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…


Scott Willison said...

Your description of a Pure Gym made me sad.

PadsterMo said...

All I can think of now is the Dragons sitting up in the big red chairs facing the Apprenti during a pitch, deciding they've had enough, hitting the button and the chair rotating away from the Apprenti with 'I HATE YOU' lit up at the bottom.

Bound to be a Comic Relief sketch next year, surely?

Rad said...

Pure Gyms make me sad.

And the I HATE YOU chairs must be patented and sold everywhere. To the Den!