Even more of a shambles than the real Tea Party.
6am and the hideous whirring nightmarish clanking of The Apprentiphone rings through the house, sounding like someone’s violating an anthropomorphic milk bottle. Steven makes an early dash, and becomes the first boy to win a point in this year’s Junior Apprentice Phone-Answering Wars, settling the scores at
Lucy Beauvallet : 1
Navdeep : 1
Steven : 1
Sundry Idiots, Losers, and Microphone Abusers : 0
Still all to play for though. And of course, literally NOTHING to play for as well.
The disembodied voice tells Steven that Lordalan wants to meet them at the Cutty Sark, and the cars will be arriving in 15 minutes. 15 MINUTES! How is Patrick supposed to put together a fashion-forward yet still businesslike ensemble in 15 MINUTES?! I really don’t understand how he continues to survive under these awful conditions, I really can’t. Anyway, Steven rushes to the girls bedroom first, where he announces that Lordalan wants to meet them at “Cutty Sark”. Lucy Beauvallet very sweetly tells him that he must be pronouncing it wrong. Say it again, but with proper vowel sounds. Steven just shrugs and runs off to tell the boys. Commoner dispatched, Lucy Beauvallet adds another layer of hairpsray to her mane, whilst Maria expresses confusion through a mouth full of electric toothbrush. The guttural noises and white foamy spray rather give the impression that she’s got rabies which, let’s face it, would probably be a step up, coherence and temperament wise.
The boys however, are seemingly happy to take Steven’s instructions on trust, and get back to the important business of the day – standing back and warming their hands as David constructs an ever bigger martyr bonfire. He’s been on the losing team EVERY time now. He just wants ONE TREAT! ONE! BEFORE HE DIES, JUST THE SWEET TASTE OF ONE GO-KARTING ADVENTURE DAY OR TRIP TO LONDON’S ONLY VEGAN DAY-SPA!
Everyone enters the Apprenticars, as they speed off to the Cutty Sark. Didn’t that burn down last time the show went there? This is rather tempting fate isn’t it? Although not nearly tempting fate as much as Alice is, as she announces in the Wetsuit Kimono Aprenticar that she personally has won every single task so far and is amazing and she just doesn’t want to lose. Maria then crows that they just need to all work together as a team, as that’s been how she’s achieved all her amazing success in the show thus far. TEAMWORK! In the middle, Andrew scratches at an eye-booger.
The teams arrive, as Helpful Voiceover Man bllows that the Cutty Sark is a MAJAH tourist attraction, or it is now they’ve scraped the ash off, because it’s one of the fastest sail-powered trading ships EVER BUILT. Wow, I bet all the tourists that flock to it are…really interesting. No, they ARE. As Lordalan arrives we get our first glimpse of this week’s Patrick Ensemble. It’s a white blouse, blue paisley chinos, with his hair styled into a Vienetta fringe. This is why you give these people more than 15 minutes to get ready. It’s a tragedy. Lordalan tells them all that they’re currently stood under the “famous Cutty Sark”. Not so famous that any of the candidates had heard of it, what did it used to import? Martha & The Vandellas drums? Said ship was, according to Lordalan constructed in the nineteenth century “to race tea from China to London”. I wonder how many times tea won?
He goes on to tell the teams that the ship has recently had a £50,000,000 revamp (*cough*) after Jadine burnt it down because of her period or missing her kids or sumfin blahddy woman (*cough*) and for this week’s task he wants the candidates to do their own revamp, at Blenheim Palace. But not with £50,000,000. Probably. No matter how hard Andrew might try. He wants them to revamp “afternoon tea” and preferably make as much profit as possible whilst doing so. Because if you don’t make a profit then, regretfully, you will be fired. How many times has Lordalan said “regretfully” this series? I feel it’s lost all of the meaning it never had in the first place.
Oh, and because he hasn’t jammed his sticky fingers in enough pies this series, Lordalan has decided that David is going to be Project Manager of Platinum, and Alice is going to do the same for Wetsuit Kimono. David nods solemnly, Alice bobs her head up and down beaming. TEA PARTIES! SUCH FUN! Just like one of her candlelit suppers back at the farm. Except without the chickens shitting everywhere. Hopefully.
Helpful Voiceover Man tells us that “afternoon tea is sweepnig back into fashion across Britain”. That this show doesn’t somehow try to ham-fistedly link this to the Great British Bake-Off is a crying shame. I wanted Mary Berry as Special Guest Judge and the teams to be marked solely on the quality of their iced buns. Lucy Beauvallet would have DESTROYED everyone. She bakes, you know? He tells us also that, in order to truly revamp the British “afternoon tea”, both teams will need a theme. Also because it’s in the rules.
In the hold of the Cutty Sark, Alice is leading her team in a brainstorm. By which I mean she’s telling them they’re doing 1940s BRITISH VINTAGE HERITAGE BULLDOG SPIRIT RAH RAH RAH, because Alice is a bit like a lightning bolt hit the nicer end of the Daily Express and made it come to life, and they can all like it or lump it. Maria OF COURSE doesn’t like, but she says she obviously wouldn’t appreciate a vintage theme because she’s only 17. Navdeep then points out that most of the people who will be at Blenheim Palace will in fact be a bit older than that, and Maria decides that they also won’t like vintage because they ARE vintage, so it won’t be vintage to them, it will just be NORMAL to have her and Navdeep swanning around as saucy WAFs whilst Patrick plays the piano and sings “Mad Dogs And Englishmen”. THAT’S JUST WEDNESDAY TO THEM.
Everyone, thankfully, ignores Maria’s blatantly self-contradictory disagreeing with everything just for the sake of it, and Alice asks if anyone can think of any FUN NAMES for their tea party. Andrew suggests “Tea With Elizabeth” and then Maria ponders who was queen in the 1940s. Nobody knows. I think it was Helena Bonham Carter wasn’t it?
Meanwhile, over on Platinum, they’re sat on the prow, and here is his direction to his team.
“We should give them a twist and something that could possibly excite…them”
WHAT A LEADER! Fortunately, somehow, out of his own blank brain he pulls “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” and Lucy Beauvallet grins in endorsement. She goes on to ask if they should do high-end products or “cheap and fun”. Guess who has an opinion on this? That’s right, ASHLEIGH! She thinks they should “keep us costs down because it is a task you win on profit”. She suggests they go to a cash-and-carry for the tea and the local supermarket for sandwich fillings. Where are they going to get the china from, the bin round the back of Argos? Kaen, looking particularly windswept, huffs that people go to Blenheim Palace expecting QUALITY, not cheap barely edible tat. Don’t worry Kaen, the bit where you make them sign a release form saying they’re going to appear on The Junior Apprentice should clue them in…
Back on Wetsuit Kimono, Alice is preparing to split her team up for the market reserch portion of the task. She wants Navdeep, Maria and Andrew to hit the streets and quiz people about what things they view to be inherently British. Navdeep asks Alice if she means food, or landmarks, or celebrities, or sexual positions, or what? Alice replies “drinks, food…sort of things like that”. Andrew asks if she wants them to find anything else out? Their target market, pricing, you know, everything? Alice says sure, why not? Then she gets herself into a Battle Of Britain flap and says that she knows that she doesn’t have to say this, BUT SHE’S GOING TO ANYWAY! She thinks that if they really work together as a team, they could really win this task! At this stirring speech, Maria rolls her eyes, Patrick chews his lips, and Andrew just…stares. Alice interviews that she knows her team’s a bunch of bitches, but she thinks she can handle them.
Helpful Voiceover Man informs us that the teams will be split as follows – one half of the team will be doing intense market research with the British Public, whilst the other half will spend the tea sampling and buying tea and sandwiches. Guess which half of each divide both Project Managers have placed themselves? Well done, you are right. In a shopping centre, Lucy Beauvallet (accompanied by Steven) very brightly quizzes people as to whether they’d eat brightly coloured food, or whether they’d find it disgusting. Most people seem happy to eat whatever Lucy Beauvallet offers to them. So to speak.
By contrast, the marketeers of Wetsuit Kimono are still in their Apprenticar. Andrew tries to get the team to decide on some sort of direction to aim their questioning in, and Maria says that she thinks THEY all know what they’re trying to find out, BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT FOUR, but she’d just like to say that she doesn’t think Alice led them very well in that direction. THANKS MARIA! You’ll notice that she doesn’t actually say what that direction is. Because she doesn’t know. Cut to Navdeep very brightly asking people what things they think are inherently British (Union Jacks, red phone boxes, Cheryl Baker, repressed homosexuality…) whilst Maria…I dunno goes around asking them how much they think Alice sucks or something. With one poor woman, Navdeep rather hilariously says “right, I’ve done you” once she’s finished. Right to her face. Oh Navdeep.
Andrew meanwhile is trying to get people to say what they’d pay for a high-class afternoon tea. People are saying £20-£30. These people mostly appear to be wearing suits and ties and carrying briefcases. Just sayin’. Navdeep reports back that the prices she got told ranged more at about the £10 point. She then points out that, of course, they have no menu to show these people so it’s all just hot air. Maria stands and chews her pen, furiously. She then interviews that this subteam is a total shambles because Alice didn’t give them proper direction at the start of the day. So much for NOT BEING FOUR.
Meanwhile, Alice and Patrick drink tea at the Savoy. It involves posset and Patrick looking smugger than any human has a right to look. Alice suggests they try to aim for this standard with their afternoon tea. Yeah, good luck with that. Nick whines in interview that Alice shouldn’t be aiming for luxury given that her brand is focused on a time of rationing and austerity. Yes, because the people who go to Blenheim are really going to let facts get in the way of their dress-up nostalgia porn. That’s why everyone stopped watching Downton Abbey when, instead of turning him into the police, Lord and Lady Grantham celebrated Thomas The Valet’s penchant for buggery by leading the entire downstairs staff in three choruses of “Born This Way”.
At this point, Navdeep decides the Wetsuit Kimono sub-team need to ring Alice to let them know the results of their market research (such as it is). Alice tells them to bugger off, because she’s halfway through an Earl Grey macaroon, and sends the phone straight to voicemail.
David & Ashleigh meanwhile are also in the middle of their product-sampling session for Platinum. Which is to say that they’re running around Tesco Metro hurling reduced half-cucumbers into a trolley with their forearms. Ashleigh is, you’ll be unsurprised to hear, doing everything. From setting the budget to designing the products (including jam & cheese sandwiches OH MY GOD HOW MENTAL!) to picking out the table decorations. And she’s GOING CHEAP. Ashleigh interviews that David is willing to listen to what she says, which is good for her, but she thinks as a Project Manager he needs to be a bit…firmer. By which she means corporeal. David interviews for his part that Ashleigh is a tragic old spinster who lives by herself so she’s MADE for this task, so he’s just letting her do it all. Also, entirely coincidentally, she’s convincingly won as Project Manager already, whereas he has as much chance of doing so as winning Miss Lesbian Pontefract.
We then get my favourite scene of the episode, which features David & Ashleigh in the back of a taxi and goes like this :
“Ha’ wi set t’budget yet? What should t’price per head be?”
“Do we think £7.99 per person, or maybe £6.99 per person?”
“Because I don’t want the other team t’ be round’t corner and be that much cheaper that everyone goes there instead.”
“I think £6.50 would be enough profit for me!”
“So you make t’decision then.”
“Beep beep beep” (WTF?!)
“£6.50 or £7.00, it’s your decision?”
“That’s totally understandable, if you think £7.00, that’s fine”.
Back on Wetsuit Kimono, and it’s time for Alice to turn her phone back on, although not before a round of her and Patrick agreeing that they DEFINITELY shouldn’t tell the other team they spent the entire day munching scones that were DELICIOUS BY THE WAY. Unsurprisingly, when he picks up, Andrew is PISSED and deadpans that he’s been trying to get hold of her all afternoon. Alice’s excuse? “No, it’s fine, we’ve only just got it”. Nice try… Alice then asks if everyone’s happy, and Maria and Navdeep both chime “NO!”. Alice huffs that they were trying to interrupt her “in the middle of her market research” (LOL!) but “it’s a minor issue that we’re going to get over”. I’m so sure. Maria snatches the phone off Andrew and yells “WE’RE NOT ANNOYED!”. Clearly here for the treats and nothing else at this point, Patrick rolls his eyes and says “ok then” and clutches his notepad. There are two words written on it. SUCH MARKET RESEARCH THEY WERE DOING IN THERE! Maria interviews that Alice is annoying and unprofessional and “stupit” and the devil’s own bastard spawn etc etc.
2pm now, and we cut in to Lucy Beauvallet and Steven making their team’s cakes. Lucy Beauvallet of course turns out perfect pastries and individual cupcakes every time, whilst Steven can just about hold the icing bag. Lucy Beauvallet breaks off an impeccable pipe to grin that she’s HAD A BRAINWAVE! COLOURED SCORED! SHE’S THINKING GREEN AND PINK, WHAT DOES STEVEN THINK? Steven suggests “black” and Lucy Beauvallet slaps his wrist and tells him that simply nobody eats black scones, don’t be silly. Lucy Beauvallet : Food Racist. Lucy Beauvallet then turns her attention back to making adorable perfect little toadstools out of marzipan and diced candied apricots. She interviews that she’s really loving letting her creative side out, creating vibrant and colourful treats to match their wonderful theme. I love her so much.
Sadly, we must return to the basket case that is Platinum, as Andrew asks what sort of “quality range” Alice wants with the cakes they’re about to make. Like the “range” is going to be anything other than from “soggy” to “wormy”. Alice says that she wants twists to inspire peoples imaginations. Navdeep then leans over, so over this day already, and asks Alice to clarify how much they want them to spend making the cakes, and Alice tells them that she wants the cakes to “ooze class”. Do we think, if she really tried, Alice could stop talking like a Waitrose advert? This week? She keeps on rattling on about innovation and putting a twist on things whilst retaining their inherent Britishness and of course, utterly ignores the point. Everyone on the subteam just says “yes, sure”, quite happy to let her bury herself in her own Heston’s Blueberry & Tobasco Hot Cross Buns.
Next, Alice and Patrick drink some more tea. And that’s all she wrote for that scene.
Her subteam meanwhile, get on with the tricky business of baking. Andrew debates between pearls and edible glitter, and Navdeep points out that “edible glitter” isn’t very 1940s, although it’s not as though they have any idea what they’re doing anyway. Maybe an Earl Grey cake? Andrew tries to ring Alice for clarification. Alice has turned her phone off again. Maria has a stress-related stroke.
Several eons later, as Maria debates whether the pink she’s frosting her chocolate logs with is red enough to convey Britishness (no, because it’s pink), Alice decides that she might as well call Andrew back. He asks her what sort of price she was thinking of for the menu, and Alcie mercifully, finally, has a straight answer to something. She says £12 per person, with concessions. Andrew and Maria then chime in that they were thinking £16 per person would be better, and then Maria and Patrick both chide them for being “greedy”. Yes, that’s a sensible crit ON THE APPRENTICE! Maria huffs that in the market research people said that they pay TWENTY FIVE POUNDS, and Alice says that she’ll meet in the middle, at £15 (not the middle, not at all the middle) but she wants concessions to pay £8. Maria then starts screaming her head off about…something. I’m close to just playing K-Pop over the top of her at this point. Alice then bumps the concessions price up to £12, and then Andrew drones that old people shouldn’t get away with paying less just for being old and Maria just snits until she raises this to £13. Patrick sighs that this is too much, and Alice reassures him that they can always lower it later in the day if it’s not working.
Navdeep interviews that Alice didn’t listen to her team’s market research (which she said herself was a load of bollocks) and if there’s a problem with the pricing it will be all Alice’s fault. I like you Navdeep, generally, but…
Meanwhile, over on Platinum, Lucy Beauvallet is giving Steven a dainty high-five, and David is crowing that everything has gone really well today and he’s so proud of his team, for how they’ve utterly ignored him except when they needed him to rubber-stamp things. It’s the platonic IDEAL of an Apprentice team isn’t it?
Next morning now, and it’s 7am. The teams are on their way to Blenheim Palace, which the editors introduce with such a ridiculously over the top fanfare that I swear an Indiana Jones movie is about to break out. Patrick’s Blenheim ensemble? Blue and grey-accented jumper, grey trousers, white shirt with gold-leaf piping and cobalt tie, hair in the style of Tintin. So he’s dressing up for the occasion. Speaking of Mary Berry as I was earlier in the recap, Maria appears to be wearing one of her jumpsuits fashioned into a waistcoat. And that’s the fashion report for this recap!
Maria beams about how posh Blenheim is, as they pull up to the gates, whilst David tells Ashleigh that it could be them living there one day. Presumably…not at the same time. You’d hope. Helpful Voiceover Man clarifies that the teams have all of the morning to prepare, so that their tea services are ready the second the clock strikes noon (*snorfle*). Both teams have two tents, one for prep and one for serving. I’m guessing, in order to further David’s hack-fisted “Redemption Arc” his tents are right by the main entrance, whilst Wetsuit Kimono find themselves in the woods near the bogs.
Both teams set about preparing their tents with the appropriate decor and getting themselves into “appropriate costumes”. For Platinum, this means lots of checkerboard effects, and the team dressed as Mad Hatters and White Rabbits. For Wetsuit Kimono, this means lots of colonial wicker-work, pot-plants, and the girls dressed up as The Puppini Sisters. Alice SIEZES this opportunity to act like she’s on The Restaurant, lecturing her wait-staff about clearing tables, tucking tablecloths and making sure everyone’s tilting their pinkies at the right angle as they sip their lapsnog shoedog. There’s a Poirot where (SPOILERS!) the murderer brutally butchers her employer with a hatchet because (in some typically convoluted fashion) her dying means that she inherits the money to run a tea-shop. That’s who Alice is channelling this very second. She interviews that she intends to be MUCH MORE IN CONTROL today than she was yesterday. I love how she thinks she is mirroring Lucy Beauvallet’s PM performance, when of course the crucial difference is that Lucy Beauvallet rocks and Alice can in no way compete with her cape-wearing, breathy-voiced, perfect baking, background-lurking charms.
2pm now, and it’s time for tea. Lengthy queues have formed outside both tents. Wetsuit Kimono, under Alice’s nigh-on fascistic overlording of teacups, are ready to greet them. Their menu includes the words “elderflower”, “lemon drizzle”, “infused”, “poppy seed” and “traditional”. (Also “may contain nuts” LOL). Again, I wonder if Alice’s market-research wasn’t just parking herself in the Food To Go aisle at Hammersmith Waitrose. Navdeep greets her first order by telling her customers “ok, that’s fine” when they’ve finished asking for green tea. Such a born front-of-house. She rushed back to Andrew with the order, and apparently his command of the kitchens is as magisterial as Alice’s of the front-of-house, except with the added bonus that nobody’s calling him the Cake Nazi. Probably. All is going well for Wetsuit Kimono, a fact merrily relayed by Alice in interview. We see money FLYING into the tills and cakes FLYING out of the kitchen tent. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?
Over on Platinum…nothing. David is wandering around outside aimlessly, talking to the public with all the natural charm and charisma of Nadine Dorries. Lucy Beauvallet is shoving giant props around outside. Steven has set all the tables…apart from the knives. Ashleigh is buried somewhere in the kitchen, on her own. In one particular gruesome moment of public interaction, Steven yells at David to pull people in, and David sasses in character as The Mad Hatter to an elderly couple. His idea of acting appears to be putting his hands on his hips and…swishing. For some reason the couple enter and peruse the menu.
I cannot sum up the Platinum menu better than to say that it begins with the heading “Something Moist” and this is referring to tea. Yes, they are serving up “moist tea”. I CAN’T WAIT!
David wanders off to the kitchen to ask Ashleigh what to do next, and then Steven sits another couple right next to them and asks for their tea orders. The elderly couple pipe up that they haven’t had their orders taken yet, as Ashleigh vainly jabs at the remote in the kitchen to try to make David function. Steven, incidentally, is dressed as the bottom half of a White Rabbit as he takes orders. It is in no way an insult to Steven to suggest that this is a look that does not suit him, and his gangly, awkward, spottiness.
Steven rushes into the kitchen at this point, holding the orders of four people in his head all at once, desperate for someone to take them off him before he forgets them. Lucy Beauvallet protests that THEY’RE NOT READY FOR PEOPLE YET (so much communication going on on this team) and David tells Steven to write the orders down in the book. Steven doesn’t know they have a book. Steven rushes off to find the book. Amidst the chaos, Lucy Beauvallet interviews that it really would have helped if they’d had a Project Manager for this task, but apparently not. Of course she says it in a much more polite manner than me, because she’s Lucy Beauvallet.
Back in the kitchen, something’s gone awry, and Steven tells Ashleigh to go ask David what to do. Ashleigh crows that she’s not going to David for anything, cause he’s crap, and she’s all but had to tell him to dress himself for the past two days. Lucy Beauvallet, desperate for structure, decides that she’s just going to pretend Ashleigh is Project Manager, and asks her what to do. David then walks in, and blithely says “so everyone knows what they’re doing?”. His team then kill and eat him.
Kaen interviews that “inside the kitchen, there are four candidates, all over each other”. She’s been at the wine then. With her best poo-face on, she surveys a long line of potential customers, all snaking away from the tent, with nobody to bring them inside. Luckily for them.
Back with Wetsuit Kimono now, and things are going strong. Alice smiles to some more saps that the team’s cakes are “traditional English cakes with a bit of a twist, because we are in the 21st century”. SHH, ALICE, DON’T SPOIL IT FOR THEM! Unfortunately, the first cracks are starting to appear in the team’s armour, as we see a procession of people tutting at their high-prices, all culminated in one family ACTUALLY WALKING AWAY. I’m surprised Alice doesn’t chase after them with a (Waitrose) butter-knife. Inside, Patrick moots the idea of lowering the price, and Alice and Andrew decide between them that people don’t really care, so they’ll just keep it as is. Alice says this despite being apparently fully aware that people are walking away because of them. Just saying.
A while later now, back with Platinum, and finally they’ve started letting people in, and their tent is full. Nobody’s getting any food mind, but the tent certainly is full. David bounds into the kitchen, having had a brainwave. Let’s throw some blankets down on the ground outside the tent, so people can sit on them not getting any food there either! Steven proclaims this to be a great idea. I guess they’re at least giving them something to do, even if it is sitting on the floor. David runs around, spreading blankets about and comes back with an order. Which he announces thusly : “this is for the BLONDE mum with the two kids who are BLONDE”. David is so odd this episode. Steven says he doesn’t care if they’re blonde, brunette, or Melissa Cohen magic-hair coloured, he just wants to get everyone served. David explains that he’s serving the people outside, and Steven’s serving the people inside. To which Steven’s all “OH AM I? THANKS FOR CLUEING ME IN, GENIUS!”. David apologises for not telling Steven this earlier, and Kaen interviews again, pondering just how one person can fail their Redemption Arc so thoroughly.
Still, Platinum’s theme certainly is pulling people in, as they have now run out of placings, cutlery, and most importantly teacups to serve people with, so backed up with customers are they. Ashleigh pulls David to one side, to explain to him very slowly that they at least have to make the pretence that they’re going to serve people some food after they’ve sat them down and taken their money. David makes out like he understands, then charges around outside, making people drink out of bowls, soup ladles, and their own shoes. Eventually, the backlog starts to catch up with the team, as complaints slowly start to trickle in, and people wander off, dissatisfied. Somewhere up on her cloud, Yasmina – Goddess Most High Of Catering Tasks – wonders how this even made the edit it is so irrelevant. People complaining about the food? TOUGH SHIT, THEY’VE ALREADY PAID FOR IT!
Back on Wetsuit Kimono however, things have dried up. Their tent is now being patronised by one middle-aged couple, wearing canary yellow, sipping sadly at their tea. Compare this to the Platinum tent, which practically has its own cardboard box barrios at this point. Saddened by the lack of devotees at her middle-class Mecca, Alice makes the considered decision to send Maria and Navdeep off to the nearest train station, to drum up custom, in the best traditions of the slutty WAG. Given that the nearest train station to Blenheim Palace is 8 miles away, I don’t think Alice has really thought this one through. Indeed, Navdeep and Maria wander off, hit the nearest tree, and then meander aimlessly for the rest of the task.
Back at the tent, nothing is happening. Patrick washes a plate, sadly. Andrew mutters to himself about what great work he’s sure Maria and “Nav” are doing driving custom (amongst squirrels?). Alice says, as she was bound to at some point, that she’s glad that the weather’s at least been nice.
We’re getting towards the end of the day now, and only at this point are all the layers of David’s theme showing themselves, as we see everyone dismissing everything awful about the Platinum team’s effort as just being because it is the MAD HATTER’S TEA PARTY after all. The lack of cutlery, the bizarre flavour combinations, the gawky teenage boy skulking around with his bony arse hanging out the back of a rabbit costume. It just all makes SENSE! It’s supposed to be chaotic, incoherent and annoying! IT’S BY LEWIS CARROLL! For their part, the team do finally seem to have got their act together. Outside, Kaen does her best Lady Of The Manor act, chatting with the commoners about what a lovely “diversion” this whole event was, and making out that she personally is Lady Blenheim. David for his part interviews that things were “a bit haywire” to begin with as there were too many people coming in, but finally things have settled down and people are enjoying themselves.
I’d say that David was MENTAL in that their initial problem was that they weren’t letting ANYBODY in at all, but then I wonder if his perception is in fact accurate, and that whole “CHAOS AT PLATINUM” section lasted in reality exactly the 5 minutes it did on the show. Eh…it’s probably a little of both.
At this point, Navdeep and Maria finally have found their way back to the Wetsuit Kimono tent, and Alice has made the BOLD DECISION TO SLASH TO PRICES! TO WHAT THE OTHER TEAM ARE CHARGING! LET’S GO GIRLS! She dispatches everyone with leaflets , including Patrick, who has been persuaded into a soldier’s uniform that is infinity sizes too big for him. You can just tell that he’s dying inside. THEY HAVEN’T EVEN ALLOWED HIM TO ACCESSORISE! Their efforts (and by “their” I mean Navdeep’s) appear to snag about…five customers.
Well they’ve won then.
TEA PARTYING ENDS!
Everything done, and takings in, and Ashleigh interviews that she thinks that the team’s “Mad Hatter” theme really went down well, but David let them all down with his complete lack of ability to organise anybody other than himself. And even that only fitfully. David for his part interviews that he doesn’t feel like he earned the respect of his team today, but it’s only because NONE OF THEM UNDERSTOOD THE PRESSURE HE WAS UNDER, IT WAS SO HARD. Because you know…it’s not as though they’ve all been Project Manager themselves or anything. On the other hand it’s all smiles over on Wetsuit Kimono, as Andrew is sure their massive profit margin will have brought home the victory, and Alice is just so proud of how everyone pulled together and tried Even Maria’s happy. She beams that there were no conflicts on the team, which is quite something given that she was on it. Well, glad to see that she’s self-aware. To a degree. A very small degree.
We’re straight into the boardroom now, with the soundtrack sounding like someone dropped a badger inside a piano lid. DRAMATIC! Maria is already squinting with rage during the “good morning Lordalan, good morning everybody!” bit. Such a joy that one.
Our first question, because let’s face it, you couldn’t wait either if you were Lordalan, is to ask David exactly what it is he did as Platinum Boss. He explains the theme, and then Lordalan snarks that Platinum’s theme may have been based on Alice In Wonderland, but Alice was actually in Wetsuit Kimono. Is that some sort of American McGee deal? David goes on to say that he thinks their idea was very exciting and drew people in. That and their lovely moist tea presumably. Lordalan then goes on to ask the price and David…doesn’t seem to remember. Ashleigh jumps in to say that David decided on £6/£7 and it was the first decision he made all day, so she thought “why not?”. She explains that it was over a 200% mark-up and Lordalan yells “WELL OW DO YOO KNOW THAT?” and Ashleigh’s all “erm…I did the sums and stuff?”
Next we cover the team’s product range, and Lordalan of course pulls a funny face at the idea of “cheese and jam”. Yes, that noted weird combination of cheese and fruit. He goes on to hoot that maybe they thought CHEESE AND HAM and just got CONFOOSED. This is then followed by possibly the worst attempt at a Lordalanism yet – “WHAT DO YOU THINK A BLT IS MADE OF? BACON AND………………TUNA?”. Ashleigh protests that cheese and jam is like cheese and cranberry, but a bit sweeter. Don’t justify yourself to that Ashleigh, it’s not worth it.
Lordalan then asks Lucy Beauvallet and Steven what they did, and Lucy Beauvallet that she spent the day baking amazing cakes. Cakes which Kaen then shoves under Lordalan’s nose for his approval, whilst Lucy Beauvallet simpers “thank you”. I hope her winning business plan is for a bakery. I hope it’s a little bit more involved than Helen’s bakery was.
Next to be covered is the utter shambles that was the Platinum tent on the afternoon of the second day. Lordalan says he hears from Kaen that it was like a CHIMP’S TEA PARTY rather than a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. OMG HE JUST CALLED DAVID A CHIMP, RING OFCOM! David tries to explain this away as just being due to the huge volume of footfall they had, but Ashleigh jumps in to say that it was entirely down to David’s awful leadership. She, Lucy Beauvallet and Steven all had to tell him what to do all day. Lordalan then asks David if Ashleigh is right, and that he lost control, and David just tries to blame it on the amount of customers they got again. And then on the kitchen team. And then on how he has been in the boardroom three times and everyone is picking on him including God, probably. Ashleigh of course continues to kick him up and down the street, right through Lordalan asking “good team leader?” to which she just huffs and rolls her eyes. Lucy Beauvallet tries to stick up for David a bit, knowing what it’s like to be on the receiving end of Ashleigh’s righteous fury, but it’s not very convincing.
Over to Wetsuit Kimono now, and Alice is asked “what happened”. Alice replies that she chose the 1940s for her theme, because she knew that they were in the birthplace of Churchill. They were just going to replace “rations” with “quality products”. Lordalan gets her to clarify that she went for the “quality” angle compared to Platinum’s “pile it high and sell it cheap” approach. Platinum sit back and smile the smug smiles of people who know what that means on this show.
“Good team leader?” gets an endorsement from Patrick of her organisational skills on the second day, and the same from Maria with added “she was crap on the first day though” because heaven forbid Maria give anybody unambiguous praise for anything, or at the very least make her agenda clear by omission like Patrick did. Lordalan guffaws that he was worried sending Maria out on this task given her “bull in a china shop” approach and then gets all the team to sign on to the fact that she behaved this week, like they’re The Babysitters Club rather than her rivals in a notionally business-oriented show.
The pricing is covered next, and Lordalan splutters in disbelief that anybody would charge £16 for afternoon tea, especially with a Blitz Spirit theme. He’d pay £1.99 and get a discount for bring his own special Lordalan mug with his face on and a fax machine attached that goes “YERRRFIRED” when you hit “send”.
Wetsuit Kimono spent £284 and took £375 for a profit of £91
Platinum spent £158 and took £474 for a profit of £316
PLATINUM WIN! I guess Lucy Beauvallet finally won that baking face-off with Alice she’s been angling for from the beginning. And now Alice should NEVER DARKEN THE DOORS OF WINCHESTER WI EVER AGAIN. David is told he should thank Ashleigh & Lucy Beauvallet for that win, because it clearly had sod all to do with him. Their treat is go and swim with sharks at a London aquarium. Hilariously David completely ignores this Patrick-style marking with the black spot to just jump up and down giggling about how he’s FINALLY GETTING A TREAT! Yeah, a crap one.
Wetsuit Kimono on the other hand are told that their next tea party is going to be at Loser Cafe, where they can all talk amongst themselves about what went wrong. Oddly, he doesn’t start yelling about how AT LEAST ONE OF THEM should be fired, despite the fact that they got utterly tonked. I guess if it’s not his beloved Ten Items task it doesn’t rile him so much.
Platinum are arriving at the Sealife Centre, ready for their fishy reward. This all brings back fond memories of the Apprentice USA when Brent (aka the worst human being to be on this show ever, and I’m including both Omarosa and Jenny Celery in that) got this reward and his entire team sat around fantasising about him getting bitten in half. Fortunately, the candidates aren’t going to ACTUALLY swim with sharks, they’re just going to descend into a little cage which sharks swim around about 50 ft away from. Fortunately for the sharks that is, because we all know who would win in a battle between them and Ashleigh, strong proud NORFERN woman as she is. Outside, Steven and Ashleigh both interview that David got really lucky this week, and should be thanking them all profusely for giving him the win. David meanwhile just giggles happily about how amazing it is to swim with sharks, and he never thought he’d have the opportunity and he’s SO HAPPY.
How many of the candidates do you think are just on the show for the treats at this point? To be fair, it’s the only reason I’d be there/ We close with David giving a very enthusiastic thumbs-up to the camera, bless him.
At Loser Cafe, we cut straight from our “swimming with sharks” reward to a shot of Maria’s face, because let’s face it, this show has never gone out of its way to AVOID facilitating the audience all yelling the easy jokes in unison. Silence reigns, until Navdeep decides to bring up the confusion over the theme. Apparently she’s going to argue that the team didn’t know whether they were supposed to go “with a twist” or to just keep it 100% traditional, which I think is…the one thing Alice was clear on the entire first day, so well done Navdeep. Maria of course yells that she agrees, and then interviews that she wouldn’t like to be in Alice’s position right now. Yes…we can tell from how assiduously you’ve avoided volunteering for it.
Back in the room, Alice says “traditional WITH A TWIST” about a billion times, and Andrew, Alice and Navdeep all guffaw like this is a real odd alien confusing concept. I think they’re trying a mite too hard with this crap. Alice for her part says that she’s finding it really hard to single anybody out for blame given that they all tried SO HARD and that the other team got lucky given the fact that David seemed determined to turn his tea party into Gallipoli. Oh Alice, wisen up to all the knives hurtling towards you and get ready for war. Anthea Turner grinning isn’t going to save you now.
Into the final boardroom they all troop. I really think they should break all the rules and let Patrick break continuity with his Boardroom outfits. It’s really all he’s good for at this point, bar the odd Eeyoreish aside, and let’s face it, we’d all believe that he got changed between being fired and getting in the Cab Of Shame.
Lordalan starts by saying that he hopes that the team’s discussion in Loser Cafe focused mainly around their spending and costing. For example they spent £100 more on cakes and cake decoration than the other team, and yet churned out a worse product. Andrew in particular is given a roasting for this, given that apparently this is his area of expertise. Yes, “International Catering Magnate”, or whatever his chyron reads, is actually short-hand for “makes his own desserts in a pub kitchen”. Andrew protests that he was just fitting the brief that Alice gave them. Alice then returns to the fact that her brief was “iconic food with a twist”, apparently ignoring the part where Lordalan’s just asked them to focus on their BUDGET, not Alice’s Good Food Magazine “Theme Of The Week”. Maria screws up her face and she, Navdeep and Andrew all gang up to say that this was never really communicated properly to them. Alice flips her hair around like Farrah Fawcett at Wimbledon, addressing everybody at once, explaining her blessed theme for the 50th time this episode. Patrick meanwhile just sits there trying to make himself look as invisible as a man in a blue blazer with black sparkly piping can look.
Lordalan next asks them, trying to drag the conversation back to the world of the concrete, if they thinks they might have sold more if they’d lowered their price. Alice says no, and then Lordalan asks her why she did it on the day then? Alice says that it was just because there were so few people there at that point, and they were guessing desperate. Lordalan asks if anybody bought at this price point, and Alice says they did. Maria then of course sniffs the bait and LAUNCHES herself at it, snapping at Alice that she’s contradicting herself then because SHE JUST SAID THEY WOULDN’T HAVE GOT ANY MORE CUSTOM AT THE LOWER PRICE POINT AND YET SHE JUST SAID THAT PEOPLE BOUGHT AT THE LOWER PRICE POINT. Her logic is, as ever, impeccable. Lordalan of course is on Maria’s side, because that’s why he threw the chum in the tank in the first place. He thinks they should have dropped the price earlier. Maria nods her head merrily at this, because she is awful.
Alice, hair already frazzled out to Dixie at this point points out that Maria was the one who argued her UP to their price-point of £16 in the first place. She wanted to start at £12. Nick sidles in on Alice’s behalf, because for once his occasional random vitriolic hatred for attractive blonde female candidates is being pointed in the right direction, and singles out Patrick for praise for pushing a low price point from the off and sticking to it throughout the two days. Maria then starts yelling that their team wouldn’t have been able to AFFORD charging less than £16 all day given how much they’d spent. Given that you only spent £120 more (and pretty much ALL of that difference was on cakes that you personally helped turn out shit Maria), I’m not sure that’s true. Why am I not surprised that Maria can’t conceive of meeting in the middle? At, you know, the price-point Alice suggested in the first place.
Lordalan says he thinks he’s clueing in to what went wrong here, and turns to Navdeep to ask her opinion on who should be fired, CLEARLY thinking he’s not going to get to ask her this later, and Navdeep replies that Alice should be fired because her communication skills were poor, particularly on the first day. Of course, Maria can’t have someone bleating at the Project Manager without swinging in herself so she brings up how Alice had her phone off all day. Lordalan then says that it’s perfectly understandable for a Project Manager to turn off their phone if they’re in the middle of an important meeting (/scoffing fondant fancies) but he does wonder why Alice never called her team back? Alice says she did as soon as possible. All those times she turned her phone off. And besides she thinks she was perfectly clear during her first briefing of the day, so she didn’t feel the need to have to explain herself over and over again.
Lordalan then launches into an extended riff about how their FEEM may have been the 1940s but they weren’t ACTUALLY in the 1940s because they could have used their MOBILE PHONES and not use MORSE CODE and so on and so on. Alice at this point cops to being rubbish on the first day, but she thinks she really improved and learned on the second day, when she was stuck in a tent with Maria and couldn’t just ignore her. Andrew says he agrees, and then Alice continues, saying that she clearly did a much better job of organising the kitchen and front-of-house than David did.
Time now for her to decide who she wants to bring back into the boardroom, and she selects Maria and Navdeep. Eh, it should be Maria & Andrew really, or at least Maria & Patrick if you want the maximum chance of survival given that Lordalan clearly wants him gone, but Navdeep’s been depressing all week, so why not? Of course, of the two, it’s Maria who has to object, putting on a fake confused face, asking WHY she’s been selected, it’s just so CONFOOSING Lordalan. Seriously she is just ACHING for one of these. ACHING.
Candidates go out, Kaen tuts and shakes her head, saying it’s so sad that the young contestant keep choosing their boardroom picks on who they’re friends with RATHER THAN ON MERIT LIKE THE ADULTS DO, I pour myself another drink, and candidates come back in again.
Alice is asked, first of all, why Maria has been brought back into the boardroom. She explains that it’s because Maria really pushed for the high prices which Lordalan has identified as their weakness. Maria sneers that her entire subteam pushed for higher prices. Yes, and two of the three of you are there in the final boardroom so…what’s your point? Alice says that this illustrates her point – they all wanted higher prices, but it was Maria who pushed it to the next level of naggery. Alice then goes on to say Maria is “a lovely girl” (*bleck*) at the house, but on tasks she’s impossible to work with. Maria of course sits there shaking her head and scrunching her face up throughout. Lordalan clarifies that Alice has brought Maria back because she was constantly pushing for higher prices, and Alice says yes, and on another note, she was a really poor saleswoman.
Maria gasps in amazement, then tells Alice that she thinks that SHE’S a poor saleswoman, ACTUALLY, so P’NEURR. Alice replies, calmly, that she was too busy organising the kitchen and front-of-house to really get her teeth into sales as much as she would have liked. Maria, in response to this hideous full-frontal assault on her integrity, asks Lordalan if she can have a moment to calm down and breathe, otherwise she is going to get VERY ANGRY, like she’s The Incredible Hulk or something. Alice is LYING and TALKING RUBBISH. All of the customers LOVED HER and she was fully behind the product. Lordalan asks Nick if he backs Maria up on this point. He does not.
Navdeep then decides to pile on Alice, because why not? She says that Alice had no opportunity to see how well either of them were selling, so she’s clearly just guessing. Also she didn’t really manage them on the second day, she just organised them. She was completely inflexible to the day’s events and just ploughed on regardless. If she thought that Navdeep wasn’t doing enough, why not tell her? Alice says that she didn’t bring her back as Project Manager to tell her that she wasn’t doing enough to insult her and tell her she wasn’t working hard enough. Maria then SCREAMS IN, yelling, hissing and spitting in disbelief that Alice could SAY THAT, GIVEN THAT SLAGGING OFF THE TEAM IS THE PROJECT MANAGER’S JOB. (I am paraphrasing here slightly). Alice says that she told the team generally that she didn’t feel they were on target to reach their goal, and then Navdeep snaps that Alice’s particular brand of insipid “when done girlies now let’s all PUSH FOR THE IN” cheerleading wasn’t much use to her personally, to be honest.
Lordalan OF COURSE wipes his forehead and tries to make this contre-temps an “unprofessional wimminz” thing rather than…a Maria thing. Which it is. I mean, he tells them all off for “screaming and shouting” but she’s the only one whose voice went hypersonic.
Alice is asked why Navdeep has been brought back, and Alice says it’s because she lacks “that killer instinct” (/because Andrew was her best friend last week, Patrick was her GBF this week, and Navdeep made the fatal mistake of defending Lucy Beauvallet from her machinations two weeks ago, I’m guessing). Lordalan makes out that this is an “interesting point” and then starts gearing up for firing Navdeep at some point down the line for not having any real business stuff on her CV. He says he’s met many people who were good at speeches and giving presentation, who couldn’t sell a bean. Yes, you had one of them win last year. Well…unless you include “ice cream to five year olds whilst their parents weren’t looking”.
I know, I know, I’m sure Zara was an amazing winner, and I’m just bitter that Lordalan breaking his “never have the posh bird win” mantra last year makes it ever more likely that he won’t repeat that paradigm-shift this year. James wuzz still robbed though.
Anyway, Navdeep protests that she so does have killer instinct and the desire to win and she wouldn’t have applied to this show if blah blah blah blah blah. She knows that there’s more to her than just public speaking, she’s also a big fan of Mumford & Sons. That sort of speech. Lordalan asks her who should be fired (again), and she says Alice. She’s worked with Alice every week so far, and she thinks she’s just am insipid nodding dog, agreeing with other people’s opinions, with no eye for detail.
Maria is then asked to beg, and she bigs up her “fiery passion” a frankly depressing amount. She says that she’s really taken Lordalan’s advice to change and adapt on board. Lordalan openly scoffs in her face, telling her that she appears to have, if anything, got worse based on this boardroom alone. Maria points out that her entire team agreed that she behaved on the task – she’s just defending her own interests in the boardroom. She then starts boring the room up about how much she wants this more than anything in her entire life, and Lordalan tells her that she’s a bubbly drone to him at this point. He doesn’t want speeches, he just wants the facts as to why she should stay. Maria, hunching up her shoulders, cupping her hands, and scowling so hard that the impression is of one of the Flying Monkies from The Wizard of Oz, explains VEHREE SLOWLEE that she shouldn’t be fired because she wasn’t responsible for losing this task. She thinks Alice should be fired.
Lordalan then asks Navdeep FOR THE THIRD TIME THIS BOARDROOM who should be fired, and she says Alice. Alice is then asked and she, of course, says Maria. She thinks Maria was uninspiring and a poor saleswoman and the price point was really partially her fault.
Maria is the fire teasing, for yelling all the time and being intimidating, but Alice is the one who’s getting fired, for not getting the plot of the task, business-wise. She tears up, thanks Lordalan for the opportunity and departs, weeping. It so CLEARLY should have been Maria, but I’m just going to imagine that this is justice for Lucy Beauvallet, and that all of the Triple A coven are getting booted off one by one like some cheapo slasher, possibly by her gamekeeper. YOU’RE NEXT ASHLEIGH! Somehow. Lordalan bores on to the two remaining girls about Vera Lynn. It’s that sort of week. On their way out, Maria and Navdeep both hug Alice fulsomely, and she replies by saying “sock it too them”, instantly validating everything Navdeep said in the boardroom about her soapy dishwater praise.
In her LIMO OF SHAME, Alice says that she knows that she’s more entrepreneurial than either Maria or Navdeep – her sole failure was in not believing in herself as much as they did. Oh go bog off and be the subject of a One Direction song Alice.
Back at the Mansion, Steven is holding court amongst the six safe people. He’s wearing multi-coloured socks that are literally every colour of the Crayola box at once. You can just SEE Patrick’s constipated hatred seething away. Anyway he says that Alice is bound to come back, as she hasn’t been in the boardroom yet. Lucy Beauvallet points out that Navdeep hasn’t either, and then David asks who people WANT to come back. Steven says “Maria”. It’s so hard to work out the cliques this year (as opposed to last year, when it was “Everyone vs Harry 1). I think it’s Steven, Maria, Lucy Beauvallet and Navdeep vs…literally everybody whose name begins with A, ever. With David just floating around the periphery as collatoral damage and Patrick being everyone’s bezzy mate.
Anyway, Navdeep returns first, and then Maria returns afterwards to a quite TERRIFYING reaction from David. He’s just so excited bless him. I appear to be blessing David a lot this week. That’ll have to stop.
Next week : Andrew clearly wins the next point in Phone Answering Wars. THANKS FOR THE SPOILER, EDITORS!