The Apprentice Series 8, Episode 2

Welcome! The second week of The Apprentice is all about designing and pitching an original product – a task we’ve seen many times but how will this series’ contestants fare this time around?
5.30am, and Ricky Martin answers the phone, where is he told that a car (or 2 ) will be coming to pick them up to take them to the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington. 15 mins?! 15 mins?! A bleary-eyed Stephen cannot believe it. These early starts and short times to get ready will only get worse you know…
The girls declare the boys as arrogant after their first win, whilst the boys declare themselves to be more closer than Stirling, more “knitted together”.

 
Team Phoenix…can you work out who is who?
At the museum, Lord Sugar emerges onto the balcony, forcing the contestants to look up to him, whilst he reveals that the task is to produces a new household gadget in two days (design museum…design task – hmm, they’re actually related this time; that’s disappointing). Sugar emphasises the importance of the product concept itself, and whoever gets the most amount of orders win. Then we are treated to examples of household “gadgets” – a silicone egg poacher, a pizza cutter?! Wow.
On Sterling, scary Jane wants to be PM, as does Katie. Katie says it will be a good task for her given her background in research and development, but Jane gives her dagger looks and feels of a “it should be me! Me! ME!” speech. It works, as the rest of the team vote in her favour. Scary Jane, a self proclaimed “bossy boots” then displays her wonderful leadership skills by shushing and not letting people talk, telling the team that she’ll be going around in a circle one-by-one to let them talk, like circle time for children.
Fridge expert Azher volunteers for PM. We learn something new about him: he is like a killer whale in the sea world. On one hand he is intelligent, polite and nice, yet he is also committed and aggressive. I’ve heard business is a dog-eat-dog world, and full of sharks (like Ricky Martin), but never killer whales. He settles on designing a gadget for the kitchen, like a good killer whale would.

Scary Jane immediately settles on a gadget for the bathroom; asking “What problems to solve in the bathroom?”. Silence. Jane asks the team, and one replies, “Whatever you want”. This is great brainstorming.
Duane proposes the idea of a bin that compresses rubbish, which Azner loves. Duane says it is a moredn and fashionable thing to be reducing waste – not sure how trendy it can be but we’ll go with it for now. Adam hates the idea, and suggests oven/mittens(?)/rubber gloves with scourers on one hand and sponges on the other, which Tom and Ricky Martin (potential costume for wrestling; you could scour the opponent’s face – yeah! Feel the pain!) love.
The girls are struggling to come up with an idea, until Laura describes the problems of a splashy baby and invents a screen around the bath, which can be personalised (I’m not convinced). Katie proposes a tap cushion but Jenna talks about the problem of different taps (Katie’s not having much luck is she?). Sterling visit Grosnover Hall for the focus group with mothers. The idea of the bath screen is shot down – they like their babies splashing, as well as safety concerns. The group seem to support the tap-cushion (really?! I guess the bath screen isn’t much cop either). Maria, the purple lady (argh! Purple eyeshadow!), who wants 5 restaurants by the age of 25, shows off her sketches of the products to the public, and they like the newly renamed Tap Cosy.
Adam, Tom and Ricky Martin head off to the catering college for their focus group. The compressor is a hit, and Adam’s gloves are called “sensible” but someone says they would rather buy a sponge. On the phone to the other half of the team, Adam tells them that it was an unanimous decision: the gloves rock, conveniently forgetting what the last man said.
Jenna (a bit irritating at the moment, needs to have more wacky  dreams and use them to make choices) rants about how the product is to be attached to the screen. She starts to push for the bath screen, ignoring the market research which didn’t exactly favour it. This sends Maria asleep, and no one has noticed. Until Scary Jane picks on her, asking her if she has anything to add. Maria answers “I’m thinking! I’m thinking!…” – well played.
Adam starts to brainstorm names for his product (which hasn’t been given the go-ahead yet) –  Easy Clean? Magic Hands? Tom loves Magic Hands. Talking to the rest of the team, Adam says that 8 out of 8 of the focus group loved the product (hmm). Azner replies that someone has the same idea already, but doesn’t reveal who. Stephen steps in and states that Adam’s idea isn’t a great one, frustrating the sub-team. What happened to “knitted together”? I knew this was a sign of bad things to come. Ricky Martin dryly states, “Basically we’ve invented the bin”. The voiceover declares that “the gloves are off” as the designer gets to grip with producing a compressor bin for the boys’ team.
Whilst Stirling’s sub-team are dreaming of what colour their Tap Cosy should be (Pebble coloured? Grey?!), Jane states that they will go with the bathguard, which she has already started designing without telling them. Great leadership.  Jane lies that there was too many design constraints for the Tap Cosy according to the designer. This is blatant lying – she can’t get away with this! She asks Katie and the rest of the sub-team whether they prefer KIDS SPLASH or SPLISH SPLASH as the name. They answer KIDS SPLASH, so naturally Jane plumps for SPLISH SPLASH.
Ah…things aren’t good on Phoenix. Ricky Martin challenges Azner, who tells him to focus on the task and product. Ricky Martin hits back with : You didn’t consider our feelings. You insensitive clod! (Who knew he cared so much?)
Breakfast the next day, Ricky Martin, eating cornflakes, is more confident, saying  “We’re going to smash it”. The EcoPress arrives, and Duane has never looked so proud. Azner says it looks like an espresso machine. What if you got 2 confused? No one wants old leftovers in their morning coffee. Adam says that it doesn’t look bad…he just doesn’t like it ( as he reminisces at what could have been if his gloves were allowed to shine, with a forlorn look in his eye).
Jenna proposes 1million orders from Amazon will cost £748,000  cost price, making a 240% profit margin. Good luck with that. Jane take the first pitch, talking about Amazon ordering said 1 million units. The guys don’t look that impressed, and ask for a lower order. Jane then mentions 500,000 will produce 225% gross profit margin, 100,000 will give 185%. She is hopeful. Jane is asked about the figures again and turns to her “financial team”: Gabrielle and Jenna. Not a good idea as they look disorganised, discussing what they are going to say. Outside, Katie says that 1million is a £9million order, and she doesn’t want to be laughed at, whilst Jenna looks shameful.
Nick stops Duane from pitching, telling Stephen and Azner to pitch instead. Duane looks hurt, and Nick (Hewer) screws up his face at the whole thing.
So Stephen starts off the pitch, informing us that 72% of people in the UK cook at home. The Amazon guy asks about the USP of the bin – Stephen mumbles about the EcoPress being a “simple choice” before Duane steps in, a moment that has everyone at home saying “Go on Duane! Talk about your bin!”. He talks about the problem he has with recycling – he puts it all in one bin (!) but the EcoPress will help him. (The passion towards the bin was more obvious than me writing about it) It seems convincing to the Amazon guy. Nick (Hewer…oh no, 2 Nicks!) declares “What a nonsense” that Duance wasn’t allowed to speak initially about his “passion for his baby”. Hear hear!
Jenna says that she didn’t get the figures wrong, just reduced it to its simplest figures – that’s a new, and wrong, way of saying “wrong”. Maria shouts down the phone – JUST FOCUS ON THE PRODUCT!!!!! In the second pitch, Jenna mentions that 0 – 200,000 orders will mean that the cost price is double, and Katie steps in, adding more detail that the cost price is £6 – £10 ( she actually seems competent this week). The guy points out that the children could make more mess with the special crayon, undermining the purpose of the Splish Splash to keep things tidy. Score.
The boys are asked about the inspiration for the bin, and Stephen rightly refers the pitchee to Duane (Yeah! Go on Duane!), who is allowed to talk this time. Even if he does call bins fun (no bins are fun). Phoenix seem more cohesive in terms of the team and pitch, have a better product and listened to the market research, unlike Stirling. Plus, they don’t have Scary Jane. After the pitch, Duane says “Did someone say “nailed”?” Yes, perhaps.

 
Yeah wooo go Duane! The man who wants to make rubbish seem fashionable. And has problems sorting out his recycling
Task over, back to the boardroom. Maria is wearing her purple get-up – again?! Sugar calls Splish Splash a “toy”. Katie describes how the Tap Cost was successful and Laura says that they “marginally” preferred the Tap Cosy (although I think it was a more overwhelming preference). Jane witters on about how taps are different. The girls do seem to support Jane when asked if she was a good PM, even when the million orders debacle is brought up.
Poor Azner – his sub-team diss him for communication and decision making problems, and Duane criticises him too. Et tu Duane? But Azner backed your bin! Adam hated the bin, and talks more about his Magic Hands. Tom says he felt neglected. Aww.
Results time!
Amazon: Karen says she was “cringing” in Sterling’s pitch but they like the product.
Sterling 7,500, Phoenix 3,000 (really? Jane cannot be safe! She has to go!)
High Street Store: Karen says that the store hated the Splish Splash.
Sterling 0 (go on boys), Phoenix 10,000 WIN
 
Phoenix win again, although Azner doesn’t look too happy about it. The treat: having designed a kitchen gadget, Phoenix aren’t going to be in a kitchen, but the opposite – a restaurant (oh Sugar!) – a private room at the Ivy. What Sugar would have done if the girls won with a bathroom gadget remains to be seen. Intriguing…what is the opposite of a bathroom?
At the Ivy, Ricky Martin praises Duane for the win. Azner says that they won with the right people in right places (an attempt to claim credit for the win?) – this is met with awkward silence. Ricky Martin reveals that he doesn’t rate Azner. Following Stephen’s poem last week, he says:

“He’s cool, he’s got all the gear, but no idea” (Rhythm might need a bit of work)

 

At the café, Jane seems to be gunning for Katie (apparently the loss was all her fault as she kept challenging her) and Maria. Maria isn’t happy about losing. She says that she wants to take over the team to show that girls can win. I don’t think Maria should go and Katie did ok. Jane to go.
Stirling are under fire for the product. Laura says that she wanted something functional that could double up as a toy before Jane chips in with “not a toy, an entertainment centre and/or storage”. A long winded way of saying toy, no? Sugar says that he hates the Splish Splash, and can’t fathom why Amazon even made orders.
Jane brings Maria (no contribution, sleeping – Maria gasps) and Katie (doesn’t do anything she was asked to). Sugar warns her to think with her head, not her heart, and Jane brings in Maria and Jenna instead.
In the final showdown, Jenna claims that Katie should be in the final three instead of her. Jane brings up that no-one can say that she did a bad job. Jenna and Jane gang up on Maria. Why is no-one mentioning the lying?!
We are now treated to a sob story from Jane, how she started from nothing to become a great success. Did she learn nothing from last week?! Sugar has no patience for this though. Please talk yourself into being fired Jane! Jane then fires a line: “I was more upset losing this task than speaking to my son”,
This earns a Maria gasp, and I feel sorry for Jane’s son.
Jenna and Jane both say that Maria should be fired. Maria challenges Sugar to put her as PM, and she will show him what she can do. It doesn’t work, Maria is fired. Hmm…on one hand, there will be no more of this purple nonsense but another week of Jane. On balance, I prefer the purple.
It’s not over yet, Sugar threatens another firing. Jane talks about her business that she started from nothing, similar to Bilyana (this didn’t work for her last week), and how she delegated tasks wrongly – a mistake that she won’t be repeating. This earns her a reprieve.
On the way out, Jenna and Jane ignore Maria – nice. Maria is disappointed at being fired, but she says that she can get money somewhere else or make her own money.

 
Maria and her purple eyeshadow are next to be fired.
Back at the house, Katie says that she thinks Jane will go, as she thinks that tactical behaviour doesn’t go well with Sugar, like Bilyana last week. On contrast, I think that Jane knows how to play it well, listening to Sugar’s critiques and adapting her choices well. Sugar highlighted the problems with the figures, and she brought back Jenna as a result. She’s clearly not the strongest candidates but great tactically in the boardroom. If she brought Katie in, she would have come off a lot worse in the final showdown. Bringing Jenna back helped her to get rid of Maria, and save her own skin.
Jane and Jenna return, and receive a hug from Katie. It’s all genuine and sincere, honest.
So apparently, lying, or as some would call it, Creative Amendment of the Truth, is the norm in the world of The Apprentice. Nevertheless, I will look forward to these products coming on sale, as the other products from the past series have done so well (…)

Next week, the teams are mixed and designing a new condiment. Duane looks like he might choke to death having tried one of his sauces. Let’s hope he doesn’t. Bye!
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0 thoughts on “The Apprentice Series 8, Episode 2

  1. Neither team particularly impressed here, although the boys had the advantage of at least having a not-totally-crap idea, and an ‘inventor’ (Duane) who could sell it passionately and succinctly – unlike the waffling Stephen.

    Both PMs were poor, although Azhar was slightly less undermined by his team than Jane. I couldn’t believe it when half the girls seemed to wash their hands of brain-storming and basically left it up to Jane to come up with an idea – personal agendas, much? Thank God Katie and Laura came up with ideas, even though they weren’t good. Better a bad idea than none at all. Although how a bath screen qualified as a ‘gadget’, I have no idea.

    In the boardroom, I agree that Jane saved herself by listening to Sugar’s hints – “just pick Jenna and Maria, WILL YA?!?” – and although Maria was far less culpable for the failure of the task than Jenna, I’m glad she went. Ultimately, Sugar is looking for a good business plan to invest in and it seems clear that Maria’s plan was simply to open more restaurants. Do none of them watch the show? Sugar stated quite clearly in the final last year that he is a ‘products’ guy. Why would he want to invest in the a service industry like restaurants – where it is VERY difficult to make a return and the failure rate is very high – when he could invest in something closer to home that involves making and selling gear? I’ll pretty much guarantee now that the winner of the show will be someone whose business plan involves selling a physical product rather than a service …

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