Sunday, 3 June 2012

I don't think you're ready for this jelly

Week 11 - 30th May

Last week!  The ‘high-end’ theme continued as our Apprenti acted as agents for Key Noir (aka Quinoa, which sounds no less silly),[I'm not changing it - Helen] a jumped-up Groupon with ideas above its station.  Ricky Martin ate a bunch of scallops, Tom and Adam wandered around in a daze and Jade defeated all in her wake via an hour of trampling the Sanctuary into the ground until they surrendered.  Marcus Wareing turned up but there was sadly no Johnny Mountain-style flouncing from the Apprenti.  Stephen sucked like a super-sized Dyson and he was resoundingly fired.  Gabrielle was also fired, seemingly for being too nice or something.  And also for committing the heinous crime of thinking fish foot spas might still (a few months ago) have been in and were in any way ‘high end’.  I’m only going to miss one of those two.

At the Apprenti Blockbusters Big Brother mansions and LordSralanSugar wants to meet him at Burlington arcade.  Adam appears to be sleeping on a mattress in a sunken hole in the floor.  Poor Adam – put down and patronised all series and forced to sleep in a hole. [He's from The North, this lot probably assumed he was used to it. - Steve]

Ricky Martin interviews that he’s the last member of Sterling and he’d like to take on all the others, tag-team style in this week’s challenge.  In the cabs, Adam, through a bleary-eyed fog, hopes this task will mean getting his hands dirty (in which case why didn’t he go to the factory?  Whoops, spoilers).

They go to Burlington Arcade, one of those small shopping arcades seemingly every city except Sheffield has (and no we do not count Chapel Walk), which is in the West End and sells LUX-HU-REE goods.  Ricky Martin standing on his own <3 <3.  LordSralan reminds us that we’re in recessionary times (what happened to THESE TROUBLED TIMES) but luxury goods still sell to some rich people.  Like evil bankers and those in the government amirite? [And people in structured reality shows. - Steve] The teams have to launch some luxury goods, pitch them to industry experts and himself and whoever he decides he doesn’t want in the final will go home.  He might even make up a vague reason why their team lost or somefink.  Tom gets to join Ricky Martin and suck all the fun out of Sterling.  (He’s competing with Gary Barlow for how much of a funsponge one man can be.  Even pissed he was a bit boring).

Now, this next voiceover bit is interesting.  We see shots of products from Cath Kidston, Hotel Chocolate Molten Brown etc and helpful voiceover man tells us that premium products with an affordable price tag are trends which keep on growing.  OK, everyone?  Got that?  Each team must create a luxury range, make a pop-up shop  and then do some pitching.

Ricky Martin volunteers to be team Sterling’s PM.  Tom, realising Ricky Martin would surely be a goner if he lost three times as PM (although probably not in this series with its PM-firing rate) says ‘oh yeah, I’d totally be PM too but I’m happy for you to do it’.  They decide to go for a male grooming range and Nick (H) oldterviews that these are young men and they have quiffy hair and they’re clearly into all this nonsense.  Ricky Martin and Tom discuss that this idea could either be ‘heritage’ (LOL) or modern and Ricky Martin butters up Tom by telling him his look is very fashionable.  Tom: I agree.  Hee.

Adam is PM for Phoenix and looks for ideas.  Nick2 says the ‘biggest market’ is confectionery.  Adam says hot chocolate is a good idea.  Nick2 says he’s owned a coffee shop in the past and thinks hot chocolate is an under-served market.  Adam says hot chocolate a few times.  Nick2 says they want a brand with a clear message, then Adam says ‘I want a bit of everything’.  Oops.  Adam says he wants to work with Nick2 on creating a brand identity and a business model as he feels that’s the main part of the task.  He then sends Jade to make the products as she’s a girl and she eats nice chocolates, yeah. 

Tom suggests to Ricky Martin that they use the words dapper, debonair, the grooming guild. ["The Grooming Guild" could not sound more like an internet paedophile ring if it tried. - Steve] Ricky Martin likes Men’s Choice.  Tom tells him that sounds like pr0n. [THAT sounds like porn?!?!?! - Steve] 11am and Tom arrives at a LUX-HU-REE salon and tells the men working there that ‘heritage, tradition’ is a new trend for men. [That doesn't sound like porn in any kind of universe, but after the other names, I want it to be - Helen] One of the men says  using the products on the men in the salon is their best way of making sales.

Adam and Nick2 are brainstorming name ideas.  Or rather Adam is reeling off a stream of consciousness: Chocoloco, Lovely Chocolate, Chocstop.  Nick2 says this is a luxury brand, so he’s written down CoCoCo, CoCoCho, ChoChoCho, I ChooChooChoose you and ChooChooChoo a train across the floor, DoDoDo come on and do the Conga, YouYouYou, it’s conga night for sure.  Adam says ‘it sounds like a train’.  Nick2 says yes, but it’s a CHOCOLATE TRAIN, which is amazing.  If my two-and-a-half year old nephew is the market, then yes.  Adam suggests Chocolate Bar ‘you know, like Chocolate Bar.  Chocolate Bar!  It’s chocolate and it’s a bar!’ [See, they're light! - Steve] They then phone Jade and she suggests Sweet Thing for being cool and quirky.  Which: notsomuch, but they go for it anyway.

Adam and Nick2 go to a Chocolatier and eat chocolates.  Karren points out that they just ate chocolate and forgot to ask anything about BIZNISS, other than the best selling product (salted caramels.  Still?  Has that trend not gone the way of nibbly fish yet?  So 2010-11, surely?  And I say this as someone who likes salted caramel).  EXCEPT – this chocolatier also sells jellies (as do my favourite independent chocolate shop in Sheffield, who also sell sweets.  And hot chocolate.  And probably as do many similar shops).  Adam is rather enamoured by the jellies.

In a warehouse, they  have an interior designer to help them create their pop up shops.  Tom says charcoal, dark grey, heritage heritage heritage.  Adam wants colourful.  Jade phones and asks about the product range.  She suggests marshmallows, hot chocolate and chocolate ‘plates’.  A plate of chocolate does sound pretty epic.  Adam says he wants jellies because they’re the next big thing.  Nick interviews, very seriously, that he and Adam have fallen out over the jellies.  Adam wants red with vanilla ice-cream and he wants fluorescent blue with Gino Ginelli (Tutti Frutti what a cutie!  Take a Gino home with you!) [Can anyone remember the name of those fluorescent jellies we had in the 80s?  I spend a stupid amount of time trying to find the name and failing in my dedication to this recap. There was a yellow one, a pink one and a blue one – maybe some other colours too – Rad].  Adam says the products are all sweet and some people don’t like chocolate, so they can have jelly.  It’s all dairy and gelatine!  Won’t anyone think of the vegans?!  At the sweet factory, a man blowtorches a marshmallow whilst Jade says she always dreamed of having a sweet shop.  (We all did, Jade, but the jars in those things were tiny and it just wasn’t like the advert said.  AND the stickers on the Pepsi cans were always wonky).

Ricky Martin boringterviews that they’re making shaving balm and moisturiser and… zzzz.  Tom’s influence is rubbing off on him, and not for the better.  NEEDS MOAR SANDALWOOD.  Tom wants to use Gentry.  Ricky Martin doesn’t get it.  Ricky Martin suggests they stick with New Tradition.  Tom hates it.  Eventually they settle on Modern Gentleman.

Nick2 doodles a love heart in a circle on some paper as the Sweet Thing brand and says they should use a capital S and a capital T because teacher taught them that this was how you wrote names.  Jade phones.  She’s had an inspiration, and the inspiration is this: BOOZE.  Booze will solve all ills.  OMG youguize, Drunken jellies!  Remember when you were at university and you chucked vodka in some jelly and put it in shot glasses!  That was fun! 

I am worried about the amount of booze the candidates seem to be needing to help them get through this year’s series.  Someone’s BIZNESS PLAN needs to be to set up an alcohol rehab centre for former Apprenti.  Adam doesn’t like drunken jellies, Nick2 whines that they have too many products, but neither comes up with anything else so they stick with it.  Jade interviews that the other two are meant to  be doing branding but she’s doing everything.  Now come on, Jade, Nick2 drew a heart.  In a circle.  Branding!  She eats some of the pear cider jelly, which is apparently very strong.

Tom is with the designer mocking up labels.  They’re that standard ‘men’s range’ blue  you used to see in the 1980s and 1990s with white type and some criss-crossed lines on them.  It’s a design so boring he’s even sending himself to sleep.  He worries that it might be a bit boring – even though everything he touches seems to turn to dull.  Because he doesn’t actually have a creative bone in his body (oh for Gabrielle right now) he sticks with it.  Nick whines that Ricky Martin is at the factory whilst Tom is doing everything else.  Even though it’s a two person team and if the PM doesn’t go to the factory they always get balled out about it.  Essentially: shut up Nick.

On the way to set up their shops, Nick 2 discusses their brand: luxury, ethical and fun, targeted at ‘females’ aged "fifteen to old".

Sweet Thing paint their shop blue.  Their logo is black, and a variation on Nick’s love heart drawing.  Modern Gentleman (*cough*) go for charcoal.  Tom looks utterly serious as he paints.  Ricky Martin says they need to hurry up so they can get on with the ‘fluffy stuff’.  I am pretty sure no fluffy stuff will be allowed anywhere near Tom’s vision of boring. 

Sweet Thing’s products arrive.  Adam likes the jellies.  They also have salted caramel honeycomb ‘discs’ (where are my plates, dammit?) and hot chocolate.  Karren asks about the RRP.  Adam says £2.99 and Nick2 £4.99.  I think, actually something in the middle is probably about right for their market, so a £3.50, £3.99 kind of thing.  But then I actually visit a chocolate shop on a regular basis unlike these guys.  Karren says ‘that is selling at the moment for £2.99?  Or £4.99?’  Nick2: ‘Exactly’.  Where is Mr Notebook Hyphen Calculator when we need him eh?  Jade’s also booked a cocktail expert and suggests customers can pay £5 for a little cocktail and some sweets and they can tell you which ones complement each other as if it were matching wine to food.  But mainly it’s about getting pissed.

Potential customers and industry experts go and visit the shops.  Nick2 says they sell the most ‘chocolatey chocolate’ you have ever tried.  Oh piss off, Willy Wonka.  Jade’s sales STRATEGEH is, effectively, BOOZE.  Nick2 tries to sell those hot chocolate stirring sticks which were in vogue about three years ago (and Gabrielle was berated for the fish thing) and people are generally having a good time – largely due to Jade plying them all with cocktails.

At Modern Gentleman, everyone’s in boring grey jumpers and smelling products.  The shelves are pretty bare and very grey.  Ricky Martin says their aim is to be a small shop.  Nick says they’re strong on the business side but they are really pedestrian and boring and their shop looks like a closing down sale.
Sweet Thing’s customers like the shop, the products and the packaging.  Adam wants them to sell to hotels and supermarkets :’the more arms to this business the better’.

Ricky Martin shoves some poor man from the industry into a chair and offers to do him a cut-throat shave.  The poor man looks utterly terrified.  As you would be if a wrestling biochemist strapped you to a chair and started waving potions and razors about.  All the ‘customers’ moan about how boring the Modern Gentleman shop is.

Back at the house, ‘the Sweet Things’ price up their products, mostly at £2.99.  Nick2 says this will be a 60-70% margin.  ‘The modern gentlemen’ work on their detail.  Tom says ‘let’s framework this’.  I don’t know what that means other than it being ludicrous BIZNESS speak.  They decide to put their package in a BOX to make it stand out.  [No, no, OUT OF THE BOX – Stephen].  Ricky Martin interviews that they will need a killer pitch.  But never fear, his name is Ricky Martin, and he is the king of all pitches.
Morning, and Nick2 sits in the garden in some weird pod thing, which is obviously That London’s poncy version of a shed.  Except it has glass walls, so your tools and bikes would be nicked in an instant.  Design error, That London. [Don't blame us - we don't have gardens in That London. It's a John Lewis thing, and they're about the same price as a studio flat in my area. - Steve]

Pitching time!  In the crowd: Debenhams, House of Fraser, Green & Black’s and Bull Dog, some sort of male grooming range, apparently.  Why no Insignia?  It’s got everything, you know, from shampoo to shower gel – deodorant and aftershave – one all over smell. (I’m not sure why this recap is sponsored by ads of the 80s either, other than I’m suffering hangover-induced madness today).

Ricky Martin and Tom rehearse their pitch.  Ricky Martin dreams of them coming out with their own razor blade.  You guys, Ricky Martin is kind of scary today.  The pitch is off to a bad start when it doesn’t begin with ‘My name is Ricky Martin’.  He should be fired on the spot for that error.  Ricky Martin says that he and Tom like to take pride in their appearance, but neither of them talk enough with their friends and family about their grooming methods, and this has caused them to have to fork out thousands for years of therapy to overcome this regression.  (Has anyone in the world, ever, had a conversation about ‘grooming methods’ with their friends and family?)  But!  Modern Gentleman will overcome this!  They will save the UK!  And then Europe!  Their products cost £8-10 which is, according to Tom, affordable.  Tom says they will have a flagship store in London to attract a key customer base.  They know their figures for the barber experience and the products.  They’re asked about their sucky branding.  Tom says it’s in the middle of the bottom and the top end.  But Ricky Martin says they will get a BOX and that will make everything right in the end.  The feedback from the experts is that they pitched well but the product and brand sucked.

Sweet Thing next.  Jade says they want people to be ‘bombarded’ by visuals, smell and most importantly BOOZE.  Adam says they’ve tried to achieve affordable luxury for Christmas, birthdays, Easter and Valentine’s Day which will be their busy periods.  So, seeing as birthdays happen all the time, every day then?  Adam then flusters.  Jade is asked about the BOOZE.  She says they’d need a licence but it’d be about £1.50.  She then screams at Nick to give them PRICES.  HE says they’re in the middle, more expensive than cheap and cheaper than expensive and they will have a flagship store in London and another one in Manchester.  As long as they’ve discovered shoes.  And then they’ll also sell in supermarkets.  And other stores.  LordSralan asks if the flagship shops would be loss-making.  They’re also asked about the range.  Nick2 says they’re a confectioner, not a chocolatier or sweet company.  The feedback is that they’re confused but the product is delicious.  They don’t have a lead product though.

Boardroom time!

LordSralan points out Ricky Martin has sucked at being PM, and Ricky Martin’s all LOL Third time’s the charm, eh?  He says he and Tom were ‘passionate’ about male grooming in the most boring manner imaginable.  Tom has sapped all Ricky Martin’s power.  LordSralan tells them their product was boring.  Tom says yes it is but in the future we’d have a lot of text about the key active ingredient and how that would help the consumer.  Interesting!  LordSralan says their shop was boring and empty.  Ricky Martin says, that’s LUX-HUR-REE, duh.

LordSralan says Sweet Thing’s shop was more interesting and asks them about their BIZNESS STRATEGEH.  Karren reminds them that they forgot to actually ask about business strategies or the Holy Margins.  Jade says she came up with the products and the name and blabs a lot about how good the name Sweet Thing was.  Nick2 says Jade came up with some good things.  Adam says he and Nick2 had ideas too, sir.  Karren snorts that their ideas sucked: Chocolate Holster (!!!), Chocolate Heaven, TchoTcho Choc

LordSralan says that he was at the pitches and he also listened to the ‘bizess advisors’.  Modern Gentleman had done their research and pitched well but their shop and product were rubbish.  The other shop and product were good but Sweet Thing couldn’t pitch for toffee.  Or chocolate.  Or jelly.  But for paying deference to the Holy Margins and because LordSralan wants Tom and Ricky Martin in the final, they win.  They don’t get a treat though, because he can’t be arsed.

He says Sweet Thing didn’t have a clear plan or enough attention to detail. Loser Café.  Adam is sad that he lost but he thought they did OK.  Nick 2 says Adam is rubbish and needs to be fired.  Jade says she did everything so she’s quite happy to go to the Boardroom.  Adam, looking every inch the defeated man, pretends he thinks there’s no way it will be him who is fired.

In the boardroom, LordSralan asks about pricing.  Adam lies it was Jade because she went to the factory.  Jade’s  all WTF?  Nick2 says they wanted to pitch a price in the middle of posh and cheap.  LordSralan says the price is too cheap for a luxury store and too expensive for supermarkets.  To be fair, this exact same criticism would apply to Modern Gentleman, but no-one seems to care about that.  In a recap of Azhar’s final days, everyone throws the word STRATEGEH around a lot.  Nick 2 says there was no strategy.  Adam says that’s everyone’s excuse when a task goes wrong and they all had the same vision.  LordSralan says they had a lot of different products but they weren’t known for a standout product as each high-end type place has one standout product.  Adam admits he wanted the jellies.  Sralan points out that it all went wrong when they opened their mouths.  In a moment which is now destined to be used in YouTube mashups until the end of time, Nick says ‘Tom and Ricky drilled each other for an hour and a half before the presentation’.  Well, anything to relieve the tension, right?  He tells them off for not doing the same.  Apprentice three-way bisexual action DENIED.

Nick2 says they had no direction and apologises to Adam, but it’s Adam’s fault.  Adam says it’s the first he’s heard of it.  Karren tells Adam he decided the men would do the important stuff and they sent the little woman off to make nice chocolates.  Adam blusters about.  LordSralan asks Nick2 about his coffee shop (which he used to have – no suggestion whether or not it went under).  Nick suggests Nick2 could have been more persuasive in pushing forward the hot chocolate idea.  Nick2 lies that he did try.  Karren says he didn’t try very hard.

LordSralan and Karren say Jade did everything well.  Adam has no real skills apart from selling, but he’s enthusiastic.  Nick2 didn’t jump in and take over.  Even though he wasn’t PM and you don’t generally like it when PMs get usurped, LordSralan.  He thinks Nick2 is playing a game.

Adam is asked why he should remain.  He thinks he’s the best candidate, at which Jade pulls an epic face.  He says Nick2 has skills, but everyone can use a computer and Jade is supposed to be a promotion and marketing expert but he hasn’t seen that.  Jade says Adam’s a good salesman, but is that what LordSralan needs?  He isn’t creative and he has no strategy.  Adam says he’s been in business THIRTEEN YEARS and Jade calls herself a marketing expert.  She says she doesn’t, she works in direct marketing.  Is that telesales?  Jade thinks Adam should go and Adam thinks it should be Jade.  In a moment of epic trolling and STRATEGEH, Nick2 turns on Jade and says he doesn’t think she gets on that well with people and he’s decided he will actually take all the credit for the voucher task last week.  Jade’s like – erm, no, I won that singlehandedly and Nick2 says ‘actually that was me, in my opinion, not you.’  Jade then gives epic boardroom and says that the other two always listen to her so it seems a bit daft that they’re singling her out.  Nick2 says ‘I can’t say your ideas were terrible, because we didn’t have any, but they still sucked.’  Jade asks ‘if you’re such leaders in business’ why didn’t they actually lead.  Nick2 eye-rolls like a naughty school kid trying to land their friend in trouble instead of themselves.  Jade brings up her EPIC BUSINESS PLAN.

LordSralan says it’s hard because the better people tend to stay in the process longer (well, you’d hope).  Adam’s enthusiasm and sales have impressed him, but he’s still a bit stupid all in all.  Jade is passionate and a lot of her ideas were implemented but they weren’t all good ideas.  Nick is good at stretegeh but didn’t bother stepping in and helping actually win the task, but Adam is fired with a ‘keep in touch’.

Coatwatch: boring black but with pointy lapels.  In the cab, Adam says he’s always been a ‘doer not a talker’ and maybe he and LordSralan will meet again.

In the house, Ricky Martin and Tom say they want Nick2 to go home because he’s their biggest competition.  Nick2 says they pointed out Adam had no strategeth but admits he totally trolled Jade to get her fired and laughs at himself.  Jade is not amused.

Next time: the return of an old friend – with the interviews round coming up, surely we will see a return of the REZ-HOO-MAY?  Join Steve for the BIZNESS PLANS and someone winning on the back of an idea they had ages ago which LordSralan has his eye on, thus making both the final and the previous eleven weeks entirely moot.

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