The Apprentice 2016

Is anyone still watching The Apprentice? And if so, is anyone still enjoying it? I have been a regular viewer but I feel like the format is getting stale now. It is always the same tasks every year – design and market a new product (this year jeans), make and sell your own food (this year spending time in the kitchen making sweets), find a list items, at least one of them unknown, and negotiate for lowest price (spending the early hours of the morning looking for a tagine in London). As always, the tasks don’t actually matter because Lord Sugar only cares about THE BUSINESS PLAN in the end, which makes watching the whole process pointless!

This years’ candidates have to be the worst ever. Normally in each series, there are a few candidates who look like they are worthy and work impressively but this year, they are all completely useless! There are no shining stars at all, given that we are 7 weeks in. They are  all stupid, dishonest, passing-the-buck and egotistical. It makes it painful to watch each week, and it is not even entertaining any more, just boring.

If these are supposed to be the top of the crop of businessmen and women, what does that say about our country? The Apprentice is tired, dull and boring. Change the format or give it a rest.

The Apprentice 2015

The Apprentice returned to our screens this month and well, it is the same as ever. Starting off with 18 candidates it is impossible to pick any frontrunners as of yet, but at the same time very easy to choose the next to be fired.

Week one started with a profit margin task with neither team convincingly performing well. In the end, Selina’s team won due to the fact that they recognised that spend less, sell more and identifying a strategy of some sort compared to April’s team dithering and overemphasis on quality of product, at the expense of time and money. In the end, “get your hands out of your pockets” Dan was the first to be fired. I have no idea what he is doing there; he looks like he has taken a wrong turn.

Week two was a marketing and advertising task. Market a cactus oil shampoo – is that a real thing? Should I be using this?… Although Lord Sugar hailed the boys’ campaign as the best ever, I thought it was average. Compare it to the girls’ campaign – muddled, confused and poorly executed, Western appears like a Oscar worthy masterpiece. Aisha deservedly went – she was at fault for the poor management.

This week was all about negotiating. Despite bumbling idiot Richard’s not-so-clever cheese negotiation, the boys’ team pulled off a convincing win. The girls’ team was a shambles. Although they started off well getting a good discount on the crystal flutes, from there on in it went to pot. A lot of it is because of Vana’s poor management – at some times inflexible when she needs to be (unwilling to compromise swapping the items with the other sub-team at first), poor strategy and awful decision making. The whole team is very catty and unfriendly, and it just looks so unprofessional. The boys’ team confessed they don’t like each other but know they need to put their differences aside and work together, something the girls need to learn! Although Vana was not very good, I did agree with Jenny being fired. She is useless, just saying a lot but not achieving much. Vana does have more potential than Jenny, although I wonder how the girls’ team will progress after all that bitchiness unleashed in that ep?

And one more thing? Why is the boys’ team toy inflatable boat allowed but not the anatomically correct paper skeleton from last year? #justiceforfelipe

Nick Hewer Quits The Apprentice!

It was revealed today that Nick Hewer has quit The Apprentice after ten years on the show. Although he has enjoyed the show, he is starting to find the schedule too demanding and tiring.

Bye Nick 😥

I will miss Nick. Together with Margaret, his withering put downs, eye rolling, and scathing summaries were highlights of the show. It is hard to imagine an episode without any of the two.

We know The Apprentice is returning next year, but who will be replacing Mr Hewer? Leave your opinions below!

The Apprentice – Interviews of Doom!

The final five faced the dreaded interview stage, where it can make or break a candidate, regardless of what happened in the past few weeks.

There has been some buzz about Solomon. Despite not being a standout candidate, he has shown some glimmer of creativity, for example, when he PM’d the viral video task and last week in the Teapot branding. The fact that he is based in technology others saw as a factor in his favour too (appealing to Sugar’s background). However, his business plan was not really a plan at all, and why Solomon saw it fit to fill the pages with pictures of sailboats is bizarre. We saw Claude rip him to shreds in the interview, leading Solomon to almost walk out of the window!!! He has a great background but I think he was too young and lacks business experience to consider going into partnership with. Give him a few years and he will do well.

Roisin has probably been the hot favourite but when she revealed the details of her business plan, it failed to win over the interviewers. She wanted to open a diet ready meal range based on a unique ingredient, which turned out to be not so unique. Her plan was too ambitious and too costly – too risky for a potential investor. She reminds me of Helen from a few years ago: if it had been a prize of a job, Roisin would win, but the business plan let her down.

Daniel was probably the hot favourite to exit the show in week 3,4,5… yet he has remained to this week! Big surprise! Nobody really show confidence in his business plan, or the lies on his CV, but what appealed was his background. He has managed to start from scratch and run his own business, which shows experience, but come on, it’s DANIEL! Did you expect him to win?!

Mark seems to be on the losing team almost every week but he has the highest sales figures in the competition. He wants to start a digital marketing business, similar to his previous jobs. He knows what to do and how to do it, but with a lot of competition from similar businesses, can he make it a big success?

Bianca seems a bit boring – too professional and no character to her. I did think the Claudine’s comments were a bit out of line. However, her emotional display in front of Ricky Martin proved how much the competition meant to her. Her hosiery business drew positive comments from the interviewers and there is a gap in the fashion market, with great potential to make millions.

Mark and Bianca are the two finalists! Who will win? I think Bianca will just edge it. Her business is more different and riskier than Mark’s business, but more likely to make more money at the end. And really, that is all that matters in the end isn’t it?…

The Apprentice Series 8, Episode 12 – Final!!!

Who will win Sugar’s £250,000 investment?

No time for resting as Nick and Jade sit down after last week’s task and the phone rings immediately. Tom, glass of wine in hand, leisurely walks over to answer the phone and it’s Sugar wanting a chat! He tells them that they have 2 days to put together their business plan which will win them the grand prize that they have all been working towards, except Nick, who claims that he forgot all about it. The finalists all head off their separate ways in the house to bash out their new plans on their laptops. Ricky Martin has drawn the short straw and works outside in the globe thing in the garden that we saw for the first time last week.

The candidates arrive at New Broad Street House, which is something to do with the Institute of Directors. This links to the final as Sugar tells the final 4 that they could be directors of their own company, which is a bit of a lame link. He then asks each finalist to summarise their business plan. Nick’s combines technology with grocery shopping, Tom’s is a hedge fund for wine, Jade wants to create the UK’s largest telemarketing call centre/nuisance and Ricky Martin blusters on about an ethical, professional service with the mention of drugs thrown in. No one understands this. It soon transpires that he is wanting to create a recruitment agency for jobs in science and pharmaceuticals.

Business plans in hand…
Interviewers include Mike Soutar, who is an award winning magazine man, who learns that Tom has never  had a job interview before; Margaret Mountford, who points out that Nick likes to use the word “intelligence” a lot in his application; Matt Riley, former Young Entrepreneur of the Year and inventor of the ridiculous elevator pitch last year, who tells Ricky Martin that when he opened his app form he felt “sick”. Good start. Oh and the infamous Claude Littner, who hates everything and everyone, and wastes no time in telling Jade that she has a “grubby little business” and attacks her CV. Jade’s plan is based on those people who cold-call you constantly trying to sell you things that you don’t want…so I kinda side with Claude on this one.

Tom asks Ricky Martin and Nick how they rate Jade’s chances out of 10. Answer: 2 or 3. Things don’t get any better for Jade as she is chastised for not including a cash flow or balance sheet within her plan. Claude yells, “WHERE ARE YOUR COSTS?!” and Jade unwisely explains that Sugar’s investment covers all that. Claude is not happy that Jade will seemingly spend all of the £250,000 in a mere 6 months. Afterwards, Jade states that she wants a drink.

Ricky Martin gets the joy of hearing Margaret read his application back to him, including the phrase, “Lord Sugar is a business god…I am Thor”. Ricky Martin babbles on about how Thor was descended from the heavens and how he is the next generation in a whole line of business gods – or digging a big Thor-shaped hole for himself. Margaret asks if Ricky sees himself as the reincarnation of Sugar (steady on, he is not dead yet!), and he answers that he wants to replicate certain elements of his career.

Margaret’s back! And she’s just heard Ricky Martin declare himself a god…I kid you not

Nick is told by Claude that his plan is good…for a university project. The idea is to be able to enter a TV recipe in his software, which will find the ingredients on an online grocery site, for which Claude’s response is, “Do I care?” Outside, Ricky Martin is explaining that Nick has to be careful – his plan seems very complex and he had to avoid “patronising” the interviewers. Nick’s new tactic is to tell Claude that he is not the target market and that his website can be as big as Google or Facebook, and then is told to “Dream on.” Nick likens his experience with Claude to a “warzone”.

Clearly, it’s not love but business that is a battlefield for Nick

Matt/Mike (I got confused…one of the other people who aren’t Margaret or Claude) tells Tom that he has a great reference…from his dad. Nothing like relying on friends and family to give a good word on your behalf. Matt/Mike attempts to rile Tom by accusing him of getting his dad to write the plan (it seems too “sophisticated”) and calling him a “Daddy’s Boy”. Nothing can rile Tom.  I cannot imagine him getting riled into an angry frenzy, just mildly annoyed.

Matt/Mike is telling Nick that he doesn’t care about finding the best ingredients for his Shepherd’s Pie (well if he ends up with only a cauliflower and a stick of celery he only has himself to blame) and that no one plans their meal (which is a big generalisation to make…no one? Has this been checked?) Nick still maintains that there is a good market for his website. Matt/Mike then points out that Nick’s current multi-million making business (something to do with barcodes) is doing well and questions why Nick is here trying to gain investment for his stupid idea? And does this mean that Nick isn’t focused enough? Nick bits back saying that success is more important than focus, but easily gives in when Matt/Mike tells him that he is wrong. Nick, ever the wordsmith, surmises, “I need to focus…er…on focus.”

Matt/Mike manages to wheedle out the answer to the most important question of the series – why has Ricky Martin chosen to call himself Ricky? Is it because he is a big fan of the singer? Ricky Martin doesn’t admit to being a big fan of his music, instead claiming that it is good for sales as it helps to make an impression on the customers, mainly because the customer is laughing at his name in their head. We also learn that Ricky Martin’s real wrestling name is Ricky Hype, or The Fitness: Ricky Hype, admittedly not as good a name as Ricky Martin, and Matt/Mike wonders if he cannot separate the showbiz side from the business side. Matt/Mike then asks if Ricky Martin wanted a client to imagine him in lycra pants. This is classic displacement theory – Matt/Mike has clearly been thinking about Ricky Martin in lycra pants during the whole interview.

Here is a sob story for the show: Nick had an “unconventional childhood”. Living in Switzerland, he mainly did outdoor activities and he didn’t have a TV. NO TV!? The whole world is weeping for him – Clearly he must win the show because he didn’t have a TV. (Well no one seems to be going for his business idea, so sob story might be a better plan of attack)

Matt/Mike asks Jade, self-proclaimed “incredible businesswoman”, about her business qualifications. She admits that she studied graphic design with a business module. Matt/Mike calls her out – there was no business module, but Jade does have a Business A-Level…at N grade. Jade claims to  have forgotten this, somewhat conveniently, and is left feeling red-faced.

Tom calls himself BNOC (Big Name on Campus) with Margaret suggesting that the N could stand for something else (suggestions on a postcard please!). Sure it’s no “Ricky Martin” and nowhere near as catchy…BNOC…Hmm…Anyway, BNOC plans to raise £25million investment for wine – a big amount of money and he has little experience with hedge funds. Claude tells him that he is “too young”. Tom rate Claude 2 out of 10.

Ricky Martin, not wanting to use a cliché, declares himself as a “sledgehammer to the brick wall of other businesses”. YEAH! WITNESS THE FITNESS!

Jade mentions that she has bought 4 website domains as part of her plan of nuisance calling. Matt/Mike corrects her, she doesn’t own In fact Matt/Mike found out that no one owns it, and either feeling spiteful/bored/having too much time and money on his hands bought the site. Jade is shocked and remarks that “I’ll have to buy it off you!” You have to wonder what she bought instead then if she is adamant she bought all 4…

Claude mentions that he has been looking forward to meeting Ricky Martin – an “enigma”. Is he that complex? Claude mentions that his personal statement is the worst he has ever read, which is an impressive achievement, as Claude doesn’t like anything. Highlights include: “I’m the best business partner on the planet” (“on the PLANET?” Claude stresses) and that Ricky would like to “teach an old dog new tricks”. Claude rants about how this is disrespectful to Sugar, and Ricky is full of remorse. Claude labels him an “arrogant fool” BUT he actually likes Ricky Martin’s business idea and thinks that it is well written, which is even more of an impressive achievement! He poses a question about whether the poor economy means that it is bad timing for Ricky to start his business, but Ricky convinces him that there is a huge market for his agency, and Claude seems impressed. This is surely a good sign…

Tom has no qualifications or experience with hedge funds. Matt/Mike deems this high risk, and Tom says that he plans to use Sugar’s name to attract interest for his hedge fund plan.

Margaret points out that Jade has had a lot of jobs within a short space of time. Ricky Martin impresses Claude again with his plan to start his business small and then develop it to suit other areas of recruitment and Tom declares, “I’ve never let anyone down in my life and I won’t!” Big words there.

Interviews done and dusted, Nick is convinced that his business is unique (it’s ok but sounds too ambitious, everyone hates his idea so he has no chance of winning), Jade thinks her business will make money (interview wise she hasn’t impressed, her plan doesn’t seem well thought out and the actual business itself….er well, I’m not a fan of people cold calling you to sell stuff…), Tom thinks he is in pole position (everyone tells him that he is too young and inexperienced, which could cost him the prize, otherwise he has a good business plan, not very interesting but promises big rewards if successful…and that is a big IF) and Ricky Martin claims he is “destined not to be a shrinking violet…I’M GONNA FIGHT!”. Yeah!!! Ricky’s plan is well thought out and although not exactly riveting, it seems solid and capable of delivering good results. He has coped well with interviews and he is the best all around candidate out of the 4. I am still backing Ricky Martin for the win!

Sugar has a chat with the interviewers…immediately he states that he is old and doesn’t want something that involves hard work. Does this count out Tom and Nick then?

Jade: Good saleswoman and background, but business a bit rubbish. Nick Hewer questions ability to run a business.

Ricky Martin: Talks a lot of rubbish, especially in his app form, but plan is simple and Ricky is passionate about it. Lots of potential, and the best line comes from Claude:

“I had a sleepless night with excitement thinking about how to rip him to shreds,” but in the end, “I was mesmerized” by Ricky. Move over Tricky…it’s er C-Ricky…or Cricky.

Margaret warns that Ricky Martin could say something silly in a business situation. I thought that was a good thing about him!

Nick: good at technology but he is too over-optimistic of his idea.

Tom: seen as a “gambler” who has lived a “charmed existence” (Sugar cracks a joke that Tom supports West Ham so he is far from charmed…tch). Karren points out that when she was 23 she was running Birmingham football club so stop calling Tom too young to do his business. Sugar says he likes risks but not with other people’s money. Potential but over ambitious.

One of these four will be the next Tom Pellerau!!!


Sugar is concerned that Jade’s business will generate bad publicity for him. Tom’s idea is described as something that could easily fail. Ricky Martin’s comment that he is the “burning successor to Lord Sugar” is met with the response that Sugar needs to inform his children. Ricky Martin that his app shows that he came into the process with a lot of bravado and throughout the show, he has changed into a serious businessman (with the same name as the singer). Apparently, he has also allocated funds for the 4th year Christmas Party, which shows that he is meticulous if anything. Sugar seems delighted too. Ricky has the experience and the academic background to run his business. Nick’s business idea is pretty much shot down – apparently, no one wants to plan their meals.

Sugar says Tom’s plan is risky and doesn’t want to be linked to is in case it all fails miserably. He then recounts when everyone wanted Nick to be on their team, which apparently shows that he was good on the tasks but his plan is a bit of a mess. Ricky Martin, or “Ricky Ratchet-Jaws” as he calls him (another new name?!) has a credible plan. Sugar calls Jade “enthusiastic”, which we have often seen in this series to represent that a candidate is a bit rubbish (re: Adam) and she is the first to be fired, quickly followed by Nick (too much hard work and not likely to make much money).

Like an angel on one shoulder, and the devil on the other (you can decide which is which), Nick Hewer asks Sugar if he wants a “pedestrian recruitment business or one last hurrah?” whilst Karren reminds him that Ricky Martin has the knowledge and experience to make his business a certain success.

The final two…

Ricky Martin admits that he wouldn’t invest in Tom’s hedge-fund as he hates win but he apologises to Tom, telling him that he is a “fantastic person” (Tricky!) as they look at each other and share a smile. Ultimately, it comes down to “Safety or devilment [a made up word surely]” and Sugar plumps for safety and hires Ricky Martin. He wins! And together they will be a “powerful force to be reckoned with” according to Ricky Martin.

“A powerful force to be reckoned with…”

I backed him to win at the start for joke reasons but other the course of the series, I have been backing him to win because he has actually demonstrated the skills to be successful in business. He is a worthy winner but the sadness is that he is going to give up his wrestling as a result. Whilst the wrestling world mourns, will the recruitment world gladly receive Ricky Martin and his new business? Only time will tell…

The Apprentice Series 8, Episode 11

Is Adam outside of his comfort zone again

There is a race between Jade and Ricky Martin to answer the phone (oh the tension!), which Jade wins and learns that they will be going to Burlington Arcade, Piccadilly. Ricky Martin describes that it is weird being the last and only member of Sterling and ponders whether it will just be him alone (a “winning combination” in his own words) versus Phoenix. It would be interesting to see, although unlikely that it will happen. Adam remarks “hopefully he’ll stick Jade with you”. No love lost there then.

Insert own caption here.

Burlington Arcade is renowned for its luxury retail shops (so it is related pretty well to the task). Sugar has brought the final 5 here to tell them that task is to create an affordable luxury product range and present it to industry experts and himself. He sends Tom to join a “stranded” Ricky Martin on Sterling and makes Adam PM of Phoenix.

Ricky Martin wants to be PM, hoping it will be 3rd time lucky. Tom proposes the idea of creating male grooming products, which he noticed is popular with male candidates in the series. Even Michael…the sweaty forgotten candidate? Nick Hewer says that Ricky Martin and Tom are perfectly suited to the intended market on account of their age and that their “hair-gelled quiffs” clearly show that they are big fans of male grooming products.

Nick suggests sweets, which Adam takes to mean hot chocolate. Nick has a coffee company, which isn’t really dwelt upon here. He suggests having one clear brand but Adam says, “I like a bit of everything”. He sends Jade to make the chocolates (an easy job in Adam’s opinion) whilst he and Nick sort out the branding. On the other team, Ricky Martin goes to work on the product and Tom works on the business side of things.

Tom and Ricky Martin brainstorm name ideas. It’s times like this when I wonder what genius (!) Stephen would have come up with…Tom likes the word “dapper”, as does Ricky Martin. Ricky Martin suggests “Men’s Choice”, which Tom says sounds like an adult magazine, and “New Tradition”. Name ideas on Phoenix leave a lot to be desired. Adam is churning out such ideas such as “Chocolike” and “Chocoloco”. Nick senses that these aren’t high-end enough – it needs to be LUXURY!!! Like “Choco-cho” or “Cho Cho Cho” (Hmm x2 – can Nick not think of any other syllables?). Adam says it sounds like a train and Nick hastily adds “a chocolate train”. Adam then suggests “Chocolate Bar”, bcos it is chocolate served at a bar and it is  a pun you see. Wow mind blowing! (Not.) Jade suggests “Sweet Thing…it’s like Wild Thing!”. Adam sneers at this, but to be honest, his ideas were no better.

Research time as Tom goes to a luxury grooming salon to grill them about their  business, and Adam and Nick go to a luxury chocolate shop to eat chocolate. They do find out that jellies are selling well, especially Pate de Fruits – a thicker and fuller taste of jelly, but that’s about all really, to the disgust of Karren.

Next, they design a dummy shop to present their product range. In the middle of their consultation with an interior designer, Phoenix argue about jellies. Can you imagine the discomfort of the interior designer right now? Adam loves jellies – “the next big thing” but the others are less enthusiastic. Nick says that jellies are “not necessarily bad but they detract from the focus of the task” or in 2 words – NO JELLIES! Adam presents jellies as an alternative to chocolate – in a chocolate shop. Why would you go to a chocolate shop if you didn’t want to buy chocolate? Adam is Chocoloco personified.

Nick Hewer and Ricky Martin get to grips with male grooming

In the factories, Jade and Ricky Martin create their new range. Both are enjoying it tremendously: Jade is burning a slab of marshmallow, probably imagining that it is Adam’s face, and Ricky Martin is in heaven making his own product line, which is cohesive (unlike Phoenix’s) and form part of a male grooming routine, and experimenting with the different creams and so forth. Sterling still haven’t come up with a name yet and Tom suggests “gentry”, which would be fine – if it was 100 years ago! He tells Ricky Martin that he thinks “New Tradition” is “not very creative” and puts forward as-creative-as-a-twig “Modern Gentleman”.

Phoenix have opted for Sweet Thing but they seem to have muddled their concept – are they a chocolate shop still? Jade has fanciful notions for “Drunken Jellies”, fruit jellies with alcohol. Adam hates the name but can’t think of anything between so he approves it. Nick isn’t happy (with anything really) and Jade thinks she is the only one doing all the work, and discovers that her sample of pear and cider are a no-no.

Tom is concerned about the branding – is it too “boring”? (Yes) Nick Hewer notes that Ricky Martin really should have been here as it is risky sending Tom to do it.

Opening of Dummy Shop

Tom has paint on his hands! Apparently he has never painted before. He leaves Ricky Martin to do all the hard work, painting the walls, whilst he paints the little shelving units, with the biggest look of pain on his face.

Karren quizzes Phoenix about their pricing strategy. Adam states £2.99 and Nick contradicts him by quoting £4.99 but saying that he agrees with Adam, contradicting himself in the process. What a confusing man. Karren asks which is the true price, to which Nick unhelpfully answers “Exactly”.

Sterling have hired a live male grooming professional to promote Modern Gentleman, who gives Tom a free shave which Ricky Martin approves of, as he strokes Tom’s face. Phoenix have booked a live cocktail expert, although what it has to do with chocolate I am unsure of.

Adam and Nick present their Sweet Thing

Phoenix’s dummy run goes well – all the pretend customers are happy, everything is fun and bright and everyone loves the branding, friendliness and colour of Sweet Thing. It’s the complete opposite to Sterling’s efforts – things are slow, tedious and boring. Nick Hewer notes that whilst Ricky Martin and Tom are good at analytical things, when it comes to creativity, they are “more pedestrian” and mocks the minimalistic look as resembling a “closing down sale”. It looks miserable.

Looks like a business meeting rather than retail

Not even an unsuspecting man getting groomed by Ricky Martin with Tom narrating in the background can help matters as they receive a scathing review in which Modern Gentleman is described as “boring, dull” and the branding doesn’t stand out.

Afterwards, Ricky Martin confesses that he is counting on the pitch and not keen on the packaging. If they lose, you just know that it will draw the familiar questions of “WHY DIDN’T YOU DO IT YOURSELF?!” like the exercise video and the wine video. The next morning, Ricky Martin confides in Tom in a walk-in closet that he couldn’t sleep as Tom finishes getting dressed. This isn’t weird at all. Phoenix are spread out: Adam is brushing his teeth in the bathroom, Jade is eating alone in the kitchen and Nick is looking desolately through the window of his weird globe seat thing in the garden he is sat in – he is worried about the brand and prepared for difficult questions. So he says.


Will Phoenix’s pitch prove as sweet as Sweet Thing?

Sterling: Ricky Martin starts off his pitch saying that he and Tom love to look good but don’t talk with their friends and family about grooming, like a lot of men. I never knew that this was such a problem, but what do I know? How Modern Gentleman changes all that is unclear, but Ricky Martin says that he wants to make it big in Europe. Tom says that everyone who had a full shaving on the dummy run left satisfied and that they are aiming to open a boutique store and shaving business in Year One. Tom and Ricky Martin work well as a team (Team T-Ricky, or Tricky) and demonstrate a good business plan and they pitch clearly, concisely and informatively. The brand is attacked again and Ricky Martin suggests rectifying this by putting it in a box to make it look more luxury (or so you don’t have to look at its boringness…). Tricky’s presentation is well received as is their knowledge of the male grooming area and the market…if only the branding was different…

Phoenix: Adam stumbles on his words whereas Jade presents an enthusiastic and lively pitch of the product line, which she describes could be extended by serving alcohol on a day-to-day basis. So it is a bar now? Nevertheless, she presents well, in stark contrast to Adam’s random coughing and trying to read the words off his hand as he tries to eke out the last words of his presentation. It doesn’t held that his hands are probably sweating by now, and smudging the inky words. Sugar questions Nick’s intention of opening shops in London and Manchester, hard to accomplish with the low profits incurred from the pricing of the product range. The general consensus of Phoenix’s pitch is that the chocolates were nice but everything else was bad – the brand, confused product range and the pitch.


Ricky Martin declares that he is “very passionate about male grooming” and Tom concedes that the design was rubbish. Tricky’s dummy shop is criticised. Adam’s shop is praised but his research visit is criticised for not gaining useful information. Nick claims that he asked about business and wholesale. Karren mentions she did not see this.


On account of being a better business idea; well thought out and planned – Sugar declares Sterling to be the well-deserved winners. I’d agree – Ricky Martin and Tom worked fantastically well together and put a great effort in developing the business idea and sold it well to the industry experts. Phoenix’s Sweet Thing was all a  bit of a mess. Sadly, Ricky Martin and Tom are sent home without a treat (aww…it was Ricky Martin’s first win as PM as well), which I would feel cheated at! There is time for a celebratory hug outside, or as Tom puts it to Ricky, “Give me some proper!”


Phoenix are told to return to the boardroom in the morning, but they still insist on going to the cafe to mull over their loss. Why?! Go home  you fools! Adam optimistically says, “Well…we didn’t do a bad job!”. Nick blames Adam for everything. Adam says, “There is no way on the planet that I’ll be the one who goes home tomorrow!”. How deluded can you get?


In the morning…

Who will miss out on the final?

First question is about pricing. Adam can’t pick out who was in charge and attempts to shift the blame onto Jade, who dismisses that it wasn’t her role. It’s not a good sign if a PM can’t tell who was doing what; it signifies a lack of control. Sugar says the range is too expensive for supermarkets and too cheap for luxury retail. Nick claims Sweet Thing was intended to be mass market before stating that there was no strategy, and then repeating the word “strategy” 2 or 3 times. Stop it! Stop saying that word! Not again! Adam points out that “Everyone uses the word “strategy” when things go wrong”. Yeah, like Azhar. Nick, stop channelling Azhar. It didn’t work for him last time.


Phoenix are also criticised for having no flagship product and not pitching well. Nick Hewer says that “Tom and Ricky drilled each other for an hour and a half before the pitch” (it is impossible not to make your own jokes throughout this episode) and thought of every possible question to present a coherent, workable business proposition, UNLIKE PHOENIX!!!


Sugar asks who performed the worst on the task – Adam claims that everyone did well on the team (i.e. he was probably the worst but he can’t admit this here). Nick apologises to Adam before ripping him to shreds (in the worst way that Nick can) and blaming him for everything, such as lack of direction. Jade adds to this by stating that Adam had no role.


Nick’s luxury coffee shop is mentioned and Nick is chastised for not bringing his experience to the task. Nick maintains that it is different to a luxury chocolate shop. He says he suggested hot chocolate (I don’t remember this) but this was rejected by the team. Nick Hewer states that he though Nick will have been “more persuasive”. Nick says he brought it up but followed the team’s opinions for the sake of keeping harmony within Phoenix. Karren makes it worse for Nick when she sneers, “You didn’t try THAT hard…”


To be honest, it could only be Adam to go really – he didn’t grasp the brief or manage the team well, and he has done little to show he is good to go into business with. Really, he should have been fired weeks ago. Anyway, the inevitable is drawn out when Sugar asks (again) why they should stay. Adam declares himself to be “the best candidate overall” and claims that Nick fluked his way to the final, and is nowt special considering that there are “10 million others who are good at computers and designing logos”, and that despite Jade’s claims of expert knowledge, nothing in the tasks has demonstrated her background and this expertise. Nothing like a nice and quiet exit!


Jade points out that Adam is good at sales but little else and Adam says “at least I am good at what I do”. Jade responds by shouting that Adam doesn’t know what she does (I didn’t either, but she works in consumer data apparently). Nick says that based on the task, Adam should go, but overall, Jade is the weakest. WHAT?! How can Jade be weaker than Adam?! (I assume this is tactical – Jade obviously poses more of a threat than Adam in the final, or else Nick isn’t as clever as everyone thought he was) He claims that Jade didn’t demonstrate her background experience in last week’s task and claims credit for closing the spa deal. Which is a lie.


Sugar loves Adam’s enthusiasm and his sales ability, which seems to have become a recurring phrase for the past few weeks, but notes that he lost the plot this week. He admires Jade’s creativity but not all of her ideas were good. He is disappointed that Nick didn’t step in and put his background knowledge to good use. Adam is fired though, which was pretty obvious.

Adam’s luck finally runs out…


Adam’s parting words are, “If you ever need a salesman you know where I am”.


Back at the house, Tom and Ricky Martin are hoping Nick doesn’t come back for tactical purposes but pretend to be glad when Nick returns with Jade. Jade eyes the “fooooooood” and Nick starts talking about how there was no strategy…and repeats the word “strategy” multiple times again. Argh. It’s enough to make me not want you to win!!!!


Nick strikes me as shifty in trying to claim credit (the spa deal) and amend situations in his favour (lying about the research visit). Are these good tactics or the sign of an untrustworthy candidate? And he started using the word “strategy” constantly. Jade proved herself to be a stronger candidate than previously thought and stands a good chance of winning, and although Tom is about as creative as the colour grey, he gave an impressive pitch and head for numbers. I am not sure whether his idea will be creative enough to ensnare interest but on business matters, he should excel. However, my bet to win is still Ricky Martin, who has proven he is a good all rounder in delivering what is needed. He possesses a business spark and flair supported with the knowledge and awareness to execute his ideas that none of the others seem to have. But if his business idea turns out to be something naff, like a shark watching class (similar to bird watching), then who knows?!

The Apprentice Final Five Review

Over the past 10 weeks, we’ve seen the candidates cope with selling meatballs to a squirrel, unleash the strange creation that is Groove Train, not being able to sell sauces that are spelt correctly, Duane’s super-punching in a suit, plenty of arguing and mulling about and Adam searching a skip for things to sell. With the semi-final fast approaching, here is a review of the remaining candidates and who is best placed to win?


For the first few weeks, she went about quietly working well in the background – her design for the babywear in week one was praised. When it came to her time to step up as PM, she mismanaged things, argued with everyone, didn’t listen to anyone and had no coherent plan in place. Last week, she put herself forward as PM again and rectified her past mistakes – she judged the task perfectly and planned well to identify the companies that were suited to her client, as well as negotiating some fantastic deals, such as the discount at The Sanctuary. However, her manner in dealing with others and not listening to her team members is a problem that could cost her. She should make it to the final 4 providing that she has no major disasters this Wednesday. Plus it will be interesting to hear about her plan that will create a whole group of multi-million making companies that she promised…



Nick seems to be a bit of a lucky charmfor the team that he is on, having notched up the most victories so far. Is this due to lucky coincidence or Nick’s talent? I think it is a bit of both. On some occasions he has performed well, such as his stints as PM, where he has shown good leadership skills, can implement a well thought out strategy strongly and possesses the ability to stick to his convictions when challenged. He gets on well with others and seems to have a good head for numbers and business. On other occasions, he doesn’t engage with the task and it appears like he doesn’t put his greatest effort into contributing to the task, such as the exercise class task, where his contribution was zero. He should made make it to the final four, and seeing as he is lucky Nick, he could win.



Having slowly emerged as the favourite mid series, notching up an impressive stint as PM during the recycling task in which his risky strategy paid off, as well as often talking the most sense and having a strong hand on business matters. Yet since the art task, he has taken a huge step backwards. He started off the art task well, but together with the wine task, his role was awful. He lost sight of the meaning of the tasks and was so focused on his “expert knowledge” that he forgot about the planning, strategy and the end goal of the tasks. Since then, his contribution has been little and he hasn’t been done anything worthy at all. Last week, he didn’t demonstrate good business sense and it seems like he didn’t try at all to secure good deals. Instead he only got a deal on candles…and that was rejected by Keynoir! His actions in the last few weeks belie his credibility as a business partner and I think he is likely to leave this week. If he does make the final, I can’t see him winning.



He made himself known as a stupid, sexist and arrogant man with little business talent. Not he is a stupid, comical and arrogant man with little business talent but good at sales. Somehow he has gone from being totally awful and useless to less awful and useless over the course of the show. That being said, he is still awful and useless, never having demonstrated anything that indicates that he will be a good business partner. He is probably likely to go this week, but I still can’t believe he has made it this far though…




Having backed him at the start of the series on account of his name and background, Ricky was touted as the joke candidate, especially as he continued to churn out soundbites such as being a shark of the boardroom and being the “alpha male, the manliest of males”. However, he has proven himself to be a credible candidate: he is good at sales, at ideas, at negotiation and working with others. He was good at being PM despite losing both times but I would attribute this to the weakness of his team members and the insanity of Virgin gyms. He is a well rounder candidate but is prone to making mistakes, although he is capable of pulling off the biggest successes too – last week is evidence of that. I think that he will make it to the final and is a good bet to win.


Of course, all of this doesn’t matter as the tasks don’t always show who is the winner. It is all based on the business plan and background, which is why Tom won last year, despite being completely useless in the tasks, and why Helen, possibly the best candidate of the whole series, failed to win, even when trying to propose a second business plan in the last moments of the final (which was bending the rules…although Lord Sugar didn’t pick Tom for his chair plan, which makes the interview stages a bit pointless). So really, the review doesn’t really count for much at all, but in case anyone was interested in my views, hope you enjoyed reading this post!

The Apprentice Series 8, Episode 10

Ricky Martin ventures down the stairs at 6am to answer the phone, where he learns that the candidates are going to the City. After last week, Stephen cries, “I am so motivated! I can’t wait!” whilst Ricky Martin stands there drinking orange juice. Stephen blabs on more about how enthusiastic he is about the task: “I was standing on the edge of the cliff with one foot over…This task, I’ll give it 110%!”

The task is to negotiate discounts with companies and present deals to a daily deal website. Deals that are accepted will be live on the website for 24 hours and whichever team makes the most money wins. The daily deal website in question is Keynoir, which is aimed at the higher end of the market.

Jade nominates herself as PM, citing her background in online marketing as the reason why she is the best person to lead the team. For Stephen, being PM means that it is a do-or-die situation. He tells Sterling that he wants as many deals as they can get. He sends Ricky Martin on his own and partners himself with Gabrielle, whom he feels is a weak team member. I’m not sure if Stephen has got the strategy right – it could be a case of quantity over quality, which is missing the point of Keynoir’s focus on luxury deals.

Jade is taking the tack of “quality over quantity” and Phoenix discuss restaurants (Tom, ever the expert, witters on about a restaurant that he knows looooooots about) and teeth whitening. Nick has concerns that these aren’t exclusive enough for Keynoir. At which point, Stephen and Gabrielle are visiting a dentist to enquire about a deal on teeth whitening, which they manage score 2 deals on at a reasonable discount.

Meanwhile, Ricky Martin is running late and not feeling confident that he can pull  off a deal. Gabrielle decides to take the time to tell him the basics of sales and negotiation, to which a stressed Ricky Martin responds, “I know what I’m doing, don’t teach me to suck eggs!”. The man in the hotel restaurant wants to give Ricky Martin a tour with all the works – lovely views, good quality flooring, etc. With a free scallop dish – whoever said that negotiating deals didn’t have its perks. Yet despite this waRicky Martin welcome, Ricky Martin is nervous about time. The hotel guy then says “I want to show you something that I have never shown before…” – another reason for Ricky Martin to be nervous.

After spending a little longer in the room organising things, Phoenix head off to do some deals. First stop for Jade and Nick is The Sanctuary, a well respected spa. Nick knows that it is an important deal and declares that he wants to do the pitch but Jade is adamant that she will do it herself. First thing that Jade states is that she wants a discount. The Sanctuary woman says that they don’t give big discounts and Jade’s 50% is turned down immediately. Not a good start…

The Hotel Guy seems to have taken a shine to Ricky Martin, showing him the most fantastic views and wining and dining him. Yet when it comes down to business, he is unwilling to give any kind of discount, not even £1. Damn. Maybe he didn’t like Ricky Martin that much after all. Ricky Martin declares that this has been a “waste of time” and is irritated – you can tell as his left eyebrow appears in a fixed arch. And it stays like that for some time.

Despite the poor start, Jade has managed to acquire a 50% discount from The Sanctuary after lots of flattery and promises, which is a brilliant deal.

At a luxury boutique hotel somewhere in London, Tom and Adam are having dinner. Tom tries to get a discount but fails miserably (although you could argue that he didn’t try very hard). Adam manages to score free tea and coffee with every meal. Success! Brilliant choreography there that should ensure a position as Lord Sugar’s business partner.

Ricky Martin is out and about in Tring and unsuccessful in making deals. He is wary of the vast amount of travelling that he will have to do. Stephen ponders and then tells Ricky Martin to make new appointments to avoid the extensive trip.

Phoenix are figuring out who to call next. Jade gets rejected by a Thai Massage and Steam place, so she retorts that is it a “whorehouse”. Classy. Tom and Adam are contemplating if a boat ride would be a good idea. Tom questions if it is high-end enough. Adam says that it won’t be a speedboat, more like a dinghy. I don’t know what boat rides he takes.

Gabrielle and Stephen are at a fish spa. Stephen decides to have a go, which I don’t really want to see (fish and Stephen). Gabrielle makes 3 deals with a good discount although Karren criticises this as it is not luxury!

St Pancras and Jade is asking famous chef Marcus Wareing for a dinner deal. Marcus asks about numbers, which is a bit of a problem as Jade and Nick don’t have any. Nick (a technology expert) and Jade (self proclaimed fantastic businesswoman) can’t seem to work the calculator and Jade’s comment, “I can do it with round numbers!”, frustrates Marcus, who says that he will leave to give the pair time to do some maths.

At Rhodes, Ricky Martin is asked about numbers, specifically, how many places is he wanting to sell. Ricky Martin plucks out 50 to 100 and closes a good deal, and eats another plate of scallops.

Tom and Adam desperately seek some ideas as they have failed so far. Adam’s luxury seems to spread to takeaways.

Nick comes up with numbers for Marcus and they wrap up another deal. Ricky Martin also wraps another deal…and gets another plate of scallops. Very amusing! He either loves them or is pretty much sick of the sight of them. Why is he getting scallops from all the restaurants he visits? It is some kind of scallop conspiracy against him? Anyway, whilst Ricky Martin seems to be steaming ahead with negotiation, Stephen is playing virtual golf.

Tom and Adam have stumbled into Miller Harris. Adam tells the shopguy that he knows Muller Harris, but not quite as much as Tom, who knows them more as his girlfriend shops there. It’s all very nice if you discount the fact that moments before, they were bleating on about never having heard of it, but I guess you can’t mention that when you are trying to close a deal. Tom emphasises that there is only 4 mins left and they close a deal on some kind of candle. And this is the best deal that the pair of them have done today – seriously?!

The deals got to Keynoir who decide goes online. Phoenix have 6 deals and Sterling have an impressive 9 deals, but big numbers don’t count for anything if none of them are approved. Stephen utters that “I can look in the mirror and say I gave it 100%”, despite claiming that he needs to give 110% at the start of the show.


Sugar asks why Ricky Martin wasted so much time with Hotel Guy and didn’t state his intention at the start (“ a bad assumption”, explains Ricky Martin) but he praises his other deals. Overall, Sugar is impressed with Sterling made 9 deals with 3 vendors, which was “smart”. Jade describes her strategy for Phoenix to get one exclusive deal rather than doing multiple ones. Sugar criticises Adam and Tom’s deals, which were a bit lame to be honest. He says that he is worried about their view of a good deal. Tom says that Jade was a good PM but there was a lack of communication in the later stages of the day. Ooh-er.


Sterling – 3 deals accepted: Gabrielle and Stephen’s golf deal which sold 7, making £350, and Ricky Martin’s restaurant deals – 100 dinners and 90 lunches, generating £6090, making an overall £6440.

Phoenix – 2 deals accepted. Jade and Nick’s lunch deal sold 20 places (£5950) and the spa deal sold 87 (£8613) meaning that they make £14563. An emphatic win there.

Jade’s strategy pays off – she understood the task and Keynoir well. Adam and Tom are very lucky as they were useless in this task. The team get sent to Clifton for afternoon tea, which is free. Apparently it is The World’s Most Expensive Afternoon Tea at £500+ per person. Adam crafting asks whether they’ve considered doing a deal with a discount website. Ha too late, mate.

Back in the boardroom

Sugar learns that Ricky Martin only offered 100 dinners which sold out rapidly when he could have pushed for more, which was “sickening”. Ricky Martin says that he was naïve. The fact that Ricky Martin didn’t go to a famous health spa in West London (which would have done well) is brought up. Stephen blames his team for resisting. He then goes on to say that Ricky Martin doesn’t know London well so he thought he would send him further away. Stephen is asked if was so concerned, then why didn’t he go to the health spa himself, and is criticised for leaving Ricky Martin who doesn’t know London, on his own. Yet despite this, Ricky Martin still managed to make more money that Stephen and Gabrielle.

Ricky Martin’s defence includes:

“I brought in £6000. If there were 3 of me, we would have made 3 times as money!” (is the world ready for 3 Ricky Martins? There are already 2)

“I’m not a one-man band, but on this occasion, I was a one-man band!” ( a little self-contradictory, but I like it)

He blames Gabrielle and Stephen for letting the team down, blaming Stephen more. Stephen blames Ricky Martin for not attending the spa, before generally arguing with Ricky Martin whilst Gabrielle remains very quiet.

Stephen says that on all the tasks he has influenced someone (questionable) and that he is a “fighter”. He says that Gabrielle doesn’t do anything (which he has been repeating for a few weeks now). Gabrielle says that she is a “well rounded candidate”. Stephen says it is “the most passionate Gabrielle has been in the process” – boo.

Sugar asks again why they should stay in the competition. Stephen says, “I am straight – I show my weaknesses and my strengths” (although mainly weaknesses). Ricky starts off with “I am not only fantastic in my own industry” (humbles as ever) before saying that he adapts well to other situations. Sugar worries that Gabrielle has no fight or spark left in her. She makes an impassioned plea about how much she has learnt and contributed. She refers to this task quoting how Stephen made errors, to which Stephen interrupts and spouts out “focus on yourself”. Ricky Martin tells Stephen for being “condescending” and that he should let Gabrielle talk.

Sugar says that Ricky Martin not going to the spa was a mistake, Stephen didn’t win and panicked and whilst Gabrielle is nice, there was a lack of contribution. Gabrielle is fired, before Sugar ominously says “There’s no smoke without fire” and axes Stephen too. Yeeeey.

I think that Gabrielle was right to be fired – she is likeable but she hasn’t demonstrated business potential, and she has been fading since being very prominent in the earlier tasks. Stephen had the firing coming for a long time coming – he verges on bumbling to irritating – the way he picked on Gabrielle was dishonourable and the way in which he portrays himself in the boardroom, almost snakelike, is annoying. I can’t think of a time when Stephen did well, not even when he was PM in the exercise class task. The results of that was just ridiculous.

Back at the house, Nick says that if Stephen came back, he would be shocked. Ricky Martin comes back and Jade offers him some peppermint tea. Aww.

Final Five Candidates review:

The Apprentice Series 8, Episode 9

It’s 5.45am and the phone rings. A bleary eyed Stephen in his dressing gown stumbles to answer the call (impressive as usually when the phone rings he is still dozing in bed). Cars will be arriving to take them to St Pancras’ International: the Champagne Bar – ooh…

“Out of his comfort zone” again…

Adam is complaining that Phoenix need to win. In the other taxi, Ricky Martin is basically saying how ace Sterling are and how much they are growing in confidence. Famous last words.


The Champagne Bar sells champagne and French wine. Sugar starts rambling on about how British wine is overloooked and sets the task of creating an online marketing campaign to raise awareness of British wine, including an ad and a website. Sugar decides to be wacky and asks Phoenix to nab a member off Sterling. An overexcited Adam and his team are unanimous in picking Nick, who has the best track record in the show and is proving to be a lucky charm for winning, so this is pretty understandable. The campaign will be presented to a panel of experts who will decide which team is the best.


On Sterling, everyone wants to be PM so they decide to take a vote. No one wants Jenna. Gabrielle and Jenna opt for Ricky Martin. Stephen doesn’t quite grasp the idea of the vote and tries to vote for himself (oh Stephen!) before voting for Ricky Martin too. On Phoenix, Tom puts himself forward for PM given his experience in working in a multi-million making fine wine company. This could be a good thing, or perhaps it is paving the way for another I-love-art-look-how-much-I-know-about-art episode, replacing art with wine. Ricky Martin isn’t too bothered about Phoenix’s experience, claiming that Sterling are underdogs in this task.


Adam ponders what is sparkling wine and whether it is different to champagne. Expert Tom says that they are both the same thnig except champagne is sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne area in France. He sums up by telling Adam that Champagne is like a brand name for sparkling wine, like Coca Cola is a brand name for Coca Cola in France (how he made that leap, I don’t know). And thus, Adam is educated.


It’s Stephen’s Name Time – we’ve seen Stephen name table sauce, and watch as he turns his hand to naming English sparkling wine! He bandies around some ideas, with such genius ideas such as CERT (what?), Grandeur (which is French, the type of wine that is making British wine feeling lonely and overlooked) and Chink (oh dear).


Ricky Martin and Jenna go to visit a vineyard somewhere in the UK and are told that quality is the most important thing when it comes to wine. Later, Ricky Marting reveals that he hates wine but judges that Tom will talk about how much he knows about wine and forget about the task in hand. He is an observant chap, must have seen last week’s ep.

It’s valuable research, honest!

Cut to Tom shwoing off his knowledge at a wine tasting, where he has brought Adam along for the ride. Adam is again “out of his comfort zone”, as he is told off by a wine guy for not holding the wine glass by the stem. Tsk. Whilst Tom can taste hints of vanilla, Adam can taste Christmas Cake.


An angry Stephen has a mini-meltdown in Tesco for not being able to find a wine connoisseur (not likely), or someone to tell him about what makes a good wine. There is many a shot of Stephen walking around – you would have thought that there would have been a member of staff to tell him that, at the very least, there is no such wine connoisseur there. Where are all the Tesco employees?!


Phoenix have decided to go for “English Sparkling Wine” as their brand name with grapes on the logo. Sterling have chosen Grandeur and their logo is a rose in a wine glass. Stephen has also created a slogan: “less fizz, more sparkle”, which sums up Grandeur. He forgot “French”.


Jenna reveals that when she gest married, she wants a throne and some English sparkling wine. Ahh…she will make some (un)lucky man happy one day. Ricky Martin wants a wedding theme to portray a sense of celebration.

Jenna’s wedding day, sorry, filiming for the ad, with Stephen

Whilst Sterling are cracking on with the task, Adama nd Tom are still gallivanting around, attending another wine tasting – well wouldn’t you? It is a perfect way to spend the day drinking, ahem, researching (for what though, I am not sure). Jade isn’t happy, especially as she and Nick are lumbered with doing the advertising and marketing work. Bet she would change her mind if she was in Adam’s place and doing some “researching” too. This research includes Adam getting very giggly and Tom not being able to speak:

English wine sparkling? No English wine sparking?

Ayyy, and he is the supposed favourite of the show? Try again Tom.


Ricky Martin instructs his team that whilst he supports an ad that is funny, he doesn’t want  it to be too funny. It must importantly has to emphasise QUALITY, QUALITY, QUALITY which Grandeur is, or “grandurgh” as Jenna pronounces it.


Phoenix are filiming their ad at an East London Gastro Pub where Jade and Adam are overseeing things. Adam, self-appointed choreoegrapher (how one fits this in with a wine ad? Answers on a postcard please), shows off his people skills. He starts off by saying that he doesn’t want to patronise the cast, and then patronisingly passing on his lesson about holding the wine glasses by the stem (the extra heat doesn’t impair the flavour of the wine, you see? Adam has learnt well). Jade points out that there is no dancing, so quite why Adam is a choreographer is a mystery. Come to think of it, roll out those Groove Train moves – it makes ESW more fun! At the end of filming, Jade asks Adam if he knows what being a choreographer means. He answers it means “making sure that everyone is in the right place” and that he has checked this meaning with everyone. I kinda suspect that everyone is playing a joke on Adam, or no one likes him much. Even Jade doesn’t bother to correct him. Aw.


Ricky Martin is on the phone, emphasising that the ad must mention quality and is classy, not cheesy. Jenna assures him it is classy, whilst she is recreating the set of a rubbish 90s sitcom at a posh English house with Stephen.


Nick and Tom are putting the finishing touches to their webiste. Karren remarks that it doesn’t look like it will appeal to new customers, which is what the task was designed for. Exeprt Tom casually mentions that he visits lots of wine websites and none fo them rivals Phoenix’s webpage. He doesn’t mention that it because it looks so boring that there is nothing considering rivalling with.


Jenna and Stephen reveal their “classy” ad, set to Take That’s Patience, to Nick and Ricky Martin. Nothing really seems to come together: the campaign’s message of quality, the hideous ad and a middle of the road pop song. Ricky Martin is speechless at the ad’s cheesiness. Phoenix’s ad isn’t really an ad at all, and the only thing that sticks in my mind is the continuing reference to “English”. Argh! No more! Nick nods at the ad whilst Tom says nothing.


Tom remains quiet, until he lets rip (sort of) in the taxi. He labels the ad “boring”. Nick agrees that the ad is “not great” (tactful), but yeah, the vid sucks.


Next, the team pitch to the panel of wine experts. Ricky Martin gives a clear and concise pitch for Sterling, and the website he created with Gabrielle looks pretty darn good. A quiz? Ooh…Social networking? Wow…What’s this? A special wine icon that leads to a new wine forum? Sparkling! The panel seem impressed, even with Stephen’s slogan. Then they see the ad. Wine guy describes the ad as “flippant” and almost seems offended by it. Ah.


Phoenix’s ad is described as being no different to other ads by a wine person. Adam answers that the occasion, setting and people are all English, and it is a gathering, not a celebration, which sets it apart from other ads (Except it doesn’t). Their link-to-other-wine-websites feature is higlighted by wine guy as something that will be hard to maintain. Tom says that they will regularly try to keep things updated, and if it’s not working, correct it ASAP. Wine guy labels this as “annoying” for customers to find that things aren’t working.


It seems more likely that Sterling will win the task – they have a briiliant concept and website, although their ad could let them down. Phoenix’s campaign is a little disappointing given the fact that Tom has experience in the wine market, and Jade and Nick have knowledge in their respective areas, but then again, who can tell?


I hate the phrase “English sparkling wine” – I’ve heard it too much, it is almost as bad as Azhar’s overuse of the word “strategy” it hurts the ears. Sugar identifies Jade, Nick and Tom as experts in their fields in respect to the task but what about Adam? Tom makes up the title of “creative director” for him, although he could have opted for “choreographer who doesn’t really choreograph” – one for the business cards there. The team idea is to put an “English sparkling wine” logo on wine bottles. Sugar has a look at the webiste and the ad, and then asks what the URL for the website is -“!?” (nice!) He comments that the website and its links to buy British wines appears to be more like a sales ptich rather than promoting wines.


Ricky Martin mentions that competing against Phoenix is a bit like David vs Goliath, and David wins here. It seems a bit odd for someone who would once call himself alpha-male/shark/best of the best to settle for a lowly weak boy in this scenario. Sugar is shocked by the ad, accusing it of making a mockery of the wine business. Jenna says it was a risky move but the ad would generate publicity. Sugar manages to summon up some praise for the logo Gabrielle created.


Results: Phoenix missed the point of the task but even though Sterling started off well, they “messed up” with the ad, so Phoenix win.

Not sure if it is a rightful win though. From wine to “other bubbles”, Phoenix win the reward of a trip to a boutique hotel where they sit in a jacuzzi with a beautifule view of London, or a fresh bath with 3 other people on a roof. In the cold.


Meanwhile, Sugar is doing some Kenneth Williams impressions (I don’t think there was any need for that) as he lambasts the ad for its use of humour and compares it to a Carry On film. Jenna again states that it was a risk that didn’t work, and Stephen just calls it “a bad day at the office”, which is rather a blase thing to say in a competition like this. He then says that least he contributed, unlike Gabrielle. Ricky Martin defends Gabrielle and Gabrielle speaks up for herself, before telling the supermarket story with Stephen shouting out “specifics!” at random intervals. Everyone is in consensus that the advert is the reason why the team lost, so Ricky Martin brings back Jenna and Stephen. Please fire Stephen.


Ricky Martin is picked on by Sugar for entering the task with a defeatist attiude and making excuses for the loss by declaring Sterling as underdogs. The main focus of discussion is that “classy” ad and Ricky Martin asserts that he told the team he didn’t want anything cheesy for the campaign, which Nick Hewer agrees with, and either no one listened or Stephen let Jenna do what she wanted. Sugar then asks why Ricky Martin didn’t go to the filming himself, but in all fairness, Jenna and Stephen were adamant that they were fulfilling Ricky’s brief and he would have trusted them, hence there is no need to attend filming.


Jenna thinks Stephen should be fired. Ricky thinks that Stephen should be fired. I think Stephen should be fired. Stephen thinks that he should be given another chance as PM and HE WILL WIN. Ricky Martin and his twice-being-PM/twice-losing-as-PM is brought up, although I think that in both cases he was let down by the rest of the team, and Ricky mentions that on both occasions he was up against experts in the relevant field (which could corroborate Sugar’s accusation of making excuses) which he surmises shows that he is brave to take on the challenge. Then he calls Stephen a “deflector”. Hah.


Sugar lets Stephen stay but he has to prove his word and win next week, or else…Sugar lays a lot of blame at Ricky’s door for not attending the filming but fires Jenna.

Delusions of Grandurgh prove costly for Jenna

Again, like Laura, Jenna hasn’t really shone much in the show or done anything that indicates her potential, so I would agree with the decision. I think that Ricky Martin did well as PM and Stephen didn’t perform well at all, but his fast talking has managed to keep in the show, again! Stephen talks the talk but he has no substance that proves that he is a good business partner. His only talent seems to be coming up with bad ideas.


On reflection, I think that Phoenix should have lost – they didn’t get the meaning of the task and their efforts were uninspiring. Tom appears to have taken a step backwards from his “potential winner” status and in this episode, he has shown a lack of good leadership or strategy. Instead he has been swanning off drinking with Adam and talking up his extensive knowledge of wine to the detriment of the task itself. He owes a lot to Jenna’s creative vision, or perhaps Nick, a lucky charm for victory, because if they did lose, Tom would have been a likely candidate to get fired.


Next week, it is all about doing deals. Ricky Martin failing to do a deal with a man in a flower shop. Jade is apologising for having no plan when it comes to trying to make a deal with someone. Tom only has less than 4 mins to close a particular deal. And Ricky Martin is having a bit of a mini-tantrum, screeching down the phone “You don’t have to tell me how to suck eggs!!!”


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.


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.