The Apprentice Series 8, Episode 4

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

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

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

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

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

being an attractive businesswoman can have its ups and downs

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

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

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

We’re selling crap and turning it into style.

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

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

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

committed a number of mortal sins

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

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

It’s like Tom wants us to lose!!!

Those sunglasses are well trendy

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

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

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

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

Don’t look a gift horse in the eye.

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

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

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

Gabrielle's idea is similar to this - drawers on legs.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

she will be pleasantly surprised about the profit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

an Oxfam shop in the middle of a hurricane.

Why Oxfam?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am successful in everything I do. Period.

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

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

Scary Jane is fired

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

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!