It’s Week One (Day one) and the helicopter soars high over Canary Wharf from the top of which you can almost see the boardroom in Brentwood. The latest 16 besuited bellends saunter stiffly in for LordAlan’s Big Society Business lecture on how it’s just as possible to start a business now as it was in 1967 with just a few nicker in your pocket, a cheeky smile and a barrow. “I’m sick and tired of the moaning culture” he growls, “all you need is a concept, hard work and determination” (and idiots with money who want to buy crap email phones). This series LordAlan isn’t looking for an employee on a 6 figure salary, presumably because he got stung so badly on maternity leave in the past. Nor does he seek bladdy sales people (“I want someone with a brain”).  Instead he’s giving the winner £250K to start a business in “uncivil partnership” with him (“Don’t expect me to be doing all the work; I’m not looking for a sleeping partner, so to speak. I’m not Saint Alan, the patron saint of bladdy losers”).

The first task is therefore a task of how well they can do with a £250 investment. The teams (girls v boys) are instructed to buy and produce food stuffs, with the one making the most return on the money winning.

First there’s the small matter of coming up with team names.

Brittle ice-queen Helen Milligan (who bizarrely works for the CEO of Greggs) has prepared two suggestions; “Galvanised” and “platinum” (I get the feeling she read these words on the back of her various eye make-up products). Everyone recoils, and the instant irritant that is Melody Hossaini leaps in with the slightly less awful “Venture” which gets a half hearted majority vote, backed up by Edna Agbarha the scary (“I seek pain rather than pleasure”) “business psychologist” with a superiority complex (“Weak people are a waste of space.. a limp handshake in business is unforgivable”) . Melody smugly claims to have founded a global youth consultancy and to have been trained on climate change by Al Gore, as well as taught by Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama. So she presumably has a website somewhere called KidzTalk (or “Venture”) and has attended a few lectures, but is an exceptional bullshiter.

Sales manager Vincent Disneur has already won the public over (into unanimously declaring him a dick) in the pre-show trailers, with his slimy mix of arrogance and delusion (“I have plenty of charisma and.. hey… I’m not bad looking”). His team name suggestion “ability” suggests he has hidden depths of idiocy and closet fascism, in fact I’m surprised there aren’t more takers. Perhaps if he prefixed it with “Mixed”? Edward Hunter the cuddly self hating accountant, who, in a film of this episode would be played by Danny De Vito, is not impressed. “I don’t like ability” he whines. Clearly. There’s worse cockery to come though, from Leon Doyle (who apparently started up a £1million online takeaway business; if it’s one I use then thanks Leon!), who looks like a bit like Orlando Bloom wearing a young Stephen Fry’s hair and has come up with the even more “self-effacing” and fucking stupid “Leontrenpeur”.  I think Glenn Ward (design engineer, looks a bit like a streamlined version of last year’ cute but annoying Jamie) comes up with “Logic”, which has huge potential to haunt the team horribly every week. He’s backed up by Jim Eastwood, an apparently normal (for now) Irish Sales & Marketing Manager. And the vote is cast, but Vincent blithely ignores it. “So who likes ‘Ability’ then?” he grins limply. The reaction is oddly reminiscent of that to Rick in the Young Ones here 

With that settled, there’s a little time to “oooh” and “aah” at their new luxury Richmond pad. I do enjoy inventor Tom Pellereau getting flustered at finding himself in the girl’s room and promising “that’s the last time I come in here”. Tom looks like actor Michael Sheen crossed with a geeky ex of mine, so I instantly find him adorable, but he warns us “Underneath these glasses is a core of stone”. Maybe he should have a word with Scouse online optician Gavin Winstanley (“The fear of failure drives me every single day” – supporting LFC does that to a man).

Next they have to choose Team Leaders for this task. Edward volunteers to lead Logic, and everyone looks nervously at their shoes until Gavin pipes up asking what sort of experience Mr “I’m not an accountant honest” has.  Leon scents an opportunity to land Gavin in the position of doom too (“OK. Then do you want to be leader?”), but he patiently points out that isn’t what he’s saying, he’s just trying to make an educated decision. Sadly nobody can understand his accent, so Edward gets all feisty (“If you wanna lead then lead it” and shouts himself all the way into winning the leadership vote. Edward describes himself as “a wheeler dealer who accidentally became a finance professional and I want out.”, so much for leaving yourself a safety net mate.

Susan Ma, a “natural skin care enteprenur” (Avon lady), makes the product decisions, aiming to capitalise on the breakfast market with a health giving fruit salad and the lunch market with a suicide inspiring vegetable pasta. I like Susan, who is keen to tell us that there is more to her than seeming “short, sweet and smiley” yet spends the rest of the episode using those very virtues to her advantage. The girls appear to be doing vaguely sensible things like working out how much they need to buy and make, and what the pricing structure should be. I said appear.

Edward is keen to maximise efficiency with easy products like juice and soup. “You can’t get soup wrong.. they may not buy it again but they won’t be sick.. er anyone know how to make soup?” Edward “ain’t got time to show off by working out profit margins”. He’s a maverick accountant on the edge. “Just mash it all up as soon as possible and sell it all. That’s my vision for this task” he blusters.

And so it’s off to the fruit market. And when Edward and Vincent have finally worked out what an orange looks like (at least they don’t ask the colour) they buy 1400 of them, with Edward’s pitiful attempts to haggle met repelled by a disdainful grocer (“That’s £9.50 a box”, Edward “How about £9.25 a box?” Grocer “I can see you don’t know about this, so I’ll tell you £9.50 is the bottom line”, Edward “OK £9.50 a box, you’re on!”, Grocer “Yeah, that’s what I said!”). Edward’s all about the immediate process, he’s “not concerned with sales right now” , he’s buying fucking oranges. Unfortunately his zest (oh suit yourself) leaves Jim, who’s been appointed “Soup man” only £40 left to buy all the ingredients for a soup. Edward doesn’t give a shit (“We’re not after Michelin stars”), yet somehow, astoundingly Jim manages to make a soup that looks edible. I think he just bought red dye.”We are gonna make soup like we’ve never made soup before” he motivates. “Yeah cos we’ve never made soup before” notes Alex Britez Cabral (an estate agent, being almost funny).

As usual the girls play on the by now famous predilection of male market traders for power dressing female twenty-somethings flicking their hair in pencil line skirts. However, every time Melody or Susan manage to negotiate a bargain on boxes of fruit, Edna pounces to try to put the kibosh on them spending money, as she’s been put in charge of the purse strings (“I’ve been given a very important task”). “How can I keep control when they do deals?” she moans. It’s almost like they’re trying to do business you dopey mare. Edna’s idea of return on an investment would be handing Lord Sugar back his £250 plus any pennies the team had managed to find on the street. Predictably they run out of fruit half way through preparing their stingy fruit salads, but Edna’s not parting with that last £80 for no-one, especially not when Susan asks, and Melody doesn’t have the balls to argue, so the even more reduced fruit salad is packaged up, missing more cherries than a school disco in Hartlepool. Susan and theatre luvvie Felicity Jackson still manage to flog these overpriced molecules of vitamin C to breakfasting fools at Canary Wharf (whilst recruitment consultant Natasha Scribbens takes a busmans holiday by standing around looking feeble and letting them do all the work).

Whilst Jim is capably churning away his magic soup, Leon is made chief juicer due to his foody credentials (um he deals with ordering and distribution), but is urged by Edward into over-working the groaning electric juicers to death so the team have to hand squeeze the remaining 1000 oranges. The boys have already missed the breakfast crowd, but Edward becomes insanely obsessed with completing this step, but Glenn is understandably getting impatient to send out sales teams to flog what they have and starts doing a motivational “lets get selling” speech to erm everyone in the kitchen. “I feel like I’m doing your job for you” he complains to Edward, who’s busy doing the washing up. Glenn’s on the verge of shouting “For Fucks Sake!” and Edward starts insisting that he’s treated with “repect”. Thankfully, there’s a man in the kitchen who can pour soupy oil on these troubled water, and Jim strides over like Kofi Annan. “I’ll defuse the situation” he declares before leading Glenn away, allowing Edward to repeat Glenn’s motivational “lets get selling” speech as though he’d just thought of it.

Whilst half of the boys sell juice and soup from Alex’s van at Liverpool Street Station, Vincent sex pests his way around offices forcing women to put their lips around something orangey (I’m hoping his spray tan doesn’t extend that far). Karen Brady grimaces “Vincent thinks he’s a ladies man.. strangely enough they seem to be quite impressed and they’re buying from him”. His sales pitch is less rohypno-rapey than Edward’s though (“It’s juice, it just sells itself. There’s no point me talking.. JUST DRINK IT!”)

The girls have sent their satellite team to Euston station, where Helen pops up trying to terrify commuters into buying vegetable pasta from Ellie, who can’t even spell “veg et able”. Ellie (think a Yorkshire Atkins from Bad Girls) is described as a “Managing Director”, but struggles with shifting pasta to Northerners departing London and hoping to take some of the glamour of the capital home with them “for tonight’s tea”.

Over at Canary Wharf, Melody’s running out of scraps of fruit, so plucks up the courage to call Evil Edna and ask where the extra stock is. “It’s not been sent, it’s being made as we speak” deadpans Edna medaciously, “I’m trying to make sure I get the numbers right”. Melody manages to hold in a torrent of obscenities by saying she’s “disappointed”, but there’s no way she’s going to win against Edna who uses her business psychology to pull off the Jedi Mind Trick of being an Obstructive Cunt (“Melody, we’re going over old ground .. I’m trying to sell here… Oh her phone mustn’t have a signal…” So with an hour to go, Melody drags her succesful team to Euston to pick up fruit salads and sell them as part of a meal deal for mentals along with the now bargain bucket pasta; it’s not only Edna saying “WHY?!”

Back in the boardroom, LordAlan’s looking for a return on his investment.

Glenn and Tom question Edward’s randomness and lack of organisation. Karen points out that if Jim hadn’t bought all his red dye in the market with the paltry £40 left to him then there would have been no soup. Edward is spectacularly immodest and clueless, claiming that he “hand picked Jim as I knew he was the man to lead the soup team.” It all starts to unravel when Edward’s asked about his buying and pricing strategy. “I didn’t want to speculate.. that part was production. Selling can take care of itself”. “You were trained by the leading accountancy organisation in the UK” sighs LordAlan despairingly. “I don’t fit the mould” retorts Edward. For Christ sake don’t mention accountancy to Edward or he’ll start talking like an autistic Yoda. “It’s all there” he adds mystically, as though he’s reading out the lyrics to Nik Kershaw’s “The Riddle” in the style of William Shatner. This takes precisely 0.05 seconds to piss LordAlan off. “Stop talking to me in semaphore. We’re not sending bladdy text messages!”

Melody’s not backwards when it comes to promoting herself and the fact her team name “was voted the most popular”. “I definitely have the style of leadership that takes into account other people” she trills, to much eye-rolling from Susan and open sneering from Edna. Edna’s financial over-thrift is raised, and Melody is equally as quick to divert any blame for herself (“Edna volunteered for that role”, Edna: “I was volunteered, but I didn’t shirk away”.)

Anyhow here’s the profits (there were some – wow!):

LOGIC boys made £339.20 on juice and  £92.93 on soup giving a total of £432.13 (that missed breakfast cost them).

VENTURE girls made £37.28 on pasta but a stonking £555.05 on overpriced fruit salad making them the lucky winners by miles.

Once it’s established they’ve won, luvvie Felicity starts some vomit inducing sucking up to Melody, but Susan admits she didn’t think Melody was that great and Evil Edna has a face like a slapped arse.

In the cafe de fail, one bright spark pipes up (I bet it was Vincent) “I think the problem lies in the fact we didn’t produce enough orange juice”. (Wrong, you didn’t produce orange juice quickly enough Einstein).

And we’re back in the boardroom, where Edward’s lack of planning is coming under fire, and he’s muttering more crazy gnostic bullshit (“I knew 10p an orange could make 500 drinks”), until it transpires that he kept all his sums in his head rather than admit to anyone that he had maths skillz in case he got laughed at and wedgied. The rest of the team admit no knowledge of Edward’s “plans” (“It was a ‘need to know’ basis” mutters Jim darkly).

Tom plays a blinder suggesting that Edward’s lack of planning cost them the task due to “Edward trying so hard to show us he wasn’t an accountant that he left all the good parts of accounting out”. Even LordAlan’s impressed “That’s the most sensible thing I’ve heard all night.”

Leon’s briefly under scrutiny for breaking the juicers with his big sausagey fingers when LordAlan does the math for Edward and works out they had enough oranges to make 470 bottles but only made 146. Alex, similarly, is outed by Karen of being overly van proud and only ever cutting bread or mopping up rather than selling (“A van is a good place to hide” suggests Nick mischievously.). Despite this latter massive glaring hint by LordAlan’s henchies, Edward tightens the noose around his neck by bringing back Leon and Gavin.

The rest are free to return to Richmond towers, but still Tom manages to almost undo all his good work for me tonight by uttering a cringing “Sorry Lord Sugar” on the way out. I’ll put it down to nerves and politeness, but his card is marked.

Meanwhile Edward tries to blame Gavin for the task failure, because Gavin didn’t put himself forward to lead as vehemently as he could have. Oh grow up. Gavin points out that Edward told the team to go away when they tried to get involved with decision making. “I’m not gonna sit here and be made to feel THAT big” whines Edward. “Well that’s how big you are” slams back Gavin (sore point), “You wanted the leaders hat but you didn’t fulfill the role”. Unfortunately for Edward, Gavin sold the second highest number of units, so is safe.
Edward, however is in meltdown, it’s just not fair: “I’m the youngest” he wails. “Well done” snaps Gavin, causing Edward to play his trump card (“I’m the shortest” – oh dear).

Whilst Lord Alan’s not so bedazzled by Leon, it’s no great surprise after that that Edward’s fired, and despite some sterling advice (“Don’t be ashamed at what you’re best at doing”) he manages to throw Sugar a “talk to the calculator, fucker” face before flouncing off to an unreflective yet aphoristic taxi ride (“Lord Sugar got it wrong.. the world is my oyster.. roll the punches”).

Vincent, who’s already incorrectly predicted that Leon would be fired, tries another desperate ploy to appear popular by getting everyone to raise a toast to Edward. Everyone puts their hands on the floor.

Quote of the night: “Edward reminds me of a slow internet line” (Lord Alan)

Liking: Gavin, Susan, Tom (with reservations)
Warming to: Glenn
Not Sure About: Natasha, Ellie, Alex, Jim
Probably Irrational Dislike for: Helen, Leon, Felicity, Edna
Laughing at (not with): Vincent
Already want to slap: Melody
Was she even in it? Zoe Beresford – she’s listed on the BBC site but I’m buggered if I noticed her.

Bye bye Edward

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