The Apprentice 11 – Week 2 : Advertising Cactus Shampoo

In which someone who got an invisible edit in episode 1 steps up to be PM in episode 2, fails horribly, and then goes home. Also as a consequence the episode where Monkseal feels the most like a grizzled beaten-down old cop who’s just 5 days away from retirement he’s ever felt with this show.

Phone Answering Wars Round 1 : My favourite thing about the launch of a new series of recaps is remembering all the pointless gimmicks I have to keep track of in any given episode. So, firing the opening salvo in this year’s meaningless battle for supremacy over the phone (which this year doesn’t even appear to be an Amstrad model – yet another way in which this show is slowly giving up) was

Natalie, with Jenny hugging her ear to the other side of the receiver like they’re off to Camp Sleepaway together in the morning and she wants to hear if Bobby’s coming. That hoodie Natalie’s wearing? Blink 182. Cov Life. The Disembodied Voice told Natalie to get everyone roused and ready, because the Apprenticars would be there to take them all to Barbican Conservatory in 20 minutes. Just once I want The Voice to be all “…shit, sorry guys, erm, my alarm didn’t go off, the cars have been outside for 15 minutes and the drivers went paying extra now byeeeeee”. THAT’S the real world of business. (Also, kudos for Charleine for getting this

do done in less than 20 minutes it definitely definitely certainly doesn’t look like it, does it?) As usual, the geographically clueless candidates were universally confused as to exactly what a Barbican is…apart from Sam, who knew exactly what it was, in detail, and told everyone that his dream task would be “direct a play and sell tickets to it!!!”

Prickly Customers : Sadly, the Barbican was not chosen as a venue to help Sam fulfil his thwarted thespian dreams, or even the dreams he had about Dan before their stay on this show together was cut all too short, but instead because of all the

pretty pretty cactuses. Lordalan gave the assembled masses a brief botany lesson on how cactuses survive in the desert coz despite the off-putting pricks they still get secretly moist (just like how I watch this show) which means they are useful for the beauty industry, so the task this week is to brand and produce a marketing campaign for a new brand of cactus shampoo, complete with 30 second tv advert and digital billboard. Sadly the shampoo was already made up for the contestants – they didn’t have to gather their own cactuses from the Barbican’s secret paradise house. Without gloves. Oh and after one week of crediting the audience of not needing their hands held with single gender teams…the mixer was off, and teams went back to Boys vs Guwz. Most pleased about this was Dicky

; it turned out because he was glad to be shot of Charleine. She might have been an awesomely self-possessed sales force who almost won the task single-handedly with her amazing fishfinger sandwich skills, but lord she was a bit naggy lads. Pleased for the women to be back under gender segregation were Elle (the youngest candidate, black hair, looks a bit like a comedically angry X Factor auditionee who won’t take no for an answer), because Brett is bald and therefore would be of no use on a shampoo task (…) and Vana

although that may just be because her mouth is a big muscle and it needs regular workouts.

Speaking Of The Blog’s Old Gimmicks :


A Lesson In Apprentice Tactics : The battle to be PM on Team Powerbottom was short and sweet – Dicky owns his own marketing agency and was keen to press home his good first impression (in terms of sales at least…)from last week, and the men were happy to let him lead them. With the Sugababes however, two of the women wanted to be PM due to their experience in the Look Good Industry (darling), and weren’t about to back down. Charleine, as we all know, is a hairdresser, and Aisha (who?) runs her own business selling hair extensions, so by the laws of this show, both were suitable PMs. And Charleine put together such an impassioned pitch

seriously, her eyes were closed for a good 50% of it, that I don’t know why Aisha didn’t just let her have it. If someone PMs in their “area of expertise” and loses they’re automatically fired, and if they win it gets written off as “ooooh, they’re alright at their day job how impressive”. Instead Aisha bulldozed over Charleine by citing “relevant” “facts” like the fact that she’d pretty much done this task in real life with an actual product and hence

made an enemy for life/this episode of The Apprentice lasting two days. Then again Aisha was all about winning friends and influencing people right off, telling her entire team that if they didn’t contribute fully they would be IN THE BOARDROOM and interviewing that her team members would have ONE CHANCE WITH HER AND THAT’S IT! Aisha – if you survive you’re going to be chained to these psychos for weeks, that’s not how this show works. Meanwhile over on Powerbottom, Richard led an actual brainstorming session where everyone’s ideas got listened to and respected (Mergim : “My idea is sexiness”) and Kaen pitched a fit because between this and last episode “oooh Ruth’s being WEIRD” nonsense, Kaen is really committed to being raw dumb this year.

Going For A Grey Pound : Growing into her role as the world’s yappiest girl scout this episode, Vana led the Sugababes towards the over 50s female market because, according to her, they are the fastest growing generation in the UK and the US. So if you’re counting the ways in which the Sugababes patronised and stereotyped the elderly you can start there because the over 50s aren’t “a” generation, they’re several. “Over 50 females” encompasses everything from wartime evacuees to punks to mods to 50s housewife chic to Nigella Lawson to Julie Walters to Sharron Davies to Liz Smith. Second up was whoever thought that

“Fountain Of Youth” was a good enough name to get up on the ideas board (although one of the ideas is “Crystaline” which I think is somehow even worse). Third, and probably best, came their casting for their digital billboard.

I mean it’s hard to pick out who was the worst of the women’s casting team (Aisha, Vana, Selina, April, Elle), between Selina’s “EURGH, SHE LOOKS LIKE MY GRANDMA!” and “even when advertising campaigns are aimed at older things, they use young people” ; Elle’s “YEAH, IT’S ASPIRATIONAL!” (what are these people aspiring to? A time machine?) ; and April’s truly baffling “the older woman doesn’t see herself as an older woman, she sees herself as at least a decade younger”. Unless you’re specifically marketing to the senile April (and with this show I do wonder sometimes)…no. The end result of this prattling?

These two kids supposedly advertising a product aimed at the mature woman. Mercifully,

Ruth pitched a fit, sent them all home, and decided to cast herself instead.

What a star. I really do wonder what her secret is. And where she buried it.

Apropos Of Nothing :

This Episode’s Incidental Character Boyfriend : This week’s Incidental Character Boyfriend also came about as a result of beneficial on-set meddling from a sub-team against the wishes of their Project Manager. After Dicky’s Brainstorming Session resulted in a brandname of “Western” from David ; a slogan of “desert defeating hair” from Dicky (after a brief stopover at “dessert defeating hair” from Scott) ; and this face from Sam at the suggestion of “Manly Moist”

(you’d think a wordsmith would have more to offer really wouldn’t you?) they instructed their subteam (Brett, Gary, Joseph, Mergim) to produce a digital advert in which some guy got sand literally thrown in his face, which he defeated with a swish of his hair. Happily Joseph decided “nah” to this rubbish and instead opted to create an actual porno in the middle of a studio, getting their model to strip down to the underwear he came in and stand in a mop bucket as the subteam poured water over him whilst he rubbed himself all over.

Are those tissues for me? I name him Calvin The Model, after his pants. There’s ICBs you pick because they make a candidate look like an idiot, there’s ICBs you pick because they come in and do a comic turn and there’s frankly ICBs you pick because they look good stood in a bucket in their pants. Joseph is now my favourite male candidate by the way, just thought I’d mention it.

Jenny Fellini : The two directors of these two digital billboards? Brett (“This is not a role I’ve played before in the film industry”) and Jenny. Both did a decent job, but Jenny gets the Oscar just for going

Full Artistic Director over co-ordinating a 30 second shot of a woman turning around and going “shhhhh” like something out of Un Chien Andalou.

Aisha Takes Control : It bears emphasising just how much of this week’s Sugababes effort was down to Aisha. She chose the name (Desert Secrets – because everyone will be asking their friends “oooooooh, what’s the secret, this mysterious secret that comes from the desert????” and then won’t at all either be disappointed when they find out it’s “what your nan gives you every year for your wedding anniversary” or just immediately assume it’s camal shit and walk off), she designed the bottle

which looks more like it contains bubblebath and has a vague scribble of a cactus flower on it, like the cactus itself isn’t a really easy and handily identifiable icon already provided by nature, she decided on the dumb twee “50something yumm mummy hands down her beauty secrets to her 20something daughter” theme for the advert (which generation are you targeting with this again?) and generally spent the entire episode telling everyone else they were wrong or just literally hissing “shussssssssssh!” over the top of them. Generally I prefer my early boots to be a bit more cartoonish, but there’s no denying she was an absolute horror. The effect on general team morale?

See for yourself.

Two Guys, One Cut So as there was both a digital billboard AND a tv advert to film this week, we got a double dose of delusions of grandeur in the directing department. Taking over the advert for Team Powerbottom, already on a self-loving high from coming up with the product name (“I come up with the name “Western”, which clearly shows how strong I am and how much Richard trusts and believes in me”) it was

David, writhing around on the set rubbing his body talking about how flamboyant he is.

Of course in the grand tradition of Project Managers past, Dicky was

hovering in the background the whole time offering helpful hints about how the camera should move one cm to the left and make sure an actual cactus is in shot, and can we lather up Calvin’s nipple just that little bit more please. This was rather bizarrely overlayed with a sneering interview from Sam saying that Dicky was delegating and blameshifting and pushing all responsibility onto everyone else when…this was exactly the opposite of what was actually happening. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to think Dicky is tricky or that Sam is a whiny underling or what.

Charleine’s Salon : The Sugababes advert was filmed meanwhile in the bathroom of the Apprentice Mansion (of course this has been used as location for an Apprentice film before, but sadly Katie Hopkins couldn’t find a buyer for her sextape with Paul never mind) and was directed by Selina, with Charleine, as a professional hairdresser, on hand to do hair and make-up. And meddling. Along the lines of

“oooh madam, what lovely hair, this is our product, don’t you think it would have been great to have included how the shampoo is richer than argan oil like I suggested in our meeting earlier oh you do how fabulous JUST GETTING FEEDBACK SELINA, don’t you think it would have been better for me, a hairdresser of several years repute to have PMd this task given what a lovely job I’m doing with your hair madam, YOU DO, THAT’S GREAT going anywhere nice on your holidays?”. Meanwhile Selina seethed out the first drops of venemous sweat in what I hope is (and the episode preview suggested will be) a long running feud between these two.

LOOK AT THE HATRED! I mean the seeds were sown last week when Charleine was comprehensively a better Project Manager than Selina was but it’s so early on! Not even Daniel vs Mark or Francesca vs Luisa started this quickly. Selina actually probably should have focused her energies a bit more on the advert – a heartwarming story about a mother buying her daughter her first massage. A SOOTHING BACK MASSAGE not a filthy VAGINAL MASSAGE, Selina would just like to clarify. (Her clients were allowed to touch her HAIR AND ARMS, they were not allowed to touch her LADIES AREAS)

Pitched Into Hell : First of all, I don’t envy anyone who had to do a presentation at 9am before a woman dressed as

Cher from her fourth Farewell Tour. I have sympathy for all these people. But there’s no denying that Natalie, having pushed Charleine out of the way roughly to do it (prompting Charleine to enter

Level 4 of her rage spiral this episode), gave one of the worst pitches in the history of The Apprentice. I’ve not heard such panicked incoherence since Mona told us all to not tell our kids to not do what Pantsman doesn’t want us to not do. “We’ve got a secret to show everyone today. A secret from the desert. Desert secret. A secret desert and a secret from the secret desert. That’s a desert. And secret. A secret desert. Yes”. And then lurching from that to defending the lack of use of the word “new” in the copy for a product launch with “we’re aiming at old people, they’re scared of new things” (somewhere between Vana and now by the way, the age-range shifted to “45+” so they didn’t even have the courage of that fragile conviction) In fairness, neither Vada nor Ruth were much better at sounding unstilted and prepared, with only Aisha really sounding smooth and charismatic at all of the pitchers (Jenny mostly stood there holding things, what a background star). In a new development the non-pitching candidates were allowed to sit and watch outside, leaving the whole thing feeling like

the world’s worst episode of Gogglebox (AGAIN, LOOK AT CHARLEINE’S FACE). Afterwards Vana yapped at everyone outside to BE NICE, BECAUSE AT LEAST WE VOLUNTEERED TO DO IT, REALLY I THINK WE ALL DESERVE A BIG PAT ON THE BACK and got met with this

lovely array of body language. I know Vana’s heart is in the right place but she’s SO ANNOYING. For the men meanwhile, I can do little better than transcribe Scott’s “speech” verbatim

“More now than ever before is the men spending more time and money on their appearance (*cutaway to Sam being a bitch*)which makes it an open brand for everybody to use and help their hair replenish and look good (*20 second brainfreeze*)so we’ve made the sleek design make the appearing really well on the shelf to ensure that it is bought in by all types of markets and it’s not just pushed towards the male industry”

Bless him but that’s Martian isn’t it? Dicky and Gary were fine though.


Team Powerbottom was better according to both Lordalan and Cher so they win!

My favourite parts of the Results Boardroom were probably firstly Lordalan just embracing the nettle and pointing out directly to Selina that her advert reeked of incest-porn and secondly it turning out that both

Sam and Scott had stripped off and tarted themselves about for the boys advert without ever getting any credit for it at all. Less so was Dicky’s

smug face at being told that this was one of the greatest marketing and advertising performances in the history of The Apprentice. Dicky’s a difficult to one to parse out, because he’s so oily and so full of corporate waffle that it’s easy to dismiss him as another Steven Brady-esque David Brent figure (indeed this is what Brett and Margim did noisily outside during his speech) but…the guy gets results.


What a powerful display of togetherness and intent. The men’s reward for victory was a session of upside-down aerial yoga, which prompted a lot of “OH MY BACK! OW!” from Gary and Joseph, and an even more awkward set of maneouvering from Dicky and David. The former decided that actually, yes, he was going to take full responsibility for his team’s victory thank you very much, and the latter deciding that Dicky had just delegated everything to other people to avoid the blame if things went wrong.

But I thought him letting you pick the product name was a sign of how awesome you are David, I’m confused…(Also for someone who’s so convinced of his own beauty he looks an awful lot like one of those monster-shaped yoghurt pots you used to get). (Or I did)

Meanwhile In Loser Cafe : Loser Cafe this week was mostly Aisha immediately leaping to the one thing on the task that wasn’t her idea (the target demographic) and deciding that that and that alone was why they lost. Predictable enough, but it’s still always slightly flabbergasting to see someone so dictatorial double-down so hard on “I was in fact always right”. The BEST thing though was the Charleine vs Selina feud rumbling on, as Charleine argued, not untruthfully that the entire billboard team (herself, Ruth, Jenny, Natalie) had done really well on day 1 and produced the only thing about the entire campaign that got consistant positive feedback which prompted the following amazing explosion of faces from Selina :

and an interview from Charleine about how “CERTAIN PEOPLE THINK THEY’RE SUCH HOT SHOT DIRECTORS BUT I BEG TO DIFFER!”. I do always love a decent deployment of “CERTAIN PEOPLE”, always a classic. They’re going to murder one another, I can feel it coming.

This Week’s Incidental Character Boyfriend :

You know, just in case you’ve forgotten. Talk about your “no tears formula”.

Boardroom Follies : Having unfortunately backed herself into an unwinnable position, the Boardroom was basically a formality for Aisha. It’s all very well saying “YES I MADE EXECUTIVE DECISIONS BUT NOBODY ELSE CONTRIBUTED ANY IDEAS!” repetedly, but there was ample evidence on camera that Vana and Elle at least were offering viable alternatives to the things she was sugesting vis a vis “Desert Secrets” and not having a cactus on the bottle, and Alisha’s alternative angle of “blame Vana because she suggested the grey pound” was too obvious and cobbled together a strategy to find fruit. She did however find an unexpected seam of gold when selecting Natalie as the other boardroom choice, as Natalie immediately blew like a pufferfish at the slightest prodding, communicating her distaste at the fact that people were criticising her mostly by absurdly distending, locking, and twitching her jaw

(again very Cov) and spewing out blatant time-distorting lies like “as soon as I saw the bottle I didn’t want to pitch but I was stuck with it” when she saw the bottle before she women’s rugby team’d Charleine out of the way to pitch it. Her absurd pyrotechnics results in her getting fire-teased (and also result in my favourite moment of the boardroom – Vana’s face at Aisha shrieking “DON’T TOUCH ME!” when Natalie pats her patronisingly on the arm

) but in the end there can only be one firing victim in this scenario, especially, for all Lordalan says it doesn’t matter, given that Natalie delivered in spades last episode.

I just wish she’d got one personality trait portrayed other than “bossy”, especially as Beyonce has told us we’re not allowed to use that word any more, but such are Early Boots I guess.

Meanwhile Back At The Ranch :

OK, first of all, April either needs to wear the mighty hairbun at all times or alternatively develop two entirely separate personalities, because as it stands I can tell her from Adam, and second of all Elle is wearing a PANDA ONESIE, and third of all Selina is demanding that Sam and Scott get in the shower and recreate Team Powerbottom’s video for her, and I think someone should call HR. Anyway, everybody knows Aisha’s getting fired so nobody reacts, other than Charleine merrily soaking in all the boys telling her that the girls would have well won if she’d been Project Manager. I mean…they wouldn’t, but it’s nice to have a dream.

Next Time :

FRANCE! (or a drunken Luxembourg)


8 thoughts on “The Apprentice 11 – Week 2 : Advertising Cactus Shampoo

  1. Ferny

    Karen always seems to put down things that are …actually good…whilst trying to make out like they’re ludicrous. Whilst ignoring all the MANY examples of actual idiotic stuff they’re doing.

    “OMG it’s like he’s read a book about how to run a business properly and actually following the advice, what a jerk!” for instance. I’ve never missed Margaret more.

    1. monkseal Post author

      I’m starting to think it’s Nick leaving that’s sent Kaen loopy. It’s like she’s trying too hard to seize the initiative and be the Beloved One.

  2. BeyonceCastle

    Bear’s team deserve that win and it did look very professional but would have loved to have seen the campaign for manly moist, something along the lines of having some “special creme for that” to a poor unsuspecting dry-haired cub.
    Aisha was just as adamant on You’refired that the cactus flower was the way to go and I hate to admit it but I would have gone for the same. Put it this way the only cactus shampoo on google images has a sodding cactus on it and doesn’t look appealing, albeit marginally more appealing than one I saw with cactus and placenta. PLACENTA?!!! That really is a grey pound demographic. Add some young virgin’s blood and I’ll buy me a bottle. Talking of vampiric ingredients Charleine looks like Kirsten Dunst (tenous link, she was in that “tom cruise is a shit Lestat” movie, years before “tom cruise is a shit jack reacher” movie, poor tom cruise).
    Ruth is game, I’ll give her that, standing in for gurning on a billboard with no seeming vanity nor self- consciousness about the end result.
    Elle, in not wanting to come across as a backstabbing two-faced bitch, just came across as a whiny bitch. Aisha, had she dragged her in to the boardroom for being negative/not contributing other than critiquing, might have saved her own bacon. Vana comes over as confident and sparky and despite claiming not to be motivated by money, does tick other boxes, including her half Greek half columbian background, 5 languages, new York upbringing, social media entrpreneur…reckon she and Richard will make final four. Bear was damned if he did, damned if he didn’t absolutely.
    Don’t delegate and you’re autocrat tyrant, delegate and you’re hiding, delegate but hover/backseat drive a bit and you’re hedging your bets. Tricky? No, David you’re just being snarky. Won’t take him seriously until he volunteers to PM and walks the walk.
    Thanks for the recaps Chris, you put an incredible amount of effort and time into this Xxx

  3. farfetchd

    Early days but it seems like they got a strong female cast this year. The Selina/Charleine feud putting down roots this early is a good sign, hope the producers have the sense to keep them on the same team. The tasks have pretty rote so far though, even by the shows standards these days. Also I was trying to spot the SALESBOSS but nobody stood out really except maybe Ruth? Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention.

    1. monkseal Post author

      They gave the top salespeople during the results boardroom – Richard, Charleine and Joseph. Although Daniel was top sales dog week 1 last year and we all saw what happened thereafter…


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