Saturday, 28 April 2012

Pasta imperfect

Week Six: 25th April 2012

Previously: LordSirAlan instructed the contestants to come up with a new fitness programme. As the director of Sterling's promotional video, Duane went into a full-on death spiral and had a big fight with Laura in the back of the Apprentaxi while Nick (I don't know if we have an official system for this, but for ease of comprehension: "Nick" is the contestant, and "Nick Hewer" is LordSirAlan's left-hand man) [I just think Nick and Nick2 is easier? - Rad] tried in vain to stuff his shaggy, shaggy hair into his ears to drown them out, and when that failed, he resorted to openly laughing at them. Attaboy. Meanwhile, Phoenix came up with possibly the worst idea for an exercise class since this and promoted it with a video featuring token totty Azhar in an impossibly tiny pair of shorts and kept promising to throw free shit at gyms, despite not having a budget to do so and the gyms in question having nowhere to store it. In spite of (or because of?) such lunacy, Phoenix won, and Ricky Martin (PMing for Sterling) brought Laura and Duane back to the boardroom where, despite his generally promising record up to this task, Duane proved beyond all doubt that his ill-thought-out video pretty much single-handedly tanked the task for them, and he was FIRED.

It's a bright sunny day in London, and the candidates appear to have had a day off, since they're all in casualware and playing what I believe is Kinect Sports (I don't have an Xbox; if you know better on this matter, by all means correct me in the comments). Adam and Ricky Martin are running, while Katie lounges on the sofa wondering when they're going to finish so she can play Blonde Assassin's Creed. But wait, what's this? The Sugarmobile is pulling up outside! Maybe he's brought his PS3 and a couple of SingStar mics to really get the party started? He knocks at the door just as Laura is rather unfortunately waving her hands in front of the TV honking "HOW THIS WORK?" like she's just teleported in from Amish Country, so Azhar (fully-clothed, regrettably) goes to answer the door. The appearance of LordSirAlan takes several of the contestants by surprise and everyone hurries to sit up straight and tuck their shirts in.

LordSirAlan tells them all to organise themselves around the QUIRKILY-SHAPED kitchen table and says that he's sorry to disturb them on their day of rest, but he's going to be sending them on "a bit of a journey" - and not just the one they're currently in the middle of as reality TV participants. [I would like, if I may, to take you on a STRANGE JOURNEY - Helen] He informs them that there's been a revolution in high-quality street food, so they'll be setting up "mobile restaurants". In Edinburgh, for some reason that's never particularly identified, but presumably relates somehow to culture-clash comedy and the possibility that someone might include "do the Scots like food?" in their list of market research questions.[He said something vague about the fad "not having reached there" yet. It's true. We don't like stuff that's not local - Helen] He stresses that he wants quality food, no junk, and that the team that makes the most amount of money is going to win. But what if they make the most amount of money by directly flouting his orders and selling Cheesy Poofs covered in lard gravy? LordSirAlan tells Adam that he will be project manager for Phoenix, and Jenna will be leading Sterling. Just when you thought it couldn't possibly get any worse, right kids?

We get a short public information film next, in which Charley the Cat informs us that street food stalls are easy to start up and have low running costs, so you should ask Mummy about setting one up. Nick Hewer and Karren arrive at the house to make sure no one accidentally sets fire to themselves, and Adam sits team Phoenix (which, just in case you're as confused as I normally am by this point, consists of Adam, Tom, Jade, Katie, Stephen and Azhar) down for a briefing and tells them that, as a market trader, this task is perfect for him. And we all know what happens when people PM a task that closely relates to their day jobs, right? Adam suggests, apparently without a shred of irony (because irony is for girls and homosexuals), that the Scottish diet consists pretty much entirely of deep-fried Mars bars and haggis. Kudos to Jade for taking the Nancy Dell'Olio approach to this and just laughing as thought it had obviously been intended as a joke all along. Tom (who has surreptitiously rolled the sleeves of his t-shirt up just a smidge to make people look at his guns, not that I fell for it or anything) suggests not ruling out Japanese, because sushi and Bento boxes are very popular [And probably a bit too expensive/fiddly for Apprenti to make?  Though it would probably make good car-crash TV - Rad]. "Who eats sushi?" Adam wonders, and Tom pulls an "I do, you bonehead" squint in response. Adam interviews that his perfect street food is something quick and easy like hookers a burger. Katie pitches "meatballs and pasta" on the grounds that it's straightforward to mass-produce. Jade and Stephen remind them that it has to be gourmet, so Adam suggests they "dress it up with a bit of spinach". I'm just going out on a limb and suggesting this is his garnish of choice once he's finished boiling his omelette. Katie suggest they could make it organic. Jade asks if they have any other ideas. "Chicken wrap," suggests Azhar, making what might actually be his only speaking appearance in the episode. I wouldn't object to his general silence if he at least took his shirt off, but he will insist on covering up. Adam thinks pasta is their best idea, so that's what they're going with.

Over on Sterling (Jenna, Gabrielle, Nick, Ricky Martin, Laura), Jenna offers us the following encouraging opener: "I can't cook, but I've worked in the restaurant trade, so I've got an idea." I'm not sure that summer spent behind the tills at Wimpy counts as "working in the restaurant trade", dear. Gabrielle suggests something traditionally Scottish to appeal to tourists. Jenna wonders if there's "traditional Scottish pies" you could sell, but Laura - using all of her local knowledge - reminds them that LordSirAlan wanted gourmet grub [Haggis deep-fried in Irn-Bru batter - non-Scotland-affiliated member of the bitching team], whereas pie and beans is the sort of thing that gets served at football games. She thinks a lovely casserole with a Scottish twist, like using Aberdeen Angus beef, might be an idea. Ricky Martin cautions that they need to keep their costs low to maximise their profits, but Nick thinks they shouldn't be scared of something high-cost.[See, this is where I realised that this ep makes no sense. Either pitch traditional Scots stuff to the tourists or something exotic to the locals. Simple. But oh no, we've ended up on both points with stuff that's not really either so everything is a little bit rubish. Rant over - Helen]

Back over on Phoenix, Adam appoints Tom as King Of Taste because he's a foodie, Katie as Head Assassinator Of Brand jointly with Jade, and Stephen will be looking after the Research side of things, working alongside Jade and Katie. Azhar's job is not mentioned, but I assume it is "just sit there and look pretty". He's basically their trophy employee.

9am the next day, and the candidates leave Apprentice Manor destined for Scotland, via a gourmet food fayre in London where they'll do a spot of research. Once there, they are wowed by diver-caught scallops with celeriac puree and things like that. Stephen corners the winners of "Best Main Dish" at the british Street Food Awards 2011 and asks them how they did that. The lady in the van says that they used high quality ingredients, organic where possible. Katie clarifies that this does not just mean going for MARGINS MARGINS MARGINS and churning out any old slurry. They report back their findings to Adam. That done, everyone hops about a train to Edinburgh. In first class, Adam, Azhar and Tom review their options, with Adam still set on pasta because it's cheap and you can "slop it out [...] like school dinners." At this point I don't know if he's stubborn, ignorant, stupid or all three, but Tom does seem to be developing a migraine just listening to all of this. Adam suggests corned beef "to bulk it up". CORNED BEEF. I'm surprised Foodie Tom didn't just phone the British Transport Police to have him arrested for crimes against nutrition there and then. (Though I suppose if it were possible to arrest someone on a train for food-related crimes, Adam's name would be just one on a very long list of offenders.) Ever the charmer, Adam notes that talking about food has made him hungry, so he hopes the "trolley dolly" will be around soon, so he can pinch her arse and she can titter coquettishly and slip him an extra bag of peanuts. God, I hate Adam so much. [Me too.  He doesn't really work as this year's comedy troll contestant as he hasn't got any redeeming humorous qualities.  Well, except looking a bit like Bad Luck Brian - Rad]

In another part of the train that seems significantly less first-class, Nick and Gabrielle are also hard at work: Nick's making a phone call to determine where the best location for their stall would be. He calls a city centre hotel, where someone tells him that Princes Street and Parliament Square are both lively areas, while Tynecastle Stadium is likely to also be very busy, but the chap's tone of voice suggests that this is not necessarily an endorsement. In an even less swish-looking set of seats, Katie tries to convince Stephen and Jade that whoever gets a pitch near the football stadium will win, because of the guaranteed footfall that comes with the match that will be happening that day. Stephen isn't convinced because he thinks that football fans will be more likely to want a burger and a beer, but Katie assures him you can sell anything when that many people are passing by. Tell that to Jane. Crucially, Katie says that she's "happy for that to fall on my head" if football doesn't work out. This will, inevitably, be important later.

At 2:30pm, they arrive in Edinburgh. Half the teams are off to get their branding hats on, while the project managers are heading to the development kitchens. In the Sterling apprentaxi, Jenna asks Laura if people speak Scottish up here, and will she be able to translate for them if they do. I'm going to give Jenna the benefit of the doubt here and assume this is light-hearted merriment, but it's a shit joke nonetheless. Each team has a high-profile chef to help them out, and handily Adam has award-winning Italian chef Mateo. They agree that meatballs are an excellent idea, and Mateo gives them some tips, like using fresh rosemary. Adam, of course, wants to use dried rosemary because it's cheaper, but Mateo protests that you won't get the same flavour, and Nick Hewer is already wrinkling up his nose in distaste. Still, I'm just glad they've not tried to put any sandalwood in the recipe. So far. Adam continues to witter on that "it's just about profit, not taste", and in terms of the parameters of the task he is technically right, but I'm not sure the Yasmina Siadatan Memorial Pile It High And Sell It Expensively tactic is the right way to go here. Neither is Tom, who starts fiddling with his collar and urging Adam to find a balance between taste and profit. Nick Hewer interviews that Adam's trying to make it too cheap. Yes, thanks for that, Nick Hewer. I'm not sure we'd have worked that out for ourselves, considering the subtle nature of Adam's behaviour. Adam starts spitballing (ew, hygiene) brand names and the possibility of using Mateo's excellent reputation for their product. I'm sure Mateo will be thrilled to have his name attached to Phoenix's Offalballs: Now With Extra Entrails. Names he rejects as being less good include "Mamma Mia's Meatballs" and "Uncle Mamma". Seriously. UNCLE MAMMA.

Meanwhile, Sterling meet Chef Jeff at the Balmoral Hotel, who tells them that he prefers his meat well-hung. *slide trombone* Jenna asks him how much a portion would cost, and he estimates between £2 and £2.50. Jenna calls Nick and Gabrielle to apprise them of this, and they're a little taken aback. Gabrielle tells Nick that you normally wouldn't spend that much per portion in an actual restaurant, and I don't know how true that is, but if we use Yasmina's revelation that you look to make around 70% gross profit on what you sell in the restaurant trade (see, I remember stuff) and take an average sale price of, say, £9 for a main course, it would indeed seem that this is quite a high cost per portion, especially since they wouldn't be selling it for anything like that much. Nick runs his fingers through his Bieber 'do with anxiety.

Katie, Stephen and Jade are brainstorming meatball branding ideas. Jade thinks they want something slick and simple, and they come up with...Utterly Delicious. Snore. They call up Adam, who suggests the whole "Mateo's Meatballs" thing, which they mull over before pretty much dismissing out of hand, and countering with the epitome of creativity that is "Utterly Delicious". This goes down like a plate of tepid sick with the other half of the team, and Adam thinks they should at the very least have "Italian" or "meatballs" in there somewhere, so they settle on "Utterly Delicious Meatballs". Give me strength. What I wouldn't give for a Natasha Scribbins on this time right now, I tell you.

So while half the teams get on with such unimportant tasks as making sure the food is actually edible, the other halves get on to the truly crucial stuff: van makeovers, yaaaay! Nick and Gabrielle have come up with "Gourmet Scot Pot" for Sterling, which is a little cutesy, but definitely a better effort than the other team's name, whatever it might be at present. Nick points out to Gabrielle that they don't have any tartan on the branding, though whether this is because he thinks they should have tartan on it is undetermined. Either way, Gabrielle thinks it is fine without any tartan, and I think this is the right decision. Meanwhile, Stephen, Jade and Katie congratulate themselves on their super-classy, super-boring branding. Kate interviews that they're making it very clear with the branding that this is a high-quality product, and I was fully expecting the editors here to cut to Adam pulling up a bit of grass from between two paving slabs and going "that'll do for rosemary" and dropping a few of his own fingernail clippings into the mixing bowl.

It's now 10pm, and Jenna and her team are mass-producing Scot Pot with quality ingredients and a professional recipe. Jenna interviews that she's very pleased and has nothing to worry about, and she and Ricky Martin start doing their sums, working out that they've spent £268.82 on ingredients. Jenna wonders if perhaps they've bought too much meat, but "the meatier the better". They're planning to make 175 portions, which Ricky Martin estimates at around £1.54 per portion. He's pretty much bang-on, and that's quite scary. We'll have to add "mathematician" to his list of skills alongside professional wrestling and biochemistry. Meanwhile, Phoenix are at a cookery school, where Adam explains that they've spent 47p per portion on their meatballs. Sorry, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit, there. Katie asks how Adam got it down so cheap. [SPECIAL STUFF - Helen] He doesn't answer the question, but the editors help us out by showing giant value bags of Morrisons pasta twists, chopped tomatoes in cans, bodybags from the morgue, etc. As they prepare the food, Stephen notes that Adam's balls are getting smaller and smaller (FNAR) and Azhar points out that they shrink as they're cooking. I'm surprised they haven't tried to make this into a selling point, actually - Macro Meals or something. Adam's hoping to sell them at £5.99 and make a profit of £5.50 per portion. Dude, I wouldn't pay that for street meatballs, and I live in LONDON. Everyone puts the finishing touches to their meals as midnight approaches, and then they all bugger off to get some sleep.

9am the next day, everyone departs to start selling. First we're in Gorgie, west Edinburgh, home to Hearts FC. This is where Team Phoenix have set up their stall, which has been decorated with words like "authentic", "fresh", "delicious" and "scrummy". I know the word "scrummy" always screams "classy food joint" to me. Adam's happy with the branding, Nick Hewer sneers because that's what Nick Hewer does. Some fancy-dress costumes have been procured to help promote the stall, including a pizza (?) and Julius Caesar (???). The branding team are sent out to wear the ridiculous outfits: Stephen puts an Italian flag around his shoulders, Katie is the ASSASSINPIZZA, and Azhar puts the Julius Caesar costume on over his shirt. Oh, Azhar.

Meanwhile, Sterling have set up Gourmet Scot Pot in Parliament Square, which is attracting a lot of attention. The free samples go down well, but no one actually wants to buy any because they've all just had breakfast. Laura and Ricky Martin are dressed up in tartan (well, it had to show up somewhere, didn't it?) and bribe a bagpipe player with free food if he comes to play nearer their stall in order to drum up a bit of atmosphere. Some of the team do a bit of highland dancing to get in the mood, and a few sales are made, though it looks like the food is not exactly flying out of the catering vats just yet.

Back in Gorgie, Hearts fans are arriving for the game, but not for the meatballs. Tom interviews that he's worried about their current price point of £5.99, which he thinks is too high - but they can always bring it down, he reasons. This throws him unknowingly into direct conflict with Katie, some distance away in an Apprentaxi, who is keen to maximise profit and wants to sell for £7.99, having clarified that she would never "overprice and underdeliver" in business (what about on a reality show, eh, BLONDE ASSASSIN?) but this isn't strictly business, because they're there for a day and then they're scarpering before anyone gets a chance to give them any feedback [Someone's seen this show before, so kudos to her for that standard SirLordAlanSugarSir pleasing tactic - Rad]. They're basically the circus, or one of those really dodgy-looking travelling fairgrounds. Stephen puts this idea to Adam, who shoots them down right away because there are cafés in the are doing full breakfasts for £2.99. Adam hangs up, and declares that they'd get their heads kicked in if they tried selling their food for £7.99. Frankly, I'm seeing a plan with no possible downside right now.

In an "inspired" moment of "marketing" "brilliance", Stephen negotiates a deal with an open-top bus tour company that they'll hop on board to drum up some business and get people to disembark and buy some meatballs before putting them on the next one. I'm not entirely sure what's in it for the bus people, but they agree nonetheless. They call Adam with the good news, and he and Stephen scream "Grassmarket!" at each other for about five minutes. Stephen declares this move "a task-winner". I'm thinking no.

Over on Sterling, business is still slow. Jenna frets that this should be their busiest time: "I feel physically sick," she whines to Nick. Karren interviews that they've got a good, expensive product, but they need to sell it all to bring in a profit. Jenna has decided that the marketing team are doing too much talking, so she calls Laura over and tells her to can it with the schmoozing and just bring people over. Laura points ot that she knows what she's doing as a salesperson, and that she can't physically force people over to the stand. Unless of course they draw on Ricky Martin's wrestling skills, but that's probably still a bit of a grey area, ethically speaking.

Things aren't looking much better for Phoenix as they battle chronic lack of interest from the football fans. Still, they've got Stephen's task-winning bus strategy in their back pocket, right? Stephen rings up to go through this with Adam, who is so very much not caring right now because his pre-game selling time is running out and he's only sold 12 portions. Azhar thinks Adam needs to calm down because he's panicking. Azhar, meanwhile, is so mellow he's practically catatonic. I guess when you've got a six-pack like that, you know you'll never go hungry. Back in Gorgie, Adam drops the price to £3.99, or three portions for £10. This seems to bring the customers in a bit more, though it's still a rip-off, especially when we get shown the portion size. With kick-off nearing, they drop the price to £2 a throw. I mean that literally, as in you give them £2, you eat it, you throw up. They sell their last few portions before upping sticks and moving to Grassmarket to pick up all those hungry bus-riding tourists. Tom thinks it wasn't a total washout; they even sold "the burnt ones". And think, he's the resident foodie. Egad.

In Parliament Square, things are picking up for Sterling and Scot Pot - and I'm pleased to see the bagpipe player getting his complimentary scran as promised. Jenna interviews that now they actually have people passing, she can use her charm on them. How terrifying. In Grassmarket, both halves of Phoenix meet up and the Three Marketeers explain the bus strategy to them. Katie promises they'll do such a good job of pitching. Jade interviews that business is slow, as she readjusts the signs to read "£5.99" again, and says that she hopes the whole bus thing will work out.

The Whole Bus Thing. Katie (dressed as a pizza, lest we forget) asks the passengers what sort of food they think she might be selling. Unsurprisingly, they think it's pizza. No, she tells them, they need to think "outside the pizza box". OH MY LORD. This is the worst pitch since that time Kate Walsh mentioned that she'd heard of bellinis. Anyway, she tells them all about their meatballs, and the bus comes to a halt at Grassmarket...where no one wants to get off and buy meatballs. Personally if I'd just got on a tourist bus, I wouldn't get off two stops later for food either, so perhaps that's the flaw in their plan - most of these people were probably planning on being on there for some time, and had probably eaten beforehand. Well, that and the part where their plan was kind of stupid in the first place. Now they have to run back in order to get on the next bus and repeat the whole process, and they get back just in time to see it driving off. I really feel this moment would've benefited a sad trombone. It's a 15-minute wait for the next bus, and when they call Adam, he tells them that business is slow, so they should just forget about the buses and come back to help drum up some customers. Adam whines to Tom about how the others have "literally missed the bus" on this.

Things are slowing down for Sterling too, now that lunchtime is over, so Ricky Martin and Laura go to see if they can find a better location. They find somewhere with a lot of footfall, but perhaps unsurprisingly, also a nice line in culinary competition, with an Aberdeen Angus food stand already selling burgers at £3 a pop. Jenna decides it's worth the risk, so she and Nick up sticks with the van. They also decide on a price-slashing strategy, offering two portions of Scot Pot for £10. Business picks up a bit. Hooray! Ricky Martin's sales strategy revolves around "hello ladies, fancy some dinner tonight?" which amuses me. On Phoenix, Adam is now offering meatballs at £5.99 a portion of 3 for £10, which is a structure that makes no sense to me whatsoever, but hey. He interviews that they made it for peanuts, so whatever they sell it for, it's all profit. Azhar tells people that it's "locally-sourced produce", and presumably they have the receipts from the Morrisons just down the road to prove it. He also tries to sell some meatballs to a squirrel. I'd say the heat's getting to him, but: Scotland.

Back at Sterling, Laura asks a passer-by if he's "had his tea", although not in a Hamish & Dougal way. Nick tells Jenna to go with a £4 each, 2-for-£6 offer, which makes Jenna fret about the margins, but Nick points out that at this point they just need to sell it. Karren interviews that every time they drop the price, the margins get smaller. Thanks Karren! Nick says that they've got 100 dishes left (so they've sold less than half at this point? Yikes) and they just need it gone, so Jenna agrees to the price drop. Business seems to pick up again, and both teams scramble to offload their last amounts of food. Laura tries "we need to get rid" as a sales strategy, which I'm sure goes down wonderfully. At 5pm, they all shut up shop, and Jenna continue to fret that they haven't won.

Next day, it's the boardroom, and NotFrances sends them all through. To begin with, LordSirAlan asks Adam how things went on Phoenix. Adam says that they decided on homemade pork meatballs and pasta, because it's fatty so it's cheap. "Cheap?" retorts LordSirAlan with distaste, and Adam stumbles his way through an excuse that they bought cheap, fatty meat for reasons of taste, and not because someone was selling a load of dead pigs out the back of a van. LordSirAlan asks how much they spent, and Adam says they spent around £90. LordSirAlan asks where the gourmet side comes into things, and Adam says that you'd get that from the taste, sending Tom in to support him, and Tom says rather unconvincingly that their product was "fantastic" and used "an authentic northern-Italian recipe". LordSirAlan asks where they sold and how much for, and Adam says they started at the Rangers-Hearts match at £5.99, and LordSirAlan openly scoffs at such a ludicrous idea. He says that they don't pay that for a striker there, and Karren cackles because football humour is her comfort zone. Adam admits it was slow going at the match. LordSirAlan asks him if the business had a name, and Adam says that at first it was "Utterly Delicious" and then he came along and put "meatballs" in there, at which point Jade snorts that OBVIOUSLY they were going to mention the meatballs. LordSirAlan points out that this doesn't sound very Italian, whether you mention the meatballs or not, and asks if they had any other ideas; Adam brings up his plan to use Mateo's name, and LordSirAlan chews them all out for not capitalising on this ready-made brand they had from the famous chef. He asks the rest of the team if Adam was a good PM, and they seem reasonably happy with him, and Adam in turn says that the team co-operated well with him.

Over to Sterling, where Jenna's PMing skills also get a fairly good write-up, and she explains that she wanted something traditional and Scottish, so they came up with a gourmet casserole with best quality ingredients. She tells LordSirAlan that they chose Parliament Square because it had five church services, and then they moved to Princes St at about two o'clock after Laura and Ricky Martin did a spot of scouting. She says that once they did move, they did very well. LordSirAlan asks them what they spent, and Ricky Martin replies "I think we spent around about £268.82", and Karren confirms that that is indeed exactly what they spent. I love that he had the exact number right there in his head. I'm a little bit concerned that wrestling biochemist Ricky Martin might actually be the most competent candidate on the show this series. My world, she is rocked. Anyway, LordSirAlan takes this as a sign that this team were a bit more serious about the gourmet side of things, and on hearing how much Sterling spent, Tom smirks. Jenna admits that she worried all day that they'd spent too much, but she felt they had a quality Scottish gourmet dish.

Time for the numbers, then:
Phoenix spent £90.25 and had revenue of £388.29, for a total profit of £298.04
Sterling spent £268.82 and had revenue of £588.60, for a total profit of £319.78.

LordSirAlan notes that there was just £22 in it, and while I'm a bit disappointed that the margin of victory was so small, I'm at least hugely relieved that the team who spent 68p on the offal scrapings from the butcher's storeroom floor didn't actually win. He tells Jenna it was a risky strategy considering her outlay, so they must have done well at selling. Sterling's reward is to go out to a five-star country club and ride Segways. LordSirAlan tells Phoenix that there's one thing they can't cook, and that's the books. (Also: pasta, if the footage we saw was anything to go by. Eurgh.)

Reward time! Sterling race around a lovely country estate on Segways, looking kind of dumb but obviously enjoying it. This whole experience is mostly noteworthy for the point where Nick completely wipes out and almost takes Laura down with him. Who knew Segway racing was such a dangerous game? They toast their success with champagne (except Gabrielle, who's on orange juice).

Loser Café. Adam interviews that he will not be taking any of the blame for the loss; he's blaming Jade and Katie for not being the marketing experts they sold themselves as. What about Stephen? He's every bit as much to blame. Oh, silly me, Stephen has a penis, and is therefore far less liable than dozy women. God, Adam is foul. Katie interviews that Adam should be fired for not having a clear strategy other than "sell cheap shit for lots of money", and Stephen diverts all suspicion away from his doomed bus plan by saying that they only needed to sell another five portions to win, and that's all Katie and Azhar's faults for not contributing enough.

Back at the boardroom again, and NotFrances sends Phoenix back in to face LordSirAlan, who cites the problems with their performance as twofold: one, they failed at selling, and two, they misread the brief and made cheap food instead of gourmet like they were told. Except if they'd spent more on the product and then sold the same amount, they'd have lost by even more [and if they'd made more profit he wouldn't have cared a jot about the gourmet thing - Rad], but whatever. Adam says that he believes they met the criteria for being gourmet, and LordSirAlan says that he's seen pictures of what they made and he's seen better-looking food on the floor at the zoo. Katie says that a lot of their market research wasn't taken on board, quickly adding "I don't know if Steve and Jade would agree with me" in typical NINJASSASSIN fashion. Adam counters that it WAS SO taken on board, and that she was the one who told them to go to the football. Katie admits to having championed that because of the footfall - she goes to watch the football herself and pays £6 for a burget. This, of course, sets her right up for LordSirAlan's rejoinder: "Where do you go, Chelsea?" Oof. LordSirAlan says that if they'd sold for £2.50 a portion, they might have sold hundreds of portions and made a lot more money. Jade begins to say that they did drop the price, before Adam jumps in and says that he was going with what his research team tells him, at which point Stephen interrupts to tell Adam that he shouldn't need a research team to tell him that what the research team is telling him is a load of old shit. Or something. It's a very strange defence, whatever it is. Adam points out that this is the first time Stephen has voiced the "we were overpriced" theory - indeed, as we saw, Stephen was more than happy to put forward Katie's suggestion of raising the price.

Adam moves on to his next issue, which is that since the football match kicked off at 12:30pm, they lost valuabe lunchtime trade because that's when they were moving between locations. Jade suggests that, as PM, he might have looked at the overall picture and decided that it wasn't worth losing the lunchtime trade for whatever benefits they might have got from the football sales, and she's got a fair point there. LordSirAlan points out that the second location was Grassmarket, at which point Katie mentions the deal with the bus company, and Stephen charges in (seriously, Boardroom Stephen is weird. Even weirder than normal Stephen. Well, "normal") to talk about the "lovely guy" called Kenny who brokered this deal with him. "Did it work?" asks LordSirAlan, and of course the answer is "no", but instead Stephen casts himself as the problem-solving hero who realised this was a fool's errand and went back to help Adam out, even though the version of that conversation we saw doesn't really back up his interpretation of events. LordSirAlan notes that Azhar is being very quiet and hasn't even taken his bladdy shirt off, so what was he doing? Azhar says that he had concerns about the quality of the product, at which point Boardroom Stephen roars into action again, saying that Adam's focusing all of his blame on the people who worked really hard (at stupid strategies that cost them time and money, just saying) while coasters like Azhar are getting off scot-free. Adam, who's clearly in thrall to Stephen at this point just as Leon was to Jim last year, says that Azhar is indeed being very quiet. Azhar claims he advised them to put some decent product in there and set the right price. Whether this actually happened remains up for debate.

Tom chips in at this point and puts forth the motion that the poor choice of second location is not really being considered as much as it should be, because it was chosen on the assumption of traffic from the bus company that never materialised. Stephen says that he'd like to "bring a little bit of sanity to the situation" (no, seriously, he actually says that, while practically foaming at the mouth and twitching in his efforts to divert blame away from himself at any cost) and says that they're suddenly hearing a lot of objections here for the first time. "Why do you lie so much at this table?" asks Tom, sounding genuinely annoyed. Heh. LordSirAlan asks Jade where the failure of this task "lay", and Jade says that the problem was going to the football match, missing the lunchtime trade and then arriving at the second location when everyone there had been fed and watered. So whose fault is that, LordSirAlan wants to know. It's either Katie, Stephen or Azhar, says Jade, presumably since they were the three involved in the bus fuck-up. Boardroom Stephen blames the quality of the food for not being good enough (ironically an objection we never heard from him during the task) and the location, which makes it Katie's fault for talking, and Azhar's fault for not talking. Azhar grumpily points out that Stephen is being very clever at diverting blame away from himself, and Stephen is the very acme of disingenuousness as he's all "I'm just replying to the question I was asked by LordSirAlan, Azhar!" Azhar asks Stephen if the bus and second-location fuck-up was not somehow his fault too, and Stephen just talks right over Azhar all LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU before eventually claiming that the reason he's going after Azhar is to defend the honour of Adam. I love that - the fact that it gets him off the hook is just serendipity.

LordSirAlan asks Adam who's coming back in to the final boardroom, and he decides to bring Katie and either Jade or Azhar, ultimately picking Azhar for not really doing anything. Stephen smirks, having successfully executed his plan [I don't really like Stephen but that was some awesome assassination attempt, and he isn't even blonde - Rad]. Tom, Jade and Stephen head back to the house, while Adam, Katie and Azhar are sent back into the anteroom while LordSirAlan chats to Nick Hewer and Karren. LordSirAlan opines that Adam lost control of the task and didn't know what he was doing, while Katie has made some bad calls and heavily influenced the failure of this task. Nick Hewer agrees that the football thing was very much her idea, and a very bad one at that. Azhar, meanwhile, is very quiet, and LordSirAlan doesn't know if still waters run deep or if he's just a shirker.

NotFrances sends the trio back in, and LordSirAlan tells Adam that he's looked carefully at his application (not REZ-HOO-MAY?)[I'm sosad that that is over- Helen] and it's clear he's a hard worker on his market stall. Adam says that it's been established for 13 years, and he has more experience than any of the others. LordSirAlan asks him if he's ever heard the expression "leopard changing its spots"? No, LordSirAlan, no one has, because that's not the expression. He feels that Adam's market trader mentality kicked in to make something cheap and simple and flog it. Adam counters that he doesn't sell cheap on his market stall, but he just wants everyone in the chain to get a good price. He believes he's the best saleswoman in Europeman in the whole process and the best negotiator, and is therefore totally ready to go into business with LordSirAlan. Azhar points out that for all Adam's brilliant business skills, he fucked up this entire task, and Adam responds by saying that Azhar did nothing. LordSirAlan asks Adam if he's out of his depth, and Adam says that no he's not, he's the No.1 candidate (more like the NO1 CURR candidate, amirite?) because he knows what he's doing and doesn't need babysitting, at which point LordSirAlan mentions that Adam clearly didn't know what he was doing on this task.

Azhar says "in Adam's defence" that he relies heavily upon Stephen and wouldn't have made half as many bird-brained decisions if Stephen hadn't led him directly to them. Ooh, nice. LordSirAlan asks who's responsible out of these three, and Adam says it's Katie because of the football pitch thing. Katie splutters that he made that decision without her being there, and Adam changes tack, saying that Katie disappeared on day two when they needed people bringing in to be sold to, and Katie protests that that's where she was: bringing people to their location. Adam claims that Azhar and Stephen both brought plenty of people down, but Katie did nothing. Hang on, so now Azhar worked hard and Katie did nothing? Is there no internal consistency to Adam's argument here? Katie calls Adam's integrity into question, and says that Adam only listens to what he wants to listen to so she had trouble communicating with him. LordSirAlan asks what precisely she was trying to communicate, since the football pitch, the Grassmarket location and the brand name were all things that she was in some way involved in. LordSirAlan thinks she's not getting it, and asks Azhar why he should stay. Azhar says that he's a self-starter who began a business with his £2.5k redundancy package and grew it successfully and he works 365 days a year. LordSirAlan poses the same question to Adam, who says that he would be "perfect" as a business partner, leading LordSirAlan to snort that these are "simple words" and he wants more than that. Adam says he's done as well as he can, and he's here to do even better, and he wants the opportunity to show it. Katie feels she's been scapegoated, because she was in the boardroom in the first week (and again in the third when she lost as PM), but she's been working hard ever since then to be a crucial contributor to every task. She says she's got a lot to offer and more to give.

Time for LordSirAlan to make his final decision. Azhar doesn't speak up enough, but came out of his shell in the boardroom and what he said makes a fair bit of sense. Adam is an enthusiastic person, but he made several big errors on this task, not the least of which was allowing other people to drag him down. Katie gave Adam some poor information, and while you could argue that's his fault for listening to her, ultimately it was still a big flaw that led to the team's ultimate failure. Katie tries to protest, but LordSirAlan is having none of it, and while it looks like he's considering firing Adam for a moment or two, he wants to give him one more chance. DEAR GOD WHY? So, of course, it's third time unlucky for Katie, and she is fired, making this six weeks in a row that the losing project manager hasn't been fired. This is some through the looking glass shit right here.

LordSirAlan tells Adam he only just got away with that one, and sends Adam and Azhar back to the house. Katie wishes them both luck, and departs. Coatwatch: dark, calf-length, belted accessorised with nifty pink scarf. In her taxinterview, Katie says she feels absolutely robbed and that Adam should've been fired, but the decision's been made, so she'll just have to go off and make a lot of money for herself instead of for LordSirAlan. I had no idea the assassination industry was so lucrative; I'm clearly in the wrong job.

Back at the house, Tom is telling the others how he was fighting the gourmet corner, as Nick and Adam return to whoops and applause. Azhar tells them all that Adam was close to being booted, and Adam claims that Azhar got a warning as well, even though, as Azhar points out, his warning amounted to "you speak up well, continue doing that."

Next week: it's the replenish-stock-according-to-demand task again [cos that worked soooo well last year - Rad], this time in Essex. Helen will be recapping that one for you, so don't forget to join her!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Gym'll... Fix it?

Episode Five April 18 2012 

Previously on The Apprentice… A load of old rubbish (literally). Sterling lost yet again, despite Phoenix being a bunch of tossers, and Jane was fired because LordSralanSugarSir didn’t really like her much or something (and because she kind of sucked at the sales side of things, even though Gabrielle went into near-Rachel levels of artistic meltdown and painted everything with wonky Union Flags).

6.15 at Apprentice Mansions and Gabrielle answers the phone, wearing a blue dress. Jenna also appears fully dressed. This is why this series sucks. Not enough answering the phone in pyjamas/pants. They’re told they’ll be meeting LordSrAlanSugar at York Hall in twenty minutes. Gabrielle goes into the men’s bedroom (or should we say boys’, given the bright coloured bedding and the bunk-beds?) to wake them and tell them they’d better be up for school in the next five minutes or she’ll be pulling their duvets off them and they’ll have to make their own damn porridge, and as a punishment it will have to be the proper stuff, not even Ready Brek. Steven sleeps in a nose strip. Does that mean he’s a snorer? Nick2 sleeps without a top on, but that’s no good if he’s not going to get up and answer the phone in his pants. Tease. They try to figure out if York Hall is in Yorkshire and say it could be ‘Your Call’ calling centre. They are apparently all still in bed, despite Gabrielle and Jenna being in full srsbsns garb. I call shenanigans.

 In the cabs, Blonde Assassin grins that all the girls are going BECAUSE SHE HAS ASSASSINATED THEM ALL. Ricky Martin does some great foreshadowing by claiming they’ll send one of Phoenix home. Jenna’s face is all YEAHRIGHTLOL. Hee.

York Hall is, apparently, a ‘venue for world-class boxing, sport and leisure’. But so is any local pub with a Sky Sports subscription, surely? Hardly an exciting claim to fame. Hilariously, it’s a bixing ring like that rubbish one the Moons and Brannings ran for about a week in EastEnders before it disappeared into whatever black hole Peter Beale and Louise Mitchell fell into. The voiceover tells us York Hall has been ‘keeping Cockneys fit for almost 100 years’. LOL because all Cockneys are bruisers. It makes me laugh that there are all these venues for ver ‘lympics and yet they couldn’t even let them in for one lousy briefing session and so they had to make do with this.

Anyway, this year’s tenuous link to the task? There are some new-fangled fitness thingies that make money, apparently, and SralanLordSugar would like a piece of that should his and INVENTOR Tom’s curvy nail file EXCLUSIVELY SOLD IN SAINSBURY’S BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE EVERYONE BUYS THEIR NAIL FILES, RIGHT, THE LADIES? bizness fall to pieces. So they have to make up a random fitness trend and then license it. No word on if the class has to actually work, or be safe, or any of that nonsense. But then, quality control has never been an issue on this show, except when a posho buys cheese from Makro, of course.

The voiceover tells us that licensing classes can mean lots of money and the teams have two days to develop new concepts. Sterling sit around on gym balls in some sort of contemporary-looking gym and Stephen pushes himself to be PM. He apparently works in health clubs anyway, which would normally be the kiss of death. However, Phoenix are sitting around near the grotty boxing ring which is like sending them to loser café before the task’s even begun so we already know how this is going. Ricky Martin offers to ‘throw his hat in the ring’. I have no idea whether he’s using that metaphor deliberately or not for the setting – if so, kudos to him, although I suspect it’s unlikely an Apprentice candidate will ever have that much awareness. He says that everyone has different things they like in terms of exercise, so that’ll help. Erm? Jenna, perhaps buoyed by this ‘all exercise is valid’ message, gets excitable and offers to be PM because she rides horses. Ricky Martin then gets all aggressive and says ‘yeah but I go to the gym and this is my kind of sport so I’m doing it’. All sports are equal, but some are more equal than others.

We then get a VT of Ricky Martin reminding us he’s a wrestler and lies that people call him ‘The Fitness’ rather than ‘La Vida Loca’ or something, which you know is what he’s really called, at least behind his back. Ricky Martin’s creative strategy? Look at the trends and pick a new one. That’s why he’s the heavyweight bizness champion of the world, right there. He then talks about popular classes: martial arts, Zumba, body combat, Weight Watchers, Brownies and that weird one where pregnant women huff and puff, whilst their husbands look vaguely terrified, whatever that is.

Laura suggests mixing street dancing with kick boxing and Ricky Martin says they should go for that. He asks if anyone has a dance background, and Laura says she used to be a dancer. Whether this means professionally or that she did ballet, tap and modern (whatever that was) when she was in primary school is unclear.

Back with team Phoenix, and Steven says in his job he deals with gym memberships. So he’s basically this guy. He says that classes sometimes have 90-100 people in them. In that first week of January. By March it’s about ten people. On a good week. He argues that the fitness people will be wanting something unique. Wow. Adam suggests skipping and babbles on a bit. Dear this series: stop trying to make Adam be the new StuBaggs. Adam has no ponies. He probably doesn’t even have a couple of clapped out donkeys he got cheap from someone in Margate who didn’t want to run his business there now it’s all gay and that. Blonde Assassin suggests speed dating, which is an idea she has clearly pinched from Jade on Neighbours.

In the end, Stephen decides on an 80s workout because he is nostalgic for those days when he was a young man and the Miami Vice look was in, and did you know, he had one of the first mobile phones, when they cost serious money. He almost gave himself a hernia carrying that thing about. Such larks! (His biography says he’s 33, but I’m 32 and he looks old enough to be my dad. Well, not my actual dad, because he’s 80, but a man who could have fathered me, so I think it’s very much aa “33”. Probably picked his age because it’s a bit like 33 and a third RPM and he does miss the days of vinyl LPs).

They go to some disco bar to find some dancers. Adam asks them if they’ve ever skipped and says ‘you love it, OK’ in a manner that is. Well, vaguely creepy. In fact I’m… kind of concerned by his obsession with skipping… but I’m going to skip over that thought. They make the dancers hula hoop for a bit and play about with space hoppers. They say it’s an 80s theme, but I’d say disco, hula hoops and space hoppers were more 70s, surely? I mean, I remember space hoppers and disco lights from the 1980s, but only in the same way you’d remember the mobile phone and the computer from the 2010s. If the ‘I Love...’ programmes have taught me anything, it’s that these things are as 1970s in their origins as Vesta Curries and Brown and Orange wallpaper. Both of which I again remember from the 1980s, but I lived in Grimsby back then, which is always behind the times. They’ve probably only just heard about this hot new website called Friends Reunited over there and wondering whether Darius will make the Popstars group.

Anyway, apropos of nothing, except perhaps trying to locate the correct decade, the dancers make Adam and Stephen do the Thriller dance. I had really hoped that the Apprenti themselves would be doing all the routines, but no. It makes little sense to have Apprenti being the leaders of the groups and people who are actually probably genuinely fit as the ‘participants’ – surely the other way round would be more logical. Or an all-or-nothing approach. Oh, like any task on this show makes sense.

Sterling are doing martial arts dancing, which does sound exactly like the kind of nonsense gyms will shill. Ricky Martin’s sub team go and watch some boxing and both he and Jenna are all ‘wurgh, boxing’, whilst Nick2 asks some street dancers to teach him something they’d teach their grandma. They do the ‘New Jack Swing’ (which I always thought was a style of music popular in, ironically enough, the 1980s). Anyway, much kudos to anyone’s grandma who can do the move they then demonstrate here. Nick2 VTs that it was called ‘swing jack something’ and comes across like a bit of a dick, which is a shame, because up until now he’d seemed relatively inoffensive. The process is ageing him, too. I swear he used to be a baby face, and now he looks old enough to be Stephen’s son or something.

The dancers then show him some moves that look suspiciously like the Carlton dance. I suspect they’re not taking it seriously. Gabrielle comes up with the name Beat Battle and the team have ‘fitness expert’ Lindsay working with them whose job is basically to do not very much whilst Laura makes a routine that seems to consist of her bogling a bit. The other team babble about the word retro a lot and Tom annoyingly makes a salient point when he says they should probably use existing gym equipment rather than make gyms buy space hoppers and hula hoops. Stephen says ‘this is what we’re doing, so tough’. They decide on the very 70s sounding name ‘Groove Train’ and Stephen demonstrates the moves to his ‘fitness expert’ by bouncing on a hopper and wiggling his hips a lot with a sleazy look on his face. Stephen: What? Why are they all looking at me like that? That move went down a treat with the ladies in the local Ritzy back in 197… EIGHTY SOMETHING. IN THE EIGHTIES WHEN I WAS YOUNG, NOT THE SEVENTIES WHEN OLD PEOPLE WERE AROUND. OLD PEOPLE WHICH I AM NOT. AND GROOVE TRAIN IS A COOL NAME BECAUSE THE NAME SOUNDS A BIT LIKE THAT NEW CUT FROM HIP YOUNG GROOVESTERS THE FARM.

Phoenix are now in the boxing ring where they’re discussing the video. Adam babbles on about ‘80s moves’ and Jade puts on the patronising voice that the classroom assistant reserves especially for certain children saying he should do it because he knows it. She’s such a bitch but in a sneaky way. Love it. [Jade's stealthbitching should be up for an award. It's a thing of beauty - Helen] Adam then gets their dancer and demonstrates some moves like squatting and climbing a ladder (the dancer tries to turn this into a punch move and Adam shouts him down) and the most static ‘Thriller’ move you’ve ever seen, which he calls ‘the claw’ (somewhere, Diana Vickers is planning to sue him for copyright infringement). We intercut VTs of him saying he’s the only one doing anything whilst Jade pisses herself laughing. Are we sure he’s not a plant? Some sort of ‘emerging’ (i.e. rubbish) comedian who thinks infiltrating The Apprentice will be a great lark? Over at Sterling, Nick2, Laura and Duane are tasked with video making and Duane says he’ll take charge because he’s done it before. They go to some studio space and Duane runs around making little square ‘cameras’ with his hands because that’s what video professionals do. He briefs the dancers on their moves making a ‘wanker’ motion. Oh dear. The 80s-but-possibly-actually-70s night club. Azhar’s been given some short shorts so people can perv over him, although his legs aren’t really up to the standard of his chest. He reads out the blurb on the video saying ‘do you want to burn up to 300 calories’. Loving the ‘up to’. And also? 300 calories isn’t all that for a work-out now, is it?

Azhar whines a bit to camera about being objectified, but he has no personality on this show as yet. [But oh my, the pecs - Helen] Azhar and Jade have a chat to try and get things done and leave Adam out because he’s crap and Adam whines that he is the choreographer (I can't wait for his inevitable Twitter wars with Arlene Philips). He and Jade bitch about each other to camera.

Over at team Sterling, Laura tells Duane that on a workout DVD, the instructor usually faces the camera, but he wants her to face the participants, because that’s realism and he’s trying to work in the spirit of Dogme. He then gets shirty with both her and Nick2 for trying to interrupt him with their silly ideas when he’s working on his craft.

The other sub-team mock up a poster and work out costs in about two seconds flat so clearly neither of those are going to be important facets in their inevitable loss. Ricky Martin practices pitches and foreshadowterviews that they’re all getting on – cut to the video sub-team bickering in the cab. Duane whines that if Laura has an opinion she should have volunteered to direct it, never mind that he said he was doing it, no discussion, and she says team members should be allowed to have opinions. Nick2 says they should all shake hands. Duane says ‘let’s not force it’. God, his loser face when someone else wins that Best Director Oscar is going to be a picture, isn’t it?  Nick2's then all 'so what shall we talk about?' and cracks up, so I like him again.

With team Phoenix, Adam and Jade have arguments over the camera angles, and Adam whineterviews that she’s not creative like what he is and also has he mentioned skipping?

The final day and the teams have to pitch their classes to gym chains. The team who makes the most money from licenses will win. They pitch to Virgin Active first and the Beat Battle video looks like, erm, aerobics. But to be fair, we don’t get to see much of it. Laura is pretty decent as a presenter on it though. Ricky Martin gives a slightly patronising but competent pitch. They say it looks like boxercise and he says ‘no no no, we use more elbows in ours’. Insert ‘being given the…’ pun here. Stephen and co visit Fitness First (the biggest chain). Azhar doesn’t really have the same charisma as Laura. Their video involves a bit of breakdancing and hula hooping and doesn’t look very athletic. The chief Fitness First lady, who’s a bit of an ice queen is all ‘looks like you had fun making that video’ with a stern face on. BURN. She says they can run functional classes for more people with less kit and her colleague points out that they have nowhere to keep the kit. Stephen frets that a woman was scary and that these terrible modern ladies don’t just fall for smooth talk and a Campari and tab. But then, she’s probably a feminist or something. And anyway, he babbles, gym balls are probably just the same as space hoppers. Except that bit where they totally aren’t.

At Sterling’s next pitch, Laura (in gym gear) demonstrates some of the moves and one of the men on the panel pervs all over her. Classy. Duane (in suit), also gets a turn because the perving should also be for the ladies and the gay guys. He then demonstrates the ‘super punch’ and gets it wrong. The guy who perved over Laura’s all ‘we should buy this (and then I can take the DVD home for my own, erm, private exercises)’.

Stephen’s team are still flummoxing the gyms with their equipment and he decides that the skipping ropes will cost like 50p or something or whatever this new-fangled metric system works out at. Karren VTs that he’s just making it up. In contrast, Ricky Martin’s pitch is shown to be pretty competent. Stephen’s next pitch shows him fucking up hula-hooping. This would be shaping up to be a SHOCK WIN for the crap team were that not an entirely standard Apprentice plot and therefore there's nothing shocking about it.

Also: All of this lacks a Duncan Bannatyne sitting there and grouching that he’s out. I am not complaining that this is missing, mind you. Incidentally – anyone think Dragon’s Den will be after The Voice’s chairs for their next series? Theo would be the Him from the Script of the Den, of course, only going if Deborah hits her button too.

Boardroom time. SralanLordSugar lies that the point was to come up with something special. Ricky Martin explains their strategy and says they would end up with ‘something like a punch up in the disco’ – no, that’s the other team. They focus on the video and Duane’s role in it. Could this be an important plot point, do we think? We then see the video. One of the dancers is totally out of time with the others, which is unintentionally hilarious. Ricky Martin says Fitness First and Pure Gym loved them.

Speaking of Pure Gym, who on earth would want to join that place? If the one in Sheffield is anything to go by, it’s stocked with only the most boring gym machines (treadmills and cross-trainers – not even the decency to have one of those Power Plate thingies the gyms all bought a few years ago that no-one can work, not since the one person who went on a training course on it in 2007 left) crammed next to each other, right against full clear glass windows, situated on one of the main ring roads around the city centre so everyone can see you, and the whole lot is caked in fluorescent light, to make your skin look terrible. There’s usually some lone nutter in there at one in the morning on a Saturday, which is surely even worse because then you can see everyone else in the world, with their friends, being drunk, and it must only serve to remind you that you are prolonging your sad life through exercise for what purpose? You’ll end up alone, with nothing but fitness DVDs featuring the likes of Laura/Azhar to wank to as you cry bitter tears into your Powerade and try to convince yourself it’s like a cocktail, BUT MUCH MORE FUN.

Over with Phoenix and Stephen says the word retro a few times, whilst Jade and Adam bitch about each other some more. Team Sterling try to piss themselves laughing at the video, whilst wearing the expressions of death that every single team whose advert is better yet will lose the task wear. Azhar looks kind of embarrassed. SralanLordSugar asks if this thing is in at the moment. Stephen confirms that it is, and there’s this great new flick coming out with John Travlota called Saturday Night Fever. You should check it out, apparently it’s a bit racy. (Side note: nostalgia’s always big business, but the 70s and 80s revivals have happened and are kind pretty much over now, save the hen do circuit. Although there are tinges of a 90s one here and there I don’t think that will fully emerge for another five years or so. Although a 90s workout DVD would have been pretty LOLarious). [Flick your Cobain fringe! Throw the Pog! Go slowly down the hall, faster than a cannonball! etc. - Helen]

SralanLordSugar tells Stephen his figures were a bit rubbish given he was giving away products with the licence. Sralan makes a terrible pounds/pounds joke and points out that if he has to buy equipment he’ll be losing him money (spoiler – no1curr what the costs are, only the number of orders). Figures time. Fitness First don’t want to buy Beat Battle but will pay £5K to develop it. They hated the Groove Train. Pure Gym would take a three-month trial basis of Beat Battle at all 22 gyms for £45 a month. No idea where, there isn’t room at our Pure Gym to swing a, well, punch. Unless it’s a new strategy for fighting to get on the treadmill. They didn’t want the Groove Train. Virgin don’t want Beat Battle. They didn’t like Groove Train either… for the target market, but liked it for the family market, ‘mum can go with child’. So, erm, nothing at all to do with the video or the exercises. They order a 6-month trial at £17.50 a month but have 122 clubs so Phoenix win, except they do so essentially by accident.  SralanLordSugar pretends they were lucky to have ‘someone in the business’ rather than it being a fluke. Still, their prize is a spa, which is much nicer than the other prizes they’ve had of late.

Loser café. Gabrielle gives epic loser face of doom. Ricky says the product wasn’t good enough. Everyone says they’re gutted because they thought they were good and Ricky was a good PM. Duane desperateterviews that ‘the video was good, don’t blame the video’. In the boardroom, SralanLordSugar says the gyms thought their idea was a bit too similar to other things on the market and the martial arts wasn’t clear enough. Ricky Martin says the DVD didn’t have enough knees and elbows (but they were good with the heads, shoulders and toes.  And eyes and ears and mouth and nose.)  Duane says they said they’d put dance in. Ricky Martin says it wasn’t enough of a 'beat battle', like anyone even knows what that is. Jade tries to pin this on Laura with lots of ‘I’m not having a go at you but…s’. Nick2 says the video did show all the moves. Ricky Martin says it cut out the combat. Nobody even got a black eye or a bloody nose or nothing. Karren says their video is a bit boring. Ricky Martin says the other team’s video was cheesy. Sralan’s like ‘yeah but people bought it’. Ricky decides to bring back Laura for ‘the dilution of the combat’ and Duane for the video being a bit crap.

And so it comes to our first (vaguely) semi-competent bottom three of the series, and thus the inevitable first ‘shock boot’. Last time I was here, I wagered Ricky Martin would be that shock boot, so let’s see if I’m right. Nick and Sralan debate the video. Nick says that Ricky Martin, Duane and Laura were all pretty good at what they did even if the end product wasn’t that good. Sralan’s all ‘why bring in people who seem vaguely competent and who actually do stuff? If you’d brought Jenna in here I would have fired her on the spot. And probably Nick2 as well, because that’d end this series’ stupid Nick confusion once and for all’. Ricky Martin agrees but says Laura danced too much and didn’t beat enough people up. Laura says she did what she was told. Duane says Laura shouldn’t actually be fired as Ricky put the moves together. Ricky Martin and Duane argue a bit. Duane pulls the ‘I’m a rough diamond’ trick, except he really isn’t a rough diamond kind of candidate at all. Ricky Martin whines that Duane gets too emotional. Ricky Martin says he delegated well so he shouldn’t be fired. Duane and Ricky Martin think each other should be fired. 

SralanLordSugar reminds Laura she’s been in the bottom two twice but he doesn’t know why she’s back and also he can’t keep firing all the women, even if they are a bladdy shambles, so it needs to be a man that goes this week. Ricky Martin gets a very vague fire tease, but the video was a bit ropey. So Duane goes, leaving Ricky Martin to flame-out at interviews instead. SralanLordSugar tells Ricky Martin that Nick and Karren have given him ‘reasonable reports’ on his performance to date. Talk about damnig with faint praise.

Coatwatch: long, stylish, but still black. Bah. Duane’s cabterview is so boring (‘you’ve not seen the best of me yet’ etc).

Back at the Apprenti mansions and Nick2 says Ricky was a good PM and didn’t deserve to be fired. No-one seems surprised at who returns.

Next week: More terrible food because this show has no ideas anymore! But also: The Scotland! I can’t wait to see how my two fellow Bitchers, both of whom have some of that there Scots in their background, will react…

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Upcycle killer, qu'est-ce que c'est?

Week 4 – 11th April 2012

Last week – Condiments. I said condiments. Everyone gets saucy. Duane’s chutney didn’t bring anyone to the yard; the boys’ sauce didn’t fare too well either. The chutney won through and the Blonde Assassin is clearly playing the long game by being on the losing team three weeks in a row. But in the end, no matter how barra boy he got, Michael couldn’t save himself so he got the teeny tiny elbow. Seriously, how miniature are the SugarLord’s limbs? I’m getting a teeny bit obsessed with them now.

So who out of the remaining twelve will get to be his business partner? There’s only one way to find out... No, not a fight, silly. Through several more weeks of pointless tasks. Yay!

Aerial shot of the ApprentiMansions in Bayswater. Everyone’s got a morning off. What would you do on a morning off when all other mornings have started with a 5am phone call? Well you’re wrong because clearly the correct answer is to play a game of ping pong. Badly.

Everyone’s in mufti. It’s fascinating to see their real life clothes. Azhar is surprisingly buff. Who knew? The phone rings and LordAlan wants everyone to meet him at the old cinema in Chiswick in 30 minutes. Everyone rushes to get ready. OH HAI Azhar’s pecs. [Indeed, hello there. - Steve] Everyone speculates as to what the task might be. Bless them for thinking that the location has any bearing on what’s going to happen next. RickyMartin gets changed behind a modesty towel. I don’t think they let him wrestle like that.

Everyone files into the ApprentiCars. Everyone is wearing a surprising amount of red. RickyMartin, the Blonde Assassin and Tom sit in the back of their car and lament that even though the other team won; they’re not even taking things that seriously or anything. The Blonde Assassin wants to bring Duane and Nick back down to earth. Over in the other car, Nick of the Bieber hair, Duane and Jade decide that those who have been fired so far aren’t pulling their weight. Duane wants to see these shirkers get exposed and Jane whips her head round like she’s been slapped.

The cars arrive in Chiswick and everyone files out into a converted cinema packed with vintage furniture and “high end” second hand goods. Nick of the Hair looks at home. Karren has thoughtfully worn red to fit in with everyone else. It becomes apparent that Sterling have come in Red and Phoenix have come in blue. Aww, how sweet [although shouldn't it be the other way round with the whole Phoenix/fire thing? - Rad].

Lordalan wishes everyone a good afternoon and explains that “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” and cites car boot sales and charity shops as examples. Alan reckons you can make money by taking everyone else’s rubbish and selling it on. This is their task this week. He’s laid on a shop in the EAST END of London where they all buy this crap. [And then wear it. All of it. At once. - Steve] RickyMartin is sent over to Sterling and Jade is sent over to Phoenix. Now everyone’s colours are mixed up! This is literally the worst thing to ever happen to anyone ever.

Alan explains for the hard of thinking that the team that makes the most amount of profit will win and someone will be fired off the losing team. He’ll see them back in the boardroom soon.

The voiceover man explains that the second hand market is worth TWO BILLION a year. That’s a lot of Top of the Pops LPs. From genuine antiques to recycled products there’s profit in pre owned goods. Everyone rushes around the shop with notepads to find out what tat is gold. The voice over man explains the term UpCycling, which is taking second hand goods and refurbishing them I think, but it’s not especially clear, is worth big bucks. Jenna helpfully explains that upcycling is taking a bin and funking it up to be a funky bin [So, er, Change That? You know, that BBC daytime thing that was like Changing Rooms without the actual room bit, where Linda Barker and co made over a piece of furniture with a couple of stencils. Oh, the nineties - Rad]. Jane gives this the look it deserves. Both teams have a grand and two days to source and sell their stock.

Duane puts himself forward for PM, because it’s a selling task and all they have to do is apply logic to win. Jane looks uncomfortable. Laura contests this, because she has set up her own retail unit. Duane puts it to the world’s most uncomfortable vote, where nobody votes for him. Laura wins the Poisoned Chalice! YAY LAURA!

Laura then goes all BIZNIZ SAMANTHA BRICK by explaining how hard it is to be an attractive business woman, but nobody should be fooled by her lovely looks because she has been described as a Rottweiler in the past.

Over on team Phoenix, Tom explains that Hipsters can be judgemental. He’s the PM this time. Tom explains that he’s ONLY 23 but that’s not the most special thing about him [Fuck off - Alex Wotherspoon]. No, that’s the fact that he’s a well rounded individual. He explains the folly of going into a situation expecting to agree with everyone, but it’s how you deal with them that counts. I’ve watched this segment three times now and it still makes no sense to me.

Adam wants to know the strategy. The answer to this is “Well, we have a thousand pounds”. The blonde assassin wants to buy five items and make a killing (DO YOU SEE WHAT SHE DID THERE ETC.). Tom agrees that they don’t want to buy too much and not be able to sell it. Adam looks more confused than usual. He interviews that the strategy is WRONG and they don’t want an empty shop. [To be fair, SralanLordSugar is so contrary that some years spending all the money would be important and other years less so. Remember the catastrophe of the 'buy a load of nodding dogs' task last year? - Rad]

Over on the red team, RickyMartin explains that they need to be cost conscious. NO SHIT SHERLOCK. They’re focusing on turning trash into treasure. RickyMartin wants to buy crap and make it stylish. Everyone agrees with him. Gabrielle wants to tart up some junk. She’s done it before, allegedly. She mentions putting Union Jacks on stuff. Jenna agrees that this is in. Laura puts Gabrielle in charge of being creative.

PMs picked and plans in place, everyone heads back to the house. Through the magic of television it’s now morning again and we’re inside the house counting money. Everyone’s in their own clothes and it’s no less odd. Jane is wearing a rather fetching hat and is told by Laura to use her money to pick up additional stuff for tarting stuff up, like buttons. The shops will open for business tomorrow. Tom sets a limit for the number of things his team can buy, and only gives them £200. He wants them to be selective. Laura begs the rest of Sterling to keep in touch. We’ll see.

Over on team Phoenix, the Blonde Assassin is bitching AGAIN. This time it’s about Tom’s strategy. Adam joins in by saying that their good negotiators, but they’re not miracle workers. Steven sensibly keeps quiet, presumably concentrating on not blinking. They’re off to an auction in Greenwich to buy some tat. They fear that it’s a bit expensive for them. Nick Hewer can hold his silence no longer and lists their “Mortal Sins”
  1. They didn’t argue about their teeny budget
  2. They take this teeny budget to an auction
  3. They only buy three things.
Adam then gets desperate and starts raking in the bins. Nick Hewer and his excellent sunglasses are AGHAST. They get some stuff from the bins and throw it in the van.

Laura, RickyMartin and Duane are in Tooting looking for stuff they can add value to. [I used to live just down the road from Tooting; I suspect they're wasting their time. - Steve] They look at a trunk and what seems to be a horse’s head but turns out to be a pouffe. They want to reupholster it. Can you hear me laughing? Because I am. RickyMartin then pulls the leg off of a table. RICKYMARTIN STRONG. RICKYMARTIN GO BREAK. The shop owner isn’t impressed. They buy some suitcases, a table and a stool. The shopkeeper openly laughs at them. Laura remarks that it’s a lot of stuff, but she likes all of it.

Meanwhile Tom, Azhar and Jade are buying tat at a car boot sale. Tom gives us the sum of his business knowledge, which is that it’s important not just to buy any old rubbish. That is undoubtedly the kind of business acumen LordAlan is looking for. The team argue over a mirror. Jade thinks it’s important to fill the shop. Nick explains that they need to find the right thing to take to “The young trendy with the gelled hair” [Isn't that whatsisface who was Amy Winehouse's friend from The Voice? - Rad]. Oh Nick. He remarks that they’re only buying a few bits and pieces and worries that the shop will be empty. Jade wants to buy a screen and put records in it, but breaks it and weakly apologises for doing so before running away.

We are introduced to Brick Lane, where the shop is going to be. There’s lots of vintage and retro retail, plus lots of cool companies. Everyone arrives at the shops with their stuff. Laura explains to Sterling again that they’re going to have to do some tarting up, and asks her team to paint some Shabby Chic. Everyone says “Shabby Chic” a lot [It really is '90s interiors revival week, isn't it? - Rad]. Laura explains that she’s going to be upcyling her stuff, which means tarting up junk to make it attractive to somebody else. Gabrielle outlines her creative plan, which is about creating a brand [which will be active for precisely one day. *golf clap* - Steve] Jenna orders some fabric whilst everyone looks bemused. Karren points out that upcycling requires skill and time and materials which cost money. She tells this to the camera though, not the flailing team who could certainly use this being pointed out to them.

Meanwhile Phoenix are having a look at their shop. Tom points out that the size of it looks quite big. Thanks for that, Tom! That’s some brilliant insight there. He’s worried that they won’t have enough stock. Jade literally tears her hair out about this.

Adam, the Blonde Assassin and Steven are still in junk shops in South London. They assemble some junk and knock it down. Even the man in the Junk shop is confused as to their purchases. Steven then claims that he’s got all the best stuff from the shop and the man who makes his living from doing this stuff is very wrong. Oh dear. He still hasn’t blinked yet.

Duane, Laura and RickyMartin are rooting around someone’s house for tat. Duane remarks on the smell and they raid the house. Duane can’t imagine buying any of it, but it’s all free and he’s not going to look a gift horse in the eye. IN THE EYE. [It's clearly a very untrustworthy gift horse. - Steve] Laura hopes the other team have done some impressive stuff. Oh yes, they have. They’ve put some legs on a suitcase [Terry Pratchett should sue - Steve] and a box on a ladder. Nick’s not sure the stuff is any better. It’s not, Nick.

Cut to Phoenix and Tom is arranging the look of his shop. The Blonde Assassin helps by standing beside him. I don’t know if she’s planning a kill, I can’t see her face. Tom is wondering what things look best next to each other. In order to fit in with the hipster vibe, he’s rolled up the sleeves of his t-shirt and done his hair in a little quiff. He looks very sweet but one step away from a drawn on moustache. The blonde assassin has put some gloves on to move a chair [I don't blame her. Splinters were a huge source of childhood trauma for me. I swear mothers get pleasure out of jabbing you with needles to try and get them out - Rad]. Adam just looks bemused and is worried they don’t have enough stuff. Stephen does that thing where everyone else is busy and you don’t know what to do so you just walk round touching things a bit. Tom just strokes the moustache he hasn’t had time to grow.

Over with Sterling, Jane is sanding something and Gabrielle is writing “Vintage Gold” on something. Sterling are working very hard at sprucing up their stuff. Nick just walks around with his hair telling people what to do, which seems to be mainly about painting things red. I. CAN’T. DO THIS BY MYSELF etc. Karren thinks their desire to spruce everything up will take them a long time and she’s not sure if they’re actually adding any value. I wouldn’t think so, since their idea of ‘sprucing up’ seems to consist mainly of painting off-centre Union Jacks on things.

RickyMartin doesn’t like the Union Jacks though. Neither does Duane. “It looks like I painted it, and I can’t paint” he says wisely. RickyMartin doesn’t think that it’s very imaginative. Gabrielle spouts something about it being a signature on all their products. Duane replies that he doesn’t get it, and if he doesn’t get it, why would anyone else. Gabrielle thinks Union Jacks are a retro thing and they work well. Yes, they’re so retro. We’re never going to see any Union Jacks this summer what with the Olympics and the Jubilee. They’re very firmly in the past. Some hipsters eat some chips outside the shop. [And burn their mouths, because they were eating chips before they were cool. Sorry. - Steve]

Through the magic of television, it’s morning again. It’s 7.30 am and the teams have ten hours to make some cash. BIZNIZ SAMANTHA BRICK does her hair in the mirror. Azhar and his pecs walk up the stairs. Fascinating television, this. Upstairs seems more interesting. Duane is watching Stephen get dressed. Duane rubs his face and says he’s going to wear something old today to fit in with the vintage vibe. Stephen thinks clothes may be an issue and is trying to look as hip as he can by wearing a cardigan. That’s why Tom is wearing Skinny jeans, stripy socks, brogues and a shirt which is buttoned up to the top which is trying to be hipster but gives the overall impression of Olly Murs. [To be fair, Olly Murs is a bellend, and hipsters are also bellends, so he's not a million miles away... - Steve] Nick NotHewer has put some extra product in his hair for the occasion.

In the cars, BIZNIZ SAMANTHA BRICK tells everyone that her only concern is people not liking what they’ve done. Come on! Everyone wants a suitcase with legs. You can draw some eyes on it and pretend you’re in Beauty and the Beast. To think of it, there really needs to be some antlers in their decorating. Jenna looks frightened. Gabrielle cautiously says that she’s more confident about the upcycled stuff than the plain stuff, because Union Jacks are IN.

Team Sterling arrive and NickHair jokes that the stuff has been mixed up overnight. No silly, that’s how you left it. Their shop Vintage Gold and their rubbish is in two sections – Shabby chic and Union Jack. Talk about the devil and the deep blue sea. Laura is concerned about a pile of rubbish. Sorry! Not rubbish. Resale items.

Team Phoenix arrive at their shop. Tom, who I’ve decided looks a bit more Will Young than Olly Murs, makes some tweaks to his empty minimal shop. These tweaks consist mainly of moving things a couple of inches right or left. Their shop is called Retro Station. He’s written it on a blackboard in pretty pink chalk. Their first customer arrives and the Blonde Assassin is waiting to pounce on them. Tom shows some people a hole punch. BIZNIZ SUCCESS! Someone buys a clock for eight pounds.
Outside, the film crew have found someone with ACTUAL HIPSTER GLASSES to interview. She’s also American which is DOUBLE POINTS. She liked the shop and liked that it didn’t have too much stuff in it and thought it was special.

Vintage Gold isn’t doing too well though. They’re not even open yet and are scattering leaves on the floor to give the shop character, much to Karren and the viewing public’s amusement. Laura and Gabrielle price a chair at £140 pounds. It’s not even a good chair. A badly painted wicker chair is priced at £120. Nick and his hair go outside to whip up some custom. He promises them some good antiques. He’s a liar.

Retro Station are still selling well, but stock is running low. Nick Hewer helpfully points out that there is a difference between minimalism and emptiness and thinks they need more stock. The Blonde Assassin wonders this out loud whilst Tom fondles his imaginary moustache again.

Nick NotHewer is still trying to drag people in to Vintage Gold with very minimal success. Someone in shorts and a shell suit jacket wanders in. Quick! Target market! Jenna is sent to deal with them. Duane talks to other customers, helpfully pointing out which are the big chairs and which are the small chairs. Gabrielle is still trying to sell her Union Jack stuff. Someone else is marvelling at Big Chair, Little Chair. Jane is forcefully trying to sell the badly painted wicker chair. She points out their stuff is a hard sell. That’s because it’s mostly shit. She’s finding she has to be quite pushy. Jane’s sales technique is making Karren uncomfortable because she’s being ‘quite’ pushy and aggressive with the customers. She tries to sell stuff to people until someone actually shouts “NO” in her face.

Midday at Retro Station and Tom interviews that everything is going well so far. This is backed up by lots of shots of money changing hands. He’s worried that they won’t have enough stock for the rest of the day. So, Stephen, Jade and Adam are despatched to a car boot sale to see what else they can pick up for the shop. Adam picks up some old cameras, Stephen a tea set and they all pick up some ash trays which the seller practically gives to them to make them go away [that bit made me laugh so hard - Rad].

Vintage Gold are having no such luck though. Nick Hair is trying to sell a Union Jack chair which people are actively going out of their way to avoid. Their shop is still full. Laura has made some leaflets and sends out Jane, Duane and RickyMartin to give them to people in the hope of getting them into their shop to buy some badly painted Union Jack chairs. It works, and they begin to sell. They even get a man in a leopard skin jumpsuit. HIPSTER GOLD. Laura is excited that people are walking in, buying stuff then walking out again. Yes Laura, that’s how a shop works. She’s pleased her team are working hard. Gabrielle sells a suitcase with legs.

Back at Retro Station, the B team arrive with the extra stock. Nick Hewer interview that he may have sneered too soon yesterday and he admits that his knowledge of what people with no taste might want to buy is poor. Stephen rips a bag twice trying to sell something heavy. Adam, who I’ve just realised is the only one wearing a shirt and tie, tries to explain retro to a bemused looking middle aged couple.

It’s one hour before the end of the day and (SURPRISE) the Union Jack stuff isn’t doing so well. RickyMartin gloats that he knew this, seemingly not realising that it’s his team that the lack of sales affects. He thinks they need to knock down the price. Gabrielle tries to justify why she did it to someone whilst someone else interviews that stuff with flags on is silly and not even that retro and possibly even a bit tacky.

The stock needs to be got rid of, I’m taking it that stock left at the end of the day is not counted as an asset? This show can never make its mind up. Laura is begging people to PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD TAKE THE UNION JACK CHAIRS and team Retro Station have put all of their remaining stuff out on the pavement [I'm surprised they didn't chuck a few petals in some jam jars of water and try to flog it as perfume while they were at it - Rad]. Stephen and Adam run through the streets with a table for no explicable reason, Laura tries to sell some chairs for a pound and Jenna haggles with someone with directional hair and a bow tie and refuses to drop 25p off of her price. Laura tries to give someone a table for a pound even though she doesn’t want it. The sales technique descends into screaming “ONE POUND” into people’s faces. Laura applauds her team’s success as a leg falls off a suitcase table.

Again, it’s the next day and everyone is off to the board room. Laura is wearing far too much Touché Éclat. Nobody is talking. Londonporn!

Lordalan arrives and everyone wishes him a good afternoon. Lordalan thinks this task is interesting because he didn’t define the product and he’s keen to see how everyone got on. He starts with Sterling. Laura tells Lordalan that she put herself forward strongly for PM because she thought it was time that she stepped out from the crowd. Lordalan points out that she’s in the wedding dress business so she’s used to dressing things up. LOL. No. Laura manages a laugh at this, and goes on to say that retro was foreign to them but they were at an advantage because they had noted Union Jack painter Gabrielle on their team. They started by putting their ideas on the table (DRINK) and they started with Shabby Chic which they explain to Lordalan is painting stuff then sanding it down again to make it look rustic then upcycling, which was NickHair, Gabrielle and Jenna’s job. They say something about reupholstering and Lordalan looks impressed until Karren points out that it just involves material and a staple gun. Lordalan asks what the look of the shop was. Laura says they were more vintage than retro and Lordalan interrupts by saying he heard that there were a load of dead leaves on the floor and were they going for the ‘caught in a hurricane’ look. Jenna says that they did this because their customers were arty which is really no explanation at all. Lordalan asks who did most of the selling. Laura doesn’t know but thinks that everyone had a fair crack at it. Lordalan asks who got into the mood of the selling. This makes no sense so he goes on to explain that you can sell stuff like Del Boy off a stall or you can sell something in a crappy pop up retro shop way. This involves posture. Laura says she was impressed with herself, because she is the BIZNIZ SAMANTHA BRICK. Everyone agrees that she was a good team leader.

Over with Phoenix, Tom explains that he put himself forward because he thought the task sounded exciting. Lordalan asks about strategy. He said that his strategy was being really stingy when it came to buying things. He says that he wanted Jade by his side because she has a good eye for design, so why the Blonde Assassin spent all of her time glued to his side I don’t know. He got a feel for the shop and how to lay things out. He got the strongest negotiators to go out and source the products. Stephen burbles a lot of business speak that doesn’t really make sense whilst Lordalan looks at his nails. He unblinkingly goes on to tell him about his masterplan of clearing out the back room of the junk shop. Lordalan wants to know why the junk shop owner would have all the good stuff in the back. Stephen explains that it had been there for so long it had become retro. This makes Karren snort. He bought suitcases and chairs that were in. Lordalan thought that the junk shop owner must have thought he had some right idiots on his hands. If only he knew. Lordalan asks about money. Tom tells him that he only gave them £200 for stock to begin with. Alan asks if this was damage limitation and this causes Stephen to blink for the first time of the series. Adam tells on Tom and says that he did say several times that he was worried about the lack of stock, but Lordalan says that he knows that Arty Farty people like shops with one thing plonked in the middle. Adam admits that it’s not his area of expertise. Jade pipes in that they did their best with what they had. Everyone agrees that Tom was a good team leader and he’s got nothing bad to say about anyone on his team. Lordalan thinks that this is a brave statement.

The numbers!
Nick for Phoenix – They made £1,423.50 and spent £360.10 leaving a profit of £1,063.40. Tom strokes his imaginary moustache at this.
Karren for Sterling – They made £1,444.25. Karren makes a big deal about how they did better on sales but I’m not going to quibble about *maths face* £20.75. However, their outlay was £660.76 making an overall profit of £783.49.
Laura looks like she’s going to vomit. He congratulates Phoenix and tells Tom his stinginess paid off [Somewhere, Yasmina is looking upon this and smiling in approval - Rad]. Keeping in the retro spirit, they’re all off to a 1940’s retro party to learn how to swing dance. What a shit prize [but also quite a hipster-ish pastime, so fairly in keeping with the week's theme - Rad]. There’s lots of hugging outside.
Lordalan tells Sterling that although they did better on sales, they spent more. Thanks for that handy recap, Mr SirLord. He sends them off to think about what they’ve done and decide who’s fault it was.

The winners go off to a house in the countryside to wear fancy dresses and furs and drink cocktails. The swing dancers arrive and teach them. The Blonde Assassin is wearing a strapless dress for this task. I don’t think she’s thought this through. She rather drunkenly interviews that they won and that Tom wasn’t a good PM, but he was a strong PM who chose a risky strategy that paid off. Eh? Tom thinks that sometimes being young can make it difficult for people to do what he tells them to but everyone did what they were told on the task.

Over in the Loser’s cafe, NickHair thinks the issue is in the high costs and the sales not being high enough to cover that. Give that man a prize for his genius! RickyMartin thinks it’s all about the upcycled stuff being the wrong design. Laura points out that a third of the budget was spent on materials. Gabrielle is quick to jump in and say it wasn’t the fault of the materials because she was in charge of them, and thinks that some of the stock was too expensive. Laura interviews that it isn’t the stock’s fault and she’s blaming the materials.

Back in Lordalan’s office, he sends them in. He’s interested to hear their analysis of where things went wrong. Laura offers to answer this. Her main concern was the amount they spent on materials for upcycling. Lordalan wants to know who was in charge of upcycling. Laura says that this was Gabrielle. Gabrielle takes this with good grace. Karren says that they were a bit like kids in a sweet shop when it came to getting their goodies for the upcycling process, but didn’t keep track of what they spent. She rightly says that Gabrielle was just shouting stuff out and Jenna was ordering it. Gabrielle says she was just given products and told to make them look good. She thinks that it’s because they bought too much stuff that needed to be upcycled. Laura disagrees with this. I just wish everyone would stop saying upcycle. Laura talks about everything that they did and points out that it wasn’t £200 worth. It didn’t even look like 20p worth. Laura quickly sees who her fall guy is going to be and goes all guns blazing at Gabrielle saying that she didn’t think about what she was going to use, conveniently ignoring the fact that she didn’t give her a budget or even a general idea of what she should be doing. Gabrielle points this out. Laura claims she gave them £300 for the day and they went over so they obviously weren’t being careful. Jenna buts in and says she agrees they were given £300 for stock, but they were given no budget for materials. She says that they spent less originally but Laura changed her mind and wanted shabby chic. They then start bickering and tell each other not to shout. Lordalan is unimpressed at this and interrupts it by saying that Karren told him that nobody was sure what to buy and the shop was a tip. He wants to know who chose the stock. She explains that it was herself, RickyMartin and Duane. Lordalan asks if they knew their shop had 200 items to the other shop’s fifty and perhaps they messed up the theme a bit? RickyMartin says they failed because they didn’t do the market research and Gabrielle said she knew the market and the creative team took that as gospel and hipsters don’t like Union Jacks. Gabrielle just didn’t want the shop to look like a junk yard. Laura said that the Union Jacks concerned her. Gabrielle explained that a lot of responsibility was put on her shoulders and she took it and wonders what Laura took responsibility for.

Lordalan is as bored of this as me so he moves on to sales. Despite being busy behind the scenes, Gabrielle was the biggest seller of the day. Her jaw nearly drops off at this news. Then it was Jenna and Jane is at the bottom of the pile who only sold a tenners worth. Her jaw hits the floor. Lordalan says that Jane is a businesswoman and Karren interrupts that her sales technique went between desperate and aggressive. That’s a good place to be. Jane apologises for being “Over-enthusiastic” but she wanted as many people as possible in the shop.

LORDALAN IS BORED NOW, but he can’t get to where the problem lies. RickyMartin blames the creative team and that Gabrielle misjudged the market and blames his own lack of selling on the fact he wasn’t on the sales team. Laura tries to say her piece again but Lordalan cuts her off. He asks her who she thinks is responsible a she blames Gabrielle because she was the creative team and Jane because of her lack of selling. Lordalan sends the rest of them back to the house and sends Jane, Gabrielle and Laura outside so he can consult with Karren.

Lordalan thinks Laura has a lot to answer to (sic) because everyone he asks don’t seem to know (sic) what the steer was from day one. Karren thinks that Jane is an able businesswoman but she can’t swear to have witnessed it. I haven’t either, but she is a bit awesome. Lordalan points out everyone is blaming Gabrielle but nobody else did anything. He brings them back in.

Lordalan begins by reiterating Gabrielle’s point that although she had overspent on materials, she wanted to know what Laura was doing and he thinks that this is a good question. Laura insists that she did a good job and that the sales force was motivated and they did sell and she totally told Gabrielle what to do in that she told her to spend as little as possible. Yes, that’s a clear direction. Lordalan wants to know exactly what she said about spending on materials and not giving a limit makes her a raving lunatic. Laura hoped that common sense would have come into it. Seriously, do the contestants not watch the show beforehand? Lordalan thinks that she should have had enough sense to set a limit and gives her the dad face. Gabrielle says there was no budget or strategy and she just threw £300 pounds at her for stuff unspecified. Gabrielle takes on that she spent a lot but all Laura did was talk. Gabrielle wants to know what Laura actually did. Laura commends her on her speech and thanks her for it. She doesn’t answer the question and gives Gabrielle the most insincere feedback ever. She then goes back to Karren’s analogy of the kid in a sweet shop. You still haven’t answered the question, Laura. At the end of the day (DRINK) Laura was at the centre of everything. Jane says if that was true there would have been a budget for materials. Laura said that she had to delegate. Gabrielle wants to know what she delegated. Laura STILL doesn’t answer the question and says that even though they bought too much stock they sold it all. Yes, most of it for a pound. Laura clutches some business straws and brings to light Jane’s lack of selling again. Jane gives her a HOLD UP and said she wasn’t asked to sell, she was out on the street flyering and bringing in customers.

Lordalan can see there’s a conflict and refers back to Jane’s application. Y U NO SAY REZOOMAY? He’s very impressed with her business that she has with her husband so he can understand why her colleagues may be in awe of her and concerned that she’s competition but he hasn’t seen anything to make him impressed.

Jane clarifies that she was out in the street for most of the day and even so, she’s much more comfortable in a business environment than out on the street selling. This does not impress Lordalan. He moves on to Laura and wants to know why he should give her his investment. Laura says that she’s been successful in everything she’s ever done. Apart from all the tasks she’s lost, obviously. Ha! Lordalan reads my mind and points out the same thing. Laura thinks Gabrielle should be fired. Gabrielle thinks Laura and Jane thinks Laura should be fired. Lordalan thinks that it’s down to this task and Laura didn’t get the plot and Gabrielle is getting the blame but he doesn’t care because she’s enthusiastic so she’s not fired.

He’s left with a choice between Laura and Jane. Laura tries to put her case forward but is told that Lordalan doesn’t want to hear any more. He’s going to judge it on their potential as his business partner. Laura lost the plot and ran the team badly, but he’s more concerned that Jane’s been in the losing team three times out of four and he hasn’t seen anything that reflects she’s good at business, so she’s fired.

Lordalan thinks he may have let a good business partner out the door but he’s got a gut feeling that Gabrielle’s been unfairly put upon. Laura and Gabrielle leave to hug Jane. Karren tells Lordalan not to worry about firing Jane because she’s already successful. Lordalan says he hasn’t seen it and his gut feeling tells him that he did the right thing and it’s HIS BOARDROOM, HIS MONEY AND HIS BALL.

Jane cries in the back of the taxi. Her coat is white. Shocker. She’s going to be successful in everything she does even if Lordalan doesn’t want her and she hopes that in a few years he’ll look back and regret firing her. Aww.

In the house of bitchy, Jade thinks that Laura should be fired on paper, but Lordalan is going to fire Jane. Spot on! The Blonde Assassin thinks Jane and NickHair admits mistakes were made. Laura feeds back that they were all ripped to shreds and Jane was fired because of his gut. Gabrielle thinks it was a shock for Jane because she thought she did a good job.

Next week! New fitness programmes. Cue lots of survival of the fittest jokes. Laura is still squawking. Someone gets fired. Join us next week!