Welcome back! Due to a range of personal circumstances, we've decided to change the way we write these posts this year, so we're going more for a 'ten things about this week's episode' type format in order to make it manageable for us to keep blogging the show - hopefully you guys won't mind too much. With that disclaimer disclaimed...
Ten things about... Week One: Selling fish
Broadcast Wednesday 14 October
1. A cast of thousands. This is a total cast-by-numbers, isn’t it? All the candidates look like identikit versions of past Apprenti, apart from the one who looks like a stretched Karen Hardy. They’ve even got a plummy blonde with an ex-armed forces past because that worked out so well for us all, didn’t it? Still, there is definitely a mix of characters, and a few quiet ones waiting to unleash their crazy in a couple of weeks’ time. My early favourites are Charleine’s hair, Ruth’s dress sense and Scott’s cheekbones. And salesbot Natalie. Eighteen still feels like way too many, but it’s at least an improvement of the twenty they thrust upon us last year, and does mean we might get another triple firing. (Also: the credits are still spoilery as all hell)
2. Versatile for Discos and Parties. Not that either (gender-mixed! SHAKING IT UP!) team name mattered, because formerly helpful voiceover man decided, for reasons of his own, to just keep saying ‘the other team’ each time we changed who we were following instead. Matters got even worse when we had subteams going around calling themselves ‘team fishfinger’, ‘team calamari’ and so on. They also had the quickest name choice ever: ‘Illustrious is the name of a ship and tomorrow we’re going to be fishmongers, it was meant to be’. ‘LOLNO we’re called Versatile’. Selina took the PM role by virtue of no-one else wanting to and had a sour face in the boardroom because of it. For the task, they adopted the Yasmina memorial strategy of buying cheap shit because who cares if you poison people when they’ll never see you again?
They tried to sell their fishfingers in a vegan restaurant, and if I’m grateful for anything this episode it’s that it reminded people veggies/vegans don’t eat fish, because people who assume vegetarians eat fish are top of my room 101 list. They managed to win by selling at £467.50 with costs of £267.21 and a profit of £200.29 , even though they left a bucket of calamari out to go rancid – they claimed it was ‘no longer fit for human consumption’ but I think it’s optimistic to think it ever was.
3. Could have always gone for MKS. Firstly, Connexis. It sounds like Consignia or some other nonsense. (There are also other companies with that name, because of course there are. Oh, business). It’s like bloody First Forte all over again. They should have stuck with their original idea of the Sugarbabes, just to see if LdSralan would shout at them and make them change it because it was SHAMEFUL.
April made an early run for the role of PM and looked to be one who was hoist by their own petard by basically deciding not to listen to any of her team and going with her own ideas over anything they suggested. This will become a theme this series, going on tomorrow’s episode. However, she redeemed herself by at least having assertiveness and some sense of a brain, unlike some of her colleagues. Brett was the exact opposite of the Versatilers, with his absolute determination to do things by the book that resulted in JUMBO fishcakes. His steadfast commitment to quality control and professionalism is sweet, but does suggest he’s never seen this show before. Ruth is pretty fascinating – she has a touch of the Jo Camerons about her – all enthusiasm and brashness and loud colours, but then she adopted the sales technique of stroking men’s arms, which Karren called creepy, and came out towards the top of sales. She’s going to be fun to watch, especially as you can see everyone hating her and her being saved for weeks and weeks and winding them all up. (Lorraine neva 4get)
Even though 'the other team' looked like they might crash and burn through giving everyone food poisoning, that was nothing compared to Connexis who were so late they missed the lunch trade, tried to charge £9 for tuna nicoise salad and got the withering looks you’d expect, plus they only made 89 fishcakes and not the 300 they’d priced. They lost due to sales of £343.53 and costs of £341.66 giving a profit of a ‘pathetic’ £1.87. April snarked about the people who ‘didn’t do anything’ (Jenny, Elle and Aisha) getting away scott-free, even though she was PM and could have brought them into the boardroom if she wanted.
The final boardroom was a bit of a subdued affair – Brett gives us our first ‘failed at the day job’ narrative because once upon a time many years ago he was a sous chef in a fish restaurant; April was the team leader who didn’t always listen to the team nor kept them under control, but Ben did nothing, sold nothing and basically admitted to being crap.
4. Ben-d Over. It started badly for Ben when his pre-episode blag said he would 'pounce on' his 'enemy' in the boardroom, and got worse when LdSralan told him to ‘get yer hands out of yer pockets’ in the opening boardroom. His admission that he was a crap salesperson, and that not only did he not sell, he can’t sell (‘to the public’), coupled with his foppishness, the fact he was obviously a cheap knockoff of Jason, and his lack of fight, meant he was done for – when your save me speech is basically I can wash up and do maths, it’s not your day. He was a fairly dull first boot, though, quiet, background and a bit boring as opposed to some of the crash and burn beauties we’ve had in episode ones of old. Coat watch: Navy, long, with a blue and purple scarf. Cabterview: the ‘process’ is hard, he was rubbish but he doesn’t think it’s fair he was fired.
5. Smelling what's selling. As a pasty vegetarian, this was not the task for me. Fish is so gopping anyway but given the rather grim nature of most Apprentice food production, this meant I spent most of the episode wanting to heave, especially at fishfinger sarnies in cheap DRY white sliced bread and at the bucket of warm calamari that looked less appetising than those tubs of four-year old mouldy tomato sauce Gordon Ramsay is always finding on Kitchen Nightmares. So NO to that kind of thing, thank you. Disgusting food aside (cut-price squid?), The test was about haggling, selling and cooking, so three apprentice staples rolled into one. That meant that, product aside, it was a pretty entertaining task with a lot going on, although we got very little actual task time, which was a shame. Then they win fish as the prize? Bleeeeee.
6. NotNick and NotMargaret. Claude was a better sidekick than I’d expected – hardly in Margaret’s league, and perhaps a little too over-eager to be scathing without yet working out how to be funny at it, but he had some OK observations and he was less of a tit than in interviews, so he might warm up. Karren is now Baroness Brady but is happy you just call her Karren.
7. Sugar, honey honey. I’m kind of disappointed that LdSralan has finally learned the term ‘CV’. Rez-hoo-may is as much a part of this show as giving it 110%. Bad-attempt-at-culturally-relevant-joke- that-shows-he-doesn’t-get-the-thing-he-is-joking-about-of-the-week: ‘If I wanted to be loved I’d go to Tinder’.
8. All! New! Apprentice Mansions! It has a lot of stairs. And a lot of orange chairs. And a scary glass roof/walkway/death trap.
9. Quotes of the week:
• 'I have the right chemical makeup to be an entrepreneur'.
• 'The Trailblazer is a fully managed and implemented business growth plan that starts with a focus base camp to remove the clouds from our clients' growth mountain so they clearly can see the summit we are aiming for' (What, Summit the team from the other year?)
• ‘Can we not all jump over me please’
• ‘We NEED mayonnaise’
• ‘Not being funny guys, that’s not a bad fishcake’
• ‘Ethically we can’t be charging different prices’ (LOL ethics on this show)
• ‘Can I interest you into a taste of my fish?’
• ‘We may have a little calamari temperature problem’
• ‘I practically scuba dived and got the fish’
• ‘You guys are salespeople, that’s fine, but I’m a tutor, a wordsmith’
• ‘You should dare to dream big’ (about selling cheap and ugly fish product).
• ‘I need you to purchase this, how much money have you got?’ (whilst aggressively stalking someone trying to get to King’s Cross station).
• ‘The name Versatile… means you’re versatile?’
• ‘They all seemed to claim they were successful business people but all were nervous and didn’t want to be project manager… if you’re able to manage people at your own business, you should be able to do that’ ‘Did you put yourself forward?’ ‘I didn’t put myself forward - the reason why was because I didn’t think it was the right time for me.’
• ‘Before everyone starts gobbing, it’s happened. Deal with it.’ (from Brett, probably the main person responsible for the loss)
• ‘It was a profit margin task, it wasn’t about quality’. (The Holy Margins must be respected at all times, obviously)
10. All! New! Yerfiyud! Jack Dee doesn’t quite have the spark the host needs yet – his brand of melancholy comedy doesn’t quite work here and his attempts to be nice were… a bit weird. The seating of the panel away from the table makes them look like they’re Mastermind contestants, too.
(Also - we were so sad to learn about Stuart Baggs' death earlier this year. One of the best Apprenti of all time.)
Tomorrow: Branding and advertising shampoo, the teams are gender-segregated again, and so much homoeroticism as we get ‘manly moist’. Join Helen then!