The Apprentice Series 8, Episode 1

The Apprentice returns! Have you missed it? It’s been a while, ooh a few months ago since Young Apprentice finished. In my preview entry, I’ve singled out a few to watch, not because they seem like the new business minds of the future but because they are comical, like Ricky Martin. Will they live up to our initial impressions? Now is the time to find out…
As usual, we start with a lengthy intro, starting with a few choice quotes, such as

To be the best, you have to beat the best.

(…but surely if you beat the best, then you have to beat yourself?)
and

I will literally roar my way to the top.

(I would really like to see this. Instead of a dignified and eloquent speech in the boardroom, would general roaring do the trick?)
One candidate describes himself as a

master puppeteer who can pull the strings to control people

an interesting metaphor, or perhaps he is planning to set up a puppeteering business as part of his plan for the show.
My favourite is the guy who described himself as a shark – “top of the food chain” and “the reflection of perfection”. Which means that in actual fact, he is the complete opposite. This is Ricky Martin everyone, who must win the show.

Ricky Martin must win

Scenes of the series look fun. There is a lady with garish purple eyeshadow (and I’m talking scarily garish) to match her purple blouse, a bit of dancing and people running to a car with plates  of food in hand. Fun fun fun.
8am, and we are greeted by the sight of the purple lady. Eek. And the other 15 candidates. Lord Sugar says that if was the same age as the candidates (not sure how are they are varying ages) he would be entering The Apprentice, and that he would win (I don’t think so, but I’d like to see that happen in the next series, obviously with a new person in Lord Sugar’s seat obviously – he can’t award the prize to himself. Although, if Tom Pellerau’s business ideas go belly-up, Sugar might be inclined to keep the money for himself in this way. Unfair, but sensible). Anyway, he is looking for the Marks to his Spencer, the Lennon to his McCatney (although they fell out). The task is to design blank items and sell them. The team that makes the most profit wins.
Before they leave, Sugar picks on a sweaty looking guy, who denies that he is nervous (and revealing that he is just a sweaty guy), whilst another man licks his teeth, creepily. These boys are weird, compared to the girls, who all look immaculately groomed, and scarily alike, like clones…This proves a problem as I fail to remember who is who – Jane, Jade, Jenna, Jim?…
The teams get to know each other in the taxis. One girl talks about her financial career, and the other girls say that they can depend on her for the figures. Don’t be too sure, remember Edward the accountant who was useless with numbers? He went out first week. Rolling with the punches indeed…
We also meet Stephen, a poet: “Enthuaisam is his greatest asset, something that is caught, and not taught.” He goes on to say that business is easy, just complicated by idiots. Let’s hope that these aren’t his famous last words.
Maria describes herself as Marmite, which is just asking for trouble.
And now herald the return of Ricky Martin:

By day I am a business superstar, by night, a professional wrestler

Said like some kind of Apprentice superhero, the latest one since Pantsman in 2009. He tells the rest of the guys that Sugar could “feel the charisma coming out of him” from the other side of the desk, whilst Nick looks out of the window laughing (or trying not to laugh) to himself. Ricky Martin (not just Ricky, he must always be mentioned in full name) – idiot or genious? I go with genius idiot. He seems fun, again he must win the show.
Next comes the naming of the teams. The boys go with Phoenix, suggested by Stephen, who says when they lose, they will rise out of the ashes. Slightly naive as it suggests that the team need to lose, not a positive thought for week one. Eh. It’s Ok. On the other team, one of the girls had a dream that they should be called Sterling, a “strong” name. Does she decide all things, including business, by dreams? This would be fascinating…
Q: Why did you pick that product to sell? There’s no market, it’s unpopular, and just plain boring A: A monkey told me to in a dream.
In selecting PM, offers are a little thin on the ground until a posh guy, dreamboat Nick (much better looking than that Tom guy from my preview entry) goes for it hestitantly. Someone says that he has 100% support from the team (if only because no-one else wanted to do it, but he doesn’t mention this bit). Dreamboat Nick reveals that he “ranks everything in life like an Excel spreadsheet”. Egh.
On Sterling, Gabrielle puts herself forward as PM, as she has opened a print and design store. One girl, who gesticulates wildly, backs her, but often, the PM with the most experience fails to deliver a win. Is this a sign?
First thing that Nick does is fail to listen to evreyone and talk over them. Classic PM behaviour. The focus appears to be on profit and numbers, and little thought is given to the design. The team chant “To Phoenix” before splitting up – seems like things are lovely at first, not sure how long that will last, and the men begin to hate each other.
Sterling are using an animal theme to target the baby market. Jade designs the goods, and the drawings look like a 3 year old drew them, and not in a good way. In fact, parent watching at home might consider using their children’s drawings to make these goods, they would probably look better.
Nick sets his sub-team to spend no more that £200 on bags, and they buy their blank products in budget and sticking to numbers. In contrast, Sterling has no numbers to work with – a bad plan, what happened to the girl who was meant to be good with numbers? (I can’t remember who this is, someone who has dark hair, which accounts for 3/4 of the team) Jane decides to amke up some numbers and the sub-team spend £280. Back in the taxi, the sub-team dismiss Gabrielle as someone who “draws buldings” and nothing else. Nice to say how friendly they are all being.
Phoenix are focusing on maximising profit whilst Stirling are concentrating on the concept. Money usually wins over creativity – there was a task making sandwiches a few years back, and the girls team used really cheap ingredients and scrimped on using them – not good quality but it helped them win in the end.
Phoenix’s sub-team finally come up with a concept. Their bags and shirts have “THIS IS” with a picture underneath (e.g. bus), whilst their Jack the bears have Union Jack t-shirts. Karen criticises it – it is nothing special. To be honest, I wouldn’t buy one of these myself, but it looks like they are trying the London tourist angle, so it could work in their favour.
Stirling are printing their goods, and Gabrielle is taking charge. However, Nick is disappointed by Katie, who is “too quiet”. Still no business plan for Stirling as of yet. Jane consistently moans about this but didn’t really do anything about it in the beginning, and she is starting to get annoying.
Whilst Stirling are coping well with the printing, the boys’ team is not doing so well. Ricky Martin may be a good wrestler, but he is a poor printer. The quality is variable: smeared red on the bag handles, over inking and under inking – it all amounts to a waste of stock. Some of the team aren’t too keen on the concept either, like Duane, but the boys press on together.
The next day, Phoenix set up their stall on the South Bank. They get a pep talk from Nick, who wants them to make £325 each (I’m presuming on both halves of the team), focusing on the teddies at £15 each. Stephen steps in and pushes his sales background, challenging Nick. Stephen says that if he asks 20 of his friends (assuming that he has 20) if they would buy a teddy for that price, the majority would refuse. He proposes lowering the teddy price but no one listens to him. Some members criticise him for confronting Nick at that stage in front of everyone.
The girls set up their stall at Greenwich Market, who set out to sell personalised shirts and sell at London Zoo – a good idea to appeal to their market.
***Momentarily distracted by Sockomals stall in background. What do they look like? I can’t see properly…Noo…***
However, the sub-team are staying at the market a little longer, and Stirling begin arguing with each other in public view.
Selling to tourists, the boys are having little success. Come to think of it, £15 is a bit expensive for a teddy, perhaps Stephen was talking sense, although there is something odd about him. They go on to lower the teddy prices.
At this point, it seems that Stirling will win. The idea to personalise items for £5 extra is a good moneyspinner, whilst Phoenix’s stock is generic and over-expenisve. Yet, the girls’ sub-team are still in traffic on the way to the zoo, and losing time, which could be costly.
They eventually reach the zoo, and their tactic is to go in a large group and allow people to take it in turns to sell to show off their skills, yet no one seemed to tell Bilyana, who seems to be chasing all potential sales leads, annoying the other girls. They confront her about this and being arguing. I don’t see the problem, surely they should split up to sell, you reach more people, and any sales (no matter who they are made by) that are made do all add up to the profits at the end. This tactic seems a little off.
Having exhausted all potential sales leads, Bilyana, who knows London well, takes the sub-team to find shops to sell to…if she could find them that is. This ends up being a lengthy tour of the surrounding area, again costing time and money, before they finally reach upon a small gift shop. Things don’t get much better though, as when pitching, they all talk over each other anyway. The shopgirl tells them that she can’t buy anything today but the girls persist in an aggressive fashion. The girls responds by saying that she doesn’t

like buying under pressure or stress

(you feel sorry for her to be confronted by this lot) and she genuinely looks terrified. Outside, the sub-team get told off by a man with a milkshake (presumably the manager), pointing out how rude they were and how one of them said

We’re wasting time, let’s move on to the next one

which someone owns up to. Hah…this won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
It now seems that the boys have the win in the (This is a bus) bag but hang on. The customer who they sold leftover stock to isn’t pleased with the quality. I can’t believe Azhar and his sub-team tried to sell her the bad stock. In the end, they have to refund the money.
Task over, now time for the results. The purple lady is there wil her purple eyeshadow and blouse – this won’t be a lucky trademark outfit will it? I think that the boys will edge it to get the first win as they implemented a better business plan.
Sugar points out the boys wrote that they all wanted to be PM, such as Azhar saying in his CV that he’ll be PM for all the tasks, a stark contrast to this ep. One, I don’t think you can do that, and two, it’s called playing the game. Sugar goes on to criticise their brand and the quality (or lack of) with the bags and a teddy with a red head – what has Jack the bear been up to? Everyone loves Jade’s design for Stirling ( am I the only one who doesn’t?).
Results:
Stirling took £690.60, spent £475.80 and made a profit of £214.80 Phoenix took £1015.66 (hmm, I can tell how this might go), spent £399.40 and made a profit of £616.20 – WIN


And their prize is an art-inspired reception back at the house – with food and drink in the style of art, seeing the boys dorn blue liquire and flicking stuff into cocktail glasses, and a profession of bromance by on the guys. Fun.
Back in the boardroom, scary Jane delves straight in, complaining how the team didn’t consider the figures in the task, backed by gesticulating-widly girl. I don’t think that it was the PM’s fault for losing the task, I blame the disorganisation of the sub-team at the zoo. Next, the focus turns to Bilyana, who so-called knowledge of London is very strange, let’s hope she isn’t wanting to sell her own maps as part of her business plan! The other girls turn on Bilyana, mocking her risk analyst and financial background and how this wasn’t put to good use in the task, slightly unfair as the other girls didn’t put to use all of their backgrounds. Gesticulating-wildy girl blames Katie for not doing enough, and Katie tries to defend herself by saying that she doesn’t want to shout and scream over others at the risk of professionality. Sugar says it is an excuse he has heard many times before, which doesn’t bode well.
Gabrielle brings back Bilyana and Katie. I think Katie is more likely to go, as the quietest members are usually sacrificed in place of the louder candidates, i.e. Bilyana, who will make interesting TV.
The final showdown sees Bilyana tries to talk her way out of this, with great style and panache. She explains how she has many good points and wasn’t loud enough to be heard (hmm) and breaks down the task, and how she did well, and others didn’t. Sugar says that she is talking too much spiel, using her risk analyst critique and overcomplicating what was meant to be an easy task. Bilyana even makes the nice mild-mannered Gabrielle let rip at her, saying that she drove the task well and the rest of the team shed blood, sweat and tears, and all Bilyana has are “excuses, excuses, excuses” – nice one. Sugar then turns to Katie, reading out how she says that she “doesn’t hide behind others” in her CV. In a last attemps, Bilyana attempts to tell Sugar all about her background, starting from when she came to the UK on a one year scholarship programme at the age of 17, and managed to stay longer, becoming head girl, before she is interrupted by Sugar, who doesn’t even want to hear it. Bilyana continues to try to defend herself: “Whatever I get my hands on, I have an impact” – not always a good thing…when a car crashes into a tree, it has an impact on the car…and the tree, and none of them good.
It comes down to the decision, and Sugar is talking about hiding behind others, which I took to refer to Katie, who looks resigned to being fired. Yet Bilyana steps in again and tries to talk up, but she is fired. Shame, she would have made interesting TV for the next few weeks, even though she was annoying towards the end. Sugar describes that it was “her demeanour that led to her demise”. We will never get to hear her life story…what happened after she was head girl…? WE WILL NEVER KNOW!!!
Bilyana doesn’t seem to affected by the firing, saying that she thinks her business plan is amazing and that she’ll move on anyway. Good for her.
In the taxi back to the house, Katie counts her blessings, saying that she has Bilyana to thank. I can’t see Katie improving much and staying on for a long time after this week.
Back at the house, Sterling want Gabrielle to come back and think Katie will be fired. When they return, I think the team are genuinely grateful that Bilyana is gone. It is a shame, as she was one of the few girls whose name I do know and remember.

What was her life story? We will never know…Bilyana is the first candidate to be fired.

Next week, the teams design gadgets. Ricky Martin says that their team has invented a bin.

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