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.

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