Archives for the month of: May, 2013

Week 5 and Jason flounces downstairs in specs and stripy jim-jams (but strangely with no teddy bear) to take the 4.30am call, inviting the candidates to an exotic destination. “Park your camels, we’re going to Dubai” beams Jason as Luisa excitedly starts packing bikinis.
Yes we’re off to Dubai, “heart of the United Arab Emirates, city of gold, top shopping destination” and erstwhile home from home to wife-beating suspected ra*ist Jim Davidson. One of the candidates feels he has a head start, having lived and traded there. Step forward Zeeshan “Yeah man, it’s like a second home, I’ve got a lot of local knowledge”.

Well actually, we’re off to the new multimillion pound Ras al Khaimah Waldorf Astoria Hotel, currently under construction 1.5 hours outside of Dubai. So a building site in the middle of the desert then. There, flanked by Nick and Karren is a TV screen displaying Lord Sugar’s head, like an Aldi Face of Boe. He testily informs the candidates each team needs to source 8 items in Dubai, whether in the malls or the markets. The team bringing back the most items on least spend wins, but not sourcing items incurs a fine to their market value. So it’ s all down to negotiation and the teams are presented with durums to spend, directories and a map of Dubai.

Sugar balances the teams by bringing Leah over to Endeavour, where she immediately challenges Zee’s Project Manager status, but Neil and Kurt wave her aside, backing Zee’s “local knowledge”. “No human in this world intimidates me” Zee boasts, although he seems pretty shaken by the Irish doctor’s insubordination. Whilst Leah sneers hackily, Zee announces loftily “You can put your maps away. I know Dubai like the back of my hand” thus setting himself up for a MASSIVE FAIL.

Over on Evolve, Myles elects himself Project Leader on account of his self-confessed jet-set status (“I had a glamorous lifestyle.. I lived in Monaco for 10 years” – maybe the team think he said Morocco). Myles sees it as a logistics task and gets everyone phoning round for advice from confused locals, until Francesca suggests they go to the mall and he agrees.

Zee declares he knows what most of the items are and shouts over anyone else that a Kandura is a traditional dress, Oudh, despite the specification of it being standard sized and “Egyptian mahogany” is an Arabic fragrance (“It’s what arabs smell of”) and, well, even Alex knows what a falcon hood is (although why you would want one in a hotel room, unless it’s a euphemism for a tiny condom is beyond me). Zee thinks they should get as much as possible in the souks and as little as possible from the mall as a kandura will cost 100 in the market and 1000 in the mall. He’s got a point, but Leah (who seems a little scared of actually having to haggle with foreign types) thinks the souks will take too much time and she suggests she takes her subteam to the mall, which would be all well and good except Zee hasn’t actually elected a subteam leader yet. “Are you all OK with her being the subteam leader” he grumps before awarding her the role, upon which the cheeky cow decides to ignore his instructions and drag the subteam off to the mall anyway so they can go to a perfumery in search of Oudh. En route they get a call from Zee, who, having established that Leah’s ignoring him asks to speak to Neil (maybe because Neil is a man, maybe because Leah is talking to Zee like he smells of wee). “Stop trying to appease Neil and just focus on the tasks” snaps Leah sulkily, rushing Zee into telling her what he wants them to buy in the souks. “I would have been a better PM” she complains to Neil, who’s also unconvinced by Zee (“He didn’t want to listen cos he thinks he knows it all”).

Jason proves useful for Evolve as they get him to play the hapless tourist abroad and lull shopkeepers into a false sense of security. Dressed in a Kandura and smiling disarmingly he declares “I’m thinking I don’t want to pay 300” enabling his team to haggle down to 110. Later he refers to “traditional Arab generosity – and you’re a generous people” like he’s been reading a Rough Guide to the Middle East as written by Prince Phillip. Bless him. Myles on the other hand manages to half heartedly haggle the palm trees down to 15% off, but misses the opportunity to get a bigger discount by speaking to the store boss, because he’s way too important. (Later Zee gets the palm tree, and by letting the shop lady speak to the manager negotiates 50% off without even trying). Myles then pays 175 up front for a 6ft national flag and agrees to wait at the shop for an hour whilst it’s made whilst apparently doing sod all. Not phoning round, not sending his other subteam-mates to look for other items. Just sitting around and sighing. Eventually after over an hour they have to chase the flag maker who promises another 5 minutes, and Francesca has the moxy to ask for a discount due to the delay, but gets no joy.

Zee’s trying to order that flag over the phone and Kurt helps with sizes (“12cm is a foot, so say 72cm”, Natalie “Yes”), leading to them being quoted a bargain price and stumbling unwittingly into a beautiful “Stonehenge” moment when Zee turns up in his gangsta shades to collect a national flag that would fold neatly into a hanky pocket (Natalie “That’s not 6ft”). Kurt’s confused (“One foot is 12cm”) until the truth horrifyingly dawns and his blanched beardy face falls as he attempts to back out of the blame. “Oh DEAR!” says a thrilled Nick Hewer, “Over here size really matters” (Unless you’re Alex being offered Viagra in the souk – “I don’t need any of that. I’m from Wales!”).
Not that Leah’s doing any better, as she manages to confuse stall holders by talking to them as slowly and patronisingly and Oirishly as possible ( “Do. yoi. Sell. Cawfee. Ports?”) and insisting on pronouncing Oudh “Oyd?” Alex isn’t convinced Oudh is a perfume and shoutily casts aspersions on Zee’s famous local knowledge (“Mahogony’s a wood. He’s talking crap!”). Neil manages to calm the Welsh fuzzy felt eyebrow freak down and goes off to do some hardcore negotiation on a Kandura, arguing the price down to 60.

Natalie tries to offer suggestions to Kurt and Zee about finding the falcon hood and oudh, but they get all testosterony and ignore her (which will be familiar to any women working in IT), refusing to let her look at their directory until she pulls a Moaning Myrtle face.

Luisa, Jordan and Jason go to all sorts of lengths to find Oudh. Perfume shops, incense shops, trying to find where those weird blokes with the tentacles on their faces in Dr Who come from… Finally in an Aiod gallery, Jason declares “Guys I’ve just had a flash! Do you think an oud is something else?” Myles rings to ask them to go to the souk (in a hurry now then, you flag anticipating pillock?), but Jordan begs for 20 more minutes in the mall, where fortunately they finally find an Oudh, which is a wooden lute-like instrument priced at 1850. They argue it down to 990.

Zee gets his big flag and ends up having to pay 200 for it and the little one. His subteam still search for the mythical oudh, although Neil now finally suspects they’re looking for the wrong thing, and Alex whines, in case we didn’t realise, that he thinks Zee is “as useful as a chocolate teapot”.

The teams have to bring what they have back to the hotel by 9pm so the hotel manager can check the goods, and it’s time to fly home.
Back in the Boadroom, LordSugar asks whether Zee was a good team leader. “Terrible” grimaces Leah, “I should’ve been PM”. “I feel rather misguided” Alex adds. The Curse of the Oudh is relived, and Nick points out wryly “Alex, you raised one of those eyebrows of yours”. “It said standard size Egyptian mahogany” points out our favourite Picasso-faced Welshman sagely.

Sugar’s just glad he didn’t send them out for 20 camels or they’d have come back with a “packet of fags”, or at least his scriptwriters are.
Kurt holds his hand up to the Spinal Tap-esque flag measurement error, but rather than have a good laugh, Myles (Sugar “Kurt would call you kilometers” hoho!) looks worried at all the cheap prices being quoted by Endeavour.

Despite Jordan having wasted 3.5 hrs on “research” in the mall, and Myles spending nearly 2 hours waiting for his flag, Evolve managed to source six items, which when converted to sterling cost £311.54, which with the fines (for the tiles and falcon hood) totals £695.16
However Endeavour only got 4 really cheap items. Plus Neil got the wrong kandura (not the traditional one) so that incurs a fine too with the total coming to £783.36

Therefore Evolve win and get to go drink cocktails next to a stuffed kangaroo to celebrate beating “Mr Dubai.” Is it a posh Walkabout (one that doesn’t smell of wee) or just a really twatty cocktail bar?

Neil’s already assuming PM role in the sad cafe (“We all got the strategy wrong”) whilst Leah is just reckons Zee “wasn’t the right man” (or woman). Kurt’s indignant at the idea that messing up cm and inches makes him worthy of blame.

Back in the boardroom, Leah insists the team “needed to be in the mall 100%”. Sugar calls her bluff “Why didn’t you then” and she blames Zee. “Why didn’t you ignore him?” presses Sugar. Sadly Zee helps her out by interrupting and waving his arms about so Leah can hiss “Don’t put your hand in my face, it’s really rude!”

Kurt’s flag is produced and Neil fails to suppress a snigger. Most of the team seem to blame Zee who Sugar sees as “the easy target”, but Zee blames his subteam before choosing to bring back Leah and …er… Natalie. Our favourite bewigged skeleton is not amused when he blames her for doing nothing when “me and Kurt were in the car booking appointments” (“I KEPT ASKING YOU!!”)

Alex does some particularly squirmy toadying on his way out “Sorry to disappoint you Lord Sugar” (ugh!).

Meanwhile Zee forgets his manners when he leads the 2 women back in and lets the door fall back on a stony faced Natalie (“Don’t worry about the door”). Zee reckons Natalie is lovely, “don’t get me wrong… but just a bit of a spare wheel”. Charming. However Natalie plays the “is it because I have ovaries?” card and accuses Zee of having “a problem working with women” adding shrilly “I think it’s a bit pathetic”. “Calm down your language” Zee starts, but he’s in danger of looking like a 1970s reject whatever he says here, and Natalie senses her chance to up the ante “You never say please, you never say thank you.. You look at me like something on your shoe” and Leah joins in in a classic faux feminist pincer movement with Zee left looking very uncomfortable. “He took an instant dislike to me” accuses Leah. “I made you sub team leader” Zee points out.

Sugar’s not impressed by Zee’s lack of modesty, such as comparing himself to Napoleon (“Napoleon’s never been fired from Phones 4U” he mocks), although he still claims to “admire” Zee’s achievements. Oh dear.

Natalie’s card is marked for surely a final time (“I don’t want to see you here again”) before he blames Zee for the failure and fires him. Natalie has a little cry into her tissue and she and Leah pointedly ignore Zee on the way out. Yeah right on sisters.

As Nick Hewer opines, Zee’s “mouth outran his abilities”, but whilst he was never the brightest button, he definitely provided entertainment value (and from what I saw was no more sexist than most of the men in the boardroom, Sugar included). In the taxi of broken dreams Zee’s indefatigable “The name Zeeshad.. will go down in history”. Got to be careful Zee. Nowadays being a man with middle eastern connections seen on the BBC talking about going down in History will probably get you arrested by the Met.

Back in the house, Kurt’s just relieved. “I think I got away with something there” I bet he only feels 24cm tall.

Next week the teams have to create team building days and it looks like Alex goes all Full Metal Jacket. Can’t wait.

Liking: Francesca, Jordan, Jason
Hang on – were they in that episode?: Rebecca
Finding Amusing: Alex
Disliking:- Myles, Kurt
A big steaming bowl of Cuntsoup:- Luisa, Neil, Leah, Natalie
Dubai, Bye: Jaz, Tim, Sophie, Uzma, Zee

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It’s 5.20am and Natalie and Luisa race to answer the phone in a blur of hair extensions and talons. The candidates assemble at Surrey Docks inner city farm, so there’s lots of cute shots of adorable, slightly wobbly, critters gambolling around; lambs, goats, Jason.
Natalie’s convinced that having been in the final three last week has given her “more drive”. “It does give you the whole picture” Uzma shares, as Natalie and Luisa pull Meh Whatever faces.

The task this week is to source produce for a farm shop (in the East End). Most sales win. Lord Sugar decides to mix up the teams. Zee’s been expecting this chance to prove himself as the girl’s “saviour”, but instead it’s Myles, Jason and Jordan who lend some dubious testosterone to Evolve (Luisa, Rebecca, Leah, Francesca) , whereas Uzma and Natalie join Endeavour (Neil, Alex, Zee, Kurt ). Neil goes all suave and welcomes the “laydeez” to the team, but it’s clear LordSugar is expecting a better show from the female candidates this week (“You avven’t shown me much till now”).

Luisa volunteers to Project Manage Evolve, and feels her experience in the world of making and selling cup cakes makes her ideally suited to this task (“I source local produce” – trans “I pop down the local Tesco Express”). Rebecca decides to volunteer too, just for shits and giggles, claiming to have “an interest in farm produce”. She admits she has no experience, “but I don’t think it’s rocket science”. Luisa shoots her death looks, but the New Team Men now speak and select Luisa who flicks her hair, vindicated. Jordan confesses an almost amusing interest in “unusual meat”, and Luisa agrees as long as she can make cheapo soups and sell jacket potatoes. Because I don’t know about you but whenever I go to a farm shop I think “all this fresh produce is well and good, but I wish someone would just cook it for me”. Or maybe I don’t think that and just go to a takeaway when I want food cooking for me.

Over on Endeavour, Zee’s keen on flogging fresh milk and Kurt (the goatee bearded healthy soft drink & hubcap theft guru) thinks he can put a big markup on freshly made milkshake. Alex isn’t convinced (“Why not something simple like cheese on toast?”), but Neil doesn’t “wanna talk about it anymore, it’s done!” I’m loving Neil’s dictatorial approach to team leading; shame none of his previous project managers have had the balls to speak to him in a similar manner. “Are we doing costumes?” Alex attempts to have some positive input, “Because I don’t mind dressing up as a scarecrow”.

Luisa takes her team to a buffalo farm (“There’s a nice smell round here” Farmer: “That’s called manure”) to see cute baby buffalo, which then presumably get made into cute baby buffalo kofte. They buy a load of the fillet, which costs £28 a kilo and retails at £45 per kilo – so they’re playing for the “I saw you coming” crowd, which Nick Hewer points out is “a risk”.

Kurt tells Neil he can sell 200 milkshakes, which Alex points out would mean selling one every 3 minutes, but Neil’s convinced.
In Hampshire Alex greets a bemused dairy farmer lady. “I am from Wales” he reassures her, in case she thought he was a real Vulcan. “Er that’s wonderful” she wavers. He tries to work out how much to offer her for her milk. Sadly he does this out load, whilst repeatedly saying “er..get a calculator..”, but it seems to gain her pity and she lets him have shit loads of milk for £40 as long as they bottle it themselves. Cue Alex finally getting to dress up, in a white sterile suit and hairnet, looking worryingly like Miranda Hart in a New Order video, bottling milk then chasing after terrified cows whilst the team try to get a photograph of the source of their product.

In Essex, Myles, Francesca and Jason are looking for veggies to buy for Evolve’s shop. There’s bargains a plenty on cabbages, beetroot and sweetcorn and they’re all for filling their boots, but over the phone Luisa insists they just get small amounts to help make the store look rustic (“maybe 6 cobs”). Myles is incensed. “Just sort of use a bit of logic like.. engage your brain”. Francesca looks archly at the boys “You see why we’ve lost tasks..” Myles and Francesca mutiny and insist on spending £150 to make the shop look like, erm, a farm shop. Luisa gets the cold dead glint of the PM who now has a Boardroom excuse in her eyes and decides to “let them do it”. Encouraged, the subteam go all Madam Bovary and tasting an exquisite apple juice, they request £25 more on their £52 budget to buy some but Luisa claims she’s all out of budget, as she’s about to spend £150 (!) on spuds and leeks.

Kurt leads a shopping subteam for Endeavour, but appears to have morphed into my thrifty scouse brother (“I wouldn’t spend any money on that”), so convinced is he that his milkshakes will bring all the East End boys to the Farm Shop and will make over £600. “Just hear me out” Kurt insists as Neil tells him to buy more veggies. Neil hangs up. After buying blackberries he calls back to check how Kurt has been obeying his orders. Not well as the scouser has only spent £33 out of his £100 budget and has apparently only 10 cabbages to his name (“I know we’re gonna make a lot on shakes”). With less than an hour to buy produce Neil ends up having to buy stuff for his farm shop from erm the farm shop of the farm he’s at, so he doesn’t sell out of produce (“I’m pretty annoyed”).
At 7am the teams head to set up shop at Broadway Market. Neil’s confident in his team’s strong sales skill-set, but winces as Natalie grasses Uzma up as being a bit shit. “You are going to see me in action today” Uzma insists to Kurt and Zee. They look a bit frightened and avert their eyes.

Maybe it’s the wine but I like both shop names. Luisa’s is Buffalocal (Buffaloco would be better) and Neil’s is Fruity Cow (which sounds like a theatrically delivered insult from “Vicious“).

Luisa’s aiming to shift 200 soups and 150 jacket potatoes. Awkwardly Myles points out that these are lunchtime products so they need to have a realistic sales strategy. Luisa does a Nigel Tufnell “This Goes Up To 11” blank eyed look and ignores him. Their first customer enters, a nervous woman and child. Her eyes widen in horror at the prices and Jordan tries to calm her down (“Remember it’s not a steak, it’s an award winning buffalo steak” – maybe it won UK’s biggest rip off?) but she runs off screaming (“It’s incredibly expensive!” Jordan “Don’t be afraid to tell them quality costs money”). Myles is sent outside to sell soups, but decides against giving free tasters as the soup’s so rank. An enormous man wearing a construction helmet buys a load of buffalo maybe because he’s just eaten the rest of the Village People and is still hungry.

Over at Fruity Cow, Neil appears to like Nat, laughing merrily and tousling her hair as she breaks a box of quails eggs, whilst he orders Uzma to move empty boxes, then to “keep moving around, just do it” and snaps at her whenever she asks any question (regardless of whether she’s being dim or not Neil’s management style of Uzma is micro-cock management).

Karren points out that Fruity Cow’s orders are “coming in thick and fast”, much like Kurt’s shakes (haha), but Kurt’s not satisfied and decides to diversify by sending the team to buy cheapo Costcutter apple juice so he can make fruit and veg smoothies. Part of me is now praying for Kurt’s blender to explode. He’d be a great creditor – he’s obsessed with liquidating assets (boom boom).

Myles suggests it might be nice to display some delicious jacket potatoes out on front. How very tempting. To make them more attractive, Leah displays them in a box lined with tin foil so that one can buy slightly congealing jacket spud and protect oneself against cosmic rays by wearing the box on one’s head. Myles decides against displaying jacket potatoes out front. As sales increase over lunchtime, Luisa tries to motivate Jason to stop shoegazing down in the soup kitchen. Myles sees Jason as a “trickless pony.. He can’t sell.. he can’t make soup…” and as Luisa teaches him to fill a jacket spud whilst he flounces around like a tit (“I’ve just got to rewash my hands”), you think maybe Myles has a point, except Jason is good at being funny.

Both teams flog off as much stock as possible, but Neil’s left with a fridgefull of milk and Luisa’s desperately waving sackfuls of “organic” spuds at passersby. She admits that the jacket potatoes was an “epic fail” and that she “had to change strategy… that might be our downfall”. Of course it doesn’t occur to her that her subteam saved her.

Back in the Boardroom, Lord Sugar’s unconvinced about Luisa’s “Baffalo”. “Have you ever tried buffalo?” asks Jordan adding brightly when the grumpy beardy peer grunts in the negative, “then maybe you should”. Cue a very hard stare from our favourite Nookie Bear faced entepreneur.

Under Francesca’s watchful gaze Luisa outlines her takeaway strategy of soup and baked tatties. “Would you expect that at a farm shop” Sugar asks, “or something special”. Luisa does the Nigel Tufnell look again. “I wanted soup” she repeats. “Soup is cheap”. It’s revealed that Luisa fell short of her sales targets – selling only 70 soups and only 15 jacket spuds. Myles buries the hatchet stating he felt her strategy was “flawed all the way through” and that they failed due to her limiting the subteam’s budget.

Over on Endeavour, Neil’s surname-sake Brian Clough is mentioned in relation to his management style. Zee distances himself from the quantities involved in operation Milkshake and Kurt strokes his goatee thoughtfully like a man who couldn’t find a hand-dryer, before foolishly sticking the knife into Neil over his budgeting and lack of direction.

Anyhow here’s the results:-

Endeavour
Total sales 1097.82
Spend 558.15
Profit £539.67

Evolve
Total sales
£1249.52
Spend – £618
Profit £631.82

Jordan does a great big “Get In!” and airpunch and Lord Sugar admonishes him “Can I remind you, you’re not at a football match”. Come on Sugar, you’re a Spurs fan, how often do you get to do a good airpunch?

Kurt looks very gutted. Luisa tries to look angelic but just looks smug and dim.

Evolve are sent to the tram shed restaurant for a treat. Rather than a genuine group hug on the way out, Luisa pats Jordan slightly on the back then stalks pointedly past Rebecca. Miaow!  No love lost then. She states to camera she’s “pissed off” with Myles for challenging her in the Boardroom, even though her subteam saved her.

In the Sad Cafe Kurt sums it up sagely “We didn’t sell what we had at a good enough margin” (or enough of it, div) and he passes the buck masterfully “Neil was responsible for sales”.

Back in the boardroom, Zee does the milkshake hand dance “It was milkshakes, milk, milshakes, milk…”

It turns out the shakes and (not very farm fresh, Costcutter sourced) juices made £373 in sales so about half of the team’s profit. Not quite Kurt’s promised £600.

Uzma tries like an idiot to intervene and make it about her. It works. Neil says Uzma was the weakest person on the tea. “OH REALLY!” squeaks Uzma, adding “No I welcome it, it’s fine”.

Kurt’s blamed for not spending, but Neil’s asked whether he gave any direction, and only he and his now loyal henchman seem to think he did.

Kurt and Uzma are bought back to the boardroom. I bet Neil’s sorry. At one point in tonight’s task I saw Uzma lovingly peel a corn cob as part of the store display and I bet that corn cob sold. Uzma thinks she’s a victim of sexism (“This is the problem working with you boys… you can’t talk” – erm Uzma have you been paying attention at the girls’ team meetings?) and lazy thinking (“You bought me here because I’ve been here twice before”), but Neil insists it’s because she is crap (“If I’d wanted an easy option I’d have bought Natalie back, but Natalie worked really hard”).

Neil’s CV claims he’s “not afraid to trample over people” and he adds “I’ve been the strongest candidate in the first three tasks”. “There’s a fine line between confidence and being a bit cocky” (-cocky +of a twat), Sugar points out.

Sugar sees the promised 200 sales figure as a noose around Kurt’s neck, and isn’t too impressed by Neil being supposedly so strong yet getting talked into going along with Kurt.

Neil blames Kurt for the task failure but says Uzma was the weakest candidate and Sugar finally snaps that he doesn’t want Neil doing his job for him. He turns on Neil, stating “I think it was unfair to blame Kurt.. and for that reason…” (Neil looks stunned, but of course it’s a bluff), “there’s not much space left for a mistake”. Kurt’s next and is advised to “stop spouting your mouth off” about sales. And it’s with no great sense of surprise that Uzma (Sugar:”there’s no smoke without fire”) is, er, fired. In the Taxi of NO Regret she predicts that this time next year she’ll be a millionaire (“Lord Sugar hasn’t seen the fire in me” – maybe she’s an arsonist?).

Back at the house, Zee’s happily dissing Kurt (for having been subteam leader ahead of he, Zee) and Neil (for foolishly making Kurt subteam leader, ahead of he, Zee). there’s a delicate cough as Neil and Kurt enter, leaving Zee to ponder how much they heard.
Neil doesn’t pull any punches about the firing “I had a weak link in the team, and they’re no longer here”. I’ve been told he’s really a nice guy, but you know the way telly is meant to put weight on people, it’s really putting twattiness on him.

Next week the teams travel to Dubai to find items for a hotel. Bartering and casual religious insensitivity is virtually guaranteed.

Liking: Francesca, Jordan (I know the fistpumping makes him a nob, but at least he appears to have a brain, and unlike Alex it’s a human brain)
Warming to: Rebecca
Finding Amusing: Zee, Jason, Alex
A bit bored by: Leah
Disliking Mildly:– Myles, Natalie, Kurt
Disliking really quite intensely:– Luisa, Neil
Bye Bye: Jaz, Tim, Sophie, Uzma

Sugar ambushes the candidates with an evening call giving the girls nary enough time to apply nuclear levels of blusher before they rush to meet him at the Angel building where he sets them the task of designing some Flat Pack Tat and selling it to John Lewis, Argos and whatever fools they can find in thatLondon.

Scary skeleton in a wig Natalie leads Evolve and the ladies brainstorm. Francesca thinks a space saving cube could be the answer. I would prefer one of those mirror things that Superman imprisons General Zod in – just throw it at a pile of grubby smalls and watch them spinning around in perpetuity, but nobody suggests this. Luisa doesn’t want to actually assemble anything more complicated than the outside of a Kinder Egg, so they come up with the idea of a cube that slots together. Uzma puts herself up as head design lady given her services to the eyeliner industry. Unfortunately during this design phase, whilst Uzma scribbles frantically, the team are still coming up with alternative uses for this amazing now multi-dimensional cube. Natalie thinks the “multi-functional cube shaped table” could also work as seating. Leah thinks it could incorporate “a wine rack” and “something to put ice in”(!). Someone else suggests a laptop holder and a hole for a cup. Maybe a food tray? Rebecca wants to make a suggestion but Natalie and Luisa ignore her. “Are we table? Are we desk? Are we chair?” (Are we human? Are we dancer?) asks a befuddled Sophie, who decides that none of the girls work as a team so she, Francesca and Rebecca (who also dislikes the cube idea) are paired off to to the dread “market research” whilst Uzma scrawls what looks like an aertexed decapitated K9 on her notepad to take to the unimpressed design-bods at a studio in East London.
The Evolve Market Research team go to “I saw you coming” in Shoreditch where a man in a lemon striped boating jacket enlightens them on the finer points of interior furnishing and exactly how high a table needs to be if you’re not in a 1940s Japanese film. They phone Natalie and explain that tables need to be high and have leg room to work, but Natalie is so caught up in the multifunctionality (“How can we use it as storage then?”, Luisa: “Why wouldn’t they just buy a table?”) that she fails to see – it doesn’t have to be a freaking table!

The boys keep it simple. Jordan leads Endeavour where Alex immediately comes up with “Foldo”, which rather than being a holder for the One True Ring is a table that turns into a chair. He takes a pretty thorough drawing to the design studio as well as a working cardboard prototype. Wow! As “lead designer” Alex gets to go crazy ape bonkers with a big tape measure and shout at the rest of his subteam so that they get all their measurements wrong (“Wooah, woah woah woah! This is only 400 – you said 490!” “Someone sit in the chair to check the height! Not you Jordan, someone normal sized” etc). Nick worries the product will end up like “the camel. Which is the horse as designed by committee”.

Myles, Kurt and Zee do pointless “Market Research” by taking rough badly put together sketches to the public – who respond with rough, badly put together opinions although one man suggests some form of arse protection might be necessary, so Zee buys some minty green fabric to upholster Foldo’s seat with.

Uzma checks the design studios mockup for the cube which look like an Evil Hostess Trolley. She thinks they could be stacked over each other (“It could be one of our unique selling points”. Yes – storage to store storage in. Amazing!). Nat however wants something more rounded, which the designer points out would be harder to slot together (and to beat a client to death with, he presumably adds silently). Karren rolls her eyes and despairs at how crap the girls are. “I’m very creative” Uzma smiles, “I’m very good at visualising and then drawing”. She then plumps for a nice eyecatching shade of greyish green for the cube (which now has a lid! I mean tray.), and Natalie goes with “the majority” (or at least the ones who shout the loudest).
Rebecca’s not impressed by developments when she calls in with the latest market research (“Are you listening to market research, or Luisa?”, Luisa (whining): “Why is it my fault?”), and they are asked to find a cushion in B and Q (Francesca “We are in a DIY store, if you had told us beforehand we could have gone to an upholsterers. This was an ipod easel and not it’s a tray in a seat in a box”), which they do, but not necessarily the right size. Oops.

The prototypes are produced overnight and 8am sees the delivery of the girls “Tidy Sidy” (it sounds like something nasty you get from a really cheap chicken and burger place) is unwrapped. They can’t tell it’s unwrapped though as it’s essentially a box. With a lid. The manufacturers have left a nice note (“Hi guys. The cushion was a bit too big so we had to leave it for you to fit”), so they lube up the cushion and force it into place. Karren shakes her head sadly “They’re going to have to do a bloody good job to pitch”.
The boys Foldo chair actually works, and Alex sits on it. “My god! It hasn’t collapsed” gasps Jordan, impressed.

Half of the teams head up North to pitch to LordAlan’s leads (Mr Hazel suggests that up North people might still be impressed by boxes. He lives, for now). The rest search London for suckers.
Jordan sends Neil and Myles for the major pitches, along with Alex, but he heads the London subteams suggesting that they all try one pitch each. Zee gets all arsey at this percieved slight to his pitching skills and narrowly avoids a macing from the furniture store women on his first pitch.

Francesca, Uzma and Leah pitch to another London store; slotting together the cube like they’re playing kerplunk with a dodgy booze recycling bin. The posh shop man is not convinced it would work “in any room” (“It would be good in a part of my house you couldn’t see maybe”). The subteam tell Natalie that with her shitty unglossy product she’s on a hiding to nothing and Natalie pulls a pained face, but you can’t tell.

It’s Argos appointment time and all the girls have put on their tightest dresses and highest heels, which seems to work with the normally bored blokes on the Argos panel, who perk up when Luisa talks about it being “really, really easy… to assemble”. “Is it not just a box on wheels” one asks, slightly spellbound. “I think you have to think outside the box” Luisa simpers. They’ve done as well as they could here, and Argos like the ease of assembly.

In contrast, they couldn’t look less interested as Neil demonstrates Foldo, and it’s all “No further questions M’Lud” at the end of his pitch. Although maybe, as Nick points out, they were simply aghast at Alex wriggling his “wide backside” in their faces whilst assembling Foldo. No amount of allen key action was going to make that sexy.
Back in London, Francesca persuades a French Bloke in a self consciously trendy furniture store to buy 4, a bloke in a cut price store to buy 20, and a baldy man to buy 50 boxes with lids. Her panelled leopardskin dress is working overtime.
Meanwhile at John Lewis, Rebecca’s pitch is very dry and professional and in no way going to convince anyone to buy a grey box. Not even Wayne Rooney would have been interested.

It’s Myles’s turn for Endeavour and yet again, as has happened all day, everyone points out the chair is very high. Now my response would be to say this makes it perfect for all people but especially elderly relatives or people with mobility problems, but Myles misses this goal by suggesting the target market is 16-40 year olds, “the student market”. One woman worries that students wouldn’t pay £75 for a chair. In the post tuition fee, mainly elite world of students nowadays though wouldn’t a few of them have parents who could pay? Anyhow Myles’s pitch is a bit dull. “Is it something you’d consider stocking?” he asks grimly. “We’d have to have a chat” says John Lewis man unpromisingly.

Jordan’s still in London trying to flog his “multifunctional chair” (technically bi-functional, and totally useless if you need a chair AND a table unless you buy 2). Zee somehow gets another go to pitch and harrass female store managers. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” he announces grandly. “Sorry it’s not our target manager” says shop woman, adding cuttingly “I think it’s more your British Home Stores”. Zee’s reaction to any setback is to ignore it. “Lets start a relationship! Let’s shake hands!” he declares, whilst Shop Lady reaches for the alarm button. Finally Jordan decides to give Kurt a go and Zee has a massive sulk (“There’s no reason I shouldn’t do the third pitch”), but Jordan insists and Zee’s face when Kurt sells is just lovely.

Finally Leah does a good pitch to another trendy store, and sells 100 by aiming high and suggesting 200 first. It’s all been about the subteam for the girls this week.

Back in the Boardroom and Natalie’s now blaming Francesca for the “Tidy Sidy”. Uzma looks gutted at all the negativity about the design, but everyone agrees that Natalie was a good team leader in a big unconvincing love-in.
Jordan backs Alex’s design all the way (Sugar: “It’s a bit tall.. do your feet dangle Jordan?”), but Nick Hewer thinks it looks like “Old Sparky” the Electric Chair. Lord Sugar thinks as PM Jordan should have gone along to the two large scale pitches, especially as Myles confesses John Lewis “picked up on a couple of points I raised.. even though I didn’t say it was just for 16 year olds”. “It knocked the credibility of the pitcher though” slams Nick.

To keep us “guessing” they split the scores up by pitch.
Evolve
Subteam in london sold 174 units
Endeavour
Subteam sold 216 units

Endeavour – John Lewis didn’t like the styling but liked the concept so went for 500 with a few tweaks.
Evolve – john lewis didn’t order any units.
Endeavour – Argos bought 2500 units
Evolve – Karren cruelly says “Argos loved the pitch.. loved you guys… but hated the product and made no orders” just so we can watch Natalie’s face go to nearly happy and back to sucking lemons.

The boys get the prize of climbing over the O2 prize whilst mocking the girls for not being able to “sell any boxes”. Alex is told that Foldo is one of the best products seen in the history of boardroom. In the land of complete tut, the table-chair is king.
The girls add to their running tab at the Sad Cafe. Natalie feels she trusted people too much. Sophie feels (correctly) that the excessive functions confused things and Luisa pulls one of her faces (like a female preying mantis pulls before she looms in on a head) and calls Sophie “the weakest link”. Sophie’s convinced she did the right thing, “I don’t design, don’t manufacture, don’t sell, don’t pitch”.. er Sophie what do you do?

Back in the Boardroom and Lord Sugar calls the “Tidy Sidy” the “wishy washy poxy boxy” comparing it’s grey geometry to something out of “1970s East Germany” (they should have called it the Bo-Haus).

Natalie turns on Uzma for “harping on about being a designer” and when Sugar admits the interlocking was a good idea, Luisa claims that was her and Natalie and tells Uzma “You can’t claim that as your idea”. A bitch fight predictably ensues with Natalie repeatedly telling Uzma “Nothing is ever your fault”. Uzma tries to call Luisa (“What did you put forward?”) and Karren summarises that Natalie “tried to amalgamate everyone’s idea into one cube”. Luisa complains that the “feedback from the market research was very contradictory” (erm because the product was?) and Sophie gets some stick for having done a dissertation for market research yet lacking the ability to flog a dead horse loudly. Or something. Anyhow, predictably Natalie brings back Uzma and Sophie – and Lord Sugar sends the rest home with their cards very close to marked (“You should be embarrassed”).
Karren suggests there have been issues between Uzma and the other girls in previous tasks (she could say the same for most of the women other than Leah and Francesca). “Yeah but you know what women are like” laughs Sugar, clearly wearing a concrete posing pouch today.

Natalie claims both Uzma and Sophie hide from responsibility and blames the design on Uzma who rightly points out Natalie signed it off and Natalie gets all shouty. She also thinks Sophie’s market research wasn’t good enough, and Sophie claims she did exactly what Natalie wanted (but she’s not very strong fighting her corner). “You wouldn’t have even listened cos you were so influenced by Luisa” adds Sophie, finding some feistiness too late, and hitting the mark.

It’s revealed that Natalie claims to want to work in fashion yet denies having creativity. “I do have a creative eye… for fashion” she claims. I just watched it an hour ago yet I don’t have a clue what Natalie was wearing.
Still, it’s Sophie that gets fired in this season’s early attack of Boardroom “not fair!”ness because Lord Sugar thinks “Market research is hiding away” (he’s never been threatened with the anal insertion of a clipboard).
“The only fair here is the cab fare home” he adds, unrepentent of the firing or that pun.
In the Taxi of Doom, Kitty finds claws as Sophie accuses the other women of being bitchy and claims “I like to keep my dignity, and my class”.

Back at the house Jordan tops Zee’s hate list by telling everyone that the Napolean complexed one was the only boy not to sell. Luisa predicts Sophie will leave as she doesn’t see “her fight as being as good as Uzma’s”. Natalie and Uzma return and all the women look daggers at each other. Game on.

Next year cute critters abound and I don’t just mean Jordan and Jason as we visit an inner city zoo and the candidates get to run a farm shop.

Liking: Jordan, Francesca
Finding Amusing: Zee, Jason
Wanting to like:  Kurt, Leah, Neil, Rebecca, Alex
Disliking Mildly:– Uzma, Myles
Getting Ready to Properly Hate:– Luisa, Natalie
Bye Bye: Jaz, Tim, Sophie

Week 2 and Luisa answers the 6am call for the candidates to assemble at The Old Bank on Fleet Street. Fortunately Jordan is standing nearby (trying to look urbane in stripy pjs and Morrissey specs) to explain that it’s a pub, prompting Luisa to leap around squawking in delight. Clearly Luisa doesn’t get out much?
Jason takes time out to give Neil a shaving pep talk about working together to defeat the girls. “It’s teamwork all the way now Jason” smirks Neil (Gary Barlow’s evil twin) into the mirror. “Maybe we should go with the tried and tested.. I’ll be PM and we’ll win you know” Jason persists, and everyone has to hide their grimacing faces.

Lord Sugar sets the teams the task of creating and selling flavoured beers and does some jiggery pokery, sending the strangely bouncy Tim over to Project Manage the girls on Evolve, supposedly because Tim shot his mouth off about proving himself at the end of the last BoardRoom, but more likely to knock some of that bloody enthusiasm out of the lad.
Sugar makes Scouse Kurt manage Endeavour due to his experience in the drinks business (OK health drinks, but Kurt fortunately admits he enjoys a bevvy or two) and the Scouse lad suggests chile and caramel beer (which I would try), but Alex screws up his little mouth so he even more closely resembles a cross eyed David Mitchell’s sex face and declares himself opposed to anything “too adventurous”. Cue Jordan going all BDSM in his support of nettle beer (“it’ s adventurous, exciting, daring, unusual I think ooh is that going to sting my mouth?”)
Tim decides to be a new man manager and explains to the girls that with Endeavour it was just a bunch of boys talking over each other. He wants to go round the circle gathering feedback. “I think we should target women with a healthy beer, do you agree?” he offers. “NO!” comes the unanimous circle feedback at once, and all the girls start shouting over each other whilst Tim looks like he wants to run away and hide somewhere. “Ok I’m going to overrule my own decision” he backtracks sheepishly and Uzma pulls a face fusion of disgust and confusion.
Zee believes his skills lie in marketing design, and as a teetotal muslim definitely not in tasting beer. So his nose is a little out of joint (“You will be held accountable for my performance”) as he is sent off to the flavoured beer factory, with Jordan as subteam leader and Alex, to stand around observing proceedings.
Tim tries to decide where to flog their ales. Francesca thinks the food festival will have less competition, but Leah and Rebecca suggest the “Kent beer festival” and Tim’s all for it. “That’s not our target market” Luisa slams, and it looks like it might be back to the drawing board.
Kurt calls the boys at the factory who are busy tasting beer flavours to tell them he’s decided to go for the Chocolate Orange infused bitter, without actually having tasted it and all he needs is the ingredients and description. Jordan suggests that that combo works better with stouts, having actually you know tasted it. “We’ve gone for the amber bitter” declares Colonel Kurt, “We ‘ad to make a decision. It’s done.” I wonder how Kurt’s going to come unstuck eventually…
Tim, Francesca and Leah represent Evolve at the beer factory, testing beer flavourings from blueberry to bacon (every man’s dream surely). The smirking beer expert points out that the flavourings are “very dangerous in their pure form”, but this doesn’t prevent the team from selecting nature’s paint stripper, rhubard as their key ingredient. Swigging down their sample, as their faces turn inside out they gasp “we need something sweet” before adding enough caramel to neutralise snake venom. Proudly they let Karren Brady take a sip. She survives. Uzma tries to think of names to sum up this heady concoction “Erm, rhubarb melt?” She decides that as “caramel is a luxury” that “Rhubarb and riches” is a perfectly valid drink line and doesn’t at all sound like a tacky extra verse to the song “Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows”.
Whilst Uzma works with David the hapless design professional on the label, Luisa decides to interrupt (“I don’t mean to interrupt”) and tell them the design is crap (“I don’t think it’s beery”) until they launch into a mini bitchscrap (Uzma “who’s the subleader?”, Luisa “Well lead then?”) over the greying head of the admirably dignified David.
Meanwhile for Endeavour Neil is single handedly rewriting the rule books on beer branding and getting no proper credit for it (“I think I’m doing most of the leading. We’re going with all my ideas”). “Behind every good project manager there’s a Neil Clough.” he declares happily (presumably jumping out to take any credit but zero responsibility).
There’s trouble at t’Evolve Mill when Francesca realises that working out volume of liquids required to make many bottles of flavoured beer involves a level of basic maths and logic that cannot be achieved by typing BOOBIES into an upside down calculator and she freezes, guessing randomly at quantities (“erm 75% rhubarb, 25 caramel”) like a tourettes version of Countdown. They make up a barrel using guesswork and the beer expert gets concerned (“At what dilute is this?” “Erm 1%? 100%?”), telling them “Guys this is not safe to drink”. After dumping a second 30 litre keg due to having a similar brain powercut, Francesca is close to despair (“This ship is sinking fast.. we just can’t get our heads round the logic of this.”), but they finally fix the mixture after wasting £100 on beer and flavourings. Tim looks on the bright side (“We’re not manufacturers or mathematicians. Sales is our forte.”)
At 8am the next day the boys sample a bottle or two of their problem free 100 litres of Chocolate Orange beer, with a ludicrously proud Neil declaring the annoyingly titled “A Bitter This” (transl “A Bit of a tit”) bottles “collectors items”. The boys send the subteam of Jason, Alex and Zee off to sell to trade with nary a sample bottle between them, only one of Neil’s empty “collectors item” bottles.
“I think this has turned out quite well” chirps Jason. Zee rounds on him “Just clarify for me, you’re not on sales, you’re on logistics”. “Are you overruling me?” asks a visibly hurt Jason prompting Zee to rant on about “the king” being “toppled from his throne” and Alex to snap “Jason will you be quiet you silly little shit”. Wow the boys have issues with Jason. I can see it going all Lord of the Flies quite soon.
Kurt, Neil, Myles and Jordan flog overpriced (£4 a pint!) chocolate orange beer at St Albans beer festival. “I’m the master Brewer” Myles smarms. “Look at the callouses on these hands” (you’re the master something mate). Jordan suggests a price drop, and a nearby woman gets all excited (“Ooh you’re dropping the prices. Excellent!”) but Jordan points out he needs to convince Kurt. Myles wants to go to the South Bank Food festival (actually a good idea) but is persuaded to stay on ripping off the yokels as the South Bank is 2 hours away.
Meanwhile the Kent Beer Festival turns out to be a pub garden in Putney where Tim manages to flog a few pints to a stray band of Morris Men by shouting maniacally. At least one mad posh rugby boy is seen enjoying the beer whilst slowly going blind (“Yah..I’ll definitely buy it again… I CAN’T SEE!!!”). “We will saturate this market and then we’ll move on” Tim says confidentally waving at the Morris Troupe. There must be at least 6 of them. Eventually they leave, with Luisa pointing out that it was a shame “nobody picked up on the fact it was a pub”. They call Rebecca’s team, telling them they’ve sold a whole 1.5 casks. “Oh excelleeeent” Rebecca drawls disappointedly, having already sold more than twice that for breakfast.
Evolve’s trade team go to a specialist beer pub, where Rebecca does a decent pitch selling 4 casks for £78, but still manages to annoy Uzma for sticking a finger in her face to prevent her interrupting the pitch. This niggle isn’t going to go away, with Uzma moaning at Rebecca for asking another business where their premises are over the phone. “Why are you undermining me?” Rebecca moans. “You’re obviously offended for the wrong reasons” Uzma retorts, an unspoken “Girlfriend!” hanging awkwardly in the air.
Alex pitches to a specialist pub, but with only the empty “limited edition” bottle to show, the pub manager isn’t impressed “I don’t sell anything I haven’t tasted – I’m surprised you have even turned up. ” Cue Alex stomping off in a huff whilst Jason looks brazenly smug. Alex insists he asked Kurt for a sample, but Kurt uses his Scouse Derren Brown skills to deflect this obvious bullshit and sends 6 bottles to the roving sales team. That’ll cheer them up. Oh. Buoyed by the arrival of samples, Zee pitches to a gastropub chain, claiming they can sell barrels for £95. The gastropub people seem close to biting, but Jason chimes in “I am sure we can make it lower”. After Alex and Zee scrape up their chins and try to persuade the gastropub man that Jason is their poor mad cousin who they take out of the home occasionally, they are forced to close the deal on £75 per barrel. As soon as they leave the pub, Alex understandably rounds on Jason “You dosy pleb. What are you doing?”. “You have lost us money” adds Zee. Jason is unrepentent “They are the most moronic people I have come across in a long time”. At the next in the chain Zee is now forced to start at £75. The manager refuses to go for it without pump clips (are those just the little pictures you get on the pumps? If so what a ponce!”) Jason butts in suggesting that they could “go back to their Project manager and get some pump clips” What? The Project Manager in St Albans?). Zee shrugs this off an manages to close a deal fo £70 without a pump clip, which Nick points out is useless seeing as the beer cost £53 per barrel to make. Again Zee begs Jason not to “get involved with negotiation when you’re not involved” and Jason nods blankly like a badly trained dog who doesn’t understand English.

FINALLY Myles persuades Kurt to go to the South Bank food festival with two hours to go and 300 pints to sell. They immediately sell low, starting at £2.50 a pint and ending at £1 per pint. Oh I wish I had been there. Not so much to drink the beer, but to watch the local alcohol addicts keep rejoining that £1 queue and develop a taste for speciality beer. “Even for £4 a pint I’d enjoy that mate, nice one” opines a balding Cockney who’s probably still talking about the fabled cheap beer stall at the back of the festival hall.
Evolve have decided to go to a wine bar in Richmond to offer samples to wine drinkers. (Sophie: “Can you taste the rhubarb?” Punter “No.” Sophie “Oh”). Luisa chats up boys and sells them 8 bottles. Meanwhile Leah manages to convince a stoned looking bloke in a bar to buy the last 2 barrels at £90 each.
Alex manages to sell a barrel for £69.99 to a man with exotic facial hair who doesn’t “buy anything for £80” (so that’s the Philshave SensoTouch out of the question).
Back in the Boardroom, Lord Sugar has obviously been picking up some educational tips from the dear departed Jaz as he berates Alex for not sitting up straight (“You got backache or something?”, No he has eyebrow strain).
Neil’s very quick to claim credit for the product name and flavour. I have it on good authority that Neil is an OK bloke, but he’s trying WAY too hard to be seen to be recognised as doing things. It’s going to backfire seriously on him at some point.
Jason raises his concerns about Zee being on the manufacturing team when his religious beliefs prevent him from drinking, or, as Lord Sugar puts it “E’s as dry as a cream cracker in the bleedin Sahara”.
Alex again tries to blame Kurt for having no samples, but the scouser calls him a liar. Kurt gets some stick for being a crazy maverick and charging London prices in St Albans and 1978 prices in London.
“How was Jason” Lord Sugar asks loadedly. “I’ll answer that” Alex squeaks righteously, dobbing Jason in for ruining their pitch. “I didn’t” Jason claims, adding “I felt they disgraced you. They were swearing at me”. “At you then, not the public” Lord Sugar points out reasonably, disappointingly failing to add “You cunt” at the end. “They used deceptive tactics” whines Jason. That will be business I suppose. “Are you from the office of fair trading?” Sugar fires back.
Evolve are under scrutiny next, with Uzma claiming they knew they “wanted to be unique, wanted to use rhubarb”. Fran’s lack of maths skills get some stick (“I’m not a mathematician. I have GCSE maths”. As does the Kent beer festival debacle. Despite this all the women claim Tim was a good Project Manager. Presumably because they all hate each other much much more.
Anyhow it’s time for scores
Evolve spent £648 and sold £492 to trade and £55 to the public making a profit of £399
Endeavour spent £601 and sold only £284 to trade, but a stonking £1147 to the public making a profit of £831.
The boys get sent to Belgium where Neil channels David Brent in a white jacket and Alex appears to be dressed like a 1970s Man at C&A advert.
Poor Tim has to sit surrounded by infighting harpies at the Bridge Cafe. Rebecca firmly believes it’s Tim’s fault for going to the Kent Beer Festival”. “You can’t blame Tim, it’s not fair” Uzma and Luisa wail, because they really really can’t stand Rebecca, who has in turn picked up on the “alliance” united against her (unfortunately mentioning it makes her look like a paranoid loonie).
Back in the Boardroom and a chastened Tim is very quiet. Sugar’s annoyed by his inability to claim personal responsibility “Can we stop with this ‘we’?” “I like to say ‘we’ instead of ‘I'” Tim states brightly.
Lord Sugar looks for a moment like he might fire the lot of them for sitting there “dumbfounded, looking at me with dumb expressions on you. I’m not gonna waste my time talking to a load of dummies”.
It’s agreed that their main fail was on location, which Tim now tries to blame on Rebecca. Brave, stupid Tim. “You’re aving a laugh” she hisses, “I pointed at the name and you nodded… is that what passes for responsibility?”
Uzma jumps in to protect Tim and silly Rebecca brings up their personal issues (“This has been brewing for some time and has nothing to do with this task”) and both Karen and Lord Sugar turn against her for saying anything against a fellow woman and doing it in a mental way (“I know you’re all in cahoots”).
Adamant he’s never seen such a “bladdy mess” in the 2nd week and despairing of the team’s inability to manage the “basics” of counting and locations, Lord Sugar prompts Tim to choose his final boardroom buddies. It’s Rebecca (who outsold everybody on both teams in this task) and Francesca (who can’t do maths because she’s too busy squinting). The now subdued Rebecca is seen as an evil troublemaker as yet again it seems Lord Sugar has never heard the phrase “It takes two to tango.. and up to eight to mudwrestle”. “When you bring strong women together you do get opinions” Karren offers diplomatically (somehow I don’t think “stop pointing in my face” or yesterday’s offering from Luisa to Leah “I run 3 businesses no offence you’re a doctor” constitute strong women’s opinions. It’s hardly Oprah meets Hilary).
Tim still insists he led the team (“We did come to team decisions”) and bigs himself up for working with “people I didn’t know” (transl “women”). He tried to blame Francesca’s bad sums, claiming he thought he had delegated successfully. She gives him evil and gangs together with Rebecca to blame Tim.
Eventually it gets a bit boring and Lord Sugar clearly feels it, congratulating Tim on his enthusiasm, before firing him for being rubbish on a drinks task when his business plan was apparently to do with drinks.
The girls return to the flat where Uzma and Luisa have been busily rubbishing Rebecca. My they look happy to see her back. Next week the teams assemble flat pack furniture. I cannot wait.
Liking a little bit despite my better judgement: Zee, Jordan
Wanting to like: Sophie, Francesca, Kurt, Leah
Disliking Mildly:- Natalie, Rebecca, Uzma, Myles, Alex
Strangely Fascinated by: Neil
Getting Ready to Hate on:- Luisa, Jason
Bye Bye: Jaz, Tim

Welcome to my blog for Season 9 of the Apprentice, and with a promising selection of delusional wankers and backstabbers following last year’s snoozefest, I’m fired up like the proverbial fuckhouse for this series.

We kick off with the cream of the shiny suited cretinous crop.

There’s Zee a big-faced CEO of Property Investment Company who states that he is “an innovative leader” who takes his “inspiration from Napolean”. So doomed to have a bout of diahorrea then lose horribly.

“I am half machine. I can process things at a speed that is out of this world!” boasts Jaz, an “Educational Entenpreneur” (she sells pencils?) with all the external bounce of Alison Hammond presenting playschool, yet the sad eyes of an abused puppy.

“My effortless superiority will take me all the way” croons Jason, the bastard child of Ed Miliband and David Walliams. Jason, we learn, has never had a full-time job but has studied Greek Modern History, which is the posh austerity version of the University of Life.

Alex reckons he’s a “New breed of businessman”. That’ll be the cat-arse-lipped Freddy Mercury breed of businessman. The one who has eyebrows that look like they’re trying to murder him.

I’ll put my cards on the table now and predict I’m going to enjoy hating the big-eyed weasel face of “Retail Entrepreneur” Luisa, who declares she has “Energy like the duracel bunny, sex appeal of Jessica Rabbit and the brain of Einstein”, before revealing that she has “fake hair and fake boobs, but a really good business brain”.

Lord Sugar seems feistier this season (“You shaddup, and you shaddup and you talk…. you’re all a bladdy waste of space.. I don’t wanna see your face anymore”), presumably because rather than palming off some nothing tea making, crap email phone selling job based in a broom cupboard on the winner and then destroying them in court if they dare complain, he now has to hand over a quarter of a million (“in a 50:50 business”) to the apprentice with the winning business plan (provided they aren’t randomly weeded out throughout the process).  Understandably LordSugar is fed up with the “usual BS” on the candidates CVs (“giving 110%, thinking outside the box, inside the bladdy box… I’m sick and tired of all that bladdy rubbish. Actions speak louder than words”). Hence we have the first of a series of pointless  tasks to test the candidates skills, which they probably will never need to use again.

We learn that Neil,  who should be playing Gary Barlow’s really evil twin (you can tell he’s the baddy as the beard is darker and he acts like a sneakily controlling cock throughout the task) has a business plan for a “Unique online estate agency”. LordSugar stirs by pointing out that the wonderfully named Miles Mordaunt says on his CV that “Estate agents are tossers” (as you do).  “I’m not an estate agent.. that’s just my business plan” Neil quickly explains. It’s ok Neil, as you said in your VT, you’ll do anything to win (Cheating, lying, I don’t care”).

Jaz’s business plan is actually something with a social conscience (“an online learning platform to help eradicate illiteracy”. So she’s screwed already then.

The task this week is to go to Tilbury Docks to intercept some shipping containers full of “imported goods” (smuggled tut) which they have to sell to trade by 4pm the following day. First Lord Sugar throws a “curve ball” by asking for volunteers for Project Manager. Jaz’s hand is already up, maybe she wanted a wee but didn’t want to admit it with everyone staring at her. Whatever she’s the first PM for the girls team.  “I’m so enthusiastic!” she gushes like some frighteningly deranged dating video.

Jason volunteers for the boys, but immediately is overcome by delayed wimpishness and meekly asks if “anyone else wants to volunteer.. if they’ve got fire and drive…” “Do it!” Neil cuts him off forcefully. Jason confides to camera that “my intelligence is like a machete in the jungle”.

Neil kicks off the willy waving in the boys car, bragging about his 14 years sales experience.  “I’m from Wales” Alex counters. Maybe he misheard “sales”, whatever, beat that Neil!

The girls decide on a team name. Doctor Leah likes the idea of “some kind of explosive? Asteroid?” How about Haemerrhoid?

Luisa suggests “Evolve”, which Grace Dent’s skinnier evil twin Rebecca also likes. I’m not convinced they actually know what Evolve means. Maybe they think it’s a posh internet vajazzling site?

Jason manages to convince the boys to go for “Endeavour” (perhaps after Captain Cook’s boat, the wreckage of which has never been recovered). “We all want to win, but it’s not always going to happen” explains Jason reasonably, to which Neil makes a hacky “You fucking what?” face.

Everyone reaches Tilbury (Jason:  “I’ve lived in london all my life,I’ve never really gone down the docks before”. Everyone else: rolls eyes) to be greeted by containers crammed with such random goodies as toilet rolls. bottled water, leather jackets, bubble wrap, hi viz jackets (Zee: “These are amazing! They’re going to sell!”) and Union Jack mugs. Apart from the wonderful waving Chinese Lucky Cats, it’s like a UKIP campaigner’s goody bag.

Jaz goes into “education entepreneur” overdrive, delivering a “motivational speech” that couldn’t be more cheesily patronising if she was wearing patchwork dungarees and using a glove puppet. “What do you expect from me as PM?” she sings. Even the tumbleweed stares at her, but to make her stop the girls volunteer “erm dedication? listening to us?” It just makes things worse. “OK if I deliver that what can I expect from you?” Jaz continues gratingly.

Over on Endeavour and Jason’s people management skills are proving as effective as a velvet glove containing an elderflower jelly fist. Neil hisses at him “You need to control this” before leaping in and talking at everybody with the sort of insane self confidence that a lot of people fall for briefly before everything goes tits up. Karren Brady is unimpressed (“I feel for Jason”), but somehow Neil manages to make it look as though he actually is the one true king of Endeavour by, as it was mystically foretold, managing to make a decision between choosing cat litter  or union jack mugs. I already think he’s a bit of a cockend, but hopefully he will stay in to be dismantled during the interview episode.

At this point I get a bit distracted by Kurt Wilson, a Derren Brown-lookielikie Scouse Health drink entepreneur saying things convincingly down his phone without holding it like a twat.

Dr Leah gets to lead a subteam and reckons “It’s gonna be about the water”. She delegates to Rebecca, who has apparently won “lots of awards for selling. I don’t let people walk over me in life or in business”. And somehow they end up in an all night pub at Smithfield Market trying to flog bottled water. Eh? Cos when butchers have finished a hard shift packing meat they really need their thirst quenched?  “I imagine you sell a bit” Rebecca reaches to the pork faced landlord. “Not much” he responds. “I’m hearing that” Rebecca plays her pop psychology to devastating effect, selling him a whole two cases for £15. Which even lovely Dr Leah thinks is a bit shit.

Meanwhile the boys actually do something sensible and go to a coach company looking for a bulk deal. Alex pitches but the Coach company boss completely wrongfoots him on price and he ends up agreeing a deal, but coming away thinking he “gave up too easy”. Zee still goes in for a befuddling high five, clearly inspired by Napolean.

Jason’s taken his subteam to a Casino where he tries to flog his lucky cats for £6 each but the rather suave croupier suggests that for such a thin, plastic product that’s unreasonable, and says he’d only pay £2-3. Myles thinks he’s had a stroke of genius and suggests putting batteries in all the Lucky Cats and selling for £3.50 each, and it’s a deal (maybe the Croupier thinks it’s a bargain to get all those batteries?). After 2 hours putting the batteries into the cats, Myles proudly hands the result to the Croupier who smiles “I didn’t expect you to put the batteries in. Good service!” at which point Myles briefly grows a chin just so it can sadly hit the ground.

The girls from Evolve head to Chinatown at 9am to attempt to sell their lucky cats to Chinese Supermarkets, but despite the expert knowledge of Sophie Lau (who suggests wisely that Chinese people will have bought these items cheaper from China, but somehow doesn’t think to let people know that Chinatown wakes up late) they can’t access any stores and are poignantly waved off by a whole pride of Lucky Cats from behind the window of a closed shop.

Luisa pushes Leah to allow her to sell the rest of the water at a club in Farringdon (“I run 3 businesses all of which are sales and, no offence; you’re a doctor.” Oops, it looks like offence has been taken),  but gets her way and annoyingly does quite well, closing a deal for £50 more than the boys.

Manwhile over on Jaz’s subteam, any structure or plot has been utterly lost. Francesca, a leopardskin print loving hard faced blonde who looks a bit like previous “winner” Stella English on crack, is not impressed “It’s gone a bit kamikazee and a bit crazy” as Jaz storms into a tourist tut shop and tries to flog mugs at £1.50 each (when they’re on sale in the shop for £1.49 each) to a bloke on the till who reveals that despite his enthusiasm for the deal, he has to talk to his boss first at which point Subteam Jaz drifts disconsolately back onto the street and whilst Nick Hewer derides Jaz’s leadership skills, she illustrates his point by shrieking “Big Smiles! Showtime” as though that would motivate anyone to do anything other than kill and kill again.

Whilst Alex tries to shift “Left over toilet roll… it’s all clean and freshly packaged, not re-used”, Jason’s concerned that carrying the ukelele and the union jack mug will make them seem like “purveyers of tat” (perish the thought), so promptly drops the mug. Whoops. Broken Britain.

The Leah subteam shift the leather jackets, but are struggling to find buyers for the kitty litter, what with scary-eyed Uzma, who has somehow landed the role of “logistics” phoning up Pets at Home and other major stores who all have regular suppliers and usually avoid buying knock off cat gravel from random crazy women. Jaz phones and suggests that they make an appointment with Battersea Dog’s Home, but Uzma says it’s too far away (and she doesn’t like being told what to do),  so instead Zee gets the appointment for team Endeavour.

Neil admits on the way to Battersea Cat’s Home that he despises cats (further proof that he’s a bad’un), but on arrival at the home he brazenly regards a collection of frolicking kittens, like a bearded komodo dragon contemplating lunch and says “They’re absolutely beautiful”. Zee does the sales pitch, but when the Battersea blokes admit they can’t afford the £8 per massive bag of kitty litter, it’s Neil who calls the time-out. “He’s a real backseat driver” gasps Karren Brady, half appalled, half seduced. By the time they get to closing the deal, even Zee’s wise to what just happened. “Are you going to shake his hand or am I?” he jokes to Neil, before vowing to camera he will put his foot down in future. Sadly that just means he loses the plot during the next confrontation with Neil (who’s taken control of the phone and won’t hand it to anyone else) “I need to speal to him!” insists Zee. “Why are you shouting?” Neil innocently and punchably yells back.

Sophie’s still unconvinced of the wisdom of selling Chinese products to Chinese people in Chinatown, and what with her being half Chinese you’d think she’d know, but she still gives it a bash, and as suspected the bloke in the Chinese supermarket points out that he can get the cats cheaper in China. Sophie’s halfway through saying it’s a different story in the UK, but Natalie  a 30 year old more prematurely wisened than the dessicated shrunken head of Edith Bowman, leaps in and offers him 10 at £3 each. Yeah go Natalie. Only 40 Lucky Cats to go. Sophie’s not a happy bunny, but Natalie insists “We were gonna lose it”.

Tim, a smily and endearing chap who is either living up to the “Nice but dim” stereotype, or is playing a blinder, manages to close a deal on the Hi Viz jackers to a fast food entepreneur and bounces around grinning for a bit afterwards.

Jason’s suddenly realised “We have loads of ukeleles”, and declares, as though it’s the new Labour Party Policy “We’re gonna run like hell to sell those ukeles”.  Somehow Jordan, another bloke trying but failing to look like Morrissey sells 5 ukes for £30.

“They can’t even sell 10 leather jackets in London” Alex moans about his project manager’s subteam despite their ukelele success. Neil spots an opportunity to do some stirring. “Do you think he’s a good Project Manager?” he asks. Zee takes the bait and expresses his lack of being impressed.

The Leah subteam find a hardware shop run by a sarcastic cockney bloke (or Sean Lock in a fat suit) who seems to be joyfully ripping them off by feigning great wisdom with regards bubble wrap (“what size bubble?” “Erm small bubble?”) and toilet rolls.

Sophie tries to make a suggestion to Jaz about sales strategy. “Go for it… unless it’s about cats”; Jaz is fresh out of bouncy enthusiasm now, revealing she has absolutely zero skills. “No-one’s listening to me” Sophie wails haplessly.

Trading’s over and Jaz reveals that her subteam sold £270 worth of tut. Luisa’s incensed. “We’re not going back in the Board room and even if she suggests it I’ll be on her like a fly on shit”. Lovely Luisa.

Neil’s still convinced that “Jason appointed me as another PM within the team” rather than a subteam leader.

Back in the Boardroom, Luisa’s quick to stick the knife into Jaz (“To me, Leah was PM”). Jaz admits she was left with “300 mugs, 7 jackets and 40 lucky cats. It’s a cat..” she does a half hearted wave as her voice trails off. “Yeah I know!” Lord Sugar cuts her off.

Jason believes that “Endeavour…  put in a very robust performance”, but Lord Sugar suggests that Neil “kind of took it over” (Neil: “I kind of agree with that, yeah”). Alex goes a bit Yoda (“Critical, clear, concise instructions…were left out from the start”), and only Jordan has the nads to have a pop at Neil (“Only he believes in himself more than everyone else here does”) from behind his Morrissey specs.

Alex springs to Neil’s defence. “I  worked with Liam all day” he starts. Oops. Myles also doubts Jason’s leadership skills (“More Vicar of Dibley than market trader”) until he’s pulled up on his batteries lunacy and is left gaping helplessly like Beaker from Sesame Street.

Tim is lovely, all  garbled and blushing as he discusses his Hi Viz jacket sale (generic Sugar joke 67931:- “They must have seen you coming”.

It’s time for the scores, and I quite like the incredibly divisive tactic of splitting them by subteam. So we learn that on Evolve, whilst Jaz’s subteam made £270, Leah’s subteam made £893.30 giving a total of £1109.30. For Endeavour, Jason’s subteam got £324, Neil’s got £843.40 – so a total of £1167.90.

Tim seems to have prepared a speech about why he failed which he begins to deliver on nervous autopilot (“At the start I was struggling”, Sugar:- “You’ve won – so shut up!”). Oh bless Tim. He could be the biggest black swinging heart business bastard from Hell, but he’s won me over.

Anyhow the boys er get to go home first and eat what looks like some burned beef. The girls have to apparently spend the night swilling bitter tea in the Cafe of Doom. “I don’t want to pass the buck” Luisa passes the buck to Jaz, “but we sold more than triple what you sold”.

Back in the Board Room, Luisa puts down Jaz for volunteering as PM (“Just because you put yourself foward you can’t expect to go through” Jaz “Well thanks for that contribution”). Jaz knows that if she had to do it all again she would definitely change more than a single thing, but objects to the suggestion that Leah did all the Project Management “It sounds like I was just sat down humming a tune”.  Luisa also manages to diss Rebecca (“She went on about her awards then went in and epically failed”) even though she ended up being the biggest seller.

It transpires that Uzma didn’t sell anything, but she claims she was “operations and logistics” not sales. So why didn’t you go to Battersea where the boys cleaned up is the retort from Karren Brady.

Jaz brings Sophie (poor sales) and Uzma (didn’t follow cat litter lead)back to the boardroom.  Uzma does a big fib and claims she tried to sell to Batterseat Cats Home. “You were the Logistics Girl!” Sophie urges, and it’s hard to tell if she’s being Urban or Sexist. Maybe Uzma can’t tell either as she fires back a retort and ends it by spitting out the word “Darling!” Play nice girls. Jaz tries to be all urban too by shouting “Man!” at Lord Sugar. It is equally unsuccessful.

Somehow Lord Sugar falls for Uzma’s “I was only Logistics” line and says she’s safe before finally firing Jaz for making some “fatal mistakes” not least putting herself forward immediately. In the Taxi of Regret she has no regrets about volunteering first, but she is “gutted to go before I had a chance to show how amazing I am”

So Uzma and Sophie return to the house, where Uzma talks about the “daunting” boardroom experience, and Zee suggests, bravely that she get ready for it again.

Next episode the teams will be selling flavoured beer. And Alex will call Jason a “silly shit”.

We’ve only just begun.

Liking: Tim,

Liking a little bit despite my better judgement: Jason, Zee, Alex , Jordan

Wanting to like: Sophie, Francesca, Kurt, Leah

Disliking Mildly:- Natalie, Rebecca, Uzma, Myles

Getting Ready to Hate on:- Neil, Luisa

Bye Bye: Jaz