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.

No comments: