Sunday, 21 July 2013

Dr Leah, I presume

The Final: 17th July 2013

Dara's here to ERRRRRRRR greet us and remind us that after the final, he'll be here for a very special episode of You're Hired! starring the winner, the runner-up, and some social commentator-type people. Several people pointed out on Twitter at the time of broadcast that You're Hired! is a bit of a misnomer these days considering Lordalan isn't actually offering a job any more. It's a valid point, but then arguably "you're fired!" is even worse because not only can you not fire someone from a job that isn't on offer, but you also can't fire someone for a job that you haven't hired them for yet, so that one's ALWAYS been a misnomer. Sometimes a catchphrase is just a catchphrase. Maybe they should've just done what Martha Stewart did with her version and say something different every week. Although maybe not, because Martha Stewart's version got cancelled after one season. Anyway, yes, Dara will be here at the end to chat to Luisa, Dr Leah and Lordalan in this special L-themed final, and as usual we're not going to recap that in detail but we'll try to note down a few of the key points that it covers.

Onward, and previously on The Apprentice: well, everything. But specifically, interviews. Jordan's experience was by far the most brutal when it turned out that his business plan was an idea that he didn't personally own, and that he was offering less than 50% of the business's equity. I really think he meant to go on Dragons' Den and got in the wrong lift or something. As a result, he was dismissed swiftly when he got back to the boardroom. Arguably the biggest shock of the competition came when Neil Neckbeard's business idea turned out to be a complete non-starter, something that everyone except Neil could see, and he mistook their desperate attempts to get him to abandon it and suggest something viable for a test of his convictions, so he stood firm and ended up getting the boot. Dr Leah was confirmed as the first finalist, which left Luisa and Francesca vying for the final spot, but ultimately Luisa's proven business experience beat Francesca's "I came up with £5m profit because it sounded good", and Francesca went back to her lookalikes agency to discover that a high-profile employment tribunal had come up and there was a sudden interest in Stella English lookalikes, so basically it was a win-win for her. Now it's down to Leah vs Luisa. Doctor vs baker. Botox vs cupcakes. Good vs evil. Okay, maybe not that last one.

It's 5pm, and Dr Leah and Luisa are lounging around in their sweats with the curtains drawn. After the weather we've been experiencing this week, I can completely understand the instinct behind that, but this is not the behaviour I expect from Britain's most promising entrepreneurs. At the very least I expect you to be watching Bloomberg and on the phone to your accountant in Jersey. I mean, Luisa is wearing a STARS AND STRIPES ONESIE, for goodness' sake. There is never any excuse for that, and certainly not on television. Anyway, they chat briefly about how neither of them expected to be here, and now they have to prove that they deserve it, until they're interrupted by the phone ringing. They trot downstairs and Luisa picks it up gingerly as though this is the endgame in a particularly tricky bomb defusal. NotFrances tells them that Lordalan wants to meet them at One Marylebone (I've been there!) and the cars will be on their way in 30 minutes. Luisa hangs up and exclaims "we've got a task!" in slight disbelief. I know the format's slightly different this year, but really, what was she expecting? That at some point they'd just have to ippy-dippy for it?

They rush off to get ready, and voice over a bit more about what a life-changing opportunity this is. They arrive at One Marylebone, and it's rather dark and ominous. Nick and Karren are waiting, of course, and Lordalan arrives to get things going. He tells them that this is their opportunity to convince him to sign on the dotted line, because their final task is to launch their business. What a brilliant idea! So they're going to obtain premises, negotiate with suppliers, hire staff, deal with tricky customers...oh, no, hang on, we're doing this Apprentice-style so in fact they're making a website, a promo video and doing a presentation. I'm willing to overlook this slightly underwhelming final task because the rest of this series has been a solid A+ in my book, but it would still have been kickass (if admittedly a lot more complex on a logistical level) to have a final task that really tested their business abilities in real terms. Lordalan likes Luisa's idea, but he wants her presentation to clear up the details. Dr Leah, on the other hand, needs to convince Lordalan to invest in an idea that's well outside of his wheelhouse.

Briefing over, the first job is for Luisa and Dr Leah to hire themselves some staff. They head off to separate rooms to sift through some RAYSOOMAYS (/headshots taken by production staff). Luisa interviews that there's nothing wrong with being a strong, independent businesswoman (apart from the fact that you don't have time for bad dates, eh Jordan?) and she's fed up of being called manipulative, so she intends to use the final task to show that she's totally a decent human being. Her first call is to the Neckbeard where she's all "HI NEIL I'M IN THE FINAL HOW ARE YOU?" in her usual endearingly crass fashion, but the good news is she's got to him first, so Neckbeard signs up for Team Luisa. Dr Leah, on the other hand, is being typically succinct and businesslike in making her calls, and quickly enlists Alex, Francesca and Uzma. The usefulness of Dr Leah's speedy approach becomes apparent when we cut back to Luisa, who tries to get both Alex and Francesca before discovering that they're already spoken for, and Myles only to discover that his phone is switched off. Probably got an urgent summons from one of the bored housewives of Monte Carlo, I'd imagine. (Hey, if anyone's getting a spinoff, I know that's the one I want to see.)

Luisa wails that this means she's left with Zee and Jason. Interestingly, some people appear not to have been on the shortlist - even if you discount the early boots like Jaz, Tim and Sophie, there's still no sign of Kurt, Jordan or Rebecca, all of whom I would imagine Luisa would've chosen over Jason if she'd had any choice, and probably over Zee as well. So I'd imagine production had their reasons for picking these specific candidates for the final task, which are probably drama-related, since Dr Leah was fairly instrumental in Zee's firing, and Luisa played a big part in Jason's. Anyway, Luisa says that she really doesn't want Jason because he'll be "detrimental", but she sucks it up and makes a very clenched phone call anyway to ask him to be on her team, and Jason drawls, with what I would imagine to be some degree of irony, that he'd love to be part of such an exciting prospect. Luisa interviews that she's got more business experience than Dr Leah anyway, so it makes sense that Dr Leah would need a stronger team around her. It's a fun little backhander of a comment, but I don't think she means any real malice here: I think she's just a bit frustrated that she was too slow to get the people she really wanted.

7am the next day, and the exiled Apprentices return to help their temporary bosses with the branding exercise. Despite the framing of the previous segment, each finalist has actually booked four former rivals to come back and assist them, so Team Dr Leah is Alex, Francesca, Uzma and Myles, while Team Luisa is Neckbeard, Jason, Zee and Natalie. Without wishing to sound impolite, Luisa really did get the short straw here, didn't she? Not necessarily in terms of individuals, but in terms of personality clashes she's got Luisa/Jason and Zee/Natalie to contend with. Dr Leah welcomes her team back, informing them that they were all her first choices and she didn't have to ring anyone else. (Uzma was your first choice? Really? I mean, I get that she's in the beauty industry and that you're opening a cosmetic enhancement clinic but still...Uzma? REALLY?) Meanwhile, you could slice the air on Team Luisa with a spork as she explains her idea for a wholesale baking goods retailer. She talks about needing to get initial orders from wholesalers, but how those wholesalers will in turn have to sell it on to their customers, the individual consumers, and everyone looks a bit lost. Natalie seeks clarification: is Luisa's plan to start off wholesale and then expand to consumers when the brand takes off? No. Luisa's plan is always wholesale. Jason interviews that it's a strange sense of déjà vu to be back on a branding task with Luisa, and that the general idea still seems a bit muddled, but he's sure it'll become clear as they go along. And that sense of indefatigable optimism is why Jason earned fan-favourite status this year. (Actually, it's probably for the best that we don't have a genuine fan favourite vote/prize on this show. I'm already shuddering to think at the people who might've won it in series past.) Luisa explains that it's everything to make a cake, bar a cake. "So, flour?" asks Natalie. No, not flour either. Well, this is going well. [As someone who bakes, I get the idea of what she is selling - I don't really get why she isn't going straight to customer though, nor does she explain where SHE will be getting stock from and how she will guarantee availability given the problems she identifies with existing wholesalers - Rad]

Meanwhile, Dr Leah is calmly explaining her business to her team: a chain of cosmetic clinics offering anti-aging treatments, a very professional and ethical service. To be honest I think there's a limit to how much you can describe any sort of cosmetic clinic as "ethical" since the entire industry is essentially reliant on convincing people that they're not good enough in their current form, but I guess within that, you can still be at the upper end of the ethical level and still be very careful about who you provide your services to, and I hope that's the point Dr Leah is making here. Myles says that his vanity will be an asset here. Hee. Dr Leah's idea for a brand is "'skin' backwards with the k the other way round and a face in the middle." I think there's a reason she became a doctor and not a branding consultant. She thinks it's very current and can be medical or high-street. She doesn't say MAJESTIC, but I'd imagine she's at least thinking it. [I just wish her business plan was to give people VOLUMINOUS hair transplants instead - Rad]

Luisa's team are also thinking of names. (Seriously? I'm slightly baffled that anyone would get to this part in the process and not already have at least the name of their business locked down.) Suggestions include Hello Baker!, Bake Me Happy, Sugar Coated and - wait for it - Master Bake. She's not serious with that final one, thankfully. At least, I hope she isn't. There's little support for any of these, anyway. Meanwhile, Alex has a suggestion for Dr Leah. PLEASE let it be "Popty Ping's Italian Injection Institute", accompanied by a little picture of Popty in a gondola. Italian, innit? Sadly, his actual suggestion is "Reflections", but Dr Leah is sold on NIKS and can't be moved.

11.30am now, and the teams must get on with the important business of market research, building a website and creating a brand. Luisa appears to have narrowed her choices down to Sugar Central (OH I I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE) and Baker's Toolkit. Zee's very much in favour of the latter, because he thinks it's self-explanatory. First, Luisa and her team visit a boutique bakery in Belgravia to speak to the owner, Peggy Portion. Well, if she's anything to go by, I guess you work out your baker name the same way you work out your porn name. (Editor's note: according to Google, her name is Peggy Porschen. But come on, say it out loud and then tell me how you think you'd spell it.) Luisa explains to Peggy about her business, and how there'll be an online stock checker, because the problem that Luisa has often had with her own baking business is that her suppliers are frequently out of stock. Seems logical, and Peggy's familiar with the problem. Luisa and Peggy have a good giggle about the impossibility of tracking down a Wilton 233 nozzle. I guess you had to be there. Nick interviews that Luisa isn't really making the most of the opportunity to question an expert, but that she's proving she has a thorough knowledge of the industry. Jason, concerned, pipes up that before they leave, perhaps Luisa would like to discuss numbers? Luisa clearly does not welcome the intrusion, and is all "I'M GOOD ON NUMBERS THANKS JASON, YOU CAN GO SHAVE YOUR BACK NOW."

Over in the Dr Leah car, Dr Leah is still enraptured at the prospect of "Niks Medical Group". Myles thinks she should at least have "clinic" or "cosmetic" in the name somewhere. Alex points out that Dr Leah doesn't do branding, and should listen to the people that do. After all, these are the creative bright sparks responsible for the unrivalled success that was Deadly Dinners. Anyway, Dr Leah tells them it's her brand, so fuck off. Or something to that general effect, anyway.

Both teams (or parts thereof, at least - Dr Leah has brought Alex and Myles as indicated above, while Luisa has brought Jason and Zee) head to creative agency Brave in south-west London. Dr Leah presents the various iterations of Niks, while Luisa wants her logo to be herself, "in cartoon form". Oh Luisa, you're already in cartoon form. Luisa wants pink for her colour scheme - a pastel pink, like Zee's socks. Allow me to just remind you that Luisa and Jason are once again working together in a design agency discussing colour schemes. If you want to get into the brace position, that might not be such a terrible idea.

While all that's going on, Neckbeard and Natalie are doing market research with baking tastemakers. Natalie asks them about colours, and whether pastel pink would appeal to them. One woman says no very firmly, and a man huffs prissily about it being too gender-specific. In the car on the way back, Neil phones Luisa - who's right in the middle of overseeing a very pink logo - to tell her that pink is a no-go, and she should go for something more unisex. Luisa purses her lips. Nick interviews that Luisa's brand is rather confusing: she's selling to trade, but the brand that she's creating is "something out of Bambi, or Barbie", so he doesn't think they've got a clear idea of who they're selling to. Meanwhile, upstairs, Dr Leah is getting her Clients From Hell on and micromanaging every aspect of the logo's creation. Karren interviews that Dr Leah has had very clear ideas the whole way through, and has been very calm and decisive, but the problem is her branding is rather corporate and bland. Dude, it's for a surgery clinic. Given the choice, I think I'd go for "bland and corporate" over Dr Leah's Zany Needle Emporium or whatever Karren seems to be recommending here. If someone is going to be injecting poison in my face, then I want them to be as humourless as possible. Alex and Myles declare the final design "boring". Dr Leah announces that she likes boring.

Next: websites. Luisa is concerned that hers is "blah". Still, it actually has some content on it, so it's already several iterations ahead of Friendship And Flowers. Luisa's starting to get a bit ratty and saying things like "can you just do it in the order that I've asked? I just want this, what I've asked for, done." I think Luisa is going to be very lucky if her homepage on launch day is anything other than a scrolling marquee saying "FUCK YOU, I QUIT" in a rainbow of colours. Jason interviews (with barely concealed glee) that this is very close to his last experience of building a website with Luisa, and she's just "bewildering". I guess he probably does feel a bit vindicated that Luisa's time management under her own terms doesn't appear to have been that much better than his. Still, at least she remembered to ignore the market research, which you're always supposed to do when you're making a website, right? Meanwhile, Dr Leah's website is finished, and she's very happy with it. I'm sure the editors are not trying to make ANY sort of point here about Luisa's professionalism vs Dr Leah's. Nosirree.

The teams make their way home, and Jason reiterates how important it is for everyone to band together and help Luisa win the task. Dr Leah, meanwhile, talks about how encouraged she feels that she's in her field now and knows the answers to all the questions. (Incidentally, I assume Uzma and Francesca were off doing market research throughout the day - why weren't we shown any of it?)

8am the next day, and both teams must now work on a promotional video to enhance their presentations. Alex stresses the importance of creating a product that's tasteful and professional. You know, just like the last video he and Dr Leah worked on together. Dr Leah is filming in a west London clinic, while Luisa is filming in a family home. Luisa is also working with child actors and pretending to be their mother. Both child actors look fairly apprehensive about this prospect. Smart kids. [Who would win in a fight between Apprentice advert fake mothers?  Luisa or random Sian Lloyd? - Rad]

Over on Dr Leah's set, Alex and Uzma are busy dressing it with props. Well, Alex is - Uzma mostly appears to be flicking through a magazine. Alex fills a vase with some pot pourri and sticks a strange two-headed plant...type...thing (I think he's been visiting the same supplier that provided Jordan with his big ticket item in the market trading task) in the background. Dr Leah arrives and instantly instructs him to get that shit off her table. Alex interprets this as Dr Leah "going on a rampage", and that she doesn't seem to have much confidence in the competence of the people around her. Yeah, can't imagine why she'd feel that way. Dr Leah proceeds to write, direct, stars in and produce her promotional video, while also making all the costumes, building the set from scratch and doing all the catering. She's not much of a delegator, unless you count the "where's that kid with my latte?" side of things.

Meanwhile, in the family kitchen that she's hired, Luisa prepares to shoot her advert, which begins with the line "like many of you, I'm a baker and a business owner", which makes me think of this. "I'm not a witch, I'm nothing like you've heard - I'm you!" (And now I want to see Kristen Wiig as Luisa.) Her ad seems to go well - she comes across naturally on camera, and the video is well-scripted. Nick interviews happily that despite Luisa's brusque beginnings in the process, she's working well with her team and they, in turn, are responding well to her.

What of Myles and Francesca, you might wonder? (Okay, you probably weren't wondering that at all, but work with me here.) They're in Holborn, getting some market research done. You know, the sort of market research that would've been really helpful to have before they visited the branding agency. The market research reveals that people highly value having skilled doctors (imagine that!) but that people don't like "Niks" as a name - mostly because, as one woman points out, it sounds a bit like what happens when you cut yourself shaving or impale yourself on a knife. Dr Leah is busy rehearsing her big piece-to-camera, in which she says "Niks" about a thousand times, when Francesca and Myles ring her to point out that she may want to rethink that in order to avoid sounding like a knife-wielding serial killer. Fortunately, Myles has already come up with a compromise - "N.i.k.s." (i.e. sounding out the letters individually), and Dr Leah is amendable to that. Karren interviews that Dr Leah loved the name Niks, but forgot to think about the implications and how it sounds like an accidental cut. Thank you, Karren, for repeating everything that happened in the last two minutes. We'd never have got through that without your assistance. Karren does point out some new information, however, which is that Dr Leah now has to reshoot everything she's already done in order to get the name change in. Geez, can't they fix that in post?

5pm, and everyone's back to the creative agency for a preview of the final cut of their videos. Luisa's team are thrilled with what they've come up with. "It made me really emotional!" squeals Natalie. All right, there's no need to go overboard. Zee thinks that Luisa's going to have the edge over Dr Leah in the likeability stakes because of her personality in the video. Luisa interviews that it's really "humbling" that everyone's working so hard for her, and it's inspiring her to want to win for them. Nothing to do with the £250,000 investment, you understand, she's all about her human capital now. Meanwhile, Dr Leah is being typically hands-on in the editing of her video and basically behaving like Luisa did with the website. It's interesting how different aspects of the task seem to bring out the same aspects of their personalities. Anyway, it's probably a good thing for Dr Leah that all of the syringes for the shoot have been returned to wherever they came from at this point, because I think if Alex, Uzma or the design guy had had access to any sort of weapon, she might not have got out of there alive.

11am the next day, and it's time to launch their businesses. Well, nearly. First, they must head to One Marylebone again to set everything up and fine-tune their presentations. Jason interviews that it's down to Luisa to win or lose everything at this point, because while the helper monkeys have done all they can, they're essentially just sorting the window-dressing at this point and everything else comes down to her pitch. Luisa and Natalie set about dressing the place up and making everything pink and "girly", and Luisa congratulates them all for being so on-brand. Zeeshaan, whose socks started all this, is a little taken aback when he sees just how pink everything else, but shrugs that it's Luisa's vision and not his place to interfere. Meanwhile, Dr Leah practices her presentation while Francesca directs with the full benefit of her Dance and Entertainment experience.

Backstage, Luisa is busy trying to get icing ready for her complementary cupcakes, and Nick interviews that this may not be the most productive use of her time. "Failing to prepare that presentation is preparing to fail!" booms Nick. Meanwhile, Jason has been roped into food preparation yet again. It really is a shame that Rebecca's not there - they could resurrect the dream team.

The evening arrives, and the venue starts to fill up with influential types from the worlds of wholesake baking and cosmetic medicine. Leah frets that she probably seems clinical a lot of the time, and says that she's keen to bring out the warmth of her personality. Just make sure you inflate your hair nice and big, Dr Leah. That'll win them over. Luisa says that she believes in her business plan, and she thinks her edge over Leah is her big personality. I think it's a surprise for many of us that we've now reached the stage where Luisa's personality is considered an asset, but I can see her point here: she might not be the best when it comes to teamwork, but she can be darned persuasive when she wants to be. Also, I can see Luisa's giggles and wiggles winning over an audience faster than Dr Leah's glare and hair. Although obviously these fine captains of industry won't be paying attention to superficial things like that. OBVIOUSLY. There's no sexism in business. What are you talking about? Why are all those women looking up at us so angrily through this glass floor?

The event begins, and Luisa's up first to pitch Baker's Toolkit. Her nerves are palpable, and she keeps stumbling over her words, but this is where she's right about her personality working out well for her - she grins and apologises, and it's hard to imagine anyone holding those minor fluffs against her. Her pitch is clear - I think possibly she overcomplicates it by mentioning home bakers when ultimately that's not where her business is aimed at, but I suppose she's just acknowledging that they might be the end consumers - and even the most uncharitable of spectators would have to admit that she obviously knows the industry and has spotted a gap in the market. She predicts a turnover of just under £1m in year one, growing to £3.2m in year three. Luisa then shows her video, which is simple but effective - again I can't help finding aspects of it slightly confusing, like the Baker's Toolkit branded cake tins which seem more like a product for marketing directly to consumers than to wholesalers, but her talk of visible stock level indicators and guaranteed delivery times go down well. At a pinch, I might've advised leaving out the scenes with the kids because it does make the whole thing seem a bit like an amateur operation; there's a bit of a disconnect between "wholesale supplier" and "family kitchen", but I guess Luisa's going for a "wholesome" vibe, and that makes a sort of sense.

It's question time! The first question is (surprise surprise) about the colour scheme, asking Luisa if she's not concerned about alienating a swathe of the market with all that pink. Luisa says that she knows the industry is dominated by females and she didn't want to shy away from that. She thinks the strength of the brand and quality of the products will be attractive to men. A man asks Luisa about turnover further ahead than three years, and Luisa attempts to answer before admitting that she hasn't forecast that far ahead and saying that she'd need to go away and work on the figures because any answer she gives here would be a lie. That's the best of a bad situation, I think: ideally she should probably have those numbers to hand, but since she hasn't, I think she's much safer to be honest than to just make something up on the spot. Having said that, she does say that she expects to turn over £5m in year five. Presumably Francesca wrote that bit for her when Dr Leah wasn't looking. Luisa leaves the stage, and bursts into tears because she thinks it went terribly. Well, at least we've got proof that she's human, right? Anyway, Neil and Natalie try to reassure her, saying that she was great, but Luisa is inconsolable.

Lordalan speaks to the experts in the break, and gets some positive feedback: they like the brand, they think she's timed it well with the current craze for all things baking-related, they think Luisa's vision was very clear. Their only real misgiving is that she needs to refine specifically who she's targeting with it, because they're not sure it works as a trade supplies brand.

Over to Team Dr Leah now, and Francesca is wearing a lycra two-piece, so this should be interesting. Myles does a voiceover welcoming everyone into the room, and...'Orinoco Flow' plays as Francesca does a ribbon dance. Hee. I guess it's customary every year for at least one presentation to shoehorn in some sort of tangential-at-best dancing element, and who else was going to do it? Once Francesca's finished, Dr Leah walks out, beaming from ear to ear. She really wasn't kidding about cranking up the warmth of her personality, was she? Her presentation is more poised than Luisa's, and Dr Leah is calm and clear throughout, going through the whole process bit-by-bit, and how she plans to roll out the franchise. She shows her video, which has a little bit of a Teleshopping-at-4am vibe to it, but again it's lucid and down-to-earth, and it seems like a persuasive bit of film. After the video is finished, Dr Leah reminds us that she's a doctor and says "clinical excellence" a few more times, and then it's time for questions.

The first question is from a doctor, who wants to know how Dr Leah plans to monitor the technicians that she will be hiring, because presumably people will be coming based on Dr Leah's own reputation. Dr Leah says it'll all be in the staffing. Someone else wants to know why she's only offering three types of treatments in an increasingly competitive market, and suggests that Dr Leah doesn't know the market as well as she thinks she does. Dr Leah replies that she feels she does know the market, and explains that she's only offering the treatments which have "a low side-effect profile" and the most clinical grounding. Or possibly grinding, it's hard to tell with Dr Leah's accent sometimes. Nadine Baggott stands up, shouts something about pentapeptides, everyone smiles politely and waits until she sits down again.

Dr Leah heads backstage, where she visibly flinches at the thought of the Q&A session she just endured. I suspect she realised "no, you're wrong, I'm right" wasn't the most diplomatic answer the second it escaped her mouth. Lordalan asks the assembled experts for their thoughts on Dr Leah's proposal, and the brand name isn't popular because it requires too much explanation. There's concern that it's a crowded market she's trying to enter and that she'll really have to establish herself very quickly. However, Dr Leah's business nous and presentation skills are praised.

Dr Leah and Luisa head back to the house (in separate cabs, tsk tsk carbon footprint) to await the final boardroom. Luisa interviews that she really believes in her product, but she feels like she let her brand and her team down with her presentation. Dr Leah thinks that her proposal is out of Lordalan's comfort zone, so it's going to come down to how comfortable he feels with her expertise in the area.

Everyone sits nervously in the anteroom until NotFrances sends them in. It's hard to see because everyone kind of flocks in as a bunch, but I hope Zee remembered to hold the door open for Natalie this time. Lordalan arrives and greets them all. Team Luisa is up for assessment first, and Luisa says that she feels like she got a really good team together. She does know the cameras were filming her when she was ringing round, right? She says that she was very keen to have Neckbeard on board, and adds that she really enjoyed working with Jason again, as it gave her a chance to redeem herself. Jason nods approvingly. Lordalan wants to talk about the name, and how it was Zee that came up with it. He cracks that Zee will have finally achieved his dream of being famous, as he'll "go down in history as the first man that Luisa's listened to." Everyone chuckles politely, because that's what you do when you are this close to £250,000.

Lordalan wants to know what happened with Peggy Portion next, and Luisa says that Peggy confirmed her theory that there's a problem with supply and demand in the industry. Nick asks if Luisa actually gave Peggy a chance to provide some input, or whether she just treated the whole thing as a chance to show off what she knows - which, he admits, is a considerable amount. Luisa says that Peggy was in agreement with a lot of what she said, so further discussion seemed unnecessary. Next, Lordalan wants to discuss the market research and how they all said they didn't like pink. "It obviously didn't get listened to," he chortles. Well no, because your take-home lesson four weeks ago was "don't listen to the market research", you wealthy goon. Stop sending out mixed messages. Lordalan says that some of the experts were confused about the branding and whether the focus is on the consumer or trade, and Luisa responds, slightly confusingly, that she's "always had the end user in mind" when doing this.

The subject turns to the presentation, and Luisa admits that it was not great, Bob, because she lost her way on her cue cards and basically ad libbed her way through after that. Lordalan assures her that he didn't notice that, and he thought she came across very well. Time for feedback on Luisa from her team members: Natalie gushes that Luisa has grown as a person and as a leader throughout the process, and she was taking on board people's opinions this time around. Jason is asked if he managed to work with Luisa successfully this time, and he points out - quite correctly - that the dynamics were very different this time because this was very much Luisa's project, but that meant that the boundaries were clearer and they "worked perfectly together". He adds that he was "very touched" when she called and asked for his help. I imagine he was slightly less touched when he actually saw this episode, but never mind, eh?

Over to Dr Leah, but before we get to Dr Leah herself, let's all talk about FRANCESCA'S RIBBON DANCE! No seriously, Lordalan wants to talk about the ribbon dance. Francesca says that Dr Leah asked her to do it. She doesn't mention that this request came at the end of two hours of unrelenting "can I do a dance, Dr Leah? Can I do a dance, Dr Leah? Can I do a dance, Dr Leah? Can I do a dance, Dr Leah?" Dr Leah says that her team were fantastic, she got her first four choices, and they were all exceptional. Again, Lordalan wants to talk about names, and Dr Leah explains that she came up with Niks Medical, the others came up with their own names, and then she just went with the idea that she had. Everyone giggles at this - proper laughter as well, not just "Lordalan told a joke" laughter. Speaking of Lordalan jokes, he follows this by saying that "Niks" sounds like "Mr Hewer's opened a wine bar." We now return to your standard "the rich man thinks he said something funny" laughter. Karren leaps in here to explain the whole "Niks"/"nicks" thing here, and Lordalan tries to make out like changing it to N-I-K-S rather than Niks is another example of Dr Leah just ignoring everyone else and doing what she wants, this point, all the branding had already been done. There was literally no time for her to go and rename the entire company, so what was she supposed to do? Myles steps in here, all "look, I see what you're trying to do here, but we fed this information back to Dr Leah and she responded the best way that she could in the circumstances". Dr Leah, bless her, attempts to defends "Niks" yet again as "a play on the irony that we're not cutting anything". Oh, Dr Leah. Know when to quit.

Lordalan says that the experts will want to stick with one person that they trust - Dr Leah, in other words - and Dr Leah says that she disagrees completely, because the undisputed leader of this sector is a brand, with no human face to it. Oh, the irony. Myles leaps in again, adding that because Dr Leah is only focusing on three treatments, this means you can realistically expect her staff to be trained to a very high standard in all of them. While I'm sure Dr Leah is perfectly capable of making all these points herself without needing to be rescued by Myles, I think it speaks well of her performance on this task that her team actually believe in her ideas and want to defend them. Anyway, Lordalan brings up that lady who saw the small scale of treatments as a negative, and Dr Leah reminds us that she totally disagrees with that lady. Lordalan points out that Dr Leah was disagreeing with the industry leaders throughout her presentation, which is not good. To reinforce his point, he explains that he has lots of old friends who have lots of surgery (apparently) and they all stick to one person that they trust. A fair point, but I would imagine these people have enough money to be able to visit fancy specialists and pay premium prices to be treated by that same person every time, whereas Dr Leah is targeting the person on the street who just wants the treatment done by a reputable brand at a reasonable price. Francesca interrupts here to say that Dr Leah's background in medicine provides that trustworthy face, and Lordalan says that this is the exact point he was trying to make: Luisa, for better or for worse, put her own face at the centre of her brand, which is what Dr Leah should've done. His favoured name for the business, therefore, is "Dr Leah". Dr Leah doesn't like that, and everyone laughs, because this is genuinely hilarious.

We're unlikely to get consensus on this any time soon, so Lordalan moves on to Dr Leah's skills as a manager and businesswoman in this final task. Francesca speaks up to reinforce what I noticed earlier: that Dr Leah got them all involved to such an extent that they felt personally invested in the brand. Myles says that because she was knowledgable about the product, she was very decisive and managed them all very well.

The returnees are dismissed with lots of hugs and kisses, leaving Dr Leah and Luisa. Lordalan asks them to step outside briefly while he has a final chat with Nick and Karren. Lordalan thinks that Dr Leah doesn't look like she wants to listen to advice, and while it's all very well being invested in your idea, sometimes you need to recognise when you're getting good counsel, NEIL CLOUGH. Karren says that after observing her closely, she thinks Dr Leah is a very bright young woman who knows what she's doing and can take "a gift that she has" and develop it into a business. Nick says "under Leah, I've got 'stubborn', and under Luisa, I've got 'less stubborn'." THANKS, NICK. Karren admits she was worried at one point if there was a businesswoman behind all the bluster with Luisa, but it's clear that she understands the business, that she has a viable proposition, and she's learnt from her mistakes.

NotFrances sends them back in. Lordalan wants them to begin by saying why they think he should invest in them. Luisa begins, saying that her business will be profitable, and that she has a lot of experience with starting and running businesses. Dr Leah thinks she's pitching a fantastic, unique and lucrative opportunity, and she thinks she's a dependable and trustworthy person to invest in. Lordalan notes that Dr Leah has built in an exit plan, and she says that she intends to sell nine clinics after year five for a value of approximately £8m, which she thinks is an extremely conservative estimate. Lordalan asks Luisa if she has a similar strategy, and Luisa says no, she wants to stay in this industry and become a market leader. [I wish she'd sassed him back about his gazillion other businesses and whether or not he'd have time for hers - Rad]

Lordalan wants to know what will happen to Luisa's three other businesses if he decides to invest in her. Luisa says that she has people who run her shop for her, so although she oversees it from an executive level, the day-to-day running is already taken care of. Lordalan is not keen on this, because he's a clingy sort who wants you all to himself. Lordalan reminds Luisa that her headstrong attitude has not always been a good thing, and wonders if her business partner will have as much say in her business as she does. Luisa says that she believed she was better than all the others and wasn't shy about saying so, but she's learned a lot in the process, specifically that it's fine just to shut up and listen sometimes.

Next up: the DANGER ZONE. Lordalan says that cupcakes is a low-risk strategy for him, because at worst he's just going to make people fat, whereas botox and fillers could quite feasibly lead to the Daily Mail printing that he's going to make the whole country die of cancer, so while he has no fears about Dr Leah's morals and her abilities, he's concerned that he'll make himself a target by taking on such a controversial proposal. Dr Leah admits that he's completely right to be concerned, and that she wouldn't advise him to go into this business with anyone else besides her. Heh. She also hits back where it counts: baking supplies have comparatively low margins against to cosmetic treatments, so she'll make more money and faster.

Nick speaks up next, voicing his concern that Dr Leah was saying "no" a lot in the previous boardroom. Won't that make her hard to work with? Dr Leah says that she's normally very compliant, and she "barely spoke until about task six" (really? They're still trying to convince us that that's an actual thing that happened?), but she feels she has expertise on this matter and she wants it done right.

The end-of-boardroom music starts playing, so we know a decision is imminent. Lordalan trusts Dr Leah's expertise and morals, but he's got a hard choice here, because Luisa's business is lower-risk and more in line with what he knows. He knows that Luisa is a businessperson, and he believes that she has softened a bit throughout the process, but he's concerned that he won't have her undivided attention because she has other businesses. It all comes down to where he is now - at the age of 66, does he want to take more risks, or does he just want a quiet life?

Well, on balance...screw the idea of a peaceful retirement, because DR LEAH WINS! Dr Leah is thrilled, while Luisa smiles sadly. Lordalan wishes Luisa the very best of luck, and Dr Leah heads out gleefully to the victory car, where she says how amazing it is that Lordalan is showing all this faith in her even though she has less business experience than everyone else. She's going to do everything she can to prove that he's made the right decision.

And there we have it! It wasn't the most gripping of final tasks, but it was a solid end to the best series this show has produced in three or four years, I'd say. It helped enormously that I really liked both candidates in the final two and would've been happy with either one winning, and the only other series I've been able to say that about was series six.

Notable moments from You're Hired! include: Luisa being forced to apologise at length to Jason for usurping him as project manager, to the point where it all got rather uncomfortable; further reminders that everyone loves Neil Clough; Dr Leah is going to call her business "Dr Leah" after all; attempts were made to convince Jordan that he isn't a terrible human being and we all still love him really; everyone got a bit Daily Mail with Dr Leah and made her promise that she didn't just waste all of our money training with the NHS just to flit off into the private sector and make a ton of cash.

That's it. Thanks for being with us again this year - I hope you enjoyed the show, and I hope you enjoyed the recaps. All being well, we'll be back next year for series ten. Until then: you're fired! Just kidding. But seriously: go home. We need to lock up the office, and we can't afford to pay the receptionist overtime.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Jordan Sparks... and then spontaneously combusts

Last week! In a SHOCK! TWIST! (TM Big Brother) men vs women was restaged in the smelling woss selling task, and despite the mens' team mainly consisting of the Plastics (with Jordan usurping Kurt to be the one that wasn't Regina George or Amanda Seyfried's character, look if this were Steve's recap he would probably know, but I've only seen it once) the women won.  NEIL CLOUGH, naturally, did enough selling (although notsomuch on the smelling) and enough 'I AM NEIL CLOUGH'ing to absolve himself of all responsibility of the task failure. It came down to a straight fight between Myles and Jordan, but as the former had been responsible for two fails on the trot and the latter's shonky 'THERE ARE THREE OF US IN THIS MARRIAGE' business plan made him the best candidate for interview evisceration (and then some... whoops, spoilers) Myles was booted out.

This week, back to interviews being the semi-final instead of the final, which feels like the natural order of things, for The Prentice, like Game of Thrones, should always keep its best episode for the penultimate episode, reigning carnage down, culling half the cast and then offering us a finale of 'not as good as the last episode but was alright, I suppose.’  Tis the way.

Credits!  I can enjoy you now you no longer contain spoilers, but offer a vehicle for nostalgia.  Jason being a silly shit!  PM coup!  DUBAIIIII!  Such happy times.

8am and Apprentice Mansions and everyone is awake, having been conditioned to 6am starts for the past ten ‘weeks’.  Neckbeard Neil reminds us he’s worked very hard to be here and Francesca says you have to be strong to get to the final five and she even looks unconvinced by it as she’s saying it.  They all gather in the hall for a phone call, from the Sugarman himself this time, who is giving them a day’s notice to remind themselves of their business plans / make some hasty revisions take the hint gentlemen (spoiler: they don’t) before he unleashes the rottweilers.

They talk about being nervous and Jordan says they’ve been under scrutiny, now their business plans have to stand up.  Spoiler: LOL OOPS.

Helpful voiceover man tells us Jordan has ‘the best record in the process’ which is kind of scary.  He and his tiny arms type away frantically on a laptop although I can only conclude at this stage it was desperate emails to his friends asking pretty please could they give him their business?  Or at least let him join in?  He’d been hoping the cool boys’ club of Neil and Myles might let him share their plans but no dice so far.  He’ll bring zippy green trousers to the mix!  Jordan is “excited” to be able to ‘clarify’ the issues on his business plan – i.e. to point out that it’s much worse than it appeared last week – he is already about a minute away from tears looking at his face.  Music of doom basically undercuts his whole interview.

Second in our line of obvious boots, it’s Francesca.  She’s run three suucessful businesses, but she doesn’t shout about it like MULTIPLE BUSINESS OWNER Luisa who will eat everyone else for breakfast and says she has ‘two successful businesses’ in the area she is going into.  So what of her mysterious third business?  Is it a failure?  Or in a different industry?  Such is the mystery of Luisa.  Next up, Neckbeard Neil, the only candidate to lead a team three times.  Although not always to victory.  And not if you count Apprenti-coup, which Luisa definitely does.  And then there’s boardroom goddess Dr Leah whose business plan appears to be written entirely in third person and contains a lot of numbers.  She reminds us of her JOURNEY to become a business woman in the process.

8AM the next day and the cabs send them to their fate.  The women hug their folders tight whilst the men read theirs, trying to make some sort of sense of things.  (SPOILER: good luck with that, chaps).

Sralan lies that he’s read their business plans as he told them at the start by saying thay all seem like very good ideas.  Clearly not, going on what’s about to happen – indeed, going on last week’s boardroom. Anyway, he still can’t be arsed so he’s contracting that job out to the rottweilers.  Jordan and Francesca look terrified, Luisa looks sort of halfway between scared and excited, Leah looks cool as a cucumber and Neckbeard looks into the middle distance and just thinks NEIL CLOUGH NEIL CLOUGH NEIL CLOUGH.

Luisa gets her trolling in early by asking them how they’re all feeling.  Neckbeard Neil and Francesca look sick, Leah lies that she’s nervous and Jordan, sensing he’s going down in flames and therefore aiming for good TV (surely?  I mean, he can’t be serious, can he?) says ‘a true warrior wants a good fight’.  LOL forever, especially given his section in The Final Five show when he lies that he could have been in the Marines.  I wonder what life is like in Jordan world.  Luisa says if they have confidence in their business plans and hold their heads high they’ll have a lovely day.  Luisa is such an excellent troll.  The Luisa vs Francesca saga rumbles on as she tells ‘Fran’ she’s gone quiet and Francesca huffs and shoots an almighty death stare at her.

Your rottweilers this year have had the workload divided up into particular areas which makes things a bit weird.  As the longest-standing member of the pack, Claude gets the best bit, to shred their terrible business plans to ribbons.  First up is Luisa, whose REZ-HOO-MAY says she’s a ruthless hirer and firer.  She says she’s just like Lord Sugar and Claude gets all apoplectic and shouts ‘DON’T YOU EVER COMPARE YOURSELF TO HIM!’  Actually, this series has been somewhat light on the ‘I’m just like you Lord Sugar’ front, hasn’t it?  Even though a lot of the characters could have made that claim.  Do you think he’s banned them from comparing themselves to him?  Luisa’s face is all ‘calm down dear.’

Margaret’s task this year is to weed through the bullshit they’ve written about themselves.  Jordan’s application mentions him ‘walking in the footsteps of kings’ and going on jet planes.  He clarifies that this was something he did at school.  Bloody poshos.  We went on a school trip once to the back of the field where we had to clean out the ditch that ran alongside it.  (This is true, by the way, we were about ten at the time and were lucky we didn’t catch hepatitis.  That was education under a Tory system folks!  None of that namby-pamby elf and safety bollox!  And we also played rounders all afternoon every afternoon in the summer term!  Education schmeducation!)  He’s studied the greats of history and as a result his role model is David Beckham… because making such claims will get him on the telly and maybe then mummy and daddy will be proud of me, just because I’m too short (/too Jordan) to be in the armed forces doesn’t mean I have to be a failure, honest!  I can serve my country in the field of BIZNESS!  (/making a fool of myself for the GOOD OF THE NATION)

Our new attack dog (or… not, as it turns out) is Claudine Collins who runs a media agency.  She’s wearing blue pearls to go with the blue lighting of the show.  Fashion conscious!  She’s got the job of finding the ‘real people’.  She calls Francesca boring.  Francesca says she’s travelled the world and she’s not boring.  Insightful!

And finally we have Smash Hits’ very own Mike Soutar whose job is to ask the contestants to rate the new single from Johnny Hates Jazz and think of an inventive use for a Black Type tea towel.  He asks Leah how he should address her.  Not everyone’s as precious about titles as Lord Sralan Alan Michael Sugar Sugarman, you know.  Anyway, Leah’s all, err, call me Leah, I’m not the queen or anything.  Her clan is to offer ‘medical cosmetic clinics’ – i.e. Botox and facial peels and suchlike.  He asks what she would do with his face, and very deadpan, she reels off a list: three areas of Botox, some fillers to soften his folds, and he’s probably need more than one syringe so that’ll cost £600.  She is so cool.  Even though I kind of hate the idea of the clinic, she’s brilliant.

Neil Neckbeard is sitting in the waiting area looking like he’s about to be a bit sick in his mouth.  Maybe it’s norovirus or something and he’s caught it off Jordan.  He lies that he’s ‘ready for it’.  Leah thinks Neil will be able to sell himself and they all talk about how he has a lot of self-belief.  Oh, the foreshadowing.

His business plan is to have a website allowing people to do their own viewings because there’s nobody better to sell your house than you – even though he took two years to sell his.  Now, everyone rips this business plan apart because ‘no-one wants to do their own viewings’ but I’m buying a house at the moment and though all of the houses I looked at were being sold through estate agents, in all but one case (where the owners no longer lived there), the owners showed me round.  I can understand that the vendors might not want to set up their appointments but the estate agents effectively only acted as a middle-person in between me and them anyway liasing over appointment times (and incessantly ringing me afterwards to go DID YOU LIKE IT?) and the marketing was all done through Rightmove and Zoopla, so although the estate agents organised that, I can see how you might be able to do it yourself – although I think the agents are probably useful in the middle of the negotiations over price and so on.  However, you’re effectively going to be paying NEIL CLOUGH to do half the job of the estate agent anyway if you use his site and the idea that he will also have estate agents using it when he’s trying to do them out of a job is risible and presumably people selling houses sans agent can still use RightMove and Zoopla anyway, so I’m not saying his idea is good (it isn’t) but I am saying that, I dunno, estate agents have got a bit lazy or something.

Anyway, Claude says his idea is rubbish and Neil is a good salesperson but most people aren’t.  Neil says he has to challenge Claude.  CRASH CUT to the other candidates saying Neil only has one mode: NEIL CLOUGH and it could be offputting although Luisa says it might get him to the final.

He says his plan is to get the estate agents to join in and basically to be RightMove/Zoopla.  Claude says he has no chance of competing.  Neil says he does and it gets all ‘you don’t/I do/you don’t/I do’ from there.  And basically, Neil’s argument seems to be I WILL DO IT BECAUSE NEIL CLOUGH and it’s worked this far for him in the PROCESS so why shouldn’t it work in real life?

He returns and lies that he thrives on challenge and would love to go back in there.

Margaret is back with Jordan and asks him about his time at Oxford and in the Oxford Entrepreneurs.  This segment is crying out for an Oxford’s not what it used to be as he talks about how he got a full time job being president of the Oxford Entrepreneurs helping other people with ‘vision’ and ‘strategy’.

Francesca desperately tries to grab herself some of the Michelle Dewberry pulling herself up by the bootstraps edit as she mentions starting her first business after selling her car, but Claude doesn’t think she can run a ‘big’ business.  Big like nail clippers?  Or whatever Ricky Martin is doing these days?  She then commits the cardinal sins of not knowing her numbers and confusing turnover and profit.  He points out she claimed she’d make £5 million in her new business and he can’t see the numbers stacking up.  ‘Number five just came into my head’.  Oh, FRANCESCA.

Luisa continues her epic trolling, asking ‘was it bad?’, licking her lips like someone devouring prey as Francesca says it wasn’t the highlight of her career and then going ‘was it worse?  It was worse, wasn’t it?’ and beaming a huge grin. 

She then goes into see Claude and she knows her margins.  She has a mysterious “online business” plus a cupcake shop and an online bakery which are all doing well.  He asks her why she needs to be in the PROCESS.  ‘Because I always want more’.  Heh.  Girl got game.

Francesca is in with Claudine and has something of the PTSD sufferer about her as she talks about the hardest part of the process being the other candidates’ game-playing.  She’s dreaming every night about being locked in that kitchen as if she were JASON or something and having to make Thai/Carribean fusion food and then she wakes up screaming.  Every night.

Luisa asks Jordan if he’s ready to prove something.  Leah and Francesca, bizarrely, think he will thrive off the interview experience.

His quaff is even madder than ever as he tells Claudine how he ‘got things’ faster than anyone else ever (except the premise of this show’s business plan, the whole business partners with Sugs, 50/50 thing, that bit) and he doesn’t even know what to do with his brain but – and he does air quotes during this bit, although it’s not clear which bit he specifically is air-quoting – business is the way you get success in the modern world.  She says he credits himself with the success of one of the Oxford Entrepreneurs’ businesses, which was snapped up by Google, but one of the founders of that firm says Jordan helped them ‘get office space’.  Damning with faint praise indeed.  Claudine accuses him of not being an entrepreneur, and trying to take the credit for other people’s success.  I have to say, with Jason’s dating website and Jordan’s entrepreneur club, I’m kind of wishing they’d make an Apprentice University prequel to this series.  He says the only “business” (again, his air quotes) he’s started for himself was trading on eBay as a teenager.  This is already becoming one of the biggest interview car crashes of all nine series and there are two encounters yet to come.  Also: Apprenti websites are always a bit LOLerific, but Jordan’s is a great example.  Check out the bucket list, especially number 6 and number 93.  Also: I saw 71 myself and it totally does count (and what the hell was Jordan doing in Grimsby?).  Also: several of them are as tragi-hilariously-hipster as you’d expect.  Oh, and he publishes those spam comments you always get that say ‘Thanks for this website.  Very helpful is’ etc.  Oh, JORDAN.

Margaret points out Luisa says she has a brain like Einstein but got a CDE in AS-Levels.  Does this mean she didn’t do A2s?  Luisa shrugs and says she flunked her AS Levels.  Margaret asks about her comments about being mistaken for a bimbo: ‘Do you think it’s wise to put tongue-in-cheek comments on your application form?’  For this show?  The show whose past winners include professional wrestler Ricky Martin and some bloke doing a reverse pterodactyl?  The show that casts the likes of StuBaggs, Zeeshan SHAH and Tre Azam?  Yeah, I’d say it was a good way to go. 

Neil marches to see her with death music playing.  She claims it’s a bit perfunctory for something he spent two years doing.  He is passionate and believes it will be effective.  OK then, Neil.

Francesca’s shoe collection is the most interesting thing about her.  Margaret DISAGREES.

Leah is asked why she wants to do a business instead of being a doctor.  She needs the money, apparently.

Jordan’s unraveling further continues as he goes to see Claudine.  A quick flick through of the business plan reveals he sees them making over 1 billion (BILLION) by 2016.  OK then Jordan.  Claudine brings up his techy partner and pretends it might be LordSugar.  Jordan says the other person is technology, he is the creative visionist.  If ever there was a time for air quotes, Jordan, that would have been it.

Luisa tells Mike her business is basically a shop but she’s calling herself a wholesaler, retailer and manufacturer all at once.  You can tell she wants to say ‘bitch I so am’ but humbles herself to say her business plan isn’t that well written.  She mentions something about family firms and he tells her off for writing a bad business plan.  Speaking of bad business plans, Dr Leah admits hers isn’t so good to Claude and then tries to derail him with her amazing grasp of the holy margins and offering to do the cleaning herself. Somewhere, Joanna is crying.

Jordan, meanwhile, has put that he can do a Rubik’s cube in 3 minutes and Mike Soutar challenges him to do so.  We intercut Leah firing off her plan at super-speed with Jordan utterly failing to complete the challenge.  Wonder who’s getting fired and who’s going to the final?

Jordan’s accused again of his business partner doing all the work and Jordan says he’s the Steve Jobs to his partner’s Steve Wozniak.  Jordan admits his friend owns the company but he promised to cut Jordan in on it, honest.  We then discover the company has TWO founders, neither of whom is Jordan.  Cue the kind of music they play in horror films before a slaughtering.

Claudine is with Neil and raking over the whole MY DAD WHO IS DEAD thing again, but this is the wrong show for that kind of nonsense, and Neil says he didn’t take a day off work for his father’s funeral which is all kinds of sad and then it gets even more uncomfortable from there, and it’s really nothing to do with BIZNESS PLANS and it’s somewhat gross – not on Neil’s behalf this time, but on Claudine’s for dragging it all out.

Luisa gets in some last minute trolling of the others: ‘when in doubt, smile and pout’.

Claudine pulls up Luisa on saying her old boss was an idiot and her husband calling her stubborn, but she says being stubborn isn’t a bad thing and her boss was an idiot and she lies that the other candidates thinks she gets on well with people.  She doesn’t think that’s nice and she has CHANGED IN THE PROCESS.  She comes straight out and says ‘someone’ has been slagging her off and has a go directly at Francesca for saying those things. 

Claudine has a go at Leah for saying her hair is voluminous on her candidate statement.  But Claudine, it is!  Have you not seen it unleashed in the boardroom?  She snarks at Leah being interestd in her looks and Leah’s all BUT I’M 24!  Which, as we all know, is the magic age for youth and beauty to combine, eh, Alex Wotherspoon?  She stares Claudine down and says she isn’t obsessed about her image.  Claudine then plays the ‘vulnerable young girls’ card and whilst I’m not especially keen on the whole facial ‘surgery’ thing, mainly because it makes everyone look terrible and fake afterwards.  Leah denies this, which is probably true, as I would have thought rich and middle-aged was more the target market anyway.  She says she is moral and ethical.

Neil, with Mike, is still saying he will make his business successful because HE WILL.  Neil is the worst at reading a room.  Did he not see series seven?  Pull out a Helen or Tom, Neil!  Say you’ll invent a neck trimmer or something!

Claude is then thrown the bloody half-dead corpse of Jordan to finish off.  He snarls that the business isn’t Jordan’s anyway, which Jordan acknowledges, and therefore he has no right to sell it.  Furthermore, he’s only offering (‘on page 45 of your 52 page diatribe’) a very specific 15.39% to Sralan.  Someone on Monkseal's comments section noted he probably applied to Dragon’s Den and then didn’t change the percentages when he applied here, which… wouldn’t surprise me.  Claude says he has no right to be here for feeding on someone else’s business and calls him a parasite.  Jordan asks if he can ‘defend himself’ but THIS INTERVIEW IS TERMINATED.  Luisa asks if it was one of the toughest interviews he’s had.  Jordan, through the spew in his mouth, squeaks ‘one of them’.

Mike begs Neil to change his plan.  Neil says I’M PASSIONATE. I WANT HIM TO INVEST IN ME.  I think the NeilBot is broken.  He tells the others he thinks he answered everything in the same way and he could do another one.  The women all bemoan it.  Jordan swallows back more vomit.

Boardroom time!  Firstly, we see Sralan getting feedback from the interviewers.  Luisa has been a ‘handful’ but pulled in results: she is streetwise and will get results but a bit of a spoiled child.  Sralan seems to worry she might get litigious.  Claude thinks establishing a brand is a good thing, Mike says she has found a gap in the market.  Margaret says she will want his contacts, Claude says it’s his chequebook.

Francesca wants to open dance studios and Margaret and Claudine agree that it’s a good idea but she’ll need more help than the others.  She has made up her figures but is experienced in the area and Claude worries about her scaling it up.

‘Cloughie’ as no-one has ever called him, is up next (I assume he’s not related to the actual football Cloughs) and everyone shreds his business plan.  Sralan whines that he was great in the PROCESS and was THE BEST because even he has bought into the NEIL CLOUGH propaganda.  Mike points out that he just can’t change his mind on anything.  Sralan and Karren’s hearts break into tiny pieces.

Leah’s Botox clinic idea is presented, to some dreadful jokes and Sralan lies that it’s likely to appeal to ‘young’ people.  Claudine snarks that she is ‘cold’ and ‘professional’ as if being professional is a bad thing.  Mike thinks she is credible and Claude says she pays deference to the Holy Margins so is OK in his book.

Claude ‘sadly’ (i.e. with relish) informs LudSuga that Jordan had to be thrown out because he has nothing to do with the business.  Karren reminds us of last week as if we’d forgotten.  Mike says he isn’t an entrepreneur but takes credit for other people’s ideas.  Sralan lies that he saved himself in the boardroom last week when he was entirely eviscerated and only saved for the mauling.  He asks Nick and Karren what they think about him and Karren says he doesn’t do anything on his own nor have a product.  Now, was Jordan put through to the ‘process’ because a) nobody bothered reading the business plans, or b) they did read them and saved him precisely for this moment?

Anyway, Jordan is told off for it not being his business.  He says it’s ‘my vision’ and he had a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ – the vision then amounts to him ‘being involved’ in the company.  He is quickly fired.  Coatwatch: none, because he disappeared AND WAS NEVER SEEN AGAIN, not even for a cabterview, such is the ignominy.  

Luisa is warned that her having three other businesses might be a problem.  She says it isn’t as she has the knowledge to support other businesses.  Francesca is accused of having no sparks of brilliance and playing it safe.  She says it’s just that she’s not of a shouty disposition.  Karren says she’s struggled with the ruthlessness of THE PROCESS.  Francesca says she’s a fair person and doesn’t think that’s something to be ashamed of.  Sralan says Doctors and Scientists and Boffins (but not Lawyers this week for whatever reason) are the worst people in business ever and no doctors or scientists have ever made money.  Are you going to tell him, or shall I?  Anyway, Leah will be the first ever successful doctor in business because she has voluminous hair (in full glory tonight) and has trained privately in ‘aesthetic medicine’ whatever that is.  Karren asks if she has grown and tells her she has, which Leah agrees to.  Sralan asks her about the morality of the cosmetic market and the people who take it too far.  Leah says she’s legit and totally would turn people away, pinkie swear, honest.

Sugs asks Neil why he hasn’t changed his business plan because he loves him and cares about him and sees him as a longlost son and yet his idea don’t make sense.  Neil screams that IT DOES, and yet still fails to give a single reason why.  Sralan points out that it can’t be marketed both as an alternative to estate agents and TO estate agents.  Neil says he ‘takes it on board’ but not really as he still believes in it and wants to make it work.  Never has someone been less adept at taking a hint.  Sralan says it would be like putting money in a slot machine or chucking it off London Bridge.  Neil Clough still BELIEVES IN NEIL CLOUGH and can make it a success.  LordSugar says he is the person he wants and still asks him for a new idea and Neil still refuses to give him one.  OH NEIL.  He is told he’d win in the old system, like Helen was but with regret, he’s fired.

OVARY FEST TOP THREE!  I suspected a woman would win this series, mainly because the last two winners have been men and in these tribunaled times, the message that LordAlan is not a sexist is probably important, but I still wouldn’t have seen all of the final three being women after those early weeks.

LordSugar and Karren have a little cry about Neil leaving and in his cabterview (Coatwatch: long and black) he says it’s the first time he’s ever cried and he feels he’s let his wife down.

Nick says that what unites the final three is that they have good business plans.  Karren says Luisa has a good record and Francesca is likeable.  Nick lies that someone comes ‘streaking up on the rails’ at the end every year.  Oh, stop retconning your whole series.  Leah has been one of the strongest all series bar a mid-series wobble in the form of Dubai and Away Day.  Francesca and Luisa had way more of a journey from non-contenders to contenders.  Even Jason had more of a journey.

They’re called back in and congratulated on getting so far.  Leah is reminded that if something goes wrong it could be severe.  She says she won’t Botox ‘any Tom, Dick or Harry’ and has trained for too long to risk her professional reputation.  Sralan says she could do far more damage than one of Luisa’s cupcakes but Leah says she’ll make more money.  Francesca is asked how she’ll scale up her business: it starts as one and becomes a chain, apparently.  It gets a hmm.  Luisa says she can work in a team and the others will say so.  Luisa says she can.  Francesca takes a deep breath and says Luisa was playing games at the start, but (through choked tears, maybe at Luisa’s heel digging into her foot) Luisa is here now under her own merit.  Note no endorsement of her being a team player.  Note also no boardroom takedown of Luisa.  I think Francesca just can’t be bothered now and is ready for a cup of tea and some therapy.

LordSugar is still worried about the ethics of Leah’s plan, he thinks Francesca has the drive to run one centre but isn’t sure about how she will scale it up and there is a good baking market but thinks Luisa will give him a lot of aggro.  But he is a bit of a gambler and finds Leah’s idea exciting so she’s in the final.  Francesca’s idea has legs and Luisa’s is a consumer product and he knows about that area but Francesca is fired and he wishes her the best of luck.  Leah and Luisa squeal about being in the final and Karren does her ‘WIMMIN YAY’ thing.

Francesca’s coatwatch: black with a leopard (obviously) scarf.  She’s glad a woman will win and is proud of herself.

Next week: Some of the candidates are back!  Luisa vs Jason and Luisa vs designers redux!  Luisa cries – a sign of her redemption coming full circle!  Join Steve for all the fun then!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Funky Leggings dot com

Week 10 – 3rd July 2013

Last week Steve walked you through dating disasters and the ultimate demise of Evil Alex and his evil eyebrows. This week’s episode of The Apprentice seems similarly preoccupied with the past as it seems to be recapping the entire previous before we’ve even started. I’m not sure that this bodes well for the episode, but I get to see Popity Ping again which is always amazing.

Six remain! Who will be the business partner? I don’t know. It’s 6.30 am in the Apprentice house and Francesca answers the phone with perfect hair. They’re told to meet in the lounge because Ludalan has a message for them. Jordan leaps out of bed and puts on an HONEST TO GOODNESS SARONG. I’m being entirely serious here. I wish I wasn’t because OMG MY EYES. Anyway, because Jordan is so short the sarong grazes the floor. Oh bless. [Jordan having packed a sarong in his luggage is my favourite discovery about this year's cast since we found out that Luisa had packed about 100 bikinis. - Steve] Luisa compliments him on it then gives Neckbeard the side eye to indicate that she may not have been being entirely genuine.

It’s time for the video message. Ludalan apologises for making them get up so early. Why he should be sorry this week and not in the other weeks is beyond me, but hey. They’ve got an early start because they’ve got a busy few days coming up. He can’t be with them because he’s off on a FORRIN BZNZ TRIP to FORRIN. He would like to congratulate them on making the final six and in two weeks time it will be the final. This task is designed to show him what they’re made of and he wants to see them grow a business from scratch. Scratch being someone else’s money and a pre paid for expensive pitch. This pitch will grow into a shop where they have to SMELL WHAT SELLS to stock the shop using their profits from the day before. Have we got this? Good. Ludalan also wants to make things interesting by mixing the teams up into boys vs. girls. This means I have no idea which team is which any more. Boys and girls is easier though.  Jordan is excited by this. He’ll see them in a couple of days.

Voiceover man tells us that they’re getting £150 per team to buy stuff to sell at Spitalfields market and then at the Shoreditch Boxpark. Great. Another hipster heavy episode. We all remember how the last one turned out. Everyone goes off to get dressed/talk about how they don’t have to mix with the smelly opposite sex anymore. Myles is delighted to be on an all male team, despite not having any kind of beard, pretendy or neck. He would literally like to smash it.

Luisa thinks that they have lots to prove to the stupid boys because Myles is boring (cut to Myles wondering if a suit might be the best attire for being a market trader). Jordan hasn’t done/sold/grown much (cut to Jordan using hairspray. HAIRSPRAY) and Neckbeard is strong (cut to neckbeard doing his T Zone) but the girls are stronger in sales.

PM deciding time! Myles would love to do it for the boys because he can do logistics and sales. Jordan would also like to be PM so he can make Neckbeard and Myles do all the sales and he can be the co coordinator and numbers man. Neckbeard wants Myles to be PM and we all know that Neckbeard is the boss of everyone. He’s going win, isn’t he?

Over with the girls, Leah puts herself forward for PM because she thinks she’d be good at finding the right product at the right price. Luisa puts herself forward because she already has three retail businesses and this is just her area. Francesca agrees with Luisa although she’s sure that Dr Leah is perfectly capable.  Nick recaps what we’ve just seen and tells us that Luisa should “smash it”, as they say. Oh Nick, don’t make me question your awesome.

The girls begin by deciding to sell fashion. The boys are less decisive. Neckbeard thinks they need things that make money. That’s why he’s one of the country’s brightest business brains. Jordan suggests greeting cards. Neckbeard isn’t sure. Myles announces that teapots are cool. Bokay then. [Are they lights as well? - Steve] Karren interbitches that the boys have spent so much time dithering over what to sell that they have no strategy whatsoever.

The girls’ strategy, as always, is to send Francesca off on her own. Why is Luisa so mean to Francesca? Answers on a postcard please. My vote is that she wants to stroke some Neckbeard. Francesca is off on her own to see what Shoreditch is like whilst Dr Leah and Luisa check out the stock. Luisa would like to stack things high and sell them cheap.

Voiceover man welcomes us to Spittalfields market, which has been a market for over 200 years. Francesca is already in there checking out the completion and finding out how much various hats are. The boys are still at home dithering over what to sell. Even Karren is bored and buts in to ask them how much bloody longer she’s going to be sat there doodling whilst they sit and compare facial hair. Jordan thinks that Myles is scared to put his neck on the line at this late stage and if he’d have been PM it would’ve been a different story. They eventually decide on homeware.

Over with the girl, Luisa is trying to find out what bestselling hats are. She declares beanie hats to be in and Dr Leah declares them to be a ‘bit 1998’. Luisa tries on lots of hats and everyone has to tell her how beautiful she is, even in a hat that makes her look ‘like roadkill’. Nick recaps for us that their strategy is buy low and sell as much as they can.  He thinks they should be in and out of the wholesalers. He is then seen in a funky leggings shop fondling some leggings in a confused manner whilst Luisa burbles on about stuff being on trend.

Over with the boys, they have yet to start buying. They’re talking to a ceramicist in her studio. They ask her what she would sell at Spittalfields. She says deffo a £25 butter dish and a ceramic notepad which is basically a tile with a felt tip pen attached that you can leave messages on. She’s willing to sell the butter dishes to them for £11.50.

Back with the girls, they’ve chosen a pitch that is away from the other hat sellers. Francesca feeds back that nobody else is selling leggings or tights and the average price for the hats that they’ve bought is around £10. They’ve bought them for £2 each so they are happy. Francesca interviews that they went for cheaper wholesalers so that they could make a bigger profit. She’s happy with what they’ve chosen.

Over with the boys, Jordan is hanging around Boxpark taking into his phone wrongly whilst Myles tells him that they’ve spent £108 on 16 items. He pulls a face at this and cocks the phone closer to his ear because he can’t quite believe what he’s hearing. He can only hope that there are some people with more money than sense who don’t mind buying tat in Shoreditch. OH I THINK THERE MIGHT BE A FEW. He’s decided to buy some smaller items and goes for packs of 10 greetings cards that cost £1.10 but retail at £2.50.  The other segment of the boys’ team are setting up their stall, which looks terribly sparse. Karren points this out, and that she wouldn’t be enticed to have a look.

The girls are faring better, selling lots of horrible hats. The boys are failing epically to sell “fun ceramics”. Jordan decides that someone should sell something so decides to sell on all of his greeting cards. He decides to try to sell the cards to someone who makes her own cards. She declines. He ends ups selling all of the cards to a newsagent at a £25 profit which will at least keep them ticking over, according to Jordan.  Neckbeard and Myles begin to complain but realise that they haven’t got a leg to stand on.

The girls are doing extremely well with their fluffy tat hats but the leggings aren’t going as well. The girls decide to follow the smelling what’s selling advice and go and get more hats. Nick recaps this for us. It’s Francesca who gets sent off again. SURPRISE. Jordan is off getting more cards as they’re the only things that are selling. Francesca picks up more hats. Again, funky leggings aren’t’ doing so well.

Miraculously, the boys are managing to sell some of their ceramic tat. The notepads and the butter dishes are what’s selling and they tell Jordan he needs to go off and get some more. Jordan tells them that isn’t nobody got time for that because he’s got to get off and sell the greetings cards that he’s just picked up for a teeny tiny profit. Neckbeard and Myles wonder why he’s taken so long.

7pm and Francesca is back from the wholesaler. Jordan seals the greeting card deal but Neckbeard is happy because he’s sold more than anyone else. They’ve sold all of the notepads and butter dishes and none of the gloves. Leah is happy with the girls’ performance but worries that none of their items are high ticket ones.

Back at the house, sums are done ready for the shop task tomorrow. The boys assess their choices and decide to go with the notepads and butter dishes, but to also add in a new line. It’s decided that this is candles and they vote that clearly to be trusted on his own Jordan is the best man for this job.  Neckbeard suggests buying a small amount to see how they do. The girls decide that they need to put some money into a slightly more expensive item for their pop up mall shop.

The boys have named their shop Casa Unique. The girls have named theirs East Side Fashion. The girls immediately fill their shop whilst the boys decide that all their stock is going to have to go on show so that it looks like they have more than they’ve got. Karren complains that the task is all about enticing passing trade and they haven’t really got anything that would do that very well.

Meanwhile, Jordan looks at some candles and Francesca looks at some designer dresses that are being sold at £27. Francesca thinks that they need some higher value items because what’s the point of buying something from a shop when it’s the same thing you could buy in the market. VERY GOOD POINT FRANCESCA. Over with the boys, they’ve got all their stock out and their shop is still more bare than a biker bar. Neckbeard thinks it looks awful and they decide to stick some stuff out by the door.

Francesca arrives back at her shop and takes off her coat to reveal the dresses that she’s bought. Both Dr Leah and Luisa coo. She reckons that they could sell for £65. Yeah yeah. The girls shop is off to a flying start, even managing to sell a bowler hat to a man that came in looking for menswear. The boys’ team are less successful. They stand outside shouting “LONDON DESIGNERS CERAMICS UNIQUE GIFTS”  to only minor success. Karren interviews that Myles seems to be coming undone. Neckbeard ponders where Jordan is. Jordan is still buying candles. Really. He’s deciding to go with ones called Twilights.

Back with the girls, they’re trying to sell their dresses as “AS WORN BY PIXIE LOTT” to some unimpressed punters. This is Shoreditch, ladies, you’re going to have to do better than Pixie Lott. [Let's not pretend anyone even remembers what Pixie Lott looks like on a day-to-day basis. - Steve] A hipster in a onesie laughs at the £65 price tag, much to Luisa’s annoyance.

After 4 hours, Jordan returns with three different types of candles. He reckons you could sell one of them or £25 because they’re immortal. The girls hats and scarves are selling well, and Dr Leah thinks that a scarf that is 20% wool is mostly wool. Bless.  Luisa makes an executive decision to mark the dresses down, even though stock left at the end of the day counts toward profit.

The boys, however, are doing terribly. Neckbeard decides that they need to buy one high ticket item and if they sell it they’ll make a big profit. He can’t guarantee it, so he asks Myles to make the call. Neckbeard is frustrated that Myles can’t make a decision and thinks he’s lost the plot. He has indeed lost the plot because the decisive business brain he hands over the responsibility for buying the high ticket item to is... Jordan. AKA Speedy. AKA I think these candles could sell for £25. Oh Myles.

The girls are still selling though, although not the dresses or the funky leggings. They decide to send Francesca out again for more hats which are selling. Nick interviews that he’s always had a question mark over Luisa but she seems to have come into her own over the last few days and she’s doing well.  As one team is getting praised, Jordan is bumbling around someone’s pottery studio asking if they make the stuff themselves on site. Oh dear. He’s taken with a Zsa Zsa vase, which looks a bit like a designer cheese and pineapple hedgehog but at the end of the party, when there’s no actual cheese and pineapple left on it. I’ve tried to describe it another way but I’m really coming up at a loss. He wants to know prices. A small Zsa Zsa is £76 trade. If they sell it, they’ll make more money than they did on their entire first day. Karren wonders if there is such a person in Shoreditch who might want to buy something ugly for lots of money. You’d be surprised, Karren.

It’s 4.30pm. The boys have barely sold anything. They need that big ticket item badly. Myles has the look of a drowning man about him. Jordan doesn’t know what they were expecting and they’re scared that they can’t sell it in the shop even though they’re supposed master salesman. Yes Jordan, that’s it. Nothing to do with your vase being SHIT.  They send Jordan out to try and sell it to a shop.

Francesca is back at the hat shop buying more stock. Luisa has dropped the prices in order to sell more, critically ignoring the WHOLE POINT OF THE TASK. [In fairness to Luisa, they've done this task three years on the trot now, and I still don't really understand how it works. Depending on how capricious Sugar's feeling in the boardroom, it's hard to tell what's a good decision and what's a bad one. - Steve] She even tries to sell berets to some policemen. It’s now half five and Jordan is meandering around the streets trying to sell the horrible vase with no luck.  The girls are selling their stock at bargain basement prices whilst the boys have nothing better to do than to try and tot up what they’ve sold. Jordan tries to sell the vase to someone in a shop for £150. He nearly does it but it isn’t confirmed.

And that’s it. End of trading. Profit and stock will be totted up and we’ll see who wins. The boardroom arrives fairly swiftly. Ludalan arrives and says that this is one of his favourite tasks because it’s how he started out. He wants them to find the good stuff and ditch the rubbish, a bit like what he does in the boardroom. WAHAHAHA! YOU MADE A FUNNY!

He starts with the girls who are apparently Evolve. Luisa says she was elected project manager because she has shops. They were happy with her and she was happy with her team.  They decided quickly to go with fashion. Ludalan makes a quip about bowler hats and that they can’t sell one to Nick. They said that they tried. I don’t doubt it. Ludalan then reiterates that it was about seeing what sold well and wonders who did most of the selling. Luisa says that they all had a go. Nick reveals that £293 of the sales were by Luisa. Karren then buts in to say that her Neckbeard did £470 on his own, like some kind of business madam. Luisa ignores this and goes on to say that Francesca was the restocker. Nick wonders why it was always Francesca going out when she came back with the rubbish Pixie Lott dresses. Luisa keeps powering forward and says that she didn’t see the point of having money sitting in the till and it was always going to be better to reinvest it. Ludalan says that it’s not right if stuff doesn’t sell and that auditors won’t take any notice of stock that doesn’t sell. [Which is why I think Luisa might have been right to try to get rid of the dresses by whatever means necessary, although again it all depends if this is one of those weeks where Sugar is pretending this is the real world or not. - Steve]

Over with Endeavour, Myles sticks his hand up as project manager and says he liked the task from a sales perspective. Ludalan wants to know what they bought. Myles replies that they wanted to buy trendy stuff so they went for ceramics. Karren interrupts that it was high end, bespoke ceramics.  Myles disagrees and says that they were merely medium ticket items and they felt that medium range was the best for their strategy. Ludalan wants to know how many items were on their stall. They reply that they had 16 items total. Ludalan makes a quip that it must’ve looked like the bailiffs had just left them. He then goes on to say that he chose £150 as a specific amount of money because they’re supposed to use their brains and get a depth of stock so they could smell what sells. Karren inexplicably sticks up for them again by saying that although their stall was sparse, their margins were good. Neil sold the most and Myles concedes this. Karren is still playing team madam by saying that her boy Neckbeard sold £75 in a single sale. Myles then says that he got eight each of the items that sold and they couldn’t even fill the shop. Ludalan says that as a strategy it wasn’t bad because you’ve got to sell a lot of pairs of leggings to make a good profit.

Anyway, enough chat, to numbers. Karren and the boys first. Cash in hand after the two days is £298.83 and the value of the remaining stock is £251.43 making a total assets of £550.26.

Nick and the girls are left with cash of £393.50 and stock value of £415.55 making a total assets of £809.05.  

Ludalan is pleased with the girls and their treat is to go to a pop up restaurant called The Cube where they will eat some Michelin starred food. [It would've been so much better if their reward was to go on The Cube. - Steve] They have an adorable three way hug in the corridor. Ludalan reminds the boys that the girls were clearly the better team and they all head off to the Loser’s Cafe.

Jordan is pointing his tiny finger solely at Myles because from the beginning there was no strategy and he spent all the money on three items which were all terrible. Myles gets all NUH UH and reminds Jordan that they were the best sellers. Myles interviews that all the blame of the failure of the task shouldn’t land on him because Jordan brought back a horrible vase. It’s Jordan’s turn to get all NUH HUH. Neckbeard is suspiciously quiet, even though the vase was technically his idea. He does say to Jordan that he perhaps wouldn’t have picked the Zsa Zsa vase. It didn’t sell then. Jordan then asks if Neckbeard thinks he’s an idiot. Brave question. Neckbeard didn’t say that. Jordan then gets all uppity because Myles and Neckbeard didn’t even try to sell the horrible vase.  Jordan then interviews that the failure of the task totally isn’t his fault.  Whatever. I’m bored.

The Cube looks like an amazing restaurant, and the girls’ joke that they should go into business together. Over dinner, Luisa says that she felt like they were behind her and that they worked so well together. Francesca is happy that three of the final five are going to be women. AMAZING.

The boys are back at the boardroom. Ludalan says that the task was designed to flush out skills and that only having 16 items on their stall shows that they know naff all about retailing. Myles comes back with ‘Retailing or markets?’ infusing the word ‘market’ with the kind of venom usually reserved for child murderers.  Ludalan says that markets are retail. He explained that Luisa, for all her faults, managed at least to make the stall look busy and surely they must be embarrassed by their tiny little stall.  Karren wonders if they actually liked the stuff they were selling. Myles begins to say yes but Neckbeard says that he liked the notepad but wasn’t as keen on the ceramic discarded rubber glove. Neckbeard then goes on to say that it was hard for them to know what was selling so he made a last ditch effort to send Jordan, the king of decisiveness, out to get a couple of high ticket items for them to win the task.  Ludalan is confused because the task was about smelling what was selling and they all had blocked noses and perhaps they would’ve been better sending Jordan out for some Vics inhalers. He’d have only come back four hours later with a teddy bear. [Immediately followed by an angry Jason, presumably. - Steve]

In order to rub it in further, Karren gets out the shit vase and Ludalan is genuinely lost for words. He doesn’t even know what it is. Jordan explains that it’s a high end, designer vase. Ludalan can’t even deal with it because he gave them £150 to invest and they had to turn a profit in 2 days, not invest in some arty farty nonsense. Jordan truly believes that it would look lovely on a desk with a flower in it. Ludalan is sure that someone arty farty would like it but it’s not for selling in a lorry container. Jordan maintains that it’s a container in the coolest part of London. Myles and Neckbeard let him dig his own grave.  Even though it didn’t sell, he’s standing by the product. Ludalan thinks that that says a lot about Jordan. Heh.

Ludalan then puts Myles in the firing line, saying that a good leader stands by his troops and Myles should’ve been thinking about what to sell rather than letting Jordan buy Jordan tat. Myles agrees that he should’ve gone to a supplier with a bigger range of stuff initially.  Ludalan agrees and calls the shit vase a casino move. To be fair though, if they had managed to sell it they still would’ve been nowhere near winning. Ludalan isn’t sure whether Myles understood the task. Myles blames it on Jordan because he’s the one out buying whilst he and Neckbeard were selling. Ludalan says that it’s clear that Jordan had no direction with what to buy so is dammed either way. Myles says that Jordan came back with unsellable items. Jordan thinks that this only makes Myles look bad because they were just unsellable by him. Again, Neckbeard is very, very quiet. Myles says that the only thing making anyone look bad is Jordan insisting that he likes the vase. Poor vase lady.

Ludalan wants to know whose fault it was. Jordan blames Myles. Neckbeard agrees with Jordan to a degree because Myles was indecisive but also thinks that Jordan chose some rubbish products.  Ludalan wants to know why Neckbeard isn’t taking any of the blame. He says he’s not without it but he did sell £470 worth of stuff. He needs to send them out again before deciding who’s fired.

Ludalan says it’s difficult to understand what’s going on and even though he told him off last week he’s still a bit clueless. Neckbeard is just being Neckbeard and saying that he’s sold loads. Karren blames Jordan for twice choosing the wrong product. Ludalan thinks that they should’ve gone for safe products. They’re called back.

Ludalan starts with Myles. He’s not sure if he got the task. He wants to know what he does. He says he started out in Formula one, then he started his own event. Ludalan rightly wants to know what he wants from him. Myles says that he has a luxury brand marketing agency. Ludalan doesn’t know what that is. It’s brochures for luxury products. Karren thinks that sounds quite lucrative but apparently it’s not. What he needs Daddy Alan’s coin for is to make his business digital and he doesn’t have the capital for that.

Ludalan then wonders if Neckbeard is a one trick selling pony. He agrees that he’s good at sales but he’s also broken records and been PM three times. He’s basically so awesome he can grow a BEARD on his NECK. He’s proven himself in the areas of innovation, creation and operation. I’m presuming he means the board game, he looks like he has a steady hand. Jordan laughs at him. Ludalan says that if he keeps repeating it then you can believe anything. Neckbeard’s business plan is online estate agency stuff that he’s been researching for a year. His competitor made £80 million last year and he believes he’s better. Finally, Jordan believes he’s hands down the best person in the whole process. His plan is phenomenal and innovative. He wants to set up a platform so that anyone can make a game for a mobile phone. He does a lot of talking which basically boils down to him being the human face of an extreme geek because that’s what software companies are all about. Ludalan, KING OF AMSTRAD, reminds him that he’s been running software companies from before he was born. He presses on that he’s not alone and there will be three of them in the partnership. Ludalan says he’s only willing to go 50:50 and there’s no room for third. Where did all this come from? Jordan presses on to say that he isn’t working alone. He does not get the hint. He persists in trying to get the brains behind his venture a percentage but it’s not working so he tries another tack. Ludalan can either have a salesman running a website, a luxury brand person running a digital agency or a tech start-up person running a tech start-up. He’s the safest bet. Ludalan would like to know what bladdy world Jordan lives in when a man who can pick a vase so ugly is considered a safe bet. Plus tech is never a safe bet.

Ludalan goes on to say he’s spent a lot of time in business, particularly tech, and he still doesn’t have a bladdy clue what he’s on about. Jordan tries to explain again. Of course, he doesn’t want to know. He thinks that Neckbeard is very self complimentary and that makes him admirable but is he just a salesman? He doesn’t know if Myles’ business is the kind of one he wants to be in during a recession. The decision is SERIOUS as it’s his money.

He turns to Jordan who looks like he’s going to vomit but manages to turn it into a cough. He doesn’t know, nor want to know what he’s talking about but he wants to think longer. He doesn’t know what Myles is for nor is he sure about him so he’s fired.  He sends Jordan and Neckbeard off with the promise he will get to the bottom of this.

Myles is wearing a fabulous grey overcoat as he taxiterviews that he’s sad to be going home but the standards were very high and Ludalan saw more in the other two, he can take it on the chin.

Back at the house, Francesca thinks that Neckbeard and Jordan are coming back but Luisa thinks that Jordan may struggle as she couldn’t understand his choices. Jordan described the boardroom as carnage whilst Francesca reminds them that the final five are female heavy.

Next week, INTERVIEWS!! Hurrah! Join Rad then.

As a footnote, this is my last recap of the series and I feel that I should say that this series has been excellent. I don’t know who I want to win, but I know that Neckbeard probably will. He’s the right mix of arrogant and fawful.  Thanks for reading!