Sunday, 26 June 2011

Unchained Melody

Week Eight: 22nd June 2011

Previously: Sralan decided that the world was crying out for the editorial skills of the remaining candidates, but that no one in their right mind would actually be willing to pay to read them, so as a compromise he set up a task that involved creating a "freemium" magazine. Natasha declared herself the editor of Tits, Yeah? magazine for Logic and made sure we all knew about it, while Tom and Helen clutched their collective pearls in sheer horror after every single one of her decisions. Over on Venture, Jim edited Old People Are Worthless And Should Just Die Already magazine, alienating his entire potential readership along the way with an ill-advised title, an appallingly-designed cover and a general misunderstanding of what they wanted from the magazine. Logic managed to sell all of their advertising to one agency and won the task, while Jim blamed everyone but himself for the failure of his magazine, chiefly Susan for being a "meek little mouse". Ultimately, Glenn was fired for being "an engineer", even though he was no more or less of an engineer at this point than he was when initially selected for the show, making this the third utterly pointless firing in a row. Can we make it four?

The phone rings at Entrepreneur Estates, and is answered by Zoe while we're treated to a strange shot of an albino spider crawling up...something. I don't know, it's still early. Give me time to have some coffee and wake up properly. NotFrances informs Zoe that Sralan would like to meet them all at "St. Pancreas International" (I'd laugh, but I always call it that too) and that they need to pack an overnight bag and bring their passports. The cars, as always, will be there in 30 minutes. Helen dries her hair. Jim emerges from the bathroom clad only in a towel; somewhere in the viewing audience, Ed Hunter nips off for a stealth wank. Zoe tells everyone they're going to St. Pancras International, and Leon wonders if they're going away. "Do you think?" replies Zoe, dripping with sarcasm. Leon gets excited about going on the Eurostar. Coincidentally, I went to France on business the day after this episode aired, and having never been on the Eurostar before, I was expecting it to be all glamorous and magical. Ultimately, it was kind of just a slightly dirty train. This is why you should never meet your heroes. [The one time I went on it, they made me sit backwards despite me requesting a forwards-seat and I felt really travel sick throughout. Boo to Eurostar! - Rad]

The candidates troop out into the waiting Apprentaxis as Melody wonders whether they're off to Paris or Brussels. Not that it matters, she'll have masses of influential friends there, wherever their final destination turns out to be. Tom's suitcase makes a last-minute attempt to escape from the boot; Tom has to get out of the car and put it back in with a mumbled "shit". This is possibly the most positive thing that happens to Tom throughout the next two days.

In Apprentaxi 1, containing Jim, Zoe, Susan and Leon, Jim wonders who hasn't been project manager yet. "Tom," the others all reply in unison. In the other Apprentaxi, Tom wonders if anyone else hasn't PMed yet, and is informed by Melody, Helen and Natasha that nope, it's just him. Back in Apprentaxi 1, Jim demonstrates his French skills to the others with a little Only Fools And Horses skit, the genesis of which the editors decide to ignore, and subtitle it to make him look like an idiot anyway. I'm against such practices, because I really don't think anyone on this show needs any help to make themselves look stupid. Melody surprises and delights the others in her car by informing them that she used to speak six languages - y'know, for when she's doing work at UN level. Helen and Natasha exchange a look suggesting that this is far from the first time they've been exposed to this particular branch of Melody's rez-hoo-may. She probably talks in fluent Swahili when she's pissed. Melody reminds the others, not for the last time, that she runs a global business.

St Pancras Station, which is apparently the venue for this year's Stock Footage Film Festival. Seriously, the exterior shots of the Eurostar throughout the episode are about as convincing as the exterior shots in Snakes On A Train. The station is deserted, so God knows what time they filmed this. Nick and Karren are waiting, of course, and Sralan rolls up to tell the teams that they're off to Paris, representing some "rather unique" British products that he wants them to sell to French shops. He's set them up one appointment with a leading French home-shopping brand, but apart from that, they're on their own. Half of the teams will be going to France right away to conduct market research. On products they haven't actually seen. Yeah, that's going to end well. Sralan tells Tom he's project-managing for Logic this week, and Helen is sent over to Venture to balance the teams, where they will get to make their own decision. Sralan adds that they all have individual order books, so they'd better bladdy well sell, even though he's not looking for bladdy salespeople this year. The next train is leaving in 30 minutes, so they'd better get going. Incidentally, there is a minimum 30 minute check in for Eurostar services for us mere mortals, so these bitches are getting special treatment.

In his Bentleyterview, Sralan says he doesn't want his next business restricted to the UK, so he wants to see how well these people can cope in an unfamiliar environment.

On Venture, Susan volunteers to be PM because her job involves a lot of product selection, but subsequently interviews that she knows nothing about France, has never been there, has never met a French person, couldn't point it out on a map, probably would struggle to spell it, etc etc. Over on Logic, Tom designates Leon and Melody as the advance attack team, at which point Leon confesses that he can't speak French, so he's just going to let the funky music do the talking. And by "the funky music", I mean Melody. Tom dismisses them with a cheery "ciao!", and I seriously hope that was just him being generally cosmopolitan rather than actually thinking that's how you say "goodbye" in French. I mean, his surname is Pellereau, for crying out loud. Which is French for "inventor who looks like Michael Sheen, if Michael Sheen didn't have a chin". On the Eurostar, Leon sing-songs "looking forward to breakfast!" and mimes biting the air, which Melody imitates. It's kind of cute. It's also super-gay, but it's fine, because Leon HAS A GIRLFRIEND. You'd think Leon wouldn't want to appear so keen considering he's on his way to Gay Paree, but maybe it's just spray tans that give him gay panic. Jim and Helen are also sent ahead for Venture.

The PMs and their chosen assistants (Natasha for Tom, Zoe for Susan) head off to examine the products they'll be selling. There are ten British innovations not currently available in France, and although the inventors of all of these products are there to show off their wares, for some reason the candidates' first encounter with them all will be in a giant room with no people in it. Susan and Zoe attempt to make sense of a toy costing €2, and ultimately fail, while Natasha declares an electric bike retailing at just under €1,700 to be "quite appealing". Susan tells Zoe that she's looking for volume, and therefore wants products with mass-market appeal. One product they try out is a child's bean bag couch, which unfolds to reveal a sort of airbed thing, only instead of filling it with air, you shake the couch so that all the beans flow down into it (rrp €325). It looks like it'd be a pain in the arse to set up/take down, but it appeals to Susan's inherent childishness, not to mention her smallness. Natasha likes it too, but she and Tom have slightly more trouble setting it up. Next, they look at a postcard box that has cress in it, retailing at €10. I like cress as much as the next person (did anyone else ever have to grow cress for a primary school project, and then you got to make cress sandwiches at the end of term? That was the BEST DAY EVER), but this baffles me, quite frankly. Tom thinks it's sweet, Susan takes an instant dislike to it.

Next Susan and Zoe look at a "flexible gadget grip and display podium" (at least, that's what Susan calls it, reading from her notes. Zoe simply calls it a "spider thing". Unless she's daydreaming about a potential Spider-Man/Fantastic Four crossover). It looks like a load of pipecleaners, and I think the basic point of it is for people who change their phones quite often to be able to simply adapt it to fit whatever shape of gadget they currently own, rather than buy a new one every time. It's a nice idea, though I don't think I'd pay €18 for it when I could probably make one myself that was about as aesthetically appealing. Susan thinks it's expensive but innovative. Tom and Natasha look at a teapot light. Not a light for your teapot, you understand, but a light shaped like a teapot. Why? How? Why? It's €140, and Natasha thinks it's a good option, but Natasha seems to have felt this way about pretty much everything. She's basically the Charlotte at this point. Susan doesn't like the light, prompting Karren to give a mymumterview that Susan rushed around the room and decided far too quickly what she liked and what she didn't. Karren thinks this is incredibly decisive, but also immature. Karren clearly hates Susan so much. I think Karren and I might be soulmates. [Make that a weird menage a trois - Rad] Montage of Susan asking Susan-type questions: "Are the French eco-friendly? Do the French go camping? Are the French very fond of their children? Do the French have arms? Do French people have houses with roofs? Can French people read?" Seriously, after her behaviour this week and last, I really want to see what would happen if Susan had to talk to an old French person. I think it would BLOW HER MIND. Karren, in another despairing interview, points out that you do not have to have been to France to know whether French people love their children, and that the whole thing is "beyond stupid".

The final product that we see is a booster seat for kids that folds into a backpack. Zoe makes more sense out of this product than I managed by suggesting that you can pack your kids off to someone else for a lift, and they'll have no excuses because the booster seat is right there in the backpack. Also, I guess if you're on holiday or something and renting a car, this might be quite handy, though I bet once the novelty of wearing the booster seat on their back had worn off, you would have a seriously tired and cranky child to deal with. Tom likes the baby seat, and feels there's a massive market for it.

Embarrassing Eurostar Stock Footage. Susan rings Jim and Helen to tell them that they're keen on the booster seat, and the chair bed. Jim suggests they call some shops selling children's things, and Helen takes the first call, getting as far as "bonjour" before realising that she has "forgotten...the...English", so Jim takes over and asks "je voudrais parler au responsible de magazine, s'il vous plaît?" No, Jim, that was last week's task. Also, that was you. Fortunately, the person on the other end of the phone realises she's speaking to two English people with little to no grasp of the glorious French language, and shifts into English to help them out. Tom and Natasha phone Melody and Leon, and say that they're keen on the pop-up postcard, the teapot light (Melody: "very British, yah"), and the carseat rucksack. Melody is instantly not keen on this one, wondering why anyone would want to do this rather than leave it in the car. And I can kind of see her point here [ah but it'd be useful for folks with kids who don't own a car, so these would work as portable seats for any car you take your kids in. As someone who occasionally gives lifts to people with kids, this'd be useful - Rad]. Nick bitchterviews that Melody is expressing dislike of products that she hasn't even seen, completely missing the point where the design of the task dictates that half the teams are supposed to be conducting market research on PRODUCTS THEY HAVEN'T EVEN SEEN. So cram it sideways, Nick. Tom tells Melody and Leon he wants them to do market research, "completely independent of your own personal thoughts" (at which Melody pulls a face, or rather several faces), and after hanging up, Melody sniffs that they've not chosen the right products for Paris, adding that it's not like it's MANCHESTER or something [They don't have shoes in Paris? - Rad]. Or indeed Birmingham, where no one can afford a wedding dress. And where everyone is SO POOR. Leon thinks they should call back and say they're going to Paris, not a car boot sale. "Or 'Up North'," adds Melody, not content with alienating the viewers of just one city.

Now, a chance for the teams to meet the makers of the products, before they decide what they want to sell. Wouldn't it have made more sense for this point to come before they phoned the candidates on their way to Paris? Susan and Zoe meet a guy with some sort of espresso machine, which he says has been growing "slowly and organically" in the market place. Zoe interprets this as "it hasn't done very well", and she may not be entirely wrong. For once. Tom and Natasha meet the inventor of the teapot light, who insists that it's a quality product, though Tom still seems unsure. Zoe and Susan meet the inventor of Spider-Thing, and are charmed: Susan loves the product, Zoe loves the margin. Tom and Natasha meet the inventor of the Cress Card, and book it because it also has a good margin. Both teams are taken with the backpack carseat, and Tom relates to him as someone who has worked "in the baby industry before" (likely translation: has donated to a sperm bank in exchange for money). Tom likes it, but is unsure whether it's appropriate for the meeting they have as arranged by Sralan.

PARIS PORN! This is a nice change. Leon et Melody descendent dans le Metro, and Tom phones them to say that he wants more information about tomorrow's pitch, specifically whether the carseat backpack is something they'd be likely to want. It's slightly unclear here regarding how much of this message Leon and Melody actually hear, since the signal's dropping out, but they obviously get enough of it to pick up on Tom's keenness for this particular product, and Melody checks, in a tone of disbelief, that he's more interested in that than the teapot.

Melody decides that they should ask people which of the two products they prefer. She asks questions in French, and one man scoffs at the very idea of the teapot light. She explains the carseat backpack to him, and he seems to already be familiar with the general idea, interestingly. He says it's a good idea. Melody is slightly surprised by this. Another woman, also on the subject of the car seat, responds "oui, je pense que c'est une bonne idée". Now, my French is a little bit rusty (as you've probably gathered from my occasional attempts to drop it into the recap to look clever) but Melody's translation of this, for Leon's benefit, as "she thought that it was okay" seems rather distant from the actual truth.

Jim and Helen also conduct market research, on the street rather than in the Metro. They ask a woman who has a baby strapped to her chest (smart thinking) which product she likes best, and she's keen on the backpack carseat. Susan phones up, and Jim says that the consumers are keen on the rucksack, so Susan and Zoe decide on the car seat and Spider-Thing. Back in le Metro, a woman tells Susan that lots of people in Paris use the Metro (imagine a person on the Metro saying that!) and another says that families often use the Metro together. Melody interprets this as a clear vindication of her feelings on the carseat, while Leon tells her "this is great! First-hand research, you can't even fudge the figures." Admittedly, the editing of the shots doesn't always indicate which translation Melody was giving to which statement, so I don't know how much she was just being shafted by the show here, but I don't think it's a massive stretch to assume that she may have editorialised to some extent when translating.

Melody phones Tom and says that her research indicates that people here don't use cars very much, so the carseat might not have mass-market appeal. Tom asks for feedback on the teapot, and Melody reports that this was far more positive, and indicates that this is the better option. Nick pulls all sorts of blowfish faces in the background. Tom stresses to Natasha that three people on the team want the teapot, and he thinks he'd be a fool to go against that and pick the car seat, even though he passionately believes in it. Natasha's kind of bored of him at this point, so Tom tells Nick that they're going for the teapot lamp, and the postcards. Nick sends them off to Paris. [I don't get why they didn't go for the car seat and the lamp. I mean, the cress postcard thing? Why? - Rad]

Outside a café, Jim and Helen are cold-calling, trying to book appointment. Jim, without a shred of irony, begins one call with "'Allo 'allo?" Oh dear. He manages to book an appointment for "tomorrow demain" at noon. Melody calls up someone and asks if they speak English. He does, a little, so Melody continues the call in English. Leon doomedterviews that Melody's just got them six appointments, while he's not doing anything because he can't speak French. Even though Melody just made an appointment in English. And if you didn't pick Leon as this week's most likely boot when he openly admitted to NOT DOING ANYTHING, then I can only assume you have never seen this show before.

8pm. The other candidates arrive. "J'adore Paris!" Tom exclaims. Zoe and Susan gleefully display their products to Jim and Helen, as Helen fumbles her way around Spider-Thing and Susan once again earns super-lolz by demonstrating that she fits in the carseat. Susan's stature: the comedic gift that keeps on giving. Helen hands over a list of appointments for Susan and Zoe to attend, and offers to brief them. Susan says that this is exactly what she wanted.

Over in the Logic suite, Tom shows off the teapot light for Leon and Melody, to fits of giggles. Leon thinks it's expensive, and not what he pictured. Melody panics, having stood in strong support of this item, and backtrackterviews that this wasn't what she expected and it doesn't look like fine bone china. Tom interviews that he's disappointed with their reaction, but he thinks it still has strong selling points.

Huit heures le matin. Susan's team sets off to their individual meetings. Still at the hotel, Tom says that he wants everything to be fair, which Melody interprets as "the appointments that I spent time and effort making yesterday, you're going to take away from me?" Tom reminds her that this is a team game. Melody says that she's more than happy to set up some appointments for Tom and Natasha, but she's going to sell at the appointments she made. Tom: *dithers*

Jim and Zoe head off to a fancy boutique with an owner who speaks little English. The carseat backpack, which Jim claims to be "phenomenal popular dans le United Kingdom", is not well-received, and neither is Spider-Thing. Out on the road, Melody remarks that there's so much traffic. Indeed. If only, when attempting to discover how much the citizens of Paris use their cars, she'd actually LOOKED AT A ROAD instead of asking people who were on a subterranean railway system. I mean, who could've predicted this? She and Leon arrive at a ridiculous-looking design store, where the owner compliments Melody on her French. Melody shills the teapot light, doing a pretty good job of describing it as "contemporary" while also "classic". Because God knows in the 1920s you couldn't MOVE for teapot-shaped lights in the houses of the well-to-do. Le patron likes the Alice-in-Wonderland-ness of the product and places an order for 50, at a total of €3,250 for Melody's order book. Melody's hopes for a market for the teapot light are reignited.

Tom and Natasha head off to the fixed appointment at La Redoute, and Tom suggests flipping a coin to determine who gets to lead the pitch. Professional! Natasha counters with Scissors Paper Stone, and since Tom goes for paper and Natasha goes for scissors, she wins. I feel that both their decisions in that game were pretty much perfect as far as representations of their personalities go. They enter with their products covered over by a Union Jack (oh dear) and Natasha asks "parlez-vous Anglais?", and I hope that she at least had a back-up plan in case the answer had been "non." Natasha presents the teapot, in a pitch that starts well (singing the praises of bone china) and rapidly deteriorates (speculating on how people might say "that's fantastic!" upon seeing the product). Les Redoutes wonder what the minimum order would be, and Tom suggests ten. Nick duh-terviews that La Redoute is "one of the most formidable commercial organisations in France", and therefore ten units is absurd. One of the buyers questions whether they actually bothered to study the market properly before arriving at the ludicrous ten-unit decision, and Natasha attempts to salvage things by raising it to 50, but I think it's too late to save face at this point. In the car, Tom blames Melody for not researching La Redoute properly. I can appreciate he's annoyed that he asked her to do it and she didn't, but I think that reasoning only goes so far. After all, this appointment was set up by Sralan, and similar arrangements within the UK tend to involve large corporations that the candidates wouldn't have been able to gain access to by themselves, so a little bit of lateral thinking from Tom and Natasha here would've avoided that incredibly embarrassing situation.

Swish design shop. Jim and Zoe try to sell Spider-Thing, and land a trial order netting them €900. Meanwhile, Helen and Susan are heading for La Redoute, and Susan rings for a progress report, to discover that things are going slowly. In direct contrast to Tom and Natasha, Helen absolutely smokes the La Redoute presentation. It probably doesn't hurt that she was previously aware of the company, and has indeed shopped at La Redoute herself. She says that the carseat is a great product for the working woman, and when one of the buyers suggests the price is too high, she counters that the modern woman will pay anything for convenience, and she thinks their TARGET AUDIENCE OF WOMEN will consider this a reasonable price to pay, and not only that, but they can boast about being the first people to bring this product to France, showing how much they care about their customers' children's safety. Good answer. Also, the male buyer on the far-left of the table is very handsome. Not that this is relevant, but I thought it merited a mention.

Melody heads off to another home store, and sells some more teapot lights to another attractive Frenchman (that's it, I'm moving to Paris), while Leon also charms him into buying some Cress Cards. Outside, Melody and Leon discuss how they have great products that have gone down well with their appointments. From there, we segue ironically to Tom and Natasha, who are trying to fix appointments of their own, and Tom hits a wall with a woman who doesn't speak English at all, and ends up asking, in extremely scattered French, to speak to the "postcard manager". This appears to be one of many language barriers that give them problems. Tom closes a call by wishing someone a "bonne holiday" and signing off with "ciao!", so I'm guessing he really does think that's how you say goodbye in French. He is a DISGRACE to the name of Pellereau.

Stuck in the traffic that her market research told her didn't exist, Melody realises she can't get to all of those pitches, so she offloads one of her appointments to Tom and Natasha - one of the ones where she forgot to get a name for the contact. Heh. Tom runs his hands through his luscious hair.

Susan and Helen pitch at a design store, to a woman who seems unequivocally English, who likes the products, but not for her shop. She calls in for a progress report with Jim and Natasha, and Jim likens the process to "pushing treacle up a hill". Snerk. Susan advises them to keep an eye open for children's shops or mobile phone shops. Zoe's all "yeah, thanks, that hadn't occurred to us."

Tom and Natasha turn up to Melody's appointment at the interior design showroom, where they are told the teapot light is "an idea, not a concept", though the hard-to-please owner is more taken with the cress cards, and Natasha clocks up her first order of the day, for €1,015. Tom and Natasha are thrilled. Melody and Leon head to their final appointment, where Leon demands a chance to sell teapots instead of cress for a change. Melody is all "well, frankly I would've sold both products at every appointment but for some reason I pity you, so I threw you the cress as a life-line, but sure, non-French-speaking boy, go ahead. KNOCK YOURSELF OUT." The man who owns the shop is impressed with the teapot lights ("j'aime beaucoup!") and orders 35 at a total of €2,240. Then Melody sells the cress cards, saying she wants a big quantity order, and sells €3,800 worth of cards. Oh, Leon. That may have been the wrong time to assert your authority.

With all of their appointments over, the teams are hunting for random sales. Driving around Paris, Susan spots an independent phone shop that happens to have a big online store. She pitches Spider-Thing, very well I have to admit, and the woman in the shop orders 1,000 pieces initially, until Susan talks her up to 1,500 pieces at €7.50 each for a total of €11,250. "I've got Euro signs in my eyeballs now," Susan grins. She passes the tip-off on to Zoe and Jim to look for independent mobile phone shops and they run around the streets (with Zoe and Helen both bearing carseats on their backs, hee) looking for more places to pitch to. Melody calls Tom, who promptly drops the phone. Apparently she really is that scary. Leon asks Tom if he's made any sales. Tom non-answers that "we've had a lot of difficulties", and interviews that he hasn't made any sales by himself. They try to sell the postcards in a book shop, with no joy.

Sales time ends. Melody considers moving to Paris and setting up a business. Around 8 million residents of the UK respond "don't let us stop you". In the Apprentaxi Of Irony, now Jim and Zoe can see nothing but mobile phone shops as far as the eye can see. Back to smelly old England, and the boardroom.

The phone rings, and NotFrances sends them in. Sralan asks Venture if Susan was a good team leader. Jim thinks she made a bold move to become PM, which Sralan thinks is not the answer he wanted, so Jim responds that he didn't see a lot of Susan, but she led from the front when it came to sales. Susan explains that they picked the backpack carseat and Spider-Thing because she wanted products that weren't too niche, at which point Karren leaps into action regarding Susan's idiotic questions from earlier, like "do the French love their children?" and "do the French drive?" Helen, not having been present when this happened, quietly cracks up. Susan explains that she's never been to France, and Karren points out that you don't really need to have been to France to answer those questions. Susan responds that she didn't mean for it to be a naive (she pronounces it to rhyme with "knife") question, she just wondered if the French focused on products for their children, or are they more interested in electronics. Karren's all "then SAY THAT, you fucking idiot."

Over to Logic, and Sralan asks the team whether Tom was a good leader. Leon says that he felt Melody was more of a de facto team leader. Melody says that they didn't feel much of a PM presence from Tom. Tom says that he felt Melody was more interested in her own ideas than anything he had to say. The producers lean heavily on Sralan's shoulder, and he consults the rushes from a few days ago and asks whether anyone might have had a favourite product, Tom? Tom takes the cue and says that he liked the car seat, at which point Melody explains that her "market research" suggested that the Parisians used the Metro rather than cars. Sralan scoffs at this, and saying that every time he sees a picture of the "Trump's Elle-eye-sis" (no, really, this is how he says it) there's a bladdy traffic jam. Melody agrees that they discovered this was true later in the game, but FOUR WHOLE PEOPLE in their research said that the French didn't drive, and she couldn't possibly have ignored that. Sralan openly laughs at this. Sralan asks who took the pitch for La Redoute, and Tom says it was him and Natasha, before unwisely going on to add that they flipped a coin to decide who'd lead it. Sralan asks if they really flipped a coin. Tom: "Effectively." Oh dear.

Time for some numbers, then. Nick reveals that Logic sold strongly to small retailers, and brought in sales of €11,705. Karren reveals that Venture beat them on that front, bringing in €14,699. As for La Redoute, thanks to Helen's awesome pitch, Venture got an order of €214,000. And Logic? Got zilch. Melody is HORRIFIED by this, and her head is spinning Exorcist-style between Tom and Natasha as she tries to determine which one of them is the biggest fuck-up. Sralan declares this "an annihilation", and congratulates Venture on their record. Their reward will be flying lessons. They scamper outside and hug.

Reward time! I note that Jim is wearing an aviator-style leather jacket, just for the occasion. The instructor tells them to get used to the controls, because they'll be landing the plane. Judging from the amount of noise Susan makes, I think it's a testament to the human spirit of the person teaching her that he didn't just charge the plane straight into ground and put them both out of their misery. Helen grinterviews afterwards that she's worked out that, on the basis of the deal she made with La Redoute, she could've bought Sralan two of these planes. Heh. I love that Helen's suddenly getting a bit of an ego. It suits her.

Loser Café. I hope the tea is served in bone china cups, and that the teapot has a light in it. Tom says that they lost purely on the basis of not choosing the booster rucksack, and that he felt if he'd forced that product on the three of them, they would've deliberately not bothered to sell it to sabotage him. I think that's a bit of a reach, to be honest. I'm also not entirely convinced that he could've got the same size of order from La Redoute as Helen did, because he probably would've asked for a minimum order of three or something. Melody sniffs outside that of course Tom's saying they should've gone for the car seats now, but her job was to give him market research, and that's what she did. Sort of. After a fashion. Tom interviews that he's feeling vulnerable because he didn't sell anything, but is hoping that since Sralan isn't looking for a salesperson this time, he's still in with a chance.

Back in the boardroom. NotFrances sends them all through. Sralan asks who wants to open, and Tom takes the lead, saying that he feels they lost on the basis of one very big order. Karren points out that this isn't true, because they lost on independent sales as well. Tom tries another approach, saying that he was the only one to spot the potential of the carseat - however, this time the usual "the project manager didn't listen" approach is scuppered somewhat by the fact that the project manager who didn't listen was in fact Tom himself. Sralan tells Tom he should've gone with his gut instinct. Tom claims that he made this decision based on a lack of information on the major pitch they were doing, and he'd asked Melody and Leon to do some research, which they didn't do. Melody disputes the level of forcefulness with which Tom made this request (really, Melody? Claiming that you couldn't hear properly because of a lack of reception might have worked, but this feels like an automatic hiding to nowhere) and Nick chimes in saying that at 12.15 precisely, Tom called and asked them to look into La Redoute. Melody dances around the idea for a bit, at which point Sralan asks her simply to tell him if they looked into La Redoute. Here, Leon does everyone involved a favour and admits it didn't happen. Melody counters that she was asked to do market research - "chip in if you will, Leon" - and relayed all of this information back. Sralan finds the whole "chip in if you will, Leon" thing hilarious and points out that Leon really isn't doing much in this boardroom, and making it easy for Sralan to fire him.

Leon explains that Melody did all the talking back in Paris, because she was speaking French, "of which I cannot speak". Except you just did. Apparently French isn't the only language Leon has trouble with, if that's what his grasp of English is like. He says that his contribution was to do some drawings of the products. Leon lies that Melody was speaking in French "the entire team" and he, just in case we've forgotten, can't speak French. Sralan points out that a lot of the people they went to see spoke English.

Sralan turns back to Tom, with reference to the teapot light, and explains that La Redoute sells a wide range of products, including lighting. He wonders why Tom went in with ten as a minimum purchase. Melody expresses surprise at this point that Tom did the pitch at all, since she thinks she and Leon have a better sales record than Tom and Natasha. I wonder if Tom might have been slightly more willing to let Melody do the La Redoute pitch if she hadn't thrown him out of her sandbox that morning regarding the appointments she'd set up. Nick makes this point for me, saying that Melody was greedy and wanted to do all the pitches. Sralan asks how many appointments Melody gave away, and it turns out to have just been that one, where Natasha made over €1,000 worth of sales of cress. Karren wonders at this point if Melody hadn't realised it was a team effort, since on Venture Jim made appointments for everyone. I think the whole "team effort" thing is belied slightly by the fact that they were given individual order books. Melody explains that she totally got the team effort thing, since she let Leon sell at some of her appointments. Leon's all "yes, that is what happened."

Sralan asks Tom who he's bringing back, and Tom picks Leon, for not doing anything, and Melody, for asking the wrong questions in the market research. Melody: "You should've given me that direction on the day. I sold €8,000, Tom - how much did you sell?" Ooh, burn. Tom declares this "irrelevant", which Leon and Melody vocally disagree with. Sralan calls Natasha "very lucky" for escaping this, as Melody sniffs that Natasha made precisely one sale, but nonetheless, Natasha is free to go back to Entrepreneur Estates, yeah?

Tom, Melody and Leon are temporarily dismissed. Nick thinks that people like Tom, while Melody pushes people too far, though they can't pretend she's a failure because her sales figures were impressive. Karren, since she can't advocate for the firing of Susan, wonders what Leon did besides drawing a teapot. Nick thinks Leon was dazzled by Melody, and thinks that both he and Tom need to stand up for themselves and be more manly. Out in the waiting room, Leon is all "excuse me, I HAVE A GIRLFRIEND, thank you very much."

The phone rings. Tom stands up. NotFrances tells them they can go in, Tom looks a bit embarrassed at having jumped the gun. Heh. Sralan points out that the carseat was the winning product here, and that Melody had spoken out against it after her market research. Melody agrees that her questioning had not offered widespread support for the idea, at which point Nick points out that she'd never been a fan of it. Melody adds that "common sense" told her people wouldn't want to put a car seat into a bag. Sralan says that she was wrong on that score, because it was a popular product: "do you know anything about products, Melody?" he asks. Melody says that she's not in product development. Sralan digs out her REZ-HOO-MAY and asks about her awards: Volunteer of the Year; Woman of the Future; Outstanding Asian Woman Achievement (I'm not sure that last one scans very well). Sralan asks her what she does to get these awards, and Melody explains that she works in the youth sector to improve the lives of young people. Melody continues that last year she set up her own business with no capital and no brand (and there's a bit more about it here, if anyone's interested). Sralan asks her what her business is, and she says that it's a global consultancy business, to improve young people's skills and help them with their own projects. That all sounds...reassuringly vague. Sralan asks her if it's a business for profit, and well, of course it is. When was the last time you saw someone from the charity sector on this show? He says that he's looking to set up a business with someone, not "another government" (although frankly given the state of the current one, I'd be willing to consider any alternatives he or Melody might have to offer), and Melody assures him that her business project is very profitable.

Sralan turns to Leon, and points out that he's been hiding behind the language barrier for the whole task. He reminds him that when he started out in business, his suppliers were mainly in Asia and he didn't speak any of their languages, but he had to communicate with them to run his business. Leon admits this was an "oversight", but that he was still selling during the task, and assumed that they were being judged solely on figures, and if it came down to who sold the which point Sralan interjects: "she did." He throws in another comment about Melody hogging the sales for herself, prompting Melody to grouse that no one else was trying very hard to set appointments up, and Tom and Natasha could've done their own. To my great relief (because despite everything that's happened this week, I still kind of love Melody) Sralan says he doesn't care if she was hogging the sales, because that shows fighting instinct and a desire to win. Leon chips in that he hasn't heard Tom sell anything. Tom says that his biggest frustration was the people he asked to do things not doing them. He thinks that Melody's biggest priority was "making sure her arse was completely covered", and I think that's a false lead: Melody's biggest priority was selling as much as she could. I don't think she particularly cared about covering her arse, because if she had, she wouldn't have done such a haphazard job of talking Tom out of picking the carseat.

Tom tells Sralan that this is the first time he's been in the boardroom, and it's not because he's won every task. (Sralan: "That's for sure." Hee.) Tom continues that on every task he's added value to his team, but Melody disagrees: she thinks that while he has strengths, he also has weaknesses, and the numbers on this task speak for themselves. Tom sold nothing all day. Tom makes a weak claim that he split the sales between him and Natasha, but Sralan reminds him that he had no sales, full stop, and wonders why that is. Leon: "Because you can't sell?" Tom then tries to lay the (big old plate of) blame for the failure of the La Redoute pitch with Natasha, even though he was the one who suggested a potential order of ten units, and Karren accuses him of not taking it seriously, because he suggested flipping a coin to decide who led the pitch. Tom: "We did an equivalent." Karren: "What did you do?" Tom: (realising how terrible this sounds) "We did...paper-scissors-stone." Karren: *look of utter disbelief* Melody: *look of unrestrained glee*

Sralan says that he wanted to give Tom a chance with his history of inventing, selling and distributing, because that appeals to him, but he's done fairly terribly here. Tom tries the patented Susan Ma "I run my own business" approach, and Sralan asks him for details of this alleged business. Tom says that he's created his own products, branded them, patented them, been to China to source the components, and sold 35,000 to his first distributor. He thinks he has the potential to be bigger than Dyson.

Time for a firing. Sralan likes Melody's hunger and her moxie, so she's safe for now. Besides, he points out that Tom and Leon are equally as responsible for her riding roughshod all over them as she is, since it's not like either of them tried very hard to tell her she couldn't. So it's between Tom and Leon. Leon did nothing, while Tom did everything wrong. The editors want us to think Tom's going, but he gets a last-minute reprieve, and instead it's Leon who's fired for being useless. Sralan tells Tom that he's being allowed to stay because of his potential, but he's rapidly running out of chances. He advises Tom to take a leaf out of Melody's book, because she's a tiger. I for one am very much in favour of a TOM AND MELODY SUPER TEAM OF AWESOME, though if Tom is to take a leaf out of anyone's book at this point, it should probably be Helen's. Or perhaps Susan's.

Leon hugs and kisses Melody. He does not do the same for Tom, because he has a girlfriend. Coatwatch: fairly standard, black and boring. Accessorised with a nifty scarf, but in a totally heterosexual way, obviously. Leon taxinterviews that he's disappointed to have been fired because he saw himself making the final and working with Sralan. He thought he was everything Sralan was looking for, but he just didn't see it. I've had post-breakup conversations like that myself.

Entrepreneur Estates. Zoe's wondering what the sales figures were like, and Natasha tells her that Melody sold €8,000 worth of product, which Jim thinks will have saved her. However, Natasha adds, Melody only created appointments for herself. Zoe sniffs that this is not really working in the team spirit. Seriously, Zoe says that. I'll leave a little pause here until you're finished recovering from your convulsive fit of laughter.

All done? Good.

Tom and Melody return to a fairly muted reception. Melody highlights the part of the boardroom where Sralan read out her list of awards and said how commendable that was, because that's exactly what Melody would do in this situation. Tom congratulates Helen for her unbroken winning streak, and Zoe thinks Helen's put herself on the radar with that sale [like Liz Locke? Poor Helen, so brilliant, so doomed - Rad].

Next week: biscuits! With popcorn. An emergency biscuit, perhaps. Tom and Melody attempting to be a super team of awesome. Should be good.

No comments: