The Apprentice Series 8, Episode 8

It’s 6am and the call comes to announce that the candidates are getting picked up soon to take them to Waterloo Station. Why is it that the guys are always half asleep whilst the girls are halfway getting ready?

Underneath the arches at Waterloo Station is a large HD TV screen with Lord Sugar on display: an advert as to why we shouldn’t have HD. The candidates are gathered in a dodgy grafittied, dirty, smelly archway, which relates to urban art you see. The candidates are to pick two artists and whoever makes the most commission wins.

On Sterling, Stephen and Gabrielle want to PM. Gabrielle reels off a looonnng speeech about her past experience dabbling in the art world. No one even bothers to hear out how Stephen can contribute to the role.

On Phoenix, Tom wants to PM. Unexpectedly he is a big fan of street art, and can tell the difference between good and bad graffiti. Good for him. Adam thought it was the artist who sells it, but according to street art expert Tom, it is all about the message and history apparently…

Gabrielle’s main message as PM is to BE ENTHUSIASTIC. Ricky Martin talks up the advantage of providing a “personable and professional service”. Nick suggests that they take off their ties. Steady on there Nick, don’t go too crazy.

Artist no.1 is SPQR. Adam has become an art expert himself. He has already compared Banksy to The Stig. He comments on how much he loves the syringe painting. He then tries explaining his interpretations/bullshitting about each picture. The painting of the bike means that kids aren’t kids for long enough anymore. Yep.

Sugar has also laid on corporate clients for the teams to sell art to. Phoenix call on Renault, who I wouldn’t ordinarily associate with street art. Tom and Laura pitch first and ask all the right questions. Renault says that they want something that encapsulates Frenchness, sexiness and innovation. Can they find it in one of the artists’ work? Time will tell, but Nick Hewer is impressed and said that Tom did well and will be brilliant as PM.

Sterling go to visit Beefeater Gin. Yes, a distillery needs art, or so I am told. Karren is not impressed as the team didn’t ask proper questions, you know, about size or budget!

Artist no.2 is Nathan Bowen, who used to be a builder. His pictures resemble something like a Star Wars character gone haywire (Happy belated Star Wars Day btw May 4th). Gabrielle thinks that it is perfect for the distillery. I think it looks like crap. Jenna loves it.

Nathan Bowen and his unique British vision

Ricky Martin and Nick are walking down the streets. Ricky Martin hates the graffiti on the streets and says that no one would buy it. He describes it as a “crazy alien workman peeing on another one”. Nick is not too fond of it either.

Artist no.3 is Copyright. Ricky Martin loves it. Nick loves it too. And the artist has a proven record of selling all of his 50 paintings in one day. Could be a good idea to select them no?

Artist no.4 is Pure Evil. Gah what a name. I bet his real name is something like Ian Smith. Something totally ordinary. Or Melville. Tom explains how he has street art in his house (this I cannot picture) and then he starts name dropping heavily. Nick Hewer thinks that it is good that Tom has extensive knowledge of the area but they aren’t selling the team well to the artist. Compare this to Gabrielle, who loves everything. She is selling herself brilliantly, according to Karren.

Adam and Jade go to visit Copyright. The painting of the 2 topless ladies is apparently the thing that strikes Adam the most. He says that he could stare at is for ages. Appreciation of art or just slightly creepy?

Adam and art. Like chalk and cheese.

Artist no.5 is James Jessop – an odd/mad man who is obsessed with horror and gore. His painting “Subway Fiction” is what would happen if he travelled back to 1982 and sprayed a train. His words, not mine. And he sells his stuff for around £10,000 each?! Tom says that it is an acquired taste and in flowery language, basically says that he hates it. Stephen thinks that it is fantastic – the “reason for art” or something…

It’s choices time, and Gabrielle wants to go for Pure Evil and Nathan Bowen. Tom plumps for Copyright and Pure Evil. Pure Evil sides with Gabrielle and her team when Tom makes the call, and Tom flounders for a bit when he has to decide what to do next, having made no second choice. He calls up Jade and Adam, who suggest SPQR but label him as controversial. Tom declares it a no-win situation and plumps for James Jessop, holding on to a small hope that if they sell one painting it could win them the task.

tom gearing on the apprentice

Floundering Tom

Tom has a mini moan about it some more. It states that “having knowledge and rapport counts for nothing” and that “Pure Evil must be mental” for going with Sterling. Tom is not a happy bunny.

The galleries are ready to go at Brick Lane. Ah…the candidates favourite place! How will the guys dress this time? Eh…no one is really that bothered this time around.

Ricky Martin is not happy about Nathan Bowen being the 2nd choice for artist. He thought that there was one artist who was completely wrong for the distillery, and it turns out it was the one that Gabrielle had chosen.

Surprisingly, Adam’s bullshitting, sorry naivety about the art world is working and he is selling, selling, selling. He muses to the camera, “someone asked me about medium. I thought medium was a psychic medium”. Ha. Meanwhile, Laura is asking everyone how they are, and not much else. Jokingly, she says that Adam keeps jumping in when there is prospective sales to be made. I can’t believe that Adam is doing well in a task again. What happened when he used to be Adam the idiot?

The Apprentice 2012: episode eight

For Phoenix, it is all about selling a Jessop, and Tom thinks that he might have someone interested, but whether he can close the deal is another thing that remains to be seen.

On Sterling’s side, Nathan Bowen is doing a live show but none of his stuff appears to be selling, whilst Pure Evil is flying off the shelves (so to speak). But then a man wants to spend £3000 on Bowen’s paintings. Ricky Martin cleverly gets him to spend more.

The corporate clients arrive, and Tom wines and schmoozes Renault. I still can’t see the connection between street art and chic though. On Sterling’s side, the clients walk through unnoticed until they meet a clueless Stephen. Karren sees this as a lesson in how not to sell – don’t meet them or offer a drink, don’t introduce them to the rest of the team, dn’t say goodbye as they leave. Oh Stephen!

Boardroom time, and Sugar says that “the writing will be on the wall for one of you” in a task related pun. hahahahahahahahahah. hah. Sugar highlights Adam as the prime example of the meaning of the task, doing well in something out of one’s comfort zone. What world is this when Adam is doing well?!

Things that are highlighted are Tom and Laura’s lack of enthusiasm for Pure Evil, and losing them as a client, and Gabrielle not asking the right questions to the distillery. Gabrielle worryingly says that she didn’t ask about the budget on purpose – she wanted to find the art and then the client would pay any price for it. Sugar notes that they had a £10,000 budget yet they picked cheap art by selecting Nathan Bowen’s work.

Results:

Phoenix – £2000 from Renault and £2442 from the gallery sales

Sterling – no orders from the distillery, but £4574.62 from the gallery sales – A SLIM WIN.


Sterling are rewarded with an action painting session, i.e. throwing paint around. Tom blames himself for the loss.

Back in the boardroom, conversation is directed at Tom’s poor planning and high risk strategy before moving on to sales. No surprise that Adam came top, but Laura is picked on as the worst seller despite owning her own shop. Laura’s defense is to say that Adam was blagging. She then blames Tom for the loss, before Jade jumps in and says that Laura was there when Tom made the decision and could have stepped in.

Tom decides to bring back Jade and Laura in the final three. Sugar picks on Laura’s CV in which she says that sales is her strongest point and reels off an impressive sales history. Tom accuses Laura of taking  a back seat in the task. Sugar accuses Jade of being indecisive as she failed to help Tom with picking a new second painter.

Tom talks about how he makes decisions based on his own instinct which leads Sugar to question whether it is a matter of Tom’s way or the highway. Tom talks about his background, and then Sugar asks him if he is on the show for the right reasons. Blimey, where did that come from? I thought you loved Tom?

Laura is fired in the end for not fulfilling the image that she put across in her CV. It was basically Tom’s fault that they lost the task but I think that Laura hasn’t really shone throughout the process and perhaps enough is enough. Tom didn’t perform too well this week, but in the past few shows he had become increasingly strong. That being said, if he had managed to sell one of the Jessop paintings, he would have been praised immensely.

The Apprentice Series 8, Episode 7

It’s 5pm and the candidates are lazing around until the phone rings. Stephen answers the call, telling him that cars will be arriving to take them all to a wholesale warehouse in Essex. Cue Essex generalisation from Adam, who is talking about getting a spray tan there. Meanwhile, Jade says that she is not on the show to make friends and has no problem managing people underneath her. Gabrielle utters that no Project Mangers have left. This is all surely a bad sign for Jade, who at the very least should expect to lose.

The task is to use £150 seed money to buy and sell stock, and then to rebuy popular stock to make more profit (the smelling what’s selling task). The team with the greatest value of assets wins. Sugar switches the teams slightly, sending Stephen to Sterling and Laura to Phoenix. He also hints that those who haven’t been PM should considering volunteering this time around. Jade takes that hint and puts herself up for the role, quoting that she is a “born leader”.

On Sterling, Ricky Martin and Nick want the role of PM, but the team vote for Nick. The teams have 2 locations to sell from, and Ricky Martin suggests Romford as it is close to the warehouse. Location sorted, they get to grips with deciding on stock. Stephen proclaims that he could easily sell a beard trimmer for £10. Nick Hewer thinks that Sterling are being efficient.

On Phoenix, Jade is dithering on location. For someone who has quietly impressed for the last 6 weeks, she isn’t proving to be a strong PM. After much deliberating, the team have 10 minutes to buy stock, which includes a vibrating novelty toy. The tan that Sterling opted for (avidly backed by Jenna and Ricky Martin) is dismissed quickly by Laura. Tom states that the product with the highest profit margin is the hot water bottle. Karren thanks God that Tom is thinking about the business side of things, unlike the rest of the team.

Nick and his sub-team appear to be targeting the beauty market, which is a good idea. They have identified a direction in their products compared to the disorganisation of Phoenix, who have bought a wide variety of stock rather haphazardly. Azhar notes that location further away from the warehouse should have more stock, which makes sense, but Jade insists on splitting the stock 50 50. Azhar bemoans that Jade has “no strategy”.

6.30am Day 1. On Sterling, Nick, Jenna and Gabrielle head off to Romford Shopping Centre, and Ricky Martin and Stephen travel to Romford Market. On Phoenix, Tom, Laura and Azhar are going to Ilford Shopping centre, and Adam and Jade are going 15 miles further to Pitsea Market.

At Romford Market, Stephen has come over all “Only Fools and Horses”. He intends to form a double act with Ricky Martin with a “genius” idea of pretending that Stephen has a bad back to sell their super mops. No one seems to take notice apart from amused fellow market traders, and put it this way, Stephen won’t be winning any acting awards for his portrayal as Man With A Bad Back. Surprisingly though, it does manage to ensnare one customer, and Ricky Martin offers her her favourite mop out of 10 of her own choosing. The customer wryly notices that the mops are all the same.

At Romford Shopping Centre, Nick is offering free haircuts for life! Well for £5…for his hair (look at packet) trimmer. Is it not worrying that he has to look at the product to finds out its name when he should know what it is already? Jenna and her fake tan is proving to be a popular choice, and Nick Hewer notes that soon everyone in Essex will have a tan (well if they don’t all have one already).

Sales are slow at Ilford Shopping Centre and Tom, Azhar and Laura are looking bored. At the market, things are going well when Jade decides to slash the prices of everything – not by putting a price number on it, but by using the words “Really Cheap”, like the “Really Cheap” MP3 Speakers. This is her strategy: why use numbers when you can sell it with words. (mind you, if someone offered me really cheap MP3 speakers, I would run a mile…there must be something wrong with them? Why are you selling them really cheap? Why?! Why?!) Adam is proving to be in his element here, bringing in his market trader background (and slimy patter: (to two old ladies) Shout out a number, not your phone number but a price!) and selling well.

In Romford it is raining. Perhaps it is the heaven’s way of punishing Stephen for his bad back story. Ricky Martin suggests coming to the shopping centre. Nick tells Ricky Martin and Stephen to buy more tan. Apprentice Poetry moment: “They want that tan as soon as they can”.

In Ilford it is sunny. Azhar calls Adam and Jade to ask about their strategy. Jade gives a flustered response telling Azhar that they are going to buy more stuff.

Nick and his sub-team are forced to sell their beard trimmers after they have run out of tan. Noooooo. Nick still doesn’t grasp what the product is: Some hair…ermm…(look at packet) clippers. Gabrielle’s approach is to shout out “BEARD TRIMMERS! GET YOUR BEARD TRIMMERS HERE!” at a deafening volume that catches the attention of two old ladies (who don’t need beard trimmers). No one seems to be attracted to the beard trimmers. Think back to when Stephen said that he could easily sell beard trimmers for a tenner (grr…Stephen!). It doesn’t help that most of the customers are women, who are lacking in beards.

At Ilford Shopping Centre, the I-insects are selling well. Tom notes that there is a good margin – bought for 60p and selling them for £2-3. He suggests buying more of these but Jade insists of having a wider variety of stock items. Tom and Laura are not happy. Karren states that Jade is not smelling what is selling.

Ricky Martin and Stephen are stuck in traffic! Nick chimes in a bit of poetry on the phone: “We need as much tan as we can!”. Nick then goes on about how Jenna is the only one who know how to sell tan and can train Ricky and Stephen in the art of selling tan. Ricky Martin asks Stephen: how hard can it be?

On the other team, Azhar is on the phone to Adam and Jade, reeling off a long speech about strategy. I suspect Adam and Jade were falling asleep as they answer with “Thank you bye!” before hanging up. Jade says that Azhar is “annoying”. Aww.

Ricky Martin and Stephen finally reach the warehouse but disaster strikes! There are only 84 bottles of tan left. Nick and Gabrielle are in despair, and Nick makes the agonizing decision to plump for hot water bottles. At Ilford Shopping Centre, Phoenix are going well with their bug things. At Romford it is quiet, as Nick and his sub-team wait for 2 hours without any tan, and are forced to turn away customers. When the tan arrives, Jenna ups the price from £8 to £10. Ricky Martin is annoyed however that he is not selling, as Nick sends Ricky and Stephen to get more stock again.

The two do eventually get to sell. Stephen has an awesome selling style: “Some things in life you can make a decision…it can be good or it can be bad” – this is for the beard trimmer!!!

Time is running out, and Ricky Martin suggests cutting prices to attract more interest, but Nick stands his ground and reject this idea. Jade has different ideas and her mind is focused on sell, sell, sell at really cheap prices. Considering that the results are about assets too, this could be a bad idea. The lower prices can really eat into the numbers.

In the boardroom, Ricky Martin holds his tongue and says that Nick was a good PM and that he didn’t mind wearing fake tan. The fact that Ricky Martin and Stephen didn’t pass on the leftover stock from the market to Nick and his sub-team when they had little to sell is picked up. Nick Hewer isn’t impressed, telling Ricky Martin that he shouldn’t plead that he was too far away to pass the stock on when he was only a few minutes from the shopping centre.

On Phoenix, Adam is praised for his sales, something he can actually claim credit for this time (annoyingly, he wasn’t that annoying or useless this week). Azhar reveals that Jade had no strategy but she was a good organiser. Jade hits back saying that he could have told her this at the time. Azhar assures that did (and he did – a lot!)

Results:
Phoenix made £422.61, had £415.60 of stock giving them a result of £838.20.
Sterling made £681.30, had £273.90 of stock, giving them a result of £955.20 Win

As a reward, Sterling get sent to a cocktail bar with UK Bartender of the Year. Wooooahhh. As the team toast, Stephen remarks that the cocktail “tastes a little bit like Phoenix at the minute. Bitter!” (Oh Stephen!)

I think that Jade should be fired. She has no proper plan implemented and crucially she failed to understand the point of the task in buying and selling. This episode, she has proved to be disappointing as PM, and as we start to see more of her, she comes across as unlikeable, uncooperative and unwilling to listen.

At the café, blame is directed towards Jade, so much so, that Jade even blames herself as PM, but she probably won’t admit this in the boardroom. Adam says that she sold loads and doesn’t worry – he is fine.

Phoenix return to the boardroom and Sugar highlights the lower selling price of the fake tan compared to Sterling, turning his attentions to Tom. Tom says that he relied on Laura and Jade, who know more about the beauty sector that he does, coupled with the fact that Jade lowered prices later on in the day. Jade says that normally, she spends £7 to £10 on a bottle of fake tan, but the warehouse fake tan looked cheap. A bit of a boo boo there Jade.

Sugar then picks up on how more stock was sold at Pitsea market and asks why a higher percentage of stock wasn’t sold there. Jade says she couldn’t have predicted how things would go on the day, backed by Adam, who seems to have become increasingly pally with Jade after criticising her lack of creativity a few weeks ago. Katie who?

Azhar telles Sugar that Pitsea was his idea, as well as having a 70/30 split of the stock in favour of Pitsea, which Jade denies hearing (I heard him!)
Adam and Jade gang up on Azhar, saying that all he did was moan.

Jade decides to bring back Azhar (he “caused a problem”) and Tom (why I am not sure). Even Tom is not sure either (“…even though I made the right decisions…”). Jade squeals, “I DON’T KNOW HOW TO CHOOSE!”, before Sugar instructs her that as team leader, she is responsible for assessing the good and the bad of the task ( this indicates Jade’s weak leadership and inability to make decisions – there is no way that Jade can save herself now!). In the end, she sticks with her initial decision.

Lord Sugar highlights that Jade’s application form states that her worst business skill is her rashness, something that we saw in this ep. Jade admits that she shouldn’t have brought Tom in but felt under pressure to make a decision. Tom defends himself, saying that Adam was a good salesman but other qualities are important too. Jade says that she didn’t prepare to lose, she prepared to win, which is the reason she faltered on deciding who she should bring back to the boardroom. Whether this amounts to a good excuse remains to be seen.

Jade then turns on Azhar, saying that he kept questioning strategy but provided no solution. Tom states that Azhar likes to waffle but he was right about product selection. Jade then tells Sugar that she should stay because she has a brilliant business plan which can produce groups of multi-million making businesses (oh dear). She then rambles on about how amazing she is as a business woman, and has good people skills, unlike Azhar (aw).

Sugar wonders if Azhar is a “moaner” and not a doer. Tom is safe, and Jade is too enthusiastic and Sugar can’t accept Jade bringing back Tom. However, he goes on to say that he admires Jade’s enthusiasm and fires Azhar. Jade doesn’t even bother to say to Azhar outside the boardroom, just walking off. Tom shakes hands and bids farewell to Mr Groove Train/ Azhar. Sugar states that Azhar was a nice guy but “who wants to go into business with someone who no-one else listen to?”

In the taxi, Azhar thinks that the decision was wrong and I would agree. The loss was completely Jade’s fault and her lack of direction and understanding cost the team dearly. Azhar may have brought up their strategy a lot, but he had some decent points to make and Jade didn’t consider them. Yet she is still in the competition and Azhar is out.

Back at the house, Tom says that Azhar didn’t want to beg to stay and Jade says that she wanted to fight to keep her place in the competition. Adam tells Jade, “Well done! Good on you!” and in that moment, I realise that Adam and Jade are very similar in some respects…(overenthusiastic, grating, mildly escaping the axe and failing to understand the meaning of the tasks)

At the moment, there don’t appear to be many favourites in the show. Nick has proved to be of some talent but some of his decision making, such as not to try to sell the leftover stock from Romford Market, is a bit questionable. The only one who seems to standing out is Tom, cool, calm and collected, a good leader and a team player, good business sense and planning skills (and it doesn’t hurt that he is good looking too). He’s not completely perfect – remember his duh moment with the York Hall/ Your Call? All in all, I am a bit of a Tom fan and he seems to be a highly credible candidate, which probably means that he won’t win the show (the favourite never does, god forbid it may be Adam!!!??!) but I think he will go far in the competition.

The Apprentice Series 8, Episode 6

It’s 5pm and Ricky “The Fitness” Martin is having a Wii Fit showdown with Adam “The Idiot” Corbally, who is attempting to push and cheat his way to victory. (Did they not have enough of fitness last week?) Laura is looking puzzled when it is her go, but luckily she is saved by the unexpected arrival of Lord Sugar. He doesn’t bother to join in with the fun and games, instead just revealing that this week’s task is to create a mobile restaurant in the “culinary capital of Scotland”, Edinburgh (the location isn’t even related to the task at all, except the fact that the candidates might be sitting in the kitchen where food is made– I am disappointed). He throws emphasis on high quality street food before making Adam PM of Phoenix and Jenna PM of Sterling, before disappearing into the night/evening.

Adam shows off his modest side

Street selling – I’m perfect!

Before putting forward the idea of a traditional Scottish street food stall with haggis and deep fried Mars bards (mmm…gourmet), ruling out Japanese food for no apparent reason, and incurring the wrath of Japanese viewers. Tom leaps to the defence of Japanese cuisine, saying it is becoming more and more popular nowadays, and it shouldn’t be ruled out. Adam tactfully answers this with “WHO EATS SUSHI?” Azhar wings in a chicken wrap idea before the team settle on Italian street food.

Jenna announces that she cannot cook but has experience in the restaurant business. Sterling opt for a Scottish stew route.

Whilst Stephen, Katie and Jade are discovering that high quality ingredients are a must from the vendors who won Dish Of The Year in 2011 (what this dish was, I’m not sure), Adam is thinking of how cheap he can make everything, at the expense of good quality, en route to Edinburgh. He is rolling around ideas of “cheap and simple” – pasta and corned beef (?!). Corned beef is disgusting –urgh. Tom agrees. All this talk of food (if you can call corned beef that) is making Adam hungry.

Elsewhere on the train, Nick and Gabrielle are researching potential pitches for their mobile restaurant, and call up a local hotelier. Nick asks about some locations, including Tynecastle Stadium, where there is a football match on the day. The 

hotelier suggests it might not be the best choice to sell gourmet food. On Phoenix, Katie is actually staking her claim, and her reputation, on selling at Tynecastle Stadium – Stephen is wary, but concedes in the end.

Jenna is wittering on about a pure Scottish language and worries that she won’t understand Scottish people, asking Laura to translate for her. Oh my…

The teams head off to the kitchen to create their vision of gourmet street food. On Phoenix, Adam is still thinking, “cheap, cheap, cheap” and asks about using dried rosemary instead of fresh. Mattia the chef looks shocked – dried?! Adam perseveres saying that they should use dried as it is cheap whilst Tom expresses that he doesn’t always have to think of cheapness – quality is important too. Nick Hewer agrees. Enough said.

In creating names, Adam has got the permission from Mattia to use his name for the brand, Mattia’s Meatballs. In a taxi, Stephen and his sub-team are thinking up some concepts. Stephen wants high-end Italian (like Belissimo with 1 L?). Jade suggests “Utterly Delicious”, which is put through to Adam, and he has reservations about it – nowhere is there mention of Italian or meatballs (I agree, it reminds me of a buttery spread). The idea of Mattia’s Meatballs isn’t completely embraced by the branding team, and Adam is now proposing to add “meatballs” to the end of “Utterly Delicious”, but says he will leave it to Stephen to decide.

Sterling are creating “Gourmet Scot-Pot”: a name that refers to the food itself and the country of cuisine. Take note, Phoenix!

It is selling day, and Adam takes his Utterly Delicious Meatballs (or Morrisons value pasta with odd-shaped meatballs – mmm belissimo!) to Tynecastle Stadium, whilst Azhar is dressed as Julius Caesar, Katie is dressed as pizza (surely she should be dressed as a meatball?) and Stephen is dressed as Italy, and they all head off onto the streets of Edinburgh tod rum up trade. On Sterling, Laura and Ricky Martin have also taken to costumes – traditional Scottish dresswear. They do a bit of Highland flinging before nabbing a real Scottish bagpipe player to play near their food can, located in Parliament Square.

Adam is setting a price of £5.99 for his Utterly Delicious Meatballs, whilst the public at the football ground are scoffing cheap burgers and chips. I am worried. Tom is worried. Katie is worried too. She wants to charge more – £7.99, which is dismissed by Adam.

Stephen, Katie and Azhar have arranged a deal to speak on tourist buses at Grassmarket.  Stephen is ecstatic at this and acts like he has won the task. Steady on there.

Selling is slow on both sides. On Sterling, Jenna wants Laura and Ricky Martin to stop “chatting” to people and start bringing them to the stall to buy food. Laura isn’t happy and to the camera, states that Jenna is already “pointing fingers” to cover her own back should the team lose. At Tynecastle Stadium, Adam has only sold 12 Utterly Delicious Meatballs, and decides to lower the price. Having seen the box, it doesn’t look like you get much – I wouldn’t pay £2 for that! After this, Adam and his selling team head off to Grassmarket.

 

Katie, Azhar and Stephen run up some stairs as Stephen shouts:

Phoenix! Flight of the Phoenix!

as they head off to the first bus. Pitch begins like so

Katie emergers onto the top deck and exclaims:

“Look at me! What kind of food do you think I’ll be bringing you?”

Random stranger shouts out, “Pizza?” (Haaaaaaaah)

Katie now has to improvise

“No…think outside the pizza box…”

Silence descends

Katie squeals, “Meatballs!”

After that amazing pitch, they make no sales and they miss the next bus to pitch on. Adam is not a happy meatball and thinks that the bus pitch was a terrible idea. I think the whole team, except Tom (the only one talking sense) sucks. But they’ll probably win now, won’t they?

Ricky Martin and Laura spot an Aberdeen Angus steal at Princes Street, where there are lots of people and they are hungry, so Jenna moves their van. It pays off as sales increase. Ricky Martin propositions two women who walk past. “Fancy some dinner?” he asks, but the two women just walk past him.

In the final stages of the day, both teams are attempting to get rid of everything. Stephen is selling Utterly Delicious Meatballs as the “perfect Scottish meatball” – I thought it was Italian? Adam decides to cut his prices even more, and then asks where Katie is. Azhar asks a squirrel if he wants some meatballs. The squirrel scuttles away – the thought of Azhar Caesar selling some slop is not a good one. But this has to be the highlight of the series, and I love Azhar for asking the squirrel.

On Sterling, Nick proposes to Jena that they should lower the price of Gourmet Scot-Pot. Jenna is unsure, and Karren talks about how there is little room to manoeuvre in terms of pricing because of the expensive ingredients. Jenna umms and aahs for a bit before agreeing with Nick, and they sell their Scot-Pots for £4, or 2 for £6.

On Phoenix, Katie is still missing!

At the end of the day, Adam congratulates his team, whilst Jenna is not confident that she had led Sterling to a win.

It’s boardroom time – do the candidates always have to wear the same clothes each time? Perhaps it is a condition stipulated in their contract. I feel sorry for Maria – she chose that awful purple monstrosity, only to be forced to wear it week after week. Maybe she chose to get herself fired so she could be free of all the purple.

Adam smugly talks about how he used cheap ingredients such as his 1% pork 99%fat (or thereabouts) meatballs. Sugar looks alarmed, causing Adam to stumbles over his “quality meatballs” and he backtracks massively, and says that he used good (cheaper) ingredients that didn’t compromise quality, emphasising the quality aspect. He asks Tom to help him, and he supports what Adam said (…)

Adam then takes credit for adding “Meatballs” to the name and Jade laughs, saying that they would have added “Meatballs” to the name anyway (hmm…). Sugar points out that Utterly Delicious Meatballs is not Italian and reprimands Adam for not using Mattia’s Meatballs as the name, which sounds more expensive, and oh, Italian!

Sterling’s costs are discussed, and Ricky Martin that they spend “around £268.82”, which sounds very accurate for an approximation.

Results! Phoenix spent £90.25, made £388.29, and made a profit of £298.04. Sterling spent around £268.82, made £588.60, generating a profit of £319.78. Sterling win!

Wow, I thought through some terrible twist of fate that Phoenix would win but it turns out good quality produce and strategy does matter for something in the end. My faith is restored after the shambles of the victory of Groove Train (well, until next week probably).

Apprentice poetry of the week comes courtesy of Lord Sugar:

One thing you can’t cook,

And they are the books.

On their reward, Sterling are at a 5 star country club and are riding Segways. Nick falls off and Laura shouts at him. Nick is a dangerous fiend on a Segway, who would have imagined? Ricky Martin is scared as Jenna prepares to open the champagne bottle. Jenna asks why he is scared and he replies that she is about to open the champagne into the faces of her teammates. It doesn’t take much to scare Ricky “The Fitness” Martin, the manliest of men, the alpha male, the shark and professional wrestler, but apparently, Jenna and a champagne bottle will do the trick.

In the café, Adam is acting rather blasé about the result, stating “Ech…you win some, you lose some”, before bitching to the camera that the loss is not his fault at all, Jade and Katie are to blame, as they are marketing experts but they didn’t do well in the task. Katie blames Adam and his  bad PM skills, while Stephen blames Katie and Azhar for lack of contribution.

Sugar immediately pounces on the lack of sales and lack of quality, to which Adam protests that Utterly Delicious Meatballs is gourmet. Sugar then compares Adam’s meatballs to looking like elephant poo (touché). Katie says that Adam didn’t listen to the research from the food fair that highlighted the importance of high quality ingredients. Katie then goes on about a £6 burger (WOW) at a football ground, to which Sugar wittingly replies “in Chelsea!”

Stephen says that Adam should have used his common sense at Tynecastle Stadium and lowered prices earlier. Stephen’s next plan is to alert Adam to how he is focusing on those who contributed and not those who didn’t, pointing to “quiet as a mouse” Azhar. Stephen, you leave Azhar alone – he tried to sell meatballs to a squirrel (oh and some other stuff to do with sales and publicity). Tom blames the Grassmarket location, and says that he warned Stephen about it. Stephen says that the steam from the meatball van must be getting to Tom’s head as he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Tom answers “Stephen, why do you lie? I did tell you!”

(I think that this all deserves a big “Oh Stephen!”)

And there’s more. Stephen has another argument with Azhar about how he supposedly deflects questions. Stephen answers Azhar’s criticisms and questions, by deflecting them obviously, which helps his case – not (oh Stephen!).

Although threatening to choose Jade, Adam brings back Katie and Azhar. I have a feeling that Azhar might be fired as he didn’t contribute massively to this task and he has been quiet during the weeks so far, but he will be fondly remembered for his Groove Train video and his squirrel moment.

Adam talks up his background as a market trader and his success in running a “big operation” but Sugar is cynical – the market trader mentality (i.e. emphasis on sell, lack of emphasis on quality) might have hindered Adam’s strategy. Adam goes on to boast how he is the best salesman, best negotiator, basically best at everything before Azhar scoffs at this, and points out that Adam wasn’t the best at this task.

Adam then hits back, saying that he has 5 times more experience than Azhar has. Azhar swiftly and coolly says that Adam could have 200 times more experience – it doesn’t change the result of the task. Sugar wonders if Adam is out of his depth (yes he is!). Azhar details how Adam relied on Stephen too much (Katie agrees) and Sugar is left thinking if Adam can be a good leader.

Adam blames the loss on Katie – the football location was poor and the disappearance: she was nowhere to be seen, whereas Azhar was bringing in lots of customers (hey – you just said that Azhar didn’t contribute much. Sneaky of Adam, sensing that Azhar is running rings around him in the boardroom, he now picks on Katie to save his skin). Katie denies disappearing – she was also bringing people in, she says.

Sugar then asks why they should stay in the competition. Azhar says that he “literally does not stop working”, and he grew his successful business using his £2500 redundancy package – a good, and admirable, answer. Adam’s answer is to spout out, “I’m perfect as a business partner”, to which Sugar asks for more originality. Adam then says he has potential and wants a change to prove this. Sugar points out that Adam had a chance – as PM, and he failed. Adam says “good on you” for giving him the PM role. Not a great answer by any means. Katie says that she is brilliant and has good people skills.

Sugar says that although Azhar is quiet, he has spoken up today and makes a lot of sense. Adam is too enthusiastic, but made errors. He the blames Katie for giving Adam the wrong information. At the end, Sugar opts to give Adam another chance to assert his authority (what?!) and after 3 times in the final 3, Katie has run out of luck and is fired.

Back at the house, Tom is telling the other candidates that he had a struggle to work with Adam before Adam and Azhar return. Azhar reveals to the rest of the house that Adam was very close to being fired, before Adam chips in that Azhar got a stern warning too. Azhar says that Sugar only told him to speak up more, and Adam claims credit for saying that he said that too. Stephen tells Adam that he didn’t think he would be coming back, but hopes that they could all move on. Not likely.

I’m not a big fan of Adam – his leadership and people skills are severely lacking, he had no strong strategy or ideas, and the way that he focused purely on money making and not the quality of the product should worry Sugar if they are going to go into business together. Add that to the fact that he is extremely annoying. I accept that Sugar gave him a reprieve this week but there is zero potential in Adam, and I cannot see him lasting that much longer, unless he has a sudden brain and personality transplant. Katie has had some good ideas but has failed to make a big mark on the competition, despite her taking some prominent roles. I think this week, she made a big error in staking her reputation for selling at the football match, which played a big part in their loss. She has been given too many chances so I think it was her time go, although I would have preferred Adam or Stephen to go – no good business sense – all words and no action, and just plain annoying.

 

Next week, the teams are doing a bit of selling. Ricky Martin and Stephen are showing off their extractable and extendable super mops and there is some more Apprentice poetry to come: They want that tan as soon as they can.

The Apprentice Series 8, Episode 5

The genius that is going to featured in a Virgin gym near you!

6.15am and a bleary-eyed but dressed Gabrielle runs down the stairs, quickly followed by Jenna – WHAT IS THIS?! 2 PEOPLE NEVER RUN TO ANSWER THE PHONE! Jenna stares creepily at Gabrielle as she is told that the cars will be coming to take them to York Hall, sorry, Your Call, as Tom heard and thinks is some kind of call centre (so pretty so dumb – duh…).

York Hall is famed for its world class boxing, sport and fitness facilities. Ricky’s twitching eyebrow is becoming a common feature as Sugar reveals that this week’s task is to devise a fitness class and try to license it nationally – whoever makes the most money wins.

Stephen, who dabbles in the health and fitness sector, is Phoenix’s PM. On Sterling, Ricky Martin declares that he wants to “throw his hat in the ring” (the wrestling ring ho hum), citing his professional wrestling background (not as a threat I presume), but wait! Jenna wants to go for PM on account of her being a horserider. Unanimously, the team vote for Ricky “The Fitness” (snigger) Martin.

From this point, Ricky Martin reels off some nice soundbites:

The Apprentice Series 8 - Week 5 - Keet Fit boxing

I’m the heavyweight champion of wrestling, I want to be the heavyweight champion of the business world. 

Please corroborate this fact please. Sugar doesn’t like lying (unless you count the other times – Lee!). Not only this but Ricky Martin reels off some The Apprentice poetry that has been missing from the past few weeks:

You always witness the Fitness with Ricky Martin

(yep and don’t you forget it! And the fact that he talks in 3rd person)

Stirling decide to go for a martial arts/ streetdance class, capitalising on Ricky Martin’s wrestling and Laura’s dance background.

Adam has an idea of a skipping class – Fit Skip, Hip to Skip. Katie throws out a “Dating Class”  : Adam laughs at this and Jade exclaims that the gym is the last place she would want to meet someone. Katie’s 2nd idea is a 80s retro class, and Stephen goes for this, opting for the traditional rather than the modern idea that Stirling are going for.

Phoenix head off to visit an 80s dance troupe at London’s West End to find some ideas. Adam puts forward his skipping idea but no massive takers (one day…Adam will get his won back on his failed ideas by creating a skipping class/cleaning class – offering free Magic Hands, of course). It all ends with some new ideas and Stephen, Azhar and an out-of-step Adam dancing to Thriller.

Stirling visit a streetdance group, and Duane tells them, “You all look very cool” (like an extreme sales pitch following on from last week). The group show them a few moves and Nick asks if he can join the group. Focus Nick! You’re here to be the next Apprentice! Well the next business partner of Sugar anyway. Come to think of it, it would be interesting to see Nick throw a few streetdance shapes. Let’s make it happen – quit the show and join the group!

Courtesy of Gabrielle, Stirling’s dance classes are called Beat Battle – I’m not really convinced. It doesn’t really suggest anything relating to the concept – it reminds me of a rap battle instead. Each team get their own dance expert to help them devise their classes. The female dance expert and Laura, the “king of dance” according to Ricky Martin (she’s a girl!!), develop the dance element, with Ricky Martin throwing in some martial arts moves for good measure. Female dance expert is critical of how there are too many ideas, but it is a good concept. I would agree, if they iron out their concept, it could work.


The video is going to be an important component to sell their exercise classes. On Phoenix, Jade, Adam and Tom take charge. At the casting session, Jade and Tom are more than happy to let Adam demonstrate his Funky Lunges to a dancer who has just walked off the set of a low-budget production of Fame. After, Adam proclaims that he took the lead and bemoans the fact that creative Jade isn’t very creative.

 

On Sterling, Duane is appointed the sib-team manager for the video, and he wants to simplify the moves. Nick suggests calling the PM but Duane says no. This could be a problem if the video is showing something different to the real classes.

 

Back on Phoenix, Azhar, in a pair of short shorts, leads in the video. Jade questions Adam’s contribution – nothing, apart from telling everyone to smile. Which Adam would argue is what wins them the task if they win. In-fighting is occurring on the other team, with Duane arguing with everyone. Ricky Martin has taken one half of the team, and they are all getting along swimmingly, with Gabrielle designing the logo – a graffiti tag (I am surprised that Gabrielle didn’t suggest a graffiti sign…with legs – it might be more apt in this case). Yet on Duane’s mini team, tensions are icy at the studio, and even more so in the taxi, as Duane and Laura argue. For all of Duane’s talents and past successes, he doesn’t seem to be displaying great leadership skills. Nick suppresses a smile as the arguing goes on, and then attempts to diffuse the tension bu suggesting that everyone shake hands and move on. Grumpy Duane says no.

 

Adam has another moan about creative Jade not being creative, and claims that she is only creating problems, before boasting:

“She doesn’t want to shoot me down, no one could do that…”

 

Video editing for Sterling is a quiet affair as Laura and Nick are resigned to letting Duane do things his own way after the chaos of filming. Good to see relations have improved all around.

 

Pitch time. Sterling has a fairly successful time pitching, as Ricky Martin takes the helm of pitcher:

  1. Quotes £45 per month per class, or an offer of 2 months free for a one-year contract. Pitchee suggests that Beat Battle looks similar to boxercise but Ricky Martin points out that Beat Battle uses the legs and elbows whilst boxercise merely uses fists.
  2. To counteract the problems of pitch one, Laura and Duane are to demonstrate Beat Battle in action. Ever wondered what a Super Punch in a suit looks like? Well, look no further as Duane Super Punches in his suit successfully 2nd time around.
  3. Asked about whether Beat Battle would have enough mass appeal, Ricky Martin gives a fantastic answer saying that martial arts is becoming more popular and reels off some figures to support this. He has done well pitching – he is clear, concise and has done his research.

A confident Stephen acknowledges that Ricky Martin likes wresting but questions if he can pull together a good product.

  1. We see the video, quite funny, complete with Azhar’s invisible hula hooping. Groove Train is priced at £35 per class. Pitchee asks about the problems of equipment. There will be less space as Stephen says there will be 8 people less than normal because of the extra equipment. Pitchee asks why would she want to do that when the classes she has now can run with full capacity? Ouch. She goes on to ask where would they keep the extra equipment?
  2. Things don’t get better as next pitchee asks about the prices of the extra equipment. Stephen quotes £2 for a Space Hopper, £1 for a hoop, and 50p for a skipping rope. That is cheap. Karren is not impressed.
  3. Katie suggests using the props in the last pitch, so Stephen asks her:

“Would you maybe have a go on the balls?” before Katie hastily retreats from her words (“Let’s not go too far…”), so it is left to Stephen to show that he can’t hula hoop (oh Stephen!) as he demonstrates the steps in an awkward pitch. Guy pitchee says it looks like a class for kids rather than for women, the intended target market. Katie goes on to spout that the Space Hopper “breaks all boundaries”. Yeah…

 

Back in the boardroom, everyone loved Ricky Martin as PM. Sugar asks Phoenix who designed the moves and Adam immediately claims credit, even though it was Azhar who did it. Adam apologises and tells everyone that he thought Sugar meant on the day of filming. I accept this, it is a force of habit for Adam to claim credit for things – he has just got too used it that he is claiming credit for things he didn’t do. The equipment plan is called into question, which Tom brought up many minutes ago. Sugar wryly notes that exercise classes mean that you are meant to lose pounds but not proper pounds (Oh Sugar! Although someone who finds gyms too expensive might beg to differ).

 

Results:

Fitness First:

Sterling                 One off fee for development £5000

Phoenix                No orders

Pure Gym           

Sterling                 3 months across 22 gyms £2970

Phoenix                 Nowt

Virgin   

Sterling                 No orders

Phoenix                Hated the idea but £17.50 for 6 months to adapt for families£12,810

 

Seriously? As I watch this, I cannot believe this. Phoenix have won even though they didn’t pitch well or have a strong idea, and Virgin has helped them win, even though they are going to completely change the idea anyway. Oh my…

 

Sugar sends Phoenix to London Spa (no relation to the task – disappointed) and the audience is treated to the sight of Stephen’s back and his snoring (double disappointment, and slight “ugh”) – he needs to retrieve his nose plaster from the start of the show no? In the café, Sterling are shocked and no one can see why they lost. Yet…

In the boardroom, people can find fault in the task.

  • Laura blames Ricky Martin for the loss, simply because he was PM
  • Ricky Martin blames the video for not showing Beat Battle properly, and criticises Laura for her bias towards dance
  • Jenna attempts to support Ricky Martin before Laura interrupts her and childishly whines “Don’t blame me!”
  • Lastly, Ricky Martin wants to know what Nick did. (Don’t blame Nick!)
  • Ricky Martin brings back Duane for the video and Laura for the dance.

 

I think that Ricky Martin did a good job in the task – good leadership and pitching. The video was a huge weakness so Duane is at fault for the loss but Laura could go as Duane has done well in the past and has more potential.

 

Duane defends Laura and says that Ricky Martin is at fault. He has been a strong contender whilst Ricky Martin has hidden away, but Sugar disagrees with the last statement, which isn’t a good sign. Laura says that if Ricky Martin was worried about editing then he should have gone to the editing himself, which is a little unfair. As PM, you would be worried about all aspects of the task but you can’t expect him to do everything. Ricky Martin says that he delegated based on backgrounds: Duane has filmed promotional videos before and Laura has a dance background.

 

Sugar says that Ricky Martin brought back the wrong people and hopes it isn’t a sign of bad management. Laura should not have been brought back so she is safe for now. Ricky Martin has done well in the past few weeks and the video it the main reason for the loss, so Duane is fired, which may seem a shock as some had pegged him as the early favourite. Alas, Duane, the man who wanted to make bins trendy, is the next to leave.

 

Next week – the candidates visit Scotland to sell food, as Ricky Martin offers a group of girls some dinner, someone offers a squirrel some meatballs and Jenna says that she feels physically sick. I think we will end it there.

The Apprentice Series 8, Episode 4

The episode opens with a rare event…a morning off. Azhar, Adam, Ricky Martin and Nick are playing an interesting mix of ping-pong and running around before there is a phone call, and Duane rushes off to answer. Cars will be coming in 30 mins to take them to Chiswick Cinema. As they get ready, the candidates speculate on what the task could be – creating trailers or something to do with advertising? Nope, because that would make sense.

On the way there, Ricky Martin is complaining about Sterling being big headed after their win, and Katie agrees, stating that Nick and Duane need to be brought back down to earth. In the other taxi, Duane says that not everyone is contributing and they need to be exposed, and the camera cuts to Jane – clever editing?

Chiswick Cinema is apparently famed for its furniture and second hand goods. This is how it relates to the task – sell used goods and make the most profit. Sugar mixes the teams again, sending Jade to Phoenix and Ricky Martin to Sterling, the team he bitched about earlier on.

Sterling are contemplating refurbishing products. Jenna says that bins are the way to go, perhaps they could create a  “funky bin”. Didn’t she catch Duane’s EcoPress, the most fashionable and funkiest bin on the scene?

Duane wants to be PM again, but so does Laura. No one wants Duane and everyone else votes for Laura. Laura describes how

being an attractive businesswoman can have its ups and downs

but she is like a “Rottweiller”. Hmm. How lovely.

Tom is the PM for Phoenix. Tom says that “I’m only 23 years old” (Hope he won’t be like “I’m only 23” Alex from a few years back) and that he is a laid back and well rounded individual. He wants to focus on quality over quantity. Adam says that they should buy more more more. Oh and that Tom is wrong. Everyone is always wrong in Adam’s eyes – he likes to complain a lot. I await the day he becomes PM and does a sterling job (oop no pun intended).

Sterling are focusing on quantity on the other hand, or as Ricky Martin puts it

We’re selling crap and turning it into style.

Gabrielle is given the role of heading up the redesigning of the furniture, the creative soul that she is.

Back at the ping-pong table, the next morning Laura gives her team money to spend. She emphasises buying things to customise other objects with, like buttons! Elsewhere, Tom gives Katie, Adam and Stephen (KAS) £200, telling them to spend as little as possible. Minimising spend means maximising profit. They are unhappy at this, and later, Katie criticises Tom’s strategy and Adam says that they “are not miracle workers”.

KAS go to an auction at Greenwich and find it hard to buy things, restricted by the low money they were given. Nick says that they have

committed a number of mortal sins

for example, they didn’t ask for more money and they bid on 4 items and won 3, which was “foolish”. I wouldn’t exactly call that a “mortal sin” but I can see errors.

Adam, the forward thinking guy/idiot that he is goes to look at the auction house’s bins – it has finally come to this. Nick, wearing a trendy pair of sunglasses, cannot believe this, as Adam makes a swift exit with his team, failing to keep hold of the pans he picked up. After that, they criticise Tom some more, with Katie exclaiming

It’s like Tom wants us to lose!!!

Those sunglasses are well trendy

Contrast the two styles of the teams. Laura and Ricky Martin have located furniture to sell and are buying lots of things. Tom is looking at a variety of items at a car boot sale, and hating most of them. The important thing is that it isn’t what you want Tom, it is what people will buy. The segment ends with Tom breaking an item, and the rest of the team walk away without paying…or even apologising.

The concept for Sterling’s upcycling is “shabby chic”. Nick doesn’t know what “shabby chic” is – it is probably the stuff Tom dissed at the car boot sale. I am not sure whether anyone ever told Nick what “shabby chic” is – he might be left in the dark still. Gabrielle wants a brand or stamp on their furniture, which doesn’t sound very unique and sellable, especially if it is a vintage shop no? Karren is sceptical about their upcycling – it needs expertise, and money.

KAS head off to a junk shop as the pull out some things from the back of the shop that they think they could sell. Junk shop guy offers £50 for their things. Stephen cries out “We only have £25!!!”, then agrees to buy at £30. Junk shop guy tells the camera that the sub-team missed out on the good stuff (usually selling in the shop) and went for “absolute rubbish”. Meanwhile, in the taxi, Stephen is feeling a (misplaced) smugness about how they took the best stuff that was hidden in the back for a good price. he even goes as far to say that he should teach junk shop guy how to run his own shop. Boom.

Sensitive Ricky Martin exclaims “it smells vintage” as he ascends up the stairs with the team to collect things from a dead person’s flat (…) Duane is looking miserable, and has done for most of the task. Could it be due to not getting the PM role? It seems like a case of sour grapes and indicates a bad attitude when he doesn’t get his own way – not good in a team. Anyway, Duane is saying that he wouldn’t want to buy these things they collected from a dead person but it is free, quoting the well-known saying:

Don’t look a gift horse in the eye.

Damn, I have been getting it wrong all these years…

Gabrielle is getting into full flow with redesigning the stock. She has created a contraption that consists of a suitcase on chair legs, which doesn’t exactly look sturdy, or nice.

Gabrielle's suitcase on legs. It's er....different

Gabrielle's idea is similar to this - drawers on legs.
http://blog.jelanieshop.com/interior/oturakast-cabinet-by-rianne-koens/

Another invention is a suitcase on a ladder. Nick doesn’t understand the value of these things (and nor do I) but he has faith that Gabrielle knows what she is doing.

Setting up shop, Phoenix have opted for the minimalistic look (or a another way of saying that they didn’t buy enough). On Sterling, criticism falls on Gabrielle’s redesigns. Ricky Martin gates the Union Jack furniture, and Duane states that

it looks like I painted it, and I can’t paint

ooh.

The next day, the boys are discussing what to wear in Brick Lane, where they are selling. Duane worries that he is really old and doesn’t fit in. Nick laughs at him. Stephen just wants to look cool, but misses the mark somewhat.

Phoenix start off the day well – lots of interest and selling as Tom gets rid of an amaaaazing hole puncher. Woo. Sterling are running late as they try to get ready. Gabrielle tells Nick to scatter old leaves across the shop floor – possibly to fit in with “shabby chic”, but in reality looking more like a mess. Nick is sceptical about the stock, saying “I don’t buy this shit”. Will anyone else though?

When Sterling finally open, we are treated to some of Phoenix’s selling styles. Duane likes to compliment the customers, telling them that they are “cool”. Jane prefers to almost beg for a sale, and then raise hr voice to scare someone into buying. Is it working? Not quite. She shouts “WE COULD DO A DEAL!!! ARE YOU SURE?! (PLEASE COME BACK AND BUY FROM ME! I’M BEGGING YOU!!!)” as a person runs away from her.

Tom realises that he needs more stock and sends sub-team KAS to get more. They go to a new car boot sale or something like that, and a lady says that she will sell a blue thing for a pound if they promise to go away. Stephen thinks that he has scored a massive bargain, which is obviously due to his natural charm (ahem).

Laura decides to offer a 10% discount on Phoenix. A guy on a motorbike wearing a Union Jack jacket drives past. Surely he will want a Union Jack chair? Turns out not, but the discount does bring more people in, and Laura is confident about the day, and spouts out that

she will be pleasantly surprised about the profit.

I am guessing surprise but not sure if it will be a pleasant one…

Phoenix are doing well and Nick takes back his words and sneering, and compliments Tom and his team. That includes Stephen, who slickly makes a sale as he drops the bag, rips the bag and then forgets whether he has given the customer a receipt. Oh Stephen! Meanwhile, Adam is talking to some customers, one of them says  that it looks like the stock came from a skip. Adam laughs, knowingly.

Ricky Martin complains about the Union Jack things not selling and then deeming things with flags as “cheap and tacky”. He has done a lot of moaning in this ep, and not even in a funny way, nor has he contributed much. But he’s still called Ricky Martin.

Sterling attempt to sell the rest of their stock at extremely cheap prices, and are still floundering. Laura offers a glass table for a pound, but the lady says that she lives too far away to take the table with her. Gabrielle is attempting to sell as many things for a pound to a customer who has already bought a table, but he seems reluctant to. Desperate times indeed.

I am predicting a win for Phoenix this week, Sterling has put too much effort (and money) in redoing their stock, and cutting the price so dramatically may work against them. Tom hasn’t been the best PM but his strategy has worked and the team as a whole have done well (if you don’t count the constant sniping by Adam and Katie boo)

In the boardroom, Sugar is also failing to understand what “shabby chic” is, and deems the leaves-in-the-shop idea as making the shop look like

an Oxfam shop in the middle of a hurricane.

Why Oxfam?

He asks Sterling’s PM who was the best of selling, and Laura modestly answers “Me!”. Hmm.

Stephen talks about their “success” at the junk shop, and Adam lays into the shop design, saying it had a muddled concept. This provokes a strong defence from Jade and Sugar arguing that you do get minimalistic shops in the area. Adam then states that he doesn’t know Brick Lane well, as he retreats from his comments. Into a hole.

Results:
Phoenix made £1423.50, spent £360.10, making a profit of £1063.40.
Sterling made £1444.25, spent £660.76, making a profit of £783.51.

Phoenix win! And because the task involved vintage, Phoenix are rewarded with a 40s vintage party and a swing dancing lesson. Hmm 4 boys and 2 girls – how will this work? It turns out that it isn’t really a problem, as we see Tom wearing a dead fox around his shoulders. It is worrying that a cool and trendy guy owns something like this. Katie is forced to admit that Tom was a strong (although not good) PM and his risky strategy paid off after her first win. Jade is the only one with a 100% win record. Tom starts talking about his young age again and how brilliant he is.

At the cafe, Ricky Martin blames costings and design, Laura blames the materials as part of the design and Gabrielle blames the amount of stock bought. Gabrielle brings up this point again in the boardroom as Laura blames her for the loss. Gabrielle and Jenna attack Laura for lack of strategy or control. Jenna says that there weren’t give a budget and Ricky Martin points out that they bought a lot of stuff. Certainly, Sugar isn’t impressed, labelling their store as “a shop full of rubbish”. Interestingly, it turns out that Gabrielle and Jenna sold the most, with Jane only selling £10. Jane’s selling style is deemed aggressive but she rebrands this as “overenthusiasm”. Laura decides to bring back Gabrielle and Jane.

Laura is looking like a worse PM by the minute. Whilst she appears to have the style and speech of a good PM, she had no direction or plan like Tom did, even if his leadership style was not as polished as Laura’s. But hey, he is only 23. Gabrielle launches a powerful speech, much like she did in week 1, about how Laura didn’t contribute anything useful. Laura tells Sugar

I am successful in everything I do. Period.

Sugar rains on her parade and promptly adds that she wasn’t successful in this task.

Sugar babbles on about potential: he likes Gabrielle’s enthusiasm so she is staying. Laura was a bad PM but Jane hasn’t shown any spark, so she is fired. A tearful Jane in the taxi is momentarily lost for words before saying that she will be fine and that Sugar will regret firing hr. I don’t think Jane was at fault for the loss the task, I would say it was Laura’s fault, but Jane hasn’t really shone and she has had good opportunity to do so. So, on balance, maybe it was her time to go.

Scary Jane is fired

Next week, the teams are devising fitness classes – Azhar is in retro gym gear, Stephen’s Hip Swing (which looks dangerous) and I wonder is Ricky Martin will incorporate wrestling somehow…he hasn’t really contributed much so far…

Being Human Series 4

Series 4 saw big changes into terms of its cast, but did the show manage to continue its success without most of its main characters exiting? Last series saw Mitchell depart the show as George staked him, sending home to where dead vampires go (oblivion perhaps), and after the first episode of the fourth series, we had already lost Nina, and by the end, George, in an emotional farewell as he sacrificed himself to save his daughter. We saw the reintroduction of Tom in the meanwhile, and the entrance of ex-Old One, Hal. In the first few episodes, Hal made me miss Mitchell. Whilst Mitchell had charm, Hal lacked the likeability factor, although over the series, he has got better, and the bromance he has struck over with Tom, a sweet, at times naive, character, was one of the highlights of the series. I am still not sold on Hal yet though, his constant whining and self-pitying about his vampiric side starts to grate. It seems bizarre that I felt more sympathy when Cutler (who I preferred over Hal) found his wife dead than when Hal found Alex dead.

 

This series, Annie has had to cope with losing her best friends but I like the way in which she managed to bring Hal and Tom together, and the new household and friendship they had created. She has taken part in some of the humourous part of the show, such as the accidental killing of a cantankerous old man, but she has also shone in some of the more darker plotlines, such as being faced with having to kill baby Eve. The final scenes she steals as she exits in a blaze of glory and her ending is resolved, but there is a hint that she could return to the mortal world in the future.

 

So for the next series, we are done with the original cast and faced with a new household dynamic. Alex, the new ghost, has proven to be a witty character with moments of vulnerability, and to find what her unfinished business is, delving deeper into her character, will be fascinating. The introduction of the “cleaners” is intriguing – are they villains? Will we see vampires and werewolves unite against them? Also, if Eve’s death means that all vampires will die, what does that mean for the show? It has been a great series and has done well to move the focus from the original trio onto the newer characters of the show, and I cannot wait to see what will happen in Series 5.  

 

 

The Apprentice Series 8, Episode 3

It’s The Apprentice time again, and this week it is all about the saucy world of condiments. Which team will win and who will be the next to be fired?
6.30am: the girls are dressed and applying makeup, and the boys are simply lolling around in bed. You snooze, you lose! Adam says that Stirling needs boys in their team to win. Jane says that having boys in Stirling would be awful – some of them are weak and should be fired. Don’t hold back.
They arrive at St Katherine Docks, a once-bustling shipyard, where Sugar used to play. Here is where they used to import spices…so the task is to make a condiment. Liking the link there? To mix things up, Sugar sends Duane and Dreamboat Nick to Sterling, and Katie to Phoenix. Marginalised in the girls’ team, can she prove her worth now? Jade is glad she has gone.
Duane, a drinks entrepreneur, declares he wants to be PM. He has no product knowledge but he has the necessary qualities to lead well. Dreamboat Nick asks if anyone wants to volunteer. Gabrielle says that she wouldn’t mind. Duane says: Wouldn’t mind?! I WANT to be PM! And so he is.
On Phoenix, Katie nominates herself as PM. Adam, very patronisingly, tells her that PM is a complicated job, as if she has never seen the show before or dealt in business. Stephen also puts himself up for the role, but Katie marginally wins the vote. The team elect to produce a table sauce. Ricky Martin says that he doesn’t think that Katie will be an effective and decisive team leader, and it will be easy to influence her, and ensures that he manages the sub-team to do so – ooh you shark.
On Stirling, Duane opts for a chutney, which is backed by the rest of the team, well except Scary Jane (a food manufacturer). She says it is a bad idea – there isn’t a good market for chutney and suggests targeting the health market. Duane proposes that they will produce a quality and luxury product.
In brainstorming names for Stirling’s sauce, Gabrielle comes up with Chunky Chutney or Charlie Chutney. The winner is InFusion, Jade’s idea, and she declares that this is the best sub-team she has ever been in. Phoenix’s name comes in the form of Bellissimo, courtesy of Stephen, as it conjures of connotations of love and Italian (for a Mediterrean sauce, makes sense). Katie likes it but says that they need to check the meaning to see it doesn’t mean “crap”. I can assure you it doesn’t.
Ricky Martin is a biochemist turned recruitment consultant, and he is now heading up the production team for Phoenix as Tom number crunches. Stirling are making a pineapple chilli chutney. Jane is trying to figure out numbers and quantities but is struggling and holding up the rest of the team, and to the annoyance of Duane. Jane says that she is not an accountant (did she not learn from Jenna last week – if you can’t do finance, don’t do it) and doesn’t appreciate people being aggressive towards her.
Katie takes her team to design the bottle for Bellissimo, which obviously throws up images of the Mediterrean, not Italy. It reminds me of La Popcorn, the Mediterrean style popcorn. The team want to conjure up images of something beautiful, fantastic, but the end results seems to suggest anything but – it looks cheap and has a picture of a pepper. It resembles something I could’ve designed on Paint when I was younger. The team also seem to be confused as to what they are trying to sell – is it a table sauce? Is it Mediterrean? Is it mass market? The naming and the branding seems to conflict with these points, and there seems to be no clear idea of what the brand is supposed to be.
Sterling produce their first batch of sauce and the signs are good. Except they’re not. Jane says that it is burning the tip of her tongue and Duane splutters. He might not make it to the end of the task – a new meaning to being fired. Nick labels it a “VICIOUS chilli chutney” and the team fail to provide a sample for testing. Let branding and marketing take care of that, someone might have a use for it – an industrial cleaner or weapon?
 
InFusion Take 1 doesn’t quite hit the mark
Ricky Martin appears to be managing production well, but is not happy with the label. Things get worse as Adam has problems with the sauce – it is “boiling like an omelette”. Is it wise to let someone who thinks omelettes boil take care of the sauce? Adam blames Ricky Martin or rushing things without checking things properly. The batch gets thrown away in the end.
At the sample testing at Partridges, reception seems to be good for Phoenix’s sauce itself but it is highlighted that the sauce isn’t Italian (d’oh) and there is a spelling mistake in Belissimo (there should be 2 L’s – D’oh 2). Stirling find it hard to sell their sauce without a sample as Jade tries to use words to capture Partridges’ interest, a hard task to do in itself. Partridge guy says that this is the first time someone has tried to sell him something without a product. It is up to Dreamboat Nick to explain all.
Duane and his team do well to complete all the numbers for their InFusion sauces, but there is a disaster going on in Phoenix’s kitchen. The ketchup has coagulated into something from a horror movie. Ugh. Ricky Martin has a plan though. Go on! You can pull this back! He decides to use this anyway and reheat it so it has a nicer consistency. Come on Ricky Martin! Tom tells Katie that the cost price of Belissimo will have to be higher due to the earlier wastage. No one is impressed.
8am and Stephen does a great big yawn. Katie instructs her team to see at £3.99 at market to cover losses. Michael is appointed leader of the sub-team. Hello Michael, are you new? I haven’t seen you around here before.
One half of Stirling try to sell InFusion to some farmers, who turn up their noses at the use of tropical fruits, not British ones. They don’t order any. Xenophobes. At the supermarket, Duane and his sub-team have trouble selling their sauce. Duane tries to tell an elderly couple “You try, you buy 100s!” If only…
Ricky Martin: “I’m a sweet man, but the sweet offsets the spicy in my opinion” Culinary expert of course too – he is a man of many things.
New Michael takes his sub-team to their first appointment. Katie previously told him not to sell any lower than £1.99. Michael tries to negotiate the cost price but the woman refuses to budge, sticking at £1.95 – only 4p difference. Michael decides it is not worth it – he has other appointments anyway. Tom looks confused. Azhar doesn’t agree with this.
Ricky Martin: “Only 200 bottles left! Once they are gone, they are gone! And they’re spicy too!” Ooh I was thinking of not buying but when he added that they were spicy I completely changed my mind!
Stirling’s sub-team manage to sell 300 bottles at £1.70 cost price. Outside they do the all-hands-in-middle-lame-shout-of-team-name thing. They’ve nicked that off Phoenix. Thieves.
Azhar challenges Michael, and he takes the next pitch – Michael can be his “supporting element”, although he doesn’t say anything. Instead, it is left to Tom to step in as the Italian man they are pitching to notices the spelling mistake in the name. Honestly, did no one bother to check this stuff beforehand? Tom says the product is nice though. Unsurprisingly, no orders.
At another shop, Katie and her team sell the rest of their stock for £1 a bottle. Someone asks whether they should negotiate but Katie maintains that it is fine. She is pleased that she has got rid of everything, despite doing so at a dirt cheap price. And that is how you do business, no? Well I am predicting a loss for Phoenix – they had less stock to start with, the branding is a bit of a mess and they sold their stock cheaper, which aren’t good signs.
Initial chat in the bathroom draws attention to a line from Katie’s CV: “men can be manipulated”.
1.       How did this crop up in her CV?
2.       She doesn’t really do herself any favours does she?
Nevertheless, the rest of the team say that she was a good PM. Another thing is Adam, dubbed “Modesty Manager” by Sugar, claiming that the success of production ultimately was down to him and the role he played. Oh and also the rest of the team, but mainly him.
Results: Phoenix produced 305 bottles generating £585.56, Stirling produced 607 bottles making £1028 WIN.
Sugar grants Stirling a visit to where another Stirling used to run around – Silverstone (oh Sugar!)
What does this mean for Katie? Having tried to prove herself in the PM role, she succumbs to a 3rdloss in a row – will the boys start to turn on her?
At Silverstone, Duane expresses his problems with Scary Jane. She was bad with figures and was “unenthusiastic and miserable”. Don’t take it to heart – that’s normal of her.
At the café, Ricky Martin says that all the good things in the task happened because of him.  HAha. Tom blames Michael and insists he did nothing wrong.
Back in the boardroom, there is talk about the missing batches of sauce. Stephen blames stock problems, Katie blames sales and Tom blames branding. Sugar declares that the margins of Michael’s sub-team are a “joke”. Katie also blames Michael and someone else for production, although she hasn’t decided who yet. She wants to say Ricky Martin as he was in charge but he sold well. Adam says that she should chooses the production manager, shying away from the massive role that he played in production that he talked up. In the end Katie chooses Michael and Ricky Martin to return. Ricky Martin tries to argue against this – you can tell that he will fight in the boardroom. I think that Ricky Martin should be safe. He does show some great potential. Katie wasn’t decisive enough but she was an OK PM. As for Michael, I think he will go. He didn’t contribute anything and he has been quiet in the two previous tasks he has supposedly been in (I didn’t see him though).
Final three in the boardroom and Ricky Martin says that he did well in production given that it wasn’t made clear how much volume was needed. Katie says that she believes in Ricky Martin but he was in charge of production. The fact that it was intended to be a mass-market table sauce yet made more expensive due to stock wastage conflicts with each other.
Karen blames mismanagement of the production team – too much cooking, not enough of anything else. Ricky Martin does a U-turn and accepts the blame, but says that he has no experience, he is no food man.
Michael blames his lack of sales due to the cost price being so expensive. Ricky Martin the shark asks why didn’t he tell Katie if he had a problem, before declaring that he would be embarrassed if he sold as low as Michael did. Katie and Ricky Martin announce that they sold 80 bottles in 1 hour, whilst Michael and his sub-team sold 50 bottles in 1 day. Michael rambles on about location.
Michael’s new defence is to proclaim he is not the best salesman but he can do other things, launching into his life story: how he started from nothing to build up his business. Hmm. He then points to his lack of education. Hmm. Sugar is not impressed either, and says that he doesn’t care about qualifications. Defence not going well then.
Ricky Martin, proving himself to be a ruthless and powerful talker in the boardroom, calls Michael a “passenger”. Michael hits back saying that you shouldn’t underestimate him just because he is not a “motormouth”.
Sugar lies the blame for the loss of the task at Ricky Martin’s door, and it looks like he is going to fire him, but wait…Sugar talks about his gut feeling (he hasn’t been eating some of the teams’ sauces has he?) about who can handle this process. Ricky Martin is saved!!! Oh and Michael is fired. He is “out of his depth” according to Sugar. Michael is not too sad at this, he says that he will be fine with current business.
 
Ricky Martin – who didn’t get fired, some other guy did…who? Er…I can’t remember…
Back at the house, Dreamboat Nick says that Ricky Martin will be back. Adam says that although Katie did do some wrong thing, she did well to try to fix this, and Michael did nothing. Everyone agrees that Ricky Martin will be back. And everyone cheers as Ricky Martin (and Katie) make their triumphant return.
On balance, Michael was the right person to be fired – he has no presence and he doesn’t seem to fit what Sugar appears to be looking for. Also, it means that Ricky Martin lives to wrestle in the boardroom another day, and one step closer in my campaign to see Sugar become partners with Ricky Martin in his new venture, whatever that might be…
Next week, it is all about sourcing and selling second hand stock, or as Ricky Martin eloquently puts it: “We’re selling crap”. Oh and someone is looking in a big skip. Till next week!

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!

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.

The Apprentice Series 9

Welcome! It’s been a while, but get ready for Chocolate Button’s daily reviews of The Apprentice, starting from Wednesday. To prepare you for tonight’s show, here is a preview of this series’ contestants
http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/gallery/2012/mar/13/apprentice-reality-tv

Ones to look out for:

  • I like the idea of Ricky Martin winning the show, although I would prefer to see the singer Living La Vida Loca singer win…now that would be good for the ratings, and I can see Sugar liking that idea! Nevertheless, this boring Ricky Martin that did apply for the show is a wrestler…maybe he will use this to his advantage – wrestle the other candidates to obey him, put clients in a headlock until they order from him, wrestle Sugar until he gives him the cash. Then again…Britain isn’t really known for its wrestling, maybe it is a fail…
  • Adam Corbally is quoted as a man who “gets too excited” – this could be either fun to watch as he annoys everyone else, or he could actually be the most boring man on earth, and annoy the audience at home instead.
  • Gabrielle Omar is one to watch, if only because I want to see her animorph into a lion on primetime TV
  • Tom Gearing calls himself  “confident, charismatic…and good looking” – yes he may be the best looking out of this year’s men – but that’s not hard. And there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance
  • Jenna Whittingham…hmm I am tempted to say that her “personality” we will only see once and only once. But I am being mean aren’t I?

Check back on chocbutton.wordpress.com, or @aglet2 on Twitter for updates on The Apprentice!