“I want the cars, I want the girls, but most of all I want the power”
“Every morning I wake up with a surge of adrenaline around my body because I want to be a global phenomena”
“I’m like a Swiss Army Knife of bouncy skills”
” ‘ordinary’ or ‘mediocre’? Those are curse words to me”
“Me and Lord Sugar will work well together because you’ve got age and beauty. Sugar’s got the age and I certainly am beautiful”
“Wake up, put on your make-up and do exactly what you achieve to do”
“I wanna be richer than Lord Sugar, it’s going to happen, and he needs to realise that”
“Once I start doing my business, people know I’m the real deal”
“I’ve always said to be the best you have to be the best and I’m the best”
“You’ve got some people up north and in places like that who are quite poor, but they all have mobile phones”
Yup, the idiots are back
The Earliest Spoiler In Apprentice History :
A shot of the entire Week 2 women’s team, all 9 of them, with April’s bun pronging up there just to make it extra spoily. GOOD LUCK, MENFOLK!
The Rise Of Claude: Welcome back to another series of half-done sort-of-recaps because the show’s now moved to a really inconvenient time of year for me to be writing stuff up. This series has been trailed (via a series of the cheapest adverts I’ve seen this side of trutv’s Jennifer Ellison’s Dance Mums) as the TOUGHEST YET. The reason for this? Do the candidates have to display a range of skills beyond selling stuff and talking nice? Do the candidates have to do an underwater obstacle course wearing only their pants? Do the tasks ACTUALLY MATTER this year, rather than the show just being pre-determined by who produced the best business plan before hand? Of course not. It’s because they’ve got a new advisor.
A G-G-G-GHOST! Oh alright, it’s
Claude. I have mixed feelings on this, because I do enjoy a bit of Claude, but really I feel he’s a special weapon (a very special weapon) and should be used sparingly. One episode a year of him torpedoing in, yelling at somebody that they’re a festering bunion, and then hurling them out the window to their death, seemed the best use of him. I don’t want to see the nation’s favourite business Sontaran sat in the back of a caravan looking bored before a teddy bear falls on his head.
Oh yeah, and we’re at 18 candidates now, which is still too many, but at least better than last year’s mess.
Pre-Drinks : Before we got started, everyone was called to the boardroom for Lordalan’s annual start of series stand-up routine. And seasoned comedians can’t even get these right (Witness : the first 3 minutes of any episode of Graham Norton, if you can bear it) so good luck. The highlight this year was Lordalan barking “if I wanted to be loved, I’d go to Tinder”. Poor Mrs Alan. We also saw, as usual, a high level of audience interaction, with Joseph (this year’s wheeler-dealer with bite, the self-proclaimed “Godfather of Business” (a plumber from Peterborough) looks a bit like a Blazin Squad “Where Are They Now?”) laughed at for aspiring to be like Hugh Hefner.
Watch which women react with amusement and which react with disgust there, it’s instructive. We also briefly visited with Charleine who used to be in the navy but now is a hairdresser
with one of the more…intricate messes I can remember seeing adorning someone’s bonce on this show and Richard (his wife calls him “Dicky”), who is a Marketing Agency Director who looks a bit like he should be reading The Bedtime Hour on CBebbies, and produces sentences like “The Trailblazer is a fully managed and implemented business growth campaign that starts with a focus base camp to remove the clouds from our client’s business growth mountain so that they can clearly see the summit we are aiming for”
Of all the stereotypes I held about business people that this show has persuaded me out of, none of them were about marketing people I can tell you that much. (That’s Natalie looking aghast by the way – this year’s token tomboyish working class sales battler. She’s here doing it for Cov so is automatically my favourite on MIDLANDS PRIDE grounds).
Net Profits : Our first task? A third run out for fish in the opening sales task, as contestants were asked to go and buy sealife at Billingsgate Market, then cook it and turn it into a lunch that Londoners would want to buy. The emphasis there very much on LONDONERS, with the implication that either the teams were supposed to make it well sophisticated and that, or jellied eels were about to come back onto the menu. To detract slightly from this redo of a task, Lordalan waved his wizardy hands and
BOOM! We had mixed gender teams in week 1 for the first time evah! (Unless you count when the same thing happened in Series 3). The movers were Charleine, Natalie, and Selina (looks a bit like a cross between Viv and Chelsey, both from Project Catwalk 3) (SORRY IF YOU CAN’T HANDLE MY S-RANK OBSCURE REALITY TV NAME-DROPPING GUYS, THAT’S JUST HOW I ROLL) for the women, and Joseph, Dan (Ollie from The Thick Of It) and Brett (angry gay porn star) moving over for the men. But who cares who’s on each team? We all know what the most important thing is.
STUPID TEAM NAMES ARE STUPID!!! : On the team of Mostly Men, Charleine suggested “Illustrious”, because it’s a ship, and she likes ships, but was shot down by Scott (senior accounts manager, basically the black Zoolander) who suggested “Versatile”, which seemed to get Sam (private tutor and actor)’s attention.
Sod “Versatile”, I dub thee “Team Powerbottom”. Meanwhile over on the team of Generally Girls, Dan, not two minutes after snorfling about how he hates corporate speak like what Dicky does for a living, told everyone he was going to “throw a thought into the thought pond” and suggested “Team Sugababes”. Nobody laughed, possibly because that joke’s been swirling around this show constantly picking up flies since about 2006 but I still liked it more than what they went with, which was “Connexus” as suggested by Brett (“it’s a Latin word that means united and also it’s a play on words because if you say it fast it sounds like “connects us”!!!) (dear Brett – it’s not a pun or a play on words if the two meanings are the same thing), so Powerbottom vs Sugababes it is.
Captain, My Captain : Elected quickly as Head Sugababe was April, a former Miss Jamaica sporting a
mighty bun, who put herself forward because she has a food blog and is a good cook. April was a firm leader and certainly knew how to big herself up, proclaiming that, as a Jamaican, she only knows how to do one thing – win (in a very very narrow field of sporting events, like, basically just at one thing, just the running fast over short distances thing really) but pretty much lost the task from the off when she decided that one of her team’s two product ranges should be Tuna Nicoise. You don’t win friends, or The Apprentice, with Tuna Nicoise. Especially when you decide to charge £9 a pop for it. The election on Team Powerbottom was more fraught however, as no-one wanted to take the helm early on, with Selina eventually being decided upon and bundled into the role against her will on the grounds that she has a lot of food intolerances and so knows a lot about cooking (???). Selina was mostly an ineffectual, waffly, easily overpowered manager, but she was exceptionally clear on one thing.
She used to be a PODIUM DANCER, not a POLE DANCER. She gave out SENSUAL MASSAGES, not HAND JOBS. The police shut the club she was working in down because of a RAT INFESTATION, not because of an EASTERN EUROPEAN SEX TRAFFICKING RING. Just to set the record straight. Anyway, Selina was a bobbins Project Manager but her team had someone who made sure the Holy Margins were being appropriately worshipped (Garry – Property Development Programe Manager – Brummie and proud of it, “Mr Mankini” *shudders*) so she was on to a winner from the start.
Gender Equality in the new Apprentice Mansion : Yes after years of focusing almost 100% on shots of James Hill in a towel, Myles Mordaunt parading around in a thong, and Thomas Gearing standing there all but tugging himself off, the architects of the Apprentice Mansion have added a new feature to bring the scales back to the middle again.
UPSKIRT POTENTIAL AHOY!
PrepaRAYtion : Having decided on their product lines (Tuna Nicoise and Fishcakes for Team Sugababes, Calimari and Fishfinger Sandwiches for Team Powerbottom), the race was on to get the appropriate fish from Billingsgate, cook the product, and sell it, all within 16 hours. And April took the process literally as a race, taking inspiration from her fellow countryman Usain Bolt and buying cod for her fishcakes in just over 9 seconds flat. Ruth (we’ll get to her) suggested she might have wanted to shop around a bit, but April was SET. With Joseph negotiating on tuna quickly as well, the Sugababes were ready to roll and get selling early. Until Bossy Butch Brett took control of the kitchen, and insisted that every single fishcake and every single salad be made exactly to spec
AND THROWN BACK AND STARTED AGAIN IF IT WASN’T. TAKE YOUR FISHCAKE RIGHT TO THE DEPTH OF MY RINGLET MATE, I WANT THEM DEEP OR DON’T BOTHER. Brett’s obsession with his massive fishcakes meant that, from a target of 300, the team only made 89. Of course matters weren’t helped when Dan (together with Vana, this year’s token loud American), presumably still on a smugness high from having actually suggested “Team Sugababes” on national television, in front of his mates and everything, hadn’t really bothered to put together a full shopping list as asked. Between these two, it was well past lunchtime before the Sugababes even left the kitchen. Things on Team Powerbottom were much neater and more as you’d expect from a winning Apprentice team, as Charleine in particular shone, putting together a good deal on coley and organising her subteam well. Admittedly…it was to produce fishfinger sandwiches, but she was so adorably pleased with herself over it, who cares? On this show, that’s practically gourmet. Natalie also deserves credit for securing a good deal on squid for the calamari even if it was…
erm…low grade. And she was at least woman enough to eat her own produce.
Begrudgingly. Things were going so smoothly in the Powerbottom kitchen that Selina removed herself early, taking Dicky, Sam, Scott and Charleine (ZOMG SCOTT AND CHARLEINE!!!) off early to start selling. A decision she immediately regretted when she got stuck in the back of the Apprenticar with self-appointed “wordsmith” Sam
pontificating on like Jilly Goolden about bringing out the SPICE of the cayenne and the SOURNESS of the lemon and the EYEBALLYNESS of the calamari. I know you’re literally only on this show because you’ve blown through everyone on Grindr in your area and are looking for more groupies Sam, but try to act like you actually have a function.
Devil In A Blue, Pink, and Yellow suit Remember when Katie Hopkins was all “I’m thinking I’m WELL interesting because I’m here wearing a WHITE SUIT like a total maverick!!!”. Of course Lucinda immediately gazzumped her the series afterwards with her beret and pashmina combinations, but here we are in 2015 and people are turning up for Britain’s Biggest Business Barny wearing clothes from the
Mary Berry collection. This is Ruth, the oldest candidate in Apprentice history, beating previous record holder Jaz by 6 whole years, and at 47, almost the age of three Apprentice Babies combined. Given the lack of an obvious Sarah Dales/Steven Ugoalah, Ruth, as a former Morning Show regional DJ, filled the role of WACKY HILAR JOKE CANDIDATE…fairly poorly, although there’s enough vibration going on just below the surface to make me think there’s good stuff to come. My favourite part of the entire episode was watching Kaen “RUTH’S REALLY WEIRD! RUTH’S SO ODD! RUTH IS MAKING MY SKIN CRRRRRRRRRRRAWL” over shots of Ruth…saying hello and patting somebody on the arm and being pretty much like every other one notch too friendly street salesperson.
You sit on the Tory benches of the House Of Lords Kaen, you deal with weirder than this on a daily basis give over. Ruth actually turned out to be one of her team’s better salespeople, although that did seem to be because she was just giving stuff away half price. Or, given The Sugababes’ pricing structure, “normal price”. (She also won points for me for calling out Brett’s snorfling that the task was going to prove “problematic” because the Sugababe women would all stroke out over having to handle fish as “a load of rubish”. FIERCE FEMINIST PASTELS WARRIOR RUTH <3)
INCIDENTAL CHARACTER BOYFRIEND OF THE WEEK
Joel The Vegan, who Mergim (Baby-faced, pouty, also doing it for Cov although I might be slightly less noisy about this one) tried to push individual fishfingers onto as part of a scheme of Selina’s. The scheme to take boxes of individual fish-fingers and sell them on without bread that is, not the idea of trying to flog them to a vegan restaurant. Mergim incidentally was pouting at the start of the episode that he didn’t want mixed teams because he wanted to show men could sell better than women. Nice work mate.
Dan’s Sales Technique – A Physical Journey :
Imagine this flailing, flapping, twisting, never-quite-looking-at-you-fully force whirling around near you peeping “Hell-OH, can I INTEREST you in buyingasalad at all?”, interspersed periodically with him running off to interview to camera that he may not be good at sales but he never said he was good at sales so really it doesn’t matter that he’s not good at sales because he didn’t come onto this show to sell salad on the street. Did you come on here *solely* to make that Team Sugababes joke Dan, I think that you did. Anyway, despite the dedicated business mentoring of Auntie Ruth, Dan pulled in £0 worth of sales for his team. The clues were there at the start when he wanted to run back to the car to get a coat rather than start selling. Bless him.
Calamare Just in case you thought things were going to be all plain sailing for Team Powerbottom, unfortunately there were problems with the team’s stockpile of calamari. Apparently
this is not fit for human consumption because it has been allowed to reach 15 degrees C. Rather than…well the obvious reasons. Given that Selina was in charge, it was never quite obvious whose responsibility it was to make sure that the squid rings were kept cool, but based on his faffing and flapping and “I wonder if I should have done something”s, it was probably Dicky.
But who can say really I mean blame is the dark cloud that prevents businesses from identifying which idea-sherpas can best leverage them to the top of their own personal mountain, or glacier, of client fulfilment. There’s no guarantee that that £150 worth of stock would have actualised itself into output anyway.
The Clear Pre-Results Boardroom Highlight By Some Distance:
Mergim : I would like to say very strongly and not at all in a grandstanding way Lordalan that I was very disappointed in my colleagues here because they all claim to be succesful businesspeople, but none of them really wanted to be Project Manager and I think that shows weakness because surely they should want to prove they can lead people right from the first task?
Lordalan : Did you volunteer to be Project Manager?
Mergim : No
Sam’s smirk there is a thing of beauty, and also makes him look a bit like Andrew Scott.
Team Powerbottom spent £267 and took £467 for a total profit of £200
The Sugababes spent £342 and took £344 for a total profit of £2
Dicky and Charleine were top sellers for Team Powerbottom, Joseph (ugh) for The Sugababes. The words “paffetic” and “dizzguzting” and “bizzmul” are thrown around regarding the fact that The Sugababes put in a whole day’s work and only saw £2 out of it but…that’s probably better than the actual Sugababes did am I right? We all saw that episode of Popworld where S Club 7’s manager ran on and fired a warning shot into Tina’s foot when they started being asked about finances. Pop’s a hard business.
Salmonchanted Evening The reward for the Powerbottoms was to be personally taught how to prepare sushi by the chef behind Nobu. Selina spent most of it bragwhining about how she never even wanted to be Porject Manager anyway but oh well even with that she still managed to win, isn’t she marvellous? The candidates were also taught to toast in a traditional Japanese way, by saying something that sounded very like “Cum Pie”. Kudos to
Dicky for being the only one to clearly question whether this was on purpose. Maybe underneath all the management crap there’s actually a shrewd businessman under th…nah.
A Wild Vana Appears : Often in The Apprentice we see the phenomenon of candidates that only appear at the very end of an episode to throw blame about despite not having peeped up once beforehand. This week, that was Vana, who was all over the end of this episode like a rash. Maybe it’s because she has
the biggest mouth I have seen on any human being who is not immediately related to blood by Steven Tyler, but she certainly sudddenly seemed full of opinions about how April chose products that cost too much to make and Jenny, Elle and Aisha didn’t do anything and Brett is a loudmouthed aggressive blameshifter. I eagerly await her stepping up to be Project Manager in the near future and showing she can run a tighter ship herself (lol jk I don’t anticipate it happening before week 5 at the earliest). A lot of this seemed to be in service of some sort of rudimentary alliance between her and Dan which…I would have liked to seen that play out more to be honest. I think it could have been quite something. Like that one week where Jason and Luisa didn’t loathe one another entirely, but more so.
Y Kant Jenny Sit?: Isn’t it embarassing when you arrive for a serious business meeting and they haven’t put enough chairs out?
Couldn’t they have sent Claude out to nip out and nick one off Cousin It outside? For all the hype he’s got he didn’t seem to do anything this episode then occasionally mutter out “oh yes, it was the biggest shambles I’ve ever seen ever in my life ever definitely, even worse than when Solomon’s Business Plan was five pages of pictures of him on a yacht with his shirt off”. Anyway, Jenny hovered behind everyone for the entire pre-final-boardroom snitting in sarcastically about how Dan was CERTAINLY an enthusiastic salesman and April was definitely VERY CLEAR about not selling below costprice, and came across like kind of a Mean Girl, but I guess standing up for that length of time can be tiring and may make anyone grumpy.
Boardroom Follies : Vana’s advocacy of blaming everyone other than her and Dan sadly could not save both of them from the Boardroom, but given that Dan’s line of self-defence ran to “I’m good at online stuff”, “I chopped the olives, I chopped the tomatoes, I washed the pans” and “I’m good at addition” when asked to outline his skills, I guess there’s only so much the mouth of one woman can do. Joining him for the final analysis was of course Brett who, when challenged on his OCD fishcake obsession by Kaen didn’t at all help himself by barking “THE RECIPE SAID THAT ALL FISHCAKES MUST BE 2.5CM DEEP! ANYTHING ELSE WOULD NOT BE TO SPECIFICATION! THIS WAS A NECESSARY ASPECT OF QUALITY CONTROL MA’AM! ALL SPECIFICATIONS MUST BE MET TO ENSURE MAXIMUM FISHCAKE EFFICIENCY MA’AM!” all over her. You will be surprised to hear that Brett has also been in the army. He seems to have taken more from it moving on than Charleine did. It was quite amusing for the entire final Boardroom watching the difference between Brett’s clearly deeply ingrained stiff and severe posture, compared to the composed but louche Jamaicanisms of April and Dan
who was basically over the back of the chair. (The first words all episode were Lordalan telling Dan to get his hands out of his pockets. Shades of when he told S6 first boot Dan to get his hands out his pockets. These Dans eh, they never change…).
April was the fire teasing because duh, she was the project manager and they came within a fishcake of a net loss, but it was Dan
who was the first to hit the bricks, for not selling anything and not seeming particularly sorry about it. There’s a school of thought that says that Dan should have been given a pass for this because he was “honest” about his lack of sales ability but then again there’s also a school of thought that Dan is “a nice guy” when he blythely admitted to almost tanking his parents’ pensions on a dodgy business plan five seconds into this episode (at least Yasmina had the good grace to wait til episode 11 and be a bit ashamed about it) and I’ve barely paid much attention to the run up to this series and I’ve already seen one interview where he’s basically said “I’m going to pretend I’m a nice guy but then backstab the hell out of people in the boardroom” and another where he compared himself to the charming serpent in the Garden Of Eden who’s going to murder all the other candidates at the end with his poison apples so… I mean, if that’s your plan, your backstab should probably play off a little smoother than
Lordalan : Who should be fired?
Dan : I dunno.
Whatever, he seemed alright. Let Team Sugababes stand as his lasting tribute
Meanwhile Back At The Ranch :
POUR IT OVER HIS HEAD! POUR IT OVER HIS HEAD! He’s mostly noisily honking about how it was a PROFIT MARGIN TASK, NOT ABOUT QUALITY, WHAT AN IDIOT. Mate, you walked into a precious vegan cafe in Camden and tried to flog them fishfingers that looked like they’d been sat on. Give it a rest. April and Brett return and
Sam and his dreamy flyaway hair look sad that Dan has gone. LET’S WRITE FANFIC!
Next time :
What a bunch of pricks.