Monday, 4 June 2012

Livin' La Vida Loaded

The Final: 3rd June 2012

I know it's the Queen's 105th birthday or whatever, but I fail to see why we all had to sit through 11 minutes of Gary Barlow: World's Most Tedious Man running around the world appropriating the music of other countries for his own ends and then make Her Majesty - a woman who has made a living from pretending to be interested in people she couldn't care less about - look like she'd sell Princess Anne to the Russians if it meant he'd just shut up and leave her alone. Anyway, a touch later than advertised, the show begins and - ooh, look, it's Dara O'Briain! ERRRRRR! (Slight pause for laughter.) He's standing in the middle of the You're Hired! audience to welcome us to the final, and tell us that we're just an hour away from discovering who out of Ricky Martin, Tom, Nick and Jade is going to become LordSirAlan's business partner. Considering the BBC's trying to save money by not having two people doing the same job, I would've thought they'd rather just leave this sort of thing to the continuity announcer. He reminds us to stay tuned afterwards for an extended edition of the companion show in which he'll be talking to the finalists and LordSirAlan himself. We won't be recapping that, but I'll drop in a few highlights if I'm not too exhausted by the end of the recap. Right, to business!

The titles remind us of all those who fell by the wayside on the way here. I miss Jane. And The Blonde Assassin. And Gabrielle. Everyone else, not so much. Last week: LordSirAlan summoned the teams to one of London's most exclusive shopping areas (just across the road from Abercrombie & Fitch) and instructed them to create an affordable high-end product. Ricky Martin and Tom, for Sterling, created the world's most boring male grooming brand, while an Adam-led Phoenix went for chocolates and, after a brainwave from Jade, BOOZY JELLIES! Sadly, their business model was rubbish, whereas Tom and Ricky Martin had done their numbers properly, so they won. In the boardroom, Jade eviscerated Adam and Nick, and Adam finally got his long-overdue firing.

Unusually, we begin not on a new day, but with Jade and Nick returning to Entrepreneur Estates, where Tom and Ricky Martin have laid on a little buffet for them. Awww. Ricky Martin thinks that now they're finalists, it's all down to the quality of their business plans. They pour some champagne and toast to being finalists, though I'm a bit sad that Tom doesn't shout "less fizz, more sparkle!" again, since that was easily his most endearing moment of the entire series. And perhaps not coincidentally, the moment when he came closest to truly embracing his inner capacity for evil.

The phone rings, and Tom ambles over to answer it. It's LordSirAlan himself on the other end, presumably having sent NotFrances home early to relieve the babysitter. It's tough being a working mum, you know. He instructs the candidates to spend the next 48 hours familiarising themselves with their business plans (i.e. trying desperately to remember the ridiculous shit they wrote on their applications in order to get on the telly, then think of ways to rationalise it when inevitably called on their bullshit by Margaret and/or Claude) and he'll see them in two days' time. Nick and Ricky Martin take a moment to let the enormity of this sink in, and Tom offers the most spectacularly awkward call to arms imaginable when he briefly forgets Jade exists: "Let the best...not man, woman, person win." At least, I hope I've punctuated that correctly, otherwise he called Jade a Not-Man Woman, which seems rather unenlightened of him.

This also serves as a handy opportunity for Helpful Voiceover Man to remind us of everyone's track records. Out in front is Nick, aka The Helen, [not me, though I took great delight in all the Helen is brilliant tweets last year - Helen] who was won eight tasks and only lost three, and has a 2-0 record as PM. He thinks his business plan is a fantastic "idea" and "concept" (note the lack of confidence in how it could be executed) and believes himself to be a strong candidate. Close behind is the youngest survivor Tom, aka The Wotherspoon, who has won seven tasks and lost four, and has a 2-1 record as PM. Tom interviews that he's all about STRATEGY and RISKS, and that his business plan is basically like his day job so this is all going to be very easy for him. In third place is a seemingly strong candidate about to fall apart in the interviews, aka The Paul Tulip is Jade, with six losses to five wins, but an acceptable 1-1 PM ratio. She thinks it's irrelevant that she's the last woman standing, because business is business, and she knows her plan is going to make money. Finally, revising his business plan in Nick's Garden Fortress Of Solitude, is the comedy contestant who surprised everyone by making it this far, aka The Simon Ambrose, Ricky Martin. He's lost five tasks, won six, has been in the final boardroom four times and has a 1-2 record as PM. He thinks LordSirAlan wants someone with potential, and that his business plan guarantees a return on his investment.

The next day, everyone gets dressed for the interviews. Tom and Ricky Martin admit that it's a bit daunting. Nick kisses his business plan as he walks down the stairs. The Apprenticars take them into the City, to New Broad Street House, a meeting place for "the big guns in British business", apparently. LordSirAlan arrives to tell them they're in the Institute of Directors, as one of them will be a director in the company that he'll be investing in, so they've got to impress him today. It's time for them to reveal their business plans to each other for the first time, so he wants a quick verbal pitch.[Y U NO make them pretend they're in an elevator? SADFACE - Helen] Let's take them all in order:

Nick: an "online platform" to revolutionise the online shopping market that will enable you to get ingredients for any recipe with a single click. LordSirAlan hears the word "online" and automatically approves, because "online" is the future, except when you're on a reality show and the internet is banned.  [I love how this show just discovered mobile phones last year and it's discovered the internet this year.  It must  be quaint living in Amstrad world - Rad]

Tom: a hedge fund that allows people to invest in wines as an asset. I don't know anything about wines or hedge funds, and this entire concept is going to go right over my head for the rest of the episode and possibly on into the future, so let's just call it a Pork Futures Warehouse and be done with it.

Jade: perhaps the most evil business plan in existence, she wants to open Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-CallCentre, the world's largest telemarketing call centre where all of our details will be sold to interested parties and we'll all be terrified of answering the phone ever again.

Ricky Martin: an "ethical and niche" recruitment organisation, looking at areas of therapeutics, new and existing drugs on the market this point LordSirAlan is completely lost. Is it a recruitment agency, he wants to know, yes or no? Yes, it is.

Four of LordSirAlan's most trusted colleagues will be examining these business plans and grilling the contestants in great detail, and then feed it all back to him tomorrow to help him decide who's getting fired. The business pans are entrusted to Nick Hewer and Karren for safekeeping, and the candidates are left to stew.

First up, Tom is sent in for his interview with freesheet pioneer Mike Souter. Mike asks Tom if he'd say he was an experienced interviewee, which is just a dickish way of getting someone to say that they've never had an interview before, which is Tom's situation. Nick is sent in to meet Margaret Mountford, who needs no introduction. He greets her with "Margaret, nice to meet you", which got Stuart Baggs in trouble two years ago but is apparently fine now. [As my friend Linda pointed out, Margaret has a soft spot for a twinkly-eyed boy - Rad] Margaret points out that he mentions his own intelligence repeatedly on his own CV, and wonders if that's not a tad immodest. Ricky Martin is dispatched for former young entrepreneur of the year, Matthew Riley [I hate him so much after last year's interviews - Rad], who tells Ricky Martin that it's his job to ensure that LordSirAlan goes into business with the right person, and then adds that reading Ricky Martin's application made him want to be sick. So far, all this tells me is that I don't want to go into business with Matthew Riley, because he's kind of unprofessional and a douche. And Jade is sent to the most fearsome of all: head of Viglen, Claude Littner. He tells Jade that he's "underwhelmed" by her CV and her business plan. "It's a pretty grubby little business you're proposing," he sniffs. I'm not disputing that for a second, but since when did that matter? Most of the businesses that actually make money do it in a fairly grubby fashion. And let's not forget last year's winner, whose initial business plan was "arrive unannounced at people's offices, diagnoses everyone with back pain and sell them all a magic chair that will fix it", which is the sort of grifting chicanery that has existed ever since commerce was invented. I don't like the sound of Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-CallCentre any more than Claude does, but to suggest it's not viable simply because it's "grubby" seems a ridiculous accusation.

Jade attempts to explain the business, and how people will be making calls "with an easy script", so it's high-volume, and then passing on the leads of people to interested parties - mostly mobile phone companies, solar panels, and debt management companies. Claude objects to the cold-calling aspect of it, and the fact that they'll be hassling people who've already fallen into debt, and how that's "unsavoury". Again, I don't disagree, but: business. Business works by exploiting vulnerable people. Half the tasks on this show have actively encouraged that; let's not pretend we're suddenly above it.

Outside, the others have apparently been released from their initial engagements and, at Tom's behest, are taking bets on "how Jade's will be", on a scale of 1-10. Whether it's her business plan or her interview with Claude that's up for discussion is never confirmed, but the estimates are either 2 or 3, so it's safe to say this lot don't really view her as much competition.

Back in the office, Claude is looking over Jade's numbers, and notes that she hasn't actually provided a cashflow. Or a balance sheet. Or any costs for month one. Claude is curious as to how she's planning to operate without any overheads in her first month. Jade's all "oh, they've already been paid for out of the £250,000". Claude points out that this is not how it works. Jade, scrambling, says that the money will pay for the employee wages, the overheads, etc, and Claude asks her how much she's got left. Nothing, is the answer. "So in six months, you've blown it?" Claude enquires. I'm calling it: time of death, 8:59pm. Sorry Jade, it was nice knowing you, but I don't think there's any coming back from that.

Jade is released, and the others asks her how it went. Jade admits she "got absolutely slaughtered." Which, coincidentally, is exactly what she's quite like to do right now. Anyone got any English sparkling wine? Or some booze jellies?

Next up, Ricky Martin goes in to see Margaret. Truly, 'tis a meeting of expressive eyebrows for the ages. Margaret picks up on the part of Ricky Martin's application where he likened himself to Thor. "It's an extremely bold statement," Ricky admits, saying that he wanted to differentiate himself from the other people applying. "They're not all gods, you mean?" asks Margaret, drily. Ricky says that he wanted to put across the point that he's someone who can bring something fresh and new to the marketplace. Margaret asks if he sees himself as a reincarnation of LordSirAlan. Ricky Martin admits he wouldn't go that far, but that there are aspects of his success that he has emulated. Margaret: *eyebrow*. Ricky Martin: *eyebrow*. Sometimes words are very unnecessary.

Meanwhile, Nick's in with Claude, who thinks his business plan looks like "an academic exercise". He thinks it looks like an excellent piece of work for an MBA, but not for starting a business. Claude asks Nick to explain, in clear English please, what this business actually does. Nick explains that for any recipe on telly, or the internet, or in a book, his system will automatically allow you to purchase all the ingredients with a single click. I notice that for an intelligent man, he's made an unforgivable slip-up - his list of supermarkets which feature in the system has "+100's others". Bad Nick! No apostrophe there! Nick explains at length how it will compare prices at various supermarkets, and will let you buy things from different places into the one basket, which all sounds lovely but also incredibly complicated and possibly quite expensive, assuming you're paying delivery charges at all of these places. Anyway, Nick's explanation is interrupted by Claude snipping "do I care?" Well, considering that you asked him to explain it to you, I'm going with...yes? Claude thinks no one will be bothered with it.

Outside, the others debate Nick's chances. Ricky Martin thinks Nick needs to be careful not to come across patronising, and Jade adds that he needs to be careful that he's "listening". Interesting.

Claude calls Nick's product "an irrelevance" and Nick protests that Claude is not his target market. Nick thinks it could become a global big-hitter, and Claude counters that it's not worth the effort. Nick thinks this is unfair. And I'm sort of with him, until Nick starts going on about how "every household internationally" will want to use this system, and that it has potential to be "a Google or a Facebook" and then he loses me. It's a nice idea, and certainly one with some appeal, but it's not a revolution. It's an Instagram, maybe, but it's not a Facebook. Nick leaves, and Tom remarks that he looks like he's been dragged through a hedge, though I'm really not sure how any of us are expected to see the difference.

Next Tom goes in for his interview with Mike, who would like to read out a glowing reference on Tom's CV. Given that we all know at this point Tom's only ever worked in his family business, where do we all think this is going? Sadly, the show does not trust us to make this connection and so we're treated to an incredibly inflated segment in which Mike's all "OH WHAT A WONDERFUL REFERENCE, THIS PERSON REALLY THINKS YOU'RE WONDERFUL AND THAT YOU SHOULD WIN, DO YOU KNOW WHO WROTE THIS?" and Tom, inexplicably is like "" and Mike triumphantly announces "LOL IT WAS YOUR DAD." Mike asks how much of the business plan Tom's father wrote, and Tom says none of it. "So it would be unfair to characterise you as a daddy's boy?" crows Mike. Unfair, yes, and also grossly unprofessional and really inappropriate. I know these people have all been brought in specifically to behave as dickishly as possible, but could they not have been professionally dickish, rather than just resorting to name-calling? Mike moves on to Tom's Pork Futures Warehouse and says that it's a very sophisticated plan, getting people to invest in wine. Bill Lawrence should really think about using this as the basis for an episode of Cougar Town. Just imagine how utterly appalled Jules and Ellie would be by the idea of investing in wine that you'll never drink. Tom tells Mike in no uncertain terms that his dad only joined his business after it had already posted revenues of £1.25m. I'm sure he mentioned in a previous episode that he joined this business as an existing family concern, so how his father features as a Johnny Come Lately in all of this doesn't quite make sense to me, but it's not a rabbit hole I particularly want to get lost in, so let's move on.

Nick's in with Matthew now, who says that he wants shepherd's pie for tea tonight. Mmm, shepherd's pie. Matthew, like Claude, believes Nick's idea is fundamentally useless. I really don't get what their problem is with understanding it. Nick patiently explains that people might visit several different websites and want to buy ingredients for all of the recipes they find. Matthew is incredulous at this: "Who DOES that? Who has time to plan out what they're going to eat? What, Monday's lasagne, Tuesday's...who DOES that?" He says this like it's the absolute most ridiculous thing imaginable, despite the fact that a lot of people who are on tight budgets do exactly that, because it's a good way of keeping track of your money and making use of what you've already got. We actually saw a sheet of Nick's business plan that part of the functionality was given over to making sure you could use all your leftovers, so the whole "nobody ever plans their meals ahead" thing is a really idiotic attempt to rubbish his idea, and frankly just makes Matthew look like someone who never has to worry about money. Which, to be fair, he probably doesn't. But still: if you really think that nobody in the UK ever has to plan their life very carefully to make a small amount of money go a long way, you have no place in business. You should be in David Cameron's cabinet, or possibly in the House of Lords. Matthew, unwisely, takes it even further by claiming that families with young children would never plan their meals, because they just want to come in, make a quick meal and get the kids to bed. I would argue they're exactly the sort of people who would want to use this sort of system, because they wouldn't have time to go shopping every day. It's odd, Claude used to be the interviewer I had the least time for, but Matthew's disingenuous "man of the people" schtick is really rubbing me up the wrong way this year. [I loathe him.  See last year's recap for evidence - Rad]

Matthew moves on to the fact that Nick is already on business number three, despite his young age. Nick's current business is about QR codes, and Nick thinks he could make £2-4m out of it. Do people seriously still think QR codes are going to take off? Because they really, really aren't. Anyway, Matthew thinks Nick's crazy to want to start a new business when he already has such a lucrative (his sentiments, not mine) business on the go, and that he should focus on that. Matthew says that Nick's previous business partner thinks he lacks focus, and that's a very important aspect of business.

Ricky Martin is in with Mike, who wants to know why he goes by Ricky rather than Richard, given that he shares this name with a "famous Latino pop star". Ricky says that it works in his favour because people remember him, and that's very important in sales. Man's got a point. [I started warming to RickyMartin during the Stephen anialation but this episode cemented it. I hate that I was made not to hate him anymore - Helen] Mike moves on to some of Ricky Martin's other aliases, namely his wrestling alter-ego, Ricky Hype. Ricky explains that his hobby is professional wrestling (how can it be "professional" and a hobby? Surely it's either one or the other) and Mike cautions that he sounds more showbusiness than real business, and he wonders if people can't take Ricky Martin seriously in business because they can't stop imagining him wearing a pair of lycra pants. I would say that's their problem, to be honest.

Nick's in with Margaret now, who wants to know about his unconventional upbringing. Nick says that he was brought up all outdoorsy, where he was educated in camping, woodworking, firebuilding and sewing, and he never had a TV. He thinks not having had a computer for all those years made him want it more, and turned him into a bit of a geek.

From there, we go to Jade and Matthew, who has noticed that she refers to herself as an excellent businesswoman on her CV, and wonders if she did business studies on her degree or at college? Jade says that she studied graphic design, but there were business modules within it. He asks if she's sure about that, and if she has nothing else to tell him? Jade doesn't think so, but clearly suspects something unpleasant is around the corner. Matthew steels himself for his Poirot moment and is all "J'accuse, Mademoiselle! You took a Business Studies A Level and got an N!" Jade's like "oh, yeah, that" and Matthew's super smug about this, crowing "oh, that little bit of information!" Wow, yeah, you'd really have made her look shifty and untrustworthy there if you hadn't been questioning her ABOUT HER DEGREE. Maybe it's just because I tend to think of "college" as synonymous with "university", but I wouldn't have assumed that question was about my A levels either. Maybe think about asking less ambiguous questions next time if you're looking to catch someone out, Matt?

Now Margaret is poring over Tom's CV, where he has described himself as a "BNOC" - a "big name on campus" at university. I bet he was also known as a "completely original campus king" and a "big, elevated likely lad, entirely no doubt" as well.

Then, quick as a flash, Tom's in with Claude, who wants to examine the business plan more closely. Claude has spotted that Tom wants to launch a fund to raise £25m to invest in the wine industry. Claude thinks that's a lot of money to raise in a company that's untested with a young guy at the helm. That, and watching five seasons of Brothers & Sisters taught me that the wine industry is exceptionally volatile, especially if you've got secret siblings popping out of the woodwork every couple of years thanks to your philandering late father. Tom concedes that it's a big leap, but he knows he can do it. Claude wonders why a person would choose to deal with him, rather than someone more established. Tom says that he's already had demand for this from his existing clients. Claude then finds another page of Tom's CV where he says he's "well-rounded" and picks holes in this, but I think he's rather reaching now, having failed to rattle Tom's calm demeanour by calling him an untested man-child. Claude doesn't think Tom can raise the money, and therefore the concept is flawed from the outset. [And on his CV he said he looks like Olly Murs!  A) He doesn't, B) On his CV! and C) Like comparing yourself to that twat in a hat is in anyway a good thing - Rad] [That whole list wasn't given nearly enough attention - Helen]

When he leaves, Ricky Martin notes that Tom was in there "for ages", and he and Nick get Tom to rate his experience (so at least they weren't only doing this to Jade, I guess), and Tom says it was a two. A number two. Hurr hurr hurr.

After that, Ricky Martin goes in to see Matthew, who thinks Ricky Martin clearly has the experience in recruitment, but what about being a business start-up? How's he going to react when he has no clients and all his staff are useless? Ricky Martin actually responds pretty well to this, saying that the entire process has demonstrated that he doesn't easily cave under pressure, and that his degree in Wrestling Biochemistry (or whatever it was) helps him to understand the industry, and that he can take a sledgehammer to any brick walls in his way.

Then Jade's in with Mike, who wants to hear more about Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-CallCentre - specifically, the four web addresses that she'll use to gather her data from. He asks if these addresses she has listed are valuable assets, and Jade says they are, and she has purchased them. Except apparently not all of them, because one she's listed,, he owns. He bought it just now. Jade, trying not to laugh, says she might have to buy it off him. Mike's all "okay, make me an offer." Oh, Jade.

Ricky Martin goes in to see Claude, as Tom confides to Nick that he hopes Ricky Martin gets as good a grilling as he did. Ah, camaraderie. In the interview room, Claude tells Ricky Martin that he's been looking forward to meeting him, because he's an enigma. His "personal statement" (i.e. reality show application form) is, per Claude, "the most crass, obnoxious, infantile personal statement that I've had the...not really a pleasure, that I've had the opportunity of reading." Ricky Martin has described himself as "the best business partner on the planet" and how he will teach "an old dog new tricks" when he partners LordSirAlan. Claude thinks this is a tad disrespectful. Ricky Martin agrees that it was immature, and that he regrets including it. He's such a showman - he could not possibly look less ruffled by these accusations. Claude moves on to the business plan...which he was quite impressed by. It was interesting and well-written. So why, Claude wonders, did Ricky write such bollocks on his "personal statement"? Er, to get on the telly? This is the weird disconnect of this show - these people have to make themselves sound like egomaniacs or arseholes or egomaniac arseholes if they actually want to get on the shortlist in the first place, and then the show tries to convince us all that they genuinely believe it, even though everyone watching knows exactly why they wrote those things. Ricky Martin comes close to taking the aforementioned sledgehammer and shattering the fourth wall, admitting that he basically said those things for attention, but now he's grown in the process and he has realised a lot about himself and he's a very different person. Ha! Now this is what I like to see: he's taken the show's attempts to wrongfoot him with their reality TV tropes and smoothly transformed it into a trope of his own: the all-important Journey. To be honest, I think he deserves to win just for pulling that off so effortlessly.

Continuing, Claude thinks that in These Troubled Times, it's a poor time to start a business like this. Ricky Martin disagrees; the economy is "picking up substantially" and this field of recruitment is actually doing very well. He's got specific figures to back up his assertions as well, and even Claude is forced to admit that sounds plausible to him. Bloody hell - after all these years, who would've anticipated that Claude Littner would ultimately be defeated by a wrestling biochemist?

Nick's in with Mike, who wants to know what sort of return LordSirAlan could expect at the end of year five. Nick predicts £145m.

Matthew asks Tom if he has any qualifications in wine or hedge funds. Tom does not. Matthew thinks it sounds like a big risk. Tom thinks that no one would question him if he had Lord Sugar as a 50% stakeholder.

Margaret points out that Jade hasn't stuck at any one job for very long. Jade says that it's about gaining experience and making more money, and that her business plan is about using the contacts that she has. She thinks being successful in business is about common sense and relationship-building, which is what got her this far in the process.

Ricky Martin tells Claude he has a simple business model, but it can go big and expand throughout the UK and throughout Europe, and Claude says that he comes across as someone who has thought very hard about his business idea.

Nick tells Mike that he's built his prototype, and now needs money to make it work. Tom tells Matthew he hasn't let anyone down in his life, and he's not going to start now.

That's it for the interviews, and the candidates retreat to the holding area to exhale for the first time in six hours. Nick thinks he's got a good chance, but it's not definite at all. Ricky Martin doesn't care if they found a few flaws, because pobody's nerfect. Exeunt Apprentices.

The next day (presumably) at Entrepreneur Estates, the candidates leave for the last time, wheely-cases trailing behind them. They've got a car each. This show's carbon footprint must be enormous. Tom thinks he's in pole position at the moment, but wonders if he's been too ambitious. Jade is adamant that she's a strong enough candidate to be in the final, and she knows her business idea will make money.

At the boardroom, the Advisors arrive to meet with LordSirAlan while, outside, the Apprentices troop into the atrium. NotFrances barely gives them a second look; she's too preoccupied with trying to stop baby Chloe from climbing into the photocopier. The babysitter cancelled at short notice, you see.

LordSirAlan tells his advisors that he's a pensioner now, so he doesn't want to work too hard. Margaret starts with Jade, and explains that her model is passing on leads to interested parties, and receiving a premium for doing so. Matthew says that his concern is that people don't want to be disturbed at home with pointless phone calls. Oh well, best dismantle the entire telemarketing industry, then. Mike says that her business plan was flawed, because she hadn't bought all the web addresses that she said she had, and he decided to teach her a lesson by buying one of them from under her HA HA HA. [Actually that was kind of funny, unlike anything else he said - Rad] Claude thinks she's a great saleswoman, but the numbers in her business plan were completely nonsensical. Karren points out that she's sticking to a business she's been in for a long time and knows well. Margaret brings up the job-hopping thing, and how Jade said that each time she'd been promoted and then moved on to bigger and better things. Nick thinks she's persuasive face-to-face, but that is not what she'd be doing in this business.

They move on to Ricky Martin, and Claude laments his awful "personal statement" again. LordSirAlan wonders if in "this modern age" it's necessary to come up with a load of crap rather than get to the point. If by "this modern age" you mean "reality television", then yes. Mike thinks the irony is that Ricky Martin had the most simple and straightforward idea of anyone - a niche recruitment business that he's passionate about. Claude says that he was sleepless with excitement over the prospect of ripping him apart (ha! I love that Claude is basically openly admitting to playing the panto villain for dramatic effect here, that's rather endearing) but actually ended up being "mesmerised" by him, and he thinks it was a very sensible business plan. Karren cites Ricky Martin's Journey (see, they're all falling for it!) but Margaret worries that Ricky Martin can't be trusted not to say something silly in a business environment.

Nick next, and Margaret thinks he's obsessed with his "unconventional" upbringing. Claude thinks he's very bright, but isn't sure the idea is all that clever or necessary. Margaret thinks he's aiming at people who watch a cooking show on telly and go straight to the internet to download the recipe. LordSirAlan doesn't think that they've got Britain's Next Top Social Network on their hands. Mike brings up the £145m potential profit that Nick cited after five years, and they declare it unrealistic. Karren says that whenever a task has centred around an internet site, Nick has excelled at that. Yes, both of those times.

Finally, we have Tom. Karren thinks Tom likes the prospect of being a big gamblin' risk taker, and Matthew says that Tom has lived a charmed existence, which I'm totally sure is an assertion he's qualified to be making. LordSirAlan chuckles that it can't be that charmed, because Tom's a West Ham supporter, ho ho ho. Claude is concerned by Tom's lack of experience, and Karren points out that this is very unfair, because at the age of 23, she was running a football club, and that plenty of people are skilled at business at a young age. Nick chips in rather obsequiously that LordSirAlan was one of those people when he was younger, and he got involved in lots of businesses that were potentially risks. Mike thinks it was one of the best business plans he's ever read, and Claude thinks it has potential to make a lot of money, but Tom might need to tone down his ambitions.

The interviewers leave, and don't even acknowledge the waiting candidates as they pass them, because they're all jerks. LordSirAlan calls up NotFrances and gets her to send the candidates in. Couldn't he have just told Claude to send them in on his way past? Honestly, all this unnecessary work that's being created in this episode. Once they're in, LordSirAlan talks to Jade first, and she explains that if you buy the right data and sell it to the right people, it's potentially very lucrative. LordSirAlan is concerned for his reputation if he's behind this organisation that rings people up at home and annoys them. Once again, I feel compelled to point out that this criticism would've been every bit as valid in week one as it was now, so why put Jade through the whole process only to go "nah, your business plan isn't right for me". That's the one part of this new format that really doesn't work for me - all these assurances that everyone's got a brilliant plan, only for several of them be dismissed for the most superficial of reasons in the final episode. Jade points out that the business is entirely legal, and she has a lot of experience in this industry and knows how to get results. Karren thinks that Jade is very enthusiastic, but that her business plan just fell apart in the interviews. LordSirAlan asks Jade about the part where the money runs out after six months, and Jade counters that yes, it does, but money starts coming in after three months.

Tom's next under the microscope, and LordSirAlan wants to know how the whole business is going to work. Tom explains that he has been approached in recent years by people who want to include fine wine investment as part of a pension investment plan. LordSirAlan points out that he's constantly approached by people who want to use his property portfolio to set up financial schemes of some sort; proposals that he has never agreed to and which ultimately end up going "tits up". Tom assures him that his Pork Futures Warehouse is different, because it's all about choosing the right wines. LordSirAlan says that there are no guarantees in this sort of industry, and that all it takes is for an analyst to change their mind about the demand for wine in Asia (I can't quite believe I just typed that), and the bottom falls out of the whole thing. Tom's resolute, though, and says that businesses are expanding into Asia, and wouldn't be doing that unless they thought it was robust. Well, yes, but that doesn't mean they're right. I mean, I'm sure you could say the same about all those investment banks who bought into subprime mortgages and ended up going bust. LordSirAlan asks Tom if he's trying to run before he can walk, and Tom says, essentially, no.

Then we come to Ricky Martin, who gets gently ribbed about his "personal statement", specifically the part where he suggested that LordSirAlan was at the stage of his life where he had to start thinking about "succession planning", leading LordSirAlan to ask with heavy irony whether he needs to let his kids know that they've got a new Dada coming. Aren't LordSirAlan's kids all well into adulthood by now? Ricky Martin puts some Journey on the stereo and talks about how he's learned through this process that actions speak louder than words and he should keep his trap shut a lot more. LordSirAlan is pleased that Ricky Martin wants to start a recruitment business "in what I would call a nish market". Ricky Martin says it's a big industry and he wants to work with the organisations who know of him, but don't currently work with him. LordSirAlan scoffs at this, but Ricky Martin is not to be swayed: he's placed a lot of people and has a lot of testimonies to back himself up. LordSirAlan points out that Ricky Martin has even allocated funds for the Christmas party in his business plan, and Ricky Martin says he wanted it to be as detailed as possible. They actually get a Christmas party at Ricky Martin Incorporated? I'm totally going to work there.

Last but not least, Nick and his strange computing system that no one understands. LordSirAlan wonders why he wants to put that much work into it. Nick says people go shopping for ingredients, when what they're really looking for is recipes. "How do you know that?" asks Karren, and Nick replies that it's what he does, it's what his friends do, it's what he understands people do. Well, he's probably just sunk himself there - that's the absolute worst kind of anecdotal market research that no one's going to take seriously. LordSirAlan then gives an elaborate pantomime of how he expects this system to work (a fairly simplistic take on it, by my reckoning) and returns to the well of whether it's worth the effort. Nick says that he has a prototype that's already out there and working, and that he has a far more innovative idea than everyone else. Ricky Martin says that it's all very well him saying that, but he has no experience in the industry he's aiming for. Nick retorts that he's been running a software company for "18-24 months". What, like software for the under-twos? Ricky Martin wonders what will happen when Nick gets another idea and runs off to implement it without getting any profit out of this one.

The summing-up music plays, and LordSirAlan says he can see light at the end of the tunnel for all four business plans, but he has to make some decisions. He's worried about the potential for Tom's business going wrong and what that would mean for his reputation, because it could be a calamity with his name tacked onto it. He knows Nick's a valuable commodity because all the other candidates wanted him on their team, but he's not sure about the business model. Ricky Martin has a workable business plan with his experience behind it. Jade's a great salesperson and very enthusiastic, but he's not sure he wants to put his name on something that involves disturbing people at home. I thought he'd already done that with this show, but there you go. Anyway, he's not going to mess around, and while he's enjoyed Jade's "presence", he doesn't want her to be his business partner, so with regret, she's fired. "You're fired" is a ridiculous thing to say to someone whose business plan you're rejecting. I know it's the show's catchphrase, but do they really need it in this final episode? Jade wishes the others luck and scurries out.

LordSirAlan weighs up the remaining plans, and thinks Tom might need to rein in his ambition, while Ricky needs to clamp down on his own madness. Nick is obviously intelligent, but LordSirAlan can already feel himself getting dragged into the enormity of his business proposal, and he doesn't really see where the money is, so for that reason, Nick is fired/excused/rejected as well.

So we have our final two of Tom and Ricky Martin, and LordSirAlan asks them to step outside while he has a final chat with Nick Hewer and Karren. Karren thinks Tom's business is a risky business (and I'm sure there is no shortage of viewers who would like to see Tom doing this), but Nick thinks it has the potential to be a very exciting one. LordSirAlan is reluctant to do business with other people's money, though. On the other hand, there's Ricky Martin, who Karren thinks has great credibility in his field, and we shouldn't rule out the wrestling biochemist because he's the safe option. Again, I can't quite believe I just typed that.

The top two are summoned back in, and LordSirAlan says that he might be interested in Tom's Pork Futures Warehouse once he's developed a level of comfort with it and with Tom, but he thinks they need to work together a bit first, and he reminds Tom that he put the feeler out there for a smaller scale version of the project. It's not quite a Helen's Bakery moment, but Tom says that he'd certainly be up for discussing that and would be a fool not to consider any offer on the table.

Ricky Martin's business is a lot simpler, but LordSirAlan sees echoes of himself in there, as Ricky Martin just wants to do what he did and leave a firm he worked for to start his own business. Ricky Martin says that he has the experience, and now it's his time to run forward. Feeling mischievous, LordSirAlan asks Ricky Martin if he'd invest in Tom's Pork Futures Warehouse when he's made his millions; Ricky Martin demurs, because even though Tom's brilliant, he doesn't like wine. Heh.

So essentially it comes down to the safe option versus the risk taker, though Tom points out that his option is safer in many ways because he's already founded a business, where Ricky Martin has not.

The music kicks in again, and it's time for LordSirAlan to make a decision. He admits that he quite wants to have a bit of a gamble, and Tom's business offers that "devilment", but Ricky Martin is more of a sure thing. So does he go for the devil, or the safety? [I love that he called Tom the devil.  Even though it was clearly Jade with her seven circles of hell pyramid call centre scheme - Rad]

Ultimately he play it safe. Ricky Martin wins! And this whole process was entirely worth it to see the look of barely-veiled disappointment on Tom's hipster wine-loving face when he realises he's just lost to the guy who was probably cast initially as the joke candidate.

A coatless Ricky Martin gets into his cab of victory, and says that this is the recognition that everything he's done has been worthwhile. He thinks he and Lord Sugar are going to be a powerful force to be reckoned with. They will, indeed, be the reflection of perfection.

So there we have it. Let's just round things off with a few You're Hired highlights:

- Jade knew she wasn't going to win, because she was present in her interviews
- You really haven't lived until you've seen and heard Jade saying "you have to give it some strategy" in the most sarcastic voice imaginable, giving it full-on air quotes.
- Jade is exploring some business possibilities right now, one of which may actually be BOOZE JELLIES! HOORAY!
- Gabrielle was looking at everyone adoringly from the audience, but especially Nick.
- Those awful choads who won series three of The Restaurant are somehow still in business :(
- Woman In Business Jo Malone thinks it's entirely acceptable to suggest to Tom that if business doesn't work out, he should totally take up modelling. Somehow I suspect that if a male panellist had said this to, say, Gabrielle, people would not have received it especially well.
- Ricky Martin got a lot of sun on his honeymoon.
- Ricky Martin's mother calls him Richard.
- Ricky Martin's wrestling routine involves getting spanked.
- Ricky Martin is giving up wrestling. :(

That's it for this year. Thanks for reading, and hopefully we'll all be back next year to go through this all again with another group of weaselly young upstarts!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Will yous be doing this years? Looks like a stellar bunch already...