5th place – the precocious whizz-kid who seems on paper a match for Lordalan : The Tech Giant but who is booted out unceremoniously with a business plan that insults the very idea of the process
4th place – the erstwhile front-runner and fan-favourite whose business plan is a mess and refuses to back down from it
3rd place – the candidate who you’re not really sure how they made it this far, other than that their rivalry with a fellow contestant made for good tv, who has a surprisingly tempting business plan that falls down on the fundamentals
Final Two – the series villain who had a long-standing rivalry with the 3rd placer and who wants to carry on more or less their day-job with their business plan, and the mildly Under The Radar calm cool and collected candidate who made it this far despite some serious mid-series blunders, who gets attacked at interviews for their flinty personality.
Phone Answering Wars
A late surge from Bianca means that scores currently stand at :
Mark : 2
Solomon : 2
Daniel : 1
Roisin : 1
Bianca : 1
Felipe : 1
Jemma : 1
Lauren : 1
Katie : 1
Sanjay : 1
Fans of adding up will realise that this means that on Sunday, either Mark will win outright, or Bianca will force a vote-off between her, Mark and Solomon. Exciting times. Anyway, Cousin It told Bianca that the candidates were to meet Lordalan at the Leadenhall Building (or if you want to call it by its official Stupid London Name (although why would you?) The Cheesegrater) and the cars to pick them up would be there……………TOMORROW MORNING……………………………AND BRING YOUR BUSINESS PLANS.
This 24 hour gap from usual procedings was of course for candidates to revise, touch up, and learn by heart their business plans, in time for grilling from Claude & The Vandellas. Or, in the case of Solomon, to write it. Personally if I had my way, Claude Littner would just appear in the middle of their kitchen one morning barking “YOU’RE NOT EVEN A FISH!” and the contestants would have to deal with it. But that’s just me. Highlights of the pre-interview process include
Mark’s business plan being the one that opens with an inspiration quote (in this case from noted anti-semite Henry Ford good job Mark) ; Solomon’s notepad scribble
actually probably containing more words than his business plan (and also possibly fewer doodles of wangs) ; Daniel’s business plan revealing that
nobody parties in February, and Roisin having a
teary meltdown over how she’s abandoned her high-flying career as an accountant for this businessplan so it better bloody work now. D’oops. Probably the most actually telling tidbit was Solomon announcing that he didn’t really care about all that “profit” and “numbers” stuff, what his business plan talked about was an IDEA. Solomon’s business plan basically then being the Apprentice equivalent of that notepad by your bed on which you note all your best business ideas before you fall asleep, and then wake up in the morning to find it reads “HAIRDRESSING SALON IN A MINIBUS”.
A JOURNEY COMPLETED
*sound of celestial choirs playing*
The Rise Of Ricky Martin
God how I’ve missed that eyebrow. So the surface story here is that this year Ricky Martin replaced Margaret as one of the interviewers and did a reasonably good job. The *deeper* story is that shortly after this episode aired, Nick announced his retirement from The Apprentice (I will try to keep my joy relatively subdued…) (WOOOO HOOOOO!), so now this feels a bit like a slow easing in for Ricky Martin to become the Alesha Dixon of The Apprentice, and move from one side of the desk to the other. And not in the “what some of us imagine Tom must have done to Lordalan to get the win over Susan Ma” sort of way. I personally think it’s a decent idea, although it would beg the question of how much work he’s actually doing as Lordalan’s “Business Parter”. Regardless, that eyebrow is more expressive on its own than the entirity of Nick’s face ever was. Still, let’s have a poll anyway…
Daniel Lassman, pitching an Online Events Management Company
As Mark said, “it’s best if Daniel goes first, because if you go after him YOU’RE BOUND TO LOOK GOOD AIN’T YA HURR HURR HUR” so let’s deal with his Interview Experience first off. Despite what we might have expected, Claude was actually reasonably nice to him, giving him the usual “ONLINE? IT’LL NEVER WORK!” and “you don’t know your figures” light grilling that he gave to Yasmina that you know doesn’t really mean anything, it’s just Claude…being Claude. If he didn’t accuse you of being innumerate then something would really be going wrong. No, Daniel’s most vicious interview tangle was with Mike Souter (known erstwhile of these parts as “Ant”) who revealed first that Daniel had made up (and probably awarded himself in his own private ceremony in the gents toilets) a sales award for one of his previous jobs that he TOTALLY DESERVED BECAUSE HE WAS THE BEST SALESMAN, THERE JUST, LIKE, WASN’T AN ACTUAL TROPHY, BUT STILL! and then managed to bait Daniel into yet another round of comparing himself to Mark in terms of sales figures. A battle that Daniel had comprehensively lost over the course of the competition – a fact that Daniel was absolutely unwilling to acknowledge, spluttering the word “HOT TUBS!” in a more venemous and vicious spit-flecked manner than even Michelle Bass managed during her infamous “NO! NAKED! JACUZZI! NESS!” rant from Big Brother 5. I think my favourite Daniel Interviews moment though was him claiming his CV was “if anything, under-exaggerated”. And here’s his logo.
That eye for Graphic Design! He will be missed.
Just a preliminary “NOB OFF CLAUDINE!” here. Just before we really get going.
Mark Wright, pitching an SEO/Online Marketing Agency
Solomon ushered Mark into interviews with a dark hint about how the latter doesn’t like surprises, presumably based on the time that he jumped out at Mark wearing the willykini (we’ll get to it) at 3am and asked him if he wanted to make a video. (Solomon believed that he personally, on the other hand, would be able to handle whatever the interviewers threw at him. Again, we’ll get to that in a bit). Sadly, for those of us for whom Mark’s little hiccup (/hysterical choking fit) last week wasn’t enough karmic comeuppance for a series of glib smugness…nothing bad or surprising was going to happen to him at interviews. Claude called his business plan a bit boring. That’s about it. In fact the MOST exciting thing that happened was when Ricky Martin got him to do role play (always a bad sign, when the most interesting part is role play, as many of my worst dates will stend testament to) with Ricky Martin as a potential customer for his agency, who Mark was cold calling. Ricky Martin suggested that Mark tell him what incentives he was willing to offer Ricky Martin for taking up with his business. It was fairly obvious what he meant but Mark sadly wasn’t willing or able enough to think outside the box such as to
try to do footsie with a guy over the phone. The most nauseating moment came though when Claudine spoke with Mark about his botched pitch to Tesco and he claimed he dryed up BECAUSE HE WAS THINKING ABOUT HOW MUCH HIS MUM AND DAD LOVE HIM and Claudine ate that shit up with a…actually no, no utensils, she just stuck her face in it and chowed down.
Roisin Hogan, pitching a range of diet ready meals
Called “Skinny Chick and Mr Lean”. Wasn’t that the name of that act who auditioned for this year’s X Factor featuring the guy from Freak Power and his much younger wife? Anyway, if you didn’t catch the snap from earlier in the episode, it emerged slowly over the course of the interviews, with few pyrotechnics, if you don’t count Ant
throwing out a competing brand of ready meal using the same ingredients (but…French apparently?), that Roisin had chucked in her lucrative career as a succesful accountant with Ernst & Young to VERY VERY PASSIONATELY follow the dream of a range of ready meals made of konjac root (which as far as I’ve heard has the texture of mouldy squid) that completely remove all traces of carbs from your convenience store snacking regime. And seriously what the fuck Roisin, THE CARBS ARE THE BEST BIT! GET RID OF THE FAT OR THE SUGAR OR THE MODIFIED CORN SYRUP OR WHATEVER, DON’T COME FOR MY DELICIOUS CARBS. I mean, the bare facts of Roisin’s bold life gamble got more depressing as you drilled down further and further (based on her business plan she’d be out of money in Month 2, her market research consisted of 6 strangers and her mum, in her head a major retail chain was going to trial the ready meals in one hundred stores, you know, just to try them out) until it was kind of sad to see Roisin, normally so level headed and assured, if a little weak-willed and pious, presented as some sort of blank-eyed zealot for konjac root, exhaulting it like a Jehovah’s Witness waving around the Watchtower. You just longed for someone to say “Roisin, just be an accountant, it’s fine, my dad’s an accountant, he hasn’t comitted suicide or anything, go with it, have fun at Ernst & Young”. And yet…nobody did.
Solomon Akhtar, pitching…god knows what, logistics on a yachting holiday by the looks of it
If Mark’s path through interviews was a sunlit horse & carriage ride through dappled meadows in a Jane Austen novel, then Solomon’s was that of the poor villager who’d got stuck in a wheel spoke three miles back and nobody noticed. First of all Claudine (whilst still adoring him because he has a peni…sorry BECAUSE HE’S LIKE AN ADORABLE LITTLE PUPPY (FUCK OFF CLAUDINE!)) brought up the “willykini”, which apparently was a product produced by Solomon at University that didn’t really take off. To hear Solomon describe it, it’s a mankini for the sort of guy who’s happy to say “no, the mankini offers far too much coverage for my tiny wang, please provide me with something skimpier”. I wonder why it never took off…
Second disaster for Solomon was when Ant revealed mid-interview that he’d been through Solomon’s phone.
God only KNOWS the panic that went through Solomon’s head at this point. Happily for him, Ant was just responding to a claim on Solomon’s CV that he was part of The Ideas Generation (didn’t they used to dance on Top Of The Pops in the 70s?) and had a whole world of exciting ideas that he’d tapped onto his phone just ready to be birthed into the world. Needless to say…he didn’t. The two ideas as aired on the episode were “send me a list of ingredients and I’ll make you breakfast” and “a shop on the high street with beds in, for you to sleep in”. Helen Milligan’s business idea was better than that. HELEN. MILLIGAN. Finally though, Solomon’s end came at the hands of Claude, who pulled a truly beautiful bait and switch ; first praising to the skies just how warm and fuzzy and gooey Solomon’s CV made him
(and let’s not speculate too much on why Claude might be excited by a website called Instabear…), to Solomon’s
transparent distrust, before YANKING on the rug hard, calling his business plan (which it turned out was 8 pages long and mostly pictures and not for anything particularly interesting or exciting anyway) A WASTE OF HIS TIME and PATHETIC and asking Solomon if he was TAKING THE PISS, before ordering him out of the room. At which point Solomon made for the nearest window, and trailed behind a trail of
images suggestive of impending pavement splattage right to the end.
Bianca Miller, pitching tights
At first, Bianca’s path through interviews seemed almost as assured as Mark’s. She started with Claude, who advised her that her business plan (tights and control pants for non-white British women who can’t find ones to match their skin tone) was too ambitious, then moved on to Ant and adjusted accordingly based on Claude’s feedback. Sadly then she marched straight into Claudine, who told Bianca she was a bland professional corporate robot who clearly hiding the fact that she murdered children under her implacable cold demonic mask, and unless Bianca told her right now something that she’d NEVER TOLD SOMEONE ELSE EVER IN HER LIFE then Claudine would destroy her. Or words to that effect. I’ll say this, after two series of Claudine now, I’m about ready to say that she doesn’t like other women very much. Bianca, when asked to come up with a solitary interesting fact about herself
spooled out “I LOVE MY FRIENDS!” and “I LIKE BEING PROFESSIONAL!” and then once she’d left spiralled into a
vertiginous spiral of self-doubt and panic about whether she even is a real person, which ultimately ended up with her
crying bizarrely in front of Ricky Martin (luckily for her as well, as it diverted him away from his line of attack wherein he implied that she was ripping off the young disadvantaged children she mentors). His words – “WHY YOU CRYIN?” will echo with me forever. Anyway, basically, for me, interviews this year were all about Bianca Miller’s JOURNEY TOWARDS SELF-KNOWLEDGE, and it better either end with her winning or her deciding to go get her groove back on a Carribean party cruise.
Was mostly Claude talking about how he really enjoyed researching in detail the tights market hurr hurr hurr. Thanks Claude. It also featured the joy of Lordalan “hilariously” mistakenly calling konjac root “Kojak root” (hurr hurr) and Kaen sniffing that really she’s thought that Solomon was very immature this whole time, she’s just only mentioning it now. Also Nick saying and doing absolutely nothing except dreaming of retiring on some yacht somewhere. Also Claude really liking Daniel, which warms the cockles of my heart it really does.
Solomon first, quickly,
for his general immaturity and turning up with a business plan that was mostly clip art. Solomon then apparently went on to not at all confirm this impression of him being a bit of a kid by grumbling to the press about how Lordalan doesn’t even understand him and is so boring because he like wears a suit so he’s never really lived to be honest. And, you know, doing a sex tape and stuff.
Roisin next and
I know I highlighted it in the opening, but the script for this whole bit is so similar to last year’s I swear that he almost called her Neil at one point. And goodness knows Ladyalan complains enough when he does that to her. Lordalan tells her that it’ll never work, she insists it will, he calls her blahddy stubborn, she refuses to yield, he pulls out his “with regret” and fires her.
This left us with a Final Three of Bianca, Mark and Daniel, and to her credit, Bianca never really looked like being fired, although this may mostly of course have been due to Mark and Daniel continuing their petty squabbling with one another right up until the end, with Daniel *still* insisting that he was just as good a salesman as Mark, despite Lordalan very slowly explaining to him that not only had Mark sold more than him, so had four other people in the process. Lord only knows who they were. I hope one of them was Puddin. Needless to say, for all Daniel’s protesting that Mark was just a salesman and he was so so so so much more, he was the one leaving us in third place, still doing
that mouf the whole time. He didn’t put in a bad showing at interviews, but at the end, I guess his overall performance in the competition was just…too Daniel Lassman
Your Final Two
I have to say after the death-feud of Chris Bates and Stella, the master-slave vibe of the Helen-Entity and Tom and last year’s female friendship fest of Luisa and Dr Leah, having a sleepover in their jim-jams, this feels like a bit of a…passionless Final 2. They only worked together twice, and barely interacted then. I want my finals to be BLOODSPORTS damnit, not these two disinterestedly pecking at one another. It also means that the best subteam of the series, business potential wise was…also the one that got the easiest call on the whole show (which Youtube collaborator to go for) completely wrong.
Next week :
I never knew that I needed to see Sarah Dales PM a bunch of truculent men until right this second.