Thursday, 14 July 2011

Please pack your knives and go

Week 11: 13th July 2011

Previously: the remaining candidates sat on cardboard boxes (presumably to give them a taste of life as a business start-up, though obviously Susan will tell you at great length that she has got her own business and knows all this already) while Sralan gave them instructions for a task, instructions that may as well have been in Esperanto for all the sense any of us could make out of them. It involved smelling what was selling, that's all I know. The recap dings Helen for her shitty sales plan, and Natasha for not listening to Jim when he told her to restock. In the boardroom, Natasha's team was given a £100 Natasha Penalty but still eked out a win, though there was NO BLADDY TREAT FOR YOU, BLADDY NO BALLS, because Sralan had completely lost his fucking mind by that point. Helen faced a firing for the first time all series, Tom fetched himself a big plate of Bitch and Chips and proceeded to take Melody and Helen to town to cover his own disastrous and embarrassing record, and ultimately Melody was firing for perhaps the worst PMing this show's seen since Gavin in week three. And yes, I'm including Zoe on the rubbish task. I love Melody, but she didn't have a clue.

This week: interviews, yay! Natasha arrives in the bedroom, still in her dressing gown and with a towel wrapped around her head, with an offering of breakfast for Helen and Susan. I can't see any complimentary copies of Covered magazine on the tray, but perhaps she's got them tucked under the plates. Susan and Helen discuss whether they will be having interviews today: Susan thinks they will, and Helen thinks it seems likely, but you can never quite tell with Sralan, because he's a tricky sort like that. The phone rings, and Jim trots obediently downstairs to answer it. The Disembodied Voice of NotFrances tells him that Sralan wants to meet them in the City, and the cars will be there in 30 minutes. Jim asks if they need to wear anything in particular (having possibly mistaken this for ApprentChat - Apprentices You'd Like To Talk To! Call 0898 98 98 98, calls cost £5 a minute at all times), but gets just a dead line in response. So either NotFrances is a stone cold bitch, or as we suspected, she records all these in advance and some poor runner on the production team is lumbered with getting up at arse o'clock every other morning and holding a tape player up to the telephone. Natasha asks Jim if he was told about interviews, and he mopes that they were unwilling to answer questions. Helen asks him if he's wearing his "interview suit" (I cannot even begin to describe how disappointed I am that we never got to see Vinnie Disney's interview suit), and Jim zings that he'll wear what he always wears, because he looks like a million dollars in every eventuality. Oh Jim, you sleaze.

Cars leave Entrepreneur Estates. Some of the most ridiculously over-dramatic music accompanies shots of the contestants walking down a street and Sralan getting into a lift. Seriously, it's like the conductor at the symphony orchestra suddenly had a wasp land on his nose. Eventually it subsides, and Sralan arrives to meet the contestants, telling them that they're at the One New Change, which sounds like it ought to be a philanthropic initiative founded by Bono, but is in fact a shopping mall in the City. I never, ever go into the City, so I'm just going to take his word for it. Sralan segues that the mall is filled with fast-food franchises, and that's their task this week. So not interviews after all. Boo! And everyone wore their best interview clothes for nothing, except Jim, who turned up in a dirty pair of tracky bottoms and an "I shot JR" t-shirt and relied on his magnetic personality to do the work for him. Sralan tells them that he's located two empty shops for them (I bet that was an arduous task, finding empty shops in the middle of a recession) in the centre of London, and they'll kit them out as restaurants. Staff will be provided, and the task will be judged by industry experts. And if you're sat there thinking "hang on a minute, isn't this just The Restaurant operating under a massively condensed time frame?" then yes, you'd be right. Clearly, series three was such a disaster that this was the only way they could afford to bring it back, as a one-off task in a far more successful show. Still, if Sralan tells the losing team that they are "in ze challonge", it'll all be worth it.

The teams depart. In the Logicar, Helen posits the idea that the winners of this task might be the finalists. She and Tom rub their hands together with glee, and it seems Helen's officially over her wrecked-perfect-record breakdown from last week, because otherwise she'd clearly be having conniptions about being the only other person on a team with someone who currently holds a 2-8 win-loss ratio. Over in the Venturichle, Susan thinks it's good that they've got three minds on their team whereas the other team have only two. She does not consider the specific three minds that constitute her team too deeply, otherwise I'd imagine she'd not be quite so chirpy.

Fast food montage (Square Pie! Leon! McDonald's! Etc!) [Well, I know what McDonald's is, but we don't have that other nonsense up north... Rad, channelling Ellie] as the voiceover explains that Sralan is looking for a new and original fast food brand. Natasha tells Jim and Susan that she has a BA (Hons) in Hospitality Management, and for one of the modules involved setting up their own restaurant, complete with branding. Jim and Susan are heartened by this.

Venture find their site, and Natasha's excited/horrified that they really do have to start from scratch, as they basically have the bare bones of a shop unit to work with and nothing else. We are informed that they have 48 hours to put the shop together. Tom and Helen look round theirs, and Helen identifies a bain-marie, a hot cupboard and a hot plate. I have to admit, I do admire a woman who can identify an industrial bain-marie on sight. I wonder how many of those they had in Greggs? Natasha burbles about "inception", yeah, and "creating a vision", because that's exactly what Natasha does. I'm slightly disappointed that the editors don't add a massive "BURRRRRRRRRRRR" on the soundtrack after she says "inception", though. (Incidentally, if you haven't watched this yet, you really must.) Similarly, Helen thinks they need to be lead by their concept, and determine what their USP is.

Over on Venture, Jim asserts himself as project manager. Neither of the other two looks especially thrilled with this, but they go along with it anyway, and Natasha offers to support him with her degree. Jim patroniserviews that he's got "two girls on board who probably appreciate a bit of direction." Over on Logic, Helen wants to be PM (surprise surprise), as she has run food outlets before, and Tom likes being project-managed by her, so the deal is done. And if I were running this show, this is the point where I would run into the room and fire Tom on the spot for being such a fucking shirker, because he has only PMed once, and lost, and this would've been his last opportunity to redress that, but he didn't even bother to fight for it. Helen's already got two wins under her belt as PM, and therefore doesn't need this; also, she's the type to PM from behind so he could probably get himself a PM victory with minimal effort by deploying Helen effectively, and I'm sorry, but it just really, really annoys me that he doesn't even try to put himself forward.

Next, it's time to pick a style of food. Tom considers Mexican or West India, but not Spanish as he thinks the market is flooded. Helen wonders if there's a fast food chain that just does pie and mash. Yes, there is - it was even on the montage earlier. They brainstorm around pie and mash, and Tom opines that it "tends to be heavy, which tends to be male rather than female." BULL. SHIT. I work in an office where women massively outnumber men, and the women in my office are big fans of Square Pie (although the one near our office closed down recently, so not so much any more). Helen suggests mini pies: "they're more suitable for ladies." GIVE ME STRENGTH.

Over on Venture, Susan wants to do Mexican food because it's "really fun", and they can have cactuses and people wearing sombreros. No, really, those are her reasons. Jim points out that Mexican offers lots of healthy options, like "fisheaters", chimichangas (which are DEEP FRIED, for fuck's sake), burritos, nachos...seriously, these are his healthy options. I don't even want to picture what the rest of his menu is going to look like. Possibly just a big slab of lard with a jalapeño pepper on top. Natasha is "not sure about Mexican, but I'll go with it." Susan asks if either of them eat in Mexican restaurants much. Natasha has, and Susan has, so they consider this to be appropriate experience. Karren pulls a face of disbelief in the background.

Next in the seemingly endless bits of admin is the need to decide who'll create the dishes, and who will work on branding. Jim wants Natasha to be their chef, but she points out that she can't cook, adding "have you ever seen me cook in the house?" Suddenly that breakfast she prepared for Helen and Susan appears a lot more sinister. Jim reminds Natasha that she has a hospitality degree, and Natasha sniffs that she has the degree, but not a lot of work experience. Karren interviews that Jim's misusing his team's skills by allowing Natasha to be on the branding team and not the cooking team, where her experience lies. Yes, but Karren, what if she was telling the truth and genuinely cannot cook? I mean, this team's already in enough trouble as it is.

Over on Logic, Tom knows little about the making of pies and wants to be on branding duty. Helen visibly flinches and says that as project manager, she's wary of not having "ultimate autonomy over the concept and the branding". God, Helen is fucking terrifying. [Yes, but this is what's so amazing about her - Rad] Tom simpers that this is what he does with all this inventions, and has been doing for the last eight years. Helen, realising to her great distress that she can't be in charge of everything, so she allows Tom to do the branding, as long as he keeps her fully informed at all times. You'd think, given that it's a food-based task, and Zoe got dinged on the biscuit task for being PM and not being present during the manufacturing of the food, that Helen would consider having charge of the food to be a good use of her time. Then again, Helen was PM on that task as well and didn't go to the factory and was never criticised for it, because the capriciousness of the judging on this show did not begin with the £100 Being Natasha Penalty last week, so who fucking knows? Basically, Helen secretly wants to fire Tom and do the whole task by herself, but given that she's not technically allowed to do that, she's just trying to give him as little real work to do as possible so she can bathe herself in shiny shiny praise when she wins, because that's what always happens, except for last week which was all totally that bitch Melody's fault and nothing remotely to do with Helen's utterly nonsensical strategy. Anyway, Helen's all "I'm trusting you here, Tom, big time", and being so in a completely gross way, because everyone's really, really awful this week, and she is their queen.

10.45am. Natasha and Susan are in Soho (now there's a spin-off with real potential), and Susan is reeling off a list of Mexicana: banjos, sombreros, moustaches, cactuses, and so on. I thank all the deities I can think of that we were spared the obligatory "do the Mexicans use soap? Do they have dentists? Do the Mexicans love their children? Will you buy me a Mexican for Christmas?" conversation that obviously happened at some point. They walk past Clone Zone, but do not, sadly, go in. Natasha and Susan establish between them that neither of them has ever been to Mexico, nor do they speak "any Mexican". Then they both say "arriba" repeatedly. Ay, dios mio. Susan says that she's thinking of "a happy Mexican-looking man with a big moustache" - and they happen to be walking through porno central while she says this, which is quite funny, because I'm sure one of those establishments has got just what she's looking for. Behind them, Karren listens in horror, quietly contemplating a change of career, or possibly a change of gender.

Nearby in a Mexican restaurant, Jim is shown the ropes by a curiously co-operative member of staff. I'm guessing he realises these people are not serious competition in any way. Jim asks how long a take-away client spends there, on average, and is told that in peak times they operate 85-90 transactions every 15 minutes, which isn't quite the response to the question that was asked, but does at least give you the gist. "The line's moving at lightning speed," the man explains. Jim asks what's most popular, and is told that burritos do good business. He also, amusingly, says that he's looking to do something out of the ordinary, so he wants to know what they don't do. The man suggests chilli con carne as an option, and says that they're currently doing a trial on tortilla soup [blee - Rad].

North-west London, now, and Helen is at the catering plant used by Bigham's Pies. Helen tells the Heston Blumenthal impersonator in the kitchen that they're looking to do three mini-pies (FOR THE LADIES, LEST WE FORGET), and two main ones. Helen barks that they're looking at steak and red wine, chicken and mushroom, and spinach, broccoli and cheddar. She tastes the cheese and onion pie, and finds it too cheesy, looking almost on the verge of tears because it is not PERFECT. I wish we could go back to the days when Helen was the boringly competent candidate, before she became this terrifying, highly-strung, obsessive horror that now sits before us. I mean, I wasn't overly fond of the other Helen either, but this one is far, far worse. Eventually, however, she finds a recipe that she approves of, and the pies are mass-produced, ready to be delivered to her restaurant and reheated by some goon on minimum wage. Helen yammers that she's happy now, although not entirely satisfied with her costings on the steak pie because there's a lot of good-quality steak in there. Ultimately, however, she decides that since she's being judged by industry experts with finely-honed palates, she'd rather take a hit on her margins and serve top-notch products. She says all of this while clawing a groove six inches deep into the table with her nails. Helen is INTENSE, people.

Tom, meanwhile, is off being all the things I hate most about "creatives" - wandering around a baby boutique and muttering things like "the fun-ness of that, could we turn that into a mini pie?" No, Tom. You cannot. Do you know why? Because it is a child's hat. God only knows how much Helen would freak if she saw this. She'd probably have him sectioned. Tom madterviews that he's trying to create a very modern image around the mini-pie, while maintaining a "very British" theme to it. The latter part of the deal seems to involve taking a lot of pictures of cards with Union Jacks on them. Tom throws out some names like Micro Pie, Pie In The Sky, Brit Pie, and then spots a sign in a shop window discussing Qype [What is Qype? Is it like Skype? - Rad]. He reads this as "Qypye" and then starts mentally tossing around the ball of "Qye Pye". Tom calls Helen to announce that he's "just dyslexically misread something" (heh) and come up with some genius ideas involving "pie" being spelt "py". Few things irritate me more than words being deliberately misspelt for the purposes of wacky branding hijinks, so please accept my apologies if I have some sort of breakdown during this next segment. Tom suggests "MyPy", and Helen offers a very clenched "okay" while flicking through pages of her own name suggestions in her own notepad, which include things like "Pie Cottage", "Piesight" (see their light!), and my personal favourite "Piehi". Between them, they decide upon "MyPy - say hi to British pies." I really hate MyPy, not least because it looks like it should be pronounced "mipey", which sounds like a word your nan might use to describe the weather.

(Just out of interest, does anyone else get a kick of watching this show on iPlayer
and getting the "click to resume" message? Click to REZ-HOO-MAY.)

Jim heads off to his chef and works on recipes for chilli beef, a fajita kit, and a Mexican soup. The stoves are fired up and the taste test seems we cut to Natasha and Susan, the branding team, sitting in an office looking really bored. "Sombravo?" Susan suggests. What does that even mean? Susan notes that Mexican restaurants are always "El" something, and then asks "what does 'el' mean?" Oh, Jesus Christ. [Well, if she had to ask if the French loved their children.... - Rad] Although I suppose I sympathise on some level, because I frequently find myself saying something very similar during Britain's Next Top Model. And this is where it really goes irrecoverably wrong: Natasha rings Jim to say that they're struggling, and he suggests "Caracas, as in the little Mexican shaking things?" Natasha and Susan like this idea, then Jim realises that what he's actually thinking of is "maracas". "What does 'Caracas' mean?" asks Natasha. It's the capital of Venezuela, dear. It's not very Mexican. None of them realise this, however, so they agree on "Caraca's". Yep, with an apostrophe. I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt here and hope that they were planning to build it as a chain run by a mascot called Caraca, if only to preserve my sanity.

With that out of the way, they move onto the logo. Natasha suggests getting creative, by using different coloured peppers in there somehow. Susan objects strongly to this, because she thinks all their potential customers are drooling idiots, and since peppers aren't exclusively Mexican, that'll confuse people and they should stick with something clear like a sombrero. You know what else isn't exclusively Mexican? VENEZUELA. She is really picking the wrong aspect to nitpick here. The two of them can't agree, so they phone Jim again. Susan details her pepper-related worries, and Natasha snots that if Susan has a better idea she should put it forward. Then, while Susan tries to say that she wants sombreros, Natasha takes the phone out of her hand, leaving Susan to do her best open-mouthed "THAT'S SO UNFAIR ZOE NATASHA!" face, because where Susan excels above all else is in the field of acting like a wounded child. They bicker some more, and Susan stresses that she "cannot stop thinking how much of a failure this is going to be." (Spoilers!) Jim makes the call not to use peppers. Natasha shrugterviews that Susan's just being contrary for the sake of it, and she doesn't mind people disagreeing with her ideas if they have a better one, but that's not what Susan's doing. That...doesn't really tally with what we've seen, but I hate Susan, so what the hell: Team Natasha! TEAM SUSAN! Melody will always be the queen of saying she hates other people's stuff without giving alternatives. Miss you, Melody. -Joel Susan whineterviews that she and Natasha don't get along, and Jim knows that, so he made a mistake leaving them to work together. For a young entrepreneur with a skincare business, Susan kind of has the face of an old lady. I'm just saying. Their final logo, then, is CARACA'S, with a sombrero atop the C. Classy. In the kitchen, Karren pointedly asks Jim who came up with the name and the menu, and he takes credit for both, noting that "there's a theme developing."

7pm. Tom and Helen have another branding phonecall about potential names for their pies, and Helen wants them all to be named after people who are influential figures in British history. Presumably this means they will have a Cheryl Cole pie. That'll be the one that looks nice, but is kind of flaky, short on filling and leaves an unpleasant aftertaste. Tom likes this idea, and asks "was Byron the guy who was writing at the same time as Shakespeare?" No, Tom, he was not. Perhaps you're thinking of Christopher Marlowe? Mmm, Marlowe Pie. "Was Byron a vegetarian, do we know?" is Tom's next question. Maybe if you want a name for your vegetarian pie, think of famous vegetarians? That has to be more sensible than thinking of famous people and then trying to work out if they're vegetarians or not. They're not really sure about this, so Tom moves on to explorers: "We have William Drake." Er, who? I think you mean Sir Francis Drake there, Tom. Dunno where William came from; perhaps he confused him with the poet William Blake. Next on the list is Christopher Columbus. That'd be the Genoese Christopher Columbus. "Didn't Columbus discover the potato in America?" asks Tom. "Yes, he did," replies Helen. No, he didn't: that'd be Sir Francis Drake again, or possibly Sir Walter Raleigh (depending on whose version of events you believe, if either), and it wasn't discovered in America. I know I have the benefit of google when I'm doing these recaps, but I was terrible at history when I was at school and even my grasp of it is far less muddled than Tom's and Helen's. Nick sucks a really big lemon. Tom suggests "Columbus mash".

Over at Caraca's (*shudder*), Natasha and Susan are briefing the designer, with conflicting ideas of what they want. Tom's doing the same at Mipey, via the method of talking to himself while the designer stands next to him smiling politely. Tom's branding ideas involve Big Ben and red buses. You can just smell those creative fires burning, can't you? Meanwhile, Helen micromanageterviews that it's scary to put her trust in Tom when this is such a massive thing to her. I'm not sure Helen has the capacity to trust other human beings, to be honest. [This is kind of why I love Helen. I just know I'd be the same if I were on this show. Other human beings always screw things up. Team Helen! - Rad] Her biggest worry is Tom not being able to replicate what's in her head, because heaven forfend Tom actually injecting any of his own thoughts or opinions into this task. That is not the Helen way.

8am the next morning, and both restaurants are starting to take shape. Jim and Susan speak in vaguely offensive cod-Mexican accents upon seeing Caraca's (GAHHH), although I'm more willing to forgive Jim because he's wearing an adorable red-and-white stripey top. I now want him to add a bobble hat and a pair of glasses so I can spend the rest of the episode playing Where's Jim? Meanwhile, Tom and Helen arrive at Mipey, which is still a work in progress but basically looks like the EDL threw up in it. Thankfully, this concept meets with the approval of Helen's brain, so Tom is off the hook.

Nick looks over their "say hi to British pies" menu, and checks off the Nightingale, the Drake...and the Columbus. "He's British?" Nick questions. Suddenly Helen is not so sure, and throws the question over to Tom. Tom's response: "Oh, you are kidding me." Heh. "Still, there we are," says Nick, vaguely apologetically. It's no "anyway, I'll leave it with you", but I guess it'll have to do. Helen briefs the Sralan-supplied staff about the pricing structure, and is scarily clear about everything in that very Helenesque way (though credit to her for coaching them in upselling and meal deals and whatnot), while Nick appears to be trying to commit suicide by shoving a pen up through the roof of his mouth and into his brain. I can imagine Helen might have that effect on some people, yes. We had a ghost in a painting at my university that was rumoured to do something very similar, but that's another story.

Now, remember when Tom and Melody did roleplay in the biscuits task and it was amazing? Now think about how much less fun it would've been with Helen in a pivotal role. Except you don't have to imagine, because here it is: Helen plays a customer, while Reasonably Fit Temporary Employee plays himself. I kind of want Susan to run in at this point yelling "remember, you're you and I'm me". Anyway, they run through the sales script, where the staff are instructed to ask "have you eaten 100% British before?", which you just know is either going to result in "yes, I had a roast dinner on Sunday" or some kind of disgusting oral sex-related comment. Helen, being a giant nerd, of course answers, "I haven't, no, what would you recommend?", because that is exactly the way a fast-food customer in central London behaves. Their signature dish is a variety of three pies. So presumably their mini pies for ladies thing sort of went nowhere, because they're not really that much lighter if you're eating three of them. Unless they're just following the Marjorie Dawes school of dieting. They go through a dry run, which seems to go pretty well, apart from somebody forgetting to remove the pies from their foil trays before putting them in the box for the make-believe customer. Oops.

Over at Caraca's (*sob*), the hired kitchen hand, whom we shall call Conchita in the absence of knowing her real name, is working in the back by herself while Jim touches up the décor. While Jim and Natasha consider the prime location for a poster, Conchita emerges and pleads with Jim to organise the kitchen, because they are not even remotely ready. Jim promises to go into the kitchen with her in a minute to go through everything. In the kitchen, moments later, Conchita tells Jim that she is just the hands, while he is the brains, and he must tell her how he wants it all managed. I bet Conchita would've given her eyeteeth to have been assigned to Helen's team at this point. Jim tells her that he wants hot fajitas, hot chilli and hot soup, and Conchita asks if this means he is planning on making the hot fajitas during service, because that will be time-consuming. Jim declares himself the "Nacho Man". With half an hour to go, Natasha and Susan go through the last stages of cleaning and preparing the front of house area, while Jim puts a sombrero on a cactus. Sigh. Over at Mipey, Tom and Helen and their associates are looking a lot more organised, and are ready for service. "Ooh, I'm excited!" Helen exclaims. Reasonably Fit Temporary Employee laughs nervously, as well he might.

It's 2pm, and they're open for business, with two hours to serve customers. Two people enter Caraca's, pretty much looking as though the production staff have had to forcibly shove them in there. There is a hammer and a box of pins on the floor. Professional! Natasha and Susan busy themselves with customers and showing people to their tables, while Jim prepares some truly rank-looking nachos in the kitchen. Susan appears in the kitchen too, panicked, saying that they have more people than chairs, because they weren't banking on having so many eating in.

People troop into Mipey, and are greeted by Helen in full cheerleader mode screaming "BRITISH BRITISH BRITISH!" at them. Despite this, their service seems much slicker, their food looks far more appetising, and everything just seems...well, better at Mipey. Over at Caraca's (*shoves knife into own hand*), the queue is enormous and Susan is not doing a great job of keeping everyone calm, while in the kitchen, Jim is overwhelmed with orders. A customer complainterviews that the fast food is not very fast, as he's been waiting ten minutes for his fajita. Oh, boo fucking hoo. Shots of people yawning and looking variously antsy, pissed off, or both. Those who have food aren't impressed either: one remarks that the cheese on his nachos hasn't been melted, while a mild-mannered gentleman informs Susan politely that his fajita was pretty much stone cold, while Susan apologises helplessly. I do feel slightly bad for Susan here, as I imagine she got rather a lot of this. Then again, it was only for two hours, so maybe Susan can just suck it up. Karren restaurateurviews that Venture spent too long worrying about the décor, to the extent that they never bothered to establish a workable system. Over at Mipey, however, a tattooed builder-type is impressed with the quality of the steak in Helen's pie (fnar). Tom grinterviews that things are going well, and with a turnaround time of under three minutes, he thinks they're officially fast food.

With that, the test run is over. Susan sighterviews that the experience was mad, and they were completely disorganised, and lots of customers left because they didn't get the food they wanted. Susan reports back to Jim that a recurring problem was that the nachos and fajitas were cold. "Give me solutions," Jim retorts, and I would've loved it if Susan had just gone "...we serve them hot?" She tells Jim that he needs to make sure everything they serve is perfect. Jim appears to not really be listening. Later, he looks over their feedback, and one example reads: "Table was dirty for a long time, very long wait for food & service, not enough seating, food tasted cheap." Ooh, OUCH. As he reads out another comment - "friendly, but slow" - the camera cuts to Natasha. HA! Nice one, editors. Mipey, however, have better feedback, with people responding to the UKIP theme and the general presence of pies. The only real concern is people finding it difficult to eat out of a cardboard box. Wusses. I'm slightly surprised there wasn't more feedback along the lines of "truly terrifying woman greeted me at the door, who almost made me turn around and walk back out again". One of Jim's feedback forms reads "crazy waitress" - that has to have been referring to Natasha, surely? Poor Susan, meanwhile (this is how bad things are getting, I'm actually saying things like "poor Susan" and meaning it) is stuck wiping tables while Jim reads out this list of their failures. They look on the bright side: at least Sralan wasn't there to witness any of this.

The next day, 7am. The teams leave Entrepreneur Estates, ready to demonstrate their wares to Sralan and his gaggle of industry experts. Jim tells his teammates that the key to success will be staying calm. And possibly heating up the fajitas. In the Logicar, Helen tells Tom that she's happy with the service, so they just need to make sure the quality is there for every meal. In the Venturichle, Susan tells Jim that yesterday's set-up was basically a shambles, and outlines her idea for a new arrangment that's more of a self-seating nature while she and Natasha stay at the counter. This seems like a more sensible idea (although now perhaps they'll have people standing up for 10 minutes waiting for cold fajitas, rather than being able to sit down), and Jim agrees. So at the restaurant, Susan makes up "ORDER HERE! COLLECT HERE!" signs, while Jim explains to Conchita that they need to go slower and make sure they get things right. Because yesterday's problem was clearly that they were going too fast. Oh, Jim. Jim gets Susan to eat his hot nachos. She seems mollified.

It's lunchtime, and Sralan is on his way to Caraca's (*bangs head against wall*), complete with an entourage that includes representatives from Domino's and McDonald's. Oh, NOW I get why they put an apostrophe in it. Susan greets them effusively as we're informed that the experts will grade the restaurants in four categories: the first of which is customer service. Natasha upsells Sralan to some nachos to go with his fajita, and then he stands around impatiently while Jim and Conchita take a long time to cook it. Meanwhile, one lady orders a fajita without peppers; I think Susan planted her. Sralan wonders where his nachos have got to. A customer asks Natasha how long the wait is, and Natasha says "five to ten minutes, top-end", which she thinks means they're doing well. That just about sums it up, really. The second category is the quality of meal and menu: Sralan likes the taste of the food, but he thinks it's all a bit messy. Someone else opines that they can't be making much of a margin on the fajitas. Category three: brand identity. Despite the clichés, people seem to enjoy the clarity and coherence of the message. Category four will involve a pitch on how the franchise will work long-term, so Jim, Susan and Natasha come out to speak to the experts.

Susan opens by discussing the name, claiming that it's catchy, memorable, fun to say, and "very Mexican-sounding". Oh DEAR. She adds that they included the sombrero to inject a bit of personality, because when you think of sombreros, you think of sun, fun and Mexico, which doesn't rhyme with sun or fun, but never mind. A figures-minded type asks them how many customers they intend to serve in an average hour, and how much that would earn them in profit. Jim, clearly not having thought this through in any great detail, hypothesises that they're looking at 60 people over a two-hour lunch period (one person every two minutes, are they out of their fucking minds?), with an average spend of £7, which is "£4,800 in terms of their spend". Oh Jim. 60x7 is not 4,800 no matter how much you fiddle the numbers. Where exactly do you think all those zeros are coming from? Are you just borrowing them from your team's collective IQ? Karren shakes her head at him, and he revises his figures to £4,200. Eventually, someone throws him a bone and informs him that it's actually £420. Someone else asks about the brand identity, and how the sombreros and cacti fit into the contemporary world, and Natasha delivers a lengthy non-answer about chill time and hanging up your sombrero. Jim cracks a parting gag about Sralan not having settled his bill [are you sure he didn't mean it? You can't tell with Jim. I keep expecting him to go full blown psycho at some point - Rad], and then everyone leaves.

Now it's Mipey's turn to be evaluated in the same way. Helen asks the delegates if they've ever eaten 100% British before, and the answer is a unanimous "yes". HA! She recovers well, though, and says that this means they'll clearly enjoy the quality of the Mipey ingredients. Sralan orders a steak and red wine pie, and Helen talks him into having mash and mushy peas. His meal is served almost immediately, and he remarks that that was quick. "We're fast food!" smugs Helen. More orders pile in (pie-l in?). The delegates like the clarity of Mipey's message and the fact that the provenance of the food is displayed. Tom burns himself on some gravy.

Tom and Helen emerge to do their pitch, which has clearly had a bit more thought-put into it than Venture's. Tom cannily introduces it as the "first" branch of Mipey, and outlines his ambitions for a franchise of 500 stores. He describes it as "unashamebly (sic), 100%, completely, brilliantly, British" and then hands over to Helen for details. Helen launches into her spiel about the glowing results of yesterday's survey, but suffers something of a brain fart halfway through, resulting in her just saying "menu" over and over again, until Tom prompts her, and then she admonishes him for putting her off. Professional! At the end, Tom thanks Helen and meekly apologises for interrupting her. I think the line between cordiality and open contempt is wafer-thin with these two, even if they have managed to stay on the right side of it so far. A lot of people online seem to have remarked positively on the "chemistry" between Tom and Helen in this task, which I have to say I was rather surprised by: she seems to treat him like the over-eager child getting in the way of Mummy's Very Important Work. I almost expect him to start suckling at her teat [I love team Tom and Helen - but I think this is a throwback to them being all moral and prudish on the lads' mag task - Rad]. They get good feedback about the food quality and the competitive pricing from the delegates, and as soon as someone mentions Helen's favourite word ("margins"), she breaks into a detailed speech on how much they're making. It sounds good, anyway. The only real stumbling block is when someone asks whether they'd change the menu in summer, and Tom offers a rather weak answer involving "cold pies", but it's clear the editors are struggling to find a loss-leading edit here.

The scores are collected for Caraca's (*removes own testicle with rusty scissors*) and Mipey. Helen obsessterviews that they've worked really hard, and feel like the brand belongs to her. Er, them.

The next day (presumably), and the contestants are on the way to the boardroom. Natasha thinks that they pulled it out of the bag in the end, and that they have a strong chance of winning. Helen is determined to make the final. Susan "relishes every opportunity to have a dialogue" with Sralan. Tom thinks he's a perfect business partner. Jim thinks he's got exactly what it takes. Well, that was useful.

NotFrances sends them through to the boardroom. Sralan starts with Venture, where Jim explains the plan to go with Mexican food, as it is something a lot of people seem to enjoy. Sralan cracks a joke that Mexican food is "hot" right now, ho ho ho. He asks where the name Caraca's (*performs frontal lobotomy on self with chainsaw*) came from, and Jim cops to it, saying that it was catchy. Sralan points out the whole "capital of Venezuela" thing, which it turns out Venture had worked out at some point between the branding and the boardroom (or, more likely, had pointed out to them), and Natasha explains the Caracas/maracas confusion. Sralan tells them that maracas are Spanish (o rly?), and Karren gets pleasingly schoolmarmish about it: "Be honest - you thought it was a made-up word, all of you." Hee. Sralan asks about the dummy run, and Jim admits to the style-over-substance problem that they had, at which point Karren points out their abysmal lack of a coherent order system, and praises Susan for spotting the flaws therein and implementing a new procedure. Blimey, Karren liked something Susan did - there's a turn-up for the books. "Good team leader?" Sralan asks, and Natasha says that he wasn't massively decisive, and Susan says that he was "okay".

Over to Logic, where Helen was PM, obviously. Sralan asks where the Mipey brand came from, and Tom says that it was all down to him misreading a sign. I bet he says that to all the girls. He says that he was keen to mix an old tradition with a new angle, and that's how Mipey was born. Sralan asks them how their dummy run went, and Tom explains that they actually did two, as we saw. Sralan then suggests that Tom could let Helen talk for a bit, and Helen snarks "that would be nice" as politely as she can. Seriously: LIGHTEN UP, HELEN. The last time we had someone so humourless on the show, she was Helene Speight, and looked what happened there [I liked her too. And Zoe. Miserable bitches are obviously my candidates of choice - Rad]. Helen proceeds to explain through gritted teeth that she went to make the products while Tom did the branding, and was terrified throughout that she didn't have complete control of everything. Or something. I may have editorialised that slightly.

Time for some results, as if we even need to be told. Despite the four criteria, we're simply going to be given an average scores. Venture had an average score of 4/10, while Logic netted a much more impressive 7/10. Helen's face at this point reads WHAT? SEVEN? SEVEN IS A SCORE FOR FAILURES! WE PRODUCED PIE PERFECTION! I WILL ACCEPT NOTHING LESS THAN TEN!

Despite that, Logic win, and are both in the final. That's their only reward, but it's reward enough for them both, I imagine. As she gets up to leave, Helen whispers "thanks Jim!", which is presumably in response to him congratulating her, but let's face it - it's much funnier to pretend it's her thanking him for fucking up the last task and giving her an easy ride into the final. Outside, Tom and Helen hug, and are adorable.

Sralan tells Venture that two of them will be in the final, but one will be fired today. And it will be Natasha, because he's made no secret of his desire to fire her for weeks now. In Loser Café (which has a Pukka Pies sign displayed outside, just to add insult to injury), Venture drink their teas in miserable silence. Outside, Jim blameterviews that Susan and Natasha's inability to play nicely together was the reason that the task failed. Natasha claims that because of the job she was doing, she couldn't see the "trail of destruction" (you were behind the counter, Natasha, you weren't IN SPACE) that Susan was at the centre of. Susan arroganterviews that she's stronger than Natasha and Jim put together, and really wants to make the final. Natasha yeahterviews that Susan should be fired for being uncooperative. Jim vows to fight for his rightful place in the final.

Boardroom Day. NotFrances sends Jim, Natasha and Susan in to see Sralan. He begins by saying that as this is week 11 of "this process", he's assuming they have some sort of superior knowledge that's allowed them to make it that far. Susan: "Yep." Hee. (Other people who made it to week 11 or further, just as a point of interest: Paul Tulip. Michelle Dewberry. Simon Ambrose. Lucinda Ledgerwood. Lee McQueen. Kate Walsh. Stuart Baggs. Just saying.) Sralan is holding a piece of paper, which turns out to be Logic's detailed business plan, and he would like to know what Venture's business plan was. Susan admits that none of them actually considered it, and Natasha puts it down to a "lack of communication" because they never discussed it as a group. Sralan tells Jim that it was embarrassing when he couldn't correctly multiply 60x7, and Jim insists that he's dead good at mental arithmetic, and that was an "uncharacteristic error". Sralan points out that even without the mathematical fuck-up, a gross income of £420 over two hours will not sustain a fast-food enterprise like this.

He goes on to say that fast food restaurants are where you go to the counter, order, pay, take your food, find a seat, and sit down, ideally in under a minute. He asks what their system was, and ultimately answers his own question, identifying it as "oi! Who ordered the nachos?" Heh. Sralan asks why it was so slow, and Jim blames the equipment. Karren disagrees, and says that it was slow because they couldn't determine whether they were a fast-food restaurant "or a waitress restaurant". Is that what we call the other ones, then? Jim blames Natasha and Susan for not sorting things out, as they were front of house, and says that he was "in naive bliss" in the kitchen. I believe this is now officially known as The Rebekah Brooks Defence. Natasha goes for the equally brilliant strategy of basically admitting to lollygagging while taking the orders because she knew she couldn't keep up with the ones that they already had. Sralan brings up Natasha's Hospitality Management degree, which has now become an International Hospitality Management degree somewhere along the line (presumably Melody was involved somewhere) and Natasha says that it was a long time ago, and her career has proceeded in a different direction.

Time to talk about the food. Sralan thinks it looked like dog puke, and asks why their priority was not to get the food right. Susan plays Monday morning quarterback, saying that Jim should have used his visit to the Mexican restaurant to find out what their top sellers were, how quickly they could be prepared, and what ingredients they used. Jim says that there was a deeper issue beneath all this, that he was a babysitter rather than a project manager because Natasha and Susan didn't get along. Natasha asks why, then, did he insist on making them work together if he knew that? Jim rather fumbles the point and says that he'd had feedback from Natasha that Susan was "like a child" to work with, at which point Natasha hurriedly says that she doesn't want this to get personal, and that she'd rather keep it professional. Sralan asks Jim if he felt he was doing this task by himself, and Jim counters that it was not even that, it was more that he had "manic enthusiasm" from Susan, while Natasha provided "apathy and despair".

Sralan sends them all out so he can bitch behind their backs with Nick and Karren. He thinks that Susan is good in the boardroom, but wants to know what she's like the rest of the time. Karren says that you need a sieve with Susan to help you sort out the useful stuff from the utter guff she spouts the other 75% of the time. Sralan is unimpressed with Jim's lack of a business plan, while Karren's disappointed in Natasha for not using her (International) Hospitality Management skills - she thinks Natasha might have lost the initial spark that she had. I think Natasha's just sad that she never got to edit issue two of Covered.

NotFrances sends them back in. Sralan asks Susan who should go out of Nataha and Jim, and Susan picks Jim, because while he's charming and good at selling, he doesn't have the entrepreneurial skill and originality that she does. Natasha gets the same question, and picks Jim too, because he can't manage a process. Jim picks Natasha to go, and she says that she'll "take that as a compliment" (why? Even in Natasha's brain, how or why does that make any sense?) and that Jim has got a "dark side". Susan agrees with this. Funny how this is the one thing Susan and Natasha have agreed on all week, isn't it? Natasha thinks that Jim is underhand, and has charmed his way out of trouble with his project managers, but that it didn't work with her. Susan goes in for the kill: "Jim, at the end of the day, there is a reason why you have project managed twice, and you have lost both tasks SO BADLY." And, well, she's got him there.

Sralan wants to know who's culpable for the ultimate failure of the task. Jim pulls the "anyone but me" card, saying that because Susan self-identified as a Mexican food expert and Natasha self-identified as a hospitality expert, it's all their fault. Susan points out that saying she ate Mexican food doesn't mean she thought she was Thomasina Miers. Jim says that if he had a hospitality degree, he'd grab at a task like this because it would suit his real-life skills, since that's always a tactic that's worked flawlessly on this show. Natasha counters that she doesn't work in hospitality and it's not an area of interest to her; she works in construction and property recruitment. She also adds that Jim's the one who's bigging up her degree here, not her. Which is sort of a good point, although she was quick enough to bring it up herself at the beginning. Jim whines that he's being caught in a deliberate pincer movement by two people trying to save their own skin.

Sralan tells Natasha that her degree obviously gave her skills that she should have used on this task, although he phrases it via a tortuous first-aid-related simile. Natasha says that she wasn't interested in the food and restaurant side of her degree, at which point Jim snots that she wasn't interested in the task. Sralan breaks out the first aid analogy again, and this is really getting boring now. We all know you're going to fire Natasha, Sralan, so why are you dragging this out? Natasha says that what she took from her degree in this task was the customer service side of things, which she used in the front of house (possibly not the best defence, considering what a shitshow that was), and Jim starts burbling some bollocks about Natasha's fight or flight instincts kicking in, except when he says "fight" he points to the door, and when he says "flight" he points to Natasha. I think he got those the wrong way around.

Susan, perhaps wisely, interrupts here to say why she should stay in the process, rather than attacking anyone else. She tells Sralan that she's only interested in his opinions, not anyone else's, and that she has an exemplary record both as a saleswoman and as a project manager, where Jim has lost twice as PM. Jim says that Nick and Karren will tell Sralan that he's passionate and honest (Nick and Karren look appropriately sceptical of this claim), and Sralan basically calls him a blabbermouth.

Time for the final decision, then: will it be Natasha, Natasha, or Natasha who goes? Sralan chews Susan out a bit for her poor relations with some of her contemporaries, and she gets the false-steer summary, but ultimately gets told she's in the final, as does Jim, so obviously it's Natasha who gets the boot, for her lacklustre performance in the last few weeks. We all knew this was coming, and so did she. Jim and Susan are dismissed, and head into the lobby to give Natasha a perfunctory kiss and handshake each.

Coatwatch: long and dark, yeah? Accessorised with a charcoal-hued scarf. Natasha taxinterviews that she's not willing to compromise her dignity, and can leave the process with her head held high. Oh, Natasha. I think it was your complete lack of self-awareness that made me love you so in the end.

In the car back to Entrepreneur Estates, Susan tries a "no hard feelings, eh?" speech with Jim, clearly a bit drunk on glee from being in the final, but Jim's having none of it, and has a go at her for smelling blood back there and trying to take him down. He accuses her of being dishonest, and she disagrees, unsurprisingly. He claims that she has less business acumen than Natasha, and Susan counters that she must have more than both of them, because she (say it with me now) started her own business.

Tom and Helen are wondering who, if anyone, will be joining them. Susan comes in first, and tries to fake them out that they're just the final three, but then Jim appears saying "anybody order a final four?" and there is much hugging and giggling.

On Sunday: interviews, hooray! They'll be handing over their own business plans, and being grilled over them. Someone will be have a plan riddled with errors, someone else will be full of shit, and someone will be deemed "a bit of an ass" by Margaret. And someone's getting hired at the end of it, regrettably. Although to be honest, I'm almost (almost!) Team Susan after reviewing this episode. She's the best of a bad bunch. She and Helen are the only viable options, and Helen pretty much wore out her welcome with me this week. [I can't see Sralan's "partnership" with any of them working out, to be honest. All four of them have huge fatal flaws and would be awful as business partners, so there we are, but yeah. It'll probably be Susan. I don't know if I could bear to watch You're Hired if she does win though - Rad] Anyway: one way or another, we'll know who wins come Sunday night. Join us soon for the final result!

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