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!