Thursday, 16 October 2014

Twenty Prenti Vision

Episode One
13 October 20147

Welcome back!  This is the tenth anniversary series of the Apprentice, and iPlayer called tonight’s episode ‘Ten Years of Selling’.  I therefore look forward to future episode titles such as ‘Ten years of the cringiest adverts known to humanity’ and ‘Four Years of Smelling Woss Selling because Lord Sugar is too belligerent to realise everyone hates it’.  On that subject, did anyone see the programme about the best bits of the past ten years?  It mainly made me nostalgic for the days of plain old Sralan, but there was also a section that reminded us how brilliant the shopping channel task is, which makes me hope it might finally return this year.

Before we get to that though, the return of London Porn!  The annual parade of twats with suitcases, none of whom will get name captions if the past few series are anything to go by!  Businesscliche bingo time!  Walk the walk and talk the talk?  Check.  Slightly rapey comments about being an Alpha male who can make women do what he wants?  Check.  Smashing the competition?  Check.  Beards that don’t match hair colour?  Check.  Sralan’s looking for someone who can bring in the big bucks; Red Rum, not a donkey.  And then there’s the usual parade of spoilers for upcoming episodes that I have to look away from.

The candidates are waiting in the boardroom, giving it all Blue Steel stares.  One of them is wearing a blue suit, with cream moccasins and no socks.  He smugly laughs, as he knows how much of a twatbasket he is, but also that he is likely to make “good telly”.  Lord Sugar welcomes the sixteen candidates in, and then he says he’s going to do things differently and the disembodied hand of NotFrances sends in four more candidates.  This doesn’t quite have the same response as when they chuck in new housemates in Big Brother, seeing as none of them know the others anyway.  However, TWENTY APPRENTI?  That is a lot of names to learn.  Lord Sugar clarifies that this not because the series is going to be longer, it’s mainly because he wants to put the wind up them and give himself the opportunity to fire more than one candidate a week for shits and giggles.  I have to say, the prospect of an EPIC TRIPLE FIRING is quite exciting. 

He clarifies the terms of their business partnerships: £250,000 investment, a 50/50 share of the business, he won’t do any work, the candidate will do all the grafting.  He has their CVs (not rez-hoo-mays?) that speaks highly of them.  He first picks on sassy Steven, a Canadian who looks like he would make an excellent drag queen.  Apparently he’s been some sort of social worker (the exchange is a bit muddied but from what I could tell, he and Lord Sugar interpret what his job is/was slightly differently) and has worked in the arctic.  Lord Sugar’s joke about him counselling penguins doesn’t tickle Steven’s funny bone, and the lack of toadying brings out Lord Sugar’s grump.  Steven’s business plan is some sort of care home for adults with learning disabilities and I imagine Labour peer Lord Sugar might feel somewhat icky about making a profit out of such a scheme, but I imagine even more that our Helen might have feelings about this whole endeavour.

James, whose accent suggests he’s not far from my part of the world (Chesterfield according to the website) is marked out as a ‘cheeky chappie’ whilst Colombian lawyer Felipe doesn’t look at all how you might imagine a ‘Colombian lawyer Felipe’ to look.  Also, I looked at their bios and either they are all giving their showbiz ages like a bunch of Paloma Faiths and Florence Welches, or BIZNESS really is a cruel, cruel world that ages you prematurely.  Felipe used to advise Arsenal FC and Lord Sugar gives him a bit of side-eye that goes slightly beyond London football club banter.  Scott’s CV bullshit has him describing himself as a cross between Gandhi and the Wolf of Wall Street which receives the WTF response you might expect.

Over with the women, Ella Jade has a business idea about making documentaries ‘to benefit the greater good’.  LOL Ella Jade I watched like 200 documentaries when I did my PhD and about 95% are there for reasons of ‘sensationalism’ or ‘entertainment’, which I suppose is kind of supporting the greater good in that you give people something to laugh at, but in a much less open manner than this show.  She has about 100 animals, but 80 of them are sheep, which I presume means she has some kind of farm or smallholding and so that number is less like a Channel 4 intervention show and more like a fairly normal lifestyle?  Sarah’s CV tells us she can sell snow to the Eskimos and she corrects Lord Sugar’s poor comprehension skills: ‘Ice actually’. 

The other people do not get to have a name nor a business plan.  Lord Sugar says he’s seen the ‘headlines’ of their business plans and not the detail – presumably to counter all the carping on the Twitters come interview week when the rotties pick apart plans he should have scrutinised already.  He announces the first task – they’re going to sell all the things previous Apprenti have sold in the first week selling task.  Aww, I’m feeling nostalgic already for Jo Cameron running round like a loon, that time all the women randomly tried to snog people and… all the other times. 

PMs are decided in the boardroom – the men suggest to get the salespeople selling and put a manager in the PM role.  Several of them say they’re good at selling and Felipe offers to PM.  Over with the women, they ask who the person was that ‘Sralan’ said could sell Ice to the Eskimos.  Sarah (who looks like what would happen if you put Katie Hopkins and Leah Totton in a blender and then watered down the result so much you had a homeopathy level of the original essence) says it was her and she’s happy to PM.  They’re sent off with a couple of days to complete the selling.

In the taxis, a few of the candidates introduce themselves to each other, and to us.  Still no name captions yet.  Robert (he of the ginger beard and not-ginger hair) ‘couldn’t give a shit’ that people look at him because he’s 6’7” and wears stupid coloured clothes.  He’s a ‘global sports nutrition’ marketing manager.  Nurun is also a marketing manager, with three small businesses.  We don’t yet learn what the others do nor most of their names.

Sarah (a former PA and hypnotherapist - which reads as the description of a horror movie psycho-bitch character) says she has a good feeling they will win, because most people prefer to buy from females because they’re nicer to look at.  She then wants all the women to dress provocatively and use sex to gain sales, much to the disgust of her team-mates.  Well, if you’re going to have a retro-themed task, you might as well relive some old strategies.  I look forward immensely to the returns of previous winning tactics such as voluminous hair, knees up Muvva Brown and SANDALWOOD. 

The candidates walk around Apprentice Mansions and Robert is disgusted at the lack of shower curtain.
Time for everyone’s favourite part now, the team naming!  In the men’s team, Robert suggests Dynamic; some Aussie or Kiwi nobody whom we haven’t met (I think this is Mark Wright but not that one) thinks Viper is a good team name (LOLZ); Daniel suggests Summit, because they’ve risen to the top.  Someone else (Sanjay maybe?  IDK this show isn’t helping me out any) points out it sounds like sommat, so they’re basically just calling themselves ‘something’ which is about as honest as team names on this show go. Daniel snarks that nobody’s ever called a business that before.  Except these people.  And these ones.  And these ones.  Sanjay-or-whoever says there’s a reason for that, but they settle on the name anyway.  Daniel (who runs pub quizzes, or summit) says that he’s been listened to and that’s how it’ll stay, and there’s no I in team, but there are five in individual brilliance.  Oh apprenti bullshit, how I have I missed thee.

Nurun suggests, as it’s the tenth year, a decade, they go for Decadence.  (Other options you could have chosen: TENtative; Design of a Decade; TENa Lady; Wining Women).  The others seem to like it but then they wonder what it means.  Ella Jade says it might be a bit OTT.  Chippy Mackem Katie suggest Grafters (LOL like that would ever be a team name on this show), but Sarah prefers Decadence and that’s what they go with.

Early morning and Felipe receives a call from NotFrances saying the cars will be with them in twenty minutes for them to meet Lord Sugar at Leadenhall Market.

Parade of flesh time: Mostly fairly coy, except for Sarah (towel) and James (bare-chest).  Sarah tries to vet the other women’s outfits.  Someone (Pamela?) manages to find time to use curling tongs even with a twenty minute deadline, which is either a) some organisation b) some misleading editing or c) some ace hair magic skillz.  She tells Sarah they need to think more about a strategy.  Sarah tells her to bring some nice make-up anyway.  Pamela (?) isn’t sure if she’s serious or not.  The products the Apprenti get to sell include flowers, floating fish, T-shirts, coffee, fruit and veg, cleaning equipment and sausages.

Steven tells the men to get as much value out of each product as possible and one man suggests they get the T-shirts printed.

In a Pizza Express nearby (other chains are available), Sarah suggests they cut up the lemons to try and get more sales out of them.  None of the other women can see the logic in slicing them not want to.  Bianca suggests printing the T-shirts and Sarah keeps trying to get them to chop the lemons, which no-one is buying.
The men say that hot dogs will get them a high profit and Rob suggests gourmet hot dogs to sell to Shoreditch hipster twats (sorry the ‘East London cool guy’) like himself.  They split into two sub-teams and Steve snipes that he’s been given the wrong task to do.  Chiles (Chiles!) is nominated as sub-team PM. 

The women bicker about their strategy and they confuse Sarah OMG so she decides to divide them down the middle of the table because she can’t tell who are the best sellers.  The women are all ‘we can tell you’ but then, you trust what an Apprentice candidate tells you about as much as you trust Nick Clegg to keep his promises (/biting political satire) so splitting down the middle is probably as good a strategy as any.  Bianca’s job title, by the way, is the delicious sounding ‘owner, personal branding company’.  I mean that could just mean she has a Facebook page, couldn’t it?  Apprentice jobs <3>

Cue fun montages of people running around with wheelbarrows and huge Perspex boxes and lots of lovely London porn!  The men go to an organic supermarket to buy things to make their sausages special (including, er, Edam).  Now, I don’t think the gourmet hot dog idea was a bad one, per se, but they should really just have bought their ingredients as cheaply as possible rather than going for niche products.  And in the revivalist spirit of this task, I just wish they’d gone to Makro.

The girls, with a sub-team led by Roisin, go to a T-shirt designer and get a T-shirt design with #London on it, claiming they’d buy it. #nope.  The other sub-team, led by Sarah, are selling coffee (for £3!) and flowers, and Sarah commits the cardinal sin of calling espresso ‘expresso’.  Her teamask if she’s going to be making coffee herself and she says no, she’s the manager, so she’ll talk to the customers thanks all the same.  The other team ring from the printers and say Sarah’s sub-team have run off with all the seed money.  Sarah takes responsibility, but instead of travelling over to hand the cash over (or, you know, using some sort of bank transfer process or paying for the T-shirts with a card like this is the twenty-first century or whatever), the T-shirt sub team come back.

Over with the men, and they’re taking so long buying ingredients that, Karren snarks, they’re not only going to miss the lunch trade, they’re missing the dinner trade.  Well yes, Karren, what with lunch and dinner being the same meal and all (/silently judging anyone who calls tea ‘dinner’).  The  Sugar’s profits you’re wasting!  They go to the printers and there’s a comedy montage of silence as none of them can think of anything to get printed.

The women run around selling potatoes to cafes and chippies.  Back to the men and they’re still struggling to come up with t-shirt ideas.  Eventually they come up with a slogan even worse than #London: ‘Buy this T-shirt’.  Steven suggests they go to a mashed potato shop and sell the spuds, but Chiles says they should sell the balloons instead.  I’m not sure, given why there are five of them, they couldn’t do both, but such is the way of the apprenti.  The other male sub-team are trying to sell hot dogs.  Daniel’s strategy is to shout at people aggressively whilst dressed as a hot dog.  He sells four ‘Mexicans’ which appear to have ‘houmous guacamole’ on them and little else.  I love houmous.  I love guacamole.  I never want to try them mashed together.  Or on a hot dog.  BLEE.

Chiles’ subteam negotiate a deal for their fish balloons after some very awkward fumbling whereby James attempts to charge too little and the others talk over him because he’s Northern and doesn’t understand London with its funny overpriced ways.  Back at the coffee cart, the women are still bickering and Sarah is still being all ‘I am your boss’ (Rory/Tre hatemance neva4get).  At this rate I can see the women unionising and forming an allegiance against fatcat managers. 

Back with the men, Karren bitches that Scott has done NOTHING.  But he’s done so little that we’ve barely seen him, so he isn’t going to get fired.

In the cabs, the women want to sell a ‘high-ticket’ item, like there were any of those and the men debate whether to go for T-shirts or cleaning materials.  Chiles’ subteam worry they won’t have time to get the T-shirts, but Felipe asks them to get them.  Chiles says they won’t and he and Steve have a fight about it where Chiles actually gives Steve the ‘talk to the hand’ gesture and the other men tell Steve not to throw Chiles under the bus.

Sarah’s subteam are at the zoo where they are trying to flog what the editors make us believe are a couple of buckets and a few mops and sponges for £250.  The zoo people ask where they got that price point from.  Sarah says it’s a bargain and she’s knocked it down from £300.  The zoo people ask if the products are environmentally friendly.  Sarah says she thinks so, but they are plastic so she wouldn’t want to see them near the penguins. Shame-faced, they slope off.  The other women, having done nothing but hope Sarah is hoist by her own petard, whine that it was a bit silly to charge so much.  I weep for the days of KGrimes making children cry at the zoo in order to peddle overpriced shit.

At Covent Garden market, the men try to flog flowers to a bunch of women giving them withering looks, whilst Chiles’ sub-team clean some windows in order to flog the cleaning equipment.

Roisin’s team go back to the printers and ask the printer to consider buying them.  He says ‘no, I’ll have them for years.’  He eventually agrees to buy them for £50 because they’ll ‘never sell them anywhere else’.  They unconvincingly try to claim they’d have sold them for a tenner each but don’t seem too keen to take them away themselves, presumably meaning neither team actually had enough time to print and flog T-shirts, which is interesting in the light of what… happens. Ella Jade convinces him to buy the hangers for an extra £10.  Last minute fruit and veg selling sees James call Maris Pipers Paris Mipers and try to sell their 100 kilos for £150, which he’s told is way over the odds from the chef who wants to pay £20.  The women also pluck prices out of the air in trying to flog lemons and spuds.  Steve gets all romantic about a potato to try and sell them, but Mark seals the deal by offering to chuck in the wheelbarrow for £75.  The women also do a deal and squeal and then go outside and bitch about Sarah some more.  Trading over!

Chiles updates Felipe with their sale of potatoes and admits they didn’t have time to get the T-shirts.  They ask Felipe’s sub-team how they’ve done and the phone call cuts out leaving Chiles’ subteam to conclude the others haven’t sold much.

To the boardroom!  It looks like a gaggle of children entering assembly when there’s so many of them – albeit freakishly middle-aged-looking-despite-claiming-to-be-twenty-or-thirty-something children.  Lord Sugar asks the men if Felipe was a good team leader and they concur.  He says, in the third person, ‘Felipe’s team went off to sell hot-dogs’.  One of the men (Solomon, not that we know this), looks like Paul Torrisi from series 1, or is that just me?

Nick whines that Decadence is a rubbish team name as it implies excess and ‘moral turpitude’ which are hardly the qualities Lord Sugar wants in his next business partner.  Still better than First Forte though.  Lord Sugar tells them to pick a different name, with a logical meaning.  Sadly, Logic has already been used.  *Crosses fingers for the revival of Winning Women.  Especially come week 8 when the teams bear no resemblance to their original configuration*.  The women snipe about Sarah’s lack of strategy and the way she split them.  She then forgets people’s names and we learn that one of the invisible women is called Gemma.  I don’t blame you for not knowing, Sarah, it’s not like the editors can be bothered to tell us who these people are.  Lord Sugar moans that Roisin is an accountant but didn’t check that she had money, and then they paid £150 to the printer and sold T-shirts back to him for £50 (‘£60!’ Ella Jade butts in, like that helps).  The men face palm which is a fair response normally, but a bit rich considering their own failings.  The women say Sarah’s project management was non-existent.

Figures time!  Felipe’s sub-team earned £365.70; Chiles’ sub-team £340 for a total of £696.70.  Roisin’s sub-team earned £312 and Sarah’s sub-team £441.50 for a total of £753.50.  DECADENCE DANCE PARTY!  Lord Sugar says the T-shirts cost the men dearly in case Felipe was unsure who to bring back.  He tells the women the first treat on the show was a trip on the London Eye (and they got progressively worse from thereon in) but this time they get to go in a nice pod not one of the ones with the dirty general public.  DECADENCE.  They seem a bit squished up in their pod as they toast and Bianca clichés that ‘team work makes the dream work’.

The men get dispatched to Loser café – proper loser café this time, not one of those inferior ones they’ve had recently – Steve and I once went on a pilgrimage there AND IT WAS CLOSED.  Chiles doomterviews that he’s the most credible candidate and shouldn’t go home.  Steven thinks people are ganging up on him and he’ll fight his corner. 

Back at the boardroom and NotFrances sends them in, where we see that Lord Sugar’s chair has a very high back, Karren’s a medium one, and Nick’s a very low one.  Countdown presenters, know your place.  Felipe says Steven was disruptive which is why they lost.  Steven says everything he did was for the good of the team and he said they should have sold the T-shirts.  Lord Sugar says he wanted to hear that and there were two killer items: sausages and T-shirts.  Sausages, I can believe.  When I was in year ten (a decade before The Apprentice was ever dreamed up, sadly, never mind Apprentice Babies) we had to run mini-businesses as part of an enterprise thing and we ran a hot dog stall at break time which made an absolute bomb, way more than anything else people tried, which paid for a trip to Alton Towers in the end (#obesitycrisisimaginetheheadlinesthesedays).  Not sure the T-shirts were ever going to be the best of those products in terms of generating value, but let’s not rain on Lord Sugar’s parade, I guess.  Lord Sugar asks Felipe to clarify Steven was the problem, not the lack of sales or T-shirts.  Felipe says the men told him they were bickering.  Nick says Chiles might have a motivation for fingering Steven.  Steven says he’s a scapegoat.  Nick snipes at Chiles that it’s handy to have a scapegoat and narrows his eyes at him.  Miaow.  Lord Sugar tells Robert off for making hot dogs fancy because all they needed was a bun.  Karren says they didn’t need to dress them up and they would have sold more because they wouldn’t have lost an hour of selling time.  Karren calls out Scott for being the worst salesman except Felipe, but Felipe didn’t claim to be a salesman.  Scott says the footfall was short but he did contribute to sales. 

Daniel is told he sold the most and asked who was responsible for the failure and he says it has to be Steven and Steven’s all ‘hayl no’.  Lord Sugar says Steven’s an irritant but that’s not a reason to pin the blame on him, to which Steven responds ‘exactly’ which is never a good idea on this show, but I guess he’s Canadian, so maybe he doesn’t know the ways of the Sugarman yet.  He gets a shat ap and says the task failed because of the hot dogs and T-shirts and says they should have sold 30 T-shirts for £30 each.  £30 each?  Lord Sugar tells Felipe not to bring someone back in for the wrong reasons, and in the first recorded instance of a PM getting the hint in history, he doesn’t bring back Steven but chooses Robert and Chiles.
As the men go out, Lord Sugar worries that Felipe didn’t manage and spits that Robert is an ‘arty farty’ person, which we all know he loves (even though he persists in giving out art tasks).  Karren says Chiles didn’t contribute even £1 in sales. 

They return.  Felipe says Robert was enthusiastic about the hot dogs.  Robert says they went to Shoreditch which is an ‘edgy’ area.  I can’t believe there are still hipster douchebags who don’t actually know they’re hipster doucehbags and neither can Lord Sugar who dismisses the bladdy yuppy rubbish as well as we might expect.  The men then all shout over each other until Lord Sugar asks Felipe if he was a good enough manager.  Felipe says he was an excellent manager and Robert tries to shout over him again but gets shut down.  Chiles’ CV says he owns two businesses and has been a manager in various areas and has managed 200 people.  He’s asked why he couldn’t manage a team of four and he said the T-shirt decision was his choice.  Felipe says he wanted the T-shirts and that Chiles is responsible.  He says Robert shouldn’t have told him to buy the ingredients and then they all start shouting over each other again.

Lord Sugar is worried about Felipe’s managerial skills and says you could argue the failure lies with him for that reason, but the men also lost lots of time for Robert’s fancy shopping.  He says he allowed Chiles in the process because he’s been there and done that but his fundamental business errors were unforgiveable, but Felipe, it’s regretful… that a lawyer allowed this to happen.  So Felipe is fired?  Nope, that’s one big old fake-out, so what frustrates him is the hot dogs, but… fake out 2… what frustrates him more is the T-shirts still being at the printer’s.  So Chiles is fired.  To be replaced by O'Briain.  Badumtish.

Lord Sugar reminds the others that he can fire multiple people if he wants to and he thinks they should share the blame for hot dogs, Robert for having arty farty ideas and Felipe for agreeing with them.  Robert tries to plead but he gets shut down and they’re both given the benefit of the doubt and sent back to the house.  There’s no warmth shown between them and Chiles as they leave.

Chiles exits.  Coatwatch: grey, double breasted, looks warm, scarf to keep out the cold.  Chiles cabterviews that he’s gutted and he stands by his decisions.

Back at Apprentice Mansions, Steve says Lord Sugar was concerned about the T-shirts.  Most of the men think Chiles should come back.  James says Felipe should be fired and Daniel says Robert was a complete passenger on the task.  Robert comes back and they all have a freak out about whether it was just him.  Felipe comes back and they all scream in astonishment. 

Tomorrow!  Wearable technology!  Helen will be here to talk you through that sure-fire recipe for failure!


Scott Willison said...

I have had tea in Loser Cafe. They sell mugs with YOU'RE FIRED written on them.

Rad said...

It was actually open? Awwww, man. (Also: awesome)