ANOTHER BROMANCE EXPLODES!
7am, and we start yet again with the hideous clinking clanking sound of The Apprentiphone. There’s not a more unpleasant sound all episode, and this is an episode that features both Willow Smith’s singing and Maria’s talking. Answering it this week, and blowing this series’ Phone Answering Wars even wider open is Ashleigh, wearing a gym hoodie with “BK” emblazoned on it. I’ve no idea what it stands for. I think it may well be the lost 8th netball position – Bitch Kicker. My school team had about three of them. This leaves Phone Answering Wars current standings as :
Andrew : 1
Ashleigh : 1
Lucy Beauvallet : 1
Navdeep : 1
Steven : 1
Anybody Else : 0
Setting up either a last gap victory, or a horribly messy and unsatisfying massive series-closing tie.
As Navdeep straightens her hair, Andrew gels his, Lucy Beauvallet sprays hers, and Steven deep-throats his toothbrush (well they can’t all be appropriate to the task) the voice at the other end of the phone tells Ashleigh that Lordalan would like to meet them at the Central London Hair Salon, and that the cars will be there in 30 minutes. Please please PLEASE let them have the children cut peoples hair for a task. Pretty pretty please? Ashleigh runs around the house telling everyone of their task’s location, with Maria looking mighty pleased and crowing about opening her own beauty salon. As if Ricardo Ribeiro wasn’t enough. Meanwhile Andrew & Patrick sharing a rare bonding moment over hair. Andrew tells Patrick that he uses shampoo and gel, and asks if Patrick uses anything on his hair. The episode is only 60 minutes long, so his response is edited out. (Blue and yellow acid-washed business shirt, aubergine chinos, ultramarine velvet blazer, by the way).
The team pile into their Apprenticars, and it appears that to honour the task, Ashleigh has her Battle Hair on already. Either that or the Apprenticar took a VERY sharp turn.
As the teams arrive at the salon, Helpful Voiceover Man tells us in hushed tones that this salon used to be a barbershop. Aren’t they the same thing? Really? When you get down to it? I guess they just need to hetero the joint up a bit before Lordalan walks in there. When he does so, he tells the teams that they are standing in a really prestigious salon, and that the British people buy £200,000,000 worth of hair styling products every year. Nick looks utterly DISGUSTED by everything throughout this entire segment incidentally. It’s proper “YOU LICK MAH LOLLY AND YOU NEVER SAID SORREH!” face. If you’re not going to put the effort in Nick, bugger off back to Countdown. You wouldn’t be missed.
Anyway, the task is to brand a hair-styling product of their own devising, via a tv advert, product packaging and pitch to advertising executives. Who will then tell Lordalan who was bestest, and then Lordalan will ignore them and just pick the team who had the most shots of the product in their advert. It’s a tightrope they walk in this task, it truly is. Oh and we’re having a PROPER LORDALAN MEDDLE this week, as the teams are messed up big style. Patrick, Maria, Lucy Beauvallet and Andrew are all swapped about willy-nilly, and Maria and Andrew are installed as Project Managers of Platinum and Wetsuit Kimono respectively. For those of you lost, that means the teams are now
Meaning that the PLATINUM CORE of Platinum is Ashleigh, and Patrick’s grip on the Wetsuit Kimono has, at the last, slackened. Teams are sent off to, you know, think about stuff.
As they speed off in Wetsuit Kimono Apprenticar A, Andrew lies through his teeth to Steven that this task sounds like it’s going to be really fun, and Steven lies through his teeth back that he wanted to be PM for this one. Bless. They’re so supportive of one another. This brief positivity over, the bitching begins. Steven tells Andrew that he’s SO GLAD to have got away from Maria, because after only one task with her he was ready to cut his own ears off and stuff them in his mouth. So…so much for “Maria was SO IMPROVED last week”. Meanwhile in the Wetsuit Kimono Apprenticar B, Navdeep’s all “so last time Andrew was Project Manager we all wanted to kill him by shoving a candelabrum where the sun didn’t shine” and Lucy’s all “mmm hmmm, I heard”.
Over on Platinum Maria is telling Ashleigh that she’s really glad to be working on the smaller team, because it’s a creative task, and really, every opinion that isn’t Maria’s is just going to be a waste of time anyway. Why confuse things? Ashleigh adjusts her bosom, and prepares for a WEEK OF FUN.
The teams arrive at yet another advertising agency, and one that apparently specialise in adverts for haircare products. I know I can think of so many memorable and exciting hair-care adverts. There’s that Amish one with the Hayseed Dixie cover of “Word Up” and…erm…so many others. So many exciting others. The teams are convening here to decide on their target markets, and to discuss general strategy.
Wetsuit Kimono are first, and Navdeep wants to target men, because the market for womens haircare products is already totally saturated. Yeah, sure, that makes sense. Meanwhile over on Platinum things are barely less coherent as Maria decides that everyone wants to target women because “we’ll be able to focus more towards women because that’s what we’re interested in”. The camera then zooms in on Patrick’s face with indecent haste, a fact which Maria obviously realises when she offers up “I know you’re a boy Patrick, but you like fashion and things like that”. Yeah, he’s practically a girl!
We then move on to my favourite part of the brainstorming session, which is Ashleigh, wearing her boxy pea green blazer from the Edwina Currie collection, grinning “I were thinkin…sex sells and I’m thinking…use sex”. Kaen’s stifled giggle is a thing of beauty indeed. Maria says that she agrees, because she really wants an approach that stands out and is novel. Like, you know, “sex sells”. We then move on the team deciding on a name for their product. Patrick suggests “Diva” (Patrick’s Thought Of The Week 1), but the girls just giggle at this. Ashleigh, emboldened in her robust iron-girder sexuality, has a word! It’s “STREXY!”. It means “strong and sexy”. It means downing a pint, beating you in an arm-wrestle whilst munching chips and gravy, and then carrying you off back to her bachelorette pad for a bunk-up followed by a post-coital jam & cheese sandwich. Ashleigh is keen because she thinks it sounds like “strong, independent, classy women” who are all “BOOM! IN YOUR FACE! NOW DEAL WITH IT!” with their BTec in accountancy and own second-hand Nissan Micra. Maria is clearly keen because she thinks it sounds like something off TOWIE. I’m thrilled because I think it sounds like a party drug that The Daily Mail starts a campaign against because it is KILLING OUR KIDS!!! Let’s see whose POV wins out.
Over on Wetsuit Kimono, Andrew interviews that he can’t play it safe this week – he’s got to create a product that is both memorable and unique in the marketplace, and so he’s going for broke. WACKY IDEAS! ZANY SCHEMES! OFF-THE-WALL, ONE-OF-A-KIND STAND-OUT APPRENTICE ADVERTISING TASK IDEAS THAT WILL LIVE FOREVER, LIKE PANTS MAN OR CAPTAIN PAEDO WITH SPOONS FOR HANDS OR THE RAPEY OCTOPUS! Back in the room Lucy Beauvallet suggests they market their haircare products to indie wankers who constantly need to be told how “different” they are. Everyone agrees. IT’S A REVOLUTION! SO FRESH AND NEW!
They all get to wondering what their tag-line should be, and Steven suggests something about how a leopard can’t change its spots. Lucy Beauvallet grins patronisingly that that is SO totally 100% AGAINST their concept of standing out Steven, my GOD. It’s all about how you can CHANGE, duh! Steven grins that maybe their tag-line should be “Leopard! Change your spots!”. Andrew suggests “Diff.” (to guffaws from Steven), and Lucy Beauvallet goes down the Tim Ankers route, albeit with less body hair (hopefully) by suggesting “This Is Gel”. Finally they settle on “Chameleon”, because of how it’s always changing colour. They ALREADY don’t have a clue what their concept is do they?
To the Apprenticars now, as each team is off to do market research, one half with a focus group, and the other half in a supermarket. Ashleigh has been sent to do the focus group for Platinum, with Maria telling her very firmly to find out as much as she can, because she wants to do what their target market want, not what the team want. Because that’s always mattered to her so much before. She tells Ashleigh that she wants the can to be lovely bright girly colours, so if she could steer the focus group in that direction, that would be GREAT. Once off the phone, Ashleigh huffs that Maria would have everything be pink if she had her way. Yeah…I don’t think Ashleigh’s a very “pink” sort of girl. Unless you count singing “So What?” at karaoke in Wakefield’s premier nightclub and pie shop of a Saturday Night.
Andrew & Steven on the other hand, are in Boots, and dismissing “blues, pinks, and reds” for acidic neon colours that they think will stand out on the shelf. At this point, all is friendly. The ladies of Wetsuit Kimono on the other hand are on their way to their focus group – an “indie boyband”. Navdeep teases Lucy Beauvallet about her apparent excitement at meeting some Authentic Boys With Guitars, and Lucy Beauvallet giggles that she’s going to keep things “strictly professional”. You can tell she’s already planning on finding out the drummer’s name and carving it into her forearm 4 REAL. Well…scratching at herself a bit with a compass. Well…writing it on herself anyway. Well…writing it on a notepad. In a notepad.
They arrive at a “shabby chic” pub and walk in on the Indie Boyband “mid-rehearsal”. Already I’m cringing. Well…more so than usual, anyway. The boyband (sun-glasses in hair, check shirts, RIDICULOUSLY plummy accents) field questions from Navdeep, as Lucy Beauvallet melts into a puddle in the corner. Nav suggests “Break Free” as a tag-line, and then the plummiest of the boy-band reacts with HORROR, saying that that name implies that their hair is NOT! STYLED! AT ALL! How can you be a truly authentic Indie Boy Band and NOT HAVE STYLED HAIR?! Did The Smiths have unstyled hair? NO! Did Orange Juice? NO! Did The Neutral Milk Hotels? NO! Terrorvision? NO! The “Indie Boyband” then attempt to show some self-awareness by also reacting badly to the name “Mr Alternative”. I mean…you’re on tv, willing calling yourselves an “Indie Boyband”. Let’s not start that one off. Navdeep then moves on to “Leopard” (HATES IT!) and “Chameleon” (LOVES IT! IT TOTES WORKS! TRY AND WORK “ADAPT” IN THERE AS WELL!). Navdeep smiles that from their reaction, “Chameleon” is obviously the way to go.
I’d question Navdeep’s wisdom in accepting so readily the word of four indie tossers as a “focus group”, but let’s face it, they’re all going to wind up actually working in marketing agencies in three weeks, if they don’t already, so I’d say they’ve probably got their finger RIGHT on the pulse.
Ashleigh meanwhile, is meeting with a roller-derby team. The narrator clarifies that they’re an “all-girl” team, as though there are any other kind. She asks this collection of tattoos, skunk streaks and daddy issues what they think of “Strexy” as a name. Then she explains to them what it’s supposed to mean. Then she explains it again. Then one of them says she prefers “Stroxy” because it’s got ROX! in the middle. I spend the whole section amazed that Ashleigh doesn’t just bin this show off on the spot to go and be QUEEN OF THE ROLLER-DERBY! Call herself “SMASHLEIGH THUDD!” and spend her days whipping skinny bitches into hoardings. Instead, she rings Maria up and tells her about “Stroxy” which she and Maria immediately both dismiss as being too convoluted. And how.
It turns out that Ashleigh has called Maria and Patrick up in the middle of casting. Maria explains their concept to Ashleigh. There’s a boxing ring, and one sexy girl surrounded by guys. They tell her stereotypical “guy lines” like “it’s not me it’s you”, “I forgot your number” and “no…Maria…stop…you’re…hurting me” and then she could kill them all with her hair, instead of just punching them out like a non-Strexy woman would. Ashleigh likes the thought of this, because it involves violence.
Back with Wetsuit Kimono, and Lucy Beauvallet is feeding back to Andrew that the Indie Boyband really liked “Chameleon” and the idea of adapting, changing, and “being versatile”. I have to say, a couple of them did have that look about them yes. Andrew says he’s happy to go with that idea. The advert could have lots of different people, with different styles of hair, all talking about their style, and then at the end they all “whack out their gel” and it’s THEIR GEL! WETSUIT KIMONO’S GEL! CHAMELEON JIZZ! I MEAN GEL! Navdeep and Lucy Beauvallet both chime in unison that this is a REALLY GOOD IDEA. Like…eerily so. Twins from The Shining so.
Concept decided on, it’s time for Andrew and Steven to cast male models for their advert. Sadly, Alex Reid does not turn up. Instead it’s just your usual Central Casting Advert Hunks. All gym bodies and greasy faces. Andrew tells Steven that he intends to force them all to do a 360 turn, so he can get a good look at their hair and also any unfortunate hunchback deformities they might have. And so the process begins. My personal highlights are :
Steven : Look at his hair! It’s so beautiful! And long! And shiny!
Andrew : URRGH, YOU WANT TO BUMDER HIM!
Steven : Would you say you were indie?
Model : No
Steven : BUT YOU’VE GOT AN INDIE EAR-RING!
Model : Ah am in zee movies as an extra!
Andrew : Is that how you normally wear your hair?
Modeel : Eeet would dee-pend.
Andrew : On what?
Model : Mah sty-ull!
Andrew : *makes “wanker” gesture*
Steven : He was very French!
Andrew : I thought he wurr Italian!
Steven : He was very…arrogant.
Andrew : Well that narrows it down…
Andrew : Do you have any tattoos or scars on the top half of your bodeh?
Model : No. *lifts shirt to demonstrate this*
Andrew & Steven : *gay panic gay panic gay panic gay panic*
More of these two in future please, show.
Patrick and Maria on the other hand, have blazed through their advert casting, and are now designing their can. Patrick is taking the lead, basically turning the can into Pat Butcher at a rave, with Maria pushing him all the way, with a direction of “the tackier the better”. She interviews that her brand is a TACKY BRAND and she intends to push that right to the limits of taste and decency. Unfortunately nobody has told Ashleigh this yet, who is in the middle of storyboarding their advert to be “Girls On Top” but with more hairspray. Maria sadly reveals the truth to her mid phone-call, and Ashleigh splits her wig and REFUSES to storyboard a tacky advert. REFUSES! Tacky is a BAD THING, not a GOOD THING, Maria. Kaen interviews that she agrees with Ashleigh. She thinks it’s really bad form to produce a knowingly tacky product. She says whilst playing the role of hired goon on a gameshow where awkward mid-teens are forced to compete for a cash prize by dressing up as Mr Splodge and shilling clothes that somebody died in to baffled Westfields shoppers.
Next up we see Andrew and Steven designing their can. It is at this point that Andrew has a sudden epiphany. Their brand is all about standing out. But chameleons are all about NOT standing out, and hiding in the shadows to avoid being eaten. Steven says that this is a good point, and gets Andrew to call Navdeep and Lucy Beauvallet up to explain to them what a chameleon is. They’re all “…oh yeah…”. Navdeep flusters that they’re meant to be appealing to “alternative people” who want to stand out and their brand is now COMPLETELY CONTRADICTORY! Eh, the “alternative people” you focus-grouped didn’t seem to notice Nav, I doubt any of the rest of them will engage their braincells enough to do so. And if they do, just claim it’s “ironic”. Lucy Beauvallet, in a panic, asks if anyone can think of any animals that are bold and which stand out. Steven suggests an elephant. Or a whale. Yes, all those bold. flamboyant, sexy whales. He then suggests calling the gel “Brian”. Yes, “Brian”. He says that maybe they could market it as being “the only friend you can truly depend on”. Steven I think has…cracked a little, in the crucible of this creative task. Lucy Beauvallet points out that the focus group liked “Chameleon” and she’s sure that the team will think of a way to pitch it that makes sense and not, say, keep picking at the concept until it becomes so convoluted that even Only Connect would look at it and give it up as pretentious. Navdeep protests that she can’t effectively pitch an idea that she DOESN’T TRULY BELIEVE IN, apparently quite willing to undermine her one demonstrable skill set. In the end, Andrew goes for “Chameleon” after some suggestive watch-tapping from Nick.
They then set about designing their packaging. It’s got a chameleon on it. There’s a brief fuss between Andrew and Steven over the blurb on the back, as it flagrantly highlights the problem with their brand by saying that men want to “stand out”, next to a picture of a chameleon. Steven protests, saying that it doesn’t make sense, and besides men don’t care about all the blurb on the back of the gel anyway, so they should just take it off. Andrew’s not having it though, for whatever reason. Once they’re done, they ring Navdeep and Lucy Beauvallet, who are weirdly obsessive over the fact that their packaging is green. “OH NO!” they cry. “NOT GREEN! NOW WE’VE LOST FOR SURE!”. Girls, eh?
At the same time, over on Platinum, they’re finishing up their design, and Patrick is offering up his Second Thought Of The Week. He doesn’t like the font Maria has pushed for on the word “sexy”. Thanks Patrick!
8am next morning now, and the finished articles of the products we just saw the finishing touches to, are ready. We witness the Wetsuit Kimono reveal first, with Lucy Beauvallet proclaiming herself not as DEVASTATED by the lime green packaging as she had heretofore anticipated being, although she’s still not keen. She also doesn’t like the fact that the chameleon on the packaging has a quiff though. Andrew just says that that’s how chameleons do. They’re all about the quiffs. Steven reassures her that there is no other product on the shelves, in Boots, that he saw, that is green. Lucy Beauvallet replies that there is probably a reason for that though, and that reason is that green is the DEBBIL’S COLOUR.
The reveal over on Platinum on the other hand, is going less well. In that Ashleigh is nigh-on mute with rage and has her knuckles implanted permanently in the side of her face throughout. Maria tells her that their design doesn’t have to look pretty (which is a good job, because it’s flipping hideous, and has turned from “neon leopardprint” into “something furry viewed through a microscope” somewhere in the design process), it just has to stand out and go “BAM!” and that. She lectures Ashleigh on what “retailers really want”, whilst Ashleigh looks pained. She says the design looks tacky, and Maria protests that’s that what she was aiming for. But in a GOOD WAY! Ashleigh snorts that you can’t use the word tacky “in a good way”, and that take that up with Darcey Bussell Ashleigh, because apparently you can.
This is then an actual conversation on Wetsuit Kimono :
Navdeep : “In a world that’s constantly changing, you need to stand out”…Hmmm…*pulls pouty frowny face of death*
Andrew : Don’t focus on that one little line though! Look at all the other wonderful things on the packaging!
Navdeep : But you do understand the whole “chameleons don’t stand out” thing yes? That you were the one to notice in the first place? This is why we changed the tagline and concept to something else?
Andrew : Does it in your where you stand out the gel adapts to you and it’s you who’s standing out?
Lucy Beauvallet : WTF? I want to die.
Navdeep : WHAT WAS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO PITCH THIS? I AM BEING ROBBED OF LITERALLY ALL I DO! NOT EVEN YOUR OWN TEAM UNDERSTAND THIS SHIT!
Andrew : Steven gets it!
Steven : I bloody don’t.
Andrew interviews that he’s not sure if his team respect him as Project Manager or not, but if they aren’t it’s probably because he’s just not agreeing with everything they say. Yeah, that’ll be it. He shrugs, and says there’s always time to change a concept or alternatively, to constantly tweak it, making it a little bit worse each time. Back in the room, Lucy Beauvallet and Navdeep show off the storyboard they created for the advert yesterday, and then it’s time for Andrew to divide the team to actually make the bloody thing. He’s decided that he is going to direct the advert with Lucy Beauvallet, for the sole reason that “it’s really important and I’d really like to be there”. Navdeep then counter-argues that she should help Lucy Beauvallet with the advert because they worked on it all day and now “share the same vision”. Andrew then snots that if they have the same vision, then it’ll only take one of them to shoot the advert won’t it? This is the beginning of Andrew’s theme for the rest of the episode. The theme being “ANDREW IS AN ICE QUEEN BITCH AND NOBODY IS SAFE!”. As if to illustrate this, Navdeep sighs “it’s your call I suppose” and Andrew smirks “yes it is”.
A brief Apprenticar ride later, both filming subteams arrive on location. For some reason Maria has decided to team up with Ashleigh to do their advertising shoot, even though they have obviously conflicting visions and also Ashleigh is pushy. It’s like Maria’s missed having episodes-long drawn-out screaming cat-fights with everybody isn’t it? They’re at a boxing ring, and within FIVE SECONDS Ashleigh and Maria are fighting over how tacky or not the advert is, as Maria wants a ring-girl to strut around with a sign at the beginning, and Ashleigh thinks it’s not “tasteful”. She interviews that she’s not going to let Maria make their advert as tacky as their can. YES ASHLEIGH! MAKE YOUR CONCEPT AS CONTRADICTORY AND CONFUSING AS WETSUIT KIMONO’S IS! Don’t let this one go without a fight.
Maria then explains to us the story of her advert. Two men are boxing in a ring and a woman walks in and is intimated by them and their man-muscles, but then she applies her hairspray, whips her hair back and forth, and beats them at their own game with her STREXY POWERS. How this comes across in the final edit (SPOILERS!) : a woman writes something on a mirror with lipstick. She walks for a bit. Then she’s in a boxing ring. Then two men appear. Then she starts choking. Then they fall over. Then she delivers a speech about wanting to have strong and sexy hair. The end.
Meanwhile over on Wetsuit Kimono, we discover that their advert is set in the changing rooms of a gym. Andrew is telling Nick that their concept is of three different guys, all with different hair, doing different things, differently. And yet they all use the same gel! What a coincidence! Nick asks Andrew if they’re going to be titillating themselves. Andrew just stares blankly at him until he shuts up. I can’t say as I blame him. Lucy Beauvallet’s role in all of this appears to be “hairdresser”. Andrew complains to her that she’s making everybody look greasy and she points out it’s a hair-gel advert, so that’s going to happen. Personally I’d be slightly more concerned that she’s made every single one of the three men look like one of the Bash Street Kids. The same one of the Bash Street Kids.
At the same time, Steven and Navdeep are across London, laying down the soundtrack for the advert in a recording booth, with Steven on vocal duties. Steven narrates the team’s tale of “Three Guys, One Gel” (really?!) in the voice of a weekend sports reporter reading out the football scores, and Navdeep tells him that he was “really good!!!”. Steven is less convinced and asks Navdeep to criticise him. Navdeep pushes him to really jazz up his delivery of the “One Gel” part, presumably just so the audience are EXTRA SURE that he didn’t in fact say “One Cup”. They repeat the lines, both clearly enjoying one another’s company. Really, if nothing else, this week is a good advert for Steven’s personality.
Back at the Ashleigh/Maria “Brawl To End It All”, Ashleigh is still being intransigent in the background, swooping in after Maria every 5 seconds to completely contradict what she just said, and saying things like “oh well, you’re Project Manager *SHRUG* *V SIGNS*” as Maria tinkers with her carefully crafted storyboard. Kaen interviews that at the moment, the actors in the advert are being given two sets of completely contradictory directions, one from Maria and one from Ashleigh, and the results are utterly incoherent. Kaen compares them to “two cats fighting over………the milk”. Or possibly a “Bacon and……………………tuna sandwich”, eh Kaen? Meanwhile, back in the room, Maria’s diplomacy skills have now apparently extended to alternately completely ignoring Ashleigh and just saying “…pardon?” with a look on her face suggesting that Ashleigh has just advocated doing the whole advert nude. It sounds like I’m taking the piss, but actually it’s a vast improvement on her usual style. This advert is still the least collaborative effort I have ever seen in the history of Apprentice Advertisement Tasks. I bet Ashleigh ended up with a heel of a Director’s Cut at the end. Would make Apocalypse Now : Redux look like a Pixar Short.
Back on Wetsuit Kimono, we’re almost finished, but Andrew has one more straw to hurl at this already overloaded camel’s back like a javelin. He’s decided that one of the three men is going to strut out of the changing room at the end of the advert with toilet paper stuck to his shoe, looking like a pompous dickhead. He has decided this SOLELY because the guy in question is the French/Italian guy he and Steven didn’t like at the auditions. This is it. He is changing the advert (and, as we shall see, the entire concept, again, ruinously) just to make one French man look like a tit. I’ve never loved him more. Nick interviews to the effect that he doesn’t really understand why this is happening but…it’s happening nonetheless. Back at the poolside, Andrew and Lucy Beauvallet give directions to the French Model so that he looks as ridiculous as possible. Andrew shows him the “swagger” that he wants him to mimic. It looks more than a little Niles Crane. He and Lucy Beauvallet then just sit sniggering as the cameras roll. Lucy Beauvallet wasn’t even AT the auditions, it’s just that easy to hate on the French.
Next, we see Patrick (salmon and chocolate hooped jumper, shorts again) recording his voiceover all alone. He rings Maria, and does his reading down the phone to her, just for someone to talk to. Maria tells him it’s good but…could they maybe blitz it with editing software to make him sound cooler? Patrick offers his final Thought Of The Week by telling Maria she should just say “make it more manly” if that’s what she means. She deadpans that is what she means, yes. And so the man applies editing software to Patrick’s voice, and so it is distorted to sound like Cher having a nervous breakdown/someone falling over in slow motion/a transsexual serial killer from a bad 80s slasher movie starring Angie Dickinson. Fortunately, everybody agrees that this is “too much”. Too much WHAT they don’t clarify.
Ad shoots and recording sessions over, it’s time for the teams to reconvene to view the finished articles. Wetsuit Kimono reconvene in a quite terrifying gush of luvviness, with Andrew telling Steven that his voiceover was SO GOOD, Lucy Beauvallet congratulating Steven on toning down his hideous commoner accent, and both Andrew and Lucy Beauvallet blow smoke up one another’s bums over what fabulous editors they’ve been. Everyone then watches the advert. The OPENING LINE is “Chameleon Gel : lets you stand out through you being you” and the fact that nobody hangs themselves on the spot out of shame is a sign of just what a vibe of forced positivity there is going on in the room right not. That room that Darius said he was feeling the love in? It was, in fact, this room. The advert is soundtracked by “Express Yourself” and it features three guys walking into an empty changing room, fully clothed, one after the other, seeing some gel on an otherwise entirely empty bench, nicking a TINY BIT, and then walking off. In one case, with toilet paper HILARIOUSLY stuck to their shoe. At this last bit of business, Navdeep gives an AMAZINGLY forced laugh, and then Lucy Beauvallet yells “DID YOU THINK THAT WAS FUNNY?!” all perky like and Navdeep’s all “YES! I THOUGHT IT WAS SO FUNNY! I’M SO HAPPY! A HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!”. Andrew jumps up and down clapping and calls for a group hug. Andrew babbles in interview that the advert solidifies the concept, makes the product look good, and is funny.
Sadly we don’t see the premiere of the Platinum video. Probably because the law courts won’t release it until Maria and Ashleigh stop squabbling over attribution.
Next day now, and time for the teams to prepare for the pitch. In what will probably sadly be their last moment of brotherly togetherness, Andrew and Steven groom themselves with Chameleon Gel. Andrew grins to Steven “This gel’s adapting to me! And I’m going to stick out the crowds because I’m being me and being myself! I’m not following no trends!”. Bless. Steven grins, points to the camera, holds up Chameleon Gel, and says that he heartily endorses this event or product. Why could they have just stayed like this forever? Sigh. Meanwhile in another room, Ashleigh sprays an entire tin of Strexy on her own hair, and then Maria throws a lit match at it. Probably. Off-camera somewhere. Ashleigh asks Maria if she’s nervous today, and she says yes, because if the marketing people don’t like the product, then Lordalan’s not going to pick it. How little she knows this task.
Next thing we see, the teams are arriving at the advertising agency, and are ready to pitch.
Maria is first, leading the charge for Platinum. She is accompanied by Ashleigh, Patrick, and a cardboard cut-out of a giant black woman wielding Strexy like a cosh. Makes sense. Maria pitches well, and enthusiastically, and pitches her brand as sexy and fun and strong. She doesn’t, however, ever refer to her product as being “tacky” or “kitsch” or “utter shit” or anything like that on purpose. Just saying. For when they later start saying that’s her “brand”. This is also where we get our premiere of the team’s advert, as soundtracked by “I Whip My Hair Back And Forth”, complete with convulsive seizures and men falling over for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Still, lots of nice lovely big shots of the product, especially at the end, as our foxy boxer sits slumped in the corner in the background, out of focus, with the can of Strexy towering over her.
Maria opens the floor for questions, and one guy who looks a bit like Matthew from Downton Abbey + 40 years, says that he found their advert very aggressive, and thinks it was all very 1980s/1990s “Girl Power”. Ashleigh then assures Mr Mid Life Crisis that she doesn’t want to destroy all men with her strexy seizures, honest. This product is about EMPOWERING WOMEN and making them feel confident in their own bodies and blah blah blah blah blah. Maria then hops in and says that Girl Power may have started in the 80s (…) but it’s really flourished since, and right now we are at the very peak. Yes, this is it ladies, this is the peak of feminism, now let’s all get ready for the PLUNGE with the power of Strexy. Everyone claps this nonsense and then Platinum leave.
Wetsuit Kimono are next, led by Navdeep. Quite frankly, it would be a kindness to say that she tanks the pitch. Within a couple of sentences we are in prime Mona Lewis “Don’t do what Pantsman doesn’t say not to do” territory, except it’s somehow even worse, because she’s been quite good at this up to this point. She has absolutely nothing to say about the brand, gets tied in knots the second she even tries to LOOK AT the labyrinthine concept, and at one point has to resort to listing all the different colours that the bottle might come in (SOME OF WHICH AREN’T GREEN, THANK CHRIST!). Their advert does appear to be marginally better than Platinum’s, in that I can at least follow what’s supposed to be happening, and that nobody tried to choreograph a fight scene LIKE A CRAZY PERSON.
Once it’s done, one of the advertising bods, points out that their advert was just three blokes fluffing with their hair. What’s supposed to be so eye-catching and exciting about that? Lucy Beauvallet says that it’s the joke at the end that makes the advert original and different. She thinks it’s a really “honest moment” (?!) and that the honesty and integrity of their product is truly reflected in that moment of cinema verite. Honestly, at some point in this task, someone should have just stopped, taken a deep breath, and said “should we maybe stop talking utter bullshit?”. I think it would have finished up a lot less embarrassing for all concerned. A woman in the audience says that she liked the music in the advert, but she’s concerned that in ending the advert with a shot of someone looking stupid, it’s not really aspirational. And that is, as we know, what all adverts are about in the end.
Andrew then says “I really think the joke represents the product itself”. I love how he’s accidentally told the truth there, given that the “joke” is that through not paying proper attention and thoughtfulness, someone has found themselves stuck with something that maybe once had a purpose and utility, but which is now useless and covered in accumulated human excrement. Maybe if they’d shown that the guy was French then they would have got the joke a bit better.
Both teams gone, the marketing executives feedback to Lordalan in their usual incredibly vague and intentionally misleading way. Lordalan appears to be taking this feedback strutting about near the Gherkin, with his tie undone. MAVERICK!
Results Day now, and Maria interviews on her way to the Boardroom that she hopes that she’s proved to her team-mates and to Lordalan that she can be a good Project Manager, because it’s “do or die” now. She HAS to win this task. LOL not really, given that there is absolutely no way of keeping Patrick out of the Boardroom if you lose, and absolutely no way of him surviving if he does find himself there. You got a freebie week to be PM Maria, even before Andrew decided to self-immolate. Andrew himself interviews that he felt a lot of friction from his team, but he got the job done. Sort of. After a fashion. He then reminds us that he’s currently sitting on a 1-4 record, and that he desperately needs a win, especially now the most obvious sitting duck has gone, record wise. Poor Mr Splodge.
Once everybody’s arrived, settled, eyed up their water and adjusted their ties, it’s time for Lordalan to enter, and bid them all good morning. He tells them all that this was an interesting task, because it was the advertising task, and those always make somebody look stupid, right? Fun for him anyway. He reminds them that he said at the start of the day that £200,000,000 is spent in the UK on hair product every year, and then he “reveals” that half of that is spent by Jedward A HA HA HA HA HA. Nobody else laughs. To be honest, I think Jedward’s hair is probably self-sustaining at this point.
We start our discussions proper with Platinum, with Lordalan explaining to Maria that he made her Project Manager because she has somehow, despite having God’s own sense of entitlement, not done it in any of the 5 weeks leading up to today. “Good team leader?” yields a smackdown from Ashleigh for Maria having been “indecisive” (oh Ashleigh, we all remember last week, let’s not try that one JUST yet) but she thinks that she and Maria handled their disagreements maturely. Maria replies that she appreciated Ashleigh disagreeing with her constantly, because she’s not one of those people who think she’s right the whole time. The entire room burst out laughing. I’m surprised Lordalan doesn’t try and claim it’s because they just got his CLEVER JEDWARD JOKE ABOUT THEIR HAIR AND THAT.
Lordalan then asks Maria for a brief precis of what her team did, and she recounts how they decided to target the female market, and Ashleigh came up with the idea of “Strexy” (“Two Hospitalised Following Strexy Fuelled Orgy”). Lordalan giggles that is “Strexy” is “Strong & Sexy” then he must be “Strumpy”. Strained and Pumpy. Sorry…”Strong and Grumpy”. Ahem. He then picks up their can, assays the powder blue leopardprint can, and asks the team if it’s supposed to be “tacky” and Ashleigh breaks in here to say she’s not really a fan of the packaging because she thinks it looks naff. Maria protests that hairspray isn’t really a classy product to begin with, so what’s the point of putting on airs? She made it tacky on purpose and she is PROUD. Lordalan turns to Kaen and asks her if tacky is what’s cool with the kids these days. Ashleigh hoots that it’s NOT COOL WITH HER.
Next for discussion is the television advert, with Maria saying that she and Ashleigh both took control for it. Lordalan asks Patrick what he did all task then, and he replies “I did the soundtrack”. This is a team of THREE PEOPLE. The task lasted for THREE WHOLE DAYS. And at the end of it, he can say “I did the soundtrack”. Such an Apprentice superstar. The advert is fired up, and it’s still awful. Andrew looks probably the most amused I’ve seen anybody be whilst watching their rival’s crappy work, and when it’s all finished Lordalan sarcs “LOVED THE VOICE, PATRICK!”. I knew they should have kept the “Barry White on Mogadon” effect in there. He then goes on to joke that one of the male boxers went down “like Didier Drogba on ice”. Now there’s an idea for you ITV.
Wetsuit Kimono’s turn now, and Lordalan doesn’t see fit to explain why he made Andrew Project Manager. He just thought it would be amusing is all. Lordalan summarises that he knows they went for the “men’s gel” market, so he just wants to know how Andrew’s team gelled. Andrew says “yerr wha?”, and forces Lordalan to explain his pun. God, I hope that was on purpose. Once put in the know, Andrew says his team gelled well. “Good team leader?” yields a “LOL NO” from pretty much the entire team, with Steven saying the whole thing was just a big mash of confusion. So, to be fair to Andrew, Steven turned on him first.
Andrew is asked to explain what his process was, and he says that Lucy Beauvallet came up with the name “Chameleon”, and their concept was for “men to stand out by being who they are”. Lordalan already, of course, is having trouble with their concept because, let’s face it, he struggles with parsing sentences at the past of times. And who ever would have thought that inability would come in so handy? He highlights the whole “Chameleon = standing out ?!” issue, and Steven breaks in to say that it was just all a big mess from the off. Lucy Beauvallet gamely says that “in the end” Chameleon was really meant to refer to the gel, rather than the person wearing it. So…they look bald? I love how they’ve just leapt to “oh, it refers to the GEL” without thinking of a logical end-point to that. Lordalan makes fun of them for their utter lack of coherence, and Andrew is left to splutter about how a chameleon is a really great image from a branding standpoint. Still, Lordalan gives them a get-out, saying that incoherence seems to be a hallmark of advertising these days, and it “at least gets people talking”.
Yeah, they’re losing.
Their advert is aired, and I’m not complaining, because that awful French guy just gets hotter every time. Lordalan also zooms in on the French Model, asking what the silly bit at the end with the toilet paper was for. Was it supposed to be a joke? Andrew replies that indeed it was. He really needs to explain that it’s a joke because the guy is FRENCH. I think Lordalan would really appreciate that one.
Platinum win, because not a single sentence that has come out of any of Wetsuit Kimono has made any sense since about 5 minutes in to the episode. Lordalan makes a point to tell Maria that her product “does what it says on the tin”, despite the fact that “what it says on the tin” is not even a real word. He did like how she repeatedly shoved the can in the viewer’s face in the advert though. (QUELLE SURPRISE!). That was a total win by default, because the other team didn’t even bother to turn up.
Platinum are then told that their reward is to meet one of the coolest men in Britain. I’m SO shocked that wasn’t him talking about himself. SO SO shocked. Anyway, this super cool man is Labrinth, whose version of “Express Yourself” we heard earlier. Maria gasps with excitement and Ashleigh and Patrick just look at one another with amusement and disdain. They don’t DO R & B in the NORF. Unless it stands for Rugby League & Bovril. The three of them are to go to Labrinth’s studio to record one of his songs. The fact that we will never get to see Lucy Beauvallet jamming with Labrinth will haunt me until the day I die. Anyway, the three of Platinum run outside and hug, with Maria practically vibrating as she does so. Wetsuit Kimono are told that their advert sucked, even after Lordalan put his “young eyes in”. He didn’t want to buy their gel, that’s the bottom line.
Does this mean he wanted to buy some Strexy? Please say it does.
To Labrinth’s studio now, where we see him merrily plunking away on his guitar as our three winners walk in. Patrick’s apprehension is particularly apparently. Labrinth tells Platinum to “show him some love”. Maria and Patrick both hug him. We don’t see what Ashleigh does. Sadly. Maria interview that she’s so happy to win as Project Manager, because if she’d lost it would have been her third time in the Boardroom. Yes, what a shame that would have been for us all. Hem. With little else left to do, everyone sings “Let The Sun Shine”. Maria’s having a whale of a time, Ashleigh looks very earnest about the whole thing, and Patrick’s looking like he’s evaluating whether it’s worth it to hang around just for the treats any more.
Loser Cafe now, with Steven immediately starting in on Andrew the second they sit down. He reminds Andrew that he pushed himself onto the ad shoot against the wishes of his team, so that he could “put his take on it”. And it turned out that was the wrong take. Andrew huffs that it wasn’t the wrong take at all, and Navdeep sighs disbelievingly that she’d like Andrew to put it on the record for the court that Andrew isn’t even going to acknowledge that his advert wasn’t good enough. Andrew is mute. Navdeep then interviews outside that Andrew has been an awful Project Manager to her twice now, and she’s not going to take it any more. He’s got to go!
Back inside, Andrew snarks that the advert was based off the two storyboards that Lucy Beauvallet and Navdeep provided to him. Lucy Beauvallet points out that he kept on adding bits to their basic idea, fiddling with it and generally confusing it. Andrew sasses that he did change their ideas yes, because their idea was “three men do their hair in a mirror then walk off, GREAT IDEA!”. Lucy Beauvallet interviews that she doesn’t really know who Andrew’s intending to bring back into the boardroom, but if it’s her she’s going to kick his arse (then bake him a muffin to say sorry). Back in the room she sighs sadly that apparently their pitch was rubbish as well, oh well, poor Navdeep, have a cup of jasmine tea as I gently slide you under the bus. Navdeep returns to her initially stated opinion that she only pitched poorly because she didn’t TRULY BELIEVE in Chameleon. Andrew then interviews, incredibly sourly, that Navdeep is a one-trick pony, a moaner, and great at finding fault without doing anything to make things better.
Oh, he hasn’t even STARTED yet.
We start with Lordalan telling the team the simple principle of advertising. It’s to keep your story simple. Also have a gorilla playing the drums if possible. He tells them that their “brand story” was far too complicated, and confused everybody. Nick strolls in to the conversation at this point, to reiterate to them all why calling their gel “Chameleon” then bragging about how you were going to stand out, but not stand out whilst doing you and being yourself, was dumb. Andrew admits that the name was a mistake, but it was what “the girls” brought back from their market research. Lordalan snorts that he signed off on it, and then asks who came up with the name – Lucy Beauvallet or Steven? Because all of the animal ideas appear to have from Steven. Steven said that he came up with the idea of an animal that stands out, and Chameleon just emerged from there, because of how it changes colour and stuff. Lordalan sighs and tells them all that the animal they were clearly looking for was a peacock.
Yes, nothing appeals more to the male market then getting to brand yourself a pea cock.
Lordalan then turns on Navdeep, asking her if the inspiration for the chameleon might have come from her. Is she the sort to just blend into the background? What did she do on this task? Navdeep says that she was far from in the background – she was really against the “Chameleon” idea from the second Andrew told them all it was a bad idea, far more so than anybody else. She’s sure that Andrew thought she was “just being negative” though. Andrew then announces that he believes that Navdeep was playing for strategy from the first second, just disagreeing with him about everything so she could store up Boardroom Points if they lost. Navdeep looks DISGUSTED and says that Andrew’s reading far too much into things. Andrew then fires back, asking Navdeep what she did on the task other than her crappy pitch, and Navdeep replies that she really tried to get involved with the advert, but Andrew blocked her at every turn. Andrew then sneers that if she’d been on the advert it would have been as simple, bland, and boring as her uninspired storyboards were. MEOW.
Lordalan, sensing a general theme to Navdeep’s portrayl here, asks her if pitching is really all she’s good for. She protests that she has plenty of other skills besides pitching, and then Lordalan cuts her off to say she wasn’t even that good at that on this task. Andrew then decides to bring up, in the most transparently weaselly way possible, that Navdeep admitted her pitch was crap in Loser Cafe because she didn’t understand the concept. Navdeep replies that she knew her pitch was bad when she finished, because she just had a sense of it. Andrew then starts talking over her, all “ADMIT THAT YOU SAID THAT IN LOSER CAFE!”, and Navdeep says that she admits that she said the pitch was bad, but not because she didn’t understand the concept, it was because the concept was awful.
Lordalan then says he’s going to give the Apprentibabies a Life Lesson. If you come up with an idea that sucks, it doesn’t how much time, effort and love you’ve put into it before the point you realise it sucks, it has to be binned and replaced with something else, even if it’s a last-minute bodge-job. Well that explains a lot. Andrew complains that he DID try to replace it, but nobody was giving him any alternatives. Lucy Beauvallet sighs that she tried, and Andrew says that he appreciates that it was very hard. Yes, poor Lucy Beauvallet.
The advert is covered next, as Lordalan says that he thinks the task could almost have been salvaged by it, but in the end it just turned out to be a bunch of guys nicking one another’s hair-gel. Why were they all dipping into one another’s cosmetics? That’s not what MEN do. Steven hand-waves that it was all Andrew & Lucy Beauvallet’s work, and Lucy Beauvallet handwaves back that the thieving was all Andrew’s idea. She didn’t want any of that base business in her advert. She wanted her advert to be good clean healthy fun, possibly with boy scouts. Andrew says that he thought it would give their brand a “cheeky edge”. He doesn’t see anything wrong with “sneaking a bit of a blob” in the men’s changing rooms. I’ll bet. Lordalan sniffs that it all made the product look a bit common and tawdry. And then there was the other fatal error in their advert – where were the boobs? Where were the sexy girls? Why weren’t the men all pulling the birds with their sexy gel powers? This is an advert for MEN’S COSMETICS right? You always have to lather them in as much muff as possible to avoid the impression of coming across a little…fruity. What were those men all doing in that changing room alone together, hmm? SUSPICIOUS!
Andrew is then forced to defend the end shot with the final model “looking like a plonker” on his way out and how this implies that anybody who uses their gel is also a plonker, because people are just that simple. He says that all the team LOVED that part of the advert, particularly Navdeep. In fact it was the only thing Navdeep liked all task.
Lucy Beauvallet is asked who was responsible for this task going wrong, and she says it was Andrew, which it was. She says that he wasn’t clear at any point, and he didn’t bring a coherent vision to their advert, and instead just muddied it up like he did everything else. Steven is asked the same question, and he says he blames Andrew as well, as he caused so much confusion. Navdeep is asked her opinion, and she’s with Lucy Beauvallet and Steven. ANDREW MUST GO! Finally, Andrew is asked who he’s bringing back, and he opts for Navdeep and Steven. Steven twizzles his head around sadly and asks Andrew why he’s being brought back, given that the advert is where the team really failed. Andrew deadpans that he can’t think of anything Steven did well on the task. So it’s him.
Candidates go out, Nick can’t even be bothered to muster up half an opinion on the team he just spent three days following, candidates come back in again.
We start with a very touchy Steven, who protests that he did everything asked of him on this task, including the soundtrack to the advert, which wasn’t easy with his accent. He says everyone praised him for his work, and Lordalan agrees that he certainly sounded like the sort of GEEZER-LAD who normally voiceovers for these things. Steven goes on to say that whilst Andrew said he couldn’t think of anything Steven did well on this task, he could say the same for Andrew. Lordalan asks Andrew to respond, and then Andrew claims he created the entire bottle single-handedly, apart from when Steven “moved the slogan to the top” (oof). He also says that he “championed” the advert as well as editing it. How do you “champion” an advert? Does he just mean “I did it?”. Anyway, Steven points out that the advert Andrew “championed” was awful and as for the bottle…
Sadly, Lordalan cuts Steven off at this point and tells him to let Andrew speak. Shame, there was a nice little spat brewing there. Andrew goes on to bitch merrily that Steven was extremely negative and unproductive in the design studio, and a complete “yes man” on the rest of the task. Steven, baffled, accuses Andrew of just playing boardroom tactics here because none of that is true, and Andrew sneers back “what, like the Boardroom Tactic of just blaming the PM?”. Steven points out that the entire team blame him, including Lucy Beauvallet who isn’t even here, so clearly something went wrong. He says that he was negative in the product design studio yes, because Andrew was doing so much wrong. Andrew bats back that he didn’t hear any negativity at all from Steven, completely contradicting what he said about 30 seconds ago. Boy is out of control and DESPERATE at this point.
As if to cap off the disintegration of this year’s “bromance”, Andrew finishes off his attack on Steven by saying that he’s nothing special and he doesn’t produce any worthwhile ideas, and Steven huffs clear off the handle, asking Andrew who HE THINKS HE IS to sit there and say that Steven’s “nothing special”. He’s not here to be Andrew’s Special Person! He’s here for Lordalan and nobody else! Well this is overwrought. He then asks Navdeep to back him up and say that he was a productive member of the team, and Navdeep does so.
Lordalan then asks Andrew why Navdeep’s here, and Andrew says it’s because she didn’t understand the concept, and didn’t tell him this before she started pitching it. Badly. Navdeep reminds Andrew that he said she did “very well” when the pitch was finished, and Andrew says that he told her it was “good”, and then this all turns into a three-way bicker between Navdeep, Steven and Andrew about the semantics of what Andrew said, and it really serves no purpose other than to make it entirely obvious that Andrew is flailing about at this point like a wind-sock in a hurricane. Navdeep then decides to make things extra-patronising, and tells Andrew that when he thinks she’s being negative for the sake of it, she’s trying to provide constructive criticism! For the sake of the team! Steven then decides to break down to Andrew what “constructive criticism” means, and Andrew sarcastically thanks Steven “for the tip”.
Navdeep then swings things back round to the concept, saying that she did genuinely think she understood it at the time, but then it kept suddenly changing by the hour to fit whatever new contradiction Andrew suddenly saw in it, and it left her confused. Steven then breaks in to say that whilst Andrew clearly understood the concept, the rest of the team didn’t, because he never explained it to them properly. Andrew grins and says that Steven never told him that he didn’t understand the concept. I love that, at this point, the talk about the concept has become almost as incomprehensible and boring as the concept itself. Very meta.
Navdeep is asked to beg now, particularly focusing around the idea that she’s academically gifted, but lacks business nous. She replies that she has “put herself forward” and “done stuff” and she’s only lost twice. She thinks she has “business in her”, although on reflection that may just be trapped wind. Andrew is asked to beg next and he says that he’s only lost five times and been in the boardroom twice because he puts himself out there so much. Yeah, didn’t make sense when David said it, and it doesn’t make sense now either.
Andrew is asked who should be fired, and he says Navdeep should be fired, because she’s not an all-rounder, and Lordalan just gets Navdeep and Steven to nod their heads that they think it should be Andrew who goes it’s that obvious at this point.
Fire-teasing is Andrew, for being on the losing team so often, causing him to burst into tears (again) but in the end it’s Navdeep who’s getting fired, with regret. Lots of regret. SO MUCH REGRET. More regret than he’s ever given any candidate ever before ever. It’s the most REGRETFUL REGRETFUL FIRING EVER! Until next week. Lordalan explains to Nick & Kaen that he wasn’t even firing Navdeep, just setting her free to be a lawyer like she should be. Her vs Lucy Beauvallet in a courtroom drama. I’d watch it. For her part, Navdeep says she’s just proud of how far she’s got, especially as an academic with no business background. I’m mostly proud of just what a GULF of feeling she gets between the hug she gives Steven and the one she gives Andrew. Truly her finest hour.
Back at the house, and Maria says she’ll be gutted to see Navdeep go, whilst Lucy Beauvallet sighs that she’ll be sad to see anybody leave, because Lucy Beauvallet is a force of pure love and light and has cookies and milk for everyone. Steven & Andrew then both return, with Andrew getting snatched up into a hug by Ashleigh, and Steven getting manhandled by everyone else. (NORFERN ALLIANCE <3). Andrew mugs to everyone about how Lordalan fire-teased him (conveniently leaving out the part where he cried and cried and cried) and reminisces over having lost five tasks now. Everyone there is SHOCKED that someone who lost so many times could still walk amongst them. For one more week anyway…
Next Week : A festival based task. Lucy Beauvallet is in INDIE BOYBAND HEAVEN.