It’s Week 11 and interviews are arranged with a day to prepare at the shiny hellhole of 122 Leadenhall where business plans are to be handed over as well as dreams and dignity.
Thus ensues a shit montage of people fiddling with pens and pretending not to be worried and Courtney spraying himself with death-inducing quantities of Lynx(“Claude’s gonna make me perspirate”). At which Alana wins for making cakes instead (“It’s an important part of the plan. I just hope none of them has got a nut allergy or I’ll finish them off”).
Grainne remains an ice queen (“I’m gonna nail this”) because she is sober. For a fecking change.
Sugar greets them and hands the candidates and their plans over to his “trusted advisers” (some of whom we have never heard of before).
There’s perennial rottweiler Claude of course, and weird leftfield interviewer Mike Souter. However Karren confusingly misses out on the opportunity to be a complete bitch so we get to meet Claudia Collins who looks like a Coronation Street baddie but apparently runs a billion pound “media agency”, and Linda Plant who founded a “global design company”. Oh I’m sure they are real things but I’m too tired to google having returned late from a works Christmas do.
Anyhow they’re all Satan in various forms and the rest of the episode reflects this.
Grainne falls foul of Mike Souter by having claimed 90% customer satisfaction, and having to admit to only having 6 customers and then not being able to confidently work out what 90% of 6 is. I would have said 5 too. Claude rightly reckons that Grainne is trying to do too much from a sole trader platform. It’s the next step she insists typically arsily. It turns out she’s never written a business plan before and he suggests she should have got help. He points out that her sums don’t add up and by wanting to run an Agency, course, business and personally doing make-up for people who want to look like the evil queen out of Snow White she might be spreading herself thin, and she admits she doesn’t know what she should be concentrating on. Claudia gets evil and brings a few products out of her bag for Grainne to proclaim what the USP is on each. They all look like out of date tampons to me, but Grainne equally fails earning NOTHING BUT SCORN!.
Jess admits to Linda that one of her many previous companies made a massive loss and essentially falls apart and has to admit to not having a fricking clue about business. Mike also has issues with Jess’s business plan involving so much payment to Z-listers with little guaranteed payback. It doesn’t help that Jess has a failed company listed at companies house that she’s not aware of. Linda’s toying with Jess as she’s been “in the same business” and ultimately proclaims our wacky Northerner is “dreaming” after tearing strips off her about product ranges and production. Jess just about avoids tearing up again “I lost my dignity up on the 42 floor”, and Alana starts worrying (“Is taking cakes to this woman a bad idea?”). Claude makes the mistake of asking Jess an open question about her life history and she’s off (“Ah started in night clubs……..”)
I love Alana in the lift to Claude channelling Sigourney Weaver’s “Lucky lucky lucky” in Alien (“Confidence confidence confidence confidence”). She presents her cake and he stares at her like she’s bowling a turd at him. “We’ll just leave that alone. Can you just sit back again?” he barks (DON’T TOUCH ME!). He then challenges her toughness and she admits she wanted to “walk” in the first few weeks but wouldn’t quit, though proving her toughness. He says “OK” but won’t eat the cake. He then bitches that she has been making good money but using it to save for a house and not reinvesting in the business like Lord Sugar would do. Alana stutters and I know that she wants to say “Yes it’s OK for him cos he HAS a fucking house!” but she has the grace not to and it’s left hanging.
Jess is still telling Claude her life story.
It transpires that taking cakes to Linda isn’t a terrible idea (“Is that a sample? Maybe you should unwrap it then! Nom nom nom!!”. However Linda is concerned that Alana doesn’t know her competitors and what they are making and alas this is true. Linda also questions the role of Alana’s boyfriend in the business and having argued him down from partner to employee rather evilly asks Alana “If you fall out with him can he be replaced?” which whilst Alana points out is a cold thing to ask, is not an obstacle “Yes he can be replaced”. Lets hope he doesn’t have a fragile ego.
Jess is still telling Claude her life story.
Claudia is unimpressed by the fact that when asked to describe himself in one sentence Courtney actually offered “I’ll give you one word – awesome” (So wrong in all ways). It turns out that he gave up everything to devote to inventing novelty products, living with friends and taking home little money. Claudia mentions the importance of charisma and he mumbles and pffts. Claude just wants “to slap” Courtney for his lack of passion. “But I’ve won 8 out of 10 tasks” Courtney drawls and Claude yawns. It turns out Courtney makes and sells novelty gifts, but its pointed out his company is underperforming and he’s living at his parents house and making £8k a year (“not due to my demeanour I can tell you, I work my bollocks off!”) and whilst he thinks inventing 33 products in 3 years is good (I would think so too but I haven’t seen them) the interviewers are all utterly unimpressed. Plus every time Courtney admits failure and vows to work harder in a faux passionate way, Claude acts like he’s on a HR Sex Line (“I WILL make it!, “Oh YES YES YES!”). I reckon I could make good money telling Claude I’ve been unambitious but now I have a dream! Mike points out the obvious bullshit that Courtney spouts (you say you’re the top salesman in Britain?” “Well I meant to say the County not the Country”). As Courtney’s also described himself as a top designer of novelty items Mike puts him on the spot (“Sketch me something!”) and he comes up with (at least something) a Lord Sugar Pez dispenser. Linda’s unimpressed by an actual product he brings in (a toy champagne flute I imagine is for christenings. “Is that a good message to children?” she asks “Oh lighten up!” I remark.
Jess is still telling Claude her life story.
Fran meets Mike and insists there is a gap in the market for her business plan of buying out of season kids clothes cheap and selling them on in her stores (which actually do sound nice). She’s all about the customer focus (“There’s a heart… we have breast feeding rooms”) but unfortunately she’s failed to mention the two failed stores Mike has discovered to her name (“It undermines trust”) and she emerges ashen like something out of “The Sixth Sense” (“They. Know. Everything”). She used to have someone who did all the maths and she is crap at them (perhaps she should have kept them onside as her business plan is mauled by Claude). I like Fran for describing her handbag as her filing cabinet (what do you mean that’s not normal?) but Claudia goes full on evil on it (Fran “It was a flippant comment, if I could take back I would”). Every interviewer is worried about Fran’s self proclaimed shitness at figures, but she’s feisty and unrepentant (“I have done an absolute lot”).
Jess is still telling Claude her life story. “let’s move on” says Claude.
Finally they gather outside (“I am Strong! I am woman!” oh sorry Courtney, maybe girls names count). Alana is knackered. Grainne is too sober (“I could do with a large brandy”).
Sugar gets his evil pixies who did the interviews to spill the beans even though from day 1 this was probably going to the person with the most feasible business plan.
Everyone thinks Courtney is a weasel, they quite like Jess and worry if she’s feasible, they think Grainne’s trying to do too much (although Karren likes her because Karren is also evil) and they worry about Fran’s scalability. Alana doesn’t really get a mention (everyone is wiping cake off their faces though) apart from how difficult it is without actual data (that is publicly available) to estimate revenues (do-able – Alana give me a call!).
Back in the boardroom and Grainne admits to having too many eggs in one basket (“I should have honed in on….” *lists 20 things*). She admits she is only “half qualified” to teach the certificate that features as part of her plan and is doomed once she argues back over this with Sugar. As she’s fired she hisses “Good luck girls” and Courtney looks a bit doomed.
Sugar reckons Alana’s cupcakes are just a fad but she reckons she can sell her deli products “anywhere that sells coffee” and admits you have to taste her samples to understand (god I’m hungry!).
Courtney reckons his tat would be “up to date with current trends” and quickly produced which Sugar appreciates given the huge success of the Amstrad Email Phone.
Fran gets shit for her lack of scalability again but fights her corner (“I’ve been in this business for two years” (oh bless her!) “and I know it inside out – we only scratched the surface”). Sugar worries that Fran is rubbish on systems but she turns that round as the reason she needs a strong business investment.
Poor Jess is fired “with regret” (“You have great sales ability”). Fran fights her corner like a terrier whilst Courtney drawls nonchalantly and slags off his fellow candidates. However Sugar (having been warned who is most likely to be feisty enough to sue him if they were in business with him) sacks off poor Fran for her lack of scalability (as a fellow petite person may I just say that “lack of scalability” is a shit euphemism. As she’s the only one in the TAXI OF DOOM she trills about her bright future and lets face it with her pixie face, great design skills and quirky ideas about colonialism she could give Paul Nuttalls a run for his money.
So it’s Courtney and Alana in the final. “You’re the only person in my way” she muses in the car back to IKEA JOY HOUSE. “Maybe I could use the money to save up for my house – just saying” he responds with the air of a man who has no idea what “ZING!” means.
Next week the remaining candidates do the embarrassing school footy team selection thing with all the losing candidates to form their teams (I’m hoping sausage man Ollie beats the twat in the bow tie to being placed) and the last two have to launch their businesses. Bring food as we may get hungry. And booze as we may go mad.
It’s hardly worth pointing out I like Alana and dislike Courtney.
And goodbye to (soon to be seen again):Michelle, Natalie, Sausage Olly, Aleksandra, Mukai , JD, Rebecca, K, Sam, ANGRY Paul, Dillon, Sofiane, Trishna, Jess, Grainne, Fran