Sunday, 30 June 2013

The parent trap

Week Nine: 26th January 2013

Previously: dating sites! Jordan was a strong, sexually-liberated independent woman, and Karren seemed to find it kind of arousing. I don't know about you, but I'm shipping it already. Alex brought out his alter-ego Herbert The Undead for their advert, and despite various advertising types turning their noses up at Endeavour's idea of a dating side for professionals called Cufflinks because hey, advertisers are professionals too and they AIN'T NO SQUARES, MAN, Endeavour's effort easily beat Evolve's half-finished, muddled, mumsy and patronising effort for the over-50s that somehow took two project managers to produce. They should've stuck with Jason's original idea: Love Ignition. Ultimately, Jason's shilly-shallying during his spell as PM caught up with him and he got his marching orders. Even though we'd all known since episode one that he was never going to win, I like to think a nation clutched its collective ovaries in despair as he walked out for the final time with Teddy tucked tightly in his briefcase.

It's 6am, and just for a change, the phone is ringing at Entrepreneur Estates. It's answered by Alex, who is displaying some rather cute fluffy bedhead that looks infinitely better than the "German businessman in an Eighties sitcom" gel-job he sports the rest of the time. Now I find myself wondering what his eyebrows look like without external interference. NotFrances informs Alex that they're to meet Lordalan at The Gherkin in 30 minutes. Remember, The Gherkin is a building that looks like a gherkin, and it's called that because it looks like a gherkin. (For more fascinating insights and truisms, Jamie Lester's Guide To London Architecture is available from all mediocre retailers.) Alex bellows to the other candidates that they're going to "the Gherkin in London", presumably to distinguish it from the famous Gherkin of Nuneaton. [I just liked how London Porn this series has been a phallic battle between the Shard and the Gherkin and this feels like the Gherkin willy waving to the extreme to ward off the spiky newcomer - Rad]

Luisa and Dr Leah are chatting while doing their make-up, and I could swear that Luisa says she feels like Cher (presumably because the people of the town are always calling her a gypsy, a tramp or a thief), but careful replaying of the conversation reveals that she actually feels "like, a bit shet, about being in the boardroom." Dr Leah politely points out that sometimes Luisa comes across as aggressive, and perhaps she should consider toning it down. Luisa gripes that if she's aggressive, what does that make Neil, eh? I'm glad that the future of British commerce depends on people who regularly deploy "I know you are, but what am I?" as a defence strategy.

Fully-dressed and ready to face the world, the candidates troop out to the Apprenticars, and dear god the neckbeard is OUT OF CONTROL at this point. I'm beginning to think that Neil is just the vessel, and The Neckbeard is operating him from within. Like Krang, it's somehow co-ordinating an impressively complex series of movements with two little joysticks. Also, for those of you who tune in for this sort of thing, there was no footage of Myles (or indeed anyone else) in his pants this week. Sorry. On the way to the Gherkin, Neil, Francesca and Luisa giggle that Alex HAS to be PM this week because it's week nine and he still hasn't done it and what is he, some sort of loser or something? Poor Jordan has the unlucky task of being the only person in a separate Apprenticar with Alex as he discusses this very issue. Alex points out that he's tried to be PM on several occasions but never gets any support, perhaps because of his age or his lack of experience. The look on Jordan's face suggests that he's trying very hard not to add "or the fact that you're a vampire and all the tasks you've volunteered for have taken place in daylight hours".

The candidates file in to the room at the top of the Gherkin with Nick and Karren and wait for Lordalan. When he arrives, he informs them that they're in Searcys restaurant, which has a reputation for providing "top quality food for business executives". Goodness me, that's quite the door code. No wonder they won't take my bookings when I call. Clearly next time I should call pretending to be my own personal assistant, booking it on my behalf. Anyway, the tangential link here is that apparently nowadays there's a demand for top quality food at home (whatever next?), and the ready meal market is worth over £1bn per year. The teams must develop their own ready meal and pitch it to three top retailers, and whoever gets the most "orders" wins. Thereafter, in a shocking twist, someone from the losing team will be fired.

Lordalan decides to cut the insubordination in the bud over on Endeavour and declares that Alex is PM whether anyone else likes it or not. Evolve? Eh, they can sort themselves out. After some voiceover nonsense about ready meals being "one of the hottest trends in food" (seriously, what?), Evolve get on with making that big decision. After last week's clusterfuck, Luisa would very much like to not be project manager for this task. Neil and Francesca both put themselves forward, leaving Luisa as the kingmaker. Since Luisa still kind of hates Francesca's guts, that means Neil is PM, even though Francesca claims to eat ready meals every day. Each little glimpse we get into Francesca's real life makes me sadder and sadder.

With the power struggle now (hopefully) settled for another week, it's time to pick a theme. Neil likes the idea of fusion cuisine, and suggests Carribbean/Mexican. Over on Endeavour, Alex wants to do paella, but Jordan points out it's probably better to decide who they're targeting with their product before they start picking actual meals. Alex isn't really listening and keeps wittering on about why paella is such a great choice until Dr Leah shuts him down, and Myles suggests that they target their product at kids. Alex worryterviews that it's very important for him to win this task and prove to both Lordalan and the other candidates that he can be a strong project manager. Alex nominates himself and Myles to be in charge of branding, mostly because Myles is a parent and therefore ought to know what he's talking about. Despite the fact that Dr Leah doesn't like cooking, Alex puts her in the kitchen to work on the recipe, and Dr Leah shoots him a look in response that could turn milk into blue cheese in three second flat. He puts Jordan in charge of that subteam, because reasons. [This was the week where the Rebecca/Jason subteam of kitchen banishment would have SHONE - Rad]

It seems no one on Evolve wants to do the cooking either: Neil wants to put both Francesca and Luisa on cooking duty, because apparently he didn't learn any lessons from Zeeshaan's firing. Francesca says that she knows nothing about cooking (hence living on ready meals, duh) and Luisa chips in that while she might own a cake shop, she's a baker not a cook. She doesn't know about savoury ingredients, you see. In a piece of logic that only really makes sense in Neil's head, he decides that "only good with sweet ingredients" is somehow worse than "what's a kitchen?" and decides to keep Luisa with him on branding (because that worked so well for Jason last week) and send Francesca off to recipe land. Having vowed last week that she was going to pounce on Luisa like an urban fox on a bin bag, Karren notes icily that Luisa's playing down her catering experience and it seems to have worked, because it's got her out of the kitchen.

So Francesca, Jordan and Dr Leah head off to Derby, where the test kitchens are located (well, at least they get a road trip out of it, I guess. Maybe they can take a leaf out of Kurt's book and play Caravan! Caravan! Caravan! on the way), everyone else stays in London to do some branding. The Endeavour subteam of Myles and Alex suggests it's set to produce comic gold when Myles's first suggestion for their brand - project-managed by Alex, remember - is "Dracula's Dinners". That is flat-out trolling of the highest order. Myles, I've clearly underestimated you. Sadly for Myles, Alex isn't even listening because he's too excited about his own ideas - a range of foods from around the world called "Popty Ping" (that's Welsh for "microwave", language fans), where Popty could be the brand's mascot and they could dress him up differently for each country, like a bullfighter for Spain. This could be the biggest thing to hit The Apprentice since Pantsman, you guys. Myles looks distinctly unimpressed, possibly because he'll only consider the idea if they retitle it "Popty Ping's Gruesome Food Of Death" or something.

In Evolve's branding car, Neil is suggesting they pitch their dinner at students, and Luisa suggests "Good Stuff" as a potential name. Meanwhile, Myles and Alex call Jordan and Dr Leah to pitch their respective ideas: both Jordan and Dr Leah like Alex's suggestion of foods from around the world, but Dr Leah does not like Myles' "Deadly Dinners: healthy horrible food." Arriving somewhere called Leather Lane (kinky!), Alex and Myles decide to do some impromptu market research, from "a few women or whatever" as Myles puts it. Because men never do the family shop, obviously, not unless they're a bit gay or something, in which case they wouldn't be allowed to have kids near 'em in the first place. Alex explains his idea to a random passerby, and how it's both a healthy meal and a geography lesson, and she's in favour of it. Alex interviews that they're trying out both ideas, but he thinks his will work better on a year-round basis, because "nobody wants to eat Dracula bolognese at Christmas". Well, no, but if you came up with Roast Dr Von Goosewing, you might be nearer the mark. Myles explains both ideas to a woman at the market, who likes both ideas but makes the salient point that the gruesome dinners will appeal more to children, while the geography lessons will appeal more to the parents. This is the point where both Myles and Alex probably should've thought quite hard about who's actually going to be buying the product in the end. Alex jokes that it's given them "food for thought", and Myles grouses "I hate it when you say that."

Back in the car, Alex is really running with his idea, and the concept of lovely dishes from around the world. Myles still isn't on board, because it doesn't "link in". To what, precisely, we aren't told. In the next round of his charm offensive, Alex explains that he's "got Popty there on a gondola". We're not normally in the business of doing screenshots, but there simply aren't the words to do justice to the beauty of this image:

"Italian, innit?" Alex declares proudly. Myles, who appears to be developing some sort of stress tic, asks what that tells anyone about geography. "Nothing," Alex replies, a little too quickly. He then turns the tables and asks what Myles has got, and when Myles starts off on Horrible Histories Deadly Dinners again, Alex counters that he wants ideas for Popty Ping, not for Murderous Meals or whatever it is. Alex declares that he's committed to his geography idea, and Myles will just have to grow to love it so he can pitch it with the appropriate level of enthusiasm. [I love how Myles is the go-to man for pitches, especially given what happens this episode - although it makes me wonder if what happens later was therefore Alex's revenge for all the sabotaging Myles has done to him - Rad]

Evolve now, and Neil calls Francesca to tell her that he and Luisa are heading to a Caribbean restaurant, and their latest thinking is Caribbean/Thai fusion. Francesca makes a silent but potent "blerg" face. They head into a West Indian restaurant where they try to put together a spicy chicken dish without blowing their own heads clean off.

2pm, and Francesca, Jordan and Dr Leah have all arrived at the development kitchens and put their hairnets on. Luisa calls Francesca from outside the restaurant so she can dictate the seasonings that Francesca will need to use. Already Francesca does not like the sound of this, and she reminds Luisa that she doesn't cook, so it had better be simple. Luisa assures her that it is, and then launches into a lengthy explanation of the dish that leaves Francesca behind at the first stage of "sweat an onion". Meanwhile, Karren interviews that this CLEARLY means Luisa does have knowledge of savoury ingredients after all (...because she's capable of reading from a list that was probably 99 per cent the work of the professional chef they just spoke to?) so she's hoodwinked everyone, and Karren hopes that Francesca is up to the cooking part of the task. Luisa finishes by telling Francesca that she just needs to cook it the same way she'd cook a stir fry. Unfortunately, the only way Francesca knows how to cook a stir-fry is to pierce the film lid in several places and whack it on full for three and a half minutes. Luisa then tells her to add passata and make it into a wet sauce, and Francesca is clearly so over it all by this point, but tells her it's fine just to get rid of her. The minute the call's over, Francesca starts ranting about how complicated it all is, how she doesn't recognise half the ingredients, and how it sounds disgusting and she wouldn't buy it. She concludes this display of culinary professionalism by asking her chef/supervisor type "can you burn chicken?", which would be the "do the French love their children?" of this series if only Francesca had bothered to cultivate even a tenth of the endearing personality that Susan Ma had. [Susan Ma was not in the least bit endearing.  I'd take Francesca any day and she's not exactly up to much - Rad]

Neil and Luisa are meeting with their design agency, and they explain that their concept is Caribbean chicken with Thai noodles. "Sounds different," their designer remarks, before pulling much the same face that Francesca did. Then they get into the business of picking a brand name. Luisa likes "Ginger Mister", but Neil thinks it's bordering on "going to annoy people". Well, he'd know, I guess. Eventually they work on the idea of two foods that you wouldn't expect to work together being united with a "pow!", and hit on the name "Oh My Pow!", which sounds like it ought to be a play on words, and yet apparently isn't. Luisa interviews in a rather self-celebratory fashion that it takes a strong person to work with her, therefore Neil must be a strong person because he's faring so well.

Back in the Endeavour Apprenticar, Myles is telling Alex that it's not that he thinks his own idea is better than Alex's (except that's exactly what he thinks), but he just thinks Alex's idea isn't clear, whereas Deadly Dinners definitely is. (Spoiler: it isn't as clear as Myles thinks it is.) Poor Alex is torn between the two ideas on the table, and after a bit more browbeating from Myles (and let's face it, Alex's brows can't take that much more beating), he caves in and goes with Horrible His--I mean, Deadly Dinners. Myles smirks, like it's just another night of picking €50 notes out of his g-string for him.

Meanwhile, Jordan and Dr Leah have been in blissful ignorance, making bolognese in the test kitchen, feeding each other and sucking on opposite ends of the same long strand of spaghetti until their lips meet in the middle. They take two different sample meals in to a room of people who appear to have been kidnapped, blindfolded and dumped there without explanation, judging by the looks on their faces. Jordan and Dr Leah are clearly still under the illusion that they're going with the Popty Ping idea, as Dr Leah explains that the purpose is to get kids to sample new foods and cultures. I presume that's why both of their dishes involve prawns - one's a prawn bolognese (...ew?) and the other is "just a light Italian dressing", per Jordan. One woman tells them that her children love prawns, to the extent that one of them asked for a box of prawns for her birthday. Jordan and Dr Leah's faces: "COOL STORY BRO." [Since when did prawns ever come in boxes? Imagining the smell of it makes me feel a bit nauseous - Rad]

They get feedback from the panel, who seem to prefer the "prawns provençale", and then teleconference with Myles and Alex to relate the news. Myles nonchalantly drops in that now they're doing the Deadly Dinners idea, super-casual, like it happened without any impetus from him. Jordan and Dr Leah are clearly unimpressed with this turn of events. After the call, Jordan notes that this level of indecision is "true to form" for Alex.

Alex and Myles are now off putting the packaging together, and Myles thinks they should mention in the "boring bits for parents" part of the box that there isn't really any bat's blood in the dish. He says it all joking-like, but if he had any idea what's about to befall him, I don't know if he'd find it so funny. Alex: "I still don't know whether or not to put fresh fruit and veg around the skull." I think if you're at the point of asking questions like that, it's probably too late to save yourself. Nick interviews that skulls are generally more likely to be found on products like bllllllleach and drrrrrrain cleaner. I love the way he relishes saying both of those. After following Alex and Myles around all day, I suspect Nick's probably starting to think favourably of the idea of drinking one of those products.

Back in Derby, Francesca is still struggling with her dish, not really having any idea whether she's getting it right or not. She's trying to figure out if her noodles are cooked, and throws one at the wall because she's heard that's what you do with spaghetti. Behind her, the chef supervisor wonders where he went wrong in life to end up babysitting Honey Boo Boo. Francesca takes her product off to be sampled by the group of terrified hostages willing volunteers. It's interesting that where Jordan and Dr Leah brought in two full trays of product, Francesca appears to have turned up with one portion to be shared between about ten people. She asks them first of all how they feel about the fusion of Caribbean and Thai dishes, and the response is pretty much "this is an abomination! Let's sacrifice this witch to our god!" One reasonable-seeming chap says that he understands that the idea behind the dish is fusion, but he's not sure if these were the right two cultures to fuse. Another helpless victim says that she wasn't sure about the idea before trying it, and now having eaten it, she's still not sure about it. Another man says it's all a bit dry. Francesca calls Neil and Luisa to report back, and explains that basically the test group hated it. Luisa asks Francesca if she liked it, and Francesca admits that she didn't taste it at any point because she didn't have time. Because the process of lifting a spoon to your mouth is so long and drawn-out. [To be fair, I wouldn't want to try that hot bland fried mess either.  I can't imagine it not tasting of vomit - Rad] Neil bitches in an interview that they told her to taste it throughout and she obviously didn't, but they're just going to keep the product as it is, because after last week nobody really knows if you're meant to listen to your market research or not anyway.

Over on Endeavour, the designs are being finalised and Alex is micromanaging the process. Myles is being a bargain-basement Luisa, all "look, it's fine, I like it, let's just move on". No one is complaining about the lack of an apostrophe in "bats blood", which I would be. Alex keeps trying to change things and Myles keeps screaming at him to leave it alone. Myles whineterviews that he spent a "significant" amount of his energy today "managing Alex as a person", but he thinks that his brand is very strong. Neil and Luisa, on the other hand, are a lot happier about their packaging, which is bright and colourful and which Luisa thinks speaks directly to their target market of people with no tastebuds who are easily distracted by shiny things. They declare themselves a "dream team", while Karren announces that Luisa seems to have learned her lesson and stopped game-playing, and is making a valuable contribution to her team. Make your mind up, Karren, about five minutes ago you were saying that she'd lied about her cooking skills to get out of being sent to the kitchens with Francesca.

9am the next day, the sample meals arrive at Entrepreneur Estates. Myles proudly opens his Deadly Dinners (frankly I'm surprised he didn't record it all on his phone for a special YouTube unboxing video) and Jordan giggles, saying that this is something he would've wanted when he was a kid. Yeah, but all the other kids would've laughed at him while they were busy queuing at the guinea fowl van. Dr Leah expresses concern that it looks like a Halloween-themed product, and therefore it might be too seasonal for widespread appeal. Evolve try a sample of Oh My Pow!, and Luisa declares that the noodles are chewy and there's no real flavour. "There's no pow! in Oh My Pow!" she laments.

Today is, of course, pitching-to-retailers day, so half the teams start working on their presentations, while the other members head out to get "market feedback". Because...why, exactly? I mean, it's not like they can change anything now. It feels like they're basically being sent out to be told in advance that their products suck just to demotivate them before pitching. Jordan and Alex declare that they're confident in selling lots of Deadly Dinners, on their way to a school where a group of kids are sat waiting to give their opinions. The kids turn out to LOVE Deadly Dinners, finding it tasty and exciting, to the point that when Jordan announces that there are only three platefuls left to be shared out between everyone, he practically starts a junior riot. And let's face it, you know those kids could easily overpower Tiny Jordan if they put their minds to it.

But what do the grown-ups think? Well, one woman "as a parent" tends not to buy anything with skulls on it. Incidentally, if there is one phrase guaranteed to make me tune out of whatever you're saying to me, it's "as a parent" - either your opinion is valid on its own terms, or it isn't, and the fact that you've spawned shouldn't play any part in it. One father says that the packaging doesn't suggest he's buying a healthy meal for his kids. Jordan asks the kids to put one hand in the air if they maybe-sorta like it, and both hands up if they really like it. Limbs shoot into the sky like fireworks, and Alex notes that there are even legs in the air, which must mean they really want it. And given that these are children, I will not be going anywhere near the obvious joke here.

Evolve, meanwhile, are preparing platefuls of Oh My Pow! for a group of assembled students. While they're waiting for the food to arrive, some of the students evaluate the packaging and admit that it's eye-catching. Luisa and Francesca bring the food out, and it's a big WAH-WAH from the focus group, who find it bland. One guy tells them that it doesn't taste like Caribbean chicken or Thai noodles. Luisa proceeds to take great joy in collating all of the "it looks and tastes like papier-mâché" feedback right in front of Francesca. Francesca fumes in an interview that Luisa was the one who dictated the recipe, so if she thought it needed more chilli, then she SHOULD'VE SAID SOMETHING. Francesca manages to find one piece of complimentary feedback about the Thai noodles and takes this as personal exoneration, while Luisa continues to burn through all of the feedback saying it was about as enticing as a used cat litter tray. Luisa reports "mixed feedback" to Neil, and that the packaging is going down well even though the taste isn't. Neil resolves that he will just pitch to the retailers saying that they'll bother to include some actual flavour if the buyers commit to a bulk order. I had no idea that product development involved so much emotional blackmail.

Pitching time! Francesca and Luisa sit in the back of the Apprenticar and note that while 93 per cent thought it would stand out, only 32 per cent said they would buy it. They decide to "spin" this unpleasant truth by...just not mentioning it.

Up first, Endeavour are pitching to Asda. Myles leads the pitch, while Alex stands behind him loudly piercing the film for the samples they've brought along. Dr Leah's face through the steady "pop! pop! pop!" is an absolute picture, and Myles only just stops himself from turning around to scream at Alex when he realises he's in front of potential clients. I really hope that Alex is doing this on purpose to deliberately sandbag Myles as revenge for everything that happened yesterday. I mean, it'd be completely self-sabotaging, since Alex is PM, but what a way to go out, eh? Just to perfect this scene, Alex interrupts to say that the microwave isn't on, and one of the buying panel tells him to "press the big button on the bottom". Tee hee. One of the panel has some issues with the product, "as a mum myself." Oh my god, you're a mother? CONGRATULATIONS! Please do feel free to constantly announce that you're a mother, because that's definitely information that we all need. She says that they've put her right off with the packaging and all the "deadly" and "horrible" stuff - she's sure it would appeal to her two boys, but it wouldn't appeal to her AS A MUM. Because she's a mother. Just making sure you all got that.

Meanwhile, Evolve are pitching to Ocado. Luisa's pitch is reasonably solid, emphasising how much of an impact the packaging would have on the website, which one of the buyers agrees with - but she counters that it doesn't taste very Caribbean. Neil admits that their "constructive feedback" was that people would buy it if there was a "widdle bit more spice, a widdle bit more fwavour in the sauce". It's interesting that that's the first and only time I've ever noticed him having a speech impediment. At least, I assume that's what was happening, and he wasn't just doing it on purpose to be cute like Gabbo or something. He says that if they put a "substantial" order in, the team will certainly look at improving the flavour.

Morrisons next, and Dr Leah leads the pitch for Endeavour, but is soon interrupted by a buyer who is concerned by the negative connotations of words like "deadly" and "horrible" and the potential marketing problem that poses. And she doesn't feel the need to tell us whether she's got children or not, so I am willing to take this as a valid criticism. Jordan explains that people will recognise that it's "playful" and not serious, and the woman counters "you hope". OH SNAP. Although, seriously: if anyone genuinely believes that these dinners contain actual, literal deadly ingredients, then they're too stupid to be raising children in the first place. Dr Leah attempts to address the criticism, but Myles talks over her AS A PARENT, and he can shut up as well. Dr Leah tries to wrap things up, and Myles talks over her again. Admittedly, Dr Leah's pitch did seem to be a little vague, but constantly interrupting your colleagues doesn't speak highly of your professionalism. Nick notes that the team seems to have little confidence in Dr Leah here, due to their constant interruption. I'm not so sure that it's a lack of confidence in Dr Leah so much as it is Myles having an unnecessarily high amount of confidence in himself and his own idea, but I guess the point stands regardless.

Neil pitches to Asda next, and his pitch is full of stats gained from their market feedback, except of course for the "only one person said they'd buy it, and even then it was because we threatened their family" part. Karren spends the whole of the pitch yawning and looking at her watch and interviews that Neil's pitch was SO BORING and she doesn't think it was very good at all. Slight problem here: in the interview where she says all this, there's a big "Ocado" sign behind her. Tsk, editors. You're getting sloppy. Asda like the idea, but not the taste, and Luisa says that if they place an order, the team will add more scotch bonnet chillis and pineapple (oh my god, she knows ingredients!!!!) to improve the flavour before it hits the shelves. Neil agrees that that's something Evolve can do easily, if the buyers order "en masse". That expression doesn't mean what he thinks it means.

Endeavour are on their way to their final pitch for Ocado, which will be led by Jordan. He's very happy to be doing this, he announces, since he's had grief from Lordalan before for not pitching, and he wants to show how good at it he can be. But, he asks, why isn't Alex pitching? *Sally Bercow-style innocent face* Alex blusters that he's the manager and he's giving the floor to his team. Jordan's pitch is a strong one, and Ocado even bring up the prospect of exclusivity. [But on this show exclusivity, like market research, can be both a good thing and a cardinal sin - Rad]

7pm, and Francesca pitches to Morrisons for Evolve, saying very Francesca-esque things like how the product "really targets the people who want to eat it". The same buyer who did all the talking in the other team's pitch says that the branding is strong but the flavour is absent, and Neil does his usual tactic of promising to improve flavour without increasing costs if the order is placed. I wonder where he plans to get this constant supply of free pineapples and scotch bonnet chillis from? Karren interviews that each of the retailers haven't liked the flavour, and that Evolve always say they'll improve it [or make it worse, depending on whether or not you think that thing tasting of what it was supposed to could in any way be considered a good idea - Rad], so now it just depends whether the retails fall for it.

In the car on the way back, Luisa asks Neil if people were disappointed that they liked the brand but not the flavour, and Francesca literally turns her back to Luisa and shouts "come on, Luisa! Keep stabbing me! I haven't felt it hard enough yet!" I'm so aroused right now.

The next day. The boardroom. NotFrances sends them all through. Lordalan turns straight to Alex, since he was the one who had to be given PM authority from on high, and asks how he got on. Alex admits they were torn from the beginning, because Myles was fighting passionately for Deadly Dinners, while Alex himself was very keen on Popty Ping. Lordalan correctly identifies this as Welsh, and notes that "it might have gone down well in Swansea, but I don't know about the rest of the country". I dunno, isn't "Popty Ping" one of those phrases that even non-Welsh speakers know, because it sounds so funny? [I'd never heard it before but now I LOVE it - Rad] Alex explains that it was the idea of doing foods from around the world and getting kids to expand their horizons. Lordalan asks why, if Alex was so committed to his own idea, did he end up with Horrible Hist, er, Deadly Dinners, and Alex explains that he felt compelled to listen to Myles who IS A PARENT and therefore obviously knows everything about children. Lordalan points out that there's a counterintuitivity to the product since something with a skull on it is usually meant to be kept away from children. Myles says that kids love everything gruesome (really? All children do?) and that to engage with the kids, they described the product as "bat's blood and prawn pasta". Lordalan wonders if this will be part of a range with Lethal Lasagne, and Homicidal Hummus. I would totally buy Homicidal Hummus, by the way. Especially if it had a picture of Popty Ping brutally stabbing someone on the packaging.

Lordalan asks if Alex was an effective team leader. Myles says that Alex listened, which was a positive trait. Lordalan asks if he means "listened", or "caved in the face of continued harassment". Myles admits that he worked hard to make Alex see that this was the only genuine idea they had. Alex...says nothing. Somewhere in a bin, a crumpled-up sketch of Popty Ping wails "ac rydych, Alex?"

On Evolve, Neil explains that he and Francesca put themselves forwards as PM, and Luisa says that she wanted the team to unite and not have any arguments (lol) and that's why she didn't throw her hat into the ring for PM. Neil's PM-ing gets endorsed by both Luisa and Francesca, and Neil explains that he sent Francesca off to do the cooking and tasting, while he and Luisa came up with the brand. Lordalan says that "Oh My Pow!" sounds like a dog food. It really doesn't, but okay. Lordalan asks Francesca how the food tasted, and she admits that she never tried it. Did she really never taste it at any point during the process? Bloody hell. Lordalan thinks it's bizarre that the chef didn't taste her food. Karren very carefully says that Neil's problem was that "neither of the ladies can cook", at which point Luisa pipes in "no, I can cook basic food", and Karren's all "aha! Gotcha! J'accuse, Luisa!"

Lordalan reads out the feedback from the focus group, which includes such gems as "Serving suggestions: Don't serve it". Neil says that they promised the retailers that they would improve the taste if they got orders, and Lordalan points out to Neil how the team basically abused their market research to disguise the fact that nobody really liked the food, which is apparently the most important thing in all of this. Neil's pitching skill is also called into question, as Lordalan crows that Karren called his speech "laborious".

Results time!

Evolve sold 300 orders to Ocado, nothing to Morrisons, and 2500 orders to Asda for a total of 2800 orders.
Endeavour sold 1000 orders to Ocado, nothing to Morrisons, and nothing to Asda for a total of 1000 orders.

LOLASDA. So trusting. Remind me to go in there next week and pitch my new "magic beans" recipe.

Evolve win. Oh my pow! Their reward is to go to the Bedford Autodrome and drive a Ferrari. Lordalan jokes that "we've all had seafood come back to haunt us", and tells Endeavour that one of them is getting fi-yured.

Evolve go racing. Neil goes first, and tries to take Francesca's go as well. Francesca's having none of it, and manages to just beat Neil's lap time. Luisa screams "laters, loser!" and zooms off, never to be seen again.

Endeavour head to Loser Café. Alex tells Myles that the whole Deadly Dinners concept was wrong from start to finish, and interviews that he should've stuck with his own idea. Jordan thinks there was a "lack of clarity" over who the actual buyer for the product was, and Myles admits in an interview that the product was his baby, and he should take responsibility for its failure, AS A PARENT.

Back in the boardroom, Lordalan asks why Endeavour struck out with two of the retailers, and Alex says that the whole brand was incorrect, while Myles disputes. Lordalan reads some feedback from one of the buyers, saying that "mum is our customer", and the product didn't appeal to "mum". Because, again, dads never do the shopping. Man, fuck supermarkets. Alex says that he should've stuck with his own idea, which was targeted more at the parents, and Myles is all "oh, well why are we only hearing about this for the first time now, Alex?" Well, because you're not, you chump. You got that from your market research, and you ignored it. Lordalan reads some more feedback from the parents at the school, including the interesting observation that the product carries the implication that "healthy" and "horrible" are synonymous. I have to say, I'm far more interested in that as a criticism than all the "baby could order poison!" hand-wringing from the Mumsnet brigade. Lordalan asks what the point of going to a research group, if they take no notice of the report? Maybe because LAST WEEK THE OTHER TEAM FOLLOWED THE MARKET RESEARCH AND GOT TOLD THEY SHOULDN'T HAVE? Bloody hell, Lordalan, make your mind up. Nick interjects that the team were overly dazzled by the enthusiasm of children, which is easily bought and therefore not to be trusted.

Dr Leah's pitch is the next subject of discussion, since one of the buyers complained he couldn't get a word in edgeways because the team kept talking over her. Myles thinks the pitch went round in circles because Dr Leah didn't have their full attention. Dr Leah admits that her pitch was weak, but says that Myles's was just as bad, and that his was "dull as ditchwater". Nick and Dr Leah are both agreed on the fact that Jordan's pitch was easily the best of the three, and Karren wonders how Jordan managed to be so persuasive. Jordan replies that he thought they could run "a double campaign", pitching the product to kids pretty much as-is, while simultaneously advising parents that it wasn't something they needed to feel guilty about if they bought it for their children.

So who's responsible for the branding? Alex nominates Myles, and Myles accepts it, but says that he had no support from Alex and it was the best he could come up with single-handed. Alex says that the reason they lost is because he assumed that Myles had parental superknowledge and he'd be missing a trick by not taking it on board. Lordalan asks Alex if the reason he didn't stick to his product is because he's weak, and Alex...doesn't really do much to persuade anybody that this assumption is incorrect.

Lordalan asks Alex to bring two people back to the final boardroom. Alex says he only wants to bring Myles, because he has no complaints with either Jordan or Dr Leah's work on this task. Lordalan won't stand for that and insists on having three people in the final, and given that Jordan was the only one who delivered a successful pitch, it's Dr Leah who joins Alex and Myles at the final table.

Candidates leave, Karren thinks Alex lacks focus, Lordalan thinks Dr Leah is "a very clever girl", but has she come up with anything over the past nine weeks? Myles has defended his idea, but it's one that went off the rails. Candidates go back in.

Lordalan says that Alex had the ultimate call on which product to go with, and Alex says that's why he only wanted to bring himself and Myles back into the boardroom. Lordalan says, however, that he's pleased Dr Leah is there because he wants to stare at her amazing boardroom hair some more. Also, he wants to ask what she's contributed in the last nine weeks. Dr Leah says that she delivers on every task in whatever role she's given, like directing a well-received advert last week and developing the well-received recipe this week. Fine, so she doesn't always get a glory role, but she thinks she's performed in every task. She tells Lordalan that she's the most reliable, consistent person in the whole process and that she's the one he can entrust £250,000 without thinking she's going to "go off and do something crazy with this". Lordalan thinks that Dr Leah has been very quiet up to this point. Really? I'm guessing he's wiped that boardroom with Zeeshaan out of his memory. Dr Leah deploys her favourite tactic at this point: calling Myles a wastrel. She says that she's outperformed Myles on every task, and asks what he has he done apart from sell a few vegetables that one time?

Lordalan calls Myles "Mr Monaco" (the most expensive Mr Men book, obviously) and asks Myles if he's performed in the last nine weeks. Myles says that he only knows luxury brands and high net worth (I bet you anything there are pictures of Myles wearing Primark sweats and eating a Pot Noodle if you know where to look), but he's sold everything from beer to flatpack furniture as part of this process. Lordalan asks Alex what he's done. Alex says that he opened up his business at 19 from a garage, and hastens to clarify that it's a house sign, opening plaque and memorial business, he doesn't just sell tombstones. Alex's business plan, apparently, is a "legal umbrella company" (because you've got to be very careful of those dodgy knockoff illegal umbrellas, kids) - he's sold his original company, invested in CCTV, and now he wants to do this. Lordalan asks if Alex has any legal qualifications. Alex does not. Lordalan tells him that businesspeople need to stick to what they know. That's why every single task on this programme is dedicated to the skills that the candidates already possess, and why Lordalan is still a rag-and-bone man. Dr Leah chimes in that she agrees with Lordalan, because Alex keeps coming up with these fanciful ideas that don't tie in with the sectors they're working in, whereas she's a realistic prospect. Alex argues that businesses of this nature are successful, and Dr Leah replies "not owned by you, my love." Amazing. Alex says that Richard Branson diversified into space travel, and Lordalan gets all "oh, even *I* wouldn't compare myself to Branson." I love how this show can never differentiate between invoking someone's name and comparing yourself to them.

Lordalan surmises that Dr Leah holds Alex responsible for the task's failure, but that's not the case; Dr Leah holds Myles responsible, because he's been in business for 23 years which is almost as long as she's been alive (BURN!) and he still can't come up with a suitable brand.

Firing time: Lordalan admires Alex's enthusiasm and youth, thinks that Dr Leah has shown a different side of herself by speaking up in the last few moments (this sudden attempt to retcon Dr Leah as a silent wallflower is utterly mystifying), and thinks Myles misjudging their customer, which was the fatal error. However, Alex's youth and enthusiasm are not enough, so Lordalan advises him to stick to something and he will succeed. Not at this though, because he's fired.

Lordalan thinks that an outsider looking in might think Myles got away with murder here (Dr Leah nods, hilariously), but Lordalan thinks his years of experience in business suggest that Myles deserves to remain. But it's getting tough! He's not going to be Lordalan The Lenient Boss From Loughton No More! Myles and Dr Leah are dismissed, hugs are exchanged in the anteroom, and Alex puts his Godfather coat back on to get into the Apprentaxi, where he interviews that if he'd stuck to his guns they probably would've won the task. And I think he's probably right on that one.

Back at Entrepreneur Estates, Luisa declares that if Dr Leah doesn't come back, she's going to be really sad. Myles and Dr Leah walk back in, and Luisa squeals with delight. Myles says that Alex was the biggest character, but at this point it's about your merit as a person (lol) and the strength of your business plan. So we definitely won't see any strong performers booted at interviews because it turns out their business plan was shit all along, right guys? Guys?

Next week: just when you thought it was safe to go back to the wholesaler, it's time for SMELLIN WOSS SELLIN again. Join Helen to see who finds yet another way of fucking up this insultingly easy concept.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Dating in the dark

Last week!  A multi-caravan pile up!  Jason emerged from the carnage vaguely victorious, earning the most endearingly patronising pat on the head from the Sugarman for selling one caravan, whilst the bad smell (of sour milk) that had been hanging around for weeks was finally excised as Kurt and Natalie both got the boot after weeks of doing nothing but moping around. 

Our former bitcher Joel pointed out this week that this show no longer calls the candidates ‘Britain’s brightest business brains’ or whatever it was and has resorted to ‘ambitious entrepreneurs’.  Not sure how I never noticed that before, but the honesty about the casting for this ‘process’ is appreciated.  Maybe next year they’ll just call them ‘twats in suits’.  (Also: the iPlayer calls it ‘business competition’.  Bless).  Incidentally, I saw an advert for the ballet of Romeo and Juliet with the Prokofiev soundtrack and they chose ‘Dance of the Knights’ to soundtrack it.  Whilst I appreciate it’s the best known piece of music from it, I can only ever think of this show when I hear it and I would genuinely find it a bit weird to watch it being used in a serious context.  See also: O Fortuna.  However, someone out there must surely have done a take on it with people in business suits?  Otherwise that’s some missed opportunity right there.  And whilst we’re on the subject, I see there’s yet another film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet on its way because that’s just what the world needs.  At least if they’d set it in the world of this SRS BZNZ PROCESS and they were on opposing teams, it might be interesting.  If this were Monkseal, we’d do a poll right now to establish which Apprenti would be Romeo and which Juliet, but I think we all know the real star of it would be Alex, playing death (as usual).

You might think this waffling about Romeo and Juliet is somewhat off-topic, but you’d be wrong!  Yes, love is in the air this week – my love for the advertising task, Alex’s love of the macabre, our collective love of Jason, and also an ever more gratuitous parade of the men in their pants, which.. I might love more if it wasn’t this particular set of men.  Oh and Sugasugasuga has summoned them to Marylebone Town Hall, where people get married, to set them this week’s task.  A glorious parade of London Porn at sunrise accompanies our candidates on their journey whilst Neckbeard points out that there is only three on ‘their’ team.  Hands up if you know whether ‘their team’ refers to Evolve or Endeavour.  Thought as much.  Leah, Myles and Alex note that they are all that remains of ‘their team’.  Alex says he will put himself forward as PM whatever the task.  Leah eye rolls.  Careful, Leah, Kurt did that one too many times and his face stayed like that.

Call me Al welcomes them to Marylebone and tells them that online dating is BIG BZNS, with over 1.5 billion made through these sites.  They have to design a website and TV advertising campaign, which they will show to ‘experts’ but he will decide arbitrarily who wins as per usual.  Jordan is ported over to ‘their team’ to even up the numbers and they’re off.

In the cabs, Myles says the first time he ever saw a picture of his wife was online but it wasn’t on a dating site.  Jordan pulls a face at this.  Do we take this to mean Myles saw his wife on a) Facebook, b) a mail-order brides site or c) porn?  Neckbeard has never been online dating.  Francesca says he probably thinks it’s for losers.  Neil: Why, have you done it?  I love it when they don’t even need the editors to make the jokes happen.  Alex says in the car that ‘some people are gay, some people are lesbian, some people are obviously, err, heterosexual, there are so many variants’ – except you’re effectively describing two variants there rather than the ‘many’ that exist.  Also: anyone else thinking the subtext here might have been ‘some people are necrophiliacs’?  It’d be a neat sideline for his tombstone empire at any rate. I choose to assume this is why Leah pulled a ‘eww gross’ face when he suggested getting ‘all these people in’ and argued ‘within reason, tastefully’ otherwise she looks like a bit of a homophobe and I don’t like to think that she is.  Alex doesn’t want any ‘Fifty Shades of Grey nonsense.  Then again, I am Christian Grey of the Valleys.’  He means that in the way that Grey was based on notorious vampire Edward Cullen.

Over at the other team and Jason volunteers to be PM because he ran a dating site when he was younger and Neckbeard patronises him to within an inch of his life saying ‘well, if YOU believe you can, then you should do it.’  That redemption arc from the other week has gone full circle this past fortnight, hasn’t it? 
At ‘their’ team (in a room marked ‘red’), Alex offers to be PM as he’s got some graphic design experience and has used dating sites in the past.  Jordan offers to be PM just to spite Alex as much as anything and says he doesn’t have as much experience but will get people working to their strengths.  Leah and Myles vote for Jordan because he’s not Alex (or he has a ‘broad sense of it’, whatever that means).  From their list of presumably pre-determined categories of consumer, they go for young professionals.  Jordan says he’ll be able to give a view from 50,000 feet – because he’s used to looking up that far on a daily basis anyway, ba-dum-tish.  Jordan sends Alex to work on the web and tech side and Leah and Myles to work on market research.  Alex suggests ‘fifty shades of work’ – so much for his earlier statement.

At the other team, they’re in a room marked ‘Grey’.  Nice work, editors – on two counts, both coming from the previous comment and leading into what follows.  They are discussing the mature market. Luisa isn’t keen because they’re all so immature.  Jason says it’s different, Francesca says she knows about young people.  Luisa says none of them can relate to a mature market – well, except Jason last week, but anyway.  Jason points out the over-50s aren’t from another planet and they need to bring something vibrant into that market.  Luisa whines that it’s a risk.

Market research time!  Leah is asking people about their online dating experience, whilst Myles harasses some poor bloke to pose with Leah for publicity and asks if he could look a bit more wooden.  Man: Whut?  Quite.

With their designer, Luisa asks Jason if he wants their website to be timeless, elegant, classic, or cheeky, fun and on the line. That last line makes me think of this dreadful dreadful thing which makes me feel nothing but shame for everybody involved, especially Rose Byrne (you were in Damages, woman, have some respect for yourself.  As were you, John Goodman), but really its existence diminishes us all.  Jason wants ‘Love Ignition’.  Oh, JASON.  Francesca and Neckbeard go to a pub to do their market research with a small group of over-50s.  Who aren’t at work in the daytime but are sitting around drinking.  Just saying.  One of them mentions friendship, and Francesca suggests ‘friendship and flowers?’ which they all agree to and get excited about.  Some people have speculated these people were a bit too old, but I think they look maybe 60 ish?  So it depends if they were going for 50-somethings or retirees – that’s the problem with the ‘over-50s’ to start with – it’s way too diverse an area, with many of them in the prime of their working life and others much older.  Over 65s (or over 70s even) is a completely different age-range and target market from 50-65/70.  So… I blame the producers and their crappy predetermined categories for the (whoops, spoiler) clusterfuck this ends up as.

At their team, Jordan makes an all too heartfelt claim to be a woman who works long hours in the city who doesn’t want to go out to a bar waiting for men to talk to her.  Jordan would rather go on a website because she is a strong, sexually liberated woman.  Alex says that when men do it, it’s like buying a wife from Russia.  Is it?  I don’t know, ask Myles.  Also: I have no idea what the hell that was about – unless they’re making their site exclusively lesbian then surely both men and women need to use it?  Anyway, Alex suggests cufflinks as a theme, which still hints at bondage to me, and Jordan loves this idea.  Their logo is a TIE with a love heart top.  Not a cufflink to be seen.  Subliminally drawing on the red room they were in earlier, the header of their website is bright red and the whole thing looks a bit like an A-Level graphic design project circa 2001.

On the other team, Neil and Francesca ring Jason and Luisa and said their focus group didn’t want cheeky and loved the name friendship and flowers.  I was under the impression from the footage that they liked the concept of that, rather than it being a name per se but then that could be all the tricksy editing.  Jason grimaces and Luisa eye rolls.  She says she hates it but the focus group did suggest it. Jason is deflated because it throws a curve ball at his desire to go for energy and excitement and means they have to go for something more drab.  A group on this show listening to the market research?  Surely this breaks all the rules?

On their team, Leah and Myles think cufflinks sounds like mens’ fashion and not a dating website and Alex and Jordan lie that the logo looks amazing.  Speaking of logos, on the other team, Luisa and Jason are with a graphic designer and Jason is dithering about colours for their own logo, arguing the toss about shades of red.  Luisa is having none of this, for as we all know too well, she doesn’t give a shit about such things.  Fortunately this time she just stops short of getting up in the designer’s face and shouting at him.  What a journey she has come on!  They’re an hour over the deadline and haven’t started the website.  Luisa keeps shouting at him to make a decision and he says he doesn’t like making decisions and he suggests several changes and then it looks like they go back to the original colour scheme.  Luisa whines that he’s wasted 45 minutes on some grandma thing.  He says she went with it.  She whines that she hates the over-50s.  They’re on her list of Room 101 things along with anything corporate and all of her team mates.  I’m not sure what Luisa actually likes, except the sound of her own voice.  Jason says that maybe in a design task, eh shouldn’t have been PM.  Except… a) it’s a design and advertising task and b) wasn’t that part of the reason he went for it?

Jordan and Alex are mocking up a fake profile of Jordan for their website and he’s listed himself as an International Spy (MI6).  Alex tells him he can’t put that and Jordan whines that he wants to be a spy.  Alex asks him what his actual job is and he huffs ‘business development manager’ in much the same manner as X Factor contestants do in week five when they whine about how they don’t wanna go back to supermarkets/teaching/soldiering.  In terms of bemoaning one’s status in life, it’s no I DON’T WANNA BE JOANNA THE CLEANER (FROM LEICESTER) NO MORE, is all I’m saying.  Jordan whinges that it’s a lot more fun being an international spy.  I can’t work out if he’s a) trolling Alex, b) serious or c) doing it for the telly exposure.  I suspect it’s d) all of the above.

Luisa and Jason have to come up with three pages for their sample website and Jason wonders if Luisa should take charge.  Their ‘design’ is a huge sheet of white with a very tiny profile of an old man in the middle whose dating info is sparse but whose motto is ‘no regrets’.  Oh, JASON.  The designer (Lucy) laughs in their faces as well she might. Luisa interviews that she might need to take over the task.
Their team are brainstorming the advert – Myles wants it to be a disaster date with a real Herbert.  Leah says, someone really ugly and Alex wonders why they’re all looking at him.  Myles lies that there are three options: the old bloke (himself), with a slight look of panic at the thought the others might actually choose this; Jordan because he’s ‘a 6 foot 6 strapping guy’ and Alex because he has ‘James Bond good looks’.
Back at the other team, Neckbeard now calls ‘their team’ ‘the other team’.  Stop confusing me, Neil!  I’m going to have to start calling you Envolve and Edeavour or something because I am still unsure which is meant to be which.  They bemoan Jason and Luisa’s getting next to nothing done on the website and Francesca open mouth gawps with a slight sense of delight as she realises she is unlikely to be the one fired this week.  Luisa blames Jason.  Jason interviews that he’s ‘in a nest of vipers’.  Luisa says Jason needs to decide if he wants to be PM.  Neckbeard says you can’t change PM, Luisa says you can. Jason says the team and the victory is what is important and Luisa has a commanding voice.  Francesca and Neil appoint Luisa project management.  Neil led the whole of that conversation, by the way, as is his wont.
9am on day two and the teams have to create adverts and poster campaigns.  We see the front page of Jason and Luisa’s site as they instruct the designer on the posters.  It doesn’t look too bad, considering, but it’s a very standard dating site design and the photo is definitely an over-65s shot.  Jason hopes that after the ‘extremely bold move of mine’, ‘Lu’ will have success.  The photos used for the poster seem to use a slightly younger couple than the ones on the site.  Her cutting edge copy?  ‘Log on now to meet new people’ and ‘one month’s fee trial’.  Wooop.

Myles and Jordan take out their website to show people – which probably is a bit after the fact, given it’s already done.  The feedback is that it’s too corporate – which it is – all greys and reds and blocks.  Myles says it has no passion or fun.  He wants the TV advert to be engaging.  Leah and Alex are on location whilst Alex tells the crew of two men they’ve been sent that he plans to film, direct, edit and act, much to their bemusement.  They are filming their date scenes in the vicinity of what looks like a school, which adds an even more creepy layer to proceedings.  Alex relishes getting ready to “act” – he wears a lot of eye make-up and a crucifix T-shirt (essentially his standard Friday night out outfit, I assume) with cut off demin shorts, purple ankle socks and shoes.  The actress playing his date looks genuinely afraid.  He tells her to focus on the eyes, look into the eyes, not around the eyes, you’re under.  Alex frolics around with piles of leaves and waggles is eyebrows.  Leah moans that it’s ‘wrong.’  On so many levels.

On the other team (which is also what helpful voiceover man calls them), Neil and Francesca are directing their hideously cringey advert.  Nick pops up to say that this lot are actually Evolve.  Thanks Nick!  He says things have settled down since Jason ‘abdicated’ (was deposed).

Alex and Leah are fighting about their shoot and Karren interviews that they’re both trying to direct.  Nick interviews that Neil and Francesca’s ad is too mumsy and it’s his age group, but he’d run a mile.  We see the woman in their ad winking at camera in the creepiest, strangest way possible (unless you were Alex) but it’s unclear who is to blame for the wink.  Maybe it was an ad-lib.

Myles and Jordan are putting their poster together and moan that Alex looks an idiot, has made it panto (oh boys, this whole series is panto, and much the better for it in my opinion) and they worry that he’s gone too far.  It’s Alex.  You knew what he would do when you goaded him into it.  The photos of him emphasise his vampiric qualities nicely, and he’s holding a bunch of dead flowers for a touch of extra class.

Finishing touches are made to the edits and pitches.  Myles is delighted Jordan has chosen him to pitch but points out that Jordan hasn’t led on any aspect of the task at all.  The Friendship and Flowers ad has the address ‘’ in a very old-fashioned italicised AND shadowed font (Arial, maybe?) at the end and no use of their logo – and their logo said on it – if they can’t even get their own address right then there really is no hope.  Incidentally, I see both F&F domains have been snapped up by some company called Global Personals. and are both websites selling cufflinks.  Who’da thunk it?

Luisa thinks their ad is fun and memorable, Jason thinks it’s flawless and she wants to pitch but Neil has a massive strop that he is the best pitcher and he should do it and says she needs to sleep on it and choose him.  Luisa interviews that, for once, Neil Clough won’t get his way and she’ll sleep on it and still choose herself.  I’ve never liked her more.

The cufflinks advert – which contains no URL, you will notice (gah, I don’t know why I even bother wishing this series would understand the internet when it fundamentally has no idea what the internet is, let alone how it might work), has a cringey ad but a fairly clear message about ‘people who don’t have time for bad dates’.  It’s essentially an Alex showcase rather than saying anything at all about their brand, and in any other year, Sralan might bemoan them for not shouting about the product non-stop which is his usual definition of a good advert – but because of the drama in Evolve, perhaps Herbert will triumph where Pantsman failed.  (Spoiler alert: he will)  Alex finds it hilarious, Myles worries that it might be silly.  Jordan says nothing because he’s that kind of excellent PM.

London porn!  8am on day three and the teams need to pitch to experts.  Advertising execs, people from eHarmony and people from ‘Global Personals web design’, of the aforementioned link redirects, who must be hoping this free advertising works for them.  [All paid for by the licence fee!  - Daily Mail]

Luisa is first up to pitch Friendship and Flowers (which has now lost the  They have only two pages on their sample website – the home page and the big white void of that man’s profile.  There are no posters to be seen – I don’t know why they ever make them bother with posters in the advertising task, as the posters rarely ever get shown and never make a difference to the outcome.  The advert doesn’t seem to show the website, but has a very cheesy soundtrack and shows their two mature people going for a drink, and THAT wink.  One of the advertisers (aged ‘49’, one suspects) shouts at them that FIFTY IS THE NEW THIRTY like that means anything and WE’LL ALL BE FIFTY SOON, DON’T SEND ME TO A FUNERAL PARLOUR JUST YET, I’M NOT EIGHTY FERCHRISSAKES.  DID I SAY I?  I MEAN THEY, THEY ARE NOT EIGHTY.  Luisa says they did what the market research told them.  Another man says if you listen to market research you will end up doing what they told you.  Somewhere, Sophie’s brain explodes as this show’s crazy relationship with market research (or “market research” given it’s only ever a scrappily-pulled together focus group/vox pop) and the debate over whether it’s worth listening to or not continues.  Another man picks up their lack of website.  Luisa flusters that it’s obviously still being developed.  Luisa worries that they listened to the focus groups too much.  Francesca says it’s not a market they know about so they had to listen to someone.

Myles pitches for Endeavour, and actually does a reasonably good job at explaining that Herbert is the character for their brand in terms of epitomising the bad date.  Their poster is shown but has no URL on it.  The advert also uses terrible music and Dr Leah’s bored voiceover from the land of not giving any shits at all.  Again, no URL is provided – how the hell would people find this site?  Audience members pick up that Cufflinks implies men and clothing and Alex says it implies BZNS people.  Jordan says NOTHING but looks faintly terrified.  Another man points out the adverts are daft but the website is corporate and the two don’t connect.  Jordan pushes his glasses onto his nose. 

Boardroom time! LordSugasugasuga gets some feedback – one team understands the psychology of online dating.  One missed the mark with the advertising.  One had no link between the website and advertising.  Sralan says the marketers are ‘torn’ so he has a task to sort it out himself.  NotFrances sends the candidates through and Sralan reminds them he will decide who wins on the toss of a coin or whatever mood he’s in today or whichever group will give the best boardroom drama, or some sort of mechanism of deciding who is ‘best’anyway.

Over with Endeavour and Jordan says he was very keen to put himself forward as PM, and that Alex also volunteered, but, it’s Alex, y’know?  Karren says Alex’s pitch was good but no-one wanted him.  Alex doesn’t know why.  Jordan says the site was for young professionals and cufflinks had the word LINKS in it.  We see their ad again and Evolve giggle at it, as all teams must.  Sralan says there is a lot going for humorous adverts even though he clearly hates them and, as we know from previous iterations of this task, any advertising that isn’t just BUY THE PRODUCT BUY THE PRODUCT.  Leah goes on about their bad date thing and he holds up print-outs of their website (which doesn’t look to have any URL here either) and says they don’t go together.  Leah says all it needs is to put Herbert on there.  When asked if Jordan was a good PM, the team say yes.  Karren says he was a good delegator, as the other three did everything.  Jordan whines that a good PM has to get the best out of his team and that’s what he did.  LudSugaSugaSuga says when he is chosen to win he has to manage a team.  Sralan says he has to see that he doesn’t just stand back and let someone else work.  I think Jordan was pretty good at delegation and that is part of the PM role but he does also shirk responsibility and doesn’t seem to be that competent at most things, so everyone is a little bit right and a little bit wrong here.

We move over to Evolve and Al be your baby tonight mentions that Jason was ‘Mr Cupid’ for his dating website at Oxford.  And they made the Social Network into a film?  This is much more the story I want to see.  He was therefore the obvious PM but he says confidence was so low he decided Luisa needed to take over.  Francesca says he buckled under pressure.  Nick declares that HE will say what happened, and that’s that Luisa nipped at his heels all day.  Neckbeard, seeing which way the wind is blowing, affirms what Nick is saying.  He is such a master villain, isn’t he?  I really wish I could admire the way he totally has them all in his grasp… but he’s still a complete twat.  Nick goes for her some more because, well, mouthy women do that to him.  Neckbeard then tries to blame Luisa for the website.  Sralan snipes about the Friendship and Flowers thing and they mention the market research.  Sralan sniffs at their ad like he’s smelled Kurt’s rancid milkshake still lingering around.  The editors cut to Leah yawning.

The Sugaman says the advisors are torn about them because Cufflinks was a funny advert but there was no co-ordination with the website and Frienship and Flowers picked the right market but it was boring, cringeworthy and patronising, although at least their campaign was cohesive.  He gives Evolve ‘the benefit of the doubt’ because someone has to win and sends them off to Mayfair to eat caviar.  BLEE.  35 grand’s worth of the stuff is presented to them.  Jordan: ‘mmm, fishy pate.’  He snipes that Sralan is picking on him because he wasn’t responsible for any particular thing, but he was responsible for the total thing.

Loser café and we’re back with the Bridge café this week.  Huzzah! Neil and Luisa are having a shout-off and Neil whines that he’s embarrassed to be a part of it.  Luisa says he was a part of it and needs to stop pretending he’s above it all like usual.  She apologises to Jason if he feels he was bullied.  Jason doomterviews that he had guts to stand down. 

NotFrances sends them back into the boardroom and Sralan asks who the PM is.  Jason says it’s probably both him and Luisa.  They go over the over-50s being cool and vibrant idea and Francesca says ‘but the market research hated it’.  Sralan then asks, incredulously, ‘so you followed the market research?’ as if this was the craziest thing anyone has ever done.  To be fair, as no-one on this show ever does that, it is somewhat maverick, but you’ve fired many a candidate for ignoring it up until now.  He whines that they’re entrepreneurs so they should just ignore it and do their own thing.  He says OVER 50s like me is a buzzing market and it was as if they were targeting over 70s.  Perhaps they should have just done that then?  He snarks that the TV ad was boring.  Francesca says it was on brand.  He snaps BORING at them.
We cover the Jason/Luisa spat and Jason is upset that Luisa was hurrying him.  Sralan says if he were on the Titanic he wouldn’t just give up. Jason says if he were on there his concern would be ‘women and children first’ which makes little to no sense and which presumably enrages Neil because the correct answer should always be to save NEIL CLOUGH first. There is no OMG JASON YOU SEXIST panic this week though, because, well, awww, Jason.

Sralan bemoans the bad team management and there being two PMs.  Between them they have to decide who comes back.  Jason wants Francesca to come back in because she was in charge of the video.  Luisa wants Neckbeard back.  Suga Honey Honey is miffed that they can’t even agree on this.  Francesca snaps about the website not being finished, but says she edited, scripted, filmed and completed the video and tells him to bring her back in.  Neckbeard is sent back to the house to smug another day.

SugaBabe moans about there being two PMs again.  Karren says Jason likes to pretend he’s a deep thinker, but he’s a ditherer.  Nick says Francesca was calm and collected all day but they’re frightened of Neil.  Karren wonders if Francesca asked the right questions in the market research.

They come back in and Al be your baby tonight says he has ‘one and a half PMs’.  I’m not sure who the half is given that Jordan is on the other team, eyethangyew.  Jason says Francesca was with the focus group and perhaps should have interpreted it… What Jason?  In a completely different manner?  She snaps that she produced him a video.  He points out that the video was rubbish.  She says it was professional – it wasn’t creative or cutting edge but it was the theme he wanted.  He says it was her idea.  She says she’s been brought in because she’s less intimidating than Neil.  Luisa says they went on the wrong foot but Frienship and Flowers came from both her and Neil and Francesca performed well on the task and she’d have brought Neil back.  Luisa thinks Jason should be fired for being on a sinking ship and not leading them. He asks Jason if he’s a ditherer.  Jason says he’s a thinker.  Sralan asks if impatient people like Luisa bother him.  Luisa says in life you have to make decision.  Jason whines about ‘bad decisions, quickly?’ She says he struggles to make the simplest decisions and they’d have got nothing done if he was still PM.  Sralan suggests she was bullying and intimidating him.  As is so often on this show, all of these things can be true.  Luisa asks if she should have just let the whole thing ride – especially when he’s berated others this series for exactly doing that.  Suga Puffs tells the bladdy wimmin to shat ap.  Jason says team work is the important thing.  Francesca tries to interject and he says she’s out for blood and she says she’s annoyed.  Yet again, a little of column a, a little of column b.  Jason reiterates that ‘courage comes in many forms’ and his ‘stepping down’ was courageous so that Luisa could unify them.  Francesca said they were unified. Jason says in the wrong direction.  She says in the direction set by him.

Al’s Diner lies that Francesca has been good in the process so far.  So quickly he forgets the shambles of away day week.  Her video was still crap, but she’s not being fired this week.  Last week Jason sold a caravan but… although he’s concerned Luisa will cause him more problems and she browbeat Jason and wore him down… Jason is an academic who chanced his arm and is a nice fellow who he wishes very very well, and with what I think is this series’ first ‘with regret’, Jason is fired.  Poor Jason, he was too good for this world.  Next week, Karren wants to follow Luisa to see if she’s a strong BZNS WOMAN or just a BLADDY WOMAN who is too much for Sralan.

Coatwatch – long and black with a spiffy cravat.  Jason taxiterviews that the others were essentially a bit too tough for him.

Back at the house and Neil basically says that he and Luisa ripped Jason to shreds and no-one is surprised at who has gone.

Next week!  Ready meals!  Take that, dreadful Simon Cowell ITV reality shows!  Alex’s reign of death looks like it will continue with horror-themed foods!  Neil and Luisa descend on Francesca to rip her to shreds!  Steve will deal with the carnage then!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Camping Carry On

Week 7- Wednesday 12th June 2013

Hello! Welcome back. Last week Steve talked you through who was slightly less shit at doing team building days. I think we can all agree that everyone was utterly rubbish and the only winners were EvilAlex’ facial eyeliner and Neil Neckbeard’s already mahoosive ego, which were the only thing to save Leah’s farce of a team. Ultimately, Rebecca was fired for having ideas, which is nothing for a woman to have. HOW DARE YOU.

So, to BZNZ. It’s 6am at the Apprentice house. Neckbeard Neil answers the phone. I’m annoyed that his beard doesn’t cover his entire body but we can’t have everything. His hair is done and his glasses are on which belie his ‘just out of bed’ voice and space. Lord Sir Alan sugasugasuga wants them all to meet him in half an hour at the Tower Of London and they’ve to bring overnight bags. Ooh! Maybe he wants to take them all to a dirty weekend in a Travelodge? Neckbeard Neil relays this information through the medium of shouting.

In the girl’s bedroom, Luisa is wondering where on earth they could be going. She’s holding out for a Premier Inn. She’s no slag. Natalie doesn’t think they’re going abroad. In the boy’s bedroom, Jason hilariously packs a gigantic teddy bear whilst wearing some of the most adorable pyjamas this side of an Aquafresh advert. If this was a process to find the cutest contestant he’d be a shoo in. Jordan then watches the big boys shave whilst telling EvilAlex that it’s legal to kill a Welsh Man on a Thursday before 9am. EvilAlex is too busy trying to hide his white flabby chest with his non shaving hand to take any notice, but I’m sure Jordan will keep.

Because nobody on this programme ever learns anything, Francesca and Luisa sit in the back of the car and wonder what it could mean that they’re going to the tower of London. IT MEANS NOTHING. Luisa thinks that it means Tourism. Francesca thinks it might mean Diamonds, because that’s exactly the level of class that this show is about. Over in the other car, Neil Neckbeard continues the bullying of EvilAlex by telling him that he’s going in the dungeon. EvilAlex tells Neckbeard that he’s TOTALLY NOT FUNNY and that he doesn’t need his BULLSHIT today.

The cars arrive at The Tower of London where it’s all half light and gothic violins. Daddy arrives and welcomes them to the Tower which is one of the greatest tourist destinations in the world. It’s not just for forrins though, LordSugar is quick to point out, it’s also for natives and this is what the task is about. What? Xenophobia? No silly, it’s about holidays and leisure. More specifically, it’s about the Caravanning industry which is apparently worth six billion a year and ALAN TOTALLY WANTS IN ON THAT SHIT. Myles is not happy with this. They’re off to Birmingham to the Caravan show and they’re choosing stuff to sell including one high ticket item. Whoever sells the most, wins. Make no mistake though, this is a selling task and everyone has got to sell.  There will be no hiding. Neil gets sent over to Evolve to even things out.

So everyone is off to the caravan show tomorrow, and today they are choosing stuff to sell but first they’ve got to pick leaders. Endeavour discuss first. Myles isn’t passionate about caravans but he’ll give it a go if he has to. Kurt then puts himself forward because he once went on a caravan holiday and has experience of being inside a caravan. Then EvilAlex puts himself forward because he’s not been PM yet. Myles wonders if EvilAlex has caravan experience. He does not and therefore does not understand the mentality of a caravan buyer. Oh god, I wish I was making this up. Myles votes for Kurt and EvilAlex concedes. Kurt feels that it’s his chance to prove himself after taking lots of criticism.

Over at Evolve, Neil Neckbeard has already declared himself project manager and has decided that the task is all about picking the right product and selling lots of it. Oh shit, he’s going to win, isn’t he? Jason the Woobie then puts his metaphorical flag in the ground to front the sales team. There is no flagging in Neckbeard’s team as he’s shot down in flames and told that everyone is selling so there.  Karren thinks that the fact that it is a selling task may be difficult for some people, namely Jason, who seems to have spent most of his time peeling potatoes in a back room like some kind of public school educated house elf.

Everyone is off to Birmingham. Myles reiterates that he hates caravans whilst Jason confesses to never having been to Birmingham or in a caravan.  I think that that is because they are mainly poor people pursuits. HAHA! SORRY CARAVANERS. Neil Neckbeard gives him a look of DEATH.

EvilAlex and Kurt are faring a little better over in the Endeavour car, as they look at the caravans that are coming past them on the M6 and pretending that this is some kind of research. They note that the people tugging caravans along behind their cars are in their 50s and 60s and this is their market.

We arrive in Birmingham at 1pm. First up, half of Evolve, namely Jordan, Francesca and Luisa, begin to look at some potential items to sell, including a tent, a massage chair, a chair with a roof and a roof box boat. Jordan reckons that he would enjoy having a roof box boat. Francesca gives him the sideeye whilst pretending to play with her hair.

Half of Endeavour, namely Leah, Myles and Natalie, look at the same equipment. Leah goes on and on about how small a pot plant barbecue is and Myles doesn’t think that it’s worth £100. They look at the chair with the roof on it and like it. They also look at a boys camping kit and Myles comes over all “I’M NOT A SEXIST HONEST” by saying that his daughter would like it.  Leah doesn’t love it. Natalie is less impressed by the rooftop box boat, saying that plastic with oars and a tiny wheel isn’t exactly worth £600.  Who’d have thought that boats would be horrendously overpriced? They meet the boat man and Myles tells him that he is brilliant, much to Natalie’s annoyance whilst Leah just looks bored. Myles interviews that he’s used to talking to A-Listers and Royalty in his job so it’s going to be a piece of piss to schmooze a man with Lego hair selling a boat box. Schmooze he does whilst the girls smile unconvincingly. Myles turns it on for the roof chair man whilst Nick yawns behind his hand and interviews that he made him feel a bit sick.

Over with Evolve, Luisa is less convincing when talking to the inventor of the boys' camping kit. She says that it’s of Strong quality, calling it a box with Oomph. The inventor wants them to sell 40-50 a day. They can totes do that. She loves them and she knows that they love her box.  Endeavour meet the same lady and she firstly corrects them for calling it a toy and then has to explain to a confused Leah what things children like. Leah further provokes her ire by asking her what her rock bottom end of the day desperate price is and the adventure kit lady says that she doesn’t need no rock bottom end of the day price because her adventure kit is awesome. Leah does not take the hint.

4pm in Brum and we finally get a look at the caravan show. Kurt and EvilAlex are out to find a high end item. They observe again that people who like caravans are mainly old.  Kurt notices that even the traffic warden is a “coffin dodger”. Nice.  EvilAlex marvels at someone’s electric bike, which Kurt points out is actually a mobility scooter. They suss out what smaller items are selling well and note that the market is flooded with chairs. Meanwhile, Jason the Woobie and Neil Neckbeard are looking for their teams’ high end item. Jason approaches a bemused lady asking about motorbikes. Neil drags him away. Jason then walks over to a folding chair and asks Neil Neckbeard if he’s sat in it. Neil Neckbeard obviously hasn’t because he’s all BIZNIZ then interviews that Jason is a Big Girls Blouse and doesn’t think that they’re a good match. I agree, but for different reasons. Mainly because Jason is awesome and you are fawful. He then goes over to an electric bike stand, which is clearly different to a motorbike stand, and finds out that they’re only selling 5 or 6 a day. Jason is unsure about power assisted bikes, because who wants a bike that you don’t pedal? Luisa! That’s who! She, Jordan and Francesca are talking to the power assisted bike inventor lady who says that she sold 55 over six days, which tallies with what the other guy said. That’s FIVE OR SIX A DAY, GUYS. REMEMBER THIS. Francesca loves it, Jordan wants to buy ten. [Do they get up hills though?  That's surely the important question - Sheffield -based tellybitcher]

Over with the other team, they’re asking about price and Leah’s putting her foot in it again by asking what she can flog their product for at the end of the day. Nope, still £949. There is no room. Not even for a twofor. Myles thinks that there’s a good market for the bikes and Leah and Natalie, who clearly don’t have a clue what they’re doing, agree with a grimace. Natalie says she wants to sell five of them and make five grand. Oh Natalie, you have to buy them first.

Luisa calls Woobie and Neckbeard, who are totally my new favourite crime fighting duo and tells them what they think of the products. Luisa thinks that they can sell 15 bikes. Neil agrees. Oh dear. Luisa also likes the adventure boxes, and thinks they can sell 40-50. Neil asks Luisa to make the call. Jason still can’t see the appeal of the electric bike. Neckbeard doesn’t care what he thinks.

Over with Kurt and EvilAlex, they are speaking into the wrong end of a phone to their subteam who also like the electric bike and the box. I sense a problem here.  Can Myles’ soft soap be enough? No. Evolve get it. Who’s going to get the boxes? That’s also Evolve, because they understand adventure. Natalie can’t understand why they’ve done badly. Myles interviews that perhaps it’s the fact that Leah doesn’t really ‘do’ enthusiastic and Natalie kept trying to push the price of the bike down.  It’s however down to Myles to let Kurt and EvilAlex know that they couldn’t get the items that they wanted.  They’re understandably upset with their chair and boat box and EvilAlex wonders aloud how they could lose both of them whilst Nick tries not to laugh in the background. EvilAlex thinks it’s because they’ve lacked a strategy. Wait until he finds out that it’s all down to Leah’s grumpy face. [Can you imagine her being your doctor?  I don't know what area of medicine she worked in but I'm not sure she had the most comforting of bedside manners - Rad]

There’s still got to be a high priced product to be chosen. Neckbeard and the Woobie look at some mini caravans. The Woobie loves the tiny caravans and would like to move in. He’s gloriously adorable. They move on to some VW style retro caravans that cost £18k, but Neckbeard isn’t so sure that they’ll sell, despite the owner having sold six already.

EvilAlex and Kurt are desperate. EvilAlex can’t believe the money that goes on caravans. They look at a collapsible tent that fits in a trailer, giving a whole new meaning to Holiday Armadillo. They’ve already sold eleven to quite a mixed demographic, from age 35 up to people in their 60s. EvilAlex isn’t convinced, and thinks that people aren’t going to spend that amount of money on ‘a tent on wheels’. He’s got a point. Kurt pushes it, saying that it’s sold more than most of the other things that they’ve seen at the exhibition. EvilAlex still has a bad feeling. Neckbeard and the Woobie look at the same thing but only ask about numbers. Kurt and EvilAlex then look at the retro campervan and ask about ages again. You can tell that Kurt is keen and EvilAlex seems a bit more comfortable with this one. They’re going to go off and think about it.

Finally, Neckbeard and the Woobie have decided to phone their team and tell them that they like the holiday Armadillo tent on wheels because it’s sold the most. They like the VW but it doesn’t seem like their target market. The Woobie makes hissing noises at the phone. Luisa thinks it’s a no brainer. It’s the tent on wheels. Jason doesn’t seem pleased with this choice.

Its decision time for Kurt and EvilAlex. They aren’t convinced that the caravan loving oldies would want the hassle of folding up their tent every night. They also like the fact that the VW camper is fully customisable. Kurt thinks it’s more of a gamble but if they sell one Retro Camper they could win the whole thing.  Tomorrow is showtime!

The next morning, everyone leaves the Travelodge at 8am. EvilAlex wants to concentrate on the big ticket items. Kurt remembers that Myles sells to the richest people in the world and it might be useful to capitalise on that. EvilAlex isn’t so sure.  When they arrive, it’s time to set up the stalls. Luisa wonders whether helium is helium whilst Neckbeard barks at the rest of Evolve about their sales targets while Jason strokes his metaphorical chin. He instructs them to compete with each other. Thanks Boss! Over at Endeavour, Kurt wants to sell the campers and thinks that although EvilAlex was really good at agreeing with him yesterday, he’d rather Myles was on his team. EvilAlex does not like this idea because he’s got experience in selling bespoke stuff. Kurt reminds him that this was only over the internet. Alex’ leg twitches as he explains that he’s also talked to people on the phone. Kurt then explains that nobody wants to buy a campervan from what is essentially an evil child. EvilAlex doesn’t even think that that comes into it, bruv. Kurt wants to give themselves the best chance. Poor EvilAlex. He looks and interviews like a spurned lover about how he could’ve given everything to the team but now he’s stuck selling boat boxes and chairs with a roof. He’s bloody well talented and won’t have anyone talking ‘down at him’ (sic) just because he’s young. He says that that is the wrong attitude, in a barely concealed threatening manner.  Endeavour seem to be selling the chair well, though.

Over with Evolve, nobody wants an electric bike. A man kindly explains that most people want to ride a bike for exercise so there is very little point in a bike that pedals for you. Another man explains that you can buy a car for a grand. Karren thinks that the goods are too highly priced for passing trade. She seems to be right.

Back with Endeavour, EvilAlex manages to sell a roof box and Kurt is getting people interested in the campervans. Lots of people are geeking out over the Retro Campers but as Nick points out, people who like caravans are usually people who like a chat and it might be a good idea to separate your enthusiasts and customers. The fish that they thought they had on the hook was an enthusiast. Myles doesn’t hit him.

Meanwhile, Jason the Woobie seems to be going down very well for Evolve. He’s being very, very charming selling the Holiday Armadillo whilst Neckbeard is floating around like me at a school dance. Karren points out that Jason seems to be doing better, because this point really needs to be forced. He may be overly theatrical and overly since but the caravanners LOVE it, and so do I. I especially love that Neckbeard is being put in his place by the power of NICE. [Me too. - Rad] The oldies love Jason. One old lady practically pinches his cheek. YOU GO GIRL.

It’s now midday, and someone is actually buying an electric bike. I don’t know either. The adventure box is now a Den In A box and someone seems to have bought one of those, too. Luisa has sold them both. Jordan wants to know what her secret is because he needs the help. Her voice goes up an octave and she’s all “I don’t know, I just, like, sold them”. They call up and confess that they’ve only sold one of each and perhaps the initial figures might possibly have been unrealistic. YOU THINK?

Back with Endeavour, EvilAlex is forced into the worst role-play since “I’VE BEEN CRAVING A BIXMIX ALL DAY” by Natalie. It works though, and literally two people are drawn in. Natalie then gets a bit confused thinking that the chair in the boat is a table, because what you need in a five foot rowing boat is somewhere to eat your dinner. This results in EvilAlex interviewing that Natalie is a bit stupid because she knows nothing about boats.

Jason is closing a deal on the folding camper by being his bumbling self. Neckbeard confesses to having hurt pride, but the day isn’t over yet. A cheque is written. They’re not having as much luck with the retro camper over at the other side of the arena. Myles interviews that most people think that their kids would like it. Myles thinks that the issue is with the product and not the sales technique.  Of course you would. Kurt isn’t faring much better as his sales technique seems to be all about staring into middle distance and telling people how much other people love them. Nick finds this technique to be a bit lackadaisical.  Any more laid back and he’d be asleep inside it. Nick thinks that the no pressure technique is all well and good but this is a selling task and they only have a day. Quite right.

4pm and it’s the end of the day. Some more bikes are being sold and a teddy bear falls on Nick Hewer. Neckbeard finally sells a holiday armadillo and Leah actually manages to sell a boat box on the strength of it being both a boat and a box. As they’ve sold no campervans, Kurt comes up with the idea of using Leah as boybait. Myles rightly looks appalled at this suggestion, but not as appalled as Natalie looks at the boybait not being her. [So much for her being a righteous feminist the other week - Rad] With time ticking down, people look interested in the boatbox, the campervan and the holiday armadillo.  A campervan is sold at the last minute, as is the trailertent.  Totals will be revealed in the boardroom tomorrow.

Through the magic of television, tis tomorrow already. The teams are called in and Lord Sugar wishes them a good afternoon. Lordalan congratulates himself on making the task interesting. He starts with Endeavour. His first line of attack is wondering why EvilAlex has never been project manager. EvilAlex says that he wanted to be, but was trumped by Kurt because he went on holiday in a caravan once so therefore is an expert on all things caravan. Lordalan wonders if EvilAlex hasn’t been project manager because his team mates don’t trust him. Moving swiftly on, the subteam is questioned on their strategy. Myles explains that the strategy was all about showing love for the products whilst Leah pouts and flicks her hair in the background. Myles suggests that they failed to get the products that they wanted because Leah wasn’t very enthusiastic. Leah replies in the voice of an android on Mogadon that she was just as enthusiastic as everyone else. Lordalan is doubtful. Natalie has the sense to keep quiet as Myles continues his attack on Leah, stating that she said “of course I don’t have children” which made her look like a bit of a dick. I’m paraphrasing, but by the amount of chewing of the inside of her cheek that Natalie is doing, I think she agrees.  Lordalan says that it was clear that there wasn’t enough enthusiasm because they didn’t get the items that they wanted. Leah persists in saying that she was totally enthusiastic in a voice that says the total opposite. Natalie then blames Leah for pushing for a discount where there perhaps wasn’t room for one. Leah says she brought it up once despite knowing that she was being filmed pushing the point. Nick even has to point it out that the ven-DOR was getting annoyed. Over to the high ticket item, Lordalan wonders whether the retro campervan was perhaps a bit young for the elderly caravan market.  Kurt says that the man what gave him the caravans told him that they sold to people from age 35. Ludalan then wants to know how the teams were split. Kurt says he took Myles over to sell with him because he wanted an opportunity to prove himself.  Ludalan wonders if this was the best idea and asks EvilAlex what he thinks about the whole thing. OF COURSE EvilAlex isn’t happy. He’s spoken to people on the PHONE and EVERYTHING and he totally could have done a better job. Kurt plays the internet card again, but EvilAlex plays a ROYAL FAMILY card which of course trumps everything. He claims that he made plaques for the royal family. Ludalan wonders aloud whether he actually pitched to the actual Queen. He didn’t, but they were still expensive items. Ludalan is bored of this now and asks the rest of the team if Kurt gives good strategy. Myles says it will all be proven in the high ticket item competition.

Evolve’s turn. Luisa says that they were all given targets ad they failed to meet them.  Neckbeard then gets a chance to stick the knife in when asked about the high ticket item, saying he didn’t think the retro campervan fit the target market and based his decision to buy the holiday armadillo on average sales per day of three, and if he could make that, he’d win the task.  Ludalan then goes on to ask him about his decision to bring the Woobie along with him. He wonders whether the Woobie has ever been in a caravan. He of course hasn’t. He also confesses to having never been to Birmingham. Ldalan wonders if he did an impression of a caravan all day, following Neckbeard around. He says they worked as a team.

Numbers! Endeavour sold £1,479 worth of accessories but sold no campervan, even though Leah got close. Evolve, Karren is pleased to say, because she’s worried that Neckbeard seems not to have slept, that Evolve have won on accessories sales alone, totalling £3116. They also sold three holiday armadillos for a total of £30,499, giving them an overall sales figure of £33,615. Leah pouts, and Francesca holds the Woobie’s hand. They’re all off to the Velodrome in Manchester to meet Chris Hoy. Luisa jumps into Neckbeard’s arms outside, but it’s not over yet. Ludalan wants to see Jason again. He looks beautifully confused like only the stupendously posh can. Ludalan wants to say well done to him. He wants to keep impressing him. Ludalan tells the losers that the Woobie is clearly learning from the experience but they aren’t.

Just to prove how adorable he is, Jason almost immediately falls off the bike at the Velodrome. Jordan wins. Hurrah!

Over at the loser’s cafe, Myles is blaming the choice of high ticket item for the failure of the task. EvilAlex is quick to disagree; it was only one of the elements. EvilAlex thinks that the high ticket sales team was more about glory hunting than strategy. Natalie thinks that Kurt should be fired for not managing the team properly. EvilAlex points out that they were totally annihilated. Kurt just looks doomed. They all head back to the boardroom.  Ludalan levels with Kurt that it was a risk for him to go on the high ticket sales on the off chance that he sold something and could come back into the board room saying how great he was. Kurt thinks that the problem wasn’t with the sales technique, it was with the product. Karren rightly points out that they had all the sales information, so why didn’t they use it? He blames EvilAlex for not liking the holiday armadillo. Karren tells him that his gut is a liar and that even though Neckbeard loved the campervan, he went with the figures. Kurt understands this. Ludalan then moves on to EvilAlex who is looking particularly evil today. He says that even though they had ascertained that their market was 50+, they picked a product aimed at 35-45 year olds on a day where there’s nobody there. He takes that on board but says that the holiday armadillo had a kayak on top of it which doesn’t exactly scream pensioner. Karren reminds him that his personal opinion doesn’t mean jack. Ludalan agrees and points out that he might not have been so sad to have been dumped by Kurt after all. He definitely disagrees with this.

Ludalan then moves back to Kurt and asks him the same question, and also reminds him that his opinion doesn’t mean jack. Kurt doesn’t really have an answer so Ludalan suggests that he and Myles might be deficient in their sales skills. Miles is aghast at this suggestion and declares that he definitely does know how to close a high ticket sale.  Nick then points out that they wasted a lot of time by not sifting out the interested parties from the enthusiasts. Myles maintains that there were no buyers around that day. Ludalan points out that the other team managed to sell 33k worth of stuff and that it’s an absolute disgrace in week 7 that they only sold £1,500 worth of stuff. They clearly have said that they can do things that they can’t.  He reads Myles’ REZOOMAY back to him which says that he’s the Jedi Knight of sales. Myles has the audacity to agree but says that it’s the wrong product for the target market. EvilAlex disagrees saying that if that’s the case, then why did Leah nearly sell one? Nick then sets the cat amongst the pigeons by asking Leah if she knows why she was brought over. Leah thinks that it was because she’s a top seller. OH NO SWEETHEART. Nick tells her straight that she was “eye candy” and Kurt can’t do a bloody thing except say that he did it to balance the group out and that word might have popped out. Nick’s BITCH PLEASE face at this point is amazing. Natalie is obviously still sore from not being eye candy and asks whether it wouldn’t have made more sense to bring her across as the high ticket items were more her thing. Ludalan wonders where she got this from. She answers that she’s in recruitment. Ludalan and the entire nation wonder what this has got to do with the price of cocoa. She replies she’s a headhunter. Ludalan and the nation wonder why this means she’s better placed to sell the stuff that Myles sells all the time.  She’s not really allowed to answer but I’m sensing there isn’t an answer. He asks EvilAlex outright what the failure was. He thinks that it’s in the sales team because Leah came the closest to selling and she went over at the last minute.  Leah is asked her opinion. Leah thinks the product wasn’t perfect but she probably could’ve sold one given more time. Who is coming back into the boardroom though? Kurt decides that it’s EvilAlex for pushing the campervans and Natalie for “scaring away the bike lady”. Both strenuously deny that these things are the case. Natalie accuses Kurt of being tactical. Myles, sensing that this will help keep his head from the chopping block, says that it’s not a tactical move. Natalie says that she wasn’t even in charge of the bike lady. Kurt continues that she only sold £170 worth of chairs anyway. Kurt is happy with his decision. Myles and Leah go back to the house, the others are sent out.

In the boardroom discussions, Ludalan is a bit confused because Kurt is both saying that the product is rubbish and that he chose the product and isn’t really defending himself. Nick reckons that EvilAlex hid out in the accessories because he knew that there was trouble in the campervans. Karren is confused as to why Natalie thinks that she could’ve sold lots of them but Ludalan thinks that bringing her in might be tactical as Kurt knows she’s on her last chance. They go back in.

Ludalan starts with EvilAlex and wonders why he doesn’t think that he should be there. EvilAlex chooses this opportunity to tell Kurt exactly how butthurt he is that he was dumped after they spent such a lovely day together picking retro campervans. He then changes tack and says that it should’ve been him and Myles in charge of selling. Kurt replies that he just wanted a chance to prove he could sell. Ludalan points out rightly that he can’t. Kurt maintains that it was the right product, but the wrong day. Natalie tries to say something but Kurt overrules her with the fact that she only sold £170 worth of chairs, but Natalie zings back that Kurt didn’t sell anything at all.  Natalie says that she wouldn’t have let him choose the campervan if she was allowed out to play with him on day one, and that her interest in fashion means that she’s good at choosing lines. Kurt just keeps talking over her and saying things that he knows Ludalan won’t like, like she’s always saying stuff in hindsight. It’s a bit ugly, if I’m honest. Natalie continues by saying that she’s good at choosing things other people would like. Ludalan replies that she’s very full of herself for someone who hasn’t actually delivered anything yet. He moves on to her accusation that bringing her to the boardroom was a tactical move. She replies that everyone knows that she’s been told that if she’s back in the boardroom, she’s fired. She’s clearly fighting back tears at this point. Kurt gets all GRRR WOMEN AND THEIR EMOTIONS MAKING ME LOOK BAD UGH. Natalie says she’s not crying, she’s angry. Ludalan says that he should only bring people back that were rubbish in this task. Kurt then says that he didn’t bring back Myles because the only reason he didn’t sell was that the product wasn’t right and Natalie lost them the bikes.

Ludalan then moves on to Kurt and asks him why he should stay in the process. Kurt says that he took a gamble and that he couldn’t prove his selling skillz because he picked the wrong item. It’s pointed out that the picking of the item was also down to him. EvilAlex is asked why he should stay. He says that he’s the only one in the process that has set up his own company. His company sells tombstones, which tells you everything you need to know, really. He says he isn’t just there to go on about how great he is, even though Ludalan tells him that he seems to be doing a fine job of it. He’s not one to brag and he’s one to get the job done. Ludalan tells him that even though he’s performed fairly well he helped pick a rubbish product which is a fatal business mistake. Ludalan admires Kurt’s honesty and that he can admit that it was the wrong product. Ludalan is concerned that Natalie is here again. She can explain but he doesn’t want to hear it.

HOWEVER, Kurt has messed up the task and he’s fired. He looks relieved more than anything. Ludalan isn’t sure about investing in someone as young and reckless as EvilAlex and he’ll have to give it more thought. ANOTHER HOWEVER, it may have been tactical, but this is still Natalie’s third visit to the boardroom and she’s had plenty chances and still hasn’t proved herself so she’s FIRED TOO. She thanks Ludalan for the opportunity. EvilAlex is sent home to take on board Ludalan’s words. Natalie is crying outside and Alex gives her quite a sweet hug. She taxiterviews that she’s upset that she was brought in to the boardroom tactically, but she should have shone more. Kurt taxiterveiws that he took a risk and it didn’t pay off.

Back at the house, Luisa is loudly shouting that Kurt put himself in the wrong place. Everyone is happy to see Evil Alex back though. They all cheer, and Luisa takes another sip of wine like it was her plan all along. Sinister. Jason gives a toast to them all being high calibre candidates.

Next week! Online dating and advertising campaign! EvilAlex is the Christian Grey of the valleys! Neckbeard doesn’t know what’s going on! Join Rad to find out exactly what it is next week.