hugely because his face kind of scares me and he's a bit unpleasant, but the whole 'You need to spend less time doing shit and more time yelling about amazing you are' shtick of The Apprentice is always a bit off-putting.

If Leon is back again, Sralan will be very angry and there won't be a third chance. So Leon basically has to win the entire thing, then. No pressure.

In the car, Alex says Leon should go for not even making a decision about who to bring back but he's going to learn from it blah di blah.

Back at the house it turns from banter to Glenn saying 'You bottled it, you're a chicken' all very seriously and it's a bit uncomfortable.

Next week: Joy of joys, we have the buy ten things task! We may have already been spoiled for the best moment of the entire episode, with Susan telling a shopkeeper 'it's for a very important client' and the shopkeeper saying, 'How would that make a difference to me?'.

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