Never Mind The Botox.
8:30am at Apprentice Mansions and the candidates are up and about already
just casually discussing what happened in the last boardroom, as you do. Neil and Jordan both agree that it was really intense and challenging and daunting and intimidating and all that stuff, and they weren’t sure they could meet the grade. But now that Myles’ SLAMMING BEACH BODD is gone, they can finally compete for Nick’s affections on an even playing field.
Dr Leah misses it. You can just tell. Those ripples. Those curves. Those bumps. Even her powers of Botox could do nothing but gaze mutely in awe.
The phone rings, and taking the penultimate point in Phone Answering Wars is
Neil. Rather gingerly. This leaves our scores heading into the FINAL ROUND as :
(Natalie : 2)
Neil : 2
Luisa : 1
Jordan : 1
Dr Leah : 1
Francesca : 1
Given…events, this means that you, the readers, will get to vote once again on who gets the coveted Monkseal Monkies Apprentice Phone Answering Wars trophy, because nobody is going to establish a clear win from here. As soon as either Dr Leah or Luisa’s hands so much as TOUCH that phallic phone in the final, lines will be open.
On the phone? It’s (a recording of) Lordalan himself, telling the candidates that interviews are coming a week early, so they’d better PREP. Can you imagine if this had happened in Series 7? Scribbles at interviews, Tom having to Project Manage a team to a win in the final without Helen to guide him, the inevitable one-episode return of the Vinnie/Ellie hatemance…What could have been. I easily would have sacrificed MyPy for it.
proclaims that she is worried, as does Dr Leah, although her face is
marginally less capable at conveying it. Jordan pips up that up until know they’ve been showing how THEY are capable (/more capable than Zeeshaan and Natalie Panayi) but now it’s time to show how their businesses are capable (/more capable than SOMEONE WHO APPARENTLY DIDN’T EVEN BOTHER TO READ THE RULES, JORDAN). Everyone scuttles off to their own corner of the house, in order to do some last minute revision (/not do any revision and just sing, like, Spice Girls songs and dance around a bit in your totes hot bikini cause revising’s for lames and corporates and shet). On their way out, if you squint
the picture kind of looks like Teddy. His spirit lives on and watches over us all.
Helpful Voiceover Man tells us that all of the candidates have 24 hours to remind themselves of what their business plans are, and what words like “turnover”, “profit”, and “money” mean. Their revision also serves as a useful reminder point to all of us as to who they are.
Midget Hipster Business Analyst Jordan Poulton, who has a death clock ticking over his head so loudly that I’m surprised anybody can hear anything else. He tells us he’s really excited that he’s going to get to clarify for Lordalan the “little misunderstanding” they had in the boardroom last week. Clarify that it’s SO MUCH WORSE THAN LORDALAN COULD EVER HAVE IMAGINED.
Entertainment Entrepreneur and Secret Stella, Francesca Macduff-Varley. Nice girl, dun’t do much. She thinks that if you have any shadow of a doubt about your ability at this point, then you will CRACK AND CRUMBLE AND DIE. Eh, Neil Clough managed to do it even without one.
Eternally chirpy Cupcake Queen and this year’s Official Villain, Luisa Zissman. She doesn’t think being a strong woman is a bad thing. UNLESS YOU COME AFTER HER TIM, IN WHICH CASE SHE’LL HAVE YOU BECKY. DON’T EVEN LOOK AT HIM! If you were still in any doubt about her reaching the final
LOOK AT THOSE MARGINS! It’s like business Ramadan.
Third-Person Spouting Footballing Neckbeard Enthusiast Neil Clough, who is according to Helpful Voiceover Man the “only candidate to lead a team three times”. How quickly we forget Apprenticoup 2013. Neil goes on as usual about how he knows he’s going to drive through a very succesful business with Lordalan, already looking a bit
sad behind the eyes.
And finally, Trouty Mouthed Boardroom Warrior Barbie, Dr Leah Totton. She tells us all that she has blossomed over the course of this process, as she came in with the least business experience, but still managed to almost win more tasks than she lost. One day she might even Project Manage a win without Neil and Myles having to take over and do the last bit for her. DARE TO DREAM.
8:00am…THE NEXT DAY
and Francesca’s hair is ready for war. I think we all know it’s badly outmatched by the Weapons Of Mass Destruction Dr Leah can bring out from underneath the hood, but I look forward to watching the competition anyway. On their way to their final destination – the Institute Of Directors,
Luisa starts practising her saucy Nuts photoshoot, just in case she doesn’t make it. I bet you can’t WAIT to see what’s in her portfolio, boys! Talk about a turnover *SAUCY WINK* Neil & Jordan meanwhile…
don’t. Instead they just sit sit there looking like the casting for the Winklevoss Twins in The Social Network went very wrong. DAMN YOU, ZUCKERBERG!
Once they arrive, they are greeted by
Nick and Kaen. I hope Kaen wears that coat for the entire episode. She’s got places to be. Lordalan descends to meet the assembled throng, and tells them all that at the beginning they gave him a very brief idea of what their business plans were. He mostly used this as an opportunity to make crappy puns and jokes about estate agents, so he’s forgotten them all now. Ah, who cares, Claude can sort all that bollocks that out. Off you go.
He tells them all, before they leave, to hand their portfolios over to Nick and Kaen. You can tell Jordan
is kind of considering turning around and legging it as fast as he can in the other direction. THERE’S STILL TIME JORDAN! STILL TIME TO SAVE YOUR DIGNITY!
Barely has everyone’s bum touched the soft cushiony seats of that atrium where that Final Five spoiler pic leaked from all those months ago, and Luisa’s already started.
Luisa : “OMG GUYS, HOW ARE YOU ALL FEELING?”
Dr Leah : “AYM REALLAY NERVUSS!”
Jordan *somehow oblivious that he’s about to suffer the biggest military wipeout since the battle of Omdurman* : “A true warrior something something I read Art Of War on my gap year”
Luisa : “I’M JUSS GONNA GO IN THERE AND LIKE, SMILE AND BE HAPPY AND SHET, AND THEN I KNOW I’LL HAVE A LOVELY DAY CAUSE MY BUSINESS PLAN IS THE MUTTS NUTTS AND I’M SURE YOURS ARE ALL GREAT AS WELL!”
*10 tasks Francesca, 10 tasks, you survived 10 tasks with her, in a row. What’s one more day? Hold it together.*
“YOU’RE BEING REALLY QUIET FRANNY FANNY!”
Francesca *staring through Luisa like she’s trying to set her on fire using only the power of her mind*: “………………………..”
Whilst those two are getting reacquainted, it’s time for us to get to know our four intervewers.
Claude Littner, the one Sonataran who doesn’t realise they’re just cuddly joke characters now. His job is to yell at everyone that their business plans are rubbish. He starts with Luisa, pointing out that she’s said that she’s a ruthless hirer and firer of people, who only gives them one chance or they’re OUT. And by “chance” she means “chance to not wear shoes and a handbag that match because that’s super lame I’m sorry, you can’t work for Dixie’s Cupcakes if you’ve never even read Vogue you nob”. Anyway, Luisa says that she’s a bit like Lordalan in that sense (how many chances did Michael Sophocles get again>) which sets Claude off in a random rage yelling about how she should NEVER COMPARE HERSELF TO HIS LORDALAN!
Jeez, alright Mrs Danvers.
Margaret Mountford, who…is sadly pretty much reduced to reading out the comedy bits of people’s application forms in a sarcy voice then popping an eyebrow. I swear, the PG Tips monkeys could do her job this year. I don’t want to contemplate the fact that Margaret may well be doing this because she’s cheaper than a PG Tips monkey. Jordan is first, as Margaret pulls a face at his saying that his personal icon is David Beckham. Personally I would have picked
the part where he claims to be “from no single place” like he’s the effing Man With No Name, but I guess that’s why I’m not Margaret, and never will be. Also because
I can’t do this with my eyebrow.
New Girl Claudine Collins, who is apparently here to “reveal the real people behind the self-promotion”. I already kind of hate her. We see her telling Francesca that she seems boring. Francesca says that she’s not boring because she went on a cruise once. Piercing insight into the WOMAN BEHIND THE BUSINESS MASK here.
Finally, Mike Souter, who I will be calling “Mike” officially from now on. Partially because Dec is now gone (THANK CHRIST) and partly because he’s clearly the only one of the four actually taking things seriously, and who doesn’t have an entirely one-note remit, so he’s kind of my favourite now. Who knew? Dr Leah is first in with him, and he asks her if he’s to refer to her as “Dr Leah”. Dr Leah smiles
sort of, that Mike can call her Leah if he likes. Because what would be more ridiculous than someone forcing everyone around them to call them by their honorific all the time, such that it almost becomes part of their name by osmosis? Hem. Mike asks Dr Leah what her business plan is, and she says that it’s to open a string of medical cosmetic clinics, where she will offer anti-wrinkle injections, facial fillers, and skin peels. Amazingly, Mike asks her
what he should have done. Even more amazingly, after an appropriate period of analysis, Dr Leah actually answers him, telling him that he has two major areas she’d work on. First he’d get botox in his forehead, temple, and upper nose. Then she’d use fillers to make those great big lines in his muzzle less pronounced. It’d cost him £600, especially as “you’d probably need more than one syringe”.
That’s where I decided I wanted Dr Leah to win. I like Jordan, and I think he deserves it based on the tasks, but let’s face it, that goose is cooked. Neil’s too inscrutable for me to ever get behind and Luisa is, whilst a force of entertainment, also so made for her niche on the show that it’d be really odd if she won. Dr Leah on the other hand, just got sassy.
Back in the atrium, Neil is telling everyone that he just wants to do one interview after the other “boom boom boom boom” because he’s so ready for it. He’s called up for his first bout, and the show does its level best to make him look like he’s
ascending to heaven on God’s own elevator. Dr Leah mutters to Jordan that she’s sure Neil will be able to sell himself. Jordan pats her arm (probably) and tells her that he’s sure that Neil will do just fine. It does sound a *bit* like the vet’s about to take Neil behind the curtain.
Neil’s first encounter incidentally, is with Claude. It turns out that Neil’s business is an online estate agency, where the vendors organise their own viewings. He believes that there is nobody in the world better placed to sell your house than you.
Claude takes issue with this (*shock shock horror*) on it’s basic premise, as do I. Did you not SEE Series 2 Neil? There’s nobody better placed to sell your house than RUTH “THE BADGER” BADGER. Claude’s point though, does not involve Ruth Badger. He says that it’s all very well for Neil to say that, because he’s an Apprentice Salesbot. He probably can sell his house (and, it turns out, he did) but what about the common man? Neil says that he takes that on board, but he has to challenge Claude on this.
Claude looks ready.
Outside, Jordan whines that Neil has one mode, and that’s “Neil” and there’s nothing else, and Jordan finds it really offputting. On the one hand I personally agree with that…rather cryptic statement, I think, but on the other…Jordan is the last person to be sounding off about how off-putting someone can be. If all I’d seen of him was the Boardrooms and the face he puts on for authority, I’d have him down as being WORSE EVEN THAN ZOE BERESFORD. Anyway, Luisa just squeaks that Neil being Neil is probably going to get him in the final. Jordan being Jordan on the other hand, is going to get him the next three year’s worth of night sweats and waking up screaming “I’M NOT A PARASITE! I COULD HAVE BEEN A MARINE!”
Back with Claude, Neil’s defence turns out to be that he’s going to allow estate agents to advertise on his website as well. Claude points out that loads of people do this already, and the market leaders are well ensconced. Why would people not just go to them? Neil…kind of doesn’t have an answer, and just says he’s going to compete with them. We then get this :
Claude : “It won’t work!”
Neil : “Yes it will”
Claude : “No it won’t”
Neil : “Yes it will”
Claude : “It’s a fantasy!”
Neil : “No it’s not, I know loads about property”
Claude : “No you don’t”
Neil : “Yes I do”
Claude : “It’s crap”
Neil : “Well I don’t think so”
Claude : “I do think so”
Neil : “Well I don’t, I think it’s great”
Claude : “I KNOW YOU ARE, BUT WHAT AM I?”
Neil : “That doesn’t even make sense”
Claude : “Quiet you”
The debate equivalent of Rock Em Sock Em Robots there.
Neil wanders out, and tells everyone that he really loves being challenged, and getting the chance to defend himself. Just going “I disagree” is not defending yourself Neil.
Back with Margaret and Jordan
and his 10 GCSEs (2 taken 1 year early, FWIT FWOO), and she’s finally found some meat on the bones of his application form. She asks him what he did at Oxford Entrepreneurs Club, you know, other than smoke weed and dress up like a Smurf. Jordan rattles off that he was so inspired by all the entrepreneurs that he met at Oxford that he worked his way up to take the role of President after he graduated, a role which he then used to help all the other new young entrepreneurs with creativity, strategy, and marketing. Margaret seems impressed. Margaret apparently hasn’t noticed that
Jordan’s forehead vein already has its own post code.
Francesca is in with Claude next, and he tells her that he wants her to talk about her “career progression”. She skips over the part where she won this show already and is only here getting evidence for her forthcoming tribunal, and recounts how she set up her own business with £5000 she borrowed off the back of the value of her car, and from there she’s worked her way up to owning three of them. In a series where she was any good, Francesca’s victory would have been pretty inspirational wouldn’t it? Claude tells her though, that he doesn’t see anything in her business plan or background that would suggest that she can become the sort of Big Deal this show is looking for. Also
her name is typed out so huge it pretty much covers one page all on its own. Now that’s filler.
He goes on to sneer that after 10 years hard work, Francesca’s businesses are piddly, and asks her for her profit and turnover figures.
Francesca dunt know. Claude tells her that she should. She then gets turnover and profit mixed up and huffs and puffs and contradicts herself and it turns out she claimed in her application that she had a turnover of
…yeah, that amount. Claude challenges this figures, and Francesca grimaces and says that “the number five just came into my head”. Oh Francesca. Claiming a naughty raccoon did it would have come across better than that. Claude tells her that she’s a farce.
Luisa : OH MY GOD FRAN, WAS IT AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWFUL?”
Francesca : *die die die die die die die die* “It wasn’t the highlight of my career, no”
Luisa : “OH NO! WHAT A PITY! WAS IT AS BAD AS YOU THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE, OR WAS IT WORSE? IT WAS WORSE WASN’T IT?”
Luisa’s follows in to mop up after Francesca with Claude. You can see that he’s annotated her listed potential cash flow in her business plan both as “fanciful” and “unrealistic” by the way. It turns out though, that Luisa has a much better grasp of her figures than Francesca did, and also that her companies have much larger turnovers. Such a large amount of turnover that Claude says that he doesn’t understand why Luisa is even here in the first place. I mean…I’m sure we could all hazard a guess… Anyway, Luisa bugs her eyes out and says
“BECAUSE I WANT MORE!”
Well, now I’m scared. It’s like Veruca Salt never fell down that squirrel chute.
Thanks to the magic of a time machine, Francesca is back with Claudine again. Claudine asks her if she’s found the process easy or hard. Francesca says that she’s found it (/Luisa) harder than she expected. She thinks that a lot of the other candidates (/Luisa) have used tactics and gameplans and she’s not personally comfortable with that (/Luisa). At this, we jumpcut straight to Luisa’s smiling broadly at Jordan and asking if he feels much more comfortable now than he did, you know, during that last Boardroom where he almost blew chunks and totally embarrassed himself.
I like how Luisa is fundamentally impossible to Redemption Arc 100%. So pure.
Jordan is thus sent off to the smothering arms of Claudine, who is leafing through his CV.
In which we learn that he loves David Beckham so much because he is gracious in both victory and defeat. Yeah, that’s the David Beckham I remember. Dr Leah sighs that if Jordan can’t give a good interview, nobody can. Dr Leah’s read on people is…a bit off in this episode. Indeed Jordan tells Claudine that he’s always known that he;s much better than everyone else and
uses bloody air quotes. Needless to say, Claudine hates him. She grimaces and brings up how he seems to think he’s much more responsible for the success of the Oxford Entrepreneurs under his care than they do. Indeed they seem to think he just ordered the sandwiches and booked everyone’s taxis home. Jordan splutters that without his love and guidance as President they never would have succeeded and sold their ideas to Google and become incredibly successful, so succesful that they didn’t need to go on The Apprentice, NOT THAT HE’S BITTER. Claudine grins her best
Vanessa Feltz Daytime Smile and tells Jordan that it seems to her like he’s just a user, who jumps on actually successful and talented people, fleeces them with his business management consultant twaddle, then moves on to the next poor sucker. Jordan says that’s unfair. Claudine asks him what businesses of his own he’s started. Jordan says he traded ironic Gilligan’s Island t-shirts on eBay once. IT SO COUNTS!
Oh God, the air quotes are back.
Back in the atrium, Francesca, sounding a bit like she’s talking to the seagulls on her own private desert island, where she’s stuck with Luisa who has gone off to collect coconuts to make a TOTALLY SEXY BIKINI WIV, says that she’s just got to keep her stamina up. She’s almost there now. Almost…made it. Neil just blythely shrugs that he thinks it’s getting easier as he goes on. Mmmm hmm.
Margaret with Luisa now. Turns out Luisa said on her application form that she
has a brain like Einstein! Personally, I’d fix that like this
but Luisa says she was just being a bit tongue in cheek. Margaret asks Luisa if she thinks it was sensible to put tongue in cheek attention grabbing comments on her application form for a tv gameshow where the prize is £250,000 and you’ll only get cast if you put tongue in cheek attent…well, you get my point. Just like we ALL did last year with Ricky Martin. And yet, on we trundle. To Luisa smirking that there’s nothing wrong with having a personality.
MARGARET DONE A FAAAAAAAAAAAACE.
She meets Neil next, and tells him that she thinks his business plan is perfunctory, especially given that he’s spent two years working on it, and just a bad idea. Nobody wants to organise viewings and show people round their house. (Actually, I was in charge of trying to off-load our third year student flat to prospective replacements, and I was actually rather good at it. If I sold anything, it’d be houses, I think. Not that I EVER WILL) (Cool story bro).
That done, Margaret moves straight on to Francesca, as she sneers her way through reading a part of her application form where Francesca says that the most interesting thing about her is her love of shoes.
I include this screenshot, partly as a counterpoint to the absolute FOREST of text Jordan threw in his (seriously, Francesca blatantly applied for this show whilst pissed, 5 minutes before deadline, and just threw the whole thing together, FIVE MILLION TURNOVER WHY NOT?) and partly because, under the question “What makes you different from all the other people who want to be The Apprentice?”, Francesca has written ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Anyway, Francesca defends her love of shoes and
MARGARET DONE A FACE AGAIN! (It tuns out that Francesca’s business plan is a nationwide series of dance studios for people to exercise in. About what you’d expect then).
Just to get all our Margaret over with in one go, she meets Dr Leah last. Margaret asks her why she wants to abandon her career saving lives as an A & E doctor to stick middle-aged women full of face-poison, and Dr Leah says it’s mostly because she needs the money.
Margaret asks Dr Leah if she thinks Lordalan has anything to do with medicine (does Margaret think Dr Leah’s business plan has anything to do with medicine?) and Dr Leah replies that she knows he doesn’t, but she also knows that she does. Seriously, Dr Leah is SO GOOD at this bit.
Speaking of which, here’s the opposite.
Jordan with Claudine, bursting out of his suit, talking about his business plan, shiftily. Claudine plays irritatingly dumb to the references to Jordan’s tech bod gimp friend, asking if he’s talking about Lordalan. Because if not, SHE’S CONFUSED. Jordan’s all “no, I’m talking about my mate” and Claudine then points out to Jordan that having friends isn’t allowed. Tom didn’t have any friends. Ricky Martin didn’t have any friends. YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED FRIENDS! LORDALAN GETS JEALOUS! YOU’RE NOT GOING OUT DRESSED LIKE THAT, AND YOU’LL BE HOME BY 10:30.
Luisa’s in with Mike next, and he asks her what her business plan is. Apparently it’s a “new baking brand” encompassing cake tins, edible glitter and “sprinkles”. Mike says that he’s not really getting anything from the business plan on paper. It says that Luisa is going to be a manufacturer and a wholesaler and a retailer and a distributor all at the same time. Luisa nods along that that, indeed, makes no effing sense. Fortunately for her, she goes on to give a little stump speech about how her experience in the baking industry has shown her the problem – small, archaic family run firms, with no scope for expansion gumming up the works. Mike’s all “SO WHY ISN’T THIS SPEECH IN YOUR BUSINESS PLAN THEN?” and Luisa gulps.
Dr Leah is similarly hitting her main bump at this point, as Claude tells her that her business plan isn’t very good.
Dr Leah does her best to look contrite, and says she agrees, but in her defence, she has no business experience whatsoever. She is making it sound a bit like she put her business plan together with Crayola and craft scissors. Claude asks her what she anticipates her Year 1 profit being, and she says £265,000. Claude says she won’t do it, and Dr Leah gasps that she so will. Unlike Neil, though, she actually has an argument to back that up. I mean…the argument is “I can recount my business plan verbatim without looking at it” but…it’s impressive, and that’s all that matters. Her expenditure by the way is :
Rent : £30,000
Receptionist : £16,000
Cleaner : I’ll do this
Lab Technician : Me too
Nurses : Why not? I’d look great in the uniform
Doctor : DUH! IT’S IN MY NAME!
PR : Me
Advertising : Me
Legal : Nobody’s going to sue because I’m great at doctoring
Electricity : NOTHING. THE STATIC I CAN GET OFF THIS HURRRR CLAUDE, YOU WOULDN’T BELAYVE!
Zeeshaan : NOTHING, HE SUCKS, SO INCOMPETENT, DID I MENTION HOW MUCH I CAN’T STAND HIM BY THE WAY?
Back with Mike now, and he’s making a very strong play for the role of “Best Interviewer” by taking Jordan up on his application form boast that he can do a Rubik’s Cube in 3 minutes.
He can’t. I’ll give Mike this, you can hardly see where he reconfigured all the little stickers by hand to make it impossible. Normally you’d at least see a bit of resin. Anyway, Jordan gets all huffy and “I MADE A MISTAKE, I’LL ADMIT IT!” about it. It’s odd. Out of all the denials, clarifications, and slightly concerning twitter meltdowns that Jordan has issued over the whole of his performance over the last two episodes, he seems *most* defensive about this, his inability to do the Rubik’s Cube. Mike, as ever, has hit a nerve.
We move on to Jordan’s business plan, again, and again he has to defend his silent partner, who appears to be bringing the actual skill and ability to the venture. Jordan defends this by saying that “without a Steve Jobs, there wouldn’t have been a Steve Wozniak”. Steve Wozniak was on Dancing With The Stars. He did the worm, and accused the show of rigging when he got eliminated. That’s my input on that score. Things then fall deeper into a hole as it turns out that
a) Jordan’s techy friend actually created and owns the business Jordan is promoting as his own
b) He hasn’t actually cut Jordan in properly yet, but the PAPERWORK IS TOTALLY PENDING.
c) It kind of turns out that there’s also ANOTHER person who owns this business besides Jordan and his techy friend.
Interesting isn’t it that the *entirity* of the male cast was either a “big character” or secretly had a horrifibad business plan? Except maybe Kurt? Or if you want to write fan-fic about Tim. Lord knows I do. Maybe not that kind.
Next up, Claudine with Neil. Someone in the background proper ramps the sad piano up to 12, as Neil talks about how competitive he is. Claudine rams the “talk about your inspiration and where your behaviour comes from” button until Neil coughs up his dead dad, and the fact that
a) Neil didn’t take a day off work when his father died
b) he feels like he let his dad down by not becoming a professional footballer, in a way he feels like he can never truly overcome
I guess I should be grateful to Claudine for SHOWING THE MAN BEHIND THE BUSINESS and rounding off some of Neil’s hard edges, but mostly I’m annoyed because I kind of feel like I’m watching Tricia. This is meant to be a job interview, not a therapy session. I don’t really want to hear the words “I’m sure he’d be very proud of you” said in the context of this episode ever again. This is psychic pain – I want to watch a short person fail at the Rubik’s Cube.
Neil stumbles out, coughing and flushed. Luisa, of course, giggles noisily that he seems LOST FOR WORDS FOR ONCE and then Neil mutters something about Claudine wanting to talk about personal issues then
staring off into space. He’s kind of giving off the vibe that Claudine just tried to give him the bad touch a la Mrs Robinson, it has to be said. Oblivious, Luisa snorts that it’s going to go badly for her then. Never mind though “when in doubt, smile and pout!”. Luisa’s motto there, or that of the Territorial Army? You decide.
LUISA MEETS CLAUDINE!
Claudine : “So it says here that you think that your old boss was an idiot?”
Luisa : “Yup”
Claudine : “SOMEBODY IN THE PROCESS has told me that you’re very manipulative and untrustworthy”
Luisa : “Was it Francesca? To be honest, like you can’t trust anything she says cause I think she’s a bit *mouths bipolar*”
Claudine : “I’m saying nothing”
Luisa : “It so was”
Claudine : “HERE I can see your husband says that you’re a bit STUBBORN”
Nation : *falls off its sofa*
Luisa : “I fink it’s great that I’m stubborn tho cause it means I’m tough! Like, if you asked my fellow candidates they’d say my biggest strength is getting on with people. Except Franny obv. And Becky, but she’s well old so she doesn’t count, cause there’s like a generation gap and shet. And Jason, but he’s just TEASING, WE LOVED EACH OTHER REALLY! And Nick called me the worst person in the history of the world ever, but, erm…he doesn’t live with me so he doesn’t know the TRUE LUISA, LIKE, I DID DANCE SHOWS FOR EVERYONE AND MADE THEM CUPCAKE AND BRAIDED UZMA’S HAIR AND PAINTED JORDAN’S TOENAILS
LOVE ME DAMNIT, LOVE ME”
Claudine : “Well, Francesca said you were a bitch sooooo….”
Luisa : “ZOMG HI GUYS
SO APPARENTLY SOMEONE’S BEEN SLAGGING ME OFF BEHIND MY BACK.”
* tum ti tum*
We’re slowly pootling towards the end now, as we see Neil with Mike. Mike very quickly identifies the same problem with Neil’s USP as everyone else – nobody really wants to sell their own house, do they? And even if they do, why should estate agents pay for the privilege to have their properties listed alongside amateurs? Neil’s response, as ever, is “IT WILL ALL BE FINE! BEHIND EVERY GREAT ESTATE AGENT, THERE’S A NEIL CLOUGH”.
Claudine is next, picking on Dr Leah for thinking she’s well fit or something, I don’t even know, Claudine sucks.
How she can’t recognise that a candidate who thinks she should win because she’s got the most voluminous hair AND cites Eleanor Roosevelt as her role model is amazing defies belief. Dr Leah defends herself by saying she’s a GIRL so of course she cares about looking nice (…alright) but she doesn’t think she’s obsessed with how she looks.
Remember when we got outraged because candidates were asked about childcare arrangements because it was too personal? Claudine is literally just here to rake up dead dads and tell people off for thinking they’ve got nice tits. Claudine then accuses Dr Leah of luring young girls into hating their own bodies with her web of botox sin, and Dr Leah tells her to nob off. She then starts talking about what a moral and ethical person she is which…again, why I don’t want “Claudine”s here because this is the inevitable end result. People talking about what a nice person they are.
Let’s skip all that then, and get right to the main course.
Jordan : “Hello I’m Jordan”
Claude : “I know you are” (unnecessarily twatty right from the off, that’s our Claude)
Claude : “So it transpires that actually this isn’t your business.”
Jordan : “Mmm hmmm”
Claude : “MMMMM HMMMMM? WHAT DOES MMMMM HMMMMM MEAN?”
Jordan : “There’s three parts to the answer so…”
Claude : “SHUT IT, FRODO. YOU ARE NOT A SHAREHOLDER IN THIS BUSINESS! THEREFORE YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO EVEN BE HERE! FURTHERMORE, WHEN I GOT TO PAGE 45 OF YOUR 52 PAGE DIAAAAATRIIIIIIIBE I SEE YOU’RE ONLY PREPARED TO YIELD 15.39% EQUITY!
*the camera zooms to a figure of 15.39%, which Claude has circled seven times, and scrawled “MAD!” across. You can also see the word NO, written in giant capital letters*
Claude : “THAT’S NOT THE DEAL! THE DEAL IS 50%! YOU’RE FEEDING OFF SOMEBODY ELSE’S IDEA! YOU’RE A PARASITE! YOU DIGUST ME! I HATE YOU! YOU VIOLATE HUMANITY WITH YOUR PUTRID EXISTENCE! FRANKLY I’M SAD THAT WE WON THE WAR IF PUKES LIKE YOU ARE THE PRODUCT! HELL ITSELF WOULD NOT BE A SUITABLE CONTAINER FOR YOUR RANCID VILLAINY! THIS INTERVIEW IS TERMINATED!”
You can tell that Claude’s life just peaked there. I’m surprised he didn’t die on the spot. The best part was how you could tell he was just ITCHING to close it off by saying “You’re Fired”.
That’s not a happy man is it? Luisa asks him if that was one of the toughest interviews Jordan has ever had. Jordan nods along like it actually happened.
We close, still with Mike and Neil. Mike tries to tip the wink to Neil as hard as he can, saying if Lordalan really saw Neil’s potential as a human, but didn’t like his business plan (ie, exactly what’s going to happen) what would Neil do to remedy that? Neil says that he’d just persuade Lordalan that his business could work.
I just…it’s just wrong isn’t it?
So many thoughts flash through my mind here. Who would have won the old bunch of series under the new format? (My guess : Tim, Michelle, Simon, Claire, Yasmina, Joanna). What would have happened if Helen had been given the chance to make Helen’s Plan B bakery a reality in a final task? How would they have made “Tom Gearing sets up a hedge fund” into half an episode? What exciting and revealing anecdotes about Jade Nash’s kitten Cookie could Claudine have dug up? I guess we’ll never know…
All done, the candidates sit outside and front things out. Luisa cackles that now she thinks about it, she thinks she really messed everything up. Dr Leah says she’d be really disappointed not to make the final after that. Francesca says she’s just glad it’s over. Neil says that he thinks he answered everything perfectly. Jordan
Lordalan grins at his gang of interviewers
well aware of the suck-uppy bum-licking that is to follow. He thanks all four of them for the effort they’ve put into appraising the final 5 candidates. Margaret having put in all the effort of Meryl Streep phoning in another midlife crisis rom-com.
We start with Luisa. Lordalan tells the gathered four that she has been “a handful”. Well, that’s what she paid for. Claudine leads off the opinions by saying that Luisa is very streetwise and bright, and Claudine has no doubt that she’ll make a big success of herself, but she comes across like a spoilt child. Claudine then recounts how Luisa slagged off one of her old bosses in interview and Lordalan
purses his mouth like he’s Kenneth Williams and he just smelt Luisa’s tribunal. Claude is next, and says that Luisa may be “too hot to handle” (what is this, Babestation auditions?) and her business plan is patchy, although he thinks it could be viable, given work. Mike then regurgitates some of Luisa’s spiel about slow old family run baking companies, and how Luisa’s going to solve that. Lordalan ponders who Luisa’s target market is, and Claude explains that it’s other retailers who might want to stock Luisa’s products. And get their shops burnt down by random hordes of marauding Jason fans presumably.
Margaret snits in that Luisa just wants Lordalan’s little black book of contacts to get a foot in the door, and Claude snits even harder that he thinks that it’s more his chequebook she’s after.
Francesca is delt with next. Margaret speaks up on her behalf, saying she’s identified a real craze for mixing dance with exercise. Lordalan snorts that if he invested he’d be a right LORD OF THE DANCE THEN. Everyone laughs uproariously at the hilarious joke, where Lordalan basically called himself Jesus. Claudine goes on to say that she thinks Francesca would need Lordalan’s help more than anybody else, but she also respects her deeply, because she’s a real self-starter and her hair has lovely natural bounce and shine and once she helped an old lady change her tyres over in the middle of the pouring rain.
Claude is next, and highlights Francesca’s habit of just making up any old numbers and calling it her turnover. He likes her, he thinks she’s very experienced the area she’s suggesting, he doesn’t think she warrants a big investment.
Neil is next on the docket, and Lordalan bigs up how great he’s been over the course of the process. Claude sighs that sadly his business plan is garbage, like he doesn’t think that about everybody’s.
Claude goes on to explain what it is, and the inherent problem of trying to get estate agents to advertise on a website that’s also trying to cut them out of the process entirely. Margaret says it just seems like a fairly blank-slate advertising website to her, and then Lordalan throws a minor tanty about how GREAT Neil has been over the last 10 weeks. Claudine takes up stumps on his behalf, talking about how passionate and driven he is, and how he wants to win more than anybody else. What can I say? Ladies Love Neil Clough.
Mike closes by saying that Neil’s passion and determination and focus did him in in the end with him. He couldn’t accept that anything about his business plan was wrong, and refused to change even a single facet. Everyone else nods along that they found the same. Lordalan pulls out Neil’s own card at this news, and says that he’s very disappointed. They make Neil sound so naive. The camera then
crashzooms to Kaen, presumably hoping to find her frantically scrying together a plan to keep Neil in, possibly involving pretending Dr Leah’s given her BAD BOTOX and she can hold it in no longer, whilst drooping her mouth down like those “HAVE YOU HAD A STROKE DEAR?” adverts. LORDALAN, LORDALAN, LEAH HATH RUINED MY FAITH! FIRE HER!
Dr Leah is covered, because OF COURSE we’re saving the disembowelling of Jordan Poulton for last, and Mike explains that she wants to open a string of clinics offering non-surgical beauty treatments. Lordalan jokes that lunchtime facial fillers sounds like a BIG SANDWICH HA HA HA. Everyone laughs, again. Well
Claude tries to, anyway. Lordalan goes on to say that he bets Dr Leah’s suggestion raised a few eyebrows, and then Claude snorts that YOU CAN’T RAISE YOUR EYEBROWS BECAUSE YOU’VE HAD ALL THE BOTOX HA HA HA! Jesus, if I wanted to hear this level of badinage I’d join a golf club, thanks. Lordalan says he thinks people who go to these places will go based on reputation and price, and Mike says that Dr Leah certainly has the second of those covered. Dirt cheap facial fillers for everyone!
Claudine of course at this point has to say that she found Dr Leah cold. She then utters the following gem AS A NEGATIVE : “she wants to be taken seriously, so she feels like she has to have a professional air”.
AS A NEGATIVE! YOU’RE WHY PATCH ADAMS HAPPENED CLAUDINE, I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY. Seriously, what a load of sappy soft-focus Bella magazine mush. Like, sorry she didn’t cry on your shoulder over her poor crippled pony, CLAUDINE. Mike brings things back to business, and says that Dr Leah is a very credible candidate, and Claude praises her attention to the Holy Margins, and says that she’s a “super smart woman”. Lordalan raises some grumbles about the ethics of her business, which I guess is the fulcrum of the series. If he can get over it, Dr Leah wins. If he can’t, she doesn’t. Lordalan closes by announcing that if he had anything to do with it, he’d make sure doctors were in charge of the whole enterprise.
I don’t think Dr Leah was advocating handing the process of injections over to a bunch of sushi chefs Lordalan, but YOU NEVER KNOW.
Lordalan asks everyone what they make of Jordan, to close, and Lordalan makes another crap joke about something, I dunno, I’m immune to them by this point. Claude says that he’s very sad (SO VERY GENUINELY SAD) to report to Lordalan that he had to (HAD TO, HE HAD NO OTHER OPTION) throw Jordan out of the interview room for biting him in the bolloc…oh no, wait, for not owning the business he was trying to get Lordalan to buy into.
Lordalan says that he can’t really go into business with him then, because the people who ACTUALLY OWN THE BUSINESS (seriously) might have other ideas.
Mike follows up by saying that Jordan is a very driven individual, but he’s not an entrepreneur. He just takes the credit for other people’s work. Oof. Margaret closes by saying that Jordan is very intelligent and articulate, which allows him to put up a good show, but you can tell that she doesn’t think there’s a lot underneath it.
Before the candidates enter, Lordalan asks Kaen what the hell Jordan is doing here in the first place. It’s not The Apprentices! Kaen replies that frankly she noticed throughout the process that Jordan never did anything on his own. He only ever ate sharing bags of food. Other candidates kept finding him in their beds because he didn’t want to go to sleep alone. He even made the other male candidates accompany him to the toilet (presumably in case he fell in the bowl). THE CLUES WERE THERE!
The husky secretary ushers everyone in to the boardroom and
you can tell Jordan can already feel it in his waters. Indeed, Lordalan starts with him, just to put him out of his misery quickly. He tells him that the only reason Jordan survived last week’s boardroom is because Lordalan is a technology person, like Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Meg Whitman, or Robocop. He wanted to see if Jordan could redeem himself but he couldn’t. In fact he doesn’t even own his own business. Jordan’s Redemption Arc truly is the best one ever, in that it just SMASHED RIGHT DOWN INTO THE GROUND.
Lordalan : “It’s not your business!”
Jordan : “That’s not the case Lordalan”
Lordalan : “YES IT IS!”
Jordan *reaching a pitch so whiny you’d think there was a little man inside operating him via violin* : “IT’S MY VISION!”
Kaen : “Well, Claude said otherwise. You’re not even a shareholder”
Jordan : “I’ve had a gentleman’s agreement with this person since the day I met him! We nicked our fingers with a steak knife and became BLOOD BROTHERS! We’ve both slept with one another’s sisters! IT’S AN UNBREAKABLE PACT!”
Lordalan : “Cut the crap! I can’t invest in a business that’s already going! The final task is supposed to be based around you launching it! What am I gunna do for vat? Have Jason turn up and do some photocopying whilst Uzma makes the tea? NAH! NO DICE! YOU’RE FIRED!”
He’s so vexed, he just picks up his suitcase and walks off. Doesn’t even roll it. In a way I feel sorry him, but I also don’t, because seriously, read the rules. They aren’t going to change them just for you because you give nice speeches and have a decent marketing brain.
Lordalan tells everyone, grandiosely, that he hopes that he showed them that he’s dead serious here and that “business is business”. And he’s in the business of SQUISHING MIDGETS. (Last short joke. This series. I promise. I’m 5ft 6, I’m MOCKING MY OWN).
Luisa is next, and Lordalan tells her that she’s already succesful, and in fact he thinks she’s got a mini-conglomerate. Well, after the surgery, I’m sure she does. He doesn’t think she’ll be able to focus on her mini-conglomerate AND him at the same time. Luisa promises she will give him 100% of her attention, and then Lordalan blarts out that he’s SICK OF HEARING ABOUT PEOPLE GIVING HIM WHATEVER PERCENTAGE OF WHATEVER.
I can definitely see how that would get tiring. Luisa tells Lordalan that her having three other businesses can only be of benefit to Lordalan. The problem with current cupcake businesses is that they’re too small. With Lordalan’s help, Luisa will widen her mini-conglomerate out to become a MAXI-CONGLOMERATE, MAKING HER QUEEN OF BAKING, WITH LORDALAN AS HER COURT JEST…erm…prince and shet.
Francesca is asked next how she thinks she’s done in The Process so far.
Given that her first act after getting fired appears to have been to form a Thelma & Louise style double-act with Stella (OH MY GOD, THEY’RE SISTERS, IT ALL MAKES SENSE) I’m guessing she’s a little soured on The Process, Lordalan. Anyway, Lordalan tells her that he thinks she’s played it safe, and he’s seen no “flashes of brilliance” from her in the competition. Whereas Myles was flashing his brilliance every time a camera was on him. And his arse.
Francesca protests that her disposition isn’t flashy by nature (she says sat there in her leopardprint businesswear). Kaen breaks in to say that she thinks that Francesca has really struggled with the ruthlessness of the competition
whoever that might be. Francesca agrees that she’s just too nice and fair for this show, but she doesn’t think that’s anything to be ashamed of in the real world outside of flogging pretend brands of shitty microwave meals. Francesca says that at her age she knows herself, and she knows what drives her. It’s a survival instinct, and she doesn’t think the other contestants left have that.
Dr Leah is next, and Lordalan says that normally scientists and doctors make the worst business people. Hang on, I thought that was engineers. Or lawyers. Or academics. Make your mind up Lordalan. WHO IS THE WORSTEST? He asks Dr Leah why he should believe that Dr Leah is the only doctor in the history of the world ever who could make a success of themselves in business. EVER. DON’T GOOGLE IT, HE’S RIGHT. Dr Leah just replies that she’s shown her skill in the tasks and also
NO OTHER DOCTOR HAS EVER HAD HER VOLOOOMINUS HAYUR! Kaen asks Dr Leah if she’s been on a journey, Dr Leah says that she has. She’s learnt SO MUCH Kaen, SO SO MUCH. Mostly what an Oud (OYYY YOYYY DOYYYY) is.
We move on next to the moral and ethical problems inherent in the facial rejuvenation industry. Dr Leah pouts that
she’s CONFUSED. What moral and ethical problems? Lordalan tells her to cut the act, because we’ve all seen The Bride Of Wildenstein, thank you very much. Dr Leah squeaks that she is the most genuinely legit person in the WORLD. She cares about the people in her care. She would NEVER give ANYONE fillers that she didn’t think they could handle. Lordalan asks if she’ll turn people with mental health problems away from disfiguring themselves and Dr Leah does her best
Face of Sincerity and says that OF COURSE she won’t…erm…will. Lordalan says that he’s not convinced.
I mean, obviously there are issues here, but Lordalan’s gingerness is a little hypocritical given that he recently invested heavily in Susan Ma’s face cream empire. We’ve all heard the horror stories about the horrific allergies and rashes people can develop from face creams with ingredients that haven’t been ethically sourced. In fact I recently saw a hard hitting documentary about it.
Neil is next to be addressed, and Lordalan tells him that he’s going to very honest with him here. His neckbeard looks awful. If Lordalan’s going to invest in him, it has to go. He needs some need salt & pepper designer stubble, or he’s gone. Oh, also his business plan was shit.
Lordalan says that he knows that he briefly flipped through all of them at the beginning of the series, and got a brief precis (LOL, NOT WHAT YOU SAID AT THE TIME, YOU ACTED LIKE YOU’D BEEN THROUGH THEM WITH A MAGNIFYING GLASS AND WHEEDLED OUT ALL THE SHIT ONES, WHAT A SURPRISE THAT WASN’T TRUE EH?) but now he’s read it in full, it’s clearly not going to work (/is going to compete with Lordalan’s already existing interests). He’s shocked and devastated, and doesn’t know how he’s going to carry on. He can’t bear the thought that somebody who was best at the tasks might not win, because it’s certainly never happened before in more or less every single series.
Of course, Neil’s defence is only that “it will work! It DOES make sense!”.
Hey Lordalan, does it make any less sense than “let’s charge people to recycle their computers even though most councils already offer to do it for free”? JUSS SAYIN. Anyway, it turns out Lordalan’s biggest problem is that Neil is trying to both undermine and provide a platform for estate agents. Neil just says that he believes in his business plan and he believes in himself.
What follows next is just a slippery and rather desperate slide down into Neil getting fired, with him saying that he can make things work, and Lordalan saying he might as well just put his money in a slot machine and Neil saying that NEIL CLOUGH CAN MAKE THAT FRUIT MACHINE PAY OUT! THREE CHERRIES GUARANTEED WITH NEIL CLOUGH! and Lordalan just yelling “NEIL YOU CAN’T!” in a way that sounds faintly ruder every time the volume increases. He gets a “with regret” and a “I’m sure Nick and Kaen are very disappointed” and a “if this show was under the old format I definitely would have given you a job” (which I for some reason find far more believable with Neil and I did with Helen, for whatever reason) but in the end
he’s still fired.
In his Cab Of Shame (presumably Jordan’s been stored in the boot), Neil tells us that he’s
absolutely heartbroken. He’s let his wife and family down, and it’s the first time he’s ever cried in his life ever. Heavy scenes, man. Heavy scenes.
Which leaves us with a
VAGINA PARTY Top 3. Candidates go out, Lordalan tells Kaen that if she’s been affected by any of the issues in this programme, there’s a helpline she can ring manned by the same people who talked teenage girls through the Boyzone split, candidates come back in again.
Lordalan starts by patting them all on the head and telling them that they’ve all done extremely well to get this far. Francesca already looks kind of
Lordalan turns to Dr Leah and says that he’s now, after consideration, decided she is a very ethical and moral person, but he wants her to convince him that she knows that things could do wrong, and she’s not so wrapped up in her own superiority that she doesn’t see the risks. Dr Leah promises that she’s not just going to botox any Tom, Dick or Harry to make a few quid. She’s trained far too hard for her medical registration to blow it all just to make a quick buck. Lordalan snorts that she can talk as quick as she wants, but she can do far more damage than one of Luisa’s cupcakes can. Luisa
looks like she’s willing to give it a go. Dr Leah replies that that might be true, but she’ll also make far more money than Luisa’s cupcakes.
Lordalan turns to Francesca next and asks how she’s going to scale her business up. Francesca looks a bit
caught in the headlights. She just says that the dance-fitness industry is booming (it was even used as a task on hit tv show The Apprentice last series!) and there’s masses of people who are willing to pay, and who are currently having to make do with village halls. She thinks she’ll easily become a brand, and scale up from there.
Luisa’s doubts are fiddled with next, as Lordalan says that he’s worried that she’s too wilful, and too much of a game-player. Luisa says that she admits that she is a strong powerful modern independent woman who knows what she wants and sets out to get it (somebody’s been borrowing Jordan’s self-help tapes) but she thinks that if Lordalan asks the two other women sat in the room if she can work as part of a team, they’ll both say she can. Well there’s a gambit. Dr Leah is of course very quick to say that her new BFF Luisa is telling the truth and then THE WHOLE WORLD TURNS TO LOOK AT FRANCESCA.
Francesca, after 10 weeks of Luisa in her face 24 hours a day, takes a deep breath right up her nose, and says that she thinks that Luisa was a game-player to begin with, but at this point she’s there on her own merits. Well there’s an answer that leaves nobody satisfied and which is thus, therefore, probably the truth.
Lordalan tells everyone that this is one of the most critical points of the series
and it’s pointing at Francesca. Dr Leah is put in the final first
and she’s most pleased about it. I think. Or she just saw a mouse.
As newly crowned finalists Luisa and Dr Leah wander outside for a pow-wow
like the credits for “Law & Order : Criminals Inskirts”. Nick assures Lordalan that both of them are super girls who could easily make him a lot of money *pat pat*. Kaen summarises that Luisa has seen a gap in the market, and Dr Leah has seen an emerging market. Also
INNIT GREAT THAT THEY’VE BOTH GOT BOOBS? Yes, after two whole series of men winning, it was starting to look a bit inbalanced there wasn’t it? Maybe Kaen could have a word with her fellow traveller Claudine for criticising women for being “too professional” but melting visibly at a man who bragged about not taking a day off work when his dad died. You know, for why that might happen.
In her own Cab Of Shame, Francesca closes the episode by saying that
it’s a shame, but she’s just glad that she made it to the Final 3. Somehow. And that they were ALL WOMEN.
Meanwhile in their Apprenticar, Dr Leah and Luisa give us all notice that
we’ve got our third Final Two in a row where they love one another. BORING. GIVE ME CATFIGHTS OR GIVE ME DEATH!
Next week :