Week 10 and following a gratuitous and strangely invigorating Tom in a Towel shot, the candidates are dragged to EPR wholesalers in Enfield where Lord Sugar waxes all dewy eyed about his youthful jolly barrel boy bollocks in days of yore, before setting them the task to sell a random assortment of products he’s chosen and reinvest the money in the best selling products (“smell what’s selling”) thus building a rudimentary business. The team with the greatest amount of assets wins, so being left with a stockpile of crap isn’t necessarily a losing strategy.

Susan joins Jim and Natasha on Venture, whereas Helen moves to Logic with Tom and Melody. Tom’s card is remarked by Lord Sugar, who doesn’t want any more grovelling hindsight bollocks. Tom obediently nods his head. “If you nod your head any more I’m gonna put you on the back seat of my blahhdy car” snaps Lord Sugar sinisterly. Ironically they inventory the products chosen for them and discover one is a nodding bulldog wearing a Union Jack waistcoat (“Oh yes!”).

Melody volunteers to lead Logic, as she hasn’t been Project Manager since week 1 and Helen backs her (Tom typically starts well in his new promised dynamic approach by silently acquiescing).

Susan’s equally forthright putting herself forward for Venture (“it’s what my parents do”), but Natasha shouts her down (“Operationally I will be stronger”) and Jim pretends to be all objective, but still sides with Natasha. “I’m 100% behind you then” bleats Susan, “but I would like you to trust my judgement”. Naturally Natasha takes the opportunity to patronise “Suzie” (“I’m over the moon you’re in this team”) and sends her out to flog duvets house to house in Knightsbridge (hmm) whilst Natasha and Jim head to Covent Garden to sell shed loads of overpriced tat to mentally ill tourists (£7.50 for the nodding bulldog! And it sells!). Jim’s Jedi skills are back with a vengeance and he wheedles people into buying a brolly for a tenner a go on a clear day. Meanwhile Susan finally makes it past the horse guards parade to unsuccessfully shout through well heeled letterboxes at cleaners. “That was really unsuccessful” she sighs, “they must be rubbish products” (erm nobody’s actually seen them yet.).

Helen’s master plan for Logic is to try to flog the wholesale products to erm retailers, giving them the opportunity to mark up to the public, if they decide to gamble beyond their usual suppliers. Genius! Melody’s on board and drags the pair of them into “Poundstar” (there’s a clue in that name somewhere) to try to sell a £50 RRP watch for £25. “Er no.” explains the weary retailer, “this is a pound shop”. Melody’s not disheartened (“I thought at one point he would go for it”). Continuing on their retarded quest they then try to sell the “chocolatey” duvet cover (a must for incontinents) to the owner of a hardware shop.

Tom bravely pitches up at the London eye fleecing kids with the nodding bulldogs. “I’ll give you £5” lisps one tousle-headed little scamp. “Ohhh dear, you’re very good at this aren’t you” simpers Tom. His wide-eyed and likeable Nick Park style spiel is actually a great hit with the kids (“here’s your doggy”) and he quickly sells the lot, not that Melody and Helen are interested in fulfilling his request for more bulldogs.

Nick Hewitt notes grimly that neither team is thinking much about reinvesting, it only being the whole point of the task. Jim clicks first and nags Natasha (“You need to think about strategy and buying for tomorrow”), but she’s too busy getting all defensive and accuses him of panicking, before ringing Susan (waking her up in the process) and asking how the duvets have sold. Make that duvet, as somehow Susan managed to shift one for £18. “I’m more than happy for you to chip in some responsibility as well” Natasha barks at Jim, as she’s completely incapable of making a sodding decision herself.

Melody and Helen find the retail world’s answer to Mohammed Ali (“I AM the cheapest!”) and unwisely decide he would be the perfect person to sell their dirty protest duvet covers to, just about managing to haggle him to £10 per duvet for the 9 duvets they have. Even though he’s the cheapest, he’s still seen this pair coming and hints “If you had more, I’d give a good order”. They agree to get him 30 duvet covers, now there’s just the small matter of finding and buying that many, but the girls decide to leave that until the following day as there’s now none left at the wholesalers.

At 6pm on day 1, both teams have to reinvest their takings. Logic have about £260 to spend (with Tom having made the same amount of money as Melody and Helen combined). Melody waltzes around picking up travel irons as though she’s planning a trip to visit her mate the Dalai Lama. “Why are we selling travel things, that’s horrible?” complains Helen (over-reacting slightly), but Melody just ignores her so she pulls hacky faces and selects an almost sensible emergency phone charger. Tom seems to have been banned from the reinvestment process, but is disappointed by the random choices they display to him back at the house.

Venture meanwhile have £292, and whilst Natasha buys bulldogs, Susan (unimpressed with Lord Sugar’s selected products) goes all feral and invests in £100 worth of shiny bracelets. “I’d go for a few more of those one’s, they’re really popular” charms the trinket-trader, spotting the magpie gleam in Susan’s eye. “Yeah? I really appreciate your advice, thanks!” gasps Susan sweetly. Back at the house she unveils her treasure (“I have sold these bracelets before”) but Jim and Natasha just stare at the poor idiot girl.

Next morning Melody wafts in to meet her team-mates, but Helen’s looking tense and reveals that she’s been up all night. She starts with a spoonful of sugar (“I know you’re exceptionally strong at sales Melody”) before dropping the bombshell (“So is it best if I take over as Project Manager today as I feel it takes strong strategy and organisation”). It’s an attempted coup, an Apprentice first by Helen, the (until recently) silent assassin. Melody’s taken aback, but as usual her mouth kicks back into gear first (“That all suggests to me that you have a really amazing strategy”) and she neatly rebuffs Helen’s offer with the strength of a thousand Thatchers (“No to that. I want to take responsibility”). I think Tom’s contribution is to uncomfortably shift from one buttock to the other.

Anyhow El Presidente Melody decides unsurprisingly to take Tom to their stall in Hammersmith tube to sell untried products (Tom to his credit seems to just as well when he’s not flogging stuff to children), whilst it’s Helen who’s out in the cold trying to sell bike lights and emergency phone chargers to the high powered denizens of Canary Wharf (she finds one annoying ginger geek, who finally agrees to buy a phone charger). She suddenly remembers the great duvet deal of the day before and calls the brown linen supplier she’d found only to discover that they closed for the day at er 2pm (left it a little late surely?). The only other supplier is back in Enfield, a four hour round trip away for the amazing profit of £3 per duvet. She calls Melody, unsure of whether it’s worth it, but Melody’s still pissed off at Helen for coup-gate, so tells her to take the risk and head to the wholesalers, just to get her out of the picture.

In Shepherd’s Bush, Jim’s become an Irish Jedi Del Boy, selling like a fiend to an assembled crowd of bedazzled little old ladies. “I wouldn’t pay £25 for that duvet” one claims. “You must have actually misheard me,” pounces Jim, “I said £20”. Even Nick has to laugh and admit that he’s starting to like Jim for the first time (“It’s a load of baloney, but fun”).

Susan’s starting to look like an idiot savant at Portobello Market as she effortlessly sells her stock of bracelets, under the rattled gaze of Natasha, who’s just trying to stand around looking broody and doesn’t need all the stress and hassle of someone actually doing something and making her look bad. There’s only one thing for it, she has to bizarrely micro-manage Susan, even leaping in with a price change right in the middle of a sale Susan’s making. When she’s rightly pulled up on this it gives her a chance to be an utter twat (something she is actually good at). “Stop being such an angry person! Stop embarrassing yourself” she snarls like a wizened fishwife, waving away Susan’s protestations. Jim’s also selling well and calls Natasha to request some reinvestment. “We are carrying plenty of stock” she reasons limply, but Jim’s actually understood the task and urges her not to be conservative. Natasha’s adamant “we can’t risk having more stock left over”, but that’s because she’s a thick pram-faced troll. “She’s making a Horlicks of it all” sighs Nick politely. Eventually Jim can take no more of Natasha’s “all passion and no clue” leadership, (“I’d rather try and fail than be ridiculed by Lord Sugar for failing the directive of the task”) and Natasha gives him the go-ahead to buy more umbrellas with hardly any time remaining. In a superhuman effort he makes it to Enfield, buys 23 umbrellas (with only 23 minutes to get back to central London) and somehow makes it back just for the clock to strike 6pm. Hang on, Helen’s taken hours doing the same journey. Can Jim actually fly as well as doing mind control? Told you he was a witch.

Talking of Helen, she’s finally braved the traffic to get back to Mr Cheap, but sadly he’s not also Mr Tardy and has already closed for the day, so she’s left with a boot load of chocolatey duvets. Mission accomplished for Melody then as she states that she thought Helen was “insane” to try and take over as Project manager. You don’t cross Melody and forget about it in a hurry.

In the boardroom, and Lord Sugar’s keen to see that the teams have demonstrably smelled what they er sold. Venture are asked about Melody’s leadership, and Tom maintains a tactful silence, but Helen’s more vocal (“She was terrible! No strategy – just long winded speeches with no substance”). However Helen’s selling to retail strategy is soon exposed as business nonsense (“This is a margins game!”). Tom puts his hand up to mention his “risk of going to the South Bank on my own” (my hero!), and it’s noted that, despite not being a natural salesman, he sold all his bulldogs. “I take it you replenished the stock?” Sugar asks. “No” retorts Helen. A tumbleweed bounces by.

Next Logic are asked about Natasha’s Project Management, and she takes their pursed lips as a cue to big herself up (“I put myself forward very strongly”). Susan’s pulled up for her uncomplimentary appraisal of Lord Sugar’s selected products (“You thought it was a load of tut?”), and admits that she didn’t do a very good job trying to sell door to door household items in Knightsbridge.

Nick bigs up Jim’s contribution for Venture (“Did you kiss the blarney stone or swallow it whole?”). “I think I’m charming and resilient” Jim casually opines. “Modest also” chuckles Sugar. However it’s revealed that Venture tragically failed to reinvest until too late on Day 2, and then only to the tune of £20 (“Are you ‘avin a laff or what?”). Jim explains that he struggled to convince a strong character like Natasha (because he’s such a fluffy little lamb), adding “It’s difficult to push treacle up a hill”.

Sugar’s fuming at Natasha’s lack of “balls” and takes a £100 fine off Venture. So its time for the scores in terms of sales and stock left over.

Logic sold £1,204 worth and bought £476 worth, leaving them with total assets of £728

Venture sold £1,154, bought £303 worth, but were fined £100, still leaving them with total assets of £751

Gah! So Natasha is safe. However, Lord Sugar’s got his knickers in a twist and reveals that he was going to give the winning team a helicopter ride to Goodwood to look at Vintage Cars (which sounds like the sort of prize Alan Partridge would have soiled his pants in joy over), but now they have to go to bed early with no supper as punishment for their absent cojones. Back at the house, Natasha refuses to accept any responsibility for this state of affairs and gripes away at Susan (“It was like trying to manage a child all day”). Susan points out that Natasha didn’t do any selling all day. “I couldn’t trust you to get on with things” bitches Natasha. “You’re saying the reason we didn’t get a treat was because of me” asks Susan, her jaw hitting the carpet (as usual). “Yeah!” Natasha warms to her theme, “cos we were a TEAM. Yeah!”

Melody’s nearly in tears in the Café of Shame, and harps on about feeling unsupported by certain mutinous team members. She grits her jaw and eyeliner. “I’m not going anywhere” she promises.

So it’s boardroom part 2, and Helen explains her move (“I felt Melody lost control, she seemed to be floundering”), but Melody senses an escape route when Helen reveals that her grand plan if she had become PM was just to attempt to get “massive orders” from retail. “She still doesn’t get it!” whines Melody, but Karren slams her (“You positively embraced the idea of selling to retail yourself”). Melody reveals that she “didn’t want to prioritise a wholesaler” just for Tom’s well selling nodding dogs. In fact, annoyingly Tom seems to be the only person in the boardroom who understood the task. Shame he didn’t pipe up enough about it, and now is reduced to moaning that nobody listened to him, yet again.

Helen’s “fools errand” (as Tom puts it) to Enfield to find duvets for Mr Cheap is again under scrutiny, as in a real business it’s pointed out that the petrol cost alone would have cancelled out any profit, if the cheap shop had even been open by the time Helen returned. “Which of you three brain surgeons came up with this one?” queries Sugar, and Tom says that the fact he didn’t yell it down makes him “personally responsible” (Noooooo!). It’s revealed that the decision was down to Melody, although she tries to wriggle out by blaming Helen (“It’s not much to expect the person who wanted to take my job to check what time a shop closed” – she’s not going to let coup-gate lie is she?).

As it descends into a genteel cat-fight, Lord Sugar sends everyone out so he can chat to Nick and Karren about how much he’s in love with Melody. Oh and gauge their opinions of the other candidates. Karren suggests that Helen has been a good organiser but “took her eye off the ball with her retail obsession”, but she also rather decently praises Tom for his selling in this task. Sugar can still speak of nothing but Melody (“Maybe there’s something in all that jabba”). “If you went into business with Melody your boardrooms would be a very very long affair” smirks Karren.

So the candidates are dragged back in and made to explain why they deserve to stay, starting with Melody (this must be why tonight’s show gives over 30 minutes to the boardroom). She launches into a shower of bullshit, which if you actually try to listen to and understand makes your ears warp in protest. Apparently the best things in life are not free but earned, and by choosing to lead in the first week Melody proved herself to be more courageous than Gandhi, Han Solo and Jesus rolled into one. “I won us the task in the first week” she insists, until Helen points out that she may have had a slight hand in it. “In Paris I made all appointments bar two” continues Melody. “Yes and you kept them to yourself” Karren rolls her eyes. At age 26 though Melody’s had 13 years in business. Lord Sugar asks what we all want to know, what exactly is it that she frigging does. “I set up one of the most successful democratic bodies in the world” she erm elucidates (she’s too young to run the Bieber fan club isn’t she?). “Last year I worked on the Queens Speech”. I think Sugar’s mind may be made up as he pleads with her to stop fucking talking (“OK! I got it I got it!”).

Helen’s next and the fact she hasn’t lost seems to have gone to her head as she claims to have personally “won every task”, until Sugar clarifies that she was on the winning team. However she still has her record breaking sales figures to fall back on (remember what they did for poor Liz last year?). Sugar has her down as a glorified PA (“Actually I’m an executive assistant to the chief executive”). Has he gone off secretaries since Stella won last year?

Sugar thinks that “on paper” Tom is right up his alley, a “products man”, but the hindsight thing is just getting boring. Tom grows some teeth and suggests that Helen and Melody have shown their “business naivety” in the task. “Melody runs a business which unsurprisingly is all to do with talking and none of us understand what it is she does” he states, reminding me that just occasionally he is capable of hitting the nail firmly and clearly on the head. And he pisses Melody off (“That’s totally disrespectful”) which is fun. “I’m showing my passion and that I’ve got a core of steel” Tom giggles fluffily,

He’s struck a chord on the Melody issue, as Lord Sugar admits that he also has “difficulty” understanding what Melody actually does, and after some lacklustre weighing up he sadly states that the person leaving isn’t necessarily a failure, it’s just he can’t work with them (without getting strangely aroused). Yup, he fires Melody, causing a muted cheer as we all realise we will miss her being grilled by Claude* over her close associations with Al Gore, the Dalai Lama and 12 Nobel Peace Prize Winners.

Melody’s a little emotional leaving the boardroom, but insists in Fail Taxi that whilst she and Lord Sugar “won’t be going into business right now” their paths will cross again and he will finally understand what she really does, which is “more than talking” (she types self publicising statements too).

Back at the house and it’s Helen’s turn to act like a precious fool as she piddles all over Tom’s homecoming parade (“Tom was slightly naughty and I’m still learning to forgive him on that one”) and makes him look all chastened and nervous, as though she’s caught him trying to invent a “Weird Science” style sex robot version of her.

Next week the teams have to create a Fast Food restaurant. There’s more Natasha nastiness towards Susan and there’s Tom confidently waffling into a phone about Columbus inventing the potato**. Or something.

* Fans of the interview round, do not despair. It will be part of the final episode. Margaret’s apparently going to back for more too. Hurrah. Just a shame Melody can’t be there.

** Columbus did not invent the potato. McCain did, as any fule know.

Liking: Tom, Susan

They’re good, I just don’t like them: Jim, Helen

Waste of Oxygen: Natasha

So long chumps: Melody, Zoe, Leon, Glenn, Edna, Vincent, Ellie, Felicity, Gavin, Alex, Edward

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