Sunday, 2 June 2013

Planet of the oud

Last week!  The notion of a farm shop morphed into some kind of takeaway task!  Kurt’s milk fetish caused ALL THE KELIS REFERENCES IN THE WORLD!  Luisa’s team took a Buffalo Stance!  And Uzma was finally fired for always being in the boardroom!

430am at Apprenti-towers, and Jason is answering the phone in yet another pair of pyjamas that you never normally see outside the pages of children’s books.  Or toothpaste adverts.  Apparently they need to pack to go to Dubai.  In a very early moment of foregrounding, it’s established that Zeeshaan used to live in Dubai.  Luisa gets very excited and talks about packing bikinis.  I still can’t figure out if she really is like that or if some of it is a deliberate act.  Either way, Luisa –land seems a much more happy place than I would have imagined it to be in episode one when I thought she might be being set up as queen bitch.

They go to the SPLENDID OPULENT WALDORF ASTORIA which is being built and it’s time for the ten items task!  Except this lot are not good enough for ten so they only give them eight to source.  And, as we shall see, even that’s a tall order.

Leah is ported over to Endeavour.  The voiceover lies that all 300 rooms in the hotel are in need of ‘top class touches’.  Yes, I’m, sure sixteen pieces of tat (or as this task usually goes, twelve pieces of tat, one very overpriced luxury item where the vendor saw them coming and three things they couldn’t find) would be just the ticket.

On Endeavour, ‘international property expert’ Zeeshaan is blabbering on about how he is perfect for the task because he used to live in Dubai and we see one of his video interview clips about no human intimidating him.  Just don’t let him near any animals, because he’ll run whimpering like a child.  Leah would also like to be team leader because she is amazing at everything and has been to Dubai before.  Neil votes Zee and because he is Regina George, everyone goes along with him. Zee tells people to put away the maps because he knows Dubai like the back of his hand.  Leah’s eyes start rolling.  SPOILER: They will not stop.

Myles is PM for Evolve and we see him interview bragging about his glamorous lifestyle and how his business idea is about luxury brands.  Whatever, Myles, you’ve still been reduced to appearing on The Apprentice.  Also: LOL at the idea of SralanLudSuga ever having a bar of ‘luxury goods’.  Have you watched this show or followed any of the products his companies have made, Myles?

Time to see what the products are and Endeavor identify that a kandura is Arabic clothing, a falcon hood is a hood for a falcon (for why is this a hotel requirement?) and Zee says that Oud is a perfume.  Not one of them, NOT ONE, makes a Doctor Who joke.  YOU ARE ALL DEAD TO ME, APPRENTI.  Alex points out that the instructions mention mahogany and asks if that’s the container.  Zee says it smells of mahogany.  I think he may be getting confused with SANDALWOOD.  Zee assures them it’s easy to find.

Evolve wonder if an oud is a statue.  Jordan says the important thing is to ‘take it back to 50,000 feet’.  WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN??    They start to phone around and then make the decision to go to the mall.  Meanwhile, Zee says the key will be to get as much as possible from the souks and as little as possible from the mall.  Leah expresses doubt they’ll have time to find everything at the souks but Zee says he’s just ‘telling you what the facts are’ which are that he could get the kandura from a souk for 100 dirams and at the mall the other team would get them for 1000 dirams.  To be fair to Zee, there is potentially some merit in this idea, as usually on this task we’d be expecting teams to go to markets over shopping centres, for example – but then that assumes the markets and malls in Dubai are anything like the ones over here, which is not necessarily the case – and it is possible that the markets wouldn’t have all the items either.  Leah’s crash!edit! from quiet, competent and above all this shit to Apprentice-crazy, the real theme of this episode, continues apace as she declares that she will take her sub team to the mall and Zee’s all ‘you what now?  I never said you could lead a subteam’ and then has to make her sub-team leader because everyone says she should be.  Such a glorious mess already.  Leah, Neil and Alex are sent to Souk Medina and Zee confirms they shouldn’t go to the mall. [I have no idea what happened here, or why - Helen]

Dubai porn!  Their shard is longer, thinner, taller and shardier than the London one!

Car conversation time!  Jordan is excited by the scenery, Rebecca has a failed conversation on the phone with someone who doesn’t speak Arabic, Zee is up for some hard negotiating and Natalie concurs (SPOILERS: LOL), Leah is worried about being able to source things at the souk, so much so that she tells the driver to go to the mall instead.  Alex and Neil remain quiet. [again Leah, WHY? - Helen]

Louisa, Jordan and Jason arrive at the mall, which is the world’s largest, apparently.  Jason tries on a kandura but it costs 300 dirams and he says, in a bizarre accent, that he doesn’t want to pay that.  They find another store and negotiate one for 110. 

Leah’s strategy is to go straight to the perfumery.  Zee rings them and finds out they’re at the mall, which he isn’t happy about.  He asks to speak to Neil and Leah says Neil can hear him and he needs to stop trying to appease Neil – which is all the men have done so far all series, as far as I can tell.  Zee tells them they have to go to the souk and asks them to get the coffee pot, the kandura and anything else they can see – so two of the eight items?  Bokay then.  Neil snipes that just because Zee knows Dubai, it doesn’t mean he knows it all.  Leah points out that she would have been a better PM – and were it not ZEE that were the PM I’d say they were setting her up for a ‘you didn’t respect the PM’ type firing/telling-off a la Miranda in series one.
Myles’ sub-team go to get the plant and decide they need to go in and out very quickly.  Myles tries to get more than 10% off and the saleswoman offers to get the boss who can get them a bigger discount.  Myles refuses because he’s in a rush (oh the foreshadowing) and gets 15% off.  Karren says he was a bit hasty and should have spoken to the boss.

Zee’s sub-team are in the cab calling ahead to a flag shop to get theirs made.  It needs to be a UAE flag, 4x6 feet.  Kurt says to Zee that a foot is 12 centimetres.  Natalie looks confused at first but then says ‘yes’ and Zee orders a 48x72cm flag because clearly no-one has learned last week’s lesson that KURT NO DO MATHS.  Zee does say 48x72, 4 foot by 6 foot on the phone, and the seller doesn’t seem to question which but quotes them 10 dirams for it.

Myles’ subteam of him, Rebecca and Francesca, go to the flag place where Francesca gets a tiny discount bringing the price down to 175 dirams.  It’ll take an hour to produce and Myles saysthat he hates waiting, but they will anyway, and then, for… reasons, I guess, they pay up front.  They phone the other team and Myles says he doesn’t mind them spending time in the mall as long as they get good products in the manner of a dad who’s just let a bunch of teenagers loose in Meadowhall.

Leah’s subteam are in one of the souks and having no luck sourcing an Arabic coffee pot, and given that is probably one of the easier items, good luck with the falcon hood.  They seem to find one but Leah’s increasingly strong accent means there is some sort of confusion over inch/ounce [And yet they picked on me – Kurt] and they don’t buy one from a place that seems to sell them.  Some randomer then offers Alex Viagra: ‘I don’t need that, I’m from Wales’.  Heh.

At the mall, Luisa, Jordan and Jason are hunting for falcon hoods to no avail and Jason’s accent becomes even weirder.  They want an Arabic coffee pot too but the man says they should be searching for Deller.  Hey, I’m right here, guys.  Karren tries to create a sense of panic that they might be late because that’s always an alleged danger in this task.

Back at the flag shop and Myles’ subteam are still waiting, when Zee’s arrive there… to collect their tiny flag.  They gripe that it’s not 6ft and the shop owner says 42cm x72cm.  Then we have the best Nick Hewer face and Apprenti penny drop face since the sandalwood episode as Kurt slowly realises what’s happened.  Kurt then tries to blame Zee but sticks to his story that there are 12 cms in a foot… and eventually says ‘inches?’  They order another flag for an hour, but instead of waiting an hour, they leave and Zee says ‘let’s head out boys…. and ladies’. 

Searching for the Kandura, Neil says he’s not interested in quality, only price, because he knows what Sralan is like.  He aggressively negotiates a price down to 60 because he’s in a ‘very very rush’ (which is more offensive – this kind of language to help the forrins understand, or Jason’s accent straight from a dodgy 1970s sitcom?).

In the car and Kurt is looking up numbers for sources.  Natalie asks to look up glass in the book and Zee says there’s no point.  She suggests ringing perfume shops and he point blank ignores her. 
Myles’ subteam are still waiting for the flag and he goes into the back to track it down and they say it’ll be another ‘five minutes’.  The people in the shop couldn’t care less.

In Leah’s car and she’s trying to track down OUD – OIYD - perfume and, remarkably, the person she speaks to understands her and says it’s OUDH.  Alex looks in the Dubai yellow pages and confirms that oudh is perfume.  Luisa, Jason and Jordan go into an Aoud shop but the man doesn’t know what an oud is.  Jason then has ‘had a flash… do you think an oud is something else’.  Bless.

Zee is having a phone call with Leah’s subteam.  Alex, perhaps looking to be Apprentice gold with how quotable he is this episode, points out the spelling differences to Zee with a ‘Listen sunshine’.  Zee is convinced mahogany is a scent whilst Alex says it’s a wood and he’s talking crap.  Alex and Leah get stressed, and Neil – NEIL – is the voice of reason: ‘just let him do that and we’ll get on with what we’re doing.’

Myles’ subteam are trying to negotiate a discount on the flag that took forever and the shop owner, the smuggest seen this side of Smug Cow (TM Monkseal) just smiles and shakes his head at the suckers.  They phone the other sub team who are still to buy several items and Myles bitches that the other sub-team hasn’t done enough.  As opposed to sitting in a shop the whole day waiting?

Natalie, Zee and Kurt go hunting for the plant and speak to the boss of the plant shop for a 50% discount.  So apparently in plant shops, asking for the boss is the way to go.  I’m sure garden centres everywhere will be thrilled at this piece of information being fed to the public. 

Francesca can’t find mosaic tiles, Jason gets a cheap coffee pot with his terrible accent and then nows at the sales man, Rebecca and Alex grab some Frankincense and Zee tries to negotiate on the flags.  The man forces him to buy both flags – the small one is being offered to them for 40 – even though they said 10 earlier.  Zee gets him down to 28, or 200 for both, because he wants to do ‘future business’ LOL like anyone falls for that, but I think smug flag owner is just glad to see them off.  The voiceover tells us they paid 25 dirams more than the others but as they got two flags they got the bigger one for 3 dirams less.  But anyway.

Luisa and co finally find someone in a perfume shop who knows what an oud is – a musical instrument.  

Jordan decides to take the negotiation and Jason says ‘go for it’ – this sub team actually seem to have worked well together for a change. Jason and Jordan between them negotiate it from 1850 to 990 and Luisa congratulates them.

LAST MINUTE BUYING!  Leah’s team are having no luck with oud and no-one is having any luck with falcon hoods.  They run to the hotel and put their items on tables to be inspected by the hotel manager.  They will be fined the market value for any incorrect items or missing items – we see that one of the kanduras is marked as ‘not correct’.

Zee boasts that they got a good bargain on the plant (whoop) and that the other team would totes have got ripped off at the mall so it’ll all be fine.  I love how his strategy essentially relied on the other team being really crap and total mugs.

BOARDROOM TIME!  Sralan says they had an ‘important client’.  It always amuses me when this show pretends to be real.  Bless.  He asks Endeavour if Zee was a good team leader and gets a resounding no, with Leah (whose hair has gone as big as Mike and Monica’s in that episode of Friends when they go to Barbados)  and Alex particularly going for it, Leah saying she wanted to be team leader all along and Zee snapping about her trying to take over.  Zee’s ‘expert’ credentials are trounced and he keeps blabbering about oudh being a scent, whilst Alex goes for another line: ‘no-one wants to smell like a dining table’.  Oh Alex, bless you, you may look like Nosferatu but you are very endearing.  Nick and Sralan go on about the spec mentioning size and wood, whilst Zee continues to dig about the oudh in the very manner of NOT TAKING THE HINT.  We’re then reminded of Kurt’s bad maths and Nick Hewer overplays his part in the way he so often does by exaggerating both the size of the hotel and the smallness of the flag.  Oh Nick, all your best work is subtle.  Try to remember that.  Neil says he got a good price on the kandura and Kurt says he did well on the plant.

Over to Myles and Sralan: ‘Kurt would call you kylometres most probably’.  Not only is this a genuinely funny joke, it’s even better for Kurt’s face as he doesn’t get it, but then pretends to when everyone else bursts into fits of giggles.  Amazing.  We hear about Jordan and co in the mall and Myles and co waiting around for ages (90 minutes).  Myles’ reason for not going away and coming back is that the man had started.  Karren points out that they shouldn’t have paid upfront for the flag.  Sralan berates Myles for going to the garden centre shop assistant and not the boss as you do when buying plants.  He then makes an awful palm-tree related joke which I won’t repeat, but you can guess.

Evolve got six items for £311 with no falcon hood or tiles giving fines of £384.16 – which I presume is for the tiles, else those are some very well dressed falcons – leaving their total spend at £695.16.
Endeavour got four items (plant, kandura, frankincense and flag) and ‘negotiated a whole lot better’ but their kandura was wrong: modern and not traditional, so they therefore had five fails, spending £783.36 (we’re not told what they spent and what was fines though).  Endeavour win by £90 and get a genuinely good treat in the form of LOVELY BOOZE!  Hooray!  Jordan manages to save his glee for outside the boardroom this time.

There is flirting between Luisa and Jordan – who were rumoured to be this year’s couple – and Francesca and Jason, which seems… unlikely.  But then cocktails will do that to you.

Over at NotLoserCafe (where’s the Bridge café these days?) Neil thinks their strategy was wrong and Leah thinks the entire problem is Zee.  Kurt is pissed off because Zee doesn’t know anything and he’ll probably get brought in for getting centimetres and inches wrong.  Zee thinks the other sub-team are at fault for only getting two items (as did his sub-team), one of which was wrong – even though it was the item that required ‘local knowledge’ so should maybe have been on his shopping list instead.

Sralan lies that if they found one item more they’d have won because they were better negotiators.  Surely depends on which item?  Sralan tells them off for not going to the mall and Leah says she tried to but Zee told her not to.  Sralan tells her to ignore him – oh Sralan, half the time you berate candidates for undermining their PMs.  Zee snaps that the other sub-team got one item and Leah reminds him he got TWO despite his ‘regional knowledge’.  Zee asks what the other team members did and puts his hand up in Leah’s face which she snaps at.  Nick says Leah’s sub-team is full of fighting spirit and Natalie and Kurt don’t really say anything.  We then revisit the tiny flag and Zee actually looks kind of proud of it.  Who was responsible?  Alex says Zee, Zee whines that everyone is saying he is wrong and ‘the sub-team’s effort was under par’. 
Leah asks him why he didn’t acknowledge he was unsure and just said he had a bit of local knowledge but didn’t know everything.  Oh Leah, as if any acknowledgement of weakness is in Zee’s capability.  He’s one of those Scrappy Doo types.  He gets all offended by this ‘A BIT of local knowledge?  I LIVED THERE.’  He decides to bring back Leah for the failure of the sub-team and after Neil staring at him so hard he brings back Natalie because he and Kurt were booking appointments in the car.  Natalie goes mental and says she was trying to do that and he wouldn’t let her.

So, Zee sexism-gate then… Is he sexist?  I suspect he is and certainly there is plenty in this episode that would suggest that in the way he treats Natalie especially.  But I think it’s the sexism of ignorance - i.e. just not realising women exist to be useful in any way - rather than his consciously hating on women.  I also think he’s just got so used to being with Kurt and Neil and trying to join their cool gang that he would never dare offend them.  The team shuffles felt a bit late coming this series which probably didn’t help.  Natalie’s fury at him seemed pretty heartfelt and I suspect there have been tensions behind the scenes or on tasks outside of the footage we see.

Sralan sends them out and points out that all Leah does is accuse Zee of being a bullshitter.  Nick says they fell out right from the start.  Sralan hopes Natalie has a lot to say for herself.  Karren says she says more than she does.  NotFrances sends them in and Zee lets the door shut in Natalie’s face, which gets a curt ‘don’t bother about the door.’   Sralan says he asked for people to be brought in for the right reasons and wonders why Natalie is here.  Zee says she didn’t contribute much or take initiative but is ‘lovely to be around, don’t get me wrong’.  He said Kurt made an error and Natalie said that lost them the task.  So didn’t.  But she then goes into uber-maul mode and berates him for not listening to her, not letting her have the yellow pages and asks him if he has a problem with women after bringing them both back and calls him chauvanistic.
Zee tells her to ‘calm down’ although doesn’t add the ‘dear’ as I thought he might.  Leah says that there is some merit in that.  Zee snaps that he respects her but she got the kandura wrong.  She says that was Neil and he hasn’t even bothered to have a go at Neil, which causes Natalie to tear back into him.  Zee says Leah was the sub-team leader and forced herself into that.  Leah says two men made key errors but he still brought back to women.  Zee says he made her sub-team leader and Natalie says he didn’t have a choice.  Leah says all she’s done in the process whilst Sralan says she was weak on this task.  He says she has indecision, which seems a bit harsh as she did decide to go to the mall but her PM told her not to.
Sralan reads from Zee’s REZ-HOO-MAY and says he doesn’t like criticism.  Zee thinks this is good and completely normal, especially if people don’t have your respect.  Sralan says he comes across as pretty arrogant and that travellers should uphold modesty in Dubai ‘well they must have loved you there’ and then says Zee was fired from Phones4U.  Zee says he was their top salesman EVER (and got fired anyway?).  Jennifer Maguire laughs in his face at this.  BEST SALESWOMAN IN EUROPE BITCHES.

Sralan says Natalie shows passion in the boardroom but not on tasks, she says she does.  Both say Zee is responsible.

Sralan says Zee thinks too much of himself but clearly  has a good business and everyone else seems to be against him.  He hopes Leah hasn’t used personality against him.  Natalie gets the fire-tease for it being ‘regretful’ she’s back in the boardroom, but she has shown him some passion so she gets a last chance.  Zee’s business plan is for international trading but he’s shown he can’t deal internationally and the failure of the task was his fault, so he’s fired.  Natalie cries what look like tears of relief and she and Leah march past Zee without even really looking at him never mind hugging or shaking hands.

Coatwatch: black, high-collared, like the big boys wear.  Zee says his name will go down in history although he’s not exactly sure why?  Fifth most annoying contestant on the UK Apprentice, maybe? 

Back at the house, Luisa asks why Natalie got brought in and Kurt says she was criticised for not doing much.  There is relief at Leah and Natalie returning and Leah says Lord Sugar thought Zee brought back the wrong people.  Kurt says ‘do you mean me and Neil?’  Leah says yes, and Neil nods as if he agrees, which is interesting given the lack of humility he’s  shown so far.  Are we in for a REDEMPTION ARC, people?  I think we may be.

Next week!  They organise corporate away days.  Oh my days, best task ever?  I was convinced this series would be awful given the diminishing returns of the show lately but I think it’s turning out to be the best one in a while, certainly the best since series six.  Anyway, join Steve then!

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