Week 8 sees the candidates dragged to St Pancras International at some ungodly hour. “Who hasn’t been PM yet?” asks Jim knowingly in the car. “Tom” drones everybody. Tom wakes up and looks surprised (as always). “Really, is there anybody else?” he chirrups. “No just you Tom”, comes the monotone response.

Melody’s excited by the prospect of going abroad, cos you know, she’s like taught herself six whole languages, because you have to do that sort of thing when you’re an international youth guru. Helen and Natasha exchange looks that scream out Anglo-Saxon phrases.

Lord Sugar tasks the candidates to choose and represent unique British products to sell to French retailers in Paris. As well as them finding their own leads, both teams have an appointment set up with Gallic home shopping giant La Redoute. Every candidate is given an order book in order to ramp up the arse saving sales rivalry.

Tom’s automatically appointed Project Manager of Logic, leading Melody, Leon and Natasha. Jim, Susan and Zoe on Venture (now with added Helen) are left to fight amongst themselves as to who will lead. Susan volunteers loudly and assertively (look everybody!), despite not knowing anything about France, and unsurprisingly her team backs her.

Tom pops Leon and Melody on the Eurostar to Paris as his research team. Leon’s anxious as he doesn’t speak any French (I hope they all speak English), but fortunately for him Melody is fluent in French bullshit and he merely has to bask in her genius for the rest of the task, as though he’s on a croissant filled jolly. Susan sends Jim and Helen on Venture’s foreign exchange, with Jim taking control thanks to his amazing bilingual skills (bilingual means two languages in the same sentence, right?), adding an Allo Allo tinge to his Norn Irish accent as he asks earnestly “Je voudrais parler who responsible for votre magazine”.

Meanwhile the remaining team halves have to check out the products on offer and sit through a plethora of tat and luxury items clearly fresh off the books of the Innovations catalogue. Rickety toys, hugely expensive electric bikes and backbreaking beanbags that convert into childs beds are all rejected, and Venture choose for their first product a strange pipe cleaner ensemble that purports to be a stand for mobile phones (Zoe’s not convinced at the 18 Euro pricetag, but Susan thinks it’s “innovative” – say no more.

Karen despairs of Susan’s mental snap decisions on products, and bizarre questions reminiscent of Sting’s song about Russians (“Do the French love their children? Do the French drive?”) although in fairness to Susan, she’s desperately trying to stamp her personality on the task and she merely seems to have the habit of expressing every random thought (even the fuckwitted ones) aloud. When you stop doing that, you’ve just lost your innocence.

Tom’s team are equally smitten by a postcard that turns into a cress farm by simply adding water (I quite like this one – but Susan and Zoe think it’s crap, the stupid cows).

Both teams set their greedy eyes on the motherlode of products, a rucksack that converts into a childs booster car seat, but both decide to check with their roving continental teammates before committing to purchasing it. Tom’s very keen, having worked in the “baby industry” (eek!), but is worried that the product might not fit with La Redoute the big buyer that Lord Sugar set up, so asks his team to find out more about La Redoute and get some feedback about the product, as his only alternative is a horrid overpriced (140 Euro; Manufacturer: “We’re a quality product”!) bone china teapot lamp. Unfortunately for Tom, Melody really hates the idea of the rucksack/booster seat, despite not having seen it. I guess anything that protects young people potentially robs Melody of vulnerable youth for her to take the credit for saving or something. Tom insists that she and Leon do some proper “market research, independent of your own personal thoughts”. “This isn’t Manchester!” sneers Melody as Tom hangs up. “Or a car boot sale!” adds Leon happily. “Or up North or something” Melody persists. Being from up North would be the worse of all possible worlds for Melody, who chooses to pretend she’s an American virgin rather than be associated with parts of the UK she disapproves of. “Lets just ask people around here” Melody suggests unenthusiastically as she and Leon head towards Gare du Nord’s metro station. Of course Leon isn’t going to disagree, he’s spellbound by the classy way in which Melody negotiates all those French pictorial direction signs, like she’s Catherine fucking Deneueve or something. So Melody approaches an insignificant number of commuters and asks them which is best “Un Lumiere comme une the-erriere” (illustrated helpfully by Leon) or “Some shit rucksack safety seat thing for kids”. The majority of her impromptu focus group still plump for the latter, so Melody (translating back to Leon that people so far only think the rucksack is “OK”) decides to keep extending her research to make it more scientific yah and ask as many people as it takes for one to say something slightly negative about the booster seat rucksack. Eventually she finds someone (who STILL prefers the rucksack) who says it’s difficult for her to think about buying the product as she mainly uses the metro (and is probably childless). Melody seizes on this as a new slant on her “research” and goes round asking people on the Metro if they use the metro and in this case would not be interested in a rucksack that converts into a childs car seat. About three people shrug and say perhaps. For Melody that’s case closed and she reports back to Tom that everybody preferred the teapot light in their market research. Tom acquiesces based on the “market research”. I’m still frigging fuming writing this.

Jim and Helen have been asking people unbiased questions about the booster seat rucksack (Jim thanking everybody who speaks English whilst they wonder what language he was speaking) and got great feedback, so Susan’s happy to pick it to sell.

The other candidates leave London with the chosen products to join their teams in Paris, and Tom’s instantly disillusioned with Melody and Leon’s giggling, sneery response to the teapot light. He then asks Melody to share out the leads they’ve found in Paris, and she gets all selfish and defensive (“I spent time and effort making those leads yesterday and you’re going to take them away from me… that’s really unfair. I’m going to sell on the leads I’ve made”. A browbeaten Tom backs down, rather than screaming “THAT WAS YOUR FUCKING ROLE YOU STUPID PRENTENTIOUS GLORY-GRABBING BITCH!”. That last bit may have been what I said.

The arrivals from London go to the La Redoute pitch whilst their roving teams follow up leads. For Venture, Jim’s Jedi skills don’t translate into Anglo-Irish Franglais (“Could you sell this small petite item”, “No I cannot sell this”). Over on Logic, Melody makes Susan look astute by whining about the amount of traffic when her scientific market research group on the Metro all claimed to be users of the Metro. All six of them. “Yes very good point” chortles Leon, under the illusion she’s still speaking in French. Annoyingly she manages to make tonnes of sales to “I saw you coming” style Parisian shops. Although having seen Melody and Leon coming they all only buy a couple of units each. “I should just move over to Paris and set up business here” gloats Melody endearingly, “Every appointment we go to, we sell” (yes, one or two things).

Tom selects the La Redoute pitcher for Logic, rejecting a simple coin flip in favour of a full blown round of “Paper Scissors Stone”. Natasha “wins” and the first thing she says in the meeting room to the “most powerful buyers in France” is “erm parlez vous Anglais”. It gets worse. “I present to you our teapot made from bone china which is used in England for er tea”, she flails, pointlessly, adding that in England if someone saw such a lamp they would declare “Goodness me! That’s fantastic!” (she fails to add the traditional “ically shit” us Rosbifs would normally add). Tom tries to help out (“We’re keen to start a relationship”) by offering this huge company a deal on just 10 units (“Ludicrous” winces Nick). “Have you even done the most basic of research?” complains La Redoute woman, and Natasha tries to rectify things by offering to start from er 50 units. Holy fuck this is bad. Tom moans that Melody didn’t do the research on the company he asked for, but surely he could have asked her?

Next, Helen and Susan visit La Redoute, and Helen delivers one of the best pitches I’ve ever seen on this show, proving not only that she’s done the research, but that she’s capable of pressing the right buttons for potential buyers (“I know your website, I’ve even ordered from your catalogue”), especially when challenged about the high price of the product (“I know your target audience is women and modern women will pay anything for convenience… you can say you are the first retailer to bring this product to France. You can say ‘We care about your children. We care about their safety'”. ). Susan sort of contributes by being tiny enough to fit in the chair and say it feels safe, but really it’s round of applause time for Helen.

Tom and Natasha are struggling finding their own leads in questionable English, never mind their French, until Melody and Leon, stuck in traffic and unable to make all of Melody’s appointments, “kindly” fob one off on the hapless Project Manager. “What’s the contact name?” asks Tom eagerly. “Er I forgot to get a name. Apologies, must dash” breezes Melody. Natasha does the pitch, desperately trying to flog the teapot (which may as well be made of chocolate). “That is not a concept” states the shopkeeper dismissively, before setting his eyes on the Cress Cards. “Now THAT is a concept” he gasps, full of admiration, and orders 1015 Euros worth.

After a failed pitch at an unsuitable shop, Susan calls her splinter team to advise them to target the “right shops”. “I love the way she teaches your grandma to suck eggs” drawls Zoe, demonstrating there’s still clearly no love lost. Susan proves her point however by going to a mobile phone shop that advertises a big online presence and haggling them winningly into buying 1500 units of pipe cleaner phone holders. “I’ve got Euro signs in my eyeballs” gasps Susan, as Jim prompts the rest of Venture to waste their remaining time seeking out mobile phone shops.

Melody decides to give Leon a chance after all the sales she’s made (but clearly doesn’t like to mention more than a million times) and he manages to sell 35 illuminated teapots, before Melody barges in and persuades the shopkeeper to buy 1000 postcards. “How have your sales gone, Tom” she schmoozes down the phone to her beleaguered Project Manager, who immediately flakes out and drops his phone. “Erm we’ve had a lot of difficulties” he admits when he picks the mobile up, but Melody and Tom both know that he hasn’t made a single sale today and that makes Melody very happy indeed.

Back in the boardroom, and whilst most of Venture support Susan as their leader, Jim has to qualify it as patronisingly as possible (“She made a bold move to become Project Manager…but she led on day two in terms of sales”. Susan states that strategically she wanted practical products, nothing too niche, but that doesn’t stop Karren having a go for her “stupid questions” (“You don’t need to go to France to know the answers to whether French people love their kids or drive”). Susan explains that she was merely trying to establish what sort of products the French focus on, but Karren’s unimpressed (“Perhaps you should have worded it that way”).

There’s not so much backing for Tom over on Logic, as Leon suggests “It felt like Melody was running the show “, and Melody of course modestly accepting this (“We didn’t feel the presence of the Project Manager” (because he was in London and you were ignoring him perhaps). Tom suggests he “felt Melody did what she wanted”, but Melody falls back on the unquestionable empirical truth of her “market research” (“It wasn’t my personal view, it was MARKET RESEARCH, which cannot be questioned) which she keeps saying again and again, getting more slappable every time.

The scores from sales to smaller retailers are read out first:

Logic – 11,705 Euros

Venture – 14,699 Euros

With La Redoute

Venture – made 214,000 Euros (Helen breaking Liz’s boardroom record from last year)

Logic – made, as Nick puts it “nil points”

So Venture get flying lessons as a treat.

Considering that, as Lord Sugar says, “this isn’t just a loss, it’s an annihilation”, Melody looks oddly smug and happy. Even in the Sad Café she tries to convince people that she can’t be blamed if the “market research” didn’t give the right answers.

Back in the boardroom and Tom’s under fire for not going with his gut instinct on the booster seat rucksack, but he blames Melody for not coming back with the information he asked for about La Redoute. “You didn’t ask for that information at all” lies Melody brazenly, prompting Nick to put on his detective hat (“At 12.50pm Tom specifically called and asked for that information”). Caught out, Melody resorts to bullshit (I know, you can’t tell the difference). “I can speak personally about what I contributed on that day” she starts. “Did you do the research?” interrupts Sugar. “Other than the information we were given” continues Melody. “Oh, so no” sniggers Sugar.

Leon gets flak for silently letting Melody do all the talking (Sugar: “You’re making it very easy cos here’s the door”), with his rubbish excuse that Melody was speaking in French and he can’t getting short shrift as most of the people she pitched to spoke in English too (“I must have missed that”).

Tom’s paltry 10 units offer to La Redoute is next under the microscope and Melody can’t help but interject “I’m surprised that Tom and Natasha went to that pitch as Leon and I have a better sales record”. Nick points out that Melody “wanted to pitch at all those shops, so that was a bit of a greedy one”, and it comes out that, unlike Venture, whose roving team split all leads fairly, Melody only dished out one lead to Tom and Natasha. Not a tick in the Teamplayer box then. “I let Leon pitch one” complains Melody. Oops. “You LET him?!” exclaims Karren, bemused.

So it’s not a shocker when Tom brings Leon and Melody (“How much did YOU sell Tom?”) back to the boardroom (although a shame that Natasha escapes scot free for er bring Natasha).

Melody’s not outed for basically lying about what her “focus group” were saying, but at least Nick points out that she let her personal opinion of the rucksack booster seat affect the teams judgement. “Do you know anything about products” queries Lord Sugar. It transpires that Melody doesn’t, but at least her great achievements are highlighted in the shape of her myriad meaningless awards (“Volunteer of year award, Woman of the future award, Outstanding Asian Woman award” sneers an incredulous Lord Sugar – I’m shocked she hasn’t got a fucking Duke of Edinburgh award to bang vainly on about). “Can you tell me what you do to get these awards?” he asks her (erm be middle class and really fucking needy of yet more validation?). “I’ve been improving the lives of children and young people” simpers Melody, justifying her “Global Consultancy Youth Business”. I really hate people like Melody. Parasites. Sadly Sugar seems to like her balls (“You look aggressive like you want to win”). Tom’s convinced that Melody just “wanted to make sure that her arse was completely covered”. The penny drops finally.

Leon gets more flak for hiding behind crap language skills, as Lord Alan was able to communicate with Asian people (even outstanding ones) when he was selling cockles and mussels on his barrow down old Brick Lane.

Tom’s also in the firing line for getting no sales (Sugar “Why?”, Leon “Because he can’t sell”) and his scissor paper stone method of decision making, but manages to fight back a la Susan with epic tales of his credentials “outside of the process” (he’s been running a business for 5 years, patenting and selling his own inventions). “So, a mini Dyson?” smirks Sugar, but Tom thinks he’ll be much bigger than Dyson (For inventors this must sound like John Lennon’s “Jesus” moment).

Worrying Lord Alan likes Melody’s “hunger” despite her hijacking the process (“If they allowed you to then good luck to you”) so she’s safe (“She’s a tigress, she will walk over people and spit them out, that’s what I like about her). It all gets a bit dodgy, with the suggestion that all candidates are now being judged on the business proposals they submitted before the process, making the tasks mere window dressing. After some unconvincing prevarication, Leon’s fired (“Thank you for an amazing opportunity”) and calmly suggests that Lord Sugar’s missed out in his taxi homewards. Melody just seems sulky that both of her opponents didn’t go.

So, whilst nobody’s surprised to see Melody return to the house, nobody seems ecstatic. Especially when Melody starts fantasising about how much Lord Sugar respected all her awards (“He said ‘that’s commendable'”). Helen nudges Zoe with a brief sardonic grin. Even if the benighted beardy barrow boy hasn’t yet marked Melody’s card, the other candidates have.

Liking: Tom, Sue, Helen

Disliking: Zoe, Natasha

Can’t wait to see them eviscerated in the Interview Round: Jim, Melody

Byebye: Leon, Glenn, Edna, Vincent, Ellie, Felicity, Gavin, Alex, Edward

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