So it’s Week 11 and five candidates are hanging on to the dream of becoming Lord Sugar’s gimp with 1 week to go before the final (and bizarrely 2 more episodes scheduled afterwards). They’re given 24 hours to perfect their business plans before facing interviews at the Leadenhall Building.

Mark Wright has the highest sales figures but overall has been the losiest, so feels “bruised and battered”, but has “learnt so much” (yawn).

Cuddly technical entepreneur Solomon Akthar has finally started harping on about how bloody young he is (” I am only 23 but I think that’s a great thing”). He’s “all about the idea”. The idea unfortunately with him could just as easily be spelling out BOOBIES on an upside down calculator.

Bianca Miller is joint-highest ranking in the process and apparently owns a top 100 startup, but she just wants to prove herself as an “investable businesswoman” and not a corporate fembot.

Joint best with Bianca is former accountant Roisin Hogan who gets all teary when she relates how she has left her job to pursue her “really solid” business plan. She looks a bit like Gwynneth Paltrow and now she’s doing a Gwynnie (“sorry erm.. sniffle…what’s happening?”).

Bulldog-licking-piss-off-a-nettle faced Daniel Lassman has faced the final boardroom 4 times, but believes he’s “grown as a businessman” and that “Determination, motivation and passion” are all you really need. What about love Daniel. Oh no, he’s not a lover (“I’m a fighter!”).

6am the next day and the candidates prepare to head for the city with their business plans. Poor Solomon struggles to tie his own tie without Fat Daddy Felipe on hand. Roisin rather bravely dons a pure white two piece, whereas I would probably choose a burnt ochre ensemble to brave Lord Sugar’s interview attack dogs: “Publishing heavyweight” Mike Souter, Media agency manager Claudine Collins, professional angry baldman Claude Littner and what’s this – why it’s square headed ex wrestler Ricky Martin, clearly now totally living la vida loca and under contract to do whatever shitty job Margaret Mountjoy or beardy weirdy Bordan Tkachuk turn down, since he won the show two years ago. Or maybe running the recruitment wing of Sugar’s empire is currently not that lucrative as there’s no real fucking jobs about.

Mark and Daniel resume their homoerotic bickering in the car, weighing each other’s cocks business plans (Mark: “Mine feels more like the winner Daniel”, Daniel: “Yours feels heavier – you’ve got bigger font than me”).

“Have you included your financials?” Bianca asks Solomon, who insists he’s got the “nitty gritty stuff” in his head, having dispensed with writing an actual business plan and instead slipped the Bumper Colouring Book for Special Boys into his folder for a lark. Bianca does a hacky eye roll.

Most of the candidates manage not to lapse into nodding doggy mode as Lord Sugar growls instructions at them, apart from Solomon, bless him. They hand their folders to Nick and Karren and we’re off.

Solomon meets Claudine first who asks him about his side project “Willykini” (sweet Jesus!). “It’s basically a mankini but smaller”, Solomon starts eagerly. “OK. Got it” winces Claudine doing a Too Much Information hand gesture. He describes part of his business as shipping products, using the water glass as an example. “Can you put that down? You might break it” Claudine worries, adding “You come across like an excitable puppy”. “Ah” Solomon blushes. So far Solomon’s pretty unphased (“If someone whips out a fish, I react to that. I think Mark couldn’t deal with it”), so next he meets Mike Souter, who pulls him up on describing himself as “Someone from the ideas generation” (so he’s an ancient Roman?). Solomon proudly admits that he’s always tapping ideas “into my phone” so Mike pulls the cunt’s trick of shipping Solomon’s phone in and demanding some idea magic. “Erm. Breakfast in bed?” Solomon starts, describing an amazing application where one can send the ingredients for breakfast around the world. “Haven’t you just described online shopping?” Mike asks innocently. Solomon gets a bit rattled looking through his phone and accidentally stumbling on all the porn (“Um there’s other things in here, not just ideas”) before suggesting a place to get a bed for a sleep in towns. “Isn’t that a hotel?” Mike deadpans. Solomon resists the urge to shout out “Monkey Tennis” a la Alan Partridge and finally admits that his business plan is the best idea he ever tapped into his phone, but sadly Mike sees real flaws in it, not least the fact it’s “8 pages long and almost half of it is pictures”. Back in the waiting room, Solomon still thinks his idea is” genuinely amazing” and looks forward to seeing Claude. Oh dear. “Hi there” he bounces into Claude’s room. “SIT” barks Claude, who then wrongfoots us all by stating that Solomon’s CV filled him “with pleasure” (“No boastful brags about how great you are. Very mature. Very nicely written”) and adds that he thinks Solomon is very “enterprising” for starting his business (“I’ve never put so many ticks next to anyone”). Oh oh. Here comes the traditional Claude Littner Punch in the Balls. And then Claude “read” Solomon’s business plan. “And frankly its a bloody disgrace!.. You can leave.”. Poor Solomon tries to argue his case, but Claude is adamant. “Two bloody pages with pictures of sailboats on” (Solomon should at least point out that he’d doodled shark fins in the margins too!), “You’re taking the piss. Please leave”. (beat, whilst Solomon bumps into the window) “That’s not the way out”. Finally Solomon escapes (“Bloody Hell!”) to a long lift back to the waiting room, where he admits, winningly “I was getting out of there as quickly as possible as he was so angry”. I love Solomon.

Claude meets Daniel next (“Sit”) and asks him if he’s any good at numbers. Daniel admits he isn’t and concentrates “on what I’m good at” (arguing and avoiding shaving), but Claude find it “embarrassing” that Daniel doesn’t know his business numbers, and Daniel twigs he has to say something about how important it is to understand “yearly accounts”. “Daily” tuts an unimpressed Claude. In the boardroom Mark’s convinced it’s better for Daniel to go first as anyone else will look good after him, and he may have a point as Mike Souter outs Danuel for bullshitting about winning Sales Person of the Year award at a previous company (“We contacted them.. they said you didn’t win any award”). Daniel still insists that his CV is probably an underexaggeration of his great skills. Ouch. Mike presses Dan’s buttons by emphasising how shit a salesman he is compared to Mark. “I was selling £50 caps whilst he was selling hot-tubs” Dan whines, only to be informed that even without that result Mark still wins and his dad is bigger than Daniel’s dad. “Can I get the figures, it must have been close?” Daniel grasps. “Nope he fucked you and your sales in the ass” Mike insists, sort of. Daniel’s idea is to move forward from his pub quiz company and run a whole events company but via a website, which doesn’t impress Claude (“Frankly your business plan is ridiculous” (again!) “people wont trust their wedding to a website” – actually lazy stupid people might just go for it, and as far as we know Daniel just means a corporate events booking website, which businesses just MIGHT use). “I just believe in the idea Claude” Daniel insists, but he is dismissed with a treble helping of “ridiculous”. Claudine is impressed by Daniel’s progression from someone who described himself as a “Loud attention seeker” on his application form to a lesser degree of twat. Daniel admits he was getting into arguments and “rubbing people up the wrong way” but thinks Lord Sugar sees him as a rough diamond to polish, rather than a turd.

Ricky Martin meets Mark and is clearly enjoying being a massive prick for money and lording it over people who are in the same position he was 2 years ago. He announces that he enjoys “Looking for bullshitters” and quibbles over Mark’s CV showing him as Sales Manager for longer than he actually was at his current firm. Reasonably Mark points out that he’s just summarised where he spent the longest time within the business. “I see that as being deceitful” Ricky insists , setting up his witch ducking stool. Mark explains his business as an “Advanced Digital Marketing company which helps smaller companies to generate leads” (i.e. a load of bullshit). “Sell me a solution” Ricky insists, instigating an excruciating role-play, which also feels a tad Alan Partidge-esque as Mark gets half way through explaining his solution before Ricky cuts him off with “I have to stop you, I haven’t time for this call”. Claudine relates all Mark’s balls-ups to him, and he responds with disarming honesty, admitting “I thought I would breeze through” but he blew the pitch, but (tragically) “Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a businessman”. (I think this is the saddest thing I ever heard. I wanted to be a cowboy and an actress. At the same time). However this fess up attitude goes down well with Claudine. Claude beams broadly as he mentions Mark’s business plan (whereas Mark sensibly admits it is the first one he’s written) which is dimissed as “bland” and unoriginal. “How sure are you of success?” Claude snaps. “I’ve never been so confident” Mark states and Claude reckons that’s a good enough answer as it’s clearly a given that Mark is going through.

Roisin describes her business plan for a “virtually carbohydrate free ultra low calorie ready meal” (sounds hideous) to Ricky (” you said you’re an accountant and always be an accountant”). Claudine highlights Roisin’s lack of experience (Roisin; “Yeah but obviously I eat food”) and asks about her market research which turns out to be 6 people and Roisin’s family, which, however Irish you are is a pretty shit sample. Next Roisin gets torn apart by Claide who decides she’s on cloud cuckoo land by virtue of trying to “Go global” immediately and from expecting to get 100 stores on board with 50% giving her credit to fund the venture (which she also reports will cost £750K in the first year, with the remaining £500K being covered by sales). “Ridiculous!” snorts Claude and not for the first time. “You’re a tiny operator. You’re not even a blip on anyone’s screen. Not even in a month of Sundays”. It gets worse as Mike reveals that Roisin’s unique ingredient (not Soylent Green but a shapeable vegetable fibre) is sold in shops and has actually already been made into a ready meal. “Well I was unaware of that” blusters a shaken Roisin.

Poor Bianca has to pitch her idea of “revolutionising the hosiery and shapewear market” by producing tights in tones for black people. Claude looks aghast, suggesting that she needs to focus on either one (hosiery) or the other (shapewear) whilst claiming “I understand your concerns. From speaking to women, this is an issue” (he clearly doesn’t speak to that many women as for me hosiery and shapewear pretty much work together). However Bianca takes it on board as she tells Mike Souter that “in hindsight we are offering shapewear far too early”. “You’re changing your mind?” Mike queries. “No I am not” Bianca insists, whilst changing her mind. She’s been Littnerred. Mike cheers her up by revealing that he has spoken to one of “Britain’s leading fashion editors” who said Bianca is “really onto something”. Claudine likes bianca’s CV but insists that Bianca tell her something personal that she wouldn’t know, and after a series of fails (“Erm I like my family”) declares that Bianca might “take professionalism so far it stops you having a personality. It feels like you’re hiding”. I really feel sorry for Bianca, who looks on the verge of tears in the lift (Mark is however overjoyed that “Claudine has really rattled her”). What the fuck is she supposed to say to something like this (“Am I hiding something? I don’t know!”). It gets worse when she meets Ricky – who quizzes her on her audacity to charge people money for interview skills advice and CV writing when that’s part of her business, and again insists that he wants to know her “personality”. She finally cracks (“erm. erm. Can I get a tissue?”). “Why are you upset?” Ricky demands cuntily, and she hits him with it: “I’m upset becauseIi think throughout this process I’ve been myself; and me as a person and my character has been questioned… I don’t usually cry in interviews and I want to give this as good advice to people, especially if they’re paying for the advice” (she smiles wryly through the tears), “I think I’ve got something great and I just want that” (her voice finally splinters) “chance”. And I love Bianca and want her to win at this point. Nobody else is asked to justify who they are behind the professionalism by the way. Unless they all got asked and Bianca was the only one to cry.

Sugar invites his cronies to feed back on the candidates and they agree with Karren that Solomon’s bright but “immature” and incapable of preparing a business plan. Although he does a lovely picture of a sailboat.

Karren thinks Bianca worries about her image, as though that’s somehow strange. Ricky grasses her up for getting “incredibly emotional with little pushing” which makes him sound like a heartless square headed tosser, although he adds that he thinks her “professionalism will help her succeed”. Claude admits he’s done some hosiery research (“which I found quite pleasant”) and there is a market, which Mike confirms, but Claude worries about manufacturing as though Bianca has to get out there and bloody well make the tights herself.
Claudine liked Mark a lot, as did Claude, who describes Mark as “another Ricky”, which really isn’t selling the man to me.
Roisin is dismissed by Sugar as a “bean counter turned bean producer” and Mike tells everyone that her particular “magic” bean is a root called konjac, which Sugar like me deliberately mishears as “Kojak” (“tasteless, but it fills you up”) and is sadly already part of a similar product on the market. http://www.thegrocer.co.uk/fmcg/ambient/nah-launches-konjac-pasta-ambient-ready-meals/372842.article
Mike is worried by Daniel’s obsession with being “super saleman” but Sugar thinks “he’s got spirit” and whilst Claude agrees Daniel’s made a business “out of nothing”, he still thinks planning an event without meeting everyone involved doesn’t make sense. He should try running a comedy night. Mike thinks Dan is a tryer though (“he wouldn’t stop trying for you he’d die in the attempt”. Claude “Or you’d kill him”).

Back in the boardroom, Mark says although his idea has 100s of competitors his is acer and skiller and he worked in his parents businesses so he knows what it’s all about. Erm. It’s time for Karren to stick the spanner in (“It’s stressfull setting up a business… I’ve seen what happens to you when pressure gets to you”) but Mark insists his meltdown just shows “how much the process means to me” (all together now – aww!).

Bianca’s asked if she understands the tights manufacturing process again, but has actually done the homework and knows which manufacturers to approach.

Solomon admits that “Claude gave me a bit of a rollocking” but he’s only 23 bless him. Sugar tells him he’s an “intelligent young man” (Lord Sugar speak for You’re Fucked) and, despite Claude saying he thought Solomon would go far, he is fired (disarmingly telling everyone he “really enjoyed the process” and thanking them for being fair) and ends up in the Taxi of Doom, still relentlessly upbeat (“for me to make the final 5 at such a young age” – what’s that Solomon? How old are you? – “Is an achievement in itself”).

Daniel gets flak for saying “all I need is cash, a good name and some contacts” (“You sound like a criminal on the run!”).

Roisin is informed that she has no “understanding of the enormous scale of things that need to happen for” her business plan to succeed, and for expecting to go global based on the market research of 6 people plus mammy and daddy. Sugar insists that “to fight for space in chillers in supermarkets is like gold dust” which suggests he’s never been to Aldi. The fact she thinks £750K spending in the first year was “conservative” dooms her (Nick: “The scale of your ambition exposes your naivety”), and with regret she is fired, with nary a chance to convey her feelings in Loser’s Taxi.

Again the candidates are sent outside for Sugar to bitch about them with Karren and Nick, and to admire “Daniel’s passion and desire” (ooer). All of a sudden when he brings them back in, he declares he wants to think of them as “people” not just business plans (this after sending two perfectly capable people away).

Daniel still deludedly thinks he’s a great salesperson even when it is pointed out he was 6th amongst the candidates and he will never beat Mark and they should just snog right now.

Mark admits “I should have fought with more passion to be PM more than once” adding “I risked it all to be here” (really?) before declaring himself better than his oppenents in every way (“Oh my God I will blow them away in terms of earnings!” which sets Daniel off, who waves his “I’ve run a successful company what have you done?” willy in Mark’s face.

Wisely Bianca chooses to ignore the “petty squabbles” – insisting she has “the passion to drive the brand”. It’s a good thing she’s not a corporate clone eh? Daniel gets all sneery about the fact that she’s just selling tights, so Sugar sacks him, although he is “a better man than when you walked in” on account of changing his manner. Daniel keeps his new leaf on display by wishing both finalists good luck (“You done amazing”) despite being clearly gutted. In the taxi of despair, Daniel upbeatly insists that the process made him a better person which is “worth more than a quarter of a million to me”. He must be lying right?

Bianca has a smile a mile wide on learning she is a finalist. In the car back Mark starts on some playful mind games (“I can’t wait to win this.. I’d hate to be in your shoes Bianca”), but she just laughs “let’s see eh?.

Next week is the final and clearly Daniel is on Bianca’s team (“You got me fired” (eh?) “but I hate Mark more”). We’re nearly there, well done for hanging on in.

To win
Bianca

To perish in a tragic coughing fit disaster
Mark

Bye Bye:-
Chiles, Robert, Scott, Lindsay, Nurun, Steven, Stepford Sarah, Ella Jade, Jemma, Pamela, Lauren, James, Felipe, Katie, Sanjay, Solomon, Roisin, Daniel

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