Monday, 30 November 2015

Party and shade

Ten things about...Week 8, Children’s party planning.

  1. The main event - this is our task about organising something and trying not to make it the worst thing that has ever happened by simultaneously keeping an eye on the budget but not making it look like you’ve been on a trolley dash in Poundland. The task concerned keeping two little delights, Jamal and Nicole, happy as their parents decided that TWO THOUSAND POUNDS was a viable amount of money to spend on keeping their little treasures happy on their (non landmark) birthdays. This was not going to be the kind of party I went to when I was young, where we all taunted the Saturday girl in a Mr Wimpy suit and all we went home with was a slice of cake and a party popper. I had to have a chuckle as the voiceover declared the meeting point, The Museum of Childhood, the largest collection of children’s things as a miniature Lordalan walked into shot. Apparently kid's parties are a two billion a year business. Lordalan made Selina PM of Connexus and Gary PM of Versatile, as they both have event management business plans. Selina was allowed to pick a member for her team and she chooses Richard, which turns out to be both the best and worst decision, with absolutely nothing in between. It looks early on that Versatile are going to smash it - they ask the right questions, listen to the client who actually seems to like them, and remember such important things as getting the client’s phone number, but a series of disasters seems to befall them so frequently it seems like they’re cursed. Connexus don’t get contact details, don’t upsell and have Richard on their team being a complete subteam despot but still manage to walk it in ,with a profit of around £614 as opposed to Versatile’s £396.
  2. Party on? - So what were the parties like? Versatile’s party is an outdoor assault course which had all the atmosphere and charm of a corporate away day for 11 year olds with added health and safety awareness, which of course, it was. This was followed up with an afternoon somewhere that had a beach volleyball pitch. This tied in with a vaguely beachy theme which inspired the party bags which they tried to shill for £15, but dad managed to knock them down to £9. Connexus went sporty because that’s what the birthday girl wanted, despite Claude’s grumbles that it may not be what her friends like. Well, if mummy is spending two thousand pounds on her party then I could probably take a punt that she’s fairly well used to getting her own way. In fact, in the most Veruca Salt moment on television this week, and also the funniest, she went running into a hurdle and yelled “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME” as she tumbled to the floor. Neither party were happy with the… parties though. Both paid less than the two grand. The difference came when it came to the upselling. Basically, because Connexus didn’t really attempt it, they won.
  3. Upsell down the river -  This point is annoying me. It seems that Connexus won because they didn’t upsell. The reason they didn't upsell was because Selina forgot to take any contact details. By her own admission, with the contact details ,she would have been flinging unicorns at them. Why couldn’t we have seen this? The whole thing makes me angry and disappointed. Speaking of which...
  4. Have you Selina? - This episode was Selina’s chance to shine. There were a few grumbles at the beginning from her team regarding her perceived negativity but as Rad pointed out last week, she has hardly been getting the fair end of the wedge. This week we got to see her putting on her eyeliner (interesting technique) and learned that she’s been fire breathing for 10 years. Not in a metaphorical sense, as Richard and Vana cheerfully bitch on their way to suss out food, but she’s an actual performer. I’m impressed. She also makes her feelings on children very clear (see quotes below). I also enjoyed the way she totally projected on to her poor party victim about the things that she might like including Karaoke, a dance off and possibly something called a Glam Booth. She also probably had the idea to put Scott and Brett in vests for a party of teenage girls. I have no proof of this, but I know it was her. In my heart. An honorable bitch mention to Charleine for feeding back to Joseph that David doesn’t think he’s much cop. It was truly a beautiful moment.
  5. Nut- hella - Much was made over Versatile’s cake-gate. What seemed to happen was that Charleine and Joseph were charged with making a nut free cake which they did apart from having a chocolate spread that may contain nuts. Charleine confidently thought that that was just “something they said” and went ahead. Maybe not the best of judgements, but better than Nutella. Then we see Gary very confidently tell Jamal’s parent’s that the cake was a Nutella cake and have to be told by Karren to actually check. It turns out it wasn’t but at this point, the parents are sufficiently freaked out that mum is sat outside whilst dad goes in to check the packaging because at this point he rightly has zero faith in anyone or anything. This is twisted round in the boardroom to being Charliene and Joseph’s fault. Yes, it's clearly Charleine and Joseph’s fault that Gary told the boy’s parents that the cake had Nutella in it. FFS. This is so ingrained in everyone’s mind that they get pulled back to the boardroom for it.
  6. Scott’s arms - No further questions M’lud.
  7. Gary the Giraffe  - “some people call me Gary the Giraffe because I’m so tall”. Well, Helen from the Apprent-Bitch calls you an idiot because you are one.  Lordsir Sugar doesn’t care for your inability to choose who to bring back to the boardroom, nor your “retail giant” that you’ve been working for for years. Does anyone know which one it is? [It's Tesco, which, of course it is - Rad] I’d look him up on Linkedin if I could be bothered. The way he weaseled out of trying to pick someone for the board room was unforgivable, so he must have an epic business plan for Ludalan to let him through, even if it is by the skin of his teeth. The way he hid round the corner when they all returned home was unforgivably cheesy, though Richard bounding over to him made up for it. Just.
  8. Bit of a Dick - Lets take a moment to speak about Richard. To quote Vana, he’s the ‘actual worst’ and he proved it in this task. He was horrible to Vana pretty much all day, to the point where they needed to get the cake out and he basically screamed at her for suggesting it might be needed at the party. He sabotaged the afternoon tea idea to get round to his idea of making a barbecue ( which he also cocked up by serving late) and refused to get stuff to decorate the party bags because he didn’t want to. He did all of this whilst managing to convince Queen Selina that he had her best interests at heart and was merely managing the budget. The man is an evil genius and lord help us, he’s probably going to win.
  9. Quotes of the week -   “I don’t have children and I don’t like them. That’s not to say I’m not brilliant at putting on children's events” - Selina
“Selina, she can’t do fire breathing, does she have the tools? can she just breath any type of fire?” -  Yes, Vana. She’s an actual Dragon.
“I’m not sure how you got to that figure” - Versatile’s dad, on asking why it costs £15 for some novelty sunglasses and some glow sticks.
“Were we supposed to get her number or something?” -  yes, Selina. You were.
“Was (Richard) a brick of Lego in a Meccano set?” - Yes, Lord Sugar, he was.
“I just wanted you to shut up about the cake” - Richard, because he wanted Vana to be quiet and not interrupt the grown ups working.
“I don’t want to dance around the bush, it left a sour taste in the client’s eye at the end of the day” - Gary, getting as many metaphors in as possible.
10. Down to a T - In the end, David clocked the blame for the t shirt fiasco, which cost them £179 pounds. It’s unclear if this is real or metaphorical money but it cost David dear. He moaned about the lack of content in the party bags but gave half of it away on the bus. He turned the party into a safety training session and tried to get some 11 year old boys to do the Hokey Cokey. He then cocked up the tshirts both in the printing and the ironing.  It looked like Charliene might have been for it at one point as Lordsir took the unusual move of insisting she remained in the boardroom and getting insulted when she stood up of her own accord like they do every time. How presumptuous to presume that the usual thing that happens will happen. It was David that got it in the end though, and thoroughly deserved it was.

Anyway, that’s it for this week. Join Steven next week for Property selling! It was bound to happen [again - Ruth Badger did it in her s2 unstoppable sales force mode. And that year's other Apprenti were also in the episode allegedly - Rad] one day.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Manchester's Discount Flaw

Ten things about... Week 7 Discount store challenge

Broadcast 18 November

1. Our annual trip to the North.  The teams decamped to Manchester (aka the one place in the north the show has heard of) this week because it has a lot of poor people warehouses.  The task was essentially 'smellin' woss sellin' in disguise, although the phrase wasn't really mentioned except for a subtle 'last chance to sniff out top sellers' comment from helpful voiceover man at the end of day 1.  The idea was that they sold their products on Day 1 via the medium of tressle tables hastily assembled in the street to as closely resemble things that fell of a lorry as possible, and on Day 2, they restocked with the best sellers in a here today-gone tomorrow (literally) discount store in the Arndale centre.  For some reason the restock involved a lot of running to and around the warehouse, presumably because this show would fall apart if it didn't give the impression of everything being last minute, all the time.  The shops were branded with those nasty disposable signs you get on those shops that sell sheddable tinsel and felt Santa hats in the run-up to Christmas and the idea was that the teams 'pile em high' and 'sell em cheap'.  Given this show usually relies on 'mark-up as much as possible to respect the HOLY MARGINS' some of the contestants - notably Gary - were a bit confused by this.  Connexus had a shop called 'Discount Haven' whilst Versatile had 'Manchester's Discount Store', a pandering to local pride name that implies the whole thing was a stitch up from the start.  Perhaps.  It also looked like, on day 2,  both teams were selling very similar stock which makes day 1 seem a bit futile.  Such is this show, I guess.  LdSralan also lied that he wouldn't have cared this week if the PM sold anything or not.  Sure, Sugs, whatever you say.  The best-selling products, by the way, seemed to be phone chargers, should you wish to replicate this task at home.

2. Manchild(s), will you ever win? This series might be notable for MAN POWER but the men are becoming like little boys more and more each week (with the exception of Uncle Gary and Grandpa Brett).  We started out with Joseph whining that he didn't get to be PM despite the pitch of 'I really really really want to do it'.  He later, when selling ugly soft toys, declared that if he wasn't selling it, he'd be buying it. I'm wondering if the show is trying to make him some sort of idiot savant though, with last week's super special immunity for being a good boy, and this week's 'sell five items for £5' idea being shown as a key win for his team.  It's not just him though, we had David wanting to blow bubbles, Sam's 'MINE' approach to the catalogue when Selina wanted to have a look, just like your little brother being precious over who got to look at the toys page in the Argos catalogue first, Scott's general toys-out-of-pram antics (see later) and Richard's well... Richard, which we'll also return to.  It's unclear which, if any, is a potential winner at this stage (I am leaning towards Charleine taking it at the moment but we'll see).

3. Vana de cash generator.  Vana's edit has been a bit unclear so far - some weeks a motormouth moaner, others an under-the-radar goddess.  This week she was portrayed as a dynamic selling machine - she and Brett were basically credited with every good thing that happened in their team, and her skills even extended to selling in different languages.  Could we be seeing a potential winner here?  Would Sralan really let a forrin win the show?

4. Tricky Dicky.  Oh Richard, such an enigma.  He has been everything this series, from a grouchy villain to a misunderstood savant; from a bully to being bullied.  Tonight he was sidelined by Gary into rubbish jobs, got into a passive aggressive candle-off with Charleine, wore some 80s-dad pastel blue trousers (possbly jeans?), and skated around the shopping centre making fishing rod motions, twizzling his nipples, moonwalking and singing hoping it would attract customers.  Brett's snide 'He so reminds me of David Brent' finally utters one of the obvious but unsayable truths about the appeal of this show, ie everyone is like David Brent, every series.  Heck, Lee McQueen did a 'reverse Pterodactyl' and WON with that shit. Still, I can't see that being quite Richard's trajectory somehow.  I just hope he flames out massively rather than getting a lukewarm redemption arc and a 'with regret'.

5. Viva Versatile.  Despite Gary receiving a lukewarm PM edit (late to restock the shop, dithering over decisions, pricing too high), he led Versatile to a win. They priced their stock too high, selling things for £1.50 or £2 that you could get in Poundland for, you know, a pound.  This made Claude 'livid' apparently.  Oh, for the days when the advisors would raise an eyebrow or drop in a sly 'I'll leave that with you'. Claude also got snitty at Charleine trying to get a big discount from the wholesaler, even though if she'd succeeded, you know LdSralan would be all over that.  They won, allegedly due to their strategy of selling homewares, toys, and  candles.  However, for some reason, Charleine was rocking a one shoe on, one foot bare look during the set-up of their shop and  I can only assume this was some kind of good luck voodoo ritual that was actually responsible for the victory - coming out with a £1511.07 value (cash plus stock - Connexus's business value was £962.04)  because of having higher valued stock than the others despite having less cash.  They won a trip up the shard but all the innuendo of that one was bled out in previous years, so there's no fun to be had here.

6. What in the name of all that is sacred is this?

7. Justice4Selina.  For all the 'bitch edit' she has had both on and offscreen this series, this episode she looked like a total victim of everyone else's bullying.  She started the episode being snapped at when daring to suggest that going for electronics wouldn't necessarily attract a female customer base; when Sam asked her in the cab which products she'd want to buy and she asked to see the catalogue, he wouldn't let her have it; she got blamed when some stock fell off a table; she was criticised for being negative when Scott walked around with a face like a slapped arse all day, Sam floundered and Brett and Vana griped the whole time.  To ad insult to injury, Vana and Sam declared her responsible for all the things that are wrong in the entire world for no other reason than her being Selina.  Fortunately, she rose above it all, dissing Scott's sales failures on day 1 with a 'fortunately, me and Sam are picking up the slack.  Imagine if we were all shit' and doing a little dance, and then escaping being brought back into the boardroom after telling LdSralan she was a sensitive tortured soul.  Goddess.

8. Not-so-Great Scott. It started out badly with team Connexus as Scott went for selling electronics despite everyone in the team identifying the purchases they would make in discount stores as being cleaning products.  Sam and Scott had maths fail at the wholesaler's, which Sam was roundly blamed for.  They then took to selling products at a 'discount' from a price they'd never originally offered.  However, Scott was a pretty lousy PM throughout, snapping at his team mates every time they made a suggestion - and nearly always a better suggestion than his own ideas.  He snarked at members of the public with a 'yeah, yeah whatever' when they wouldn't buy from him, he pouted and stropped his way through the whole task, he decided Sam had no viable business plan (probably true, but still), he made up that Brett had offered to smash his face in to try and get Brett fired and he even eye-rolled and huffed at StLrdalan TO HIS FACE.  How Scott got away, er, Scott-free, was a mystery.

9. Quotes of the week:
'I wanna be fluent in Mancunian' (Vana)
'That's a nice box.' (Richard)
'You smell of roses, or even watermelon.' (Richard, to two older ladies.)
'You just wanna smash him all the time' (Charleine, on Richard)
'Richard keeps me going' (Charleine, on Richard again.  Feel the sexual tension)
'Do you feel comfortable misselling to the public?' (ethical Karren to team Connexus.  I don't know, Karren do you feel comfortable cutting the tax credits of the so-called working families your political party claims to represent?)
'It's going to be so vital to get customers into the shop.' (Yes, Sam.  Such a journey he's been on!)
'I want them in the centre because it'll form an orderly journey, it'll stop people being like ants.' (Gary)
'This is our toilet world.' (Gary)
'Does Jammy Dodgers go with washing powder?' (Gary again)
'Does this look alright?' (Joseph, putting braces over T-shirt).  'Looks stupid.' (Charleine).  *Leaves it as it is* (Joseph, who at one point managed to change the braces from a one-per-shoulder look to a crossed-over the back style)
'Discount Haven, right over there, next to Ann Summers'  (Varna, to an elderly chap, pointing at her bosom all the while.)
'It's Jelly Belly very cherry body wash.' (Brett)
'Your life will change if you have this.' (Vana - but what was this?  We never found out.)
'Everybody's got to self-preservate' (Brett)
'Do you fancy, when you move to London, getting a place round there Charleine?' (Richard) 'Yes, but not with you Richard' (Charleine).
'You are now the highest thing in Europe*' (*since the days of Trent and Pixie's Amsterdam odyssey in last year's Strictly) (Richard to Gary).
'I don't agree with the whole positive thing.' (mardy Scott)
'To be honest, I don't think people like to hear honesty.' (Brett)
'Throughout this whole process I've said that integrity was key.' (Oh, Sam)

10. Play it no more, Sam.  Oh my Sam.  You read TOLSTOY in the Apprentice mansion whilst the LADZ ON TOUR played cards and I like to think that was a deliberate attempt to troll LdSralan. You had no maths skills, no sales skills and no SRS BSNS attitude but your florid language, dreams of high culture tasks and love of everything that this show is not made you a very endearing watch.  Never mind, we'll always have Snottydink.

Next week!  Giving people food poisoning at kids' parties!  Well, that calamari from week one had to be used somehow.  Join Helen then!

Friday, 13 November 2015


Ten Things About... Week 6 - Handy Man

1. Building bridges - This week's summoning call told the contestants that they had to be ready in 20 minutes to meet Lord Sugar in south London, and they had to bring hi-vis jackets and steel toe-capped boots. This seemed like rather a strange request: were they supposed to provide these themselves? Did they all bring them in their wheely-cases at the start of the series? Or is there a dressing up room somewhere in The Apprentice mansion, filled with hi-vis jackets, sturdy boots, Native American headdresses, police shirts and leather chaps just in case Richard wants to lead all the boys in a rousing chorus of 'YMCA' between tasks? (I would actually pay good money to watch this, and not in a porny way.) Upon arrival, Lord Sugar informed them that they were to set up handyman (shouldn't that be "handyperson"?) companies because there are busy people all over London who need help with those little jobs that they don't have time to do. Hang on, wasn't that basically the central premise of Helen's business plan in series seven? (Admittedly hers was more of a personal concierge service than actual DIY, but the basic drive behind it was the same.) Lordalan pointed out that there were three people in the cast with experience in the building trade: Brett's a builder, Joseph runs his own plumbing business, and Elle is a "construction operation executive", whatever one of those might be. Since Elle had a 0-5 win-loss record going into this, Lordalan moved her over to Versatile and made her project manager in a make-or-break bid, while Vana was moved over to Connexus where Brett was to be PM.

2. Flyer by night - The first order of business was to figure out who had some marketable skills beyond those we'd already discussed, though we only got as far as David: can put up flatpack furniture and Mergim: none, but he did a window cleaning round for extra cash when he was a kid, and suggested that they could make some good money this way. In possibly the only actual decision she made all episode, Elle made Mergim sub-team leader and sent his half of the squad out to clean windows. Unfortunately, while they were dithering about what to put on their flyer, Karen informed her that they'd actually missed their print deadline, so they wouldn't be getting any. Mind you, Brett's flyer apparently read "Connexus: connecting us to you", which is both confusing and worrying for a DIY slogan, because it sounds a bit like you're either going to steal my electricity or accidentally nail yourself to my living room wall. Either way: not good. In the end, Versatile got around the flyer issue when Mergim improvised by hand-writing some flyers in his notepad; April was a bit concerned that they didn't look professional, but given that you are being followed by a film crew and you are clearly on The Apprentice, I don't think that's going to put anyone off.

3. Son of a pitch - Naturally, Lordalan had laid on two big-time jobs for the teams to go and pitch for: one at the Theatre Royal in Stratford East where they had to give the costume department a small makeover by repainting it, reinstalling seven wardrobe rails, and adding a shelving unit. Brett went to pitch for this first, putting Sam in charge of measurements and pricing. Oddly for a gay man, Sam seemed to have a bit of trouble with accurate measurements and looked rather lost, but eventually they quoted a figure of £877 - no, wait, sorry, £777. The theatre guy did not seem terribly impressed by this, but Brett promised "I'm really like an expertise, like an expert in my field." Let's hope his field is not grammar. Then Elle's team came to pitch for the same job, with Richard leading the negotiations, Joseph in charge of actually working out the work that needed to be done, and Elle...being present. Richard quoted £560 for the job and Stratford Dude blanched, so I imagine Brett stood little chance of getting this job. Richard asked what might get them this job, and was told "lower". Helpful! The second pitch was at Dulwich Hamlet FC, where the...grounds...manager? wanted them to quote for powerwashing one of the stands and repainting the hazard strips. David lead the negotiations for Versatile because he's pitched for similar jobs before, and his opening gambit was to ask where they finished the previous season, and then commiserate them when the answer was "fourth". Anyone else think that David lost this pitch before he got anywhere near to actually quoting a number? He quoted £500, and the manager did not seem impressed. Brett, Selina and Sam came to quote the same job for Connexus, and once again Sam struggled with the maths - so much so that Selina actually had to do the figures for him. Yes, Selina. Think on that. Brett offered a quote of £480.70 and his own personal guarantee of an immaculate finish. Sam stared at the dried bird shit on the stands and asked in disgust "if we get this job, do we actually have to do it?"

4. Hole in the wall - Mergim's subteam of Charleine and April went door-to-door in...I'm going to assume Dulwich? Looking for window-cleaning business and any odd jobs they might find. April was quoting prices of £10ph, which isn't much when you have to split it between people. Considering that the matter of paying staff costs is so rarely taken into account when calculating profit/loss on this show, it was interesting to see this become such a key part of this task. Unfortunately for this subteam, Mergim kept interfering with their hourly rate due to his inability to get tasks done without trashing his surroundings, so they frequently had their fees docked - when he was fixing shelfs for an optician, he tried to screw in a nail, make the hole twice as big, and then tried to convince the shop owner that the shelf had always tilted like that. After calling back in to Brett, he expressed great concern that they were a) selling themselves dirt cheap, and b) unable to put up shelves despite advertising themselves as a handyman service.

5. Football crazy - Brett's pitch impressed at Dulwich Hamlet FC, so Connexus landed that job. Sam and Selina didn't seem terribly thrilled about having to do the dirty work, but to their credit, they did both seem to muck in - Sam with the powerwashing, and Selina scraping all of the chewing gum up with a chisel, as directed by Brett, while Brett did the painting. All three were sporting smart red polo shirts, and Sam in particular was working his - you could tell he spent the whole day fighting the urge to pop his collar. Brett kept insisting on the importance of customer satisfaction and not leaving a job half-done...until it became clear that they weren't going to finish on time, because Sam had powerwashed where he was supposed to paint and it wasn't going to dry on time. He'd also powerwashed the gum that Selina was supposed to clean up, which she complained made it almost impossible to remove, but Brett told her to just use a bit more elbow-grease. So Brett had to speak to the manager again and renegotiate the terms of their agreement, at which point it became clear that he hadn't actually expected them to remove the chewing gum, so Selina had been on her hands and knees all day scraping it away for nothing. The look that Selina gave Brett at this point could have turned Medusa to stone. The manager was, however, pleased with the quality of the job that they'd done and agreed to pay them £440.

6. Theatrical leanings - Versatile won the theatre job - well, sort of. Stratford Guy called back and told them that their quote was well outside of his budget. Elle panicked because she has no skill at negotation, so she handed it over to Richard, who tried to re-quote at £525, Stratford Guy suggested £300 and eventually they compromised at £375. On the way to this job, Elle told Joseph that as soon as they were in the theatre, he would now be project manager instead of her. I think that comment was slightly tongue-in-cheek, but she did pretty much follow through on the abdication - not only did she not lead the task when she got there, she barely even followed on it. Joseph directed David on how to cut the costume rails (which David then messed up), directed Elle on how to paint a floor that was covered in dust (hint: clean the dust off) and somehow managed to corral the entire team to produce, if not a sterling job, then at least a passable one.

7. Garden variety - Connexus did get one good lead from their professional flyers, in the form of a woman called Rachel who wanted them to clean up her garden, so Gary, Scott and Vana were sent off to deal with this. On their initial visit to give the quotation and set up the job, Capability Scott got a little bit carried away with the possibilities of the project and essentially promised Rachel a full landscaping job with ha-ha, rock garden and water feature. Vana was greatly alarmed by this given that they only had one day to actually do the job, so when they actually turned up with their tools, she was given the unpleasant job of "managing expectations", as Gary put it - and surprisingly, she did it really well, essentially explaining to Rachel in a polite but not overly-apologetic way that they wouldn't be able to complete the job but really wanted to focus on the necessities, ultimately agreeing to just tidying up and sorting things out so the professionals could do the big jobs. She was very charming about it, really made it sound beneficial to Rachel, and Rachel was very pleased with the result. That particular piece of sweet-talking (and the hard graft that followed) definitely turned the task around for Vana, who had started it by saying "I think market research is one of the most important parts of this task." Vana, let me save you some time here: market research is never the most important part of the task.

8. One Elle of a bad day - In the end Connexus turned £1050.08 profit to Versatile's £530.01, leaving Elle with six consecutive losses and putting her up there with all-time Apprentice greats Katie Hopkins and Tom Pellereau. There was no way that this task would end without Elle getting fired, but I couldn't help admiring her for not even attempting to save herself: taking blame for the loss of the flier, saying that the entire task succeeded because of Joseph, admitting that she didn't do more on the task because she thought her own incompetence would only make things worse, saying "I don't stand here proud" (before quietly correcting that to "sit here"). Lordalan fired her before even asking who she would take back to the final boardroom, and Elle admitted in her exit interview that he was right to do so, and would have looked "like a bloody idiot" if he hadn't. I'm really going to miss Elle. She may have been entirely wrong for this process, but she took losing like a champ, didn't she?

9. Parting on good terms - After Elle's departure, sub-team leader Mergim was put in charge of deciding who would be brought back to the final table. Before any further decisions were made, Lord Sugar made a point of telling Joseph that, despite this not generally being a traditional part of the format, he was going to be guaranteed safety because he'd performed so well on this task. Joseph then weighed in for the strengths of his subteam, saying that despite their differences on previous tasks, Richard took instruction well on this task and worked hard, whereas David lacked practical skills and made no real input in what they did achieve. Armed with this information, Mergim decided to bring David and April back to the boardroom with him, with Lordalan noting that Charleine had had a lucky escape because she didn't seem to have done much. Mergim's lack of general competence was deemed to be an issue here, and Lordalan decided that he just didn't see Mergim as a future business partner - though he was cheered by Mergim's story of arriving in this country as a refugee and working his way up from the bottom, telling Mergim that he would stay in touch and was firing him "with sincere regret". Karren, meanwhile, was looking at him with new eyes like "you're a refugee? HELP, HE'S PROBABLY ON BENEFITS!"

10. April showers - There was nowhere to hide for April either, as she was deemed to have lacked common business sense in the pricing problems, and Mergim had said that she worked less hard than Charleine did (at which point April pointed out that she was holding the ladder that supported him while painting with her other hand, making it hard to see what else she could have done). What really did April in, however, was Claude reminding Lordalan that he'd said to her after her mistakes in the first task that, had it been week four, five or six, she would have been fired - and well, here we are at week six. Sometimes I think Claude has spent a little bit too long hanging around Karren and has inherited her slightly peculiar worldview. Still, whatever he said rang true with Lordalan, who felt that April had been hanging back and not really contributing, so she was fired too. He even hinted that he might clean house and get rid of David too - after Karren pointed out that his general uselessness on this task had cast a cloud over his previous good form - but in the end decided to grant David and his strangely attractive man-baby face a stay of execution. Well, someone had to go back to the house and tell them what happened, right?

Next week: the remaining candidates open up a discount store in Manchester. Rad will be here to ask "DO YOU LIKE THIS DRESS?"

Monday, 9 November 2015

The kids are all-write

Ten things about...  Week 5, Children's books.

  1. Five alive -  Its week five and we’re all letting our hair down a bit and I start to get to know most of the names, with a few exceptions. For some reason, I just can’t get my head around Brett being an individual in the process.  He has an air of instant forgettabilty. What he needs to remember though, is that the camera sees all, and I see you sniffing your pits to see if you need to give them a wash, Brett, then spraying directly on top. He does have A Chest though, so I’m inclined to forgive him. He’s not the only one letting his guard down. Elle ponders the point of even getting out of bed and Selina says she’s not being diplomatic any more. They even let Charleine do something. I KNOW.  Natalie even proves she's human by getting a comedy cold. More on that later.
  2. Doing it for the kids - The task this week was to create a children's book and audiobook, then sell it. This task seemed confused. On one hand it seemed to be one of those wishy washy tasks that is judged against some arbitrary scale that nobody really seems to know about, but in the end it was a selling task. Lrdsir made it very clear that the hitherto very uninteresting Sam was to be heading up Connexis when he sent him over, as he’s all about language. he loves it. He even claims that it’s the key to existence, which seems a bit odd. Maybe it’s the reason why we’re all here, but surely there is something more physiological about our existence? ANYWAY.  Sam’s into literature so he’s the team leader. Sam’s strategy is to fart about, Mary Sue - ing himself into his children's book about an Elephant Dragon WHO JUST WON’T EVER BE GOOD AT SPORTS, OK, DAD?? Eventually he decides on a theme that’s about a creature finding his niche.  The other team are headed up by Charleine, whose qualification for writing a children’s book is BEING A MOTHER. By this logic, I am now a mechanic because I own a car. ANYWAY. She wants a book about chucking away blankets before school but Joseph suggests a story about a bee on a quest for honey from flowers. Nobody discusses the fact that bees don’t have to look for honey. They can MAKE it with their BUMS .April is all on board with this idea. Charleine less so, wonders what April’s qualifications are.  A degree in creative writing. MOVING ON.
  3. It’s only words - Writing children’s fiction is one of those things that seems simple but I learn from this episode that it is a minefield. Connexis call their main character Snottydink which was the best thing that they could come up with after rejecting Snufflegruffle, Snufflebum, Snifflebottom and Snottledink. If that wasn’t complicated enough, Sam puts some very complicated words in there. One they keep going back to is “moisture rife” which sounds like a very fun Saturday night but I’ve no idea in the context of a kids book. Upon receiving this feedback, Sam spins it into a teaching tool. There’s only one tool around here, etc etc. Versatile are more concerned with the sound of the words. Charleine even going so far as to coach David on how to say words, even though her pitches ultimately show us that this is an issue that she has problems with. Another thing they seem to have a problem with is an understanding of how honey is made. I’m sure it’s not important.
  4. Charl-mean - By gumbo, Charleine is an evil genius. Her plan to keep Richard from interfering was inspired. She made him PM of the sub team but then refused to talk to him as he clearly couldn’t be trusted to deliver simple messages. This meant that he spent most of his time getting frustrated at being the middle man and making decisions that he had to feedback to others. The expression on his face when Charleine said at the end that their relationship was fine is one that I will take with me to my grave. He let no opportunity to say that he was upset at this arrangement pass, but his under -utilisation in sales was noted by LORDSIRALAN at the board room, so there may be something in that.
  5. Pour some Sugar on me - Today the good lord was a goldmine. From his pronunciation of RUDDY’ARD Kipling to his joke about Snottydink being a monster that nobody can live with being a parable about Piers Morgan, he was on FIRE. He even managed a chuckle when asking Charleine if she just made Richard PM just to shut him up and give him a title and she said yes without hesitation. He got mildly annoyed at Sam’s inability to make a decision about anything, but that was very definitely the mood of the nation throughout the episode. It was confusing though, Sam was definitely getting the “brains over common sense” edit but remained in the process. Maybe the Snuffydonk moral got through his armour.
  6. Identity crisis - As I said above, this task had some serious identity problems. At the beginning, it seemed to be a creative one - Sam was even told to exercise his creative chops - but it ended up to be about purely sales. It was close run too, Versatile selling £690.10 worth of the factually inaccurate bee and Connexis selling a mere £587.25 worth of Slinkydump. The firing seemed to completely ignore any part of the creative process, and all arguments seemed to hinge on who sold what rather than the product not being up to scratch in the first place. Luck seemed to have more to do with it than anything else. Connexis’ win was entirely dependent on Charleine getting lucky at the Rainforest Cafe rather than any kind of business skill. She absolutely fluffed both pitches to the major retailers despite insisting on pitching, but her subteam were scrappy. Mergim even managing to sell three copies to the cafe hosting the market research.  Connexis were rubbish on both sides, what with Natalie fake coughing and fluffing pitches and Selina, who we’ll come to in a minute, fluffing the maths. In the boardroom, Sam became obsessed with the fact that the subteam didn’t sell enough despite by his own admission, selling off his babies far too cheaply in a last ditch attempt to get rid of them. An extra £1 on the already bargain basement price of £1.75 would have made all the difference.
  7. Have you Selina? - With Ruth and her amazing suits gone, I have a position open for favourite and I think that Selena may be the one. She basically walks about all day looking like she’s smelled something bad, criticising everyone else and claiming everything that she gets wrong just isn’t in her skill set. At one point she offers one of the major retailers 150 units at 4.20 each and her next bargaining point is 50 for £3.20 a unit. Joseph Valente is beyond upset about this, but she just counters it with “I’m not amazing at mental arithmetic” then swishes her hair about. YES.  Her insistence that most parents don’t know complicated words was a joy to behold.
  8. Charing Cross-ed wires - By far my favourite moment this week was Sam attempting to sell his book to the rare book dealers of Charing Cross Road by saying it was limited edition. I shouted “BLESS” at my television so loudly the neighbours were concerned. This week I learned that if you give a rare book dealer a book about a dragon elephant with a CD attached to it they will give you a look of disgust that will burn you to your very soul, and you just have to take it.
  9. Quotes of the week - I have a degree in creative writing”
“My preference is what do you think”
“Once there was a bee who set out to find some honey” “That doesn’t rhyme though”
“busy got lost after being tossed”
“why those three songs?” “because we listened to them”
“moisture rife”
“Make it sound like the wind is saying it”
“Is he not going to get greener? He's a bit minty at the moment”
“I wouldn’t say English is my strongest point”
“The younger children can have an oral appreciation”
“we haven’t got anything that’s currently popular, we’ve got a Snottydink”
“it’s like giving birth to a child then someone offering you £2 for it”
“the sniffles doesn’t wash with me”
“I shit you not, Karren was there and she absolutely got her ass in her hands and she faltered”
10.  Nata-leave  - It was the final quote that was the nail in Natalie’s coffin. She claimed the sniffles was a reason she couldn’t pitch this, complete with tactical cough. When she did pitch, she fluffed it completely by ignoring the pricing strategy and huffing out of the shop when questioned on it.  She got fired in the end for being in the background and not really stepping up.  She taxiterviewed that Brett and Scott ganged up on her and it was all the smelly boys fault and they’ll all see!

NEXT WEEK it’s all about running a Handyman business. Someone is definitely going to lose a finger.