All the candidates are pretending to be asleep – whilst the Nightmare before Christmas music plays (maybe because Camilla is in bed in a pink unicorn onesie). But wait! A grizzled figure stalks to the front door. It’s Lord Sugar who’s come to announce that the house has been decked out with Christmas tut even though it’s fucking June or something as their task is to brand, design packaging for and create three flavours of chocolates to pitch to two major retailers – with the most orders winning.

In YET ANOTHER a pointless exercise in “balancing” the teams Camilla goes over to Typhoon with Dan and Sarah-Ann whilst Sabrina and Sian join Khadija on Collaborative. Why not just move one person across in the first place

Whilst the teams settle down with the eminently civilised brekkie of choccies, they select Project managers.

Dan wants to lead Typhoon although he doesn’t know much about chocolate, but Camilla’s chocolate enthusiasm and nut milk expertise wins Sarah-Ann’s vote so Camilla leads and Dan pretends not to be pissed off. Camilla wants a “cheeky” brand that can be used for secret Santa presents and they all back her. She manages to persuade Sarah Ann to go in the kitchen (“I trust you with flavours”) and nobody argues despite the fact she’s gone on at length about making her nut milks in a..erm.. kitchen.

Sabrina wants to lead Collaborative but nobody else wants her to. Sian suggests they do it all “collectively” and just “say Sabrina is the PM” – so they can chuck her under the bus at the first opportunity and Khadija agrees eagerly. They then proceed to stare sulkily at Sabrina like she’s farted every time she makes a suggestion. Sabrina completely patronises Khadija (“You’ve shown you excel in the kitchen”), but does sort of bond with Sian on ideas (Sian’s all about “memories” and would like a space on the box to personalise it with a picture or memento).

Why nobody comes up with kids chocolates filled with stuff like jelly and space dust is beyond me.

It’s off to Harlow Chocolate Factory where the team chefs have been assigned personal Umpah lumpah helpers. Khadija gets Bella Emburg who patiently and silently watches Khadija stuff her face with every possible flavour and listens to her waffling on about how great she is whilst mainly resisting the urge to do Gromit eyes. “Ooh coconut’s too exotic for me – and lemons just don’t say Christmas to me!” Khadija declares. She’s been given a luxury theme so naturally wants to put a pie inside a chocolate. OK a mince pie – but still! She plonks chestnuts and raspberries in her second chocolate and erm chocolate nib and cranberries in the third and declares herself “happy with my choices. They’re festive and classy. I mean what’s more classy than a chestnut?” Indeed.

Sarah Ann decides to sample all the booze flavours whilst getting steadily more pissed. Her Umpah lumpah bloke decides to break protocol to warn her to only have one drop of booze at a time “as it is concentrated”. She almost stops glugging from the bottle to listen to him. “Two I think” she suggests, weaving on the spot.

Camilla and Dan brainstorm their “naughty but nice” cheeky chocolates. She insists it must be “sexy and sizzling as sex sells” while Karren winces in the background. It’s like an X-rated “I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue”. Camilla:“Naughties?” Dan: “Mistle Tease”  “X-mas Treats” “Santa’s Seduction”. Camilla: “Santa’s Choco Seduction!” Both: “That’s it!”

Sabrina wants a name that plays on the memory theme but wants to get chocolate in the name so Sian suggests Renoir as “it combines reminiscent with memoirs and it’s French for something..” (impressionist artist perhaps?). Khadija phones with her flavours and Sabrina says well done. Khadija hangs up and looks at silent Bella Emburg (“That sounded positive”). Bella smiles mutely and enigmatically.  Meanwhile Sabrina worries Khadija’s choices are too safe to be luxury (maybe put some broken glass in them? Or a Spring Surprise?). They come up with what looks like a Christmas card box featuring a dull but fairly tasteful blue tree. Sian thinks there’s “too much tree” and moves it over. She wants to pick a handwritten font for the name, but they’re running out of time. Sabrina suggests picking the first scripted looking one they see but Sian wants to scroll through ALL THE FONTS. Finally Sabrina makes her see reason and she sulkily agrees to go for the first one – bitching that “it doesn’t look premium to me AND I DO BRANDING I DO!”

Dan and Camilla work on packaging – coming up with a tiny red box that would put Norman Lamont to shame adorned with a “cheeky” “sexy” blue haired elf in a santa dress. FFS! “Red is not only Christmassy but it’s sexy” says Dan. Deep. Sarah-Ann drunk dials them “HELLO THERE! I feel a bit tipsy!” “Goodness you need breathalysing” gasps Camilla. Sarah-Ann’s flavours are mulled wine, rum and dates, apple and popping candy. “I love them all” she slurs.

In kitchen the chocolatiers have to sort weights for their recipes. Khadija’s all over this as Bella looks on beatifically. Claude even gets force fed a taste of “Christmas on a spoon” (“It doesn’t smack of luxury” he confides once she’s out of earshot).

Next door Sarah Ann tries to stop the room spinning so she can write her recipe. There’s just one snag. “You made your chocolates without weighing your ingredients” Karren snipes (details!). Poor Sarah-Ann can just about manage a gormless smile in response and starts guessing the weights. Oops! Even Bella fucks off at this point. You’re on your own here love.

Bizarre filler time as Sabrina and Sian go to a Victorian acting school where Jack the Ripper and a crone teach them how to emote. Across town it’s even weirder as Dan and Camilla go to Santa School where a terrifying bald man in a dicky bow drills them in the ways of the elf. They learn the dance (“Step! Cross! Step! Clap!!”) and the poses (“GIVE ME A POSE NOW!”). And finally Santa judges them. This is how Hell will look in my dreams from now on.

santaschool.jpg

More like Satan School if you ask me!

Next day the chocolates are unveiled. Renoir Chocolat to faint boredom. Santa’s Choco Seduction to more appropriate shock and confusion (Sarah-Ann “It certainly screams out sex sells”) when it transpires that there’s only room for one chocolate in each box yet all three flavours are listed. Dan’s solution is to pen a tick next to whatever flavour it contains. Classy! It turns out it doesn’t matter as all the chocolates taste the same – of nothing (Sarah-Ann having done the classic pissed thing of underestimating for fear of fucking up). Cam and Dan head off to buy “cheeky” (shit) props including elf gear and an “I’ve been naughty I’ve been nice” jumper.

Khadija’s chocolates actually look nice, but Sabrina does that speaking her mind thing again and declares them “safe and traditional whereas she wanted one to be quirky”. Khadija looks punchy and Sian rescues the day by saying quickly “I think it works for a luxury brand”. “Thank you” breathes Khadija meaningfully. Sian and Sabrina head off to choose “luxury” props for their pitch. Like erm a luxury giant Santa.

Poor hungover Sarah-Ann heads off to do consumer research whilst frantically ticking boxes in the car. I do like her choice of a large bright red hat that reads “Help!”. Nobody can taste the chocolates and they all think the boxes are a bit Anne Summers. She returns to Dan and Camilla and declares that she got 100% positive feedback (eh?) and it “didn’t really matter that they weren’t getting the flavours through”. Oh ok.

Khadija attacks people on the street demanding at first that they slag off the packaging then aggressively making them taste the chocolates. I love her face when someone says the flavours don’t stand out. She “reveals” that she wants to blame Sian and Sabrina for their packaging if they lose.

Armed with the positive consumer feedback Daniel and Camilla dance in front of the panel from the Co-Op to general tumbleweed. “Can I invite you to have a cheeky dance with us?” flails Camilla as Karren shakes her head sadly. “Or take a quick elfy?”. Righteous silence ensures. Daniel pitches that they’ve gone for a seductive adult spin and you can see the panic on the Co-Op team’s faces who worry the design is too sexualised when “Christmas is about children” (boring!). Camilla sounds a bit Stringfellow declaring that “Something is missing in the adult market” but she’s hit by a whammy from the co-op lady who says the packaging is “sexist” (the team miss a trick and fail to declare it gender fluid). “We could work with you on flavours” Camilla blurts but they are given short shrift. “That could have been better” Dan understates slightly. Finally Sarah-Ann shares the feedback about the theme seeming too adult and Camilla decides to use the term “cheeky” rather than “seduction” for the next pitch.

Khadija and Sian faff about sticking up the Santa prop whilst the panel from  Moonpig point and laugh. Khadija isn’t shy about plugging her “hand made artisan” chocolates and everyone likes the flavours but they think the packaging is a bit crap. Sian suggests it would have a red bow (hang on – where did that come from?). Sabrina stays on message talking about the space for pictures and now Moonpig woman is well befuddled so Sian decides to spin some mindjizz about launching a massive pop up campaign around the UK and putting money into marketing. “How much” challenge unconvinced team Moonpig and Sian plucks the figure of £50 to £100k out of her arse. “Where did that come from?” Khadija challenges post pitch and Sian’s all “Dunno!”. Sabrina advises that if it happens again just say the amount depends on number of orders.

Moonpig are rather more receptive to Typhoon and even overcome their fear of Dan reindeer crotch bumping at them to join in with the dance looking slightly more in synch than the candidates. Dan says “cheeky” every few words and Camilla promises that the method of identifying contents will be made more professional than a hastily drawn on tick. It’s the bloke from Moonpig who worries that the idea of Santa seducing anyone is a bit creepy (yeah mate I’ve heard a song about him kissing YOUR MUM!) but ultimately Moonpig think the concept is fun and quirky

If anyone’s going to like dull and traditional Renoir Chocolat it’s the good old Co-op and not even Sian and Sabrina’s shit acting skillz can put them off. They are impressed by chestnut in a chocolate and Khadija looks smug. Oh Sian’s at it again promising media and people in every store. “We have 2500 stores” points out the Co-Op lady and Sabrina rescues things by suggesting that if the Co-Op placed a big enough order they could offer “support” with the marketing campaign. Phew! Post pitch Sian is in denial about promising the Co-Op everything but her first born, but we all saw it.

In the boardroom Lord Sugar’s joke writers have gone on strike (“If I was a chocolate I’d be a rich one with a hard centre”. No LordAlan you’d be a Walnut Whip).

Santa’s Choco Seduction gets the fourth degree first and I do like the fact that they ran out of decent names by chocolate three and just called it the “Ultimate baddy”  – way to accentuate the positive. Sugar’s incensed that they put the solicitor in the kitchen, because this is a cooking competition isn’t it? Camilla expresses disappointment in Sarah-Ann’s weak flavours and she responds “I was surprised by that – it was only four drops off the legal alcohol limit” (you mean YOU were!). Karren grasses Sarah-Ann up for not weighing her ingredients and Khadija shoots her a sneery look across the table. “I did weigh up afterwards” she attempts feebly. Stupid Sexy Camilla gets stick for her stupid sexy idea (Sugar “One of the ladies expected a chocolate willy Wonka”).

Collaborative are under scrutiny next and Sabrina reveals she started importing sweets to the UK at the age of 14. “Renoir Chocolat” is compared to Del Boy’s grasp of French (“Mange et toot”). Sian’s asked where her mythical £100k was coming from and she sheepishly admits “I didn’t know what to say”. They’re all bashed for over-promising changes rather than focusing on selling the product and Sian tries to blame Sabrina for the idea about printing things in the blank space (Sian’s idea). Khadija slags them both off.

Anyhow results are in:

Typhoon got 750 orders from Moonpig for Santa’s Choco Seduction. Collaborative got none.

However the Co-Op thought Typhoon were sleazy and sexist and made no orders, whereas they liked both the packaging and taste of Renoir Chocolat so ordered 7000 boring boxes of chocolates to presumably add to their “Luxury” range.

Oh NOW Collaborative are hugging each other and Sian is bizarrely in tears (she was presumably shitting a brick at being the final three after inventing a magic money tree for chocolate promotion).

“I have to try those chocolates” Lord Sugar declares. “Please do!” yells Khadija and they have to drag her off to the treat (High tea at a hotel since you ask) to prevent her from stuffing them into his gob.

Both Sian and Khadija in their treat VTs go I WON THIS TASK IT WAS ALL ME. Sabrina however simply states she has her “eyes on the prize” then goes back to take this piss out of Sian over that £100K.

In Café Doom Camilla blames the chocolate but Sarah-Ann’s having none of it and blames the word “seductive”. Dan thinks they’ve both left him down. None of that introspection for our Daniel.

Back in and Sugar’s still on at Camilla for not making the chocolates when she milks nuts for fuck sake. Camilla thinks her creativity was more useful on the branding side and it’s pointed out that she and Dan egged each other on to make their product too adult. She backtracks and claims she only went with Dan’s name “so he would have some say in the matter”. What a martyr! Sugar starts reminiscing about the 1970s and Babs Windsor getting her thruppeny bits out till he has to remind himself that that’s a BAD THING nowadays and the candidates are definitely more naughty than nice.

Camilla points out Sarah-Ann only told them the positives from the consumer research, but Sarah-Ann  “can’t see how that would have changed the pitch”. Oh dear.  Dan gently explains that after the drubbing from the Co-Op they were able to use that feedback to adjust the second pitch and get orders.

Karren gets a grand slam in (“The Co-Op said the brand was tasteless and the chocolates were tasteless”)  making Camilla’s jaw drop open and a croaking noise come out of her throat.

After slagging them off with Karren and Claude, Sugar plays the pretending to fire Camilla and Daniel game for a bit whilst Sarah-Ann sulks in the background (“You keep calling yourselves branding experts – er why?”) – and the penny drops finally for Dan (“We got caught up in the theme – we should have taken a step back and toned down”) whilst Camilla pathetically claims she was “swayed” by Dan. “I suggested names to fit the brief” he rejoins. Sugar suggests his ideas were more apt for a sex shop and the poor bloke looks like a not so rampant rabbit in the headlights. However it’s with a huge lack of surprise (and regret of course) that Sarah-Ann is fired. She looks well stroppy. In the taxi of ARGGH she gets out the gin and continues to blame the word seduction. The taxi driver has probably heard this so many times.

Cam and Dan are told “This was a bladdy disaster – you’ve made the final 5!” in the most backhanded congratulation I’ve heard for some time.

Next week finally it’s interview time where the candidates are quizzed on their business plans . There will be bullshit and brutality. Hurrah! I liked the snippet of Claude telling Camilla “Your ideas are all based around sex!” Maybe we all had this nut milk thing all wrong.

Liking: Sabrina, Daniel

Could win: Daniel

Meh:, Camilla Queen of SEX

Disliking: Khadija, Sian

Bye Bye: Sarah, David, poorFrank, Alex, (p)Rick, Kurran, Kayode (sob), JasmineBot 3000, Tom, Jackie, Sarah Ann