Archives for the month of: October, 2015

Week four sees the candidates summoned to Samuel Johnson’s (sadly not L Jackson’s) house. “He’s a poet” Sam the Wordsmith intones solemnly. I end up having to answer an urgent email for most of tonight’s show, so I miss quite a lot of the finer points, but I do enjoy Sam showing off his literary skillz.

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” Vana reads stiltingly from the plaque in Gough Square. In year’s to come there may well be a similar plaque replacing the words London and life with “Vana”.

Anyhow Lord Sugar manages another tenuous task link worthy of the Bat Computer by explaining that Samuel Johnson, famous for his dictionary, has a statue commemorating him which features his beloved cat, and thus the candidates have to pick pet pampering products from a selection of dangerous lunatics to sell at the London Pet Show. Most sales win.

To spice things up Charleine, April and Vana are moved to Team Versatile, whereas Scott, Brett and Gary move to Connexus.

Vana’s already all about the kitties (“A lot of single women have cats”). Brett however is more interested in the “rabbit sector”.

Ruth’s keen to lead Connexus as she wants to share her “techniques” (I’m presuming in sales”), but she’s gazumped by Scott as he has “a little dog” and also is ace and skill at everything and has been on the winning team three times in a row, as though that means anything.

David’s really passionate about everything and the only person daft enough to volunteer so gets to Project Manage team Versatile.

Next we have an assortment of animal loving weirdos including an ageing hipster selling Hi-Visability Chicken Jackets. David’s tactic is to be mega enthusiastic about every product (actually not a bad move) which means you can’t really tell if he genuinely is creaming his pants over those freaking close-up photo of hamster T-shirts, or if the nurse doesn’t need to be summoned to close the screens at this stage.

Next Charleine inspects “Cat Towers”, a Ballardian feline castle incorporating a pillow atop a scratch post. Whilst she ignores the suppliers pitch, when she hears Richard is taken with the high end Dog Sofas (what better way to discourage dogs from getting on your sofa by giving them their own model to practice on?), she’s all about the sales record for cat towers and gives David evils when he ignores her and goes for Richard’s choice.

Ruth still wants to go for the Rabbit Revenue, but Scott realises that she is a woman so decides he isn’t interested in the luxury hutch and instead trusts Gary on his choice of Cat Towers. Ruth’s typically unphased “I don’t know anything about cats, but I do know about selling”.

Scott puts Army Dreamer Brett in charge of arguing prices with the suppliers, which doesn’t go down well, especially with the animal balloon retailers, who prefer it when David rubs himself all over their legs and purring.

After much faffing, Scott decides that balloons might be a good cheap product to help attract customers (“It’s a call we’re all going to make”), but unfortunately by then the balloon people have gone for David, who has frotted so many balloons that his hair has gone all Gary Rhodes. So Scott’s forced to go for the “feline market” of Cat Towers, weird LED cat toys and erm something else, apparently “cat throws”, which sounds um fun.

David’s team end up with balloons and Hamster T-shirts (£25 a pop to look like a member of the Richard Gere fan club!) and those dog sofas that Richard thinks are a piece of piss to sell.

Several hours later at the Pet Show and Richard’s desperation is thinly veiled , “It’s always better in the afternoons” he comforts himself. “I’ve set myself a personal target of 4 because I want to overachieve”. Richard seems to be morphing into David Brent since his one victory as PM.

Whilst rabbits on leashes hop over fences; Ruth rues missing the bunny dollar and takes out her neediness on any nearby potential customers by talking to them to just about EVERYTHING (the price of fish, their sex lives, their inner leg measurements, whether a jaffa cake is a biscuit or not) EXCEPT selling fricking cat towers.

Selina’s doing no better and with a crowd of customers interested in buying a customised cat tower she does a blank when they ask her about price so goes to interrupt Scott (busy with another customer) to ask for help. Give him credit, he does, preventing her customers from wandering off bored, and she takes the sale. “It was my sale!” she insists loudly and I go right off Selina.

The crowds are going ape shit crazy for Versatile’s £5 animal balloons. Sadly David doesn’t think of actually selling them other products whilst they queue, so it just becomes chaotic, with most of the team inflating rubber giraffes rather than concentrating on the other products.

Ruth’s not sold a single Cat Towers at end of play, but she has got a few phone numbers, and insists that she at least “skilfully tried to make sales”.

Back in the boardroom and David’s typically enthused about being enthusiastic which was “one of the great ideas which I had which I thought was fantastic”. Even Scott has to say fair play to David over his poaching of the balloons though. Sugar seems to be less impressed (“You have to sell 140 balloons to get the same amount as one dog sofa”), but surely he’s missing the point, as David points out “T shirts and balloons are for everybody, not just dogs”. Yeah! David’s applied the same methodology to sales, and believes it makes his customers think he is “one of them” (ouch).

Anyhow Connexis sold £3028.49 worth of crap (£1800 on cat towers), whereas Versatile sold £4051.62 worth (£2462 on dog sofas).

Versatile get the treat of going for a run, some quorn and steroids with Mo Farah, whereas Connexus retire to the Café of Forgotten Dreams.

Natalie blames Brett for browbeating the balloon chaps on price, whereas Brett blames Ruth for not selling and just talking, and Ruth is just stressed.

In the boardroom, Sugar accuses Ruth of “taking the scenic route, with no end result” on sales, and mentions that Scott had to help Selina with her one sale. “He didn’t assist” Selina insists. Ooh you lying get! Fortunately Claude is on hand with a slam “Scott worked out his costings and didn’t need to go to Selina to help so there’s no reason she couldn’t have worked out the costings, she just didn’t” adding “you were on the periphery and not displaying enthusiasm as you should”. Selina’s well and truly nasally disjointed (“I’m disappointed you think that.. I always get my hands dirty”).

Everyone’s sad about losing the balloons and Sugar blames Brett for going in like a bull in a china shop over prices. However Ruth gets more stick for not chasing off “people who couldn’t pay” for Cat Towers and instead engaging them in Relate sessions and seances. “What do I say?” Ruth asks genuinely and lovably. “Sod off!” Sugar informs her.

Anyhow Scott, still smarting from his first loss (“it hurts!”) brings Selina and Ruth back to the Boardroom. Gary sold sweet fuck all too, but he has testicles so that will do for Scott.

Karen Brady worries about Ruth as a business prospect. This is Karen Brady who recently voted to cut tax credits, so ballcocks to her opinion. Fortunately Claude goes against his typecasting and sticks up for Ruth’s enthusiasm over Selina’s apathy.

Selina shouts that she’s “proven” herself in two different continents as though she’s Alexander The Great or Hugh Laurie, before realising it’s not cutting ice with Sugar and switching to attacking Ruth (“You didn’t sell anything and you are very un-concise and difficult to work with”), whilst Scott backs her up.

Poor Ruth sniffs “At least I put myself in a position to sell.. and did my absolute damnedest”.

Scott reckons Lord Sugar will realise how ace and skill he is once he sets his beady peepers on Scott’s business plan, but Sugar can’t give a monkeys. Sugar’s also sussed out Selina (“no smoke without fire”) as two faced, but ultimately he can’t forgive Ruth for running a business training people how to sell, so fires her (boo), and it looks (hopefully) like he might fire Selina too, but she’s spared with one marked card and sent back to the house.

In the Taxi of If Only, Ruth still can’t believe she’s gone on a sales task and magnanimously argues that although Selina is hard work, at least she made a sale. No she bloody didn’t Ruth, and the injustice of tonight’s show will never be forgotten, till at least next year.

Next week the candidates have to create a children’s book (cos there’s no skill in that) and lovely Sam gets to be a wordsmith (“I think language and communication is the key to existence”).

Liking:
Sam
David

Warming to

Joseph
Natalie

Not convinced by

Scott
Gary
Elle
April

Irritated By

Mergim
Richard

Disliking

Brett
Charleine
Vana
Selina

Bye Bye:

Dan, Aisha, Jenny, Ruth

Looking Forward To

Sam threading forget me nots in everyones’ pubes whilst reciting Don Juan.

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Week 3, and the boys answer the bright red twat phone, to be summoned to assemble in the wartime tunnels beneath Dover Castle. Elle’s not sure where Dover is (“maybe we’re going to Ireland”), whereas all the boys engage in a willy waving competition against the still impossibly smug Richard.

Anyhow Lord Sugar can’t be arsed turning up to Kent as he’s too busy throwing darts at a poster of Piers Morgan or something, so a video of him sets the candidates (still Connexus girls versus Versatile boys) the mission of negotiating and buying the following items at the best prices, with the twist being that half of them will be in Calais (and are urged pointedly not to miss the last ferry back) whilst the rest stay on the Kent coast:

10kg Mussels

100 Snails

3 metres of Leaving Lace (?)

A Luis Phillipe Mirror

7 crystal champagne flutes

A dinghy

A 4kg galvanised anchor

Some whole milk Maroilles cheese

A load of shit (OK 30 kilos of manure)

Any missed items incur a penalty of 50 quid plus the average retail price fine for that item.

Vana puts herself forward to lead Connexus as she speaks French. Elle also wants to be PM as she works in construction, so has to “make sure people are where they need to be” (eh?), but everybody votes for Vana, who tosses Elle the bone of being the Kent subteam leader. Vana immediately decides on the items she wants to buy in France (“I don’t plan on swapping”) and puts everybody noses out of joint. Vana gives a disconcertingly over-controlling pep talk “I need you to respect each other… the female team can’t get catty” – cue catty eye rolling all round.

Joseph takes charge of the boys, with Richard unhelpfully chipping in, now he’s won a task (Joseph: “We want to establish the top sellers” Richard “It’s negotiation” Joseph “Well er sellings like negotiation but flipped around”). “We need to find who speaks French” Richard insists. “Yeah I had that written down” Joseph retorts.

Sam is the boys French speaker and heads to Calais with Richard and Joseph, where he (cutely) struggles in a phone call about the mirror (“C’est erm Louis Phillipe… ok c’est bon”) and drags them off to a shop where a smilie but confused French lady fails to help them, and Claude (a fluent French speaker) cringes in a Gallic stylee).

Joseph worries that the girls secret weapon will be charming horny French men into getting good deals (“they’re all very pretty ladies”) and sure enough Vana zones in on a French glassware specialist staying in their hotel and argues him (“We’re four nice girls from the UK”) into dropping the price for the champagne flutes from 300 to 45 euros. “You’re gorgeous” he laughs and agrees the deal, presumably they edited out the bit where he dropped his pants and demanded “Now you blow me”.

Back in Kent, Jenny’s taken responsibility for “Leavers Lace” despite having sod all clue what it is and even phoning up Japanese schools and Universities (“we might get a discount!”, whilst the rest of the team leave her to it. Eventually she susses out it’s actually a speciality of Calais and calls Vana, who agrees to look for it as long as Jenny takes responsibility for the mussels (because she’s never fricking heard of moules marinere). Jenny wants to look for the mirror because her dad owns an antique shop, but Vana won’t budge and goes all Snow White wicked witch (“We’re not giving you the mirror”).

Brett’s subteam spot a pile of manure in a film and help themselves (Scott “It’s still warm!”) with the farmer’s blessing. Ruth also gets free manure by approaching a farmer who assures her “That’s genuine bullshit” and everyone gets crap on their shoes.

Vana insists her subteam drive 45minutes to Boulogne-sur-Mer to get the wrong cheese whilst Selina, April and Natalie make worried noises. They then fail to find 100 snails in a series of restaurants because they haven’t heard of markets or hypermarkets (and yes I have no idea why they can’t ask about mussels at the same time and just let the subteam know if they buy them), so Vana decides to ignore her team (especially Selina) and return to Calais to buy the mirror and lace. “So we came all this way just for cheese” Selina mutters darkly.

With Joseph still struggling to make a purchase, Richard demands space to try his strategy (“I want to be the charming, bubbling English guy”) to buy the cheese, whereupon the cheesemonger clearly thinks “Aha Boris Johnson Idiot Man!” and only offers Richard a 20 Euro discount, which David points out is already offered on the sign on the counter. They drag a deflating Richard away before he can get an extra 5p off (“Joseph “Stop causing friction, we’re trying to move on”) and an unimpressed Claude pisses off to check how the Kent subteam are doing.

Charleine looks for the cheapest price on the anchor and argues the woman down all the way from £13.50 to £12.50, reacting like she’s Gordon Fricking Gecko (“I just put in a little cheeky one” – Eh??). I mean Scott’s anchor is more expensive (£20) but at least he’s argued it down from £27.95 (Gary “I would have got it for £15”). The shop’s also selling an inflatable boat, but at £259 it’s too much for Elle to comprehend.

Joseph’s got a lead on an antiques store selling crystal flutes, but it being the feckless continent they’re closed for a long lunch, whereupon Versatile don’t exactly live up to their name and camp outside waiting for the shop to reopen hours later so they can buy the glasses for 100 euros. At least Joseph gets details of where he can buy the mirror for 30 euros. And Richard seems to have finally shut the feck up.

Jenny’s now looking for mussels and knows she will be fine as she’s “the best negotiator in the team. I’d be better off by myself actually”. “Do Chinese restaurants do mussels?” she wonders (only the really good ones, so in Kent the answer’s no apparently), before wondering into a fish restaurant and taking the waitresses word for it that they don’t have any mussels to sell, rather than say asking the chef or manager or going to a bloody market. Arggh!

In France, Selina worries about the cost of being penalised for not getting the mirror, but Vana slaps her down (“Yes we know that Selina!”) and Selina promises not to “bring up anything I have an opinion on”. Vana says pointedly that she thinks Natalie’s made more of an effort on the task. “What where you saying earlier about not being catty” Selina slams her gently. Vana phones Elle to throw her weight about, but Elle’s freaking out about the boat (which she’s now argued down to a still shopping £255) whilst the rest of the team stare about her. Vana insists “Buy the boat” and Elle has to shamefacedly admit to the gleeful boat shop lady that she’s desperate, and gets it for the sympathy price of £250.

Meanwhile Gary, not having watched Felipe being fired over cardboard skeleton gate last year, just strolls into a toy shop, sweet talks them into dropping their price from £12 at the absolute cheapest (“Let’s see if we can make history”) to £10 (“I think I’ve only got £9.50.. oh ok then”). Everyone high fives, but Claude points out it’s a bit “early to celebrate” (as the producers haven’t decided on the narrative yet).

Both sides are now hunting snails. Selina goes for X-Factor style sob stories in a restaurant (“mon pere est mort, mon mere est mort”) and gets the deal.

Joseph finds Leavers Lace and does his best Private Walker from Dad’s Army spiv smarm until they realise they’re out of mace and sell him it for 180 euros, whereas elsewhere April gets it for 70 euros. With only 30 minutes to go before the ferry leaves, Joseph has to beg Brett to try to find snails in Kent, but Brent has the hump and just makes a couple of phone calls before giving up.

Board Room time, and Sugar mocks the boys for waiting outside a closed shop for hours (“The French regularly go on strike; it’s called lunch”) and for their snail fail (Joseph “It wasn’t the right season”, Sugar “Where did they go? On holiday?”), and the girls all do horrified faces when Gary’s toy dinghy price is revealed. The awkward Alpha male struggle continues. “I just wish that Brett was PM” Richard opines. “Why?” Joseph sighs, “Because hindsight is a wonderful thing” (Joseph “Why don’t you just fucking marry Brett?”, OK I made that bit up).

Vana’s in smug mode about sexing the hotel man for cheap glasses (“I spotted a man, he had very open body language”), however it’s time for the results.

Connexus girls spent £398.44 but got fined for not bringing mussels or a mirror and for buying the wrong cheese (Selina does a told you so face) which leaves them at £725.90 including fines (how much are those mirrors!?).

Versatile spent only £336.83 but with their fine for the snails it was £409.21

So the boys of Versatile get the reward of tasting the finest wines known to humanity whilst listening to Richard act as though the win was all down to him, whereas the girls of Connexus get sent to Bridge Café to taste the milky coffee of defeat, whilst listening to Vana blame everybody else (“I take responsibility for anything wrong, but it looks like Jenny didn’t do anything and Elle couldn’t make decisions”).

It’s all kicking off against Selina, and I can’t help but think Charleine’s been partially responsible. Vana accuses Selina of “constantly trying to blame other people” and Charleine calls Selina a “moral vacuum” and starts shouting her down when Selina quietly queries this. Ooh! Handbags!

In the boardroom, Vana lays into Elle for buying the wrong boat (Elle: “I felt kind of forced”), Natalie for buying the wrong cheese (Natalie “I don’t think cheese was the failure of the task”) and Jenny for being “dead weight” (Jenny “I felt like I did a lot actually [giggle] I didn’t buy anything…oh it was awful [snort] I’m not sure what else I can say” – erm you’ve said enough love).

Selina mentions she thought they should have got the mirror and it all kicks off against her, with Charleine bitching about her faking dead parents to get a deal (Selina “It was a joke”) and accusing her, waspishly, of being “an irritating wasp at a picnic” (Selina “that’s your issue). Vana sniggers and Karen lays into her for a shambles of a task.

Anyhow Vana chooses to bring Elle back into the boardroom over her subteam leadership and Jenny “as dead weight”, and NOT Selina, because Vana knows she can’t win that bitch fight.

Poor Jenny thinks she was selfless letting people go for the easy items (“If I’d been given manure I wouldn’t be here”), but she gets given some manure courtesy of Vana (“You were distracted talking about your fathers antiques.. I knew we were looking for a French mirror”). Vana rips into Elle for not managing her team properly, despite Vana having done less for Anglo American relations than Toby Studebaker. Unfortunately despite Vana’a evident shitness, Lord Sugar fires Jenny for being a bit insipid, at which point she spiritedly pipes up (and he listens!) “I’m very disappointed to not show you what I’m capable of, because I’m a lot better than the other candidates”. Even in the cab of doom she insists she’d still have been there “if I’d taken the manure”, and “Lord Sugar will be knocking on my door in a few years time when he sees my Enormo Posh Bint Corps Business”. Or at least he might visit her at the Home for Terminally Deluded Debs.

Cards slightly marked, Elle and Vana go home and Selina makes a “someone shat in my cocoa pops” face when she sees our favourite panda eyed New Yorker return.

Vana’s just disappointed nobody stuck up for her in the boardroom (“I took the heat for you guys”), instead shunning her as though she was a crazy passive aggressive septic.

Next week jelly wrestling with electric fires! Or some sort of cute pets show.

Liking:

Ruth
Sam
Selina

Warming to

David
Joseph

Not convinced by

Scott
Gary
Elle
Natalie
April

Irritated By

Mergim
Gary
Richard

Disliking

Brett

Charleine
Vana

Bye Bye:

Dan, Aisha, Jenny

Looking Forward To

Selina strangling all the nasty girls with her bare thighs.

Week 2 dawns rather too suddenly from my perspective, as the candidates are summoned to the Barbican Conservatory at 5.30am. “ I’ve heard of the Barbican but I don’t know what it is” Jenny gawps. “Maybe we have to direct a play and sell tickets to it! How awesome would that be?” gushes Sam the wordsmith.

Anyhow at the centre of the Barbican, there is apparently a hidden oasis (like everything in this concrete maze it must be pretty fricking well hidden as I’ve never found it) containing 2000 species of exotic plants. Lord Sugar meets our remaining inadequates in the Cactus Room so he can make one of his bat computer style tenuous links to the task. “Cactuses survive in the desert as they hold in moisture and have long been used in beauty… that’s right you’re making and branding a shampoo!”

So the teams have two days to brand and advertise a moisture retaining shampoo made out of cactus seeds then pitch their ideas to top advertising execs. There’s another twist in that it’s back to boys versus girls (much to spivvy Joseph’s delight) so we can spend most of the episode wondering who the fuck is Connexus (it’s the girls). Selina’s just relieved that Brett isn’t on a hair care task with her as he’s “bald” (that’s how Selina pronounces “an arsehat”). Richard worries the girls have an advantage as Charleine runs a hairdressers, but then remembers that he thinks she is a “nightmare to work with”).

Charleine is all “Mememe! Pick me! I have a salon! I talk about hair continuously despite having slightly weird hair myself! This is MY TIME GODDAMIT!”, but Aisha checkmates her by mentioning that she’s actually launched a hair extensions product and done an advert and all so they all vote in Aisha as PM whilst Charleine mutters and rocks in the corner. Aisha promises to bring anybody who doesn’t contribute back to the boardroom. Everyone looks suitably unmotivated.

The teams head to award winning creative wankery “Arc” to borrow their flip charts and pretend they’re on Nathan Barley.

Richard goes for a collaborative leadership style with Versatile by letting everybody pitch ideas no matter how insane as long as they mention cactus and moisture. For Mergim this means “sexiness” (“I see a gentleman with a haircut similar to mine and all these women just looking at his face” – and then presumably their tears moisten his hair?). Scott suggests “Manly Moist”, making Sam the Wordsmith shudder in horror. Hitherto invisible David pipes up, jazz hands flapping in the breeze, with the suggestion of calling the product Western (“I came up with the name – it shows how strong I am!”) with the tagline “Desert defeating hair” and bizarrely (to me, a mere woman) they all go for this strange boys own adventure product branding.

Aisha’s keen on targeting the mass market just to please Lord Sugar, but Vana suggests that older women could be targeted as “the 50 plus generation is the fastest growing” and to keep the peace amidst a rising shrieking match Aisha agrees to “go for the grey pound”. Vana suggests calling the product “Cactess” to keep the product source and target market together, but Aisha’s not convinced (“I like the ‘tess, but I don’t like the cack”).

Claude does his Greek chorus of warning that although it’ a good target market, the team are in their 20s and “mustn’t fall into the trap of creating a product for themselves”.

Gary, Brett and Joseph are sent to create a short billboard advert, with Richard instructing them to follow his concept of a man flicking his hair in slow motion to repel sand. But Richard isn’t the only visionary in this one shampoo town. “What if the bloke had FOAM in his hair?” Joseph blurts, inspired, and buoyed by his blossoming creative genius he goes on to direct (“Don’t look into the camera you helmet!”) a beardy hipster model to kneel half naked in a bin whilst a watering can is emptied over his head and baldy Brett tutors him in the niceries of hair washing and keeping his trousers dry (“Do you mind coming in your pants then changing into your trousers afterwards?” – surely one of the finer chat up lines ever spawned by The Apprentice).

Aisha is all for “Secrets of the Desert” as her product name, despite the rest of the team hating it because it sounds like a Turkish Delight themed skin flick produced by Al Qaida. Elle wants it known that she thinks it sounds crap in a world weary negative way that suggests that Elle’s parents are enjoying a few weeks break without her. Aisha and April look through the model files for the face of Desert Secret, with April justifying going for younger models for a product aimed at middle aged women as “the product will make them feel ten years younger than they are so it will get the message across”. Charleine and Ruth are therefore unimpressed when a gaggle of semi-foetuses arrive for the billboard shoot looking more like they’re auditioning for a Netflix and Chill session. Concerned this totally misses the target market, Ruth gamely volunteers to be the model and Nat breaks out the polyfilla to do her make-up (“Don’t make me look old!” – oh hang on isn’t that the point?). Jenny directs (“I love it! It’s really creative and that’s what I’m really good at!”) and actually it isn’t that bad.

Meanwhile Aisha is making all the decisions about product design whilst Vana makes hacky faces and moans about it feeling dictatorial. Aisha’s convinced that cactuses are unappealing so chooses to depict a purple cactus flower despite it having sod all to do with the product and looking a bit like the nutty caramel from Quality Street. The girls product arrives in a bland green bottle which tells you nothing about the content and as Natalie says “looks like a handwash”. Meanwhile the boys take delivery of the manly black dildo that contains “Western” and there is much rejoicing.

Joseph’s really proud on the phone to Richard in that he’s “changed the game” by making his billboard look like the model’s in the shower (“He was standing in a bucket in his pants! We was proper buzzing!”). Richard’s a little perturbed that there was no sand, but Scott reassures him that “It can’t go that wrong”. Still he’s keen to ensure David stays on brand for the advert shoot.

It’s time for the girls to choose who to pitch. Charleine cries “MeMeMe! I talk about hair products to everyone! They all think I’m mental and cross the road to avoid me! I love shampoo me!” but for some reason Aisha passes her over and chooses Natalie who assures her that she has experience presenting to businesses. Charleine mutters darkly that unless the ad contains the line that cactus is “richer than argan oil and improves elasticity” then surely they are all doomed. “I feel like they’re intimidated by my knowledge” she whinges. Aisha’s chuffed with the final cheesy advert (“Who can argue with the mother daughter relationship? That’s universal” – guess this shampoo won’t appeal to Christina Crawford).

For David’s directorial debut he seems to have morphed into Roger De Bris from The Producers as he asks the models to channel their inner dry hair demons and leaps around happily proclaiming “I’m very flamboyant!”. Richard tries to micromanage him (“I can’t accept the cactus getting lost in this”) but eventually decides to give David space and presumably enough rope to hang him in the boardroom with.

Selina directs the girls ad in their bathroom, whilst Charleine goes full on bitchy hairdresser with the actresses to undermine the product (“Do you think we should have explained it better on the bottle? Yes? Well they knew I knew all about shampoo but did they ask me? You know what they SHOULD say? etc etc”) until Selina begs her to shut the fuck up (“There’s no point now talking about what we haven’t done on the bottle”). Charleine gets her last laugh as the actress sneaks in the catchy line “It’s far richer than argan oil!”, which she loves, until Selina states firmly “I’m not using that shot”.

The team’s billboards air at Waterloo station and Claude is impressed by Ruth’s performance (“It is resonating and grabbing attention”). Mergim gets less positive feedback for the boys watery offering (“Does it display a clear message?” “Not really, no”).

The boys film their advert with poor wordsmith Sam forced to ask feebly for his Voiceover “Does your hair feel like desert?” (Richard “More enthusiasm please Sam!”) whilst David wigs out happily to synth pop.

It’s pitch o clock and Natalie worries about her pitch in front of marketing wonks and Aussie haircare bods as the product is dog-shite, but she soldiers on after a poor start (“Good morning!” SILENCE), nervously spacing out her words like a bad William Shatner tribute act (“We’ve. Got. A. Secret. From. The. Desert.”). Mind you Vana doesn’t add much (“The green bottle was chosen because the cactus is green”) and the advert makes the much vaunted mother daughter relationship look just plain creepy (“Thanks so much for the massage mum, it’s exactly what I needed! Oh my god you have hair!” etc). Traditional Ad Man in wacky spectacles thinks they are “missing fun” from the concept. “Well we did put a contemporary soundtrack in there” Natalie insists. Wow she knows how to have fun! Another ad lady says they failed to mention it’s a new product launch, but Natalie reckons the target market of 45 year old women fear “the unknown”. It’s true, I saw one of those mocha kitkats the other day and nearly shat myself. Nat, Vana and Ruth come away patting themselves on the back until Elle (who’s been watching with the non participating team members on a monitor) tactfully informs them it was “really poor”. Vana takes her down “on behalf of all those girls who had the courage to go in” (and talk about fucking shampoo for christ sake), but Elle goes all council estate noddy head “Don’t disrespect me! I’m not gonna be the bitch who says you were excellent then turns round and says I didn’t like it”. Aisha’s still proud of the product and insists “It’s all my idea”.

Scott, Gary and Richard pitch for the boys, but Bullshit Scott is sure he knows “the ins and outs of everything” and he doesn’t need any steenking prompt cards (“I like to be free when presenting so I can go in and smash it”). He lasts about 30 seconds before his eyes roll back in his head like David Blunkett trying to remember if he left the gas on and he has a proper brain freeze, after which he manages to string some words together, just not necessarily in the right order, even though afterwards he claims he “rallied well” (erm). Richard runs the advert and despite the cactus being in shot the audience are confused. “Simple. Clean. On message” Richard says smugly as his watching team shout “He’s just like David Brent”at their monitor). Ad woman points out that you don’t see the after effects of the shampoo in the advert. “We are filming the act of defeating the desert” Richard explains, whilst Sam groans loudly “NO NO! It’s about cactus in a desert it all links the links are CLEAR! Why did they send a boy to do a lyrical fucking wordsmith’s job!!!” etc).

Back in his lair, Sugar asks the experts to grass up on the teams exploits and whilst they like Vana’s idea of targeting an ageing consumer they clearly think the product sucks balls. Likewise they like the boys simple advert and branding (and the use of the cactus) but are bemused by no end benefit being depicted.

Back in the Boardroom and Sugar reiterates the task is all about the benefits of cactus, in case we hadn’t realised. As though he thought cactus made anything other than calculators.

He’s therefore unimpressed by Aisha’s Cactus Flower design “It looks like someone has sneezed with a raspberry in their mouth”. Charleine points out that if she hadn’t been there then nobody would have said that cactus is “richer than argan oil”. Oh FFS get over it! He does however seem to enjoy Ruth “rotating like a kebab” on the billboard.

Over on Versatile, David is still so proud of coming up with the name “Western” but Sugar still thinks the billboard should have shown the end product of moistened hair. Richard claims that guys don’t enjoy seeing hair blowing in the wind – they’re more about the actual activity of washing hair.. it may sound like made up bullcrap and probably is, but I wonder if he’s accidentally onto something? Nah. Richard reckons he used all the skills in his team, but Karen hints it was only so he could avoid taking responsibility for the campaign.

Still the boys win as they kept a cactus on the bottle or something and they are given a “treat” of anti gravity yoga, which looks a lot like writhing around in an upside down hammock. Fun!

In Sad Café, Aisha thinks she should have stuck to the mass market idea. Charleine insists that the billboard team worked well together, implying none too subtly that the advert team led by the blonde podium dancer didn’t, and Selina tells her to get over herself. This looks like the start of a beautiful blonde bitchfest.

Back in the boardroom and Aisha still misses the point by blaming Vana for the target market idea and insisting “I was the only one who brought concepts to the table, of substance”, which means she also has to take the blame for the regurgitated raspberry cactus flower.

Elle insists she hated the cactus flower and that she didn’t think the word “secret” should have been used and she hates everybody and it’s so unfair, and gets a Claude slam as a result (“She didn’t once verbalise what she DID like, I didn’t once hear a positive comment”).

Karen has a fake pop at Natalie for insulting the over 45s (“I’m 46! You said people over 45 were scared of anything new!”) and Nat gets flack for her boring pitch.

Aisha decides to bring Natalie and Vana back into the boardroom, thus letting the people who didn’t really contribute much (Elle, April) off scot free.

Aisha still blames Vana for the “grey pound” idea, despite Sugar explaining carefully that it isn’t the reason the task failed. She then claims Vana didn’t contribute, prompting an Oh My God Face as Vana fights back (“I don’t think you can say that in good faith without telling a lie…you drowned out my opinion”). Aisha then slags Natalie for being incapable of delivering a five minute pitch, but Natalie moans that the product and advertising was horrible and makes an ill advised attempt to tap Aisha on the arm (“Don’t touch me!!”).

Sugar is appalled that Natalie gave up on the shit product and marks her card as he has a garage full of tut for this year’s winner to flog down Romford Market, but eventually (after rightly letting Vana off the hook) he fires Aisha for running a disaster of a task. In the Taxi of Despair, she’s still marvellously lacking in self awareness (“I was the only one who actually brought any ideas to the table”).

Back in the house, Elle sits around sulking in a panda onesie and goes WAY down in my estimations. The boys all say Charleine should have been PM which she laps up (“I’d actually put your product on my shelf”).

Next week the teams go to France on a mission to negotiate our way out of Europe or something.

Liking:

Mad Ruth
Sam the Poet
Selina

Warming to

Vana

They’re probably OK, but worryingly chirpy

Jenny
David

Not convinced by

Bullshit Scott
Wishy Washy Richard

Irritated By

April
Mergim
Gary
Joseph
Natalie
Elle

Disliking

Brett

Charleine

Bye Bye:

Accidental Partridge Dan, Aisha

Looking Forward To

Claude going ape kill crazy with a chainsaw.

It’s Week One of Series 11, and there’s 18 (!!!) of the stripy suited shitclowns sat in Lord Sugar’s Argos-furnished Boardroom having put down their crayons and handed in their business plans at reception.

There’s an ominous empty chair, and Lord Sugar warns the candidates that things are about to get “a whole lot tougher”, as he clicks his fingers and summons Claude Littner who replaces lovely Nick Hewer by snarling at the assembled corpotwats. Sugar describes Claude as “fair and straightforward” (so are Rottweilers), but reassures the contestants that Claude also enjoys “a laugh from time to time” (when he witnesses maimings). Karen “The Baroness” Brady returns to gurn over the woesome task-related antics.

Sugar informs the candidates that his previous business partners are “doing fantastically well”(well apart from the ones he has sued) and that he doesn’t like people sucking up to him (“If I want to be loved I’d go on Tinder” – except they would have to rename it to Shudder).

We meet some of the candidates, starting with the charmless faux spiv, Joseph Valente (“I want the cars, I want the girls but most of all I want the power”) who described himself as a “Master of persuasion with the women” and aspires to be Hugh Hefner. He’s not that far off as he’s about to be surrounded by women with zero respect for him who are only there for the money.

We also meet Dan Callaghan, whose initial VT about him sitting back and letting others make mistakes lends him the appearance of a bit of a flopsy haired twat. The revelation that this perfume importer once nearly lost his parents pension and wants to be like Alexander The Great, but not by drinking himself to death doesn’t help allay my fears, but then he redeems himself partially in my eyes by claiming to dislike corporate “waffle”. Lord Sugar clarifies what he means by reading out a brain-fusing tract of utter wankiness penned by fellow candidate Richard Woods (The “Swiss army knife of business skills”). Lord Sugar helpfully translates all this for the hard of fucking caring as “what a load of bollocks” whilst Richard smiles wanly.

Anyhow for the first task the candidates have to get up the crack of dawn and go dahn Billingsgate Market and buy fish to turn into products to sell to Londoners.

Lord Sugar mixes it in a desperate attempt to enliven the format by moving some of them around the desk until hey presto it’s no longer boys versus girls but for the first time evah it’s Mixed Teams for Task One!

Mergim Butaja is gutted (“I wanted to prove men can sell more than women!”). Joseph however sees this as an opportunity to impress the laydeez (“Hi guys, nice to work with you all. My name’s Joseph Valente”). He reveals that he was expelled from school at 14 but has turned his life around and is now “the godfather of business”. Joseph Valente is actually a plumber. However he is waiting for that special porn movie script to fall into his lap. Brett reveals himself to be yet another silver tongued charmer by suggesting that women will be rubbish at this task as “they won’t touch fish”. He obviously doesn’t watch enough porn.

Talking (too much) of adult entertainment, Selina Waterman-Smith reveals that she was once a podium dancer (“but not a pole dancer, I need to clarify that”. Ah sweet.).

After cooing at their classy new pad with it’s gym, perspex floor and ornamental parrot the teams get together to select the all important team name.

Charleine Wain (which also sounds like a porn name, what is wrong with me tonight?) having spent 11.5 years in the Navy (Oh FFS!) quite likes the name Illustrious, which she helpfully explains is “also a ship”. Everyone ignores her and Scott Saunders pipes up with Versatile (“cos we are er versatile”), which everyone loves. Dan, the hater of corporate bullshit, does an excellent Accidental Partridge (“Can I throw my thought into the thought pond and call ourselves The Sugar Babes?”) but perhaps thankfully Versatile wins. The entire team then attempt to witch hunt out a sacrificial project manager. Gary Poulton is outed as having “retail experience” but explains lairily that “it’s mainly pure property and construction”. Eventually Scott sighs “Does ANYONE want to put themselves up first?” which is met with stony silence. Eventually Selina admits to food knowledge (“I cook and am intolerant to many foods”) and is unanimously voted in as PM. Tutor Sam Curry suggests that the team cook calamari as there’s “No waste” (ugh!) and someone else suggests fish finger butties, which surely it would take a moron to fuck up. Even Claude looks happy for a change.

The other team plump for Brett Butler-Smythe’s “Connexis” (apparently it’s Latin for “Does this make me sound intelligent?” or something). April Jackson immediately volunteers to lead as she’s Jamaican and they are winners and taller than everyone else. She demands that her minions, I mean team, produce fishcakes and nicoise salad whilst Karen makes hacky “Are you sure?” faces in the background.

First thing in the morning and apparently Billingsgate Market “stinks of fish”.

Selina splits Versatile into Team Calamari and Team Fishcake (lead by Charleine, who seems inordinately proud of this accolade). Selina’s all about checking prices and haggling, with Charleine getting some cheap coley as substitute cod for the fishfingers and Selina telling Gary off for trying to do a deal on calamari for £8.50 a kilo (you can get it cheaper in Waitrose love!) over her head and walking away. Natalie Dean ends up spotting some sort of radioactive sea creature advertised as squid for £5 per kilo and strikes a bargain deal including nosepegs and extra mutated tentacles, whilst the stall holder packs up his table and scarpers. “They were seduced by low prices” Claude sniffs. “That is poor quality squid although hopefully ok to make calamari” (ugh! I used to like calamari!).

April swans in and buys fresh cod for her premium fishcake from the first stall she goes to at the first price quoted whilst Karen looks on aghast (“You don’t do that”). Joseph gets her a gorgeous looking bit of tuna, and you can’t help but feel April’s missed the point of Sugar’s first task always being about making, rather than spending money, especially when she works out that each tuna nicoise salad will cost £3.30 to make, so plans to sell them for £9 each as “artisinal high end salads”. Good luck with not being told to take your posh tuna salads and put them back in the fucking sea.

The kindly chef in the special apprentice proofed kitchens nearly collapses at the reek of the squid (“You get what you pay for”) but Versatile soldier on, and just cross their fingers that they won’t poison too many punters. Meanwhile Charleine is delighted with Team Fishfinger’s progress in producing something that appears half edible.

On Connexis, Brett has taken over fishcake assembly duties due to his experience as a “sous chef in a fish restaurant”. Brett is a navy engineer and claims to have “learned high standards in the army” (eh?). These standards involve refusing to listen to any woman in the room and painstakingly following the guideline recipe (“It has to be as per the instructions”) regardless of the fact his fishcakes are turning out like crusty cushions and despite having enough ingredients for 300 they only end up with 89. “They look massive” April sniffs. “That’s part of the remit” insists Brett dogmatically.

Whilst Connexis are in danger of missing the vital lunchtime rush, Selina takes Richard, Scott and Charleine out to Camden Lock as her sales team. Sam Curry gives them some poetic words of advice, as being a tutor makes him the (lyrical motherfuckin) “wordsmith” of Team Versatile. “Remember to bring out the spiciness, the crunchiness, the lemon-ness” he urges through a consumptive haze. They end up sensibly flogging fishfinger sarnies and manky calamari for a fiver each and somehow Sam ends up with them using the power of words to convert squid into quids (“There’s rocket salad and a lime wedge, it’s really healthy! Erm…”).

Finally April decides to market Brett’s delicious specification compliant fishfutons as Jumbo Fishcakes for £6.50 each and leads her thoroughly miserable team out of the kitchen, blinking into the cruel light of the capital. Brett’s still being a tool and trying to blame Dan and annoying yank accented Vana Koustomitis for “letting the team down”. They arrive at their pitch well after lunchtime and pathetically try to catch fully sated passers by to flog them salad nicoise (“It’s only £9!” Punters: “No fucking way!”). Chastised, Brett phones April and asks if they can drop the prices. She suggests they try £6.50, and Brett predictably argues whilst she insists “I’m just asking you to try something” until he sulkily agrees.

Over at Camden, Scott’s turned up the bullshit to 11 (“Have some calamari, I just made it for you now. It’s bloody nice, I tasted it earlier”) and Selina tries selling customers packs of fish to cook at home at reduced prices just to get rid of some stock. Mergim is incensed “You should go higher”. “Ethically we can’t”Selina insists and Mergim grumbles about making a profit. He and Natalie go round local shops (Natalie: “People in tattoo shops are friendly” – bless her) to offer “a once in a lifetime opportunity for fish fingers. Unfortunately Mergim tries this particular pitch in a Vegan restaurant, causing Claude to wonder whether he’s losing the plot.

April drags Connexis to Euston to sell to commuters, because nothing will endear you more on the 3 hour journey to Manchester Piccadilly than the stench of fish.

Karen becomes slightly obsessed by Ruth Whitely (the Northern one who dressed as a Nazi clown in the boardroom) and her “creepy” sales technique of intensely confronting commuters and assuring them of their need for jumbo fishcakes in their life.

Meanwhile poor Dan is struggling. “Hello are you interested in buying some salad” he repeats glumly, like the world’s least life affirming salad. Ruth gives him an impromptu class in sales (“You need to make them NEED to buy some salad! You need to say ‘now YOU look like a hungry gentleman today, why not have some salad!”), but it doesn’t seem to work (“Hello Sir, are you interested in a salad”). You can tell Dan’s heart’s not in it, although it appears he may have never actually watched this show (“I didn’t go into this contest to sell salad on the street”). Ruth has also started sneakily dropping prices, until April gets wind and puts the kibosh on her selling some bloke 3 fishcakes for a tenner. When April storms away, Ruth looks conspiratorially at the potential punter declaring sweetly, “It doesn’t mean we can’t keep talking”. I’ve decided I like Ruth!

Richard discovers too late that the calamari that they were informed to keep below 5 degrees to prevent killing people is currently at over 15 degrees and has started forming it’s own smelly form of sentient life. They tip it all away before Mergim can try to sell it to people. Richard feels a vague sense of confused guilt (“Was it my fault? Should I have thought about it? I dunno!”), but poet Sam has taken it hard (“I’m just conscious there is the shadow of the unused calamari hanging over us.”).

Like so many other unfortunates, Versatile congregate at Kings Cross to sell their slightly soiled fishy wares. Scott is again in full on Bullshit mode, leaping on women and declaring “I practically scuba dived and got the fish from the sea!”

Back in the Boardroom and Claude declares Versatile’s first day as a shambles. Mergim whinges that nobody put themselves forward as Project Manager, even though he didn’t (“It wasn’t the right time”). It turns out that Richard and Charleine were the team’s best sellers.

April from Connexis is outed by Brett as having “involvement in catering”. Brett also claims that although the food he produced was late due to a “massive complication” (i.e. him) , it meant he was generating “quality”. Brett is a clueless arsehat isn’t he?

Anyhow it’s time to put the money on the table.

Claude reveals that Versatile sold £467.50 of fishy goodness and badness which cost £267.21 to produce, making a profit of £200.29

Karen declares that Connexis sold £343.53 worth, costing £341.66, making what she rightly declares “pathetic” a profit of only £1.87. Lord Sugar winces. “That IS bad!” he moans, as it made even less than his shit email phones did.

Versatile get the reward of the head chef of Nobu whisking them up gourmet sushi delights (sadly not featuring squid from a skip). Meanwhile Connexis retire to the Café of Recriminations where April gives everyone evils and claims she won’t let virtually invisible Jenny Garbis, Aisha Kasim and Elle Stevenson get off scot free, whilst Dan blames April as Project Manager.

Back in the boardroom and Dan gets all the blame for taking his time distributing ingredients at the kitchen, despite him pointing out it only took 30 minutes and they were two hours late.

Vana’s got Brett’s number “You can always push blame with your loud voice and aggressive stance” she shouts at him aggressively. Meanwhile Brett massively backtracks from his sous chef claims (“I haven’t got much experience, I’m a fully qualified certified (dick) catering assistant” he demotes himself). He’s still adamant that the fishcake recipe stipulated the depth as 2.5cm and he’s a “stickler for specification” even when his own eyes could have told him that he didn’t have enough ingredients to go “full specification” and thus “full force” (I bet he was only in the TA, what a nob! Or maybe he left the army & navy to become a builder due to his role in a terrible tragedy where a whole platoon (or fleet) perished due to some twonk refusing to distribute bullet proof armour unless it met the specification in his 1984 Combat annual).

It transpires that Joseph had made all the salads but April wouldn’t let him go and sell them until the fishcakes were finished for some ungodly reason. April also gets sticks for her shitty margins which meant she sold below costs. April’s convinced she didn’t until everyone confesses they all dropped their prices to get sales. Apart from Dan who sold sod all (“I’m good at online stuff but not face to face sales or cooking. So sue me!”).

April chooses to bring Dan and Brett back into the boardroom, thus allowing Jenny, Aisha and Elle to get off scot free.

Brett’s knowledge of fish cuisine is rapidly deteriorating (“I was a young adult at the time before I joined the navy”.. I needed the money etc), yet he still boasts that he was “able to produce a fine quality fishcake” and that he categorically did not stipulate with any other specification other than that recipe”, until Karen points out “You can’t bullshit in here”.

They all pick on Dan for making them wait whilst he sorted out the weights of fish, with Brett claiming Dan’s 30 minute delay had a “knock on effect”. Poor Dan admits that his only real contribution to the task was slicing olives and tomatoes and that he “doesn’t really know” who should get fired. (Sugar: “What do you know?”, Dan “I know about maths, I know about figures”). Sugar’s not impressed by a man who can’t be a jack of all trades and just sell the fricking salad already. He also despairs of Brett’s inability to handle the task considering his made-up experience. And as for April (who should by rights be toast), Sugar points out that she let Brett run riot and relied too much on Dan for numbers, and as a food blogger the task should have been up her street (because taking pictures of dinner makes you a freaking catering expert!). However, he fires Dan for saying he couldn’t sell. I’m sad as Dan was one of the more potentially entertaining candidates, but this always seems to happen.

Dan’s reasonably stoical in the Taxi of Eternal Regret, but urges his ex competitors to “watch your backs”.

Back in the house, Mergim also thinks April should have gone, as she’s a woman, as it was a profit margin task, but everyone pretends to look happy and surprised when she returns with Brett.

There’s another show tomorrow. Not sure I can cope, but just wanted to get all the candidates names down. In fact the only one I haven’t mentioned is David Stevenson as I didn’t see him lift a finger tonight. The sneaky bastard.

Anyhow here’s my list of love and loathe. I am fully prepared for the people I like to exit suddenly and shamefully over the next few weeks.

Liking:

Mad Ruth

Sam the Poet

Selina

Charleine

Natalie

Elle

Trusting As Far As I could throw

Bullshit Scott

Wishy Washy Richard

Not Particularly Affected By

Jenny

David

Aisha

Irritated By

April

Mergim

Gary

Vana

Joseph

This is the beginning of a beautiful hate thang

Brett

Bye Bye:

Accidental Partridge Dan

Looking Forward To

Watching Claude’s sanity being slowly eroded over the next few months.