Livin La Vida Suga.
AIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! Welcome to the final of The Apprentice.
It’s evening at the Apprentice Hacienda
and we’re thrown right back into the action. The action being
the lovely spread that Ricky Martin and Tom have put out for the returning candidates. There’s cold meats, sausage rolls, vegetable samosas, prawn wraps, spring rolls, vol-au-vents, coleslaw with raisins in that nobody’s going to touch, and Tom spent hours getting each individual mini-quiche just right. He’s such a perfectionist. Ricky Martin announces that now they’re on their own. It’s just down to their business plans, and themselves as individuals.
“CHEERS!” You can tell Tom wants to smack Jade and Ricky Martin on the wrist with a ruler muttering “stem and base, stem and base, why am I expected to share living space with such low-class individuals?”. It is at this point that the
Apprentiphone rings, unfortunately with Tom in prime position (I like to think he’s just making sure that Gabrielle isn’t about to fly through that door. She wanted that Phone Answering Wars trophy bad). Unfortunately, because this means that Phone Answering Wars is officially an ugly 5-way tie, the likes of which can only be solved by a public vote. And whilst I don’t mean to influence anyone’s decision :
if they hadn’t given Tom that assisted start, Ricky Martin would totally be champion off his own merits. Look at him run. He’s still got that fighting spirit. Never mind, if he doesn’t win, he’ll just have to console himself with that £250,000 prize money. We all know it’s no substitute though.
Anyway, it’s Tom answering the phone :
and it turns out it’s ONLY LORDALAN on the other end of the phone. I’m guessing Whoever-it-Is got loose of her ball and chain again. Tom’s response is, happily, an amazingly disinterested “oh hi Lordalan”, like Lordalan’s calling to ask if he wants to go hang out at The Max with Screech and Lisa Turtle. I bet he’s washing/styling/waxing/gelling/drying/washing again his hair anyway. At any rate, this informality
amuses Jade greatly.
Lordalan tells them they’ve got two days to “get familiar” with their business plans because it’s TIME FOR INTERVIEWS. Laters, gators. Then he hangs up. Nick says that he’d almost forgotten there was a £250,000 prize at the end of everything. Never take your eye off those Holy Margins for a second Nick. You’re slipping. Ricky Martin says it will be a life-changing moment for whoever wins, and Tom toasts to the idea of the best man-woman-person winning.
With articulation like that, it’s no wonder he made Final 2 isn’t it?
Jade meanwhile, prepares for the interviews the only way she knows how.
It’s been a very boozy sort of series hasn’t it?
Anyway, Helpful Voiceover Man reminds us of what we just heard, and that the four finalists now have 48 hours to perfect their business plans. Sorry Tom, you’re on your own. Ricky Martin isn’t going to help you now. You’ll just have to drill yourself. I’m sure you’ve tried before.
The Final Four are :
Nick Holzherr. Mayor of London, X Factor finalist, computer whizz, and holder of the best record in the competition (8 task wins, 2 PM wins out of 2, 1 boardroom). He thinks that his business plan has the potential to make millions AND THAT’S WHAT MAKES IT BEAUTIFUL.
Tom Gearing, wine expert, art expert, food expert, fashion expert, youngest and richest in the competition, all round hipster, and holder of the second-best record in the competition (7 task wins, 2 PM wins out of 3, 2 boardrooms). He say that his business plan is an extension of what he does in his daily life, so it’ll be very easy to persuade people to invest in him. And if they won’t, he’ll call his dad on them.
Jade Nash, 50% under-the-radar creative and competent, 50% under-the-table loud and chaotic, 24 hour party person, last woman standing, queen of the DRUNKEN JELLIES, mistress of the monkey-bumble-tiger, assistant-choreographer and holder of the third-best record in the competition (5 task wins, 1 PM win out of 2, 3 boardrooms). She’s really happy with her business plan, and she knows it’ll make money, which apparently Lordalan is interested in.
Ricky Martin, the chart-topping Latino pod-thieving wrestling biochemist maths-wizz with a talent for the bagpipes and a well-hidden feminine side, and holder of the fourth-best record in the competition (6 task wins, 1 PM win out of 3, 4 boardrooms). He says that he thinks that his business plan will give Lordalan a return on his investment, also he’s made his own Redemption Arc out of lolly-sticks and pipe-cleaners. WANT A PREVIEW?
Psst, Ricky Martin, it’s spelled “Kaen”.
Two days later now, and I hope somebody washes that secret woodland hideaway pod out, if Ricky Martin’s spent two days in there. The walls must be smeared with fake-bake if nothing else. All the candidates awake, and Tom says that it’s always daunting getting scrutiny
but he feels his hair is at 100% of what it can do. Ricky Martin says he’s feeling the pressure, but he’s ready. He’s been massaging his eyebrows all night, and they are ready to spring into action, as he performs a Senton Bomb on Claude from off the top of a filing cabinet. It also appears that he reads Tom Clancy novels, but I will not hold that against him at this late stage. Jade applies her mascara, Nick mutters about how he has millions of pounds in his hands and, as per Helpful Voiceover Man, it’s OFF TO THE CITY!
Is it Sydney? Please say it’s Sydney. Riyadh? Tashkent? Phnom Penh? No? Spoilsports.
Candidates pile into their Apprenticars and
I’m glad that Ricky Martin and Tom were together to the end. And at last we learn what that bloody tie-pin was for. Tom just needs that extra security that only hooking yourself directly onto your seatbelt can provide. Hey, there have already been enough fatal car-crashes this series.
We don’t see Jade and Nick sat together in the Phoenix Apprenticar
probably because she’s “accidentally” spilled a glass of water on his crotch on the way to the car in revenge for the last boardroom. OOPS! NOW IT LOOKS LIKE HE’S WET HIMSELF! WHO PUTS PEOPLE OFF NOW, NICKY PEE-PANTS? HA HA HA!
The candidates arrive at New Broad Street House, and decamp to meet with Lordalan and the Viceroys. Everyone enters, and I resolve never to make fun of those “LORDALAN IS NOT GOING BALD!” shots ever again, because they appear to have replaced them with
a crotch shot instead. Marvellous.
Jade looks impressed anyway, as Nick desperately covers his crotch with his business plan until he can get to a hand-drier. Once he’s finished bouncing down the stairs, Lordalan tells all the candidates that they are currently standing in the Institute of Directors, and not uncoincidentally, one of them will be the Director in the company that he sets up with them as the winner. New Nirrck immediately swivels his head to Lordalan as if to say
“but you said I could do it! No fair! I wanted my name on a door!”. He tells the candidates that whilst he might know the area of business they’re going into, their competitors won’t, so why don’t they do a little mini-pitch now to tell them? Yeah, I’m sure it’s NEVER come up in conversation during their entire two month stay with these people. Ever. This isn’t at all just for the viewers benefit. Ah well, if it means I never have to hear the words “elevator pitch” again, I’m all for it.
Here’s what the man-woman-people say :
Nick : it’s an online platform that will revolutionise the online grocery market, allowing people to purchase ingredients for any recipe with a single click
Tom : my idea is a hedge fund that allows people to make use of fine wine as an asset gloss
Jade : mine is to open the UK’s larget telemarketing call-centre where consumers will be contacted, sold on as leads at a premium rate to the service provider
Ricky : I’m proposing an ethical and niche recruitment organisation looking areas of therapeutics, new and existing drugs on the market, I’m looking at consumer products, making sure that peoples usage of the environment is reduced.
Jesus, who wrote Ricky Martin’s intro, Melissa Cohen? Lordalan tells him he doesn’t have a BLAHDDY clue what he just said. RECRUITMENT is about finding PEOPLE innit? Just say that. Ricky Martin agrees that he should have said that. He’s opening a finding-people-shop. Lovely. Still, let’s compare that list to last year’s business plans :
Tom : A CHAIR!
Helen : SLAVES! No…wait…A BAKERY!
Jim : I LOVE KIDS!
Susan : WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
I’m so glad they came in more prepared this year.
Lordalan tells them all that they’re about to meet four colleagues of Lordalan’s who are going to go through their business plans and application forms in great detail. They are Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa Laa, and…oh no, wait. It’s the same bunch as last year.
Screaming Claude Sutch
Her Holiness Dame Margaret
Lordalan departs, having asked the candidates to hand over their business plans to Nick and Kaen for his further perusal. The candidates are left sat in the usual formation, and Nick
apparently decides he wants a bum-chin as well as a squishy nose. It’s his face I guess. Ricky Martin mutters about how they don’t have long to make a first impression, whilst Tom
just stares at his hands. I have to say I think it was probably a mistake to turn up for the interviews stoned. Especially as Tom is…laid back enough as it is.
rapid-pausing news, Nick has A-Levels in Maths, Art & Design and German. Such a polymath.
We start with Tom meeting Ant, who asks Tom if he would say that he’s an experienced interviewee. Tom says he isn’t – in fact this is his first ever interview.
TOM’S OUT OF HIS COMFORT ZONE! TOM WINS! CALL OFF THE WHOLE SHOW HERE! No? OK.
Nick walks in to Margaret’s chambers next, and calls her “Margaret”, which was a cardinal sin when StuBaggs did it. To be fair, Nick does it professionally with a handshake, and doesn’t bound through the door going “OOO, HIYA MAGS BAGS!” or whatever it was StuBaggs said. Probably a little less camp than that. Not by much though. Helpful Voiceover Man tells us that Margaret is here to assess the candidates personalities. I love Margaret, but I’m not sure how I feel about the sole female interviewer being the one with no business experience who’s there just to assess whether the candidates are nice or not.
Anyway, she says that Nick seems very keen on describing himself as intelligent, and seems to think that he’s a bit of an
arrogant blowhard. I’d be more concerned that he appears to have phrased his horn-tooting as “my intelligence makes my thinking better”. Nick says that he thinks that it’s true that he’s intelligent, Margaret snorts “modesty becomes SOME people” and Nick
full on grins, because getting a schooling from Margaret is a good 24% of why any human being does this programme. IT’S SO MUCH FUN! DO ME NEXT MARGARET, DO ME!
Ricky Martin is in with Dec, and he tells Ricky Martin to imagine that there’s £250,000 of Lordalan’s money behind him and looks
far too pleased with himself as he says it. I don’t like Dec. I’m just putting that out there now, at the beginning, so it doesn’t come as a surprise when the shouting starts. He grins at Ricky Martin that he’s personally been entrusted with making sure that Lordalan’s money goes to the right person (don’t build your part up Dec) and Ricky Martin
makes him feel sick. Personally I’d wear that as a badge of honour.
Finally in our first round, we see Jade walk into Claude’s cave, and within 5 seconds he tells her that he’s not impressed with her CV, or her business plan, and he thinks she’s opening a pretty grubby little business.
Never change Claude, never change. Jade screws her face up at him describing her as grubby.
Seriously Claude, if you think this is grubby you should see Booze, Cruise and Skrewz Day on Magaluf. This whole call-centre is nothing compared to the debauchery she set up there. Claude asks her to explain to him how it’s NOT grubby, and Jade replies that the call-centre will phone people up with a very basic script, so they’ll be able to do lots and lots of calls and also market in areas including solar panels, mobile phones, debt/insolvency, drugs, hookers, loan sharks, estate agents and blonde assassins for hire.
Claude screws his face up again and says he
doesn’t want to be called at home in the evening by someone he doesn’t know trying to sell him something, and the whole “trying to get leads on desperate people who have fallen into debt” part is kind of unpleasant.
Outside, everyone grins merrily at the idea of Jade getting roasted by Claude. Tom asks Ricky Martin how he thinks it’s going to go for her on a scale of one to ten. Ricky Martin grins
“two, maybe three”.
Back in the room, Claude identifies that Jade hasn’t indicated her cashflow in her business plan, and also that there’s no balance sheet. Jade murmurs “unfortunately, what’s included is what’s included”. It turns out “what’s included” is also
a pyramid diagram. Hooo Jesus…
Claude also identifies that she’s included turnover in her business plan, but
absolutely no costs. Why is that? Does this business in fact run on magic? Does she have a unicorn? Jade says that she’ll just spend the £250,000 at the beginning and then not have to buy anything else for her business ever. Claude practically has an aneurism and tells her that that’s not how business works, and she’s blown it. D’oops.
Jade wanders out and tells everyone that she got
ABSOLUTELY SLAUGHTERED! Not coincidentally, that’s also her plan for the next 24 hours. And maybe a bit beyond that as well. She plonks herself down in her chair, and declares that she needs a drink. Attagirl.
Ricky Martin with Margaret next, and she is rather amused by the fact that he has described himself as Thor on his application form. Well he certainly was Thor after Tom finished with him last week. He could barely thit down.
Margaret reads out his exact statement : “Lordalan is already a business god, but call me Thor. I am the next generation who, with the backing of the Godfather of business, I will take over his empire”. Margaret is having FAR too much fun with this.
FAR too much. Ricky Martin in response says it’s a really bold statement, then
rams her with his EYEBROW HAMMER and says that what he was trying to say there was “please put me on your game show, I’m a total fuck-up who everyone will spend the next three months laughing at, honest”. Well, what he says was that he was trying to differentiate himself from the other people who applied, which really amounts to the same thing. Margaret snorts that he’s obviously differentiated themselves in that the rest of the candidate pool aren’t gods. Not this year Margaret, no.
Ricky Martin reassures Margaret that he doesn’t actually think he’s a god (which you’d think he wouldn’t have to but…Lorraine…and her magic powers…) and Margaret snorts and asks him if he thinks he’s a reincarnation of Lordalan, and Ricky Martin replies that obviously he’s not a direct reincarnation no, but he has replicated certain elements of Lordalan’s career *hopeful face*. Give it up Ricky Martin, Margaret came to pull MargaretFace
and nothing’s going to stop her.
Next up, Claude with Nick. He says that Nick’s business plan resembles an academic exercise. And yes
it does kind of look like a GCSE paper come to life. It looks like a theoretical MBA project, rather than an actual business model, says Claude. He asks Nick to tell him, in plain English, what the point of the business is. Nick replies that the business will allow you to order all the ingredients for a particular recipe at the click of a single button, combine several one-click recipes in one basket, and also the website/app/whatever will shop around various different supermarkets to get you the best possible price for the goods in your trolley. Also there’s a fun bonus round where you have to grab an inflatable and do Dale’s Shopping List and then you get a bo…oh no, wait. Claude’s reply? “Do I care?”
I don’t know Claude, do you? Claude then blusters that life is too short for this sort of thing. Erm…it’s a time-saving device Claude, I think that might be sort of the point.
Outside, Ricky Martin and Tom coo that they think Nick might have trouble selling his business plan, because he can come across as kind of patronising. Jade agrees that he needs to listen more, as we cut back to him telling Claude that Claude’s not the target market, so he can’t appreciate the product. I love the idea that a malignant narcissist like Claude would ever accept that he’s not the target market of anything. Nick then says that the business has the potential to be the new Google or Facebook, and every household in the country will want to use it. Claude huffs that not every household will use it, because even if Nick becomes the next Steve Jobs, Claude’s going to withhold his custom out of spite. HOORAY FOR CLAUDE!
Nick stomps out and they all laugh at how he looks like he’s been pulled through a hedge backwards. I don’t think that was due to Claude…Nick murmurs that it was like being under fire. Yes, you can see how the Swiss wouldn’t be used to that. (Nick, Vinnie Disney…it’s sad that Switzerland has produced more memorable candidates than one of the component nations of the UK. STEP IT UP, WALES!)
Back with Tom n Ant now, as Ant reads out a glowing reference :
“what is very evident is his ability to focus on the challenge and develop an approach which delivers results. I do firmly believe you have an excellent “apprentice” and one who truly has the skillsets to deliver”
(Bonus points for putting “apprentice” in quotation marks. Marks off for “skillsets”, and using “deliver” twice in the same two sentence span).
Anyway, guess who wrote that? Tom’s dad.
Tom squirms awkwardly at this, as well as at Ant reading out how Tom’s dad is in the same business as Tom. Ant then asks Tom just how much of his homework he got his dad to do for him.
Tom replies that he did it all himself, thank you. Ant asks if it would be fair to characterise Tom as a “daddy’s boy” and he says it wouldn’t. Yeah, so many times I’ve been asked that question in job interviews. Ant then moves on to the actual merits of Tom’s business plan, not potentially diagnosing him with a sublimated Elektra complex, and he says that it’s very sophisticated and intelligent, and certainly more so than anything he’s ever written. What, you mean the basis of Saturday Night Takeaway didn’t cover an entire thesis worth of material? Mostly, I’m stuck on the words
“Cayman Islands”. God bless them.
Over to Nick with Dec now, and Dec says
“tonight I’m going to make shepherds pie”. He’s going to go on Nick’s website, but then decide he doesn’t really care where they get the ingredients from, and then just go look at some porn instead. Well, thanks for telling me your plans for the evening, Dec. Nick explains that people do care where they get their ingredients from, and also they buy more than one recipe at once, from a number of different websites. Dec hoots
“WHO DOES?”. Nick explains that young families do, then Dec snides “who has time to sit down and plan out everything they eat for the week? OOOH MONDAY, I’LL HAVE LASAGNE! TUESDAY, I’LL HAVE THIS! WHO DOES THAT?!”. Congratulations Dec, you just made the most idiotic statement ever made during Apprentice interviews, and that includes that time Paul Tulip said he’d blow up an island of homeless people if he got to strangle a paedo. Or whatever it was. Nick points out that lots of families do that, and then Dec says he DOESN’T BELIEVE HIM!
Nick says that 52% of people use online recipes, so there is a market there, and Dec moves on to what he’s discerned about Nick from his application form. It’s that he’s a young guy who runs three businesses
(almost). Well done Dec, have a biscuit.
(FUN FACT : this is the youngest final 4 ever, and the only one to consist entirely of people in their 20s).
Dec asks Nick to explain his other current businesses to him, and he says he’s currently setting up a mobile platform barcode business, that could make him up to £4,000,000. Dec asks Nick if he’s smoking something. I’m beginning to wonder if I could get through an interview with Dec WITHOUT smoking something. Dec then dredges up that apparently Nick’s old business partner told him that Nick’s biggest problem was lack of focus, and the fact that Nick has so many irons in the fire currently is just evidence of that failing. Nick says that focus doesn’t matter so much as success, but he knows that focus is something he has to…focus on. LOL.
Next up, Ant meets Ricky Martin. It turns out his “real name” is Richard Martin. Ant asks Ricky Martin “So why call yourself Ricky Martin? Are you in fact a big fan of his music?”. Well, this all just got a bit Office Space.
Ricky Martin says that he works in sales, and to be honest, it helps if you have a memorable name. He needs to make people remember him, and he’ll use any tool he has to do it. By that token, why not call yourself Ricky Hitler? Ant next covers how Richard Martin and Ricky Martin aren’t the only names he has. He’s also called Ricky Hype, and The Fitness. WHAT ARE THOSE FOR? Ricky Martin replies that outside of his working life he has the hobby of professional wrestling. This is so cringey and irrelevant. It’s like when that one with the face like a scalded bollock who mercifully went bankrupt started picking on Lucinda for being into aromatherapy (and by that point I couldn’t STAND Lucinda). Look at his RAY-ZOO-MAY Ant.
The man’s a tag-team champion, show him some respect! Ant says it all sounds a bit more showbiz than real business, and ponders whether people take Ricky Martin less seriously because they can’t stop imagining him in a pair of lycra pants. Hey, I have the same problem, I can empathise.
Nick with Margaret now, and she says that the most interesting thing about Nick is apparently his unconventional upbringing. I mean…obviously it’s his hair, but alright Mags. Nick explains that he was brought up half-Swiss (which half?) and he focused on more outdoorsy activities like woodwork and sewing (?!) rather than watching tv. In fact he didn’t watch tv until he was 16. Margaret asks if that’s why he’s now obsessed with computers – he didn’t have one until he was 16. Nick agrees that not having had it made him want it more.
Ah, the reasoning of every teenage boy in…one field or another. Nick closes by saying that he is a geek and proud.
I guess by the same logic as not having two Toms win in a row, they weren’t going to have two geeks win in a row. These are the laws of reality tv.
Dec’s with Jade now. Apparently Jade has touted herself as an incredible businesswoman on her form, so Dec asks her if she’s ever done any Business Studies at University or college. Jade starts rambling about some business-oriented modules that were part of her degree and Dec sits back,
smugs up, and asks if there’s not anything else she wants to tell him. Jade says no, and Dec SPRINGS ON HER the N she got in A Level Business Studies. Then pulls a massive smug face and acts like he’s revealed her as the murderer. Jade just brushes this off with a giggle and says it “slipped her mind”. As it would, given that “N” stands for incomplete, and means she never actually took any exams in it, and probably took lessons in it for all of about three weeks. Also it’s Business Studies A Level, who gives a shit? Effing Dec, that’s who. I mean, if we’re going to expand on some sort of general point about her being flighty then sure, but “HURR HURR, YOU GOT A NUH!”. Give me strength.
To Tom & Margaret now, and we get possibly the most random collection of statements ever shown on tv flashed before our eyes
Note that’s “Olly Murs (X Factor)”, not “Olly Murs (President Of Fiji)”. Margaret raises her eyebrows at Tom describing himself as a “Big Name On Campus”, and wonders if the N might stand for something else. Tom grins to show he gets the joke
looks a bit like Hellraiser as a result.
We then move on to him with Claude, discussing his business plan. Claude has identified that Tom wants to raise an initial total of £25,000,000, which Claude calls “a hell of a sum to raise”, especially as Tom is a young guy without much of a track record. Well quite. Tom protests that this is his big chance to translate what he already does into something bigger, and he’s taking it. Claude asks why he’d invest in a young buck like Tom, not someone more established and Tom says
“my amazing hair! Also I know Andre The Giant and what a bento box is!”. Not really, he just says that so many people have told him he should do it, and that they would invest. Claude wonders how it can be that a man of only 23 feels he can say the following on his personal statement.
I know, he shouldn’t worry, it’s probably only puppy fat. Tom just says that he is extremely confident and has a lot of business experience and intends to take that further in life. Claude closes by saying that he doesn’t think Tom can raise the money. Tom says he can. It appears we have reached an impasse. Not that this stops Claude piling on.
Tom emerges, and Ricky Martin sighs that he was in there for ages. You can tell he was missing him. He asks Tom how it went.
Tom doesn’t want to talk about it. Ricky Martin offers to make Tom a nice cup of tea and run him a bubble bath.
Next up, Dec with Ricky Martin. He says that it’s clear that Ricky Martin will be able to do the recruitment side of his business plan, because it’s his day job, but Dec’s not sure he has the business skills and experience to do the management side of it all. How’s he going to cope with hiring and firing and costs and also Lordalan breathing down his neck. Ricky Martin replies that he doesn’t buckle under pressure, and he thinks he’s shown that throughout the process as a whole. He has the backing behind him, both academically and in terms of experience, to show that he can do what he’s said on paper he can do.
Well that’s shut Dec up anyway. (HOORAY)
Ant with Jade now, and he asks her to explain her proposal to him. She says that her business will grow to be the UK’s largest telemarketing call-centre
with her sat at the helm, swigging from a bottle of Chianti, periodically whipping people. It will have a few areas of focus – mobile phones, debt help, and solar panels. Ant tells her that in her business plan she lists four websites that she will use, and gets her to agree that these are obviously pretty valuable assets to her then. Jade concurs. He then asks if she owns them all. Jade says she does. Ant then says that she doesn’t own all of them because
he just bought one for himself. HOW DOES SHE LIKE THEM APPLES? Jade looks utterly defeated. She asks if she can buy it off Ant. Ant tells her to make him an offer. Jade looks like she wants to die
She storms out of the interview, parks herself down
and wonders when this can be over. Ricky Martin gives everyone else notice that he is quite happy to go in to the remaining interviews fighting, and runs
right into Claude, who can barely hide his anticipation. He’s practically giggling. He tells Ricky Martin that he’s been looking forward to this encounter, then strokes a white cat, pulls a lever, and pitches Ricky Martin backwards into a tank full of those foot-nibbling fish. MWAHAHAHAA! Actually, he tells Ricky Martin that he’s decided that Ricky Martin is an enigma to him, because his personal statement is crass, obnoxious, infantile, ludicrous, arrogant and foolish, but his business plan is really amazing. Personally, I am in awe that
Ricky Martin has used even the standard “are you in good physical and mental health?” question to launch a cavalcade of gubbins right at the show’s producers. Now that is dedication to a role. We chortle our way through Ricky Martin describing himself as the best business partner on the planet, how he thinks Lordalan is an old dog who Ricky Martin is going to teach new tricks, with Claude pulling requisite outraged faces throughout. Tom and Nick giggle outside that Ricky Martin is probably getting an absolute roasting, and inside…Ricky Martin plays his trump card.
He regrets what he said, he knows he was foolish, but he has grown and learnt and changed so much over the course of the process, thanks to Lordalan, and Nirrck, and Kaen, and now he is close to being an adult, capable businessman, rather than just a buffoon, which is what he was. Claude looks back appreciatively and then moves on to how well-written, straight-forward, and clear his business plan is. As a brief character note
he’s written it in the third-person. Damn he’s good.
Claude asks if it’s really a good idea to be opening a recruitment firm at a time of high unemployment and a poor jobs market, and Ricky Martin says that he disagrees. Recruitment is picking up, particularly in the private sector, and also confidence in recruitment is growing. Also, the areas he’s focusing on haven’t been damaged as much by the downturn in the economy, and Ricky Martin believes that there is still a big market there. Claude says that sounds plausible to him, which I guess is as close as you’re going to get to him admitting he was wrong.
Next up, Ant with Nick. Ant asks him what sort of return Lordalan can expect in 5 years if he invests now. Nick says that he’s anticipating a £145,000,000 return in Year 5. Ant asks if Lordalan is going to make £145,000,000 then (erm…that’s not what he said?) and Nick replies that it’s very hard to put a figure on it.
Ant pulls a face and says his job is to determine whether Nick’s numbers are realistic. Good to know. At least he’s not here to read palms like Margaret apparently is.
Tom is with Dec. Dec asks him if he has any experience or qualification, and Tom says he has neither. Dec says that his business plan is obviously a pretty huge risk, given that Tom has no experience and is going right for a massive investment fund from the off. Tom says he likes to take risks and with Lordalan behind him, with his reputation for quality and high ethical operating standards (*barely stifled laughs from everyone in the country*) everyone will be able to trust him and believe in him. He’s not about to Ponzi them all, honest.
Back with Margaret, who is now sat with Jade. Margaret tells Jade that she doesn’t appear to have stuck at any one job for long. In fact she’s already had 6 jobs in “not a very short space of time”. Oh Margaret. Normally so well-spoken.
Her posture’s gone to shit as well. Jade says that it’s all been about getting experience, and also trading up salaries. She then starts talking about how her business plan is what she already does as a day job, whatever that is today. Margaret says of course Jade is wise to be setting up in business in an area she knows, and then Jade talks more generally about how her people skills and common sense have got her to the end of the process, and she thinks those are also key skills to have in business.
Also her ability to play the invisible piano.
Briefly we check back in with Ricky Martin and Claude
who is now looking at him with such puppy-dog eyes you have to wonder if Tom shouldn’t be getting worried. Nick waffles away to Ant about how he’s made a prototype of his product and he now just needs to scale it up, and we close with Tom saying that he built up strategic links, and he KNOWS HE CAN DELIVER ON THIS BUSINESS PLAN! HE WON’T LET ANYONE DOWN! HE’S NEVER LET ANYONE DOWN IN HIS LIFE!
Outside, Tom says he feels really emotional, like he’s poured his heart out for everyone to see, leaving him vulnerable and exhausted.
Of course he’s still Tom, so he’s still wearing the same sour, bored look on his face as ever. Everyone sits around congratulating themselves on living through this, as Nick says that he thinks he’s got a good chance of winning, but he for sure doesn’t think it’s definite.
For sure. Just think, Boris Johnson’s wife trusted that face once as well. (Obviously not that EXACT face but, you know what I mean. Probably)
Ricky Martin says that he doesn’t care if they’ve found a few faults, because nobody’s perfect. EXCEPT THE HELEN-ENTITY. DO NOT QUESTION THE HELEN ENTITY. Everyone done giving their requisite interviews, they had off back to the Apprentice Hacienda, for one last kip before the final reckoning.
All the interviewers stalk into the Boardroom, and Lordalan makes sure to welcome Margaret back personally again. Kaen’s “Second Wife” look has at this point reached the
“yes, it’s great that you’re still friends, but I’m not sure she has to pop round quite so often” stage. Margaret of course is
implacable. Lordalan tells them all that they’re here to help him find the right partner, and he gives them all notice that he’s a pensioner now (or at least he will be when the show gets aired) so he don’t want too much hard work. He is 5 seconds away from saying “I’m too old for this shit”, and oh how I wish he had. He says that he doesn’t want to be out there in the business trenches, and with that in mind, Margaret can pick who they start with.
Margaret decides she wants to start with Jade. She tells Lordalan that Jade’s going to set up a business where people apply on her websites to be a “lead”, and then she’ll pass those leads on to big commercial companies who will let her helper-monkies ring the leads up to sell them the company’s wares. Dec ponders aloud whether this is actually anything anybody wants anymore.
Of course it isn’t, but that won’t stop it making money, not that this show wants to acknowledge this. Really the idea that Lordalan was ever going to put his name to a call-centre or a hedge-fund, at least on his flagship BBC 1 teatime gameshow, was always silly. Anyway Lordalan guffaws that he doesn’t want to be bothered at home by any more phone-calls than he’s already getting from Susan Ma on the daily. Ant brings up his neat trick of gazumping her for the website she claimed to have bought, which he deems to be “teaching her a lesson”.
Lordalan guffaws at Ant’s chutzpah. I hope he enjoyed spending that money buying a website he’s never going to use to teach a woman who was never going to win “a lesson” anyway. Claude completely autopilots his way through his feedback, saying that Jade is a great saleswoman with no business nous, a statement he must have made about 7 different interviewees at this point. I doubt he can even remember their names.
Kaen briefly stumps on Jade’s behalf, saying she’s setting up in an area which she knows about and is experienced in, and Margaret says that she was very persuaded by the fact that Jade has always been promoted and moved on to higher things in whatever job she’s had, but they might as well give it up, because this Girl Power dream aint happening. Nick says that Jade is relying on her ability to be persuading face-to-face, because on paper her plan is junk.
Next up – Ricky Martin. Claude says that whilst his personal statement is cretinous toilet-paper, having met him in person he’s “mesmerised by the guy”.
He says that he spent a sleepless night before the interviews thinking about how he was going to rip him apart, but he just couldn’t do it. We run quickly over Ricky Martin comparing himself to Thor and Lordalan to an old dog, leading Lordalan to ponder what it is about the modern world that leads all this young kids to think they have to say such things to get ahead.
Erm…the entire ramshackle rat-trap set up of this show? I doubt Katie called herself the blonde assassin because she thought it made herself sound credible, let alone half the guff Azhar sprayed everywhere without any conviction whatsoever.
Ant pipes up to say that the irony is that, for all the big words and long-winded puffery found in Ricky Martin’s application, his business plan was actually the most straightforward and simple of the lot. Lordalan claps his hands and says that straightforward and simple is what he’s looking for. Would explain how Lee McQueen won. Kaen says that Ricky Martin has indeed had the biggest Journey of all the contestants (oh, nob off Kaen), and Margaret protests that she’s still worried he might say something stupid and arrogant within a business context.
Next up, Nick. Margaret praises him for being an entrepreneur, but she thinks he’s too hung up on this supposedly unconventional upbringing he’s had. Growing up without a tv and doing outdoors stuff and all that. Lordalan guffaws that Nick must be a monk! Where did he grow up, a nunnery?! Ant says he grew up in Switzerland, which really practically amounts to the same thing. Everyone grins inanely, whilst I’m mostly sad about how little Margaret has brought to the table this go round. I know you can do better next year Margaret. Don’t let me down.
Claude follows up by saying that Nick is very bright and very personable, but his business plan looks like a business-school project done to be graded and then forgotten about, not anything that’s actually supposed to happen. No idea where Nick would get the idea that his winning business plan would never actually have to happen from *cough*TOMPELLEREAU*cough* Anyway, Claude doesn’t think his idea is that clever or worthwhile. Alan briefly runs through what the idea is with Dec, and Margaret pipes up to say that she thinks Nick is aiming it at people who impulse buy after watching Ready Steady Cook. He so clearly isn’t that it’s hard to really argue. That said, I’ve never thought Nick was that articulate, so maybe he just hasn’t explained himself clearly. Who knows?
Lordalan closes by saying “social networking” about five times like he’s trying to work out how he can use Nick’s app to throw tomatoes at Piers Morgan’s house. He says he doesn’t understand how anybody’s going to make money from recipes on the Internet. It hardly “rings the bells of the NASDAQ”. He accompanies this phrase by
ringing a tiny imaginary bell, like the sort used to announce dinner in Gosford Park. Bless him. Ant chirps in to say that Nick has wildly overestimated his profits, and then Kaen says that whenever a task has centred around a website, Nick has done really well.
You know, that one time. When they called his website boring.
We close with Tom, and Ant starts by explaining what Tom’s business idea is, and Kaen breaks in to wonder if Ant thinks that Tom might like the prospect of being a bit of a gambler.
Because that is the part of Tom’s personality that Kaen has made up for herself that gets her most aroused. New Nirrck is barely contributing at all to this end-game is he? Maybe it’s the lack of women he can imply are seductresses/whores/ice-queens/sluts with lips made for sin. Anyway, Ant n Dec both agree that Tom is definitely a risk-taker who enjoys taking risks in a risky way. Dec furthers that Tom has led quite a charmed existence thus far, and might be trying to break out of it by kicking out. Lordalan snorts that his existence isn’t that charmed, he’s a West Ham supporter.
HA HA FOOTBALL JOKE.
Lordalan asks Dec how much Tom is worth, and Dec replies “£25,000,000”
Ooof indeed. Lordalan boggles that a 23 year old could be worth that much. Makes Alex Wotherspoon’s brag that he was doing really well because he had a £27,000″ salary at 24 seem…slightly small peanuts. Claude pipes up to say that this means he’s not very experienced and entering a very risky field, and Kaen protests that she was running a football club at the age of 23. That’s nice dear, now run along and make us some nice chocolates. Nick reminds Lordalan that he too took lots of risks when he was 23. I doubt any of them involved £25,000,000 worth of capital though…
Ant pipes up in Tom’s defence by saying that he produced one of the best written business plans Ant has ever seen. Claude says that it does have potential to be a really big business, but Tom really needs to tone down his ambitions and risk-taking, otherwise it’ll all end in tears.
Do you want to do Margaret face again Margaret? No specific reason, just because.
Interviewers go out, candidates come in.
Lordalan tells them all that they had a “busy day” yesterday with his four advisors, and he’s had a little chat with them all in order to decide who is the bestest. We start with Jade, and Lordalan runs over her business plan briefly, and Jade honks that there’s a lot of money to be made in the telesales sector if you get the right data and sell it to the right people. Lordalan says he’s going to put his Lordalan hat on
and then tragically doesn’t. Unless this is some sort of “Emperor’s New Hat” situation. He tells Jade that he doesn’t really want to associate himself with a business that cold-calls people at 8am or on Sunday afternoon, because it’ll get him lots of negative headlines in the papers. Jade protests that you have to
tick a box! That makes everything alright! You tick a box to say that you don’t have to tick the box that that says he don’t want to tick the box that means you have to tick a box that means you have to tick a box to say you definitely don’t not want them to not not call you. Something like that anyway. It usually is. Jade says that she’s worked in a call centre before, it’s all regulated, and she’s really good at motivating people. Kaen smiles in to say that Jade certainly has plenty of enthusiasm.
In a way that doesn’t even sound like a euphemism. Mostly. She then goes on to tell Jade that everyone says that her business plan was a load of parp, and then Jade just starts yelling about how it
MIGHT NOT BE GLAMOROUS, BUT IT WILL MAKE A LOT OF MONEY. So does…well…
Next we move on to Tom, and Lordalan tells him that he’s also antsy about putting his name on a hedge fund, and going around asking people to invest in it. He asks Tom to explain to him why he should invest, and Tom replies that the business he’s currently in is close to saturation point (is there a leak?) and he has been approached by people asking him if he’ll go to the next step and provide this hedge-fund service for them. There is demand for this.
Lordalan tells Tom that, being in the property business, he’s had every
“fly boy” in the planet coming up to him proposing investment schemes, and he’s turned them all down, and then he’s found he’s been right to do so, because all their investment schemes when tits up. I’m sure that would be a fine cautionary tale for us all, if we weren’t all laughing at Lordalan’s use of the phrase “fly boy”. See what Lordalan needs is a shy guy, the kinda guy, who’ll always be his. (Also at the use of the word “tits”, let’s all be honest here, we’re nearly at the end now). Tom protests that he’s different. Honest. He’s done his research, he knows his stuff. Lordalan says that he’ll never eliminate risk totally though. All it takes is for one analyst in the Far East to say the Chinese market don’t care bout no wine no more and BOSCH GOES YOUR CHATEAU MON DE CHAMPRE LYSSES.
I guarantee you if this had been a hedge fund for English Sparkling Wines, Lordalan would be raising none of these objections. BLAHDDY FRENCH AND THEIR CHATEAUS! Tom protests that the market for luxury goods in Asia is stable. Honest. Lordalan closes by asking Tom if he doesn’t think he’s trying to run before he can walk, and Tom protests that he’d never make big claims if he wasn’t able to fulfil them.
Next up, Ricky Martin.
Clearly enjoying himself already. Lordalan, rather amused, reads out Ricky Martin’s application form.
“Lordalan is getting to the later stage of his career, where he’s going to start thinking about succession”. He asks Ricky Martin if he has to tell his kids about their “new dada” coming home. I don’t think Lordalan understands how succession works. Maybe usurping. Ricky Martin throws his journey/redemption arc/actions speak louder than words/learning card down on the table again. Lordalan
seems placated, and says that the one good thing Ricky Martin has going for him is the whole business plan thing. That’s rather good. That would help yes. Ricky Martin says that the whole biochemical industry in the UK is huge, and his plan is to branch out to people who already know him in the recruitment world from his reputation, but who have never dealt with him before, and give them the opportunity to do so. Lordalan grins that he can certainly see how Ricky Martin could have a reputation. He’s so charmed. Ricky Martin’s played him like a dope. Brilliant. Ricky Martin then reels off his genuine, non-calling-himself-Thor credentials from his industry, which seem decent, and just compound his impending victory.
We briefly cover how Ricky Martin’s business plan is so detailed, it even includes costings for the fourth year Christmas Party. I love Ricky Martin so much at this point. So thorough, but also with a fun side!
We move on to Nick’s business plan next and
it’s so obvious already that Lordalan hates the blahddy thing that I’m not sure he should bother much further. Lordalan explains it to himself haltingly, then declares it to be an enormous software task to get running. He has to wonder to himself
why bother? I hope he’s talking about this business plan not just…in general. This would be a terrible point for Lordalan to start having “moments”. Anyway, he says that he thinks its too much work and effort for too little return. You know, like the Moon Landings.
Nick says that he thinks Lordalan has two questions : “is this achievable?” and subsequently “is this useful?”. Lordalan replies that it’s just the latter. He knows Nick CAN do it, he’s just not sure to what end. Nick says that people go shopping for ingredients, but what they’re really looking for is recipes. Kaen asks how he knows this, and Nick quails that
it’s what he and all his mates do. To be fair Nick, I’m sure you and all your friends watch Community and DON’T SHUT UP ABOUT IT, it doesn’t mean anything in the wider sense. Lordalan says “who can be bovvered?” about 50 more times and then says “Spaghetti Cabonara”. Nick protests that he already has a working prototype ready to go, and he’s piloted the thing, so it will work. All Lordalan has to do is give him the money. Lordalan asks him why he should invest, and Nick replies that he’s come up with a new idea, unlike anybody else there. Sure they might make him money, but they won’t make him LOADS of money by being revolutionary like his is.
smirks openly at this, and Lordalan calls him on it. Ricky Martin explains that his business may be “ordinary”, but Nick’s is pure pie-in-the-sky in an industry he has no experience in. Nick protests that he’s been running his own software company for 18 months, he is SO experienced! Lordalan asks Ricky Martin why he should pick him, and he says he should be picked because he has extensive experience in the area he’s placed his business plan in. He’s also…wait for it… BEEN ON A JOURNEY.
Quite. Don’t over-egg it Ricky Martin. You’re almost there now.
After Tom gets fire-teased with Lordalan talking about just how risky his plan is, and how someone as well-respected and adored as Lordalan could never be seen putting his name to a business that wound up a catastrophe, ever ever ever (*Michelle Dewberry raises an eyebrow*), it’s of course Jade who hits the bricks first, because her business plan doesn’t add up, and hell will freeze over before this will endorse a call-centre. He just doesn’t like the idea of disturbing people at home (THEN WHY BROADCAST ADAM CORBALLY’S MANMEL TOE THEN, ANSWER ME THAT?) Lordalan tells her that he’s liked her enthusiasm “and all that stuff”, tells her that he has “enjoyed her presence” but “with regret”
she can bugger off now and let the big boys talk. She and Kaen can go talk about cookies or hairdryers or sumfin.
Once the ladies are safely out of the way, Lordalan returns to his sausage-fest Final 3 and tells them that they’re all clearly very intelligent blokes, before rapidly toggling his fire-teasing between Tom and Ricky Martin. Tom! You’re too ambitious! Ricky Martin! I’m not convinced you’re not actually still a bit of a twat! Tom! You’re too risky! Ricky Martin! That hair! Oh, by the way Nick, I’ve randomly decided that your business plan would require me to put some actual effort in myself, which scares the shit out of me so
YOU’RE FIRED! Nick thanks Lordalan for the experience and I swear actually walks out using the haters gonna hate strut. I guess he’s got some poon out of the process, everything else is just gravy.
FINAL TWO! And our first all-male final two at that. Lordalan jokes that he has a big decision ahead of him, and thinks he could maybe do with some of Tom’s wine to calm him down. Tom’s smile at this is
probably his most unearthly yet. As usual, it’s not time for the candidates to step outside, and for 6 months to elapse. Obviously people move around a bit in the interim. Hopefully.
Candidates go out; New Nirrck starts actively goading Lordalan into the midlife crisis that Tom’s business plan represents by calling it electrically exciting and claiming they’ll make millions from it and they can all go shag bimbos in Hawaii in the back of a speedboat until they all have heart-attacks and die; Lordalan whimpers and says he’s never gambled with other people’s money before New Nirrck, what if he loses it all and they hate him; New Nirrck tells him to stop being so PATHETIC and even considering this mundane little RECRUITMENT AGENCY rubbish, let’s fuck everyone over and live like queens!; Lordalan tells New Nirrck that he’s scaring him and he misses the Old Nick who was, ironically, rather less like Old Nick and just used to sit pulling faces and calling women names and slagging off Birmingham; Kaen points out that Nick the candidate is gone, so there’s no reason for New Nirrck to even exist anymore and shoots him dead, hooray for Kaen ; Old Nick wanders back in in hiw nightie holding a pint of milk, shaking his head and saying he only went outside 5 minutes ago, and now it appears to be November, what happened? ; everyone cheers the return of Nick hooray ; candidates come back in again.
Lordalan congratulates them both on having made it to the Final 2, and tells them that in itself is an amazing achievement. Eh, Kate Walsh did it, it can’t be that hard. He tells them both that he’s just had a conversation/Faustian power-struggle for Nick and Kaen, and he’s ready to make his decision.
He tells Tom that he’s very impressed with the reported £1,250,000 turnover for his existing company in its first yea of trading, but he’s still not really sure he can trust Tom unless he’s worked with him directly as a man, rather than just observing him on this silly game-show.
Yeah, it’s almost as though making up crisp flavours and doing a pretend magazine for old-people isn’t an ultimate test of character and business acumen after all. WHO KNEW?
Lordalan wonders if Tom is willing to pull back his ambitions to a level that he is personally comfortable in, and Tom promises that he is. Lordalan still hems and haws and says that Ricky Martin’s business plan is much simpler. He just wants to do what Lordalan did when he was 17 years old. (Have a crafty wank whilst thinking about Honor Blackman? You perve Ricky Martin). Ricky Martin affirms that he just wants to do what Lordalan wanted to do when he was 17, whatever that is.
So that’s where he’s definitively won this then. HE’S JUST LIKE YOU LORDALAN and a Redemption Arc. All the cards are in his hands.
Ricky Martin says that it’s his time to set up on his own, and run forwards towards being a business leader himself. Lordalan asks Ricky Martin if, when he’s made his millions, he’ll invest in Tom’s wine hedge-fund, and Ricky Martin says that he wouldn’t, because he’s not personally interested in wine and doesn’t drink it. He still thinks Tom’s
dead sexy though. And a lovely person. God this boardroom’s sappy. Anyway, Ricky Martin’s declaration of companionable feelings towards Tom are for naught, as Tom breaks out that weird mouth-rubbing “OMERTA!” thing he did at Jade again. Spooky.
Ricky Martin is asked to beg, and he says that Lordalan should invest in him because he’s a great investment for the future. This is the culmination of his life’s work so far (apart from the wrestling part) and he’s the safe option of the two sat before him. Who would have thought that, under any circumstances, it’d be a wrestling biochemist called Ricky Martin who’d be described as the “safe option”? I feel that made my laborious typing out of both his names every time I mentioned him during these three months almost worthwhile.
Tom is asked if he’s a risk-taker, Tom says that he is, Kaen promptly floods her side of the desk again, and Tom closes by saying that he thinks that Ricky Martin isn’t all that safe, in that he’s been there before and set up a company and Ricky Martin hasn’t. One last eyebrow?
Ah there we are. A nice gentle one to ease us out.
The pre-amble mostly revolves around using Tom’s name in conjunction with that of Satan to the degree that I’m surprised the producers didn’t turn all the lights off and have Kaen stick a torch under Tom’s chin. And let’s face it, Tom kind of has
that air about him already. Unsurprisingly, as a result
RICKY MARTIN IS HIRED! The rest of Menudo rush the boardroom, knocking Tom over on their way to embrace their king.
Poor Tom. You know, sort of. He mutters his congratulations to Ricky Martin, who promptly walks outside and
does this face, rather than, say, jumping up and down punching the air like a nerk. For some of you, this will make him a worse winner than Tom Pellereau. For me? Much much better.
(END OF SERIES CAST-RANKING BEGINS SOON!)