The Apprentice – Dessert time!

It’s been a while since I have blogged about The Apprentice. Welcome back!

After the fiasco of Skeleton-Gate last week (I blame Sugar by the way), the two teams are changed, much to Daniel’s relief. Daniel swaps with Sanjay, who not long after, tells the rest of Tenacity that he is happy to be away from Bianca.

Will Mark lose another task? Mr Second-Worst-Candidate, losing to Daniel apparently…

Roisin and Katie, who both have food-related business plans, head up the two teams. Roisin’s team opts for tea flavoured cheesecakes and Katie chooses trifles. Summit has a relatively good product and tiptop branding, whereas Tenacity’s product contains some strange flavours and the branding is far from premium. It is not hard to see why Summit loses, especially combined with poor pitching (Mark’s Tesco pitch is one of the most hilarious moments of the series haha).

So whilst Summit go on a Martini and Macaroons yacht ride (is this a thing? I want to go! Do Martinis go with macaroons), team Tenacity are forced to explain themselves. Kirsty has been a solid candidate throughout the process, but shows an alarming lack of food knowledge, which scares Sugar. Mark again has performed well in the task (although he is a sneaky snake at times…) but his pitch this time around was awful/comical, especially after he hyped himself up to be the best salesman ever!!! He is also to blame for branding, along with Sanjay. Sanjay is an odd one; I can hardly remember who he was up until a few weeks ago, when I started to remember him for sniping at others, and saying a lot of things but not doing a lot of things.

As we start to near towards the final, Sugar pulls focus onto the business plans of the final three. Katie is the first to be fired – this week fails to inspire confidence in her from Sugar. No one seems to understand why Sanjay says his plan is so amazing, with Sugar and Mark struggling to see where money will be made. Not much is said about Mark’s plan, only that it is sales based…and that Mark is a good salesman. Sanjay is the next to go. Mark stays.

Bye Bye Sanjay

Next week the interviews take place. In a strange turn of events, previous winner Ricky Martin returns. Presumably he has done something to earn the status of “all powerful and great interviewer”. I do like him but he has changed now…boo…Judging from the preview, he will try to be extra tough and mean, like the other interviewers!

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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 www.chooseyourenergysupplier.co.uk. 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!!!

WHO WILL WIN?

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 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?

JADE

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

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.

 

TOM     

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.

 

ADAM  

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…

 

 

RICKY

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.

Boardroom

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.

Results

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:

https://chocbutton.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/the-apprentice-final-five-review/

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 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!