Trump runs for President ; Lordalan hires a plumber
End This Madness : I know it’s a bit rich coming from a blog that exists to take a sideways look at The Apprentice, but it occured to me as
Jack Dee stood glowering at me from the set of a Dr Who Christmas Special in which special guest star James Bolam learns the meaning of Christmas by helping the Doctor stop a Silurian Invasion wherein they have invaded the Earth disguised as I don’t know, a pop up cereal cafe or something, inviting me to watch a whole hour of this show taking the piss out of itself, having already scrolled past “The Apprentice : Honest Subtitles”, “The Apprentice : Rap Up”, “The Apprentice : Duplo Epics” and “The Apprentice : What A Bunch Of Pricks Eh?” that this show has never at any point featured a greater ratio of content to analysis. And by “analysis” I mean “repeating back what was just said whilst pulling a face that the cast of Mrs Brown Boys would reject as too broad”. And as this has probably been the worst series of the show yet (sorry, it has, the cast have been great but the whole enterprise has made absolutely no coherent narrative sense from beginning to end, like why are these two people even the final two I have no idea, who are they?) I might suggest that they concentrate on getting their main house in order again before stapling on yet another inept unfunny spin-off.
Phone Answering Wars Last point of the series goes to
Vana. But then you already knew that if you voted in the Monkeys. The little pre-final “getting ready” sequence was, for the second year in a row, rather boring, as we yet again found ourselves with a Final 2 with pretty much no previous on-screen relationship whatsoever, having been on the same team as one another three times, early, with little to no interaction between them. I can’t imagine them hanging out much at the house either. Still, Joseph paid tribute to Vana as a “credible candidate” and Vana…well Vana rather airily said that she and Joseph weren’t here for the same reasons – he was just here to make a lot of money, whereas SHE had applied to The Apprentice in order to change the world.
b) Which of those do you think sounds more exciting to Lordalan? Please give reference to the 131 previously aired episodes of this show in your answer
c) You’re essentially pitching Dickpix With Friends hun, calm it down
Also I’m not sure what that picture behind her is? Chinchilla in an afro?
The Corridors Of Power
Endless, whirling, rotating, overlapping corridors, like the scene of a final shoot-out in a Bourne movie. This is City Hall, where the candidates met Lordalan for their last pre-task briefing, and which would later turn out to be the venue for the final business pitches of our intrepid final two. The task? As well as said pitches, to a rotating Escher-esque Nightmare Cylinder full of industry experts, teams were to produce a digital billboard and a promotional video for their business. Sadly no fireworks displays and contemporary routines this series, but Strictly has already run through the BBC’s budget for unnecessary backing dancers this year. Also a logo and stuff. Hardly the most demanding final episode they’ve had but they’re launching a dating app and a plumbers, what do you want? And most importantly of all
FINAL TEAM PICK 2015!
Yes, these 8 were the “helpers” available to be selected, Scott & Selina having told the show to shove off, and David, Sam and April all hopped over in order to get the sweet nougatty uselessness core of Mergim, Elle and Natalie. To be honest, I would have thrown Sarah Dales in there as well, but that’s always true. Picks went as follows :
Joseph Picks Gary : Because if you want someone to set up a launch to Big Business, who better than Corporate G? Also he’s the least abrasive member of the entire cast, and probably one of the most competent.
Vana picks Richard : Strong in marketing, and let’s face it Joseph clearly wouldn’t pick him if his life depended on it, so Vana’s going to end up with him whether she likes it or not, and as such may as well pander to his ego.
Joseph picks Brett : Total boys club pick and he’s closest to the industry Joseph’s working in
Vana picks Charleine :
Look at that line-up, at this point she is the only person there you would trust not to accidentally set something on fire, let’s be honest.
Joseph picks Elle : She can speak good when she wants to and also managed to sink her own game solely in order to make a nice speech about how great he is, so why not again?
Vana picks Ruth : Is literally shutting her eyes and pointing at this point, but she has worked with Ruth more than she has the other two
Joseph picks Mergim : Because he has a penis
Vana picks Natalie : Because she is left, whilst noisily claiming that she really wanted her anyway, she promises.
As the teams assembled, and Team Joseph looked increasingly a little
“M M M Ma, Ma Baker, she taught her four sons, M M M Ma Ma Baker, to handle their guns”, Lordalan set out his terms to his final two – Joseph was to prove that he could operate in the big leagues and wasn’t just a small time plumber, and Vana was to prove that there was a market for her dating app and also that her whole enterprise wouldn’t just swallow up all his money before it even started. OOPS.
The Vessels Of Vana : This being how Ruth described their little band of four, tasked with communicating Vana’s app to a wider audience. You will be surprised that, of the four, Richard had the greatest input in terms of this. By which I mean Richard had all the input in terms of this. And in fairness, not just because he’d decided he was going to, but because Vana,
despite the fact that she’d clearly rather give up wearing scarves than mingle with the guy socially, knew that he was her key asset marketing wise. It was at this point that her app already seemed to be taking a left turn from what was described last week – with the games and puzzles in fact being the metric used to match people, rather than acting as a gatekeeper to their pictures. Vana assured us all these games and puzzles were foolproof algorithms for matching people’s compatability, as they had been designed by someone with a PHD FROM OXFORD. As someone with a decent background in the “science of personality testing” myself, please feel free to imagine the bitterness of the laughter eminating from my living room at this point. At least grapefruit level. At least. (Oh and the app is now called DatePlay rather than PlayDate for reasons that are never explained, let’s just go with it)
Joseph’s Jokers : Whilst Richard was sketching out billboards over with Team Vana (how exciting, after a series of decimation, for our final Two to be original Sugababes by the way? It’s never too late for a comeback), the atmosphere over on Joseph’s team was more
confused, as Joseph had to explain his rag-tag band what “renewable energies” were, and had to stop Elle and Mergim kicking one another under the table and giggling every time he said “stopcock”. This was an excuse, like Kaen needed one, for her to swoop in and sneer that Joseph had just picked his final team based on how much he liked them rather than how useful they could be to him from a creative and marketing viewpoint, and that he was probably going to regret this. So basically she was saying that Joseph was really going to regret not picking Richard.
Yeah, I don’t think so. Somehow. Poor Mergim seemed to get the brunt of this from an edit point of view, which feels a little rough, because it was him or Natalie and…well…whilst brainstorming, Mergim managed to came up with one of my favourite brand name suggestions ever – Enerpluture. It’s a combination of the words “Future”, “Plumbing”, and “Energy”. Somehow. Could Natalie Dean come up with that, no she could not, so as usual the sum total of my contribution is “shut up Kaen”. As usual. Sadly in the end Joseph opted for his own choice of name over Mergim’s – Prime Time Plumbers. I guess it is the final episode and you do have to play it somewhat safe, but don’t be too surprised if some enterprising young spark nicks that name and Enerpluture Plumbing vans are seen on a street near you soon.
Video Nasties : So obviously the comedy in this episode was going to come from the promotional videos and digital billboards. Firstly the
obvious lols of the dating app video and billboard starring Richard and Charleine. From an initial storyboarding by Charleine of Richard being a tragic OLD MAN and her being a DESPERATE DRUNK because YOU’D HAVE TO BE, AM I RIGHT?, Richard eventually whittled it all down to something much more sensible and coherent and watchable. It did appear at this point that whatever emnity Richard and Charleine (…mostly Charleine) (…entirely Charleine) had allowed to destroy every task they’d worked on before had resolved itself out without the £250k carrot being dangled in front of them and they settled into “we’ll pretend to be almost-friends for the sake of the cameras”. As such there was less comedy to be found here than in the dating videos of Series 9. Or indeed in Jordan’s Strong Liberated Sexual Woman Monologue.
A far richer seam of laughs were available on the other side of London though as, whilst Team Joseph’s Digital Billboard, as produced by Elle and Brett, was laughable
in a tragic way, their video advert produced chuckling in a far more organic and warm way
ie Elle couldn’t stop laughing at Mergim’s stupid face. Partly she was struggling with the “70s porno” angle of their video wherein she and Mergim was a hot young couple calling in a
be-boiler suit’ed Brett to come and fiddle with their pipes and partly because, well…it’s MERGIM. He’s no Marlon Brando. He’s not even a Marlon Dingle.
Don’t Worry :
There were still dancers
Market Research After Market Research After Market Research As there was pretty much nothing to do in this episode, the bulk of the time was padded out by candidates and their PMs going off on endless jaunts to see industry experts, rivals, and the general public in order to further hone their business plans. Via this process they, and by extension we, learnt the following :
- Renewable technology isn’t really a thing yet
- Smart technology is a thing yet, although mostly in terms of saying “can we tie this in with an app somehow?”
- Cheesy adverts for online dating sites don’t really work
- You should never send Natalie and Ruth off together with an important question to answer because the answer will come back more jumbled up than a Countdown Conundrum
- Brett and Elle’s digital billboard is hideous
- Charleine has an unerring instinct for people who are taken when she’s trying to find singletons, meaning she only found 3 members of the public suitable for market research. Yeah, I’ve been there. And just like me, it didn’t stop her ploughing through everyone else as well
- Joseph’s personal angle would really go down well in a big pitch, bbecause his love of plumbing and what it did for him really shines through
- Vana’s app wasn’t really going to get off the ground for the amount of money Lordalan was offering as prize money for this programme
So…erm…there’s your answer as to who’s going to win, but let’s settle down and enjoy the rest of the episode anyway
So if you were wondering who was going to come across as a more effective and polished pitcher between the cheerful, perky, articulate American Oxford MBA educated stockbroker and the mush-mouthed plumber who got expelled from school at 15 who only yesterday learnt that a spiv moustache and braces wasn’t the most streamlined business look then this 10 minutes or so of the episode held the answer. Although whilst Vana was undoubtedly the more dynamic and engaging of the two speakers, Joseph didn’t do too shabbily either, only really allowing himself to get sidetracked down an odd avenue about how plumbing had been around since the Romans and would naturally carry on into the Space Age. I guess his point is that no matter how ways to find people for romance/sex evolve, change, and cancel one another out, we’re all always going to shit, and also want to get rid of that shit as quickly as possible, even on Mars. Other than that, the only real intrigue from the segment was whether Vana was going to basically admit that her app wasn’t going to be able to launch fully and properly on £250k alone. She did. Basically. It was no surprise that by this point in the episode that Ruth, Natalie and Charleine had basically been consigned to the bin, with Vana relying on Richard’s council only.
Questioning of the two candidates wasn’t entirely rigorous – I think my favourite part was probably this woman
saying that she’d HEARD from a FRIEND that some people just go on dating apps to match with 100s and 100s of hot anonymous sluts per day on one endless SHAGATHON based solely on cock size, and therefore she wasn’t sure what this app would have for THOSE PEOPLE. Vana of course didn’t really have a response for this beyond saying “…well they won’t be boring I guess?”. Joseph’s questions meanwhile focused on him having to bluff his way through trying to sound like he knew about smart technology and property development companies, which he managed to do with a certain amount of success. He was also asked how he would ensure that, as his business grew, he didn’t hire hacks and cowboys. He bluffed his way through this slightly less succesfully…
Return Of The Losers : So before the hammer came down and the big decision was made, we checked back in one last time in the pre-Boardroom with the losing candidates, and the last task was gone over with a fine tooth comb. In both cases, the Project Managers were criticised for sending off flunkies to speak to industry experts when really they should have been doing it themselves – Joseph in choosing to focus on coming up with a logo and brand-name over going to speak to an expert with British Gas about the future of renewable energy (although Brett seemed to have conveyed the message that he needn’t bother well enough) and Vana for choosing Ruth & Natalie to…well go off and do anything at all really, but especially to go out and try to find the answer to crucial questions about marketing costs. Otherwise my favourite exchange of the final Boardroom was the following
Kaen *smug as anything* : MERGIM, *you* came up with a really good brand-name DIDN’T YOU? *tee hee hee*
Mergim : Yeah
*tumbleweed as nobody follows this up in any way*
My favourite face of the final Boardroom was
Elle’s as Lordalan told Joseph that he had more cheek than the Kardashians for asking for the business cards of the business experts he was getting advice from for future use. And my favourite outcome of the Final Boardroom was Richard being praised by proxy for the slick and professional and coherent marketing that Vana’s team produced compared to the grey and orange Powerpoint hell of Joseph’s team’s. And Richard, one last time,
trying to not look too smug about it and failing. I mean, Vana obviously had a hand in the advertising campaign as well, having come up with billboards and the…LED Heart-Emoji dancers and also jugglers, but the camera just kept on zooming in on Richard’s face. Under the old system I think Richard vs Vana may well have been the final 2
and what a final 2 that would have been. (Alright, alright, it probably would have involved Gary as the ULTIMATE CORPORATE MACHINE but a boy can dream right?)
THE CHOICE! So as is usual these days the final analysis involved a lot of Lordalan talking about risk. Unfortunately for the tension required to make a final episode of this show in any way tense or exciting, the risks he was weighing up were “I might be featured negatively on Watchdog” (and this is a man who two series ago invested in PLASTIC SURGERY CLINICS so I think we all know that’s not really a big deal for him) vs “this business requires me to put in an undefinable amount of money more than I’ve already stated I’m prepared to commit myself to” which would in effect cause major problems for the show in future (because if you’re investing in Vana you’re effectively smashing the ceiling of the prize money on offer, and no amount of “oh I’ll get the rest from venture capital companies, don’t you worry” on her part was going to change that) so
Joseph won. It’s not the biggest surprise in the world, given that he was odds-on favourite with the bookies since the series started (presumably thanks to a leak) and after last year’s digital twiddler of a winner Lordalan was always going to go with something a little more earthy. He seems like a nice enough guy, he did well enough on the tasks, he wasn’t wildly entertaining, and as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now I can’t fully endorse a candidate so consumed by Richealousy. But still, another winner on the pile right?
Come back in a few for this year’s Monkies and also, eventually, my official countdown of this year’s candidates.