TIGHTS VS SEO! THE CLASH OF THE CENTURY!
PHONE ANSWERING WARS!
Mark wins. I should have seen the whole of the finale coming like a steam-train at that anti-climax shouldn’t I? Mark can expect to receive the trophy at the Monkies on Monday from last year’s champion, Luisa Zissman, if she’s not too busy preparing herself to referee the Celebrity Big Brother fight of the century – Katie Hopkins vs Dapper Laughs. Or whatever American glamour models it is that actually eventually get cast, on the grounds that they shagged Charlie Sheen once. Anyway, Cousin It told Mark that Lordalan would be meeting them at the Bloomsbury Ballroom, with the Apprenticars arriving in half an hour. In their separate rooms, as they got ready, Bianca reflected solemnly on how this was one of the biggest days of her life so far, and Mark showed that he truly did deserve to be in that Final Two over at least Solomon by
being able to tie his own shoelaces. IN A DOUBLE KNOT. Never mind Solly, I’m sure you’ll get there in 2015. *ruffles hair*
As is now the pattern, the finals took the form of the candidates producing a launch event for their business, complete with branding, corporate videos, awkward q & a sessions, and inappropriate dance routines. And of course, as the candidates couldn’t do all this single-handedly, they needed the help of…
Oh ok, not really, they needed the help of the eliminated candidates. And, after last year’s entertaining, but ultimately probably best as a one off round of “Luisa Zissman’s Dream Phone”, wherein she dialled her final number for her ultimate dream date and found Jason Leech stood at the door with nerd glasses, one wilted rose, a cowlick, and a teddy bear tucked under his arm, we returned to the usual playground pick’em.
What an array. Roisin apparently not so lezzballs for Bianca that she’d come back to help her out with her final push to glory, eh Daniel? (Roisin is apparently going ahead with those carb-free meals by the way, branding them Nudels, and quite possibly featuring her on the packaging wearing nothing but a ramen bikini) (And good luck to her). Long time readers will know that the team pick is ALWAYS my favourite part of any finale, partly because it’s an exercise in brutal social judgment, and partly because finals are always really boring. So let’s go into this one in forensic detail.
Bianca wins the toss and selects Katie first
because she’s competent, because she knows Mark will want her, and possibly to recreate that power duo they formed on the Wearable Tech task that almost drove Nurun to commit wanton acts of violence about her own body. Sarah already looks slightly confused and annoyed that nobody wants her. Mark picks Solomon, presumably because this is primarily a branding task and other than Sanjay he’s the only one there with any ticks in that column.
Bianca picks Felipe, as her second choice, despite not having worked with him ever, at all, at any point in “the process”. It’s been that sort of series really hasn’t it? Better the Felipe you don’t know I guess. Mark then hoovers up a
grumpy looking Sanjay, him being the only halfway sane person left, albeit one who has bitched vocally about how little he thinks of the final two (/everyone on the show, ever, including Junior Apprentice).
Bianca grabs Lauren, presumably on the grounds that her constant whines that the PM is doing it wrong are higher-pitched than any of the other three remaining, and thus easier to tune out. Lauren looks
not at all smug about this. Mark at this point is left with his final, socially awkward, decision, which he approaches with
the sweaty awkward poker-face we’ve all come to expect from him in these latter stages. What a seemless schemer. He opts for James, presumably because of the Bro Code or similar.
This leaves Bianca with a dilemma – either select Sarah for yourself, forcing Daniel and Mark to work together one last time and reaping the benefits of that inevitable disaster zone or come to the conclusion that Sarah is just too incompetent and annoying for that to be worth it.
And that was the Apprentice team pick 2014. (So incompetent and annoying that Mark can actually welcome her into his team in this, the 21st century, by saying “we need some beauty” and nobody really gets all “FEMINENMINISM FAIL THIS IS WORSE THAN BLURRED LINES AND THAT SCIENCE MAN’S SHIRT WITH TITS ON IT COMBINED!” about it) (Daniel’s first words to Bianca upon arriving on her team? “You got me fired (she did?) but I HATE MARK MORE!!!!!!!!!!”. God bless Daniel and Mark’s hatemance for being the only consistantly interesting part of this series).
As mentioned last week, Bianca’s (or if you believe the tabloids, Some Poor Woman She Bilked’s) business plan was to create tights in a range of different skin tones to cater primarily for the darker-skinned lady. Both Katie (Yorkshire Rose) and Lauren (Northern Satsuma) were incredibly enthused about this, having laboured under the yoke of the evil multinational hosiery monopoly for so long, and they told Bianca in no uncertain terms what an exciting business opportunity this was. Felipe and Daniel meanhwhile
looked bored off their nadgers. Daniel in particular gave a not-at-all shifty and rambling interview about how he had erm…definitely never worn…I mean he’s got no experience in…he’s never bought tights for erm…himself…or erm…anybody else, like…erm a girlfriend…never. But he’d be willing to give them a go for Bianca! Erm…endorsing them he means…definitely not wearing them…ever…never done that. The key point in the early going though, is that Bianca considered her gift of slightly darker tights to the world such an amazing development that she was willing to charge people £35 for them. Per pair. So let’s see how that lasts. (For the record, despite being upbeat and supportive in the room, Lauren was immediately complaining that she’d certainly never spend £35 on a pair of tights the second she left the room. Some people never change, bless them)
Of course if the faces of the men of Team Bianca were glazing over, this was nothing compared to the faces of the entirity of Team Mark as the man himself took them through a brief history of online marketing.
Faces that I imagine were replicated in living rooms across the country. You see, there used to be these things called Yellow Pages, but they have now become obsolete except for the purposes of finding a variety of items around London in Scavenger Hunts/NOT SCAVENGER HUNTS HOW COULD YOU EVER THINK THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A SCAVENGER HUNT. They have been replaced by THE INTERNET where your position in the market depends on how high up you come on Google search pages (I’m still first page for both “Liz Locke boobs” and “Liz Locke tits” TAKE THAT OTHER APPRENTICE BLOGGERS, YOU COULD ONLY DREAM) and Mark Wright is just the man to make su…oh you’ve nodded off haven’t you? Never mind. To wake you all up again, here’s Solomon brainstorming brand-names in an inappropriately sexual way.
“We could call it Splash? Or, like, Sponge? Because, like, a sponge, as it fills up with fluid and swells to twice the original size it just gets better and better”.
Well I know I’m moist now.
Sarah Dales Is The Only Interesting Part Of The Final Episode Pt 1
Sanjay : “We need to think of businesses where people might search online for them. Like estate agents for example”
Sarah : “What about funeral directors? They’ve got to be making a packet, because there’s always someone dying isn’t there?”
As usual, market research raised a number of concerns about the finalists plans. For Mark, it was the fact (as already highlighted by Ricky Martin) that SEO is a crowded market, and businesses are bombarded with so many calls offering them that sort of service every day, that Mark would really have to offer something unique and personal to make them stand out. Apparently the answer to this, as discerned by Sanjay, is “to have a personal account manager”. I…can’t believe that’s a novelty in the field but if the show’s trying to sell that reality then…ok. Bianca on the other hand had twin problems – the fact that no bugger is going to buy tights for £35 (Bianca swiftly ammended the price to £20 to £25, although the market research that even this was too high kept on piling in) and that to reflect everybody’s individual skin tones in an ever-increasingly ethnically diverse and intermingling UK population would mean masses and masses of stock having to be produced with very little variance between individual products. Bianca…never really came up with an answer to that one either. Anyway, this bit’s always boring, and in this case made it incredibly obvious that Bianca was going to lose from, like, 13 minutes into the episode, so here’s Daniel, Lauren and Katie all futzing around with mannequin legs to lighten the mood.
Sarah Dales Is The Only Interesting Part Of The Final Episode Pt. 2
Mark : “Guys, as an online business, the website and logo are the most important function of the business” (The logo? Really? A function is it?)
James (*pondering potential names*) “Climb Media? (say it out loud) Climb Online?”
Mark : “…Climb Online sounds good”
Sarah : “GUYS, GUYS, CAN I JUST SAY, WHEN I LOOK AT THIS
ALL I SEE IS CLIM BON LEEN! CLIM BON LEEN! IT DOESN’T WORK!”
Everyone : *laughs at Sarah”
Bianca’s Cheap-Ass Looking Packaging
Oy. The show’s complete inability to produce a product that doesn’t look like its primary retail space would be “service station forecourts” strikes again. Although given the short turnaround times, it’s hardly surprising. Bianca’s Design Elves also produced a colour wheel, with each variety of “True Skin Tights” (an awful awful name that can be laid at the door of Felipe) being named after an individual woman. Daniel discovered that he was, in fact, a Charli. Such a moment of self-discovery.
Sarah Dales Is The Only Interesting Part Of The Final Episode Pt.3
Solomon : “Hi, so, erm, we’re here to tell you, erm, like, why Climb Online is so different?”
Sarah : “How much would you be looking to spend on digital marketing?”
Salon Owner : “Currently we’re spending about £3000 per month”
Solomon : “So, like, erm, I’m here to tell you, erm, why Climb Online is different, so, erm, you can have an account manager?”
Sarah : “It’s a very BESPOKE service that’s tailored to YOU”
Salon Owner : “Sounds good”
*10 minutes later*
Solomon : “Guys, we, like, secured the guy’s business? £3000 a month?”
Sarah *bouncing up and down and giggling like a toddler* : “IT’S TRUE, IT’S TRUE! I SOLD SOMETHING! I CAN SELL THINGS! I DID IT MARK! I’M A REALLY GOOD SALESWOMAN! I’M GONNA MAKE IT!”
Daniel & Felipe’s Funny Games
Guys, guys, it’s all fun and orgasms until somebody asphyxiates. Have we learnt nothing from Michael Hutchence?
A Pointless Moment Of Jeopardy
Mark struggling to get his words out for the launch’s promotional video, then ultimately managing it. This went on for about three minutes, and never felt like it was going to matter once, unless you want to try to spin it as soon sort of Redemption Arc for his aborted Tesco pitch from the Luxury Puddin task. I was more concerned by the fact that it looked like the editing for the video looked like it was being done by
Lauren Throws A Strop
So in a finale where Sanjay was genuinely useful and non-bitchy, Sarah had a sales related Redemption Arc, and even James managed to mostly pipe down and come up with a brand name (albeit via a brief detour to the STI Clinic) it was left up to Lauren to marr the finale by getting stroppy, as she expressed her disappointement with Bianca’s Project Management thusly :
*Felipe, Daniel and Lauren all arrive back at the Design Agency from the tights factory to find Katie and Bianca editing their promotional video*
Bianca : “Hi guys, you’ve done an amazing job with these tights, really great, exactly what I wanted. If you want to stay and help us edit the video then that’s great, but also if you want to go back to the house that’s cool as well. I’d appreciate your help but I don’t really want five sets of different opinions flying around so…”
Lauren : “OH WELL IF YOU’RE NOT INTERESTED IN MY OPINION, THEN FUCK YOU!” *stomps off complaining for the rest of the episode about how Bianca just wasted three hours of her life*
Or words to that effect. The number of people Mark had doing his promotional video? One.
Mark Wright’s Inapprorpiately Homoerotic Gaze Of The Weeeeeeeeeeeeeek
Add him maundering on to camera about how Sanjay will never know how much he appreciated him whilst you’re at it.
Sarah Dales Is The Only Interesting Part Of The Final Episode Pt.4
James : “Do you think maybe you could hypnotise Mark into giving a really good speech?”
Monkseal : *pre-emptively moves James off last place in that Cast Ranking he’s still not really sure he’s going to do*
The Inevitable Inappropriate Dance Routine, This Time Helmed By James & Solomon
I must admit, I would possibly still find all this very amusing if it didn’t happen every single series. Nothing will ever beat Phillip and James’ inappropriate face-stroking twirl of lust.
Tee-hee look at her ickle legs. I think my favourite part of Bianca’s pitch was, despite being told last week to show a more human, vulnerable and less robotic side to her, she managed to produce a corporate promo video
in which she looked like a malevolent robot sent from the future using TECHNOLOGY to tag and categorise women based on ethnicity, possibly to work down salt mines. I wouldnt let her anywhere near me with that thing even if I was desperate for nude tights. Bianca’s pitch itself was very measured and poised as usual, but the audience had the already cited concerns – price-point and volume of initial production required. My favourite exchange went thusly :
Succesful Businesswoman : “Hi Bianca, love your product, but do you think you can really get them to everyone who needs them with a pricepoint of £20?”
Bianca : “There are loads of cheapo tights out there, I’m not really going to compete with that sort of mass market. And if people really want something, they’ll definitely pay a bit extra for it”
“I’d pay about 6 quid for ’em love”
So as with his promotional video, the storyline here for Mark revolved around whether he would fluff his lines, just as he did with Tescos. Again, he did not, beyond a couple of coughs. Again, I kind of bought what Mark was selling when he swore at the end of Episode 10 that this had never happened to him before so…I wasn’t entirely surprised. The pitch itself again, went well, and Mark answered not terribly taxing audience questions from industry experts with JOKEY BANTER about how he aint never heard of your agency mate LOL and offering to be someone’s metaphorical front door to the world. No mention of who on his team was willing to serve as your back door. I’m sure we could all guess…
Sarah Dales Is The Only Interesting Part Of The Final Episode Pt.5
Sarah : “Can I just say Lordalan that I wear tights every single day and I wouldn’t pay more than £6 for them! Sorry, Bianca I think it’s a really amazing idea, but it’s not for me!”
Bianca : “Thanks Sarah, I really appreciate your insight!”
That being Sarah randomly attacking Bianca in the final boardroom more or less out of nowhere bless her. Other than that, as usual, the final team boardroom was the usual raking over old points, although in the end it did all come back around to Mark and Daniel’s mutual loathing (Daniel’s endorsing of Bianca for the prize ultimately being little more than “it’s a good idea AND I HATE MARK!”) and Mark and Sanjay’s new-found
deep-seated respect and admiration for one another.
The final boardroom, as is usual under this newer format, quickly devolved into Lordalan tortuously twisting the plans in front of him in order to deem one as safe and one as risky. You will remember that last year Luisa’s plan was “safe” because she already worked in cupcakes and Dr Leah’s was “risky” because it potentially involved mutilating women’s faces. The year before Ricky’s recruitment agency was “safe” beause he already worked in recruitment and Tom’s Ponzi Sch…sorry “hedge fund” was risky. This year, Bianca’s plan was “safe” because it involved a measurable product, and Mark’s was “risky” because it involves a service (despite the fact that SEO is Mark’s day job, which in any other series would have made him the safe one). And this year Lordalan felt like taking a risk. To be honest, I find Mark’s victory perfectly rational by the show’s gameshow logic that I like to adhere to – he was to my mind the strongest individual performer on tasks (or at worst second to Roisin), and Bianca had a weak final to his strong one (although to my mind more for her inability to brand her product succesfully, given that that is supposedly her skill set, more than the price point stuff). Mark actually puts me in mind most of Ruth Badger of all the previous contestants – ruthless, single-minded, very talented, selfish, doesn’t always play well with weaker team-members – with Bianca more of a Michelle – level-headed, measured, less flashy, prone to power-trips. So in a way I should be happy that this victory corrects that previous karmic injustice.
And yet…the show pushed so hard, both in this episode and on You’re Hired, to try to force on me things that are demonstrably untrue (“Mark is a team player”, “Mark has a strong task record”, “Mark is impossible to dislike”) that I find myself rejecting this victory at the last. Try to push something too hard down my throat on little notice show, and I’m afraid that I *will* gag on it.
Side-Bar :Task Record Of Winning Candidates
Series 1 – Tim (60% winning record, 1-1 as PM, 1 Boardroom appearance)
Series 2 – Michelle (60% winning record, 1-1 as PM, 1 Boardroom appearance)
Series 3 – Simon (50% winning record, 1-1 as PM, 1 Boardroom appearance)
Series 4 – Lee (70% winning record, 2-0 as PM, 0 Boardroom appearances)
Series 5 – Yasmina (50% winning record, 3-0 as PM, 1 Boardroom appearance)
Series 6 – Stella (70% winning record, 2-0 as PM, 2 Boardroom appearances)
Series 7 – Tom (27% winning record, 0-1 as PM, 3 Boardroom appearances)
Series 8 – Ricky (55% winning record, 1-2 as PM, 4 Boardroom apearances)
Series 9 – Dr Leah (40% winning record, 1-0 as PM, 2 Boardroom appearances)
Series 10 – Mark (30% winning record, 0-1 as PM, 1 Boardroom appearance)
Things have definitely changed haven’t they?
Best Nick & Kaen Faces Of The Week
Bianca is now selling her tights for £8