Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Oranges are not the only fruit

Week 1: 10th May 2011

I don't know about you, but I feel sorry for Stella English - she gets what, six months to enjoy her status as the current reigning Apprentice? Seven at a push. Yasmina Siadatan got sixteen. It seems so unfair - I mean, six months into the job Lee McQueen had only just learned how to switch his computer on, and poor Stella only gets that amount of time in which to make her mark before being a replaced by a shiny new model. Still, at least she knows how an iPhone must feel.

Anyway, we must forget about Stella and Chris Bates and StuBaggs and Melissa Cohen who was definitely not a firework that goes crazy, because that is all behind us now: there are sixteen new candidates all vying for a--well, not a job with Sralan, but I'm getting ahead of myself already, so we'll wait for the show to explain it. We begin with the obligatory London porn, intercut with shots of contestants on escalators, in underground stations, in National Rail stations, walking down the street pulling rolly-cases, looking impatiently at their watches, and other business clichés.

A Cheryl Cole lookalike tells us that last year she started her own global business, "literally with nothing". Brilliant: 20 seconds into the episode and already someone's managed to misuse the word "literally". She goes on to inform us that she's worked with Nobel Peace Prize winners all over the world, and just to add a ridiculous business mantra for good measure, finishes with "don't tell me the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon". A Pale But Handsome Irishman tells us that he's a deer -- whoops, "a doer" -- and believes that he can be "the champion thoroughbred that this process requires." I can only assume that he is in fact part of Stuart Baggs' field of business ponies waiting to be harnessed by a tetchy millionaire from Hackney. George Lamb continues the strange pattern of animal metaphors by telling us that he is "a best of breed within my industry. I've got plenty of charisma, and yeah, I'm not bad looking." He does have classically handsome features, it's true, but I watched the show in HD and this particular statement was less convincing when I was staring at the general sagginess of his skin [why would you torture yourself with this show in HD? I imagine the boardroom blue would burn your retinas out in high definition - Rad].

More candidates arrive without being allowed to speak until we get to Fey Orlando Bloom, who insists that he's already proven himself in business because he turned over a million pounds from nothing (again, I'm guessing probably not from actual nothing), while Morena Baccarin insists that her social life and her personal life mean nothing to her - "I live to work, that's all I do." I assume this is meant to be impressive, but it just comes across as a bit pathetic, because I refuse to believe any job in the world could ever be that good. I mean, even if I landed the admittely implausible position of personal fluffer to Jake Gyllenhaal, I think I'd probably still want the occasional day off to go down the pub with my friends or catch up on The Good Wife. Hot Dishevelled Nerd tells us has been running a business already for five years and knows how difficult it is, before staging some kind of Superman moment by removing his specs and telling us that "underneath these glasses is a core of steel." This may have been slightly more effective had he not been clearly trying to hold back his laughter, and had the whole thing not been undercut with a shot of him gaily riding a Boris Bike through London. Bland Generically Attractive Guy With Thick Eyebrows tells us that he "takes cutthroat and ruthless to a new level", adding that he is cold and hard and unstoppable. You know what else is cold and hard and unstoppable? A wheel of cheese. I'm just putting that out there. The mood established, the next batch of people get slightly less time to embarrass themselves: Shaven-Headed Guy thinks this will change his life, Handsome Scouser is driven by the fear of failure every day, Youthful Asian Woman is confident that her business idea will make millions for Lord Sugar. Obligatory "marching purposefully across a bridge over the Thames" shot.

From there we go to a boardroom montage where Sralan informs us that he is not looking for bladdy salespeople, but for someone who's got a brain. The narration explains that having gone from "market stall to market leader" (guffaw), he's on the hunt for a new business partner. For no apparent reason, this is illustrated with a shot of Sralan on the roof of a building staring out to the horizon. There follows a selection of snippets from tasks yet to come, which of course will prove very handy for those looking for spoilers to indicate who'll be getting the chop early. Present in the montage [I am not even reading this next bit Steve, I didn't let the show spoiler me, and dammit, neither will you. And if you tell me even one note of whatever spoilers the internet has about who River Song is, so help me.... - Rad] are: Hot Dishevelled Nerd in some kind of running around London task accompanied by Anonymous Brunette Woman; Sheila Ferguson carrying what looks like a pillow, Cheryl Cole and George Lamb playing with tins of some sort and discussing pricing structures with Hot Dishevelled Nerd; Youthful Asian Woman and Sheila Ferguson having an argument while Cheryl Cole tries to ignore them; far too many people to check off walking through a museum; Youthful Asian Woman giving a male model a spray tan; Fey Orlando Bloom on a building site; Morena Baccarin, Cheryl Cole and Karren Brady (note: actual Karren Brady, not someone who looks like her) on another building site; Stony-Faced Blonde Woman grimacing in the boardroom, George Lamb grimacing in the boardroom, Shaven-Headed Guy grimacing in the boardroom; Morena Baccarin, Sheila Ferguson and Pale But Handsome Irishman in a taxi on what's clearly a "buy these items at the cheapest price" task; George Lamb, Handsome Scouser and Fey Orlando Bloom celebrating while dressed as utter twats; Blonde Woman With Pearl Necklace (tee hee) also in the "buy these items" task; more boardroom shots; unseen people getting fired.

It's 4pm, and the contestants are waiting outside the boardroom, looking rather tense. Everyone is sizing each other up but trying not to look like that's what they're doing. NotFrances sends them through, and they assemble at the boardroom table. Interestingly, most of the seats are occupied by the men, while a lot of the women are left standing. I guess very few of the guys are bothered about looking chivalrous. Sralan tells them all that one of the most frequently asked questions of him is "why is your spelling and grammar so bad on Twitter?" Sorry, my mistake - it is in fact "is it possible in this day and age to start a business like you did back in 1967 with a small amount of money and some humble background?" Yeah, I'm sure he gets asked that ALL THE TIME. Although it's a good point - there are few humble background stockists where I live, so there's obviously a niche in the market waiting to be filled. Anyway, apparently the answer is yes, and Sralan is sick of this moaning culture of people saying you can't do this, and you can't do that, because you can. All you need is an idea for a product or a service, a lot of hard work and determination, an appearance on a primetime reality show and a millionaire benefactor. As a result, the prize this time is not a job with Viglen and a six figure salary, but the opportunity to start a business partnership with Sralan, who'll be injecting "£250,000 worth of cash and value" (that's a very interesting way of phrasing it). They'll be running it themselves, with Sralan nagging them every five minutes as to why they're not making more money, an arrangement that Sralan terms "an uncivil partnership". No one laughs. No one dares.

He wants them to treat the first task as if it's their own business, only this time instead of a £250,000 investment, they're getting £250 to buy produce, add value to it and sell it on to the public. The team that brings back the biggest return on his investment will win, while one member of the losing team will be bladdy fired. It's boys vs girls as usual, with Nick and Karren in the usual voyeuristic role. Sralan reminds the teams that he is definitely looking for a return on his money. They disperse and head into a fleet of Apprenticars to take them to the luxury home they'll be staying in for the duration of the competition. They all use the drive to get to know each other, by which we mean psych each other out. George Lamb asks what was going through everyone's mind in the waiting room, and sadly no one replies "the chorus of 'Bad Romance'"; instead Fey Orlando Bloom says that he was "quietly confident, baby". Shaven-Headed Guy was thinking "I'll have you all." Bam-chicka-wow-wow. Cheryl Cole tells everyone that she runs a global consultancy business (translation: well-travelled busybody), while Handsome Scouser runs his own business selling glasses online. Stony-Faced Blonde Woman Who Is Northern, It Seems runs her own recruitment business, while Youthful Asian Woman has an organic skincare. God, fuck what they do for a living, can we just get to the part where they have NAMES, please? [I'm so glad you're doing the opener this series, it's been my pet hate in recent years - Rad]

Oh, thank God - here we get our first confessional with accompanying name chevron, where we learn that Youthful Asian Woman is Susan Ma, Natural Skincare Entrepreneur [So she's an Avon lady? - Rad]. Susan thinks people will underestimate her at first because she's short, sweet and smiley, but when she does business, she means business. George Lamb is a "sales manager-cum-sales director" (it seems unsurprising that cum is involved somewhere) and stands out from everyone else's monochrome outfits in his blue pinstriped suit, magenta socks and tan shoes. Hot Dishevelled Nerd invented the world's first curved nail file, a feat that Handsome Scouser is struggling to get his head around, judging from the look on his face.

Hot Dishevelled Nerd is called Thomas Pellereau (a good name, but not the best one we'll be seeing tonight) and talks with endearing enthusiasm about being an inventor and finding gaps in the market. His eyebrows have a life of their own, and I love him a little bit. He's clearly fodder with a capital F, but I suspect he will also be my woobie. Apparently he invented this curved nail file in his kitchen, but it's now on sale in major retailers in the UK and America. Sheila Ferguson [TreyC Cohen was where I was heading -Rad] (aka Edna Agbarha, Business Psychologist) is very into people, and loves challenging herself. "I seek out pain rather than pleasure. Weak people in business are a waste of space, and a limp handshake is unforgivable." This woman is crumbling into a sobbing heap by week five or my name isn't Charles Worthington Arbuthnot III. Stoned Guy With Neckbeard is "a humble accountant" and is reassured by Shaven-Headed Guy that "we all need you, in a way" and George Lamb suggests that he could start his own accountancy practice. If that's the level of out-of-the-box brainstorming we're in for this series, I'm scared for us all. Stoned Guy With Neckbeard would, it seems, rather not do that anyway.

The Apprenthouse is in Richmond-upon-Thames, and is ridiculously lavish, of course. Everyone bustles around excitedly admiring all the space and features, and Thomas finds himself in a bedroom with a bunch of girls and gets nerd-panicky about it. Nick and Karren are seen ambling up the gravel driveway outside, and the contestants separate into their teams and get on with the important business of choosing names. On Team Woman, Morena Baccarin suggests "Galvanised, for obvious reasons" (oh yes, obviously), and "Platinum". Edna looks distinctly unimpressed. Cheryl Cole, who actually doesn't look all that much like Cheryl Cole if I'm honest, but she's close enough to be a verbal shorthand until her real name is revealed, suggests "Venture", because it suggests they're daring, bold and taking risks. Edna likes Venture, as does Susan. The motion passes, and everyone claps.

Over in the lounge, the men are tossing ideas into the ring. George Lamb suggests "Ability", while Bland Generically Attractive Guy With Thick Eyebrows (who will be BGAGWTE for convenience's sake until his actual name is revealed) looks unconvinced. Stoned Guy With Neckbeard doesn't like Ability either. Fey Orlando Bloom, whose name is obviously Leon, suggests "Leontrepreneur", which is shot down amid giggles. Shaven-Headed Guy suggests "Logic", which is possibly the worst team name since First Forte, but earns the approval of Stoned Guy With Neckbeard. Pale But Handsome Irishman is not in love with it, but sees the logic behind it. BGAGWTE suggests they put it to a vote. George Lamb gaily asks "who likes Ability?" and waves his own hand in the air, while everyone else votes for Logic.

Next, time to select a leader: for Venture, Cheryl Cole (who speaks in the same voice as the actress who played Smell in This Is England and Bonnie in Shameless, to the point where it's quite uncanny) wants to be PM because that's what she's good at, as does Morena Baccarin. The narration helpfully fills in that Cheryl Cole is "business consultant Melody", while Morena Baccarin is "executive assistant Helen". We're getting there, gradually. Melody says "global" 56 more times, while Helen says that she's experienced at managing "large teams". Nice try Helen, but unless they are GLOBALLY large, Melody is so winning this. Edna does a head-bob of approval as Melody talks. Venture opts for Melody as their project manager, and her first job is to tell everyone that they're all teammates and ask them to send a handshake around the table. It's dorky and ridiculously the sort of thing you do on an awayday just before you go out and play paintball or try to assemble a jigsaw with half your team blindfolded and the other half chained to a wall, but it actually works quite well as an icebreaker after all that debating, so I'm willing to let it slide. This time. Melody (whose surname is Hossaini, we now learn) tells us in a confessional that she's been personally trained by Al Gore, Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama, and that she works with an understanding that there is a person greater than herself. That puts her ahead of about 90% of contestants ever to appear on this show, so it's an encouraging start. Melody asserts that their plan is that they're "definitely going to win it". I hope the plan is slightly more detailed than that.

There is only one volunteer on Logic, and it's Stoned Guy With Neckbeard (Edward). Hoo boy. This isn't looking good already. He offers to bring "rationale" and common sense to the role of PM, and says that they're going to "roll with the punches". Is that not a slightly defeatist attitude? Why not hope for there not to be punches in the first place? Handsome Scouser suggests that they get a handle on Edward's credentials for the role rather than realise later that they were too quick to elect him, which Edward interprets as a leadership challenge. George Lamb takes it to another vote, revealing in the process that Handsome Scouser's name is Gavin. Thomas and Shaven-Headed Guy vote for Gavin, while everyone else votes for Edward. Aww, at least George Lamb was on the winning team this time. Maybe he won't be crying into his designer pillow tonight after all.

Edward (whose surname is Hunter - Ed Hunter, how brilliant) says that he's "a wheeler-dealer who accidentally became a finance professional". Bollocks - I know enough accountants to know that it's not something that happens because you had too many Sea Breezes one night and woke up the next day with a diploma in your pocket. Edward wants out because he knows he's so much more than an accountant, and has given up a big job with an important company for the chance to go into business with Sralan. What he has apparently not given up: the wacky baccy. Blonde Woman Who Is Not At This Point Wearing A Pearl Necklace thinks they should use as little of the money as possible, and there is some murmured agreement. On Logic, Thomas suggests "segments of fruits covered in toffee or chocolate" as a potential product, which strikes me as something far, far beyond the capabilities of any of this lot. Susan says that they need a breakfast product and a lunch product, as she thinks that will strengthen their sales pitch. Their discussion appears to bring them over to fruit salad for breakfast and vegetable pasta for lunch. Om nom nom. Edward tells Logic that they need to focus on things that they can make efficiently, quickly and well, and he thinks soup fits the bill, "because you can't get it wrong". Oh Edward. You really, really can. He points out that perhaps people might not buy it from you again, but they won't actually be sick. This is the Yasmina Siadatan Memorial Approach To Catering Tasks, by the way. Edward expands the pitch to soup and "some kind of juice", while Shaven-Headed Guy poses the $64,000 question: does anyone know how to make soup?

*crickets chirp*

No. Nobody does. The "at least people won't be sick" reasoning is looking less convincing by the second.

At 3.20am, the candidates leave The Apprenthouse to purchase their produce. In a car with Pale But Handsome Irishman and Shaven-Headed Guy, Edward decries the very idea of working out margins, and doesn't want to do that sort of stuff just to prove he can do it. The possibility that doing it because it is a good idea and a key part of capitalism does not seem to trouble him. Instead his plan is:

1. Spend £250 on produce

2. Mash it up

3. ????????????


The others look unconvinced.

The cars arrive at New Covent Garden Market, where Melody's team looks for grapes and pineapple, while Edward is in search of oranges. It prompts the following exchange:

GEORGE LAMB (holding a large, round, orange fruit): Is that an orange?
EDWARD: I don't know.

Over on Venture, Melody reminds the team that they want to be spending as little as possible, and puts Edna in charge of costings, handing her the money. Susan chimes in that they need to get going if they want to catch the breakfast market.

Logic are hunting for tomatoes, for soup, and oranges, for juice. They consult a seller about oranges, who tells them that his lowest price is £9.50 a box. Edward offers him £150 for 17 boxes (which is £8.82 a box, if anyone's wondering), at which point the seller points out that, no, they are £9.50 a box. George Lamb suggests meeting halfway at £9.25 a box, asking what different 25p makes. The seller, getting a tad annoyed with them at this point, replies that it's clear they're not in the business and don't have a clue how this works. He repeats once more for clarity: £9.50 a box is the bottom line. Edward buys 16 boxes at £9.50 each. The seller all but rolls his eyes as he walks off. So they've now got 1400 oranges, and Edward explains that he's not concerned with sales right now, he just wants to produce and sell as much as he can. He says "rolling with the punches" again.

So, £9.50 a box for 16 boxes costs £152. Pale But Handsome Irishman asks how much they have to spend on the soup, and Edward tells him £40. Gavin asks what they're spending on oranges, and is told £150, so Gavin wants to know if they're not spending all the money. Gavin explains that they're "maxing on oranges". PBH Irishman points out that soup is harder to make. Edward doesn't want to "hear negative". Someone points out that it's not negative, it's just a fact, leading Edward to channel David Brent: "Yeah? Here's a fact. You've got ten minutes to get this sorted, so come on, move." Gavin (Winstanley) complainterviews that if he'd been PM, he would've had a proper structure in place by this point and everyone would've known what they were doing. PBH Irishman, whose name we now learn is Jim, goes on the search for soup ingredients. He asks a trader what sort of tomatoes he'd need to make soup, and she tells him that he'd need really ripe ones. He asks if he would be able to make something happen if he wanted to buy some boxes of overripe tomatoes at £3 a box, and she replies that if she had them, he'd be very welcome to them. Jim, not getting the hint at all: "Do you have them?" No she does not. Jim looks like a wounded puppy.

Melody, Susan, Edna and Anonymous Brunette Woman are shopping for fruit salad ingredients, and speak to the same seller whose non-haggling manner was so alien to Team Logic in the hope that he can provide them with pineapples and grapes. Susan wants to buy 50 each of courgettes and peppers for the pasta, and Edna reminds her that they can't spend money without clearing it with her first. They try to buy some courgettes from another vendor, who is selling them at £4.20 a box. Susan asks if they can get two boxes for £8, and the vendor agrees all too readily, with the subtext that he just wants Susan to go away quickly. Edna is unimpressed, because Susan is making financial decisions without her say-so, and drags Melody into it. Susan whines that she was just trying to quicken up the deal, and Melody approves it and grabs the boxes. The vendor, in an uncomfortable attempt at small talk with Edna while she hands over the money, says that she must be the boss. Edna laughs hollowly and says that she is not, but she has been given a Very Important Task. In a confessional, Edna headbobs that she's accountable "for the pursestrings", but other people are making the deals and not involving her, which makes it impossible for her to keep track. The women buy some strawberries, and we see Edna telling them they have £84 left. They decide to leave and get started with their food prep.

At 6.15am, Logic are still hunting for cheap tomatoes. Jim offers one seller £30 for a job lot of overripe tomatoes. The canny seller asks what's in it for him, since at that price he's doing them a favour. Jim negotiates that he will throw in another tenner, but only if he gets a box of red peppers and six onions. It's almost how I imagine they would haggle in the olden days. Maybe Jim will ask for three comely wenches of virtue true next. The deal is done. Jim declares that they will make soup like they've never made soup before; Gavin points out that this will be easy, because they have never made soup before.

On the way back, George Lamb is looking sleepy, while Shaven-Headed Guy is establishing the production line mechanics of the orange-juice making: cut, squeeze, sieve, into a bottle. Edward is not interested in hearing any of this because he doesn't know what equipment they've got, although he does help me out by informing me that Shaven-Headed Guy is called Glenn. Glenn tries to argue that they could at least consider the possibilities, but Edward shuts him down. Leon finds the whole thing hilarious.

Dawn. Commuter porn. The women are in a hurry to catch the breakfast trade. People are slicing fruit, and Melody urges them to "cut it like you've never cut in your life before!" What do we think the odds are of this lot also never having cut fruit in their lives before? I'm going with 'fairly high'. I'm wondering if that particular turn of phrase is going to crop up in every task [Oh, the Big Society - Rad]. "Let's record advertising jingles like you've never recorded advertising jingles before!" "Let's be interviewed by Claude Littner like you've never been interviewed by Claude Littner before!" And so on. Fruit-preparation montage, which is nowhere near as innuendo-laden as last year's sausage-making montage, disappointingly. Helen clarifies that the salads contain five pieces each of pineapple, grape and strawberry, and they will be sold at £2 a pot. Edna asks how many pots there will be. Melody responds that she's aiming for 500 pots, but isn't sure if they have enough stock for what they have planned. As they're running out of pineapple, Melody suggests they space it out more and take "a couple out of each". Nick thinks they have not invested their money wisely, since they only spent just over half of it on "quite a mean product", and he wonders if their lack of adventure could be their undoing.

At this point, Susan plays Monday morning quarterback (apologies for the blatant Americanism, I couldn't think of an appropriately English equivalent) by pointing out that they had money left over and could have bought more fruit. Edna (correctly) points out that at this point it doesn't matter, what matters is what price they can charge for the product they're selling and thus how much profit they can churn out. Melody tries to get everyone to get labelling so they can disperse, but Susan's not letting go that easily and wants Melody to make a call on whether they should go out and get more fruit. This is the same Susan, by the way, who was rushing everyone around earlier so they could catch the breakfast trade. Perhaps if she hadn't been in quite such a hurry to close the deal in the market, they might not have had this problem. Melody deflects the question, since Edna was in charge of costings (Edna's face: "O RLY?") and she has said that profit is more important right now. They start labelling up the pots, and Helen informs Melody that she's taking 170 pots with her. But where?

8.20am. Logic are unloading their fruit and veg. Edward tells them that he wants to be out of there in 90 minutes, and that they're just going to "roll with the punches" (AAAAARGH! WHAT PUNCHES? WHO IS PUNCHING YOU? THERE ARE NO PUNCHES TO ROLL WITH!). Unsurprisingly, Jim is in charge of soup production, with his cannily-obtained overripe tomatoes and bonus peppers and onions. On his team are BGAGWTE (now formally identified as "Alex", phew) and Thomas (who is more of a "Tom", it seems, in the same way that Liz Locke was clearly a "Liz" last year and yet was inexplicably identified as "Elizabeth" in the captions). Jim advises the team not to let the tomatoes stick, because if they stick, they burn, and that's not good. Leon, meanwhile, is appointed Executive In Charge Of Sticking Oranges In The Juicer And Holding The Lid Down. At least, I assume they're oranges. I don't know if Edward and George Lamb ever actually got official confirmation on that front. There is a shot of a pathetic dribble of orange juice emerging from the juicers; it's vaguely reminiscent of dribbling urine but still not a patch on all the sausage-as-penis visual references last year. Leon (Doyle, Fast Food Marketing Entrepreneur) says that his job is not a massive responsibility, but he doesn't mind because his moment will come with the sales later. Edward comes over to micromanage the juicing and informs Leon that he's holding them down for far too long. He informs Leon that they should be "buzzed" for "no more than five seconds". Leon attempts this, and then points out that this means half the orange doesn't get juice. Edward's advice is to "push it harder". Then the juicer breaks. *golf clap*

George Lamb, who has been standing in the background looking fretful for the most part, asks Edward what they should do now that one of the juicers is broken, and the answer is obvious: they must do what mankind did back in the days of yore before such luxuries existed and SQUEEZE THE ORANGES BY HAND. Karren opinterviews that there are six boys in there squeezing 1400 oranges, and that they need to pick up the pace, because they've missed the breakfast rush and are in danger of missing the lunch and dinner rushes as well. Edward complains that his arms are aching already, and the size of the To Be Squeezed pile doesn't fill him with confidence. The clock shows 8.45am, and Edward panics that they need to be selling now.

Speaking of selling, members of Team Venture have already hit the shopping centre at Canary Wharf, where they know they will be surrounded by people with no grasp of the value of everyday money (at least if my city boy ex-boyfriend is anything to go by) and will just assume that £65 is indeed a bargainous price for three strawberries and a piece of Edna's belly-button lint. Melody genially approaches a shopper, while Susan zones in mercilessly on a group of men, offering a discount if they all buy a pot. The sales are going well, as is the attribution of names, since at this point we discover that Blonde Woman Who Will Wear A Pearl Necklace At Some Point In The Future is Felicity, and Anonymous Brunette Woman is Natasha. Natasha's sales patter seems to be less effective than that of her cohorts, since she makes the mistake of asking people how they are, giving them the opportunity to shrill "fine, thanks!" and run right past. Rookie error. The pots are being sold for £2, it seems, and since they cost 33p each to make, the profit margins are indeed healthy. This approach is Yasmina Siadatan approved, I can tell. (Seriously, Yasmina is the benchmark for cost-to-profit ratios in food tasks, and probably always will be.) Felicity and Susan sell more fruit. Even Natasha sells some. Things seem to be going well. Susan notes the sheer amount of footfall in the area and things they could make more money if they were selling the pasta too.

Unfortunately, the pasta is still being worked on by Edna and Stony-Faced Blonde Woman Who Is Northern, It Seems (who will also exist in acronym form from now on until we learn her real name). SFBWWINIS thinks it tastes like "uncooked Ragu" and that they won't do as well with that as they will with the fruit. But, she adds, "I'm not from these parts and apparently you can sell them for £2.50." Brilliant. She's totally Nick from Twenty Twelve - "I don't know about you, but I'm from Yorkshire." She even cracks a smile at this point, but it's too late, I'm not renaming her now. Helen hopes they've not left it too late to get the pasta out.

Speaking of leaving things too late, the Ironic Segue Fairy shunts us over to Edward, counting bottles of orange juice, squeezed by the hands of Logic. In the kitchen, Glenn is stewing over Edward's absence and the subsequent lack of leadership. Glenn (Ward, Senior Design Engineer) interviews that this shows a lack of focus from the PM, and that someone needs to "man up" and sort it out - Glenn himself, apparently. He does this by clapping his hands and telling everyone that they need to get out and get selling because they don't want to miss the lunchtime trade. This is all good, but then he spoils it rather by publicly making a show of Edward, saying that he's doing his job for him and asking why he's bothering to wash things up. Edward retorts that Glenn needs to speak to him more respect. Jim intervenes with these immortal words: "I'll defuse the situation." I think Jim might have started narrating this episode out loud - perhaps he's after Mark Halliley's job. Either that, or it's some kind of verbal tic he can't shake, in which case I suspect he'd make a terrible confidence trickster: "I am going to cause a distraction while Sticky Fingers McGee runs off with your watch." Anyway, Jim pulls Glenn away to calm down, and Edward, growing increasingly squeaky, tells the others that they have to be away within five minutes because they can't lose any more sales time. Soupy juicy montage. Jim declares it "good, hearty soup". Their pricing structure is £2 for soup and £2 for orange juice, at which point all the northerners on my Twitter feed shrieked "HOW MUCH?!?!" [Heh. As one of said Northerners. I still wear shoes, for heaven's sake - Rad] Logic departs, in more ways than one.

Lunchtime. Edna, SFBWWINIS and Woman Who Has Not Yet Spoken A Single Word are in a taxi, with Edna on the phone to Melody, telling her that they will be sending 100 vegetable pastas and 100 fruit pots to her location in Canary Wharf. This exchange is surprisingly drama-free.

Logic, meanwhile, are setting up outside Liverpool Street station, another prime spot if you want to accost people with far too much cash to burn. Tom turns all town crier, bellowing out that they're selling "the freshest tomato soup that you will find in the area" and juggling with oranges while he does this. Who knew he was such a multihyphenate? I may love him quite a lot. Jim (Eastwood, Sales And Marketing Manager) says that it's going well and they're selling a lot of orange juice. Sales seem to be brisk, and Gavin takes advantage of being incredibly handsome to sell some orange juice to some young women. Elsewhere, Leon, Glenn, Edward and George Lamb are the peripatetic sub-team, targeting offices in the West End. Edward, bizarrely, explains to an office worker how they managed to release this magic orange juice from its spherical fruity prison. She looks at him like she can't decide if he's high, insane or both. To be honest, neither can I. The ringleader here is George Lamb (real name: Vincent), who valiantly tries to sell on the USP that he's brought along some handsome men when in reality he's actually brought Glenn, Edward and Leon, and all the properly fit male contestants are in Liverpool Street. Karren interviews with barely contained disgust that Vincent has gone straight for the women with the smarm offensive and it seems to have worked. Vincent harasses a few more office workers and then his team returns to the Apprentaxi. He calls Jim for a progress report, and Jim informs him that they've made £160. Edward replies that (definitely not using his LAME accountancy skills or anything) between the two sub-teams they've made £230, so they're £20 away from breaking even.

The second Venture subteam (Helen, Edna, SFBWWINIS and WWHNYSASW) are setting up outside Euston station. Not content with having already been likened to one sitcom character, SFBWWINIS aligns herself with Twinkle from dinnerladies when she struggles to write the menu on the board because she can't spell "vegetable". SFBWWINIS embarks on the world's most terrifying sales pitch ("G'wan, be my first sale. £2.50." - all spoken in a highly sinister monotone and with the sort of body language that suggests she'll shiv you if you even think about declining this offer) while Helen's over-effusive manner isn't doing the business either. SFBWWINIS (now identified as Ellie Reed, Managing Director, Construction Recruitment) interviews that the vegetable pasta is not selling well at all, because they missed the lunchtime traffic and now they have to rebrand it as something to take home to eat as a fairly depressing tea.

Back at Canary Wharf, Felicity is being superlatively obnoxious ("Have you had any fresh fruit yet today? No? Then thank God I'm here!") Susan has sold out at this point, and they need more stock which hasn't arrived, so Melody phones Edna. It appears that Ellie is still in the process of portioning it all out, and Melody is not happy that it isn't there with them in time for when they need it. Edna bitches that she just wants to get back to selling, and once the call is over, Melody relays the conversation to her teammates (Felicity in particular really overdoing the slack-jawed shock) and they decide to pick up their stuff and move on.

Suddenly there is only one hour left to sell. Melody demonstrates superhuman abilities when she manages to get a mobile signal whilst driving through an underground tunnel, and uses these witch powers to call Edna and tell her that the other sub-team are coming to Euston. Edna: "Why?" Helen upsells one man to the "meal deal" which is the fruit pot and the vegetable pasta together for £5, saving a princely £1 on their individual retail prices. Also, crucially: it gives you something to wash down the taste of half-baked Bolognese afterwards. I'm relieved to see at this point that someone has at least corrected Ellie's misspelling of "vegetable" on the board - knowing that someone on this team cares about spelling makes it easier to support their inevitable victory.

Liverpool Street. Trade appears to be brisk. A man points out to Tom that his soup is cold, and Tom asks if he would prefer a hot one. I think the cunning business tactic here would have been to simply rebrand the product as gazpacho. Alex (Britez Cabral, Estate Agent) is ladling out soup in the van and fondly remembering when he used to work in an ice-cream stall, while identifying his role in the team as being largely backroom support. Tom points out that Alex has remained in the van throughout the task. "He's a salesman, that's what he does, he works in property. I thought he'd be...better." It's the baffled shrug that he delivers alongside that last word that really makes it sting.

Melody's quartet arrives at Euston and the price of the pasta is dropped to £1. Unsurprisingly, trade picks up. Melody instructs Ellie and Edna to keep boxing up the pasta so they can sell it, and Edna complies with barely-suppressed murderous rage. Pasta is now apparently 50p. You just know that Ellie's thinking "that's still a rip-off. Where I come from, you can buy a three-bedroomed house for that." Edna bristles to the camera about Melody suddenly telling her how to do her job "when we've been doing this quite efficiently all day long". Except, y'know, the part where they failed to dispatch the stock that they'd promised over to Canary Wharf, which is basically the entire reason Melody came here in the first place. I'm not feeling massively sympathetic towards Edna here.

Team Logic. Tom looks for a buyer for his last pot of soup, while Vincent and Edward charge around offices to shift their last two bottles of OJ. Over at Team Venture, they too are trying to shift the last of their stock. Finally, at 4pm, the task is over. Edward gives his team a congratulatory debriefing, which once again involves the phrase "roll with the punches". You know how earlier I asked where these punches would be coming from? I think they'll be coming from approximately 7.8 million viewers of BBC1. Hilariously, Leon totally takes the piss out of him for constantly saying that, and Edward doesn't even realise.

The teams take a fleet of Apprentaxis back to the boardroom, while Edward marvels at how the orange juice just sold, and how it was totally a viable business. In another car, Melody smirks that people will indeed pay £2.50 for fruit salad.

Boardroom. NotFrances sends them through. Nick and Karren are there waiting, obviously, while Sralan is late again. His timekeeping is getting offensively poor. Upon his eventual arrival, he reminds the team of the basic tenets of the task and turns first to Edward and Team Logic. Sralan asks if anyone else volunteered to be PM, and Gavin says that he expressed an interest, but that Edward was selected because he was so passionate. That's not entirely how I remember that scene playing out, but okay. Sralan asks the team for feedback, and Tom - adorably - raises his hand. I think he's going to need to jettison some of that politeness if he's ever going to get a word in edgeways, because Glenn doesn't bother and just starts talking, saying that he questioned the random decision-making. Tom agrees that he likes to be organised - for example, to know what they're trying to buy before they go shopping - while Ed openly admitted that he was going to work it out in the cab on the way there. Sralan enquires about the product, and Edward explains that they went for soups and juices because they were simple and straightforward and provided a good margin. Remember? That margin he wasn't going to think about? Sralan asks how much they spent, and Edward says they spent all of it, mostly on oranges and leaving about £40 for tomatoes. Karren interjects here and says how lucky Edward was that Jim was around to get the ingredients they needed. Edward bluffs that he "handpicked" Jim because he knew he was the best man to lead the soup team. Sralan cracks what I think is a "Souperman" joke, but I could be wrong.

Sralan asks at what point they decided what to charge for it, and Edward blasts out a load of non-sequiturs about how his business strategy was "bottom up, not top down" and he didn't know how many he was going to sell. "When I was producing, that was production, and selling was going to take care of itself." God, even Melissa Cohen made more sense than this. Sralan asks him for a yes-or-no as to whether they gave any thought to the selling price prior to actually selling, and Edward blathers about how the selling price is something that they could change, presumably depending on the market. Thankfully, Vincent jumps in here, realising that this approach is making them look dreadful, and that they worked out they needed to sell 250 juices to get the investment back. Hang on, wasn't the orange juice £2? So they only needed to sell 125 to get the investment back, surely? Sralan scoffs at this and turns back to Edward, asking him if it's true that he was part of one of the top accountancy firms in the country. Edward, either high as a kite or just plain unable to read a room: "I don't fit the mould." Sralan points out that this answer is not relevant to the question that was asked, or indeed to his interests. Sralan proceeds gently, trying to establish if this means that Edward has audited companies and knows how they work. Edward: "It's all there. All my experience is all there." I'm glad something's all there, because I'm fairly sure Edward is emphatically not. Sralan asks him to stop being such a weirdo and answer the bladdy question properly, and opines that the team name Logic is not very appropriate.

We turn to Venture, and Melody identifies herself as team leader, saying she's always been a person for taking big risks. She also takes credit for the team name, taking great delight in informing Sralan that it was "voted the most popular" while Helen sits there wishing she'd taken the time to invest in a hobby she could be thinking fondly of right now. Sralan: "We've heard the Melody, now let's hear from the chorus!" Groan. Felicity speaks up for Melody's good qualities as a team leader, and Melody explains that she has a style of leadership that takes other people's opinions on board. Ellie explains that their products were fruit pots and "healthy pasta". Sralan asks them the same question as the guys about whether they planned their pricing structure ahead of time, and Melody says that they had a structure in place, pointing out that Edna was in charge of finance. Sralan asks if Edna is a finance professional, and she asserts that she is not. Melody, condescendingly: "She volunteered for that role, didn't you?" Edna, with acid shooting out of her jaw: "Well, I was volunteered, but I didn't shirk away from it."

Sralan points out that they only spent £170 of the £250 he gave them, and Melody says that they thought they could increase profit by keeping costs down. Sralan counters, however, that he gave them £250 and expected them to use it all - he made an investment and he wanted a big return, which ought to have required using as much of the seed money as possible.

Time for some results. We begin with Team Logic, and Karren announces that they took £339.20 on the juice, and £92.93 on the soup, for a total of £432.13. Nick declares that Venture only made £37.28 on their vegetable pasta, but their fruit salads brought in £555.05, giving them a total of £592.33, making them the clear winners. Sralan points out that that's a threefold margin on £150 worth of purchasing (which isn't what they spent, but whatever), so it's a shame they didn't deliver that size of a margin on £250. Their prize is a champagne reception back at the house, while the men's prize is to come back tomorrow and have someone fired.

Reward montage. Champagne. Back at the house. Canapes. Melody congratulates everyone on working so hard. Felicity offers Melody a thank you in return for being a great PM. In a private confessional, Susan opines that Melody's skills as a PM have been exaggerated and she didn't think she was that brilliant. She might well have a point, but Susan's kind of insufferable, so the message does tend to get drowned under my unwillingness to listen to anything she has to say. They have a toast to Team Venture.

Loser Café. Gavin states unreservedly that the women beat them out the water. Vincent thinks the problem is that they didn't produce enough orange juice in the first place. Tom doesn't know why that is, but perhaps the malfunctioning juicer played a part. Outside, Gavin interviews that people didn't pay attention to the details, so things got a bit chaotic. "It was all a bit of a punt," he finishes. Well, only one letter out. Edward interviews obliviously that he'll make an excellent business partner to Sralan, and seems to think that the act of being PM in the first-week is enough by itself to prove his worth as a contestant. Tell that to Ben Stanberry. Or Andy Jackson. Or Dan Harris. Tea is drunk, mournfully.

Logic return to the boardroom with their rolly-cases, and NotFrances sends them through. Leon desperately needs the hair tidied up at the back of his neck. Sralan's opening gambit is to remind Edward of his application form, where he wrote that if his team lost, he would blame the PM. Yeah, oops. Edward points out that he did qualify this statement with "if I am the project manager, the gloves are coming off." I'm not sure that really salvages the situation all that effectively. Sralan attempts to summarise Edward's approach to the task, and if I may paraphrase his own paraphrasing, it appears to be "buy a crapload of cheap shit and worry about the details later". Edward talks himself in a lot of circles here, but his defence seems to be that he wanted to showcase his management skills first and foremost, and that he knew he could make a profit on orange juice. Sralan asks the rest of the team if anyone else was aware that this was the plan. Glenn says that there was "a rough plan", but there were few details and it was never developed as the task progressed. Karren points out that she didn't see anything written down the entire time, so she thinks Edward was keeping his ideas to himself. Gavin, whose eyes become hypnotically dark in the boardroom, chimes in that it was disappointing as a team to be kept in the dark. Jim describes the whole process as operating on a "need-to-know basis", which doesn't really work because arguably the team did need to know and Edward still wasn't telling them. Jim does, however, recover quite admirably with this assessment of Edward's leadership: "It was 'leave it with me, I know what we're doing with the oranges, what I need you to do because I think you're [pause to gather the appropriate level of bile for the next three words] the soup man is to look after the soup team, I'm going to give you very little money, I need you to buy a lot, I need you to convert soup and go out and make sure you can shift it.'" Jim summarises that he was capable of all of this, but he would've liked more information about what they were actually heading towards. Tom adds that the lack of planning cost them badly, and that the irony here was Edward trying to prove that he wasn't just an accountant to the detriment of all of the financial aspects of the task. Sralan smirks that this is the most sensible assessment of the situation he's heard all day.

Edward attempts to save himself once again by citing his biggest flaw as overambition, saying that he intended to bring back £1000, and totally would've done had they been able to squeeze all those oranges in time. Sralan's all "coulda woulda shoulda gouda, my friend." Edward accepts that he underestimated the manpower needed to squeeze the juice, and the team are in agreement that they could easily have sold more orange juice if they had it. Sralan offers them the results of some number crunching - they bought 1400 oranges, and could've made 470 bottles from that. They actually made 156 bottles, so there were clear inefficiencies, it seems. Karren leaps into action here and points out that Leon was in charge of the juicers. Leon says that the motors might have burnt out at the crucial time, and Karren informs him that the kitchen staff were very clear that the juicer breakdown was the result of "mishandling". This would be an excellent time for Leon to bring up Edward's interference in the juicing process, but he does not.

Since Leon's now been activated, Sralan remembers that Leon is a "Fast Food Marketing Entrepreneur", and therefore this should've been right in his wheelhouse - so what was he doing all day? Juicing, bottling and labeling, it seems. Alex is asked what he did next, and he explains that he was in charge of the "fixed unit" at Liverpool Street, where he tidied things up and poured out soup and occasionally sold things. Sralan clarifies that Alex sold nine units, in fact. Alex is unperturbed by this, as he says that he was part of a lot of other sales, and adds that customers want to buy from a clean, tidy unit, which doesn't just happen by itself. Karren goes in for the kill, saying that she just saw him cleaning and cutting bread - everyone else sold, and Alex didn't. I think that's the basic flaw in his strategy here - I agree 100% (or 110%, since this is The Apprentice) that doing backroom support and keeping the place clean is an important part of this, but there's no reason why anyone had to be on that duty all day. Since you're being judged on numbers, you probably want to spend at least an hour or two proving you've got sales skills. Alex insists that if there had been no back office, there would've been no front line sales. "Good place to hide," Nick chips in. Shut up, Nick, you were following the other team. The winning team, remember? Karren follows the losers and you follow the winners, this is how the show works.

Sralan asks Edward who's coming back, and he decides that the people primarily responsible for the loss are Gavin and Leon, so the others are dismissed. Tom apologises towards Sralan on his way out, and I think you can take this polite schoolboy approach a bit too far. In the foyer, Vincent and Tom both touch their hair in exactly the same way at exactly the same time, and since I once read a bullshit pop-psychology book that said you mirror the body language of people you find attractive, I have decided that I am a Vincent/Tom shipper. They are my official OTP for the series, so don't be surprised if subsequent recaps just end up as slash fiction.

Gavin, Edward and Leon are temporarily sent out while Sralan, Karren and Nick converse. Sralan, in what I think is actually a genuinely funny, off-the-cuff zinger, says that Edward reminds him of "a very slow internet line". Ha! He's a good candidate on paper, though. Nick thinks Edward hasn't "accounted" for himself very well, ho ho ho. Karren (correctly, I think) thinks Gavin has been brought back because he challenged Edward's leadership right from the outset, and that Leon was brought back because the broken juicers made him an easy target. She reminds "Alan" that the bottom line is he has to go into business with one of these people. NotFrances is invoked to send them all back in [What's with them giving us yet ANOTHER NotFrances this series, by the way? - Rad].

Sralan opens by asking Edward why he brought Gavin back in. Edward, looking like he's only just realised where he is, says that Gavin claimed he put himself forward for PM, which Edward doesn't think was actually the case. Gavin clarifies that he said he was willing to be PM -- "very spinelessly," Edward interjects -- and that he buys and sells products for his business, and that a vote was taken to decide the PM. I think that scene was pretty murky - I always got the impression that Gavin was more trying to establish Edward's suitability for the role rather than stake his own bid for PM, but when things took that turn he didn't step away from it, so I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. Edward disagrees, however, and thinks that Gavin didn't get voted as PM because he was so sheepish in his approach. Sralan asks Leon whether Gavin put himself forward or not, and Leon dithers for a bit before conceding that he thinks "his hand went up, yeah". Leon does, however, make the interesting point that Edward didn't ask what anyone else did in the business world before putting himself forward as PM.

Sralan asks Edward if it's fair to say he took an immediate dislike to Gavin. Edward counters that he had a feeling Edward was "not a doer", though Karren refutes this, saying that Gavin's sales tally was the second highest. Edward falters that he didn't have that feedback from Jim. Karren: "You should've." Ooh, BURN. Gavin thinks Edward was more interested in being PM than in actually doing the job properly, which I think is a pretty accurate assessment, and adds that any feedback that was offered was summarily dismissed. Edward tries the "I had the guts to take on the job" approach, and Gavin agrees that this was gutsy of him, but that he didn't deliver in the role. Edward, grasping at straws faster than a cleaner in McDonald's, says that not only is he the youngest (Gavin, sarcastically: "Well done!"), he's also the shortest of the team members. This is what we in the recapping trade refer to as a Double Wotherspoon. Leon is openly laughing at Edward at this point, as is Sralan. Edward claims that he had a "motley crew" of men and turned them into a team who had no negative feedback, though Sralan points out that he's getting quite a lot of it now.

Now Sralan wonders why Leon is here, and Edward says that it's because he feels Leon cost them time in the kitchen, and while he doesn't have specific numbers to quote, he feels Leon was a weak salesman. Leon says that he didn't feel that individual sales totals were the point of this task, and that he knows he can sell because he does that in his own business. Sralan asks Leon to "inspire" him because he doesn't have a lot to go on so far. Leon blathers on a bit about his good business instincts, and when Sralan asks him to state who was responsible for the failure of this task, he picks Edward without hesitation, because he lacks entrepreneurial flair and is an accountant. Sralan points out that lots of big cheeses started out as accountants, at which point Leon backpedals that he didn't know that. It's not a massive leap of logic to make, surely? After ensuring that no one in the room is guilty of accountantphobia (apart from Edward, who has a pretty nasty case of internalised accountantphobia), it's time to decide who goes.

Sralan doesn't know why Gavin is here, because he sold well and he's far too handsome to fire this early on, so Gavin is safe. Leon hasn't been that impressive so far: he hasn't shown any spark and already has his own business, and he screwed up with production. Edward showed enthusiasm in taking on the PM role, but had no expertise. As it happens, Sralan watched Glee this week and learned that you shouldn't be ashamed of the things that define you (at which point he strips off his shirt and jacket to reveal a fitted white t-shirt with "IRASCIBLE BLADDY TYCOON" printed on it). [Bum chin? BUM CHIN? Fuck off Mr Schue. Fuck the FUCK right off - Rad]. Edward squeaks that he's not ashamed of being an accountant (he totally is), but he wanted to show that he was more than that, which is why he put emphasis on leadership. Which he fucked up. Excellent strategy, Ed. Sralan says that as an expert in electronics, he can walk into a factory and "BANG! See things that other people can't see." I'm not sure if that's being an electronics expert or simply having ESP. Here, simple mathematics were needed, and Edward refused to use those skills. Sralan cites Edward's REZ-HOO-MAY (yay, first REZ-HOO-MAY of the series) as saying he was Sralan's dream, when really he turned out to be a nightmare. Edward? You're fired.

Edward gets up to leave, and Sralan reminds him that there's no shame in being an accountant - he just needs to put his paws up, 'cos he was born that way baby. Leon and Gavin are sent back to the house. There is no post-firing hugging, merely some perfunctory handshakes. Coatwatch: Edward's is large, thick and dark, and accessorised with a grey and maroon scarf. In his taxinterview, Edward thinks Sralan just didn't see what he wanted from him, and he can accept that. He's only 25, the world is his oyster, and -- wait for it -- "roll with the punches".

Back at the house, the contestants are of course speculating who will be getting fired. Vincent thinks Leon might be in danger because of the whole juicing thing. Gavin bursts through the door in a very elaborate entrance, and everyone cheers to see him returning with Leon. Gavin tells them all that Edward got very passionate about the situation, but ultimately wasn't quite up to defending himself properly. Vincent suggests a toast to Edward as the first to fall, and the others agree.

One down, fourteen to go [fifteen? - Rad] [I was working on the assumption that the person who actually wins doesn't get included in the count - Steve]. Next time - the show is dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century with a "design a smartphone app" task. Edna tells Susan to shut the fuck up, clearly not before time, and a team that shouldn't lose loses. Joel will have all the gory details for you.

A few points of housekeeping before I sign off - since the episode itself never revealed a few of the naming details, I shall fill them in. Vincent's surname is Disneur, making him officially this year's best-named candidate, and hopefully giving me ample opportunity to make a "Vincent Disneur want to do this" joke at some point in the future. Felicity's last name is Jacksons, Helen's is Milligan, Natasha's is Scribbins and Woman Who Has Not Yet Spoken A Single Word (and apparently made it the entire way through the episode without doing so) was Zoe Beresford, though I understand if you didn't even notice she was there. Until next time!


Patrick said...

So glad you and Monkseal are back on it for this year :-D

KMack said...

Hooray! You are back.

Rad said...

We're glad to be back. I can't say I am in any way thinking as positively about recapping The X Factor in a few months' though...