Week 11 sees our candidates summoned to Burlington Arcade, apparently offering the finest in luxury retail, which is why I’ve never been there. They rendevouz with Lord Sugar who grumpily assignes them the task of creating an “affordable luxury” brand and prototype shop, then pitching the idea to industry experts. Ricky stands alone on Sterling, as though he’s the bouncer, so Tom is sent to join him. Adam is pressganged to be the Project Manager of Pheonix (comprising Jade and FlopsyNick).
Ricky thinks now is his time to lead, having lost twice, and Tom’s happy not to waste time arguing. Tom suggests the male grooming market, and Ricky, who loves “a bit of cosmetics” is sold. As Nick Hewer observes dryly, they both have the gelled quiffs to demonstrate “obvious personal interest”. This could be the start of a beautiful bromance. “What about the word ‘dapper’?” Tom ventures. “I like it!” Ricky gurgles contentedly. They brainstorm brand names, “Debonair, The Grooming Club?” (Tom), “Men’s Choice?” (Ricky)…”Nah, it sounds a bit like…” (A Gaymosexual Dating Site?) ..”Adult magazine” Tom angsts.
Adam doesn’t ponce about looking at markets and quickfires at his crew “Name? Identity? Logo? Packaging? Er… any ideas?” Nick likes the idea of hot chocolate, but they end up plumping for chocolate in general.
Poor Jade, whilst all the men suck in their guts and announce that it’s time to sort out the men from the boys, she’s like a forlorn Smurfette, still assertive, energetic and full of ideas, but banished to the 2 hours distant sweet factory by Adam in case her womanliness mess (“You know about chocolates, I’m sure you can come up with something” – translation “Get in the kitchen, love”).
FlopsyNick however becomes the long suffering adviser of a particularly thick, red-faced king. Like Blackadder doing a Hugh Grant impression. Adam gets creative: “How about Choco Lite? Or Choco Loco?” FlopsyNick cringes subserviantly before exploding “Stop stop stop! I think I have to remind you it’s meant to be luxury”. All Nick can offer himself is “Co Co Co?” or “Cho Cho Cho.”. “It sounds like a train” snorts Adam. “Yes” admits Nick, “but it’s a chocolate train.” Adam becomes very excited about “Chocolate Bar!” and flopsyNick starts hiding behind his fringe to escape. Mercifully Jade calls and offers the suggestion “Sweet thing”, which she thinks is cool and quirky, and I think sounds about as luxury as the BHS Christmas gift selection during the January sales. Adam predictably loves it. He and Nick pat each other on the back and go off to taste lots of sweets and chocolates, whilst Karren Brady winces at their failure to ask anything about the confectioners business plan. Adam’s especially taken with jelly sweets which clearly transport him back to a freckle faced Northern childhood, and, being told that they are “high end jellies” his face likes up like that kid off the old “Mad” Magazines.
Ricky chooses to be the exiled princess at the factory for Sterling, whilst curiously enough it fells to Tom to do all the market research, design and branding. He’s rather taken with the old skool appeal of a traditional barber’s chair at a salon and murmers happily about “heritage products” (like leeches?).
Yet again it’s off to the derelict spaces of East London (thanks Coalition) to do up the now sadly familiar pop up shops with the aid of an interior designer.
I like how Tom, who clearly has an eye for design (“I want heritage and tradition, so that’ll be charcoal grey and dark wood”), has no stomach for practically, and whines like Henry’s Cat having a vasectomy as he’s forced to actually paint the walls. “Are you used to manual labour?” laughs the designer bloke as Tom scowls at his paint covered hands.
Meanwhile Adam is waffling incoherently to his designer about having the walls in “baby blue” (yuk!) when mercifully Jade interrupts him asking what the final product will actually be (yes they haven’t sorted that out yet according to the edit). Adam insists on his jellies, despite flopsyNick’s misgivings (Adam “Jellies is the next big thing though!”). Nick still thinks there are too many products, confusing the brand but Adam insists “They will all tie in tomorrow. They’re all sweet” (so’s revenge, chastity and love mate but you’re not selling them). In case nobody realised, they’ve plumped for Jade’s “Sweet Heart” suggestion, and there’s a heart motif to the design. How very Clare’s Accessories.
Back at’kitchen Jade decides that if she’s going to incorporate the ghastly jellies, then she’s at least going to get legless, and suggests adding booze and calling them “Drunken Jellies”. Adam and Nick don’t like the idea. “Got any better advice, arsewipes” she asks (sort of), and for all Adam’s eye-rolling and FlopsyNick’s sensitive flinching, they don’t, so Jade gets the green light to play with booze, which makes her a smart lady in my school.
Tom and Ricky are much more sedate as they discuss facial routines and compete to out metrosex each other over the phone (Tom “Gentry?”, Ricky “New Tradition? Oh you don’t like that do you?” Tom “Modern Gentleman” Ricky “That’s it!!!!”. Ricky dips his non phone hand in a vat of Modern Gentleman moisturiser. “I can feel my hand getting more youthful” he grins, as his finger nails fall off and vestigal tails sprout from his knuckles.
The shops open and Flopsy Nick has decided that the buzzwords for the brand should be “Indulgence, Luxury, Ethical and Fun”, pissing off The International Law Enforcement Forum. In a stroke of crushing tedium he also decides that the product should be aimed at females from aged 15 to 80. Or all women, until they are dead.
Karren Brady decides to ask them about pricing. £2.99 insists Adam proudly. “No, £4.99” suggests Nick. “So what is your pricing strategy? £2.99 or £4.99?” Karren asks. “Yes” says Nick and Karren’s facial bullshit alarm explodes.
The Sterling bromance flourishes as Ricky loves Tom’s simple design for both the product and the store (which, with it’s empty shelves and one open cigar box looks like a looted Peruvian tobbacanists), and is taken with the idea of the barber demonstrating the products. It’s all a bit GQ at their dullest though.
Jade decides to liven up Pheonix’s shop by offering alcohol shots to go with the jellies. “Like a little cocktail” she slurs to Karren Brady’s complete lack of being impressed. So Nick welcomes customers in to a “full chocolate flavour” and then Jade confuses them by offering “Drunken jellies”. Not that they’re complaining. “Does anyone need a top up?” hiccups Jade. “YESS!!” screech her merry little band of loyal customers.
Lord Sugar decides to send in some industry expert spies so the teams have at least one customer. For Sterling he ends up being the guinea pig whilst Ricky demonstrates the products on him. If that included the shaving cream then thankfully ut wasn’t shown.
The industry spies think that Sterling’s “Modern Gentleman” are professional but dull, and they prefer the colours and labelling and general warmth and atmosphere at Pheonix’s “Sweet Thing”. That’ll be the free booze.
Ricky and Tom sit up working on the pitch idea and although Tom admits that his packaging is a “big mistake”, Ricky suggests they talk about developing it by putting it into a box to suggest luxury, before they both go for some refreshing shuteye. Awwww.
Wilst Ricky and Tom fret about the pitch the next morning, over on Pheonix, Nick has hidden in the garden folly with his frosties to express his myriad concerns.
It’s pitch time and Sugar turns up with all his cronies for the spectacle.
“It’s crunch time written over everyone’s face” worries Adam, who seems ironically to have written the salient points of his pitch all over his hand.
Sterling go first and Ricky and Tom’s hours of good hard bonding have paid off as Ricky shows he’s done the market research. They’re asked about the indistinct packaging and manage to fend the query off by admitting that they think that the branding lacks distinctiveness, but they would be prepared to develop a box for the product that was more “synonymous with luxury”. Maybe with a crown and a gooses liver on it.
The eperts all decide that the idea of “retail tainment” (aghh!) was good, but they thought that the brand wasn’t very memorable or unique.
Next Pheonix pitch and Jade froths about “Our conceptual view” before handing over to Adam who appears to have developed a throat tummour and chokes through some lacklustre material about the product being “ideal for Christmas, errr (cough) birthdays, Easter and Valentines or hust erm a girly night in “whilst FlopsyNick glares at him.
Pheonix are quizzed about the impact of their “complimentary cocktail” on retail, and Jade suggests she wouldn’t give the drink away for free but would instead sell it on the cheap. She suddenly realises what she’s said… “Er yeah we’d obviously need licensing”. Oops!
Lord Alan points out that the prices are all to cock and the experts find the mixed messages too confusing (Nick “We are confectioers, not just chocolatiers”) and everyone agrees that though the chocolate (and booze) are delicious that Pheonix didn’t do as much homework as Sterling.
So come the boardroom Sugar suggests that Sterling’s “Modern Gentleman” was boring and that the minimalist look for the shop (which Tom takes responsibilty for) was rubbish.
Pheonix get flack from Karren Brady for Adam and FlopsyNick not bothering to discuss the business model with the chocolate shop, whilst she’s clearly rooting for the girl (Adam “I came up with nearly all the possible names”, Karren “Your ideas weren’t as good as Jade’s.. Choco Holster? Cho Cho Choc”. FlopsyNick does an enormous about face and finally acknowledges that the girl du good this week.
So Lord Sugar decslres Sterling the winner for being more professional (and nowhere near as shit) and sends to boys home to consolidate on thei business strategy. Or bum each other senseless. And he says there’s “No treat”.
Meanwhile Sterling get to reflect in the Cafe of Doom. “Last time I was PM I lost” blushes Adam, “and this time. yeah I’m gutted again.”
Back in the boardroom and Adam’s blaming Jade for pricing. “Er was I?” she barks. “OK”. FlopsyNick explains that they somehow organically all decided to price themselves between the supermarket and luxury chocolatiers. Lord Sugar points out that they manged that way to be too pricy for the mass market and too cheap for the luxury end. “We went for affordable luxury” Adam misses the point.
Flopsy Nick finally points out that the main issue was due to “very little strategy”. “Nick Nick Nick”, Lord Sugar complains, channeling Jim Davidson “You’re the strategist”.
“Everyone mentions strategy when things go wrong” grips Adam , remembering Azhar.
Sugar’s just disappointed that the “mug’s eyeful” of the shop, which offered so much promise simply disintegrated when they started speaking, whereas Modern Gentlemen actually did their homework before the pitch.
“Where did it go wrong?” sighs Sugar. “It’s hard to say” Adam muses, “It was a really small team?” (against an even smaller one).
Nick and Jade sense it’s “Get Adam” time, Nick blaming the ginger Yorkshireman for “lack of any direction” and Jade pointing out “It would have been better if Adam had done the product” whilst she and Nick did marketing strategy.
Adam’s latent chauvenism in sidelining Jade to food preparation has not gone un-noticed, certainly not by Karren Brady, and he turns a brighter shade of scarlet (“I don’t think I would have said it quite like that”). However he still feels his “Thirteen years” market stall experience makes him more important than whatever it is Jade does (“I work in consumer data!”). Adam thinks Jade should be fired because she’s only good for “emotion” (!!!!) and marketing.
Damningly for FlopsyNick it transpires he used to run a shop selling “high quality ethical cofee”, so he’s criticised for not insisting on his posh hot chocolate idea and therefore focussing the brand. “I did try, but I failed” he stammers all Hugh Grant with rabbit eyes. “You didn’t try THAT hard” insists Karren firmly. Nick decides to join in the manly Jade bashing and accuses her of having no negotiation skills, whereupon she rightly points out that she built the relationship with the spa company that got them 8 grand and won them the last task.
Jade’s no flopsy wimp though and calls both the men out; “If you’re such leaders in business why didn’t you come up with any ideas?” Nice one love.
Ultimately though it’s Adam who’s fired (“It’s time to leave the process”) due to his “lack of shrewdness and awareness” (brain). He leaves the boardroom with a sheepish little smile playing round his chops and the Taxi of Doom returns an idiot to it’s village.
Tom and Rick, who should by now be giving each other little hand massages, agree that strategically they would prefer FlopsyNick to win (Jade of course doesn’t figure in their calculations), and they both give sad little groans when our favourite hairy posh boy bounces back in.
“When it came to who should get fired I said Jade” he announces slightly too enthusiastically. Jade tactfully rolls her eyes “Anyway it’s over now”
So THIS SUNDAY (set your klaxons) thankfully Sugar unleashes Claude, Margaret Mountford et al to grill the remaining four on their business plan. It’s a shame that some potentially better people (Duwayne, Katie) have missed out, and given the attitude towards her, I’m definitely siding with lovely husky champion of alcohol Jade.
But seriously: Jade, Ricky, Flopsy Nick and Tom have all demonstrated plus and minus points throughout the process, but the most interesting have proved to be Jade and Ricky, so much as I love Tom and would like him to teach me about wine and interior decor.
I’m not bothering with the list today as a result. Blame that brilliant programme about John Cooper Clarke that was on BBC 4 last night for the last minute shoddiness of this blog. If you’re readng this and didn’t watch that – get on iPlayer ASAP.