Archives for category: 2011

So after three months of posturing, dodgy food preparation, bad maths and general business ineptitude, we’re down to the final four candidates, who get a phone call giving them two whole days to tighten up their business plans for interrogation. So they should all be innovative and air tight after all that time. Shouldn’t they?

 

Helen’s confident about her spanking new “slightly risky” idea. Susan thinks she has the “strong natural initiative to do a business”, if not to actually talk sense. Jim’s started reminding me of an evil version of Beaker from the Muppets, so I’ve started zoning out and just watching his mouth flapping about when he speaks. Tom’s still a bouncy puppy, enthusing about his “excellent and fantastic idea”. He hugs his business plan to his busom; “It’s just a bit of paper at the moment, but it will hopefully become a huge organisation one day” he gushes wistfully.

 

The candidates assemble after 48 hours outside New Broad Street House, handling over their folders of dreams to Karren and Nick before heading in to face Lord Sugar’s chosen “Four top Business Experts”. Sadly this year there’s no beardy bored Borden from Viglen, but there’s new blood in the form of Mike Soutar the Freemium magazine (is he related to Sugar or something?) a cut-price Alan Hanson figure. He’s joined by Matthew Riley, the 2007 New Entrepreneur of The Year (he must have been sitting on his arse since 2007, as I’m not exactly sure what he does now, although Wikipedia reveals he leads communications company “Daisy Group”), who is like a chubbier English version of Mike. Thankfully attack bulldog Claude Littner is back on savaging duty, as is the fragrant Margaret Mountford.

 

Susan still can’t turn off the volume on her internal dialogue and annoys the others with her constant wittering “This is it! Everything we’ve worked for so far! My heart’s pounding! How about yours?” She’s greeted with an icy stare from Helen who drones smugly “If you don’t know your own life and business plan then you’re in trouble.”

 

Claude fires a warning cannon at Tom. “It’s fair to say that your career is floundering at the moment” he declares. “What made you think that?” asks Tom nervously. “Your CV really” slams Claude.

 

Mike accuses Jim of having an “application packed with clichés, buzzwords and blarney”. “Do you have difficulty expressing yourself succinctly?” he asks dourly. “I’m working on that.” Jim says meekly (but succinctly) after some thought.

 

Matthew has a the strange and irritating method of asking candidates (well at least the female ones) to “just stand behind that chair”, before making them pretend they’re in an elevator going up from the ground floor to the penthouse and have to use the ride time to quickly pitch their business plan (my plan would be to arrange for fatal elevator accidents for anyone using this technique). He makes the mistake of trying it on Susan who is clearly imagining she’s in one of the Petronas towers and waffles on about her natural skin care range for ages. “I see no end to this business” she gibbers excitedly. We see no end to this pitch. “This is going to be a long interview” sighs Matthew. Your fault chum.

 

Mike’s baffled by the fact that Tom says his business plan is to save organisations lost money in sickness absenteeism by making them buy magic chairs which diagnose and fix employees’ back problems, and yet the plan doesn’t mention the word “chair” once. “I believe it talks about devices” Tom elucidates. I prefer “device” to “chair”. Tom is so sci-fi.

 

Margaret rightly pulls Jim up for actually putting his crap horse related analogy (“I’m not a show pony, not a one trick pony, or a wild stallion who needs to be tamed or a stubborn mule” – still sub-Baggs in it’s equine retardedness) on his application form. “What does that tell us about you? That you’re a bit of an ass?” she smiles sweetly, adding “What can you tell me about yourself – without clichés and quickly?” Jim braces himself. “I am exactly what it says on the tin” he announces confidently. Margaret simply facepalms.

 

Jim strides out and tells the others “It was really good”. Helen can’t believe Tom’s still in his interview with Claude. “Maybe he’s getting his arse kicked” she smirks. Sadly she’s right, Claude’s pulling Tom’s hitherto good numbers apart (“It’s not one error it’s full of errors…you’ve got no idea!” he points dismissively at Tom’s dodgy spreadsheet). “I have a pretty good idea” ventures Tom, having grown a set of balls which promptly retreat back into him as Claude shouts him down (“YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING!!!”). Tom points out that he does know the costings as he’s done the initial purchasing, and apologises that this isn’t made clear on his plan, but apologies aren’t enough for Claude who sends our favourite Michael Sheen lookielike inventor packing with the message that without proper facts and figures his plan isn’t credible.

 

A broken Tom returns to the waiting area, where Helen smugly detects and enjoys his air of defeat.

 

It’s Helen’s turn next to stand in Matthew’s fake elevator and dance like a monkey girl. She claims her idea (“an assistant service for the mass market”) will “help the nation get back on it’s feet” and go large through franchising. It transpires it’s just a glorified “rent a life PA” service wherein Helen tells us not to forget our dentist appointments, sends birthday cards on our behalf and organises our holidays, because Helen really is a joyless cyborg with no life outside of work and thinks we should all be the same. Matthew points out that most dentists send reminders now (“Mine sends me texts”) but Helen’s never had that experience (“You must see an expensive dentist”). She struggles when Matthew points out that she has no supply of contacts to use to deal with all requests (“Get me a table at The Ivy tonight” “I don’t have the contacts as I’m not running the company yet”).

 

Jim bitches that “Suzie will get strips torn off her, be ridiculed… and will still say she’s done well. I’ve seen it before”. At first Susan seems to be impressing Margaret with her tales of making £1500 working for someone else at Greenwich Market before realising she could do better herself and creating her own range of natural cosmetics. “I employed 15 people at one event” boasts Susan. “How did you pay them?” wheedles Margaret. “Er cash!” “No tax? No NI?” Poor Susan, Margaret may as well call in the auditors now (although Susan does later explain that she was just employing students for a couple of days cash in hand, bless her). “Your degree was philosophy and economics?” asks Margaret, adding “Hmmmm” when Susan says yes. What’s wrong with philosophy? I studied it and it hasn’t done me any h.. Oh well, maybe I’d have been better off studying one of those more commercial and relevant degrees like “papyrology”.

 

Claude fixates on Susan’s claim that her business will “turn over £1million profit in the first year”. “Oh! That’s really stupid” she exclaims. “I meant to say I’d make £1million PROFIT!” (and thus £4.5m turnover. Oh dear, she should have kept schtum). She claims her figures are extrapolated on her earnings in Greenwich Market. Unsurprisingly Claude’s unimpressed, stating she has no chance against proper industry heavyweights.

 

Susan emerges, blinking. “Oh my god! That was alright actually – better than I thought.” she gasps, whilst Jim throws her evils.

 

Jim explains his business to Mike. The toadying freak has only called it “AMSmart”, even though it’s merely a hyped up e-learning package for schools, so kids can learn Jim’s Jedi skillz. Mike accuses him of using “AMS” as “a feeble attempt to curry favour”, and Jim admits he wants to use Lord Sugar as a “lynchpin and figurehead” for his idea. “What does Lord Sugar mean to you?” expands Jim on sycophant overdrive, “Entrepreneur Amazing. Brilliant. Unique.” Mike resists the urge to vomit, instead grilling Jim on how many headteachers he’s spoken to about his idea. Jim attempts to evade this question, but somehow Mike nails the slippery chap down to admit he has done zero market research.

 

As Jim slumps back in the waiting area, Susan’s still indefatigable. “Bring on the next one! I’m so pumped!” she trills. Somebody will kill her at this rate.

 

Mike gets all Bladerunner on Helen. “Show me your human side. Tell me a joke… make me laugh!” he demands (Helen: “Ummm. Can I come back to that one”). After an hour or so with all her circuits clicking and whirring she remembers a joke. “A fish is swimming along. He swims straight into something and says ‘Oh damn'”. Mike laughs proving that he isn’t human either.

 

Matthew’s not convinced that Jim has anything going for him besides his “very good sales skills”. Jim turns it round of course (“I do have very good sales skills, thanks for pointing that out”). Matthew chuckles, but Jim is funnier than Helen.

 

Matthew goes on to tell Tom, “You’re a really nice guy – I like nice people. My wife is the nicest person I know, but would I go into business with her? Not on your nelly!” “I’m not surprised you have a nice wife” responds Tom, nicely. Matthew’s concerned that Tom’s a fly by night, moving on to new inventions, after hearing of him abandoning interest in his patented curly nail file (Tom: “I’m not Mr Nail File guy.”), and digs out a reference from a previous employer claiming that Tom is “a starter, not a finisher” (I don’t know, he clearly finished working for that dick). Tom handles it well, firmly pointing out that many inventors don’t get their products to market and he has, but spoils the effect somewhat by diztily knocking something over on the way out and apologising profusely.

 

Claude mauls Jim’s claims of success by dissing Jim’s salary as “not super”. “You’ve got all the answers but no proof” complains Claude, impervious to the Jedi Blarney. “I’ll give you hard bare facts; whatever you want – I believe in my idea” blusters Jim. “The problem is finding anyone else who’ll believe it”, Claude cuts him down. On his return to his fellow candidates, Jim declares this interview “A walk in the park… with people shooting at you..and throwing hand grenades”. Oh come on Jim, an interview with Claude isn’t as bad as living in Cookstown.

 

Matthew pulls Susan up on costs for testing and certification of beauty products (Susan “it has to be done by chemists so they know my products don’t contain arsenic or anything”), deliberately misunderstanding her as meaning that this can be done at a local chemist and then arguing it’s not in the business plan. Susan defends herself by pointing out she has included it in legalities costings (and the sums add up with her estimates), but he still thinks it’s not specific enough and without this in the plan he claims her business is screwed. Susan returns to the waiting area (with accompanying sad violin music), where Helen’s been moaning that Susan’s high energy positivity has been driving her “potty”. The sight of Susan’s glum little face gives Helen an opportunity to show emotion for once with a triumphant grin. Jim’s clearly delighted too. Lovely.

 

It takes Claude to pull Helen down a notch by revealing that her “new idea” is old hat (“It isn’t your idea. Plenty of companies are providing what you are suggesting”). Helen switches tack, saying she’s really aiming to become a “market leader”, and for the thousandth time today claiming to have ” won 10 out of 11 tasks” (single handed I presume).

 

And that’s that. The interview wolves (Lord Sugar: “Now we have two young men!”, Claude: “You mean three young men”, Sugar: “TWO young men”) assemble in the boardroom to dish the dirt.

 

Helen’s first, and whilst they all agree she’s well organised and employable, Margaret thinks she lacks “entrepreneurial flair” and Claude dismisses her as having “no contacts and no knowledge of the business area”.

 

Everyone has a good chuckle about Jim’s bullshit, but Claude throws the hint of a bone for the Irish man by suggesting that “e-learning might hit hot spots as it’s equipping young people for the workplace”. It’s Lord Sugar’s turn to slam Claude: “Schools don’t have any money!”. Nick sums up Jim’s business plan as “one long seduction letter”.

 

Tom’s seen as part mad professor part feckless flibbertigibbet, although Matt’s impressed by the curly nail file and indicates Tom should take this further and invent a third generation nail file (perhaps one that files your nails into the shape of all the tools on a Swiss army penknife?). Claude mocks Tom’s sums and Karren believes Tom would benefit most from Lord Sugar’s input.

 

Claude’s intrigued and impressed by Susan having run a small business from a very young age, but ultimately they all find her naive. Margaret’s got a soft spot for Miss Ma, raising the fact that she sold her products to pay her way through university so should be taken seriously as an entrepreneur.

 

The candidates are shown in and Sugar promises to make his mind up “based on your business plans and my experience of you over the last 11 weeks”. As usual he does no such thing.

 

Susan’s “£4.5 million turnover” is slapped into submission. “I can see you standing there on your little stall” Sugar patronises her gently. “I organised an event where I employed 15 staff” Susan digs, but Sugar can’t accept that she can compete with L’Oreal and the like (“250K would be gone on your marketing… you haven’t a hope in hell. Although that doesn’t mean the business can’t work”).

 

Everyone’s “terribly disappointed” in Helen’s business plan given she has no experience in that field, but she insists she’s found a gap in the market. Sugar’s determined to pigeon hole her in catering due to her role with Greggs (Helen really doesn’t have the air of a woman who’s an expert on pies) and Karren recalls that Helen excelled in baking tasks. “That was my second choice” explains Helen, “but it’s not unique enough”.

 

Tom’s back pain diagnostic chair is laughed off by Sugar who has a bare minimum attitude towards health and safety in his workplace (“I stick to health and safety regulations, but as an employer I would give up and emigrate if all my employees needed a desk chair check” (Is this only a requirement in the public sector then?). Besides, insists Lord Sugar, absenteeism amongst his army of crippled hunchbacks isn’t all down to back pain. “If you put alcohol rub on all their desks it wouldn’t stop them getting the common cold” (although some of them might try to drink it), “I wouldn’t buy in bouncing keyboards just so they wouldn’t get arthritis”, although he accepts “there may be legs in the chair”. Groundbreaking.

 

Jim admits that he only wrote his business plan 2 weeks before “the process” started, and paints a sympathetic portrait of himself as a philanthropic gentleman who takes annual leave from his day job to travel round schools spreading his wisdom (and somehow avoiding talking to head teachers). Sugar’s none too happy about Jim “jumping on the back of my brand” and wonders where the money will come from. Jim commits hara kiri. “I had thought of this being none profit” he starts, adding “it’s not a million dollar idea, but the future of the economy, the future of children”. Lord Sugar’s having none of it, barking that “this is about my commercial life” and not all the work he does selflessly for charity but doesn’t like to talk about it, and implying that Jim only wrote his business plan to please him, he sacks Jim, promoting another gleeful facial twitch from Helen.

 

Next Susan is fired as the true costs of competing in the cosmetics market with her products would be astronomical, although Sugar hints that this isn’t the last we’ve heard from our stream of consciousness Avon lady.

 

The remaining two are sent to wait outside as Sugar confides to his henchies that if this was a straightforward job, Helen would walk it. Nick’s a big fan of Tom’s (“it’s a good product and he’s terribly personable. That’s a powerful combination”, but Karren pisses on his Tom parade (“I think he would need a LOT of managing”).

 

Back in the boardroom, Helen has an announcement to make. “My initial idea is not suitable to you…I have a second business plan. A chain of bakers specialising in home made breads and cakes”. In other words “If I have to make sodding pies to win, then so be it”. Sugar is, rightly, cynical (“Are you just being ultra shrewd”). “This is what I want to do. I want to start my own business”. Tom grows claws stating he can’t understand why she hasn’t already started a business and Helen turns on him griping that if she like him had started a business 5 or 6 years ago then she’d have made it a success. Tom winces.

 

Lord Sugar asks Tom how he managed to get his products into Wallmart, in what must be a planted question, given the poetry of Tom’s story (“I knew they wouldn’t just see one guy, so I created a beautiful parcel and insisted on hand delivering it to the manager and pitched to her, so she gave me 30 minutes and it went to US and UK retailers”). Sugar loves this demonstration of chutzpah (“I didn’t know you had it in you Tom”) and despite him thinking Tom’s business plan needing “a lot of tweaking” (adding “but that’s what business is all about”) he hires Tom, and fires Helen, who sets her lazer eyes to death ray at the likeable inventor. Tom leaps around outside like a big kid yelling “YESS!!!” and I have a bit of a mini tellygasm. It’s so rare for the candidates I really like to win.

 

On “You’re hired” afterwards, Susan confesses that she wanted Lord Sugar to help her to endorse her skin care range (“For when you really want your skin to look at it’s most walnutty”?) and there’s a touching moment where her mum tells everyone how proud she is. Dara gives her a magic robot to easily answer questions like “Do the French love their children”.

 

Jim proves he cannot live without his clichés (“I was in it to win it. I gave it my best shot. If you can do that in life, you can leave with your head held high”) and has a bright future as a football manager (although Lord Sugar suggests that Jim sort out Ireland’s financial problems – no pressure). He’s awarded with a light sabre and presents Dara with a “Jedi Jim” T-shirt.

 

Helen’s been upgraded to “Basic Pleasure Model” but is still dull as fuck and gets a Che Guevara style poster of herself to commemorate her role in the first ever Apprentice attempted coup.

 

Finally Tom appears to celebrate a win for the nerds. “This is for everyone who bullied us at school” rejoices Dara. It transpires that Tom’s business plan didn’t really matter (of course) as Lord Sugar merely wanted to get his gnarled talons on the curly nail file and is forcing Tom to remain “Mr Nail File guy” for the rest of his life (Sugar also cannily hints at a deal to be done with Susan’s business, doubling his sudden cosmetics empire).

 

So that’s it. Another year over, and another bunch of wannabes pruned down meaninglessly in Lord Sugar’s brilliant long running advertisement for whatever it is he does. I’m glad the nice guy won, but almost have the impression that Sugar just goes onto Twitter the day before the final show, having filmed two endings, and picks the most popular remaining candidate.

 

Here’s how they all finished:

 

1) Tom

2) Helen

3) Susan

4) Jim

5) Natasha (how annoying that she can use that on her CV)

6) Melody

7) Zoe

8) Leon

9) Glenn

10) Edna

11) Vincent

12) Ellie

13) Felicity

14) Gavin

15) Alex

16) Edward

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Week 11 and Natasha puts together a 6.30am breakfast of chumps for her fellow candidates (but forgets to spread the toast with special Senna-pod jam). Jim takes the phone call summoning everyone to a rendezvous in a central London shopping mall. “Do we have to wear anything in particular?” he asks, but the line goes dead.

Everyone’s wearing their shiniest whistles and staring ahead with a po-faced expression in the cars (Helen completely ice-queening Tom when he struggles to make idle chitchat) as they all think it’s the interviews round, so amusingly Lord Sugar informs them that this week’s task is to create and run a fast food franchise in units he’s found for them. Their “fast food experience” will be judged by industry experts.

Lucky Tom gets to join Helen on Logic, and immediately accepts her greater knowledge of catering (“I’m happy to be project managed by you”). Sadly this means that she gets to dismiss any of his suggestions (“West Indian and Tex Mex are hot”), pushing her own dream of a chain of pie and mash takeouts, which she thinks have never been done, proving Helen has never been to a festival. Tom thinks pies might be a bit “heavy”, so Helen dreams up “Mini pies. They’re more suitable for ladies”. I think Lady Pies could be a popular choice. Tom’s adamant that he’s better at concept and branding than cooking (I bet for Tom that’s what mums do), so reluctantly Helen heads off to the catering plant in North West London to develop dishes, whilst direly warning Tom that she wants to “be kept in contact all the time. I’m trusting you here Tom”.

Susan points out that Venture are blessed with three minds against two, conveniently overlooking the owners of those “minds”. Natasha’s keen to lead because of her “BA in hospitality management”, and Jim seems momentarily impressed, until he remembers that Natasha is a woman and he takes command (“I’m keen to lead, I’ve got two people behind me, keen to support me”). “I’ll support you with the knowledge from my degree” barks Natasha, but her hint flies through Jim’s ears. “The girls need leading” suggests Jim to camera. He know who wears the trousers in Jim’s household. And the “I’m a stupid sexist cockend” hat. Jim’s eager to do Mexican food, despite the fact that Susan seems to be the only one on the team who’s actually eaten this cuisine (and thus is appointed Mexican food expert). Jim wants Natasha to use her degree to run the kitchen, but she refuses point blank so Jim dons his well stained apron whilst leaving Natasha and Susan together to do branding and marketing. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Natasha and Susan waltz around, apparently looking for branding concepts, but mainly shouting “Arriba!” and boiling the essence of Mexico down to “A happy looking man with a big moustache” (Susan there, clearly due a disappointing Little Chef experience one day). Meanwhile Jim goes to one Mexican fast food place to check out their dishes and get his head around the all important “system” of making food to order en masse. Or not, as he only seems interested in asking what the place “don’t do”. There’s probably a reason they don’t do chilli con carne despite being a Mexican food outlet. Maybe it burns people’s hands? Additionally the fast food bloke reveals they’ve just trialled a Mexican tortilla soup. That’s Jim’s frighteningly erm moist menu sorted.

Helen develops and tastes some very handsome looking mini-pies (Steak, bacon and red wine, Chicken and mushroom, Spinach, broccoli and cheddar) whilst pulling a face suggesting she’s just found a pube in the pastry. She angsts a little about the costings on the magnificently steak packed steak pie, but decides she’d rather keep product quality and take a hit on the margins so signs it off. Meanwhile we get to see a little more of Tom’s creative process. It’s fucking terrifying, but brilliant, like he’s a walking alien bat-computer making bizarre connections between everyday things (things which Tom views with the fresh eyes of a particularly strange child). Thus he wanders into a baby boutique, and gurgles delightedly at signs on shop windows, with Nick, eyes akimbo, trailing behind him. “Qy py!” chortles Tom, looking at a “Qype” sticker outside a newsagents. “That’s a very good name!” He calls Helen excitedly insisting they call their outlet “My Py” (I would have expected him to go for “Pi” but this is mental, it sounds like an unfathomable toy).

Venture’s branding team have come to an impasse. “Som Bravo?” ponders Natasha, hopelessly. “They always have “El” something,” Susan pipes up. “What does “El” mean?” “I have no idea” admits Natasha, giving degrees a bad name. They phone up Jim who offers them “Caracas”, which he has confused with Maracas and “chicken things” (knackers?), although he confesses he has no idea what it means. They all agree it sounds suitably Mexican though, so name their Fast Food restaurant after the capital of Venezuela.

Next the girls have to ring Jim back as they disagree about using peppers on the logo (Natasha “I’m trying to make the pepper iconic to our brand”). Susan thinks peppers aren’t Mexican like Caracas is and starts telling Jim it’s a “dangerous” move (For Fuck Sake), until Natasha snatches the phone away from her and starts telling Jim that Susan is a mental. I almost pity Jim, who pretends to bow to Susan’s greater experience of Mexican food and makes the executive decision to drop the peppers. “Girls, please work together to get a successful outcome” sighs Jim, proving he’d make a great pimp.

Helen calls Tom requesting a list of British names. Oh dear, he’s off in a cloud of nutty whimsy. “Was Byron writing at the same time as Shakespeare? Or William Drake?* Was Byron a vegetarian? Didn’t Columbus discover the potato in America?” A truly bamboozled Helen quickly agrees and hangs up for the sake of her own sanity. Tom is completely on one, doing Dr Who style quirky conceptualising like a bastard in his empty unit (“I see Big Ben over here, the bus here, this bit almost as a big blue wall….”). “Welcome to MY PY” he chuckles diabolically. It sounds very wrong.

(*William Drake? You know? The bloke with the beard who had a vision of a game of bowls on Peckham Rye).

My Py ends up looking like a Conservative Party Conference. It would be BNP, but it’s too stylish, and Columbus is included as a great British name on one of the patriotic floor mats alongside Drake, Churchill and Hugh Grant. “Is Columbus British?” grimaces Nick. “You are kidding me?” gasps Tom, slowly and unconvincingly adding “Columbus Was .. British”. Logic cleverly decide to to do a “dry run” with their two hired kitchen hands. “Hello! Welcome to My Py! Have you ever eaten 100% British?” gasps Helen as part of the greeting spiel. It sounds like dialogue from a bad 70s sex film.

Caracas win the most racist restaurant award with their plethora of sombreros and cacti, plus their rather less friendly attitude towards the sole hired kitchen hand, a woman who reminds me of Jack Dee’s au pair in “Lead Balloon” in the way she effortlessly points out how useless Jim is being. “Jim please organise your kitchen… I need elp.. You must think about things it takes time to do”. Jim’s response is to take control of nachos whilst ignoring her main misgivings (“I’m nacho man”). This woman needs to get one of the places in the final, she’s better than the candidates.

My Py surprisingly does a good first service, despite serving pies, mash and gravy in dodgy looking (presumably wax sealed) cardboard boxes. The customers all seem satisfied by the food, especially the blokes (the ladies pies USP doesn’t really come across as they’re serving three pies per portion.

Caracas in comparison are a kitchen nightmare , with customers greeted by a discarded hammer and nails as they walk in (plus Natasha shouting for Susan). Most of their customers decide to eat in (strangely not wishing to walk around with chilli con carne or soup) so they quickly run out of chairs. The orders pile up, so it’s a 10 minute wait for chicken in pitta bread, cold tortillas and freezing nachos followed by a manic Susan apology. Karren reflects that the team spent so much time talking about décor that they didn’t organise a system of serving food that worked.

“You can’t serve cold nachos” moans Susan. “Give me solutions” snaps Jim. “Erm keep them in the oven” retorts Susan. Jim goes through Venture’s enormous stack of negative customer feedback “Slow. Not fast food. Crazy waitress.”

Logic’s only negative comment is that the box “is difficult to eat out of” (snigger), so Helen decides to switch to a smaller plastic container.

The next morning Jim warns Susan not to “come across as frantic and frazzled as it will create a bad atmosphere”. Rather than warning Jim not to come across as a twat, Susan comes up with an improved workable solution to the teams problems with service. Even Jim thinks it just might work.

When it transpires that the industry experts judging are from McDonalds and Dominos, I almost stop caring who wins as long as the loser starts an e-coli outbreak. I suppose I should be relieved that neither team involved “poetry” in their fast food concept.

The judging is based on 4 categories: customer service, food, branding and ability to demonstrate the “concept” of how the restaurant will run in future.

Lord Sugar arrives at Caracas with Satan’s acolytes and orders chicken fajitas (it’s so odd seeing him doing something vaguely normal). “Can I recommend the nachos” presses Susan. “Sure, if you want to.” he bristles gently. One awkward industry expert asks for a fajita with no peppers (I bet Susan feels vindicated). This woman had better not be McDonalds, the amount of grief it used to take to order a burger without gherkin. Natasha aggressively boasts that they are running at 5 minutes “from top to end” and the fast food experts give each other knowing looks. The evil fast food representatives seem to think the branding’s OK (“You know what you’re gonna get”) but are unimpressed by the profit margin. Things get worse when Jim pitches and is thrown the “curveball” question “What’s your projected turnover within one hour”. Not only does Jim answer based on two hours, he also works out that 60 people in two hours on average spending will bring in £4,800. Er no. He tries again. “£4,200” and is forced to admit a major maths fail (It’s £420, not exactly a thriving business). Natasha fields the question about the stereotypical Old World images, stating that Caracas offers “Chill time in a strong Mexican environment” (Perhaps they sell fake moustaches so you can have a nap under one of the fake cacti?). Jim tries to charm everyone with a gag: “Our first customer hasn’t paid, so Lord Sugar could you settle up?” Tumbleweed flutters through the cacti.

Next Lord Sugar and the filthy food peddlers visit My Py. “Have you ever eaten 100% British before?” Helen quizzes them, stiltedly. Everyone awkwardly says “Yes”. Sugar plumps for steak and red wine py, with the industry experts selecting “Drake and Nightingale” (duck and cough medicine flavour). Service is going well until Tom realises that the new trays are way too small and he’s in fact pouring scalding gravy over his hands. Tom kicks the pitch off enthusiastically, visualising 500 outlets of My Py nationwide, all of them “100% brilliantly British” (nobody mentions Columbus). Then Helen takes over and fluffs her business model bit, preciously blaming Tom for putting her off because he’s hovering and “Yes”ing on her every word like an over-excited nodding bulldog. “Sorry to have interrupted you” demurs Tom. The experts like the pies and the price, so talk “gross margins” and Helen does well, explaining that the steak pie has a greater margin, but she wanted to balance quality with the menu. “What would you do in Summer?” asks one woman (must be McDonalds, just because they do nice fattening Summer salads). Tom thinks for a millisecond and decides on cold pork pies. Oh come on, people eat hot food in the summer. Fast food places don’t sell cold chips on purpose.

Back in the boardroom, and Sugar thinks Venture chose well with Mexican food as it’s currently fashionable, but “Caracas” is mocked as a brand-name (Karren: “Be honest you all thought it was a made-up word!”). Karren also bigs up Susan for attempting to sort out the failed ordering system.

Tom admits that Logic’s My Py came from him misreading a sign, but he went for it as he wanted to mix the traditional and the new. “We did a practice run with the chef” starts Tom, but Lord Sugar’s decided that he’s fed up with Tom suddenly piping up for himself and wants to hear Helen’s side of things. “I didn’t want to go to the kitchen,, but Tom insisted he was used to concept and branding” Helen leads with her “get out” clause.

Nick and Karren deliver the average scores across all categories from the fast food experts. Caracas score 4/10, My Py score 7/10. So it’s a win for the pies and Tom and Helen are finalists. They rush off happily, Tom giggling and shushing himself sweetly to avoid looking too pleased.

In Fail Café, where pies sit amusingly on the hot plate, Natasha thinks Sugar should fire Susan. Susan thinks Natasha should go. And Jim believes that it is his godly right to get into the final. They head back to the boardroom, greeted by the angry walnut face of Lord Sugar, who presents them with a proper business model containing costings drawn up by Tom and Helen and demands to know where Venture’s equivalent of this model is.

“None of us considered how long things would take and how many people we would serve” Susan admits. Sugar’s unimpressed “This is BUSINESS! One of you wants to go into business with me”.

Jim’s crap maths is bought into account, although Sugar points out that the final figure of £420 over 2 hours would see them going bust.

The slow delivery of the food follows on like this (Karren reckons this is because they didn’t know if they were a fast food or a waitress restaurant). “I was endeavouring to buy more time” Natasha states. As though hungry people would want to spend more time with Natasha bullshitting them whilst waiting for their food.

Natasha’s next in the firing line as Lord Sugar brings up her “Degree in food and hospitality” (this degree is all things to all people) and asks if it included understanding food. “Yeah!” affirms Natasha. “But it was a long time ago”. How old is she for christ’s sake?

Susan turns on Jim’s poor market research (he should have found the best sellers and how long they took), prompting Jim to play his “bitchscrap” card and accuse his team-mates of fighting so much that it distracted him from his manly leadership. “Why did you put us together” asks Natasha ridiculously (because there’s only three of you and you didn’t want to cook you dumb bint). “I had feedback from you that you found Susan like a child to work with” shares Jim uselessly, adding that both women were equally shit (“I had excitability and manic enthusiasm from Susan and at the other end of scale I had manic despair”. Natasha’s face hardens to the texture of corrugated steel.

Lord Sugar sends them out so Karren can tell him how rubbish Susan (“You need a sieve with her to work out what is meaningful”) is and how Natasha has a spark, but she must be tired with the process as it appears to have gone.

Anyhow, yet again they’re all dragged back in (I’m sure Sugar never used to do so much consulting with his henchies in previous series). Susan thinks Jim could go, as he’s a charming talker but has no original idea. It’s almost as though the girls have had a chat too, as like on the Weakest Link they both blame Jim (Natasha says he can’t make decision). Jim’s on the ropes (“I’m caught in a pincer movement”), but plays his hand, stating that Natasha should go (“100%”).

Jim really seems screwed here until he remembers to blame his team’s “experts” (Susan’s tenuous fondness for Mexican food and Natasha’s degree). Natasha claims her degree content is no longer of interest to her. “You spent four years of your adult life doing it” Jim points out. Natasha says it’s only Jim “highlighting and contextualising” her degree, not her (she’s forgotten that she bought it up first). “My task responsibility was over on the creative side” Natasha states, but that doesn’t cut any ice with Lord Sugar (“You should be all in the same boat”). “I honed in on what I liked doing” she flounders in response, but she’s in trouble now. “If I did a first aid course and didn’t enjoy doing mouth to mouth, I’d still have to do it if it was needed” growls the Nookie Bear-esque peer.

Jim has Natasha’s number: “You are fight or flight in any situation”, but he’s gulping and twitching like a fish that’s been caught committing adultery.

Lord Sugar worries that Susan doesn’t get on with people, but he admires her achievements (enrolling herself in school, running her own business) and she makes the final. Likewise Jim, as Lord Sugar likes his “spirit”. So it’s bye bye to Natasha, who takes Losers Taxi to a Yates’s Wine Lodge, holding her gnarled little face held high and claiming that her “dignity” is intact.

Jim looks utterly drained of blood, and only comes to life in the car back to the house, when Susan tries to throw oil on troubled waters (“Whatever happens in the boardroom stays in the boardroom”). Jim pops back with fighting talk (“You smelt blood, it was ‘Let’s scalp Jim’. Your business acumen’s been really poor”). Susan gives him a “Whatever dickhead” look.

Back at the house, Helen and Tom think that only Susan has returned and it’s hugs and smiles all round (nobody perceives Susan as a threat) until Jim strolls in. “Anybody order a final four” he smarms. Nope.

Next week the final four are grilled over their business plans by Lord Sugar’s baying pack of interviewers, including Claude and Margaret. I can’t wait.

So the final four are (thanks for the massive spoiler Radio Times) in order of favouritism – with probable placings next to them:

 

Tom (3 – unless he’s invented an alarm clock that gives hand jobs)

Susan (2)

Helen (1)

Jim (4)

Adios Amigos: Natasha, Melody, Zoe, Leon, Glenn, Edna, Vincent, Ellie, Felicity, Gavin, Alex, Edward

Week 10 and following a gratuitous and strangely invigorating Tom in a Towel shot, the candidates are dragged to EPR wholesalers in Enfield where Lord Sugar waxes all dewy eyed about his youthful jolly barrel boy bollocks in days of yore, before setting them the task to sell a random assortment of products he’s chosen and reinvest the money in the best selling products (“smell what’s selling”) thus building a rudimentary business. The team with the greatest amount of assets wins, so being left with a stockpile of crap isn’t necessarily a losing strategy.

Susan joins Jim and Natasha on Venture, whereas Helen moves to Logic with Tom and Melody. Tom’s card is remarked by Lord Sugar, who doesn’t want any more grovelling hindsight bollocks. Tom obediently nods his head. “If you nod your head any more I’m gonna put you on the back seat of my blahhdy car” snaps Lord Sugar sinisterly. Ironically they inventory the products chosen for them and discover one is a nodding bulldog wearing a Union Jack waistcoat (“Oh yes!”).

Melody volunteers to lead Logic, as she hasn’t been Project Manager since week 1 and Helen backs her (Tom typically starts well in his new promised dynamic approach by silently acquiescing).

Susan’s equally forthright putting herself forward for Venture (“it’s what my parents do”), but Natasha shouts her down (“Operationally I will be stronger”) and Jim pretends to be all objective, but still sides with Natasha. “I’m 100% behind you then” bleats Susan, “but I would like you to trust my judgement”. Naturally Natasha takes the opportunity to patronise “Suzie” (“I’m over the moon you’re in this team”) and sends her out to flog duvets house to house in Knightsbridge (hmm) whilst Natasha and Jim head to Covent Garden to sell shed loads of overpriced tat to mentally ill tourists (£7.50 for the nodding bulldog! And it sells!). Jim’s Jedi skills are back with a vengeance and he wheedles people into buying a brolly for a tenner a go on a clear day. Meanwhile Susan finally makes it past the horse guards parade to unsuccessfully shout through well heeled letterboxes at cleaners. “That was really unsuccessful” she sighs, “they must be rubbish products” (erm nobody’s actually seen them yet.).

Helen’s master plan for Logic is to try to flog the wholesale products to erm retailers, giving them the opportunity to mark up to the public, if they decide to gamble beyond their usual suppliers. Genius! Melody’s on board and drags the pair of them into “Poundstar” (there’s a clue in that name somewhere) to try to sell a £50 RRP watch for £25. “Er no.” explains the weary retailer, “this is a pound shop”. Melody’s not disheartened (“I thought at one point he would go for it”). Continuing on their retarded quest they then try to sell the “chocolatey” duvet cover (a must for incontinents) to the owner of a hardware shop.

Tom bravely pitches up at the London eye fleecing kids with the nodding bulldogs. “I’ll give you £5” lisps one tousle-headed little scamp. “Ohhh dear, you’re very good at this aren’t you” simpers Tom. His wide-eyed and likeable Nick Park style spiel is actually a great hit with the kids (“here’s your doggy”) and he quickly sells the lot, not that Melody and Helen are interested in fulfilling his request for more bulldogs.

Nick Hewitt notes grimly that neither team is thinking much about reinvesting, it only being the whole point of the task. Jim clicks first and nags Natasha (“You need to think about strategy and buying for tomorrow”), but she’s too busy getting all defensive and accuses him of panicking, before ringing Susan (waking her up in the process) and asking how the duvets have sold. Make that duvet, as somehow Susan managed to shift one for £18. “I’m more than happy for you to chip in some responsibility as well” Natasha barks at Jim, as she’s completely incapable of making a sodding decision herself.

Melody and Helen find the retail world’s answer to Mohammed Ali (“I AM the cheapest!”) and unwisely decide he would be the perfect person to sell their dirty protest duvet covers to, just about managing to haggle him to £10 per duvet for the 9 duvets they have. Even though he’s the cheapest, he’s still seen this pair coming and hints “If you had more, I’d give a good order”. They agree to get him 30 duvet covers, now there’s just the small matter of finding and buying that many, but the girls decide to leave that until the following day as there’s now none left at the wholesalers.

At 6pm on day 1, both teams have to reinvest their takings. Logic have about £260 to spend (with Tom having made the same amount of money as Melody and Helen combined). Melody waltzes around picking up travel irons as though she’s planning a trip to visit her mate the Dalai Lama. “Why are we selling travel things, that’s horrible?” complains Helen (over-reacting slightly), but Melody just ignores her so she pulls hacky faces and selects an almost sensible emergency phone charger. Tom seems to have been banned from the reinvestment process, but is disappointed by the random choices they display to him back at the house.

Venture meanwhile have £292, and whilst Natasha buys bulldogs, Susan (unimpressed with Lord Sugar’s selected products) goes all feral and invests in £100 worth of shiny bracelets. “I’d go for a few more of those one’s, they’re really popular” charms the trinket-trader, spotting the magpie gleam in Susan’s eye. “Yeah? I really appreciate your advice, thanks!” gasps Susan sweetly. Back at the house she unveils her treasure (“I have sold these bracelets before”) but Jim and Natasha just stare at the poor idiot girl.

Next morning Melody wafts in to meet her team-mates, but Helen’s looking tense and reveals that she’s been up all night. She starts with a spoonful of sugar (“I know you’re exceptionally strong at sales Melody”) before dropping the bombshell (“So is it best if I take over as Project Manager today as I feel it takes strong strategy and organisation”). It’s an attempted coup, an Apprentice first by Helen, the (until recently) silent assassin. Melody’s taken aback, but as usual her mouth kicks back into gear first (“That all suggests to me that you have a really amazing strategy”) and she neatly rebuffs Helen’s offer with the strength of a thousand Thatchers (“No to that. I want to take responsibility”). I think Tom’s contribution is to uncomfortably shift from one buttock to the other.

Anyhow El Presidente Melody decides unsurprisingly to take Tom to their stall in Hammersmith tube to sell untried products (Tom to his credit seems to just as well when he’s not flogging stuff to children), whilst it’s Helen who’s out in the cold trying to sell bike lights and emergency phone chargers to the high powered denizens of Canary Wharf (she finds one annoying ginger geek, who finally agrees to buy a phone charger). She suddenly remembers the great duvet deal of the day before and calls the brown linen supplier she’d found only to discover that they closed for the day at er 2pm (left it a little late surely?). The only other supplier is back in Enfield, a four hour round trip away for the amazing profit of £3 per duvet. She calls Melody, unsure of whether it’s worth it, but Melody’s still pissed off at Helen for coup-gate, so tells her to take the risk and head to the wholesalers, just to get her out of the picture.

In Shepherd’s Bush, Jim’s become an Irish Jedi Del Boy, selling like a fiend to an assembled crowd of bedazzled little old ladies. “I wouldn’t pay £25 for that duvet” one claims. “You must have actually misheard me,” pounces Jim, “I said £20”. Even Nick has to laugh and admit that he’s starting to like Jim for the first time (“It’s a load of baloney, but fun”).

Susan’s starting to look like an idiot savant at Portobello Market as she effortlessly sells her stock of bracelets, under the rattled gaze of Natasha, who’s just trying to stand around looking broody and doesn’t need all the stress and hassle of someone actually doing something and making her look bad. There’s only one thing for it, she has to bizarrely micro-manage Susan, even leaping in with a price change right in the middle of a sale Susan’s making. When she’s rightly pulled up on this it gives her a chance to be an utter twat (something she is actually good at). “Stop being such an angry person! Stop embarrassing yourself” she snarls like a wizened fishwife, waving away Susan’s protestations. Jim’s also selling well and calls Natasha to request some reinvestment. “We are carrying plenty of stock” she reasons limply, but Jim’s actually understood the task and urges her not to be conservative. Natasha’s adamant “we can’t risk having more stock left over”, but that’s because she’s a thick pram-faced troll. “She’s making a Horlicks of it all” sighs Nick politely. Eventually Jim can take no more of Natasha’s “all passion and no clue” leadership, (“I’d rather try and fail than be ridiculed by Lord Sugar for failing the directive of the task”) and Natasha gives him the go-ahead to buy more umbrellas with hardly any time remaining. In a superhuman effort he makes it to Enfield, buys 23 umbrellas (with only 23 minutes to get back to central London) and somehow makes it back just for the clock to strike 6pm. Hang on, Helen’s taken hours doing the same journey. Can Jim actually fly as well as doing mind control? Told you he was a witch.

Talking of Helen, she’s finally braved the traffic to get back to Mr Cheap, but sadly he’s not also Mr Tardy and has already closed for the day, so she’s left with a boot load of chocolatey duvets. Mission accomplished for Melody then as she states that she thought Helen was “insane” to try and take over as Project manager. You don’t cross Melody and forget about it in a hurry.

In the boardroom, and Lord Sugar’s keen to see that the teams have demonstrably smelled what they er sold. Venture are asked about Melody’s leadership, and Tom maintains a tactful silence, but Helen’s more vocal (“She was terrible! No strategy – just long winded speeches with no substance”). However Helen’s selling to retail strategy is soon exposed as business nonsense (“This is a margins game!”). Tom puts his hand up to mention his “risk of going to the South Bank on my own” (my hero!), and it’s noted that, despite not being a natural salesman, he sold all his bulldogs. “I take it you replenished the stock?” Sugar asks. “No” retorts Helen. A tumbleweed bounces by.

Next Logic are asked about Natasha’s Project Management, and she takes their pursed lips as a cue to big herself up (“I put myself forward very strongly”). Susan’s pulled up for her uncomplimentary appraisal of Lord Sugar’s selected products (“You thought it was a load of tut?”), and admits that she didn’t do a very good job trying to sell door to door household items in Knightsbridge.

Nick bigs up Jim’s contribution for Venture (“Did you kiss the blarney stone or swallow it whole?”). “I think I’m charming and resilient” Jim casually opines. “Modest also” chuckles Sugar. However it’s revealed that Venture tragically failed to reinvest until too late on Day 2, and then only to the tune of £20 (“Are you ‘avin a laff or what?”). Jim explains that he struggled to convince a strong character like Natasha (because he’s such a fluffy little lamb), adding “It’s difficult to push treacle up a hill”.

Sugar’s fuming at Natasha’s lack of “balls” and takes a £100 fine off Venture. So its time for the scores in terms of sales and stock left over.

Logic sold £1,204 worth and bought £476 worth, leaving them with total assets of £728

Venture sold £1,154, bought £303 worth, but were fined £100, still leaving them with total assets of £751

Gah! So Natasha is safe. However, Lord Sugar’s got his knickers in a twist and reveals that he was going to give the winning team a helicopter ride to Goodwood to look at Vintage Cars (which sounds like the sort of prize Alan Partridge would have soiled his pants in joy over), but now they have to go to bed early with no supper as punishment for their absent cojones. Back at the house, Natasha refuses to accept any responsibility for this state of affairs and gripes away at Susan (“It was like trying to manage a child all day”). Susan points out that Natasha didn’t do any selling all day. “I couldn’t trust you to get on with things” bitches Natasha. “You’re saying the reason we didn’t get a treat was because of me” asks Susan, her jaw hitting the carpet (as usual). “Yeah!” Natasha warms to her theme, “cos we were a TEAM. Yeah!”

Melody’s nearly in tears in the Café of Shame, and harps on about feeling unsupported by certain mutinous team members. She grits her jaw and eyeliner. “I’m not going anywhere” she promises.

So it’s boardroom part 2, and Helen explains her move (“I felt Melody lost control, she seemed to be floundering”), but Melody senses an escape route when Helen reveals that her grand plan if she had become PM was just to attempt to get “massive orders” from retail. “She still doesn’t get it!” whines Melody, but Karren slams her (“You positively embraced the idea of selling to retail yourself”). Melody reveals that she “didn’t want to prioritise a wholesaler” just for Tom’s well selling nodding dogs. In fact, annoyingly Tom seems to be the only person in the boardroom who understood the task. Shame he didn’t pipe up enough about it, and now is reduced to moaning that nobody listened to him, yet again.

Helen’s “fools errand” (as Tom puts it) to Enfield to find duvets for Mr Cheap is again under scrutiny, as in a real business it’s pointed out that the petrol cost alone would have cancelled out any profit, if the cheap shop had even been open by the time Helen returned. “Which of you three brain surgeons came up with this one?” queries Sugar, and Tom says that the fact he didn’t yell it down makes him “personally responsible” (Noooooo!). It’s revealed that the decision was down to Melody, although she tries to wriggle out by blaming Helen (“It’s not much to expect the person who wanted to take my job to check what time a shop closed” – she’s not going to let coup-gate lie is she?).

As it descends into a genteel cat-fight, Lord Sugar sends everyone out so he can chat to Nick and Karren about how much he’s in love with Melody. Oh and gauge their opinions of the other candidates. Karren suggests that Helen has been a good organiser but “took her eye off the ball with her retail obsession”, but she also rather decently praises Tom for his selling in this task. Sugar can still speak of nothing but Melody (“Maybe there’s something in all that jabba”). “If you went into business with Melody your boardrooms would be a very very long affair” smirks Karren.

So the candidates are dragged back in and made to explain why they deserve to stay, starting with Melody (this must be why tonight’s show gives over 30 minutes to the boardroom). She launches into a shower of bullshit, which if you actually try to listen to and understand makes your ears warp in protest. Apparently the best things in life are not free but earned, and by choosing to lead in the first week Melody proved herself to be more courageous than Gandhi, Han Solo and Jesus rolled into one. “I won us the task in the first week” she insists, until Helen points out that she may have had a slight hand in it. “In Paris I made all appointments bar two” continues Melody. “Yes and you kept them to yourself” Karren rolls her eyes. At age 26 though Melody’s had 13 years in business. Lord Sugar asks what we all want to know, what exactly is it that she frigging does. “I set up one of the most successful democratic bodies in the world” she erm elucidates (she’s too young to run the Bieber fan club isn’t she?). “Last year I worked on the Queens Speech”. I think Sugar’s mind may be made up as he pleads with her to stop fucking talking (“OK! I got it I got it!”).

Helen’s next and the fact she hasn’t lost seems to have gone to her head as she claims to have personally “won every task”, until Sugar clarifies that she was on the winning team. However she still has her record breaking sales figures to fall back on (remember what they did for poor Liz last year?). Sugar has her down as a glorified PA (“Actually I’m an executive assistant to the chief executive”). Has he gone off secretaries since Stella won last year?

Sugar thinks that “on paper” Tom is right up his alley, a “products man”, but the hindsight thing is just getting boring. Tom grows some teeth and suggests that Helen and Melody have shown their “business naivety” in the task. “Melody runs a business which unsurprisingly is all to do with talking and none of us understand what it is she does” he states, reminding me that just occasionally he is capable of hitting the nail firmly and clearly on the head. And he pisses Melody off (“That’s totally disrespectful”) which is fun. “I’m showing my passion and that I’ve got a core of steel” Tom giggles fluffily,

He’s struck a chord on the Melody issue, as Lord Sugar admits that he also has “difficulty” understanding what Melody actually does, and after some lacklustre weighing up he sadly states that the person leaving isn’t necessarily a failure, it’s just he can’t work with them (without getting strangely aroused). Yup, he fires Melody, causing a muted cheer as we all realise we will miss her being grilled by Claude* over her close associations with Al Gore, the Dalai Lama and 12 Nobel Peace Prize Winners.

Melody’s a little emotional leaving the boardroom, but insists in Fail Taxi that whilst she and Lord Sugar “won’t be going into business right now” their paths will cross again and he will finally understand what she really does, which is “more than talking” (she types self publicising statements too).

Back at the house and it’s Helen’s turn to act like a precious fool as she piddles all over Tom’s homecoming parade (“Tom was slightly naughty and I’m still learning to forgive him on that one”) and makes him look all chastened and nervous, as though she’s caught him trying to invent a “Weird Science” style sex robot version of her.

Next week the teams have to create a Fast Food restaurant. There’s more Natasha nastiness towards Susan and there’s Tom confidently waffling into a phone about Columbus inventing the potato**. Or something.

* Fans of the interview round, do not despair. It will be part of the final episode. Margaret’s apparently going to back for more too. Hurrah. Just a shame Melody can’t be there.

** Columbus did not invent the potato. McCain did, as any fule know.

Liking: Tom, Susan

They’re good, I just don’t like them: Jim, Helen

Waste of Oxygen: Natasha

So long chumps: Melody, Zoe, Leon, Glenn, Edna, Vincent, Ellie, Felicity, Gavin, Alex, Edward

Imagine you’re spending a relaxing Sunday evening at home (or working the treadmill if you’re constructed of muscle and raw ambition like Helen), when a big black car looms out of the darkness to deposit a walking bearded walnut at your threshold. Tom answers in his protective bodywarmer and immediately has an attack of edgy campness as he corrals the candidates to the kitchen to greet Lord Sugar. Melody’s been caught napping, but somehow manages to switch from comfy dressing gown to power hoody in 60 seconds. Lord Sugar sets the task of developing a unique new brand of biscuit, including packaging, then pitching it to Asda, Sainsburys and Waitrose, with the most orders winning.

The teams are again randomised, so Venture is Jim, Helen and Natasha, whereas Tom, Zoe, Susan and Melody form Logic.

Helen’s prior biscuit knowledge running food outlets gets her elected as Venture’s Project Manager.

Susan is keen to lead Logic, what with all her ingredient of mixing ingredients together for er soaps and body scrubs (not even biscuitty body scrubs), but Zoe’s having none of it and gazzumps Susan brutally (“I work with food and with respect your last pitch was pretty dodgy”), and Melody backs Zoe as Project Manager (Tom sneakily abstains on the vote: surprise surprise). Nick sees Zoe’s managership of Susan as “like slapping down a yapping puppy”.

Venture have an initial brainstorm, with Melody instantly keen on the idea of a heart shaped biscuit that can be shared with loved ones, but Susan thinks biscuit-based relationships are too “niche” and Zoe agrees as she hates Melody with a vengeance. Given her background in drinks manufacturing, Zoe’s keen to go to the development lab in Swansea, but is talked out of it by Susan who thinks branding and packaging is more important (“The best biscuit in the world won’t be bought if the packaging’s no good”), so despite thinking “a good product should sell itself” Zoe sends inventor Tom and human self advertising klaxon Melody to Welsh Wales, the land of the biscuit boffins. Partially Zoe’s “happier working with Susan” (because she can easily talk down to her, and oh yeah, because she fucking hates Melody).

Logic find being a candidate down makes them more decisive, so after some initial talk about a kids product (Jim: “Munch Men?”, Helen “Mini Munch Men?”, Natasha “That sounds rude!”), Jedi Jim’s sent off to the factory in Swansea, where a kindly old biscuit Yoda teaches him in the ways of crunchiness (“Never say never in the biscuit world”) and he learns how to shape biscuits like stars and put space dust on them.

Tom sketches out Heath Robinson-esque plans for crazy biscuits that are actually inside other biscuits, like a tardis that goes nice with a cup of tea. (I love this idea as it would enable me to eat twice as many biscuits in a sitting). Melody’s unimpressed (“I think big, but Tom just works out little details then tries to fit them into plans”), especially as she’s come up with the future of popcorn in messy biscuit form so you can pour more concentrated levels of fat and sugar down your gullet whilst watching TV.

Back in London, Susan’s hoping that she and Zoe will be able to work “on the same level” despite on a personal level, Zoe being “one of the most bitchy and backstabbing people” she’s ever met. Yes that attitude should help you work on an equitable footing. Susan’s so determined to be taken seriously by Zoe that she seems to speak over contradict and interrupt her throughout their market research (Susan “£1.99’s quite expensive, it’s a high end biscuit – what colours do you think?”, Zoe (slowly) “Errr creams and orange”, Susan “PURPLE is good!”), but bizarrely Zoe just seems to accept it all, even adapting Susan’s interjected blurtings as her own idea.

Jim actually does well at his focus group of kids, listening to their ideas (they like flapjacks, but not with raisins, they all think stars are good, especially shooting stars (Jim “I’ll take credit for that one!”)) and correctly relaying that information back to Helen, who decides to go for star shaped flapjacks based on the positive feedback, despite mutterings and dire warnings from Natasha. Helen asks her team for a tag-line and Jim plucks the sinister “Any time is treat time” out of the air. Natasha again is unconvinced, rightly pointing out that if it’s meant to be an after school snack then any time is NOT treat time, but Helen basically tells her to stick it if she can’t think of anything better.

Melody and Tom meanwhile meet with the oldest people in Swansea, in order to bamboozle them with their many concepts and beg for advice on everything. Firstly Tom shares his emergency biscuit idea (“Emer-crunchy”) and one lady seems to like it, but she’s clearly diabetic (“Like when you put the phone down and need sugar?”). Everyone loves the idea of the biscuit within a biscuit which gets unanimous hands up (and immediate emergency biscuit consumption due to the exercise).

Next Melody presents her blobby biscuit “popcorn”, which everyone stares at aghast, confused and strangely insulted. Tom’s name suggestion of “PopSquit” probably doesn’t help matters. They quite like her bland idea of the split love hearts (“Could be good to make up with the wife”) and Melody looks triumphant, commandeering the phone to tell Zoe “They all thought hearts were better than any other shape and said it was the best product” (Ooh you little liar!). I rather like Zoe feistily automatically eliminating the hearts, despite Melody’s protestations and demanding to speak to Tom. Tom reports that the double biscuit got a great response and Zoe decides to go for it, despite Melody continually whining “I don’t like that idea” repeatedly over their conversation.

Whilst Helen and Natasha try to convince the branding professionals in Windsor that “Any time” is actually “After School Treat Time” (Natasha gets particularly philosophical “Once the school bell’s gone it becomes any time”), Jim and Biscuit Yoda actually make some reasonable looking biscuits (although Natasha’s not enamoured of the pictures and thinks they’ll be “sickly”).

Meanwhile, something magical happens whilst Tom attempts to recreate his double biscuits with Melody’s “assistance” and after she seems to help him produce some tattered lumps of dough, suddenly they’re doing Melody’s idea of sharing half chocolate biscuits (although round, rather than heart shaped). Now how did that happen? Melody may as well have decorated these “bixmix” as she calls them with Tom’s balls (“bolloxbixmix”). Quickly the tagline becomes “Snap and share”, just to confuse matters.

On the way back from Wales, Melody’s already planning a “role play” as part of the pitch (“We’d be silly not to”) and Tom plays along. “Oooh do you want a bixmix?”. “You’ve got to be more natural”, chides Melody, “oooooh do you want a bixmix?”, adding “You and I Tom, are going to be lovers tomorrow, so get your act together”. Hmm, maybe that’s how she managed to utterly steamroll Tom’s idea, as he looks mightily happy with that idea. I don’t think it’s down to Melody’s charm, just the idea of doing nude prod games with ANY woman.

BixMix arrive at 9am, in Quality Street-esque boxes, with Zoe tasting them and happily declaring them “proper old school biscuits” (have they got weevils in?). She now has to deal with the return of Melody however, and the latter immediately starts honkingly patronising Zoe for having too wide a target market (Melody “Go clearly into what the product is and then do the details”). As Zoe writes her pitch, Susan asks if she’ll take Melody’s advice on board. “I don’t give a shiny shit about Melody!” snaps Zoe, “She’s doing my head in!”. Well said.

Natasha gets to stand alone in a supermarket attempting to entice people with “Special Stars” (the packaging makes them look like peanuts or mini cheddars), but ends up having to resort to enticing children over like a skanky drug dealer, much to Karren’s disdain.

Tom excels at chosing the largest most unwashed woman with large unwashed children in the supermarket for his taste test and charming the stained velour jogging bottoms off her (“Maybe you could share it with your…. husband”.). She likes the biscuits, although I think she accidentally eats the packaging too. An old boy is more discerning (“Mmm…it’s a bit dry”).

With Zoe insisting on leaving the target audience open, the pitch to Sainsburys starts excruciatingly with Melody and Tom’s role play one of the worst things ever on television. I’m not sure which is worse, Tom cringingly playing along (“because I love you, you can have the chocolate bit”) or Melody’s “acting”, but the “bemused look on the buyers faces” is probably worn by anyone watching this catastrophic charade. Arguably the pitch is already fucked, although Melody’s bound to be smug that Sainsburys slap Zoe on the wrist for not being clear at who they’re aiming at despite the packaging being “very feminine”.

Next Helen pitches “Special Stars”, “the oatmeal based flapjack aimed at children for after school”, which of course prompts another debate around the meaning of the words Time and Any. Natasha tries to help with her notion of the effect of school bells on the time space continuum, but everyone gives her the evils, and afterwards in the car Helen demands that Natasha only speak when spoken to if absolutely necessary, and Jim agrees. “So I should just shut up?” suggests Natasha. “Yeah” smiles Jim.

Waiting for the Asda pitch, Melody now tries to get Zoe to pitch bixmix as a “Girl’s Get Together Treat”, stating that this was her idea from the beginning. Eh? Again Zoe calls her out on her frankly insane levels of fibbery (“That’s really naughty”). “I don’t want to have a full blown argument” parps Melody. “Well don’t wind me up then!” snaps Zoe. Doubly embarrassingly, the meeting “room” is an Asda café table with a clear view of the area where Venture were bitch fighting AND Melody gets to do roleplaying again, this time with poor Zoe. There’s concerns about the product being a bit crap from the stern Asda procurement team (“If I was having digestives on a girl’s night in, I’d feel a bit cheated”), with Susan pointing out eagerly “You can snap it!” to the sound of tumbleweed.

Melody whinges to Tom “Zoe lashed out at me in public” and garners some possibly (hopefully) fake sympathy, “She’s had a problem with you the whole time”, before the penny drops out loud to Tom “maybe she doesn’t want to work with you”.

Helen delivers the Special Stars pitch to Waitrose, who get high and mighty with their “health & welfare” message (“It’s too sugar based”). “We want a treat to be a treat” Helen reaches desperately. No dice sister.

Thankfully Logic appear to have dropped the roleplay for Waitrose, who like the idea, packaging and pitch. “The only thing we’re disappointed in is the biscuit”. D’oh!

Helen decides to give Jim a chance to pitch to Asda (maybe it’s a subliminal insult – I hope so), and he promises them everything but the Moon on a Stick, including TV ads (“strategic marketing, above and below the line” – eh?), endorsements and a Harry Potter tie in, whilst Karren has to pinch herself to remember that it’s only fictional money he’s throwing away.

Back in the boardroom and Tom doesn’t back Zoe as Project Manager as he wasn’t clear on the product’s USP, whereas Melody damns her with faint praise (“Zoe has strengths”) and less faint slating, “but I think her weaknesses let her down.”

The roleplay gets a mention with Melody claiming it’s a “respected technique to get impact” and Lord Sugar suggesting it would get him banned from Dixons. Jim’s equally modest about his pitching technique (“It was clean and crisp and received pretty well”) but Lord Sugar gives him the “Biggest bullshitter in the world” award, before reading the results himself off a piece of paper, which makes me hope that nobody’s sold anything, but sadly no, Asda fell for Jim’s unlimited budget blarney and ordered 800,000 units with an exclusivity deal. So Venture get to ponce around in a Luxury Country Hotel (given the success of their bullshit I’m saddened it doesn’t turn out to be a Premier Inn).

There’s no biscuits in the Bridge Café. “It’s erm really disappointing” sighs Melody. Zoe’s convinced that the actual product was the problem, but Melody covers by saying there was no clear target audience. Back in the boardroom and Zoe gets stick for not knowing her place as a manufacturer and going to the development lab. “I wish I could have split myself in half” she complains, helpfully giving Sugar his obligatory “You split the biscuit in half” line. The main issue must be that Melody imposed her idea over Tom’s and he happily acquiesced, but sadly Zoe’s missed this. Lord Sugar suggests that splitting the biscuit in two with only one half having chocolate on could lead to wars and things. Tom’s quick to then repeat what Sugar said as though it’s what he was thinking all along (“Had we created a complete chocolate biscuit” – what happened to the double biscuit you spineless boff?).

Zoe’s criticised again for the roleplay, which she cattily blames on the “the communications expert Melody”, prompting a compulsory catfight from two grand mistresses. “Misdirection and lack of clarity are not down to me” smarms Melody. “You disturbed the team a lot… you’ve got a reputation for it” bitches Zoe, who brings up Melody’s grandiose claims after the last boardroom “You said Lord Sugar had nothing but praise for you”. Disappointingly LordSugar doesn’t pick up on this, because he loves Melody, and he instead hints darkly that Zoe could be in allegiance with Susan against his beloved chosen fibbing foghorn. “I can assure you, I have no personal problems with Melody” glowers Zoe. “She was shouting her head off!” cries Melody. Poor Zoe is damned if she does (Sugar “you’d better have very good reasons, not to do with personality”) and damned if she doesn’t bring Melody back in, and to her credit brings her back along with Tom.

“Melody talks a lot of sense” broods Lord Sugar, causing Nick and Karren to shudder (Karren “You have to watch her, her interaction with others is not good”).

Back in the boardroom and Tom states his claim (“I came out with a HUGE number of POWERFUL ideas”), but Sugar has him marked as a “hindsight man”. “Indeed Lord Sugar I’ve learned a great deal” Tom channels Smithers from the Simpsons. “This isn’t a learning process!” “Absolutely not Lord Sugar” grovels Tom.

Tom insists he had no idea that he was meant to be making a premium product. “.£1.99 is premium! At this stage you should know that” retorts Zoe (who to be fair got that one from Susan), who decries the hitherto “Old School” biscuit as having “a common, horrible taste”. “Which you signed off” accuses Sugar. “She said it was great!” Melody scents blood. “I couldn’t control the product” Zoe digs her hole. “You could have if you went to the lab” snaps Sugar. Poor Zoe is fucked here.

Tom’s still adamant that he didn’t realise £1.99 meant “luxury” (Zoe “That’s not my problem if you don’t know the price of biscuits!”), and Melody raises the fact that she came up with “DARING concepts”. “Like what?” Zoe fights back. “Like making biscuits the new popcorn” Melody states, too proudly, and it’s pointed out that this was rejected by the focus group. “Yeah” sneers Melody charmingly, “by ten people in Swansea!”

Melody and Tom both say Zoe should be fired, and Zoe thinks she’s being scapegoated, but isn’t sure who should go (“Melody was disruptive, but if Tom decided on digestive he should go”). Sugar sums up by saying he’s totally over Tom’s charm now as he needs to be more assertive, and he’s not happy about all the arguments Melody seems to be causing. He turns to Tom, with an “it’s regretful, but” and whilst the world and his deaf dog could spot that this is a classic Apprentice tension ruse, Tom nearly scuppers himself by arguing, cut short by Sugar who continues “that …. I er … haven’t seen much from you and this task has fallen down on the product, but”, and he fires Zoe for not going to the factory despite being Project Manager like erm Project Manager Helen didn’t. Zoe’s quietly rueful about not trusting her gut instinct in the Taxi of Fail. Tom has a less gentle car journey home with a shouty smug Melody (“THAT SORT of behaviour is SO childish! I wouldn’t want that as a reflection on my business”) and does quiet Gromit eyes. Back at the house it’s Tom who’s overwhelmed by genuinely pleased hugs.

So next week it looks like Helen does a first and stages a Project Manager coup. Brilliant!

Liking: Helen, Susan, Tom (but he really needs to man up, or at least inventor up soon)

Disliking: Natasha, Jim

Fucking Detesting: Melody

Byebye: Zoe, Leon, Glenn, Edna, Vincent, Ellie, Felicity, Gavin, Alex, Edward

Week 8 sees the candidates dragged to St Pancras International at some ungodly hour. “Who hasn’t been PM yet?” asks Jim knowingly in the car. “Tom” drones everybody. Tom wakes up and looks surprised (as always). “Really, is there anybody else?” he chirrups. “No just you Tom”, comes the monotone response.

Melody’s excited by the prospect of going abroad, cos you know, she’s like taught herself six whole languages, because you have to do that sort of thing when you’re an international youth guru. Helen and Natasha exchange looks that scream out Anglo-Saxon phrases.

Lord Sugar tasks the candidates to choose and represent unique British products to sell to French retailers in Paris. As well as them finding their own leads, both teams have an appointment set up with Gallic home shopping giant La Redoute. Every candidate is given an order book in order to ramp up the arse saving sales rivalry.

Tom’s automatically appointed Project Manager of Logic, leading Melody, Leon and Natasha. Jim, Susan and Zoe on Venture (now with added Helen) are left to fight amongst themselves as to who will lead. Susan volunteers loudly and assertively (look everybody!), despite not knowing anything about France, and unsurprisingly her team backs her.

Tom pops Leon and Melody on the Eurostar to Paris as his research team. Leon’s anxious as he doesn’t speak any French (I hope they all speak English), but fortunately for him Melody is fluent in French bullshit and he merely has to bask in her genius for the rest of the task, as though he’s on a croissant filled jolly. Susan sends Jim and Helen on Venture’s foreign exchange, with Jim taking control thanks to his amazing bilingual skills (bilingual means two languages in the same sentence, right?), adding an Allo Allo tinge to his Norn Irish accent as he asks earnestly “Je voudrais parler who responsible for votre magazine”.

Meanwhile the remaining team halves have to check out the products on offer and sit through a plethora of tat and luxury items clearly fresh off the books of the Innovations catalogue. Rickety toys, hugely expensive electric bikes and backbreaking beanbags that convert into childs beds are all rejected, and Venture choose for their first product a strange pipe cleaner ensemble that purports to be a stand for mobile phones (Zoe’s not convinced at the 18 Euro pricetag, but Susan thinks it’s “innovative” – say no more.

Karen despairs of Susan’s mental snap decisions on products, and bizarre questions reminiscent of Sting’s song about Russians (“Do the French love their children? Do the French drive?”) although in fairness to Susan, she’s desperately trying to stamp her personality on the task and she merely seems to have the habit of expressing every random thought (even the fuckwitted ones) aloud. When you stop doing that, you’ve just lost your innocence.

Tom’s team are equally smitten by a postcard that turns into a cress farm by simply adding water (I quite like this one – but Susan and Zoe think it’s crap, the stupid cows).

Both teams set their greedy eyes on the motherlode of products, a rucksack that converts into a childs booster car seat, but both decide to check with their roving continental teammates before committing to purchasing it. Tom’s very keen, having worked in the “baby industry” (eek!), but is worried that the product might not fit with La Redoute the big buyer that Lord Sugar set up, so asks his team to find out more about La Redoute and get some feedback about the product, as his only alternative is a horrid overpriced (140 Euro; Manufacturer: “We’re a quality product”!) bone china teapot lamp. Unfortunately for Tom, Melody really hates the idea of the rucksack/booster seat, despite not having seen it. I guess anything that protects young people potentially robs Melody of vulnerable youth for her to take the credit for saving or something. Tom insists that she and Leon do some proper “market research, independent of your own personal thoughts”. “This isn’t Manchester!” sneers Melody as Tom hangs up. “Or a car boot sale!” adds Leon happily. “Or up North or something” Melody persists. Being from up North would be the worse of all possible worlds for Melody, who chooses to pretend she’s an American virgin rather than be associated with parts of the UK she disapproves of. “Lets just ask people around here” Melody suggests unenthusiastically as she and Leon head towards Gare du Nord’s metro station. Of course Leon isn’t going to disagree, he’s spellbound by the classy way in which Melody negotiates all those French pictorial direction signs, like she’s Catherine fucking Deneueve or something. So Melody approaches an insignificant number of commuters and asks them which is best “Un Lumiere comme une the-erriere” (illustrated helpfully by Leon) or “Some shit rucksack safety seat thing for kids”. The majority of her impromptu focus group still plump for the latter, so Melody (translating back to Leon that people so far only think the rucksack is “OK”) decides to keep extending her research to make it more scientific yah and ask as many people as it takes for one to say something slightly negative about the booster seat rucksack. Eventually she finds someone (who STILL prefers the rucksack) who says it’s difficult for her to think about buying the product as she mainly uses the metro (and is probably childless). Melody seizes on this as a new slant on her “research” and goes round asking people on the Metro if they use the metro and in this case would not be interested in a rucksack that converts into a childs car seat. About three people shrug and say perhaps. For Melody that’s case closed and she reports back to Tom that everybody preferred the teapot light in their market research. Tom acquiesces based on the “market research”. I’m still frigging fuming writing this.

Jim and Helen have been asking people unbiased questions about the booster seat rucksack (Jim thanking everybody who speaks English whilst they wonder what language he was speaking) and got great feedback, so Susan’s happy to pick it to sell.

The other candidates leave London with the chosen products to join their teams in Paris, and Tom’s instantly disillusioned with Melody and Leon’s giggling, sneery response to the teapot light. He then asks Melody to share out the leads they’ve found in Paris, and she gets all selfish and defensive (“I spent time and effort making those leads yesterday and you’re going to take them away from me… that’s really unfair. I’m going to sell on the leads I’ve made”. A browbeaten Tom backs down, rather than screaming “THAT WAS YOUR FUCKING ROLE YOU STUPID PRENTENTIOUS GLORY-GRABBING BITCH!”. That last bit may have been what I said.

The arrivals from London go to the La Redoute pitch whilst their roving teams follow up leads. For Venture, Jim’s Jedi skills don’t translate into Anglo-Irish Franglais (“Could you sell this small petite item”, “No I cannot sell this”). Over on Logic, Melody makes Susan look astute by whining about the amount of traffic when her scientific market research group on the Metro all claimed to be users of the Metro. All six of them. “Yes very good point” chortles Leon, under the illusion she’s still speaking in French. Annoyingly she manages to make tonnes of sales to “I saw you coming” style Parisian shops. Although having seen Melody and Leon coming they all only buy a couple of units each. “I should just move over to Paris and set up business here” gloats Melody endearingly, “Every appointment we go to, we sell” (yes, one or two things).

Tom selects the La Redoute pitcher for Logic, rejecting a simple coin flip in favour of a full blown round of “Paper Scissors Stone”. Natasha “wins” and the first thing she says in the meeting room to the “most powerful buyers in France” is “erm parlez vous Anglais”. It gets worse. “I present to you our teapot made from bone china which is used in England for er tea”, she flails, pointlessly, adding that in England if someone saw such a lamp they would declare “Goodness me! That’s fantastic!” (she fails to add the traditional “ically shit” us Rosbifs would normally add). Tom tries to help out (“We’re keen to start a relationship”) by offering this huge company a deal on just 10 units (“Ludicrous” winces Nick). “Have you even done the most basic of research?” complains La Redoute woman, and Natasha tries to rectify things by offering to start from er 50 units. Holy fuck this is bad. Tom moans that Melody didn’t do the research on the company he asked for, but surely he could have asked her?

Next, Helen and Susan visit La Redoute, and Helen delivers one of the best pitches I’ve ever seen on this show, proving not only that she’s done the research, but that she’s capable of pressing the right buttons for potential buyers (“I know your website, I’ve even ordered from your catalogue”), especially when challenged about the high price of the product (“I know your target audience is women and modern women will pay anything for convenience… you can say you are the first retailer to bring this product to France. You can say ‘We care about your children. We care about their safety'”. ). Susan sort of contributes by being tiny enough to fit in the chair and say it feels safe, but really it’s round of applause time for Helen.

Tom and Natasha are struggling finding their own leads in questionable English, never mind their French, until Melody and Leon, stuck in traffic and unable to make all of Melody’s appointments, “kindly” fob one off on the hapless Project Manager. “What’s the contact name?” asks Tom eagerly. “Er I forgot to get a name. Apologies, must dash” breezes Melody. Natasha does the pitch, desperately trying to flog the teapot (which may as well be made of chocolate). “That is not a concept” states the shopkeeper dismissively, before setting his eyes on the Cress Cards. “Now THAT is a concept” he gasps, full of admiration, and orders 1015 Euros worth.

After a failed pitch at an unsuitable shop, Susan calls her splinter team to advise them to target the “right shops”. “I love the way she teaches your grandma to suck eggs” drawls Zoe, demonstrating there’s still clearly no love lost. Susan proves her point however by going to a mobile phone shop that advertises a big online presence and haggling them winningly into buying 1500 units of pipe cleaner phone holders. “I’ve got Euro signs in my eyeballs” gasps Susan, as Jim prompts the rest of Venture to waste their remaining time seeking out mobile phone shops.

Melody decides to give Leon a chance after all the sales she’s made (but clearly doesn’t like to mention more than a million times) and he manages to sell 35 illuminated teapots, before Melody barges in and persuades the shopkeeper to buy 1000 postcards. “How have your sales gone, Tom” she schmoozes down the phone to her beleaguered Project Manager, who immediately flakes out and drops his phone. “Erm we’ve had a lot of difficulties” he admits when he picks the mobile up, but Melody and Tom both know that he hasn’t made a single sale today and that makes Melody very happy indeed.

Back in the boardroom, and whilst most of Venture support Susan as their leader, Jim has to qualify it as patronisingly as possible (“She made a bold move to become Project Manager…but she led on day two in terms of sales”. Susan states that strategically she wanted practical products, nothing too niche, but that doesn’t stop Karren having a go for her “stupid questions” (“You don’t need to go to France to know the answers to whether French people love their kids or drive”). Susan explains that she was merely trying to establish what sort of products the French focus on, but Karren’s unimpressed (“Perhaps you should have worded it that way”).

There’s not so much backing for Tom over on Logic, as Leon suggests “It felt like Melody was running the show “, and Melody of course modestly accepting this (“We didn’t feel the presence of the Project Manager” (because he was in London and you were ignoring him perhaps). Tom suggests he “felt Melody did what she wanted”, but Melody falls back on the unquestionable empirical truth of her “market research” (“It wasn’t my personal view, it was MARKET RESEARCH, which cannot be questioned) which she keeps saying again and again, getting more slappable every time.

The scores from sales to smaller retailers are read out first:

Logic – 11,705 Euros

Venture – 14,699 Euros

With La Redoute

Venture – made 214,000 Euros (Helen breaking Liz’s boardroom record from last year)

Logic – made, as Nick puts it “nil points”

So Venture get flying lessons as a treat.

Considering that, as Lord Sugar says, “this isn’t just a loss, it’s an annihilation”, Melody looks oddly smug and happy. Even in the Sad Café she tries to convince people that she can’t be blamed if the “market research” didn’t give the right answers.

Back in the boardroom and Tom’s under fire for not going with his gut instinct on the booster seat rucksack, but he blames Melody for not coming back with the information he asked for about La Redoute. “You didn’t ask for that information at all” lies Melody brazenly, prompting Nick to put on his detective hat (“At 12.50pm Tom specifically called and asked for that information”). Caught out, Melody resorts to bullshit (I know, you can’t tell the difference). “I can speak personally about what I contributed on that day” she starts. “Did you do the research?” interrupts Sugar. “Other than the information we were given” continues Melody. “Oh, so no” sniggers Sugar.

Leon gets flak for silently letting Melody do all the talking (Sugar: “You’re making it very easy cos here’s the door”), with his rubbish excuse that Melody was speaking in French and he can’t getting short shrift as most of the people she pitched to spoke in English too (“I must have missed that”).

Tom’s paltry 10 units offer to La Redoute is next under the microscope and Melody can’t help but interject “I’m surprised that Tom and Natasha went to that pitch as Leon and I have a better sales record”. Nick points out that Melody “wanted to pitch at all those shops, so that was a bit of a greedy one”, and it comes out that, unlike Venture, whose roving team split all leads fairly, Melody only dished out one lead to Tom and Natasha. Not a tick in the Teamplayer box then. “I let Leon pitch one” complains Melody. Oops. “You LET him?!” exclaims Karren, bemused.

So it’s not a shocker when Tom brings Leon and Melody (“How much did YOU sell Tom?”) back to the boardroom (although a shame that Natasha escapes scot free for er bring Natasha).

Melody’s not outed for basically lying about what her “focus group” were saying, but at least Nick points out that she let her personal opinion of the rucksack booster seat affect the teams judgement. “Do you know anything about products” queries Lord Sugar. It transpires that Melody doesn’t, but at least her great achievements are highlighted in the shape of her myriad meaningless awards (“Volunteer of year award, Woman of the future award, Outstanding Asian Woman award” sneers an incredulous Lord Sugar – I’m shocked she hasn’t got a fucking Duke of Edinburgh award to bang vainly on about). “Can you tell me what you do to get these awards?” he asks her (erm be middle class and really fucking needy of yet more validation?). “I’ve been improving the lives of children and young people” simpers Melody, justifying her “Global Consultancy Youth Business”. I really hate people like Melody. Parasites. Sadly Sugar seems to like her balls (“You look aggressive like you want to win”). Tom’s convinced that Melody just “wanted to make sure that her arse was completely covered”. The penny drops finally.

Leon gets more flak for hiding behind crap language skills, as Lord Alan was able to communicate with Asian people (even outstanding ones) when he was selling cockles and mussels on his barrow down old Brick Lane.

Tom’s also in the firing line for getting no sales (Sugar “Why?”, Leon “Because he can’t sell”) and his scissor paper stone method of decision making, but manages to fight back a la Susan with epic tales of his credentials “outside of the process” (he’s been running a business for 5 years, patenting and selling his own inventions). “So, a mini Dyson?” smirks Sugar, but Tom thinks he’ll be much bigger than Dyson (For inventors this must sound like John Lennon’s “Jesus” moment).

Worrying Lord Alan likes Melody’s “hunger” despite her hijacking the process (“If they allowed you to then good luck to you”) so she’s safe (“She’s a tigress, she will walk over people and spit them out, that’s what I like about her). It all gets a bit dodgy, with the suggestion that all candidates are now being judged on the business proposals they submitted before the process, making the tasks mere window dressing. After some unconvincing prevarication, Leon’s fired (“Thank you for an amazing opportunity”) and calmly suggests that Lord Sugar’s missed out in his taxi homewards. Melody just seems sulky that both of her opponents didn’t go.

So, whilst nobody’s surprised to see Melody return to the house, nobody seems ecstatic. Especially when Melody starts fantasising about how much Lord Sugar respected all her awards (“He said ‘that’s commendable'”). Helen nudges Zoe with a brief sardonic grin. Even if the benighted beardy barrow boy hasn’t yet marked Melody’s card, the other candidates have.

Liking: Tom, Sue, Helen

Disliking: Zoe, Natasha

Can’t wait to see them eviscerated in the Interview Round: Jim, Melody

Byebye: Leon, Glenn, Edna, Vincent, Ellie, Felicity, Gavin, Alex, Edward

Week Seven sees the candidates driven to 65 Fleet Street, former Murdoch lair, where Lord Sugar descends in a glass escalator like some bizarro episode of “Take Me Out”.

The teams are tasked to create Free Premium Magazines (apparently known as “Freemiums” – sigh) in order to pitch to the three biggest media buyers in the UK, with the team making the most by selling advertising space winning. The pep talk comes from Mike, head of Short List Media, enormo-publisher of annoying free crap. He points out ominously that the teams have to understand their consumer and that (given their print deadline is 9pm) “deadlines will be critical”, whilst little tweeting birds fly around the candidates heads.

Jedi Jim’s made Project Manager of Venture (Glenn, Susan and Zoe). “I’ve never worked with you before Zoe” smarms Jim creepily. “I’ve never worked with you Jim” she drawls back, slightly surprised. “I’m sure you’re very good” he er reassures her.

Natasha leads Logic (Leon, Tom, Helen and Melody). Helen tells Natasha and Tom she’s aware they all may have to compromise on their ideals in order to sell advertising space (“Let’s forget about it being well rounded or something we would want to read”). This seems to prompt Natasha to plump immediately for the “Lad Mag” angle. How innovative. “I don’t read lads mags very often” admits Tom. “I DO!!” screams Leon, as ever keen to remind us that he’s ever so heterosexual. Melody goes all virginal school marm (making it even more difficult for me to remember that she’s not actually American) about the very idea of near bare-nekkid ladies being distributed gratis to young bucks about town and wanking tramps. Natasha’s in unstoppable media ladette mode though (imagine if Jonathan Yeah? from Nathan Barley did a bad Kathy Burke impersonation) and warns Melody to “get in the zone.. yah?” Flicking through a few mock-ups doesn’t calm Melody down (“I’ve never seen so many boobs in one place”) and even Tom’s concerned about the fact that at this rate the only advertisers they’ll get will probably be “Facelifts as recommended by Liz Jones” and “Bored and Horny MILFS”. Our favourite Apprentice geek therefore comes up with the USP that the magazine will focus on the “entrepreneurial side” of young men (PlayCityBoy). “Does that translate into boring? I don’t know” snaps Natasha, waving her hands in the air like a sarcastic mockney muppet.

Meanwhile Jim informs Venture that they will be pitching at the over 60s as “they have the biggest readership”. Foolishly Zoe and Susan voice dissent, and get Irish eyed death stares, before being over-ruled by Jim’s majority of er Jim and meekly agreeing to support his idea. Nick rubs his chin and muses “trying to nail anything on Jim is like trying to nail jelly to a wall; he never isolates himself in making a decision” (just bullies everyone else into going along with it).

Susan and Glenn brave the stench of death and biscuits to go to a bowling club to interact with the old. Susan’s already got her first question planned; “What do you guys do?” Phew, for a moment I thought she might be patronising! Confusingly for Susan and Glenn the elderly in their focus group pretend to be real people with interests (“I read The Economist” and senses of humour (“I like Viz”), almost as if they were alive once. One chap helpfully points out to the gaping candidates that senior citizens often don’t FEEL their age and don’t want to be treated like feebles. “So would you like some puzzles in a magazine, to help keep your brain active?” chirrups Susan inanely. Why not infuse the pages with omega 3 and laxatives whilst you’re at it? Given the feedback so far, it’s unsurprising when the woefully condescending magazine name ideas (Vitalife (“Sounds like something I feed my cat”), Radiance, Eternal ugh!)) are unanimously rejected. “You’ve got to hit the thing head on” advises Viz man, before suggesting “The Oldies” or “Zimmer”. Susan feeds this back to Jim and Zoe who are back at the design studio, and Zoe (who’s clearly becoming dangerously facetious from having to work with Jim) offers “Coffin Dodger” before they all settle (Susan reluctantly) on her “Hip Replacement”, which is meant to be a cool play on words, but just sounds like it’s taking the piss.

Tom and Helen’s focus group is a posh student rugby team who are all adamant that they don’t want to just look at ladies La Las (and not just because Helen’s there and she’s a girl, with little La Las) and they would like a Lad Mag to raise the tone. They all look interested in the business angle, because they clearly like money much more than they like looking at scanty female lovelies. Helen happily reports to Natasha that the modern man wants a nudity-free magazine, but the team leader’s having none of it and snaps back that norks sell (“Is tasteful a strong enough USP”). At least Helen manages to convince the team to go with the name “Covered”, without Natasha adding the words “Cum” and “Sluts” to either end of it.

It’s time to decide on “content”, and Leon, still chagrined from not being on the fact finding mission to the rugby team, again reasserts his masculinity by insisting on lots of cheesy innuendos (“How do you blow your load”). Natasha likes it. “Yeah! What would you do for release?” she jabbers excitedly, and a small part of my soul dies.

Tom and Helen meet their models for the “Covered” photoshoot, with Natasha calling to order that they dress a near naked woman in Tom’s spectacles and jacket (and a hard hat for some reason). “Does that fit in with what we agreed in the focus group” queries Helen, but Natasha waves away her concerns (“One thing yeah that we have to bear in mind is that our focus group was quite focused”. She really said that.

Venture’s photoshoot is even raunchier, if you have X-ray specs that can penetrate knitwear, as Susan goes manic with the “Yes that’s fantastic, give us a smile” David Bailey banter whilst getting the geriatric models to give each other piggy backs and shadow box each other. Glenn gets bored through his own lack of creative input and decides to assess her shots as they’re taken (“No, no, no, no…. yes”), plumping for the dullest and most tasteful greying cardigan hug shot. Susan irritates me here, because you can TELL she doesn’t think it’s the best shot, but again she plays Little Miss Subservient (“I had no idea what was good and what wasn’t – it was all Glenn’s decision so I’m happy to go with Glenn”).

Back at the design studio, Zoe and Jim are having “artistic differences” as Jim pooh poos Zoe’s zappy lime green cover layout. Zoe’s concerned that Jim could be straying away from the concept they agreed on, but he doesn’t hear her as he searches for a Surgical Stockings font. By the time poor Zoe glances back at the screen Jim has transformed the magazine cover into something you might be forced to read in a NHS waiting room. “You’re taking all the irony out of it” she cries “He’s turned it into a medicinal health feature mag which just looks idiotic”. “I’m just playing with it” soothes Jim like a big fecking ignorant twat.

Natasha takes to the streets to ask men how they blow their load, as though she’s Davina McCall but a thousand times worse. Most sensible blokes scuttle away mumbling “I’d rather not say”, but she fortuitously chances upon the same extrovert French bloke who appears in street fashion “articles” for glossies the world over, and he’s more than happy to pose about in his annoying skinny jeans. Tom and Helen call to again express their discomfort with the “blow your load” headline, but Natasha decides she needs to “wrap it up” by turning the phone off and rolling her eyes about.

Back at the house, Susan practices a pitch for “Hip Replacement” with Glenn encouraging her, until the door flies open and Jim swaggers in all wide-eyed and finger pointing, and incredibly offputting. “Who’s BUZZING to deliver this pitch?” he demands, and it’s a toss-up as to who is more frightened of him out of Glenn and Susan. The latter meekly suggests she was practicing a pitch, but Jim’s not convinced. “Suzie” he patronises (she’s always Suzie when they talk down to her) “have you given pitches of a professional nature before?” She admits she hasn’t and he does his triumphant emperor look, whilst Glenn and Susan suggest he do the pitch. Zoe’s probably the only one who isn’t bricking it, but she’s worked out that Jim has been enough of an uber-cockhat during this task that he’ll probably mess it up and doom himself so she sneeringly agrees that Jim’s the pitch man. To camera Jim suggests that this is because his team all want to follow him as he’s a born leader.

Anyhow it’s pitch time. Leon goes first to Carrot Media, who don’t seem impressed at first (“It’s a very, very busy market place”). He reassures them with the magazine’s USP “Naked women are fun but better with a business angle” (Is this magazine pitched solely at Patrick Bateman American Psycho?). Logic are offering a half page spread (unfortunate choice of words, sorry) for £1500, or the back cover for £5000, but they offer a deal for 35 pages and seem open to negotiate.

Jim’s in next for Venture, and he struggles with opposition to the title (“My car clients or financial clients would laugh me out of the room”), before refusing to negotiate on rate card prices for advertising space. Downright refusing. Nick and the bloke from Carrot can’t believe what they’re hearing, but Jim’s adamant that he wants the fair standard rate. “We’re not looking for fair” explains the media professional; “You’re looking for help with the launch of your magazine”, but Jim simply can’t get it into his arrogant skull that his mind tricks won’t work here and doesn’t back down. “We should slash our pricing” suggests Susan afterwards. Jim pretends not to hear her.

For pitch two (to Maxus?) , Natasha tries to improve Leon’s confidence by telling him he’s rubbish and she wants to do the talking. Melody backs Leon, pointing out it’s unfair to pull this with only 5 minutes to go, and Natasha demurs, but promises to take the last pitch “”Uber 100%”. How can she lose with such verbal dexterity? She still manages to utterly undermine Leon throughout his pitch by interrupting him constantly. Drunk on power I tell you. Anyhow Maxus raise Logic’s hopes by stating that they’ve worked with a lot of lad mags, before crushing them again by pointing out that the market has declined as nobody understands young men nowadays, especially not Logic. Natasha wants £2000 for a page advert, but has to take the £1500 the tough woman from Magus is prepared to put on the table.

Jim tries to push the fact that a magazine called “Hip Replacement” is aimed at intellectual educated types (in a coma presumably), but Magus woman smirks at him before tearing the content to pieces as stereotyping and patronising (I’d still like to send my dad the article on how to use mobile phones for a bit of a laugh though). Fortunately for Jim he doesn’t have to negotiate here, he’s offered £2000 for a page, takes one look at the face of the woman from Magus and snaps her hand off.

On the way to MediaComm, Leon asks Natasha what she thought of his latest pitch, and she’s keen to point out that he “stumbled a little bit”. “Let’s hope you can do the whole pitch without getting interrupted” he retorts, adding when she feigns deafness “actually just my little joke.. good luck”. Melody suggests that Natasha try the soft approach for this pitch, and the team leader agrees before launching herself at MediaComm like a missile full of bollocks. It’s nice when they pull her down to earth though, suggesting Logic have “alienated 90% of the client base”, questioning the sense of using the “How to Blow your load” line and saying it’s like the Loaded era of the 90s never ended (erm Zoo? Nuts?).

MediaComm smile kindly at Glenn as he’s forced to defend the crap title and tagline, but can’t help pointing out that “It looks like Viz have mocked up a magazine for the over-60s – you’ve even got a picture of someone in cardigan!” However, they seem to like the content inside, and try to negotiate a 50% deal on the back and inside covers. Jim’s uncertain; he doesn’t like people telling him what to do, but the woman from MediaComm points out that normally magazines offer space for free for their launch episode, so Jim cunningly decides to offer the 50% discount.

Back in the Boardroom most of Logic back Natasha as a decent Project Manager (Tom: “Well she made a very good editor”), but Lord Sugar’s not impressed by the predictable and advertiser-scaring focus on smut and swimwear of Covered.

Jim talks for Venture in backing his own leadership skills, but the name “Hip Replacement” and the hardly better tagline “Out with the old and in with the new” come in for Sugary scrutiny (“It just sounds like DIY hip replacements”).

The scores are typically presented out of sequence to build up the “tension” :

Maxus:
Logic sold £9000 worth (Maxus were put off by gratuitous Load Blowing) Venture took £12,000

MediaComm:

Logic took £7500

Venture managed £16,850

So it’s all down to Carrot, and we get Ventures result first. Here it is:
£0 (Sugar “They loathed it!”)
Logic however were so beloved that Mediacomm decided to go for an exclusive deal, advertising on every page – making £60,000 sales.

Jim’s frozen blue stare of guttedness (even his trademark wink is preceded by a gulp) is a lovely contrast to Tom’s happy “Wow!”.

Logic get sent to do fencing lessons (and I get to perv over Tom in his fencing gear – surely the ultimate in geek chic), whilst Venture play the blame game in the Bridge Café. Jim’s already written his narrative (“the reason we didn’t get the first pitch is that they hated the name, which Zoe came up with.. we backed it, but it was her idea”) which is slightly different to the one he had a few weeks ago when he had the idea that didn’t work. Hmmm.

In Boardroom, the sequel, Lord Sugar agrees with Jim that the name was shit, and questions why nobody challenged it. This is Susan’s time. “I disagreed with it!” she squeaks. Jim fixes her with his icy blue eyes. “Your voice must have been lost in translation” he mutters accusingly, “We didn’t hear it.. it was a whisper in the night”. Hang on “Lost in Translation” (Chinese) “Whisper”s. Jim you big racist.

Jim further rewrites history by claiming that Zoe was party to all the decisions he made on the frankly remedial magazine cover and that he was only sent cheesy knitwear shots for the cover photo. There’s too much fibbing at large to even start picking it apart, but even Glenn finds his balls and backs Susan up over the range of crazy OAP photos they provided to Jim. Jim steps up his game; “The essence of this failure was due to two things, contribution and cowardliness” before claiming Susan never stepped up to pitch and talking all over her when she tries to explain that she did. “Be true to yourself with your answers” he advises, and before you think he couldn’t be more of a cuntmonkey he turns to Lord Sugar explaining “It looks like we’re all trying to shoot Bambi”. “Who’s Bambi?” growls LordAlan (adding “Actually Bambi’s mother is the one that got shot”). “Su is Bambi” Jim states.

You really sense that Nick hates Jim and has a soft spot for Susan as he deflects the discussion to Jim’s inflexibility (which Carrot stated was the real reason they didn’t go for his pitch). Lord Sugar’s especially unimpressed by Jim’s unwillingness to offer a discount. But Jim points out, we’ve all been hallucinating for the last 50 minutes and he DID offer a discount. Eh? Oh he means with the other pitches. “Why then?” queries Sugar. “Because we were in a more informed position” explains Jim (or as Lord Sugar translates “Cos the penny dropped and you realised you’d messed up the first pitch”).

Choosing the candidates to go back to face potential firing, Jim’s prepared to take responsibility as Team Leader (“They loved me and I led them to defeat”). Oh. He chooses Glenn and “Meek little mouse” Susan to accompany Offensive Prick Jim to the final boardroom visit, where Susan finally defends herself (“I think I lack respect from the team, but I actually run a business, so I can do this stuff”). Jim smirks; “It was refreshing and interesting to hear the mouse roar, but most of the time she whispers”.

Nick can take no more, and hits Jim with direct reportage from his shadowing. “Susan said let’s slash the price! We must slash the price! She was at it all the time”. Knowing he can’t question the Hewer, Jim then argues that she didn’t help out in terms of setting percentages, but Nick’s not letting him squirm out of this one; “She pushed for greater percentages”, he insists, banging the table passionately. Go Nick!

Glenn defends his business skills by scraping the bottom of his CV (“I’ve promoted live music; I’m social secretary at an amateur football club”, Sugar “So you’re a bit of a Del Boy then”), before having a pop at Jim (You never let anyone finish a sentence!”). Everyone seems agreed that Jim’s a psycho (Nick “he’s a control freak”, Karren “he is passive aggressive”). It just makes him act more scary, holding his hands up with a deNiro grin; “I asked you to do pitches! My necks in a noose here” (Sugar: “Your neck’s in a noose, she’s in a mousetrap – it’s like a bladdy Agatha Christy play”).

It then turns into a crazy unpleasant boys gang up on Susan session, as Jim somehow mind melds with Glenn to make him act like an objectionable twunt too. “Susan is all style and no substance” projects Jim. “I am young, I’m 21” apologises Susan. “STOP USING YOUR AGE” yells Glenn, like a dick. Lord Sugar’s concerned that Susan seems to be in the boardroom with nobody agreeing with what she’s saying a fair bit (to be fair to Susan, without firearms it’s hard to win respect when a load of shitclowns shout you down all the time). Jim tries to ameliorate things (“To be fair Susan I only think you’re marginally worse than Glenn”), and even LordAlan has to laugh “You are in a different class son!”

So it’s summing up time. Lord Sugar’s not sure he wants to go into business with someone who finds it difficult to admit he’s done something wrong (like Jim), can’t grasp the USP of Glenn and thinks Susan needs to man up (“You wanna play in big person’s world you have to become a big person”), but ultimately fires Glenn, supposedly because he’s never met an engineer who can turn his hand to business, but presumably because Jim is being saved to be torn to pieces by the interview wolves. Jim’s card is quadruply marked (“What I’ve forgot about bullshit you ain’t even learnt yet”).

Susan also gets reminded that she’s only still there because of her business credentials outside of the show, but Nick’s hopeful that Susan now has “an opportunity to stamp her personality on the process”.

Glenn’s gently rueful in the Taxi of Shattered Dreams (“It’s not the ending I wanted, but he just doesn’t want to work with an engineer”).

Meanwhile back at home, Zoe gleefully fills in the other candidates about Jim’s boardroom kicking, and they speculate that he or Susan must have gone. Cue raised eyebrows and recalculations when the surviving boardroom warriors return.

Liking: Tom, Sue
Sometimes liking, sometimes disliking: Zoe, Leon
Not warmed to, but will probably win: Helen
Disliking: Melody
Wishing physical harm upon: Jim, Natasha

Byebye: Glenn, Edna, Vincent, Ellie, Felicity, Gavin, Alex, Edward

It’s Week 6 and the candidates don High Vis jackets and steel-toecapped power heels to meet Lord Sugar at Smugglers Way (which is the sort of name posh London types give to their tips. They probably call their sewage works “Coprophile’s Corner”). Edna’s quite excited (“There should be lots of men there”). The teams have to transform rubbish into money, collecting it and disposing responsibility of anything that has no value and flogging the rest. Jason Moore from “Any Junk” gives a pep talk, warning the teams about falling for dodgy deals in this trade (“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”), but you can see his words of wisdom flying through the candidates ears.

Helen’s moved across to Logic which also includes Natasha, Tom, Jim and Melody, leaving Venture with Zoe, Susan, Edna, Leon and Glenn.

The beauty of the dwindling number of candidates is that Nick and Karen’s shadowing of the teams becomes ever more conspicuous, with Mr Hewer’s (think “has someone eaten a decomposing rodent and farted it out”) facial expressions especially suited to this task.

As the Venture boys big up their amazing blokey past experiences working as builders mates without actually offering to be project manager, and Susan timidly offers to lead despite having no knowledge of the industry, Zoe decides to ignore everybody and cut through the timewasting voting process by electing herself as benign dictator. The boys are duly impressed (what is it about men and their secret Thatcher fantasies) and back her up, whilst Susan is sad and silent. Awww.

Helen speaks to a wide eyed Logic about the wonders of actually winning a task and is duly elected Project Manager, quickly focusing on finding metals (Tom’s suggestion of course).

Both teams get the use of a one tonne tipper truck, so it’s no surprise when they split up into pitching for contracts and collection teams that the menfolk for both Venture and Logic get to play about in the trucks. Glenn and Leon rather unproductively target cafés for Venture. Meanwhile Logic’s Tom and Jim drive round the suburbs, with Jim yelling a terrifying Paisley-esque diatribe through a public address system. Perhaps a strident NornOirish accent isn’t the most settling to hear booming into your quiet suburban home (“HOUSE NUMBER 73 WITH THE SKIP OUTSIDE. HELLLOOOO!! HELLOOOOOO!”).

The women are faring no better, with Helen vainly trying to quell Melody and Natasha’s bitchscrapping in the car on the way to a lead provided by Lord Sugar, a city basement bar in need of clearing out. In amongst the rubble, Natasha spots stainless steel sink fittings and suggests that they could be worth about £500, so Helen takes the bold move of not even looking for an extra service charge and offering to take the lot away for nothing. Melody’s horrified (“Our quote is ZERO?!”) and blames Natasha (“You said you were the expert”), who immediately starts backtracking. Helen points out that Melody didn’t jump in at the moment of the deal to say “excuse me. Stop. We’re not making any money here” and stoically suggests that “the train has left the station”. Natasha moans to camera that “Melody got a big plate of blame and said, ‘Here you are? Fancy a bite?'”. Meanwhile Karen looks ever more depressed at the limited professionalism of young ambitious businesswomen (at least the ones competing desperately for a cut of Lord Sugar’s wallet action).

Susan is puppyishly keen to get things straight and tries to clarify the rules of the task with Zoe as Venture visit the bar. Zoe has bizarrely got it in for Susan (whom she chooses to call “Suzie”, which feels strangely belittling) and goes into maximum patronise overdrive, raising her voice to megadrone as far as she can get away with as she lectures the younger woman (“Can you get it into your head. I know about as much as you. If it’s a simple question you wouldn’t be asking me it.”). It’s getting to something when Evil Edna’s the peacemaker (“Ladies! Ladies!”). Zoe plucks the figure of £150 out of the air to charge the bar owner to take away his potentially valuable junk. Er. In the car Susan pipes up “I would have done it for free” and Zoe gives her a disbelieving yet also pitying look (“I don’t know what you’re trying to do? Are you trying to like sabotage this task or what?”) until Susan’s perma-confused little mouth forms an unhappy O of shame. It’s no great surprise that the bar manager plumps for Helen’s offer, but Zoe still doesn’t seem to twig what’s going on.

Jim’s still dragging Tom around door to door to terrify more householders into searching for the contact details for Rogue Traders (“Have you got any bicycles? Any barbecues? Any girders? Any kryptonite?” etc. etc.) and end up driving around with half a bike (well “five kilos of ferrous metal”) rattling around their immense truck (Tom “that’s about 80p!”). Glenn and Leon get slightly more joy visiting trade.

The ladies from Logic now visit Lord Sugar’s second lead, a Fulham office shifting surplus furniture. Melody’s still worried about making a loss disposing of the rubbish left over from the first contract, and Helen only goes and offers to move all the desks and shit for no charge whatsoever, prompting Melody to whine “It’s not good business”. “Your comments are noted” clips Helen curtly like Herr Flick in a pencil line skirt and immutable French plait.

Venture shamble into the office next, with Edna suggesting £100. “I don’t think that’s competitive” complains Susan. “We need to go higher”. It takes a few seconds for Zoe and Edna to work out that Susan means they should offer more money to the office boss and buy their office furniture to sell on, but when they click, they all point and laugh at her. “It’s a service we’re offering” Zoe explains as slowly and rudely as possible, “I don’t know what’s in your head”. “Maybe I’ve got the wrong end of the stick” Susan backs down sadly, whilst Nick raises his eyebrows in the background (“If they weren’t listening to the task instructions they could end up on the scrap heap”). Having beaten Susan into submission, Zoe resumes her negotiations: “We can go down to £80 but we’re cutting our own throats”, and the bar man politely waves them away. “I feel like the biggest idiot in the world” Susan sighs in the car, until the phone call comes from Office Boss, explaining that Logic are doing the job for nothing, so he would have needed to be offered money to go with Venture. Susan’s innocent little face lights up with vindication. “So he DID want money? So I’m NOT an idiot?” The others nod glumly, heading back to the house so Zoe can have a little blub in the corner and they can all sit around in the dark looking like the cat’s died when Glenn and Leon return, cheerful from their blokey exertions. “We’ll sort it out” promises Glenn, cheering everyone up with a mixed potato metaphor (“The chips are down so we just have to smash it tomorrow”).

The teams assemble at Battersea rubbish Sorting Depot at 7.50am (lazy feckers) to sort and weigh their scrap metal and organise the real crap to go to the tip. Edna, Glenn and Susan make appointments and try to focus on finding metal whilst Zoe (“I didn’t want to put Suzie on manual tasks – she’s very weak”) and Leon follow in the truck to pick up collections. Edna fixes an appointment with a plumber in Fulham to clear out his yard. He offers them £100 cash and two small copper cylinders, but Susan argues him up to three and asks how much for the rest of the copper (£40 each for two more cylinders: HONEST! Plumber: “You’ll get more than that”) and buys that. Wow! Of course she doesn’t get to enjoy her minor victory, as Zoe’s immediately undermining her (“Without being insulting, can Edna go to help the boys clear the yard, as I don’t think you’d be strong enough”). Boo!

The bar basement clearance involves Tom delightfully trying to out Alpha Jim by lugging as much as he can up the two flights of stairs to chuck in the truck, before “innocently” asking if there’s a lift (No). The girls manage to sell the wooden flooring that survives Jim and Tom’s not so dainty touches to a stereotypical sexist Cockney reclamation yard guvnor, who only gives them £120 but gets his boys to do the loading for our fragrant little females (“I bet you’ll go ohhm now. Dahhn the ‘airdressers” he leers).

Melody meanwhile has gone off on her own limb, finding a job that actually pays for service, moving 150 bags of rubbish for a lairy eyed builder who resembles an East End Fred West. She’s after £250, but Jim starts working his Jedi mind tricks and has almost got the bloke up to £270 (“Let’s meet in the middle” (eh?)), before Melody gets all “time is money” and shouts for Jim to stop, breaking his powerful spell at £260. However, after disposing of the first load; Jim, Tom and Melody return to find the crafty builder has dumped about fifty extra binbags full of the murdered bodies of teenage runaways in amongst the agreed load. Jim’s incensed and starts squaring off aggressively to the unrepentant contractor (“I could have got the whole lot taken away for £240 so tough”), and it takes Melody to defuse the situation (how ironic eh Jim?) and pay the man. “I’ve had a result” chortles the builder. “You’ve had a result. Yeah” growls Jim bitterly.

Tom realises that dumping the useless shit from the basement bar costs £110 per truckload, and phones Helen (nearly deafening her with an uncharacteristic booming “HELLO” it must be all that Jim Testosterone he’s been breathing in) asking if they can just leave the rest of the rubbish in the bar, but to her credit she doesn’t want to let her one off client down.

Edna helps to tidy the first plumber’s yard (“I’ve been the brains and the brawn in this task”), before the cheeky cow gets righteously short shrift by trying to renege on the deal because boo hoo they underestimated the quantities (“It cost us more to clear the yard, it must have been more than half a tonne more than we thought. Could you pay us some more?”; “Absolutely no chance”). Meanwhile Susan and Glenn visit another plumber, with Glenn now inspired to offer £100 to shift another great big copper pipe (“This will make us £280, I think it’s alright”). Nick’s almost impressed by how well Venture are working together now (“Shame they didn’t start earlier”).

Helen flogs off random metal to a metal expert who pokes and prods each item suspiciously (“That’s not stainless steel.”, Helen “Oh it’s magnetic, then it’s more expensive”, “No it’s iron. I’ll have to deduct money for that”), before offering just under £400, which Melody manages to ambitiously “round up” to £410 in exchange for helping him load it. Zoe then makes £915 for the copper that Susan and Glenn have gathered.

Somehow Jim and Tom manage to flog off the office furniture for £300 and everyone’s dumped their rubbish by the 7.30pm deadline. There’s little rejoicing though, as Tom’s fretting about having lost 5 tasks in a row, and it’s dawned on Susan that Zoe’s been a complete beeyatch to her for two days (“I never ever want to work with her again” – fingers crossed Susan).

Back in the boardroom, Lord Sugar clocks some of the smacked arse faced before him and doesn’t even bother asking what the teams thought of their Project Managers. Helen admits that not charging was a high risk strategy, but takes responsibility for it. Karen grasses up Melody’s lack of faith in this strategy (Melody “Labour costs – we should have charged and gone for the profit too”). Melody tries to justify her naysaying by bigging up her “lucrative visit” to the East End Fred West stuffed binbag emporium (Tom sniggers at this point), but once the facts are out, Lord Sugar dismisses her deal (“Don’t sound too good for me”).

Zoe gets stick for steamrollering the “picking the Project Manager” process, but she conveniently forgets Susan’s offer and excuses herself stating that “Everyone else was faffing”. Nick helps her out by picking up the boys on not offering to lead after bragging about their experience. Zoe also takes responsibility for screwing up by totally misunderstanding the task on the first day (“er sorry”). Edna, however is keen to play up her achievements in the task, even the one’s that weren’t hers.

Anyway, here’s the scores on the doors (and floors and copper pipes):

Venture made £1045 and spent £339 on charges – leaving £706

Logic made £1090 and spent £378 – giving them a figure of £712 – winning them the task (still predictably given the edit) by £6 and making Tom do a little squee of relieved joy. So Logic get sent for a posh hot bath (A “natural thermal spa pamper” – I don’t like “pamper treats” it sounds like something that adult babies pay for).

In Sad Café, Leon has worked out why they lost (“We just didn’t have £6 worth of copper”), but Zoe knows her “neck’s on the line” (“No guts, no glory”). Glenn knows he’s safe as “Again, I’ll say it again. On every task I give 110%”. Oh please, don’t just fire him now, shoot the innumerate twat.

Anyhow back in the boardroom, and whilst Lord Sugar appreciates Zoe taking responsibility, he warns that sometimes she shouldn’t put herself forward if she can’t back it up. Cross-examined on her “strategy” Zoe, having read her bumper book of business for beginners, claims she aimed for metal from the start and focused on family firms, “as you can get to the top more quickly with them”). I’m not the only person doing a double take as both Edna and Susan claim it’s the first they’ve heard of it, but Zoe reckons she told Glenn. Well, only telling the boys makes it OK then. There’s a huge scrabble for credit on making the copper deals, with both Glenn and Edna claiming they negotiated it, whilst Susan sits there gasping like a very pretty and startled goldfish. Eventually Glenn states that Edna often jumped onto the back of other peoples ideas, which Zoe immediately goes with (Edna: “That’s unfair”), but sadly, siding with the boy means that Zoe has no comeback to Glenn’s assertion that in fact it was Susan who closed both the important deals. Of course the snotty dullard still brings back Susan and Edna. “Can I ask a question” Susan trills earnestly, but Lord Sugar makes her wait until they return to the boardroom (by which time, hearteningly, Nick has argued Susan’s corner and pointed out that Zoe just didn’t get this task). Finally, Susan gets to ask Zoe “Why did you bring me in here” and Zoe blusters nastily “If you can run an business without certain people, they don’t need to be there”, before accusing Susan of being “unprofessional”. Nice attitude love.

At last Susan comes out scrapping (“If you’d have gone with me, we’d have got those contracts”), but makes the mistake of accidentally suggesting that she also secured the appointments (which Edna’s claimed) allowing Zoe to mardily bitch and petch over everything she says. Sugar even comes to Susan’s aid, forcing Zoe to admit that they would have got the deal with the office boss had they just offered him £50, rather than trying to charge him £80. Zoe realises the tide’s turning against her when Susan moans “Zoe made me feel like an absolute idiot and talked down to me” and everyone else starts nodding sagely, so she tries to put a vast spin on events (“I actually said, have I got this wrong”. Oh you little liar!).

Edna lays in, declaring that Zoe had fallen apart on Day2 and didn’t make any decisions. “I hadn’t fallen apart. I was really upset with myself” whinges Zoe, before Susan puts her delicate boot in (“You were not good for team morale. You sat in the corner crying”). Zoe’s on the ropes, trying desperately to report that she was “motivational” and got everyone going again. Fortunately for her, Lord Sugar’s got a bee in his bonnet about Edna’s illustrious CV, which waffles at length about her “proven ability to translate highly original ideas into workable solutions”. Rather than vomit, he asks how those skills manifested themselves on the task. “I was complimented on my ideas” states Edna smugly. “Who by?” wheedles Sugar. Edna’s clearly not used to this line of questioning; “The whole team” she gambles. Cue murmurings of “Well I didn’t” from Zoe and Susan. Edna’s unswayed though and blithely bullshits her way through a round of business buzzword bingo, as though she’s never watched this show before. “I train Chief Executives how to do their jobs” she boasts proudly, pulling down the coffin lid. Lord Sugar sighs “Some of these companies have money to burn”. “Do you need training?” quips Nick. Edna’s still undeterred and starts hammering the nails in. “I’ve got an MBA in.. “(something that sounds like “Entrepreneurial and Diversification” – sorry my brain started making bird noises over this) “that makes me very versatile”. Yes dear. Getting a specialist education makes you a fucking Jack of all Trades.

Susan’s next under the microscope, but Nick kindly suggests that she often speaks “great sense” but shouldn’t “cave in to weightier voices”. “Zoe made me feel small by shouting at me. I know I’m only young” bleats Susan adorably. I bet she’s tough as nails really, but has worked out how to make the little girl act work to her advantage. It certainly works with Lord Sugar, who champions the “young”, whilst warning half heartedly that he’s “also seen 17 year olds talk a load of crap” (You don’t say!), and Susan’s let off the hook with a mild rebuke (I’ve seen a few things you’re quite good at but a lot of things I’m not happy with at all”).

He sums up Zoe’s performance next (“You lost it.. and there’s a limit to how long I can put up with someone just telling me ‘I got it wrong'”), but it’s no surprise that Edna is the one to go. Well apart from to Edna, who’s still banging on about how qualified she is in the taxi of fail. “I have three degrees. One BSc and two Masters” she wails. So have I (not that I like to go on about it – and if I had tried to validate my existence with an MBA I’d seriously be looking at a one way euthanastic fantastic holiday to Switzerland) and look where it’s got me. I don’t even get a makeover to meet Dara for fecks sake, it’s not the be all and end all. All in all, despite Zoe’s dreadful behaviour, I’m glad the glory hunting corporate jargon whore went – there’s too many of these wankers parasitically attaching themselves to any situation where other people’s graft can enhance their CVs and making anyone with an ounce of sanity froth bile in the process, so well played Lord Sugar. Zoe’s judgement can wait.

There’s another frosty car journey, as Susan pulls Zoe up for talking down to her, which Zoe deals with by er talking down to her again (“I only raised my voice cos you continued asking on and on and on like a schoolkid”). If I was Susan I’d have started asking “Are we nearly home yet” repeatedly. Got to feel for her, being dissed by the denizens of the boardroom for failing to stand up for her ideas in the face of such a carpet blanking. “You would not have spoken to anyone else that way” suggests Susan, perhaps teetering on the edge of suggesting a racial motive for Zoe’s attitude. I hope Zoe’s racist. She’s so boring and unimaginative that surely she’d be a great advert for embracing multiculturalism. Sadly back at the house everyone seems pleased by the return of Zoe. Either it’s a nest of cunts, or they’ve all sussed that she’s toast the next time she even coughs in the wrong way. Or more likely a little bit of both.

Liking: Tom, Susan, Leon
Probably a Finalist, but meh: Helen
Nothing to me: Glenn,
Disliking: Jim, Natasha, Me-Me-Melody
Her tears sustain me: Zoe

Byebye: Evil Edna, Vincent (who?), Ellie, Felicity, Gavin, Alex, Edward

Week 5 brings the traditionally hilarious advertising task, with Glenn excitedly taking the 6am phone summons to a creative agency in Fitzrovia (“Guys.. We’re going to Fitzrovia! In LONDON!”).

As the candidates assemble, Ellie’s determined to up her game after a poor performance last week. Glenn’s falling into the time honoured Apprentice trap of considering himself a “creative” type when he hasn’t even shaved patterns or a swastika into his head (“This is my cup of tea. I’m a designer. I create on a day to day basis”). Vincent meanwhile is feeling kind of suave. As always. “I’m going to win today” he purrs. “You know what they say, fifth time lucky” slams Natasha back, desuaving Vincent in an instant.

Lord Sugar sets the teams the task of coming up with an innovative and unique pet food brand and make a TV ad for it; then pitch to in 2 days time to ad agency and pet food industry experts. He stalks off leaving Nick to appoint Project Managers this week. Vincent is put in charge of Logic (Jim, Natasha, Melody, Ellie, Tom), whereas Glenn gets to lead Venture (Susan, Edna, Leon, Helen).

Each team picks a section of the petfood market to pitch to. Logic plump for dogs apparently just because Ellie has a dog and therefore will have lots of top quality blue sky ideas. “How about called a product Gnashers, and it’s to do with dental hygiene?” she chips in. Everyone suddenly notices a crack on the ceiling until she shuts up. Natasha suggests “Healthy treats”, but Vincent is adamant that “treats are occasional”, and comes up with his masterplan, “Pals” (“The dogs eat it and become pals”). There’s an embarrassed silence, before Ellie points out it’s already a pet food and, after consulting his hidden bat computer, Tom adds “It’s the second biggest brand in the world”. Vince flicks his hair, unconcerned; “Oh really. But it’s not the first, is it?” The only person Vincent seems prepared to listen to is Jim, who has installed himself as the Blackadder to Vincent’s stupid Prince George in this task (which isn’t lost on Sugar’s henchman Nick), so for a while we’re in danger of seeing Jedi Jim’s suggestion of “Fur Play” (allegedly for healthy coats, but it sound like a bestiality version of “The Joy of Sex”) becoming a horrifying reality.

On the Venture brainstorming session, cats are the target market and Glenn’s rebranding himself as a caring, sharing creative (“Don’t be concerned about putting ideas out!”), before rolling his eyes and sighing loudly over all the suggestions (I quite like “Cat in a ferrari?”, but Edna’s “Cat with curlers in it’s fur” proves she is truly evil). Zoe becomes obsessed with a dystopian “Planet of the Cats” type scenario, where the cats are in charge, before unconsciously jumping to the conclusion that life as a master species isn’t all it’s knocked up to be (“The cat could have a mortgage, and get married”) – there’s a reason why cats don’t let on just how powerful they are. “So we’re moving away from cats slimming?” asks Helen, as confused as we all are. To camera, Glenn’s confident he can harness these ideas and make something brilliant. “I’m a catalyst” he states (and sadly it is no pun intended or realised).

Vincent doesn’t want to limit his product to just one type of dog, instead visualising an equal opportunities dogfood world. “Every day, every dog” quips Jim, and Vincent’s louche little eyes light up (“Every Dog! I like it!”). They head to their focus group of dog walkers and vets and test out the “Every Dog” idea, to universal disapprobal. “You can’t fit all the things that different dogs need into one tin” explains the vet. Rather than simply ask what the most popular types of dogs are and what would suit them, Vincent decides to simply forget that this conversation ever occured and phones Melody, Tom and Natasha to inform them of the “Every Dog” brand. Melody’s unimpressed and Tom’s internal scan spots a problem (“There’s no niche you’re aiming at”). “I’m going to take a decision on it” deadpans Vincent, “It’s brilliant! We’re going with it”. The team members that aren’t Jim pull faces.

Leon, Zoe and Helen think about branding for Venure, with Leon coming up with “Lucky Fish: the catch of the day” (“You know what guys, shall I just become the apprentice?”). Bizarrely the focus group of lunatic cat lovers all love it (Helen “the cat could be looking at a goldfish in a bowl and then the food lures it away”, Cat Lover: “Ooh we like that, don’t we Tiddles?”).

Elsewhere for Venture, Glenn’s “mind’s going off on the old creative front”, as he comes up with “Catsize”, a nutritional, slimming catfood, with the tag line “See their light” – geddit? Glenn explains: “Your cats lost a loud of weight. Look at her! See, they’re light!”. Groan! Unfortunately Venture’s market research team phone back with the good news about “Lucky Fish” (which I kind of like, it sounds like a dodgy translation), and the wind is nearly knocked out of Glenn’s artistic sails. Rather than have the tantrum he clearly fancies at this vital point, he merely denigrates their idea and asks how they feel about “Catsize”. They don’t like it, so the Project Manager is forced to make a considered decision. He, rather too quickly, chooses Catsize. “Why did we bother going to a focus group?” drones Zoe, ironically sounding like Henry’s Cat on Mogadon.

Whilst Melody, Tom and Ellie get their hands food in the dog food manufacturing lab, Vincent mans the casting couch for man’s best every friend (Vincent: “That’s a beautiful retriver”, Dog owner: “It’s a golden retriever”, Vincent “Pug?”, Pug owner: “Correct”, Vincent (smugly) “‘rayyy!”), with Jim umbilically attached and making ruthless demands of the potential animal stars (“I want that pug to jump”). Scramble, an adorable parson russell terrier steals everyone’s hearts and Vincent is keen to know the cute mutt’s celebrity pedigree (Owner: “He’s done a few adverts, Midsomer Murders” (he’s not black), “all the usual”). “Can I see him on all fours?” asks Vincent. “????” responds the nonplussed owner, forcing Vincent to clarify (“Standing up ,I mean”).

The by now mutinous roving Venture team of Leon, Melody and Helen conduct their cat casting call, dissing a poor furless sphinx cat for not being “mainstream enough” (Leon: “It looks like a chicken.”). Glenn calls them with his “See their light” tag line, and understandably they begin to laugh the hysterical chortle of the damned. “What you laughin at?” gripes Glenn. “It’s CAT SIZE – d’you get it?”. He hands up in a sulk (“They need to be put in their place”) and Leon splutters “That’s made it 100% worse”.
Fed up at people mocking the Project Manager, Glenn phones them back to administer a telling off (“This is business. You should be professional!”), but unfortunately for him he gets to speak to Zoe, a woman with a phone voice that sounds about as fazed as [insert your own favourite inanimate object here. I was going to plump for grass]. “It goes both ways Glenn. You earn respect,” she informs him glassily (or grassily), and waffles over his desperate cries of “Zoe! Zoe!” before cutting him off. Masterful stuff Glenn.

That evening both teams get their product samples. Catsize actually looks quite professional, like little pink sachets of some sort of sex cream. Every Dog looks like, erm, green tins. Both teams have to pick someone to deliver the pitch later, and Vincent selects Melody, with a little help from his right hand man Jim (“You’ll have no problem conveying it”).

Whilst Susan looks on sullenly (I think it was her role in this task), Glenn rather unsurely selects Leon to make the pitch, but Leon’s not comfortable with that. “I’m not sure I can do that for 20 minutes” he confesses. “You need to” Glenn confirms, all stupid decisiveness. Glenn gives Leon five hours to write a killer pitch, so that he has the excuse to take over all artistic control on the Catsize commercial shoot (where Ruby the cat prowls past stacks of cans like a seasoned pro). “I wonder if that’s a strategic move?” angsts a worried Leon. Susan and Edna of course insist that it’s just because Glenn has faith in Leon, but the lanky, lego-haired posho is unconvinced. Glenn and Helen then go to record the voiceover with a callow young male actor (“Can you give the cat a female voice?” “Female? Three long years of drama school for this!”). Helen hates the “See their light” tagline and asks if they can just whisper that bit, but Glenn’s all “No. We’re sticking with it”.

Logic have more of a structure, with Vincent and his Celtic Yes Man laying down the soundtrack for Every Dog, whilst Natasha directs the commercial by showing the dogs just how to run across a garden and ordering Ellie around as though she’s an 18 year old BBC intern with a Northern accent. To be fair she gets the best out of her two canine stars, with Scramble doing his impossibly sweet jumping up and down by the kitchen worksurface routine and the nameless golden retriever greedily wolfing down Every Dog like there’s no tomorrow, as in a retriever’s eyes all dog food is simply “Every Dog Food”. Ellie attempts to contribute a salient point about continuity, but Natasha’s gone into full on shrill media twat mode (“Ellie, yah? I’m taking your comments on board, yah? But I’m just trying to make sure my vision is kept clear, Yah?”) nice that even though both the adverts stars are male, there’s a proper bitch on board. Viewing the advert, JIm declares himself “100% happy with what we’ve achieved”.

It’s pitch time, or by the look of his face, in Leon’s case brown trousers time. To the assembled audience, including representatives from Mars Petcare, Melody confidently but blandly plays buzzword bingo (“A Clear Concept… A Bold Decision.. A product that can be Developed”), but when she rolls the ads it’s clear that everyone is far more impressed by a small bouncy dog. Baldy ad-man asks if it’s a mistake telling most mental pet owners that their dog isn’t unique (which gives me the idea of Every Baby food), but Jim flannels him by countering that their “One size fits all” approach makes it “Easier for people to make an informed decision” (Very Soviet bloc).

Leon conducts his pitch with all the flair of a public schoolboy being asked to point to pictures of genitalia in a sex education class. It’s simultaneously wooden, uninspired and giggly. “It’s about your cat er maybe losing a bit of weight or staying on the right side of healthy.. er the brain aids the er brain er sorry about that..etc” he rambles before rolling the advert to the sound of tumbleweed. “Do you think it’s clear?” interrogates baldy ad man, and Glenn jumps in explaining it’s all crystal clear because “See their light” is a pun and “Catsize” is a play on words. Oh dear. “No-one’s asked how I did?” jokes Leon, as Venture gather for a gloomy postmortem.

Lord Sugar gets his advertising supergrass’s ambiguous opinions (“patronising”, “imagery could have been used better”, “both made the same mistakes of playing into the usual conventions”), before calling the candidates back into the boardroom.

Logic are first under the Lordly bearded walnut’s scrutiny. “We wanted to create something new so went for ‘Everybrand'” Vincent states, wincing slightly when LordSugar, unable to resist giving poor old Vincent a verbal spanking, retorts “I suppose, given your track record, Winalot wasn’t on the agenda”. When it comes to Logic’s advert, even LordSugar loves the small bouncy dog. “Did you starve the other dog?” he chuckles, before asing whose idea “Every Dog” was. Vincent tries to take the credit at first, but it’s eked out slowly that it’s down to Jim (who’s quietly hedging his bets).

Glenn has to explain Venture’s branding next (“More than half the cats in this country are overweight” – really?), but LordSugar doesn’t get”See their light” and finds the advert visually boring. However as he thinks the concept of “slimline catfood” was well thought through and the packaging was seen by the pros as slick enough to go on shelves he declares Venture the winner over Logic’s bouncy dog and terrible brandname, and Glenn’s team get to play tennis with Pat Cash whilst pretending to know who he is.

Tom has a resigned “I knew this would happen” look on his face (he’s this season’s Cassandra) as Logic shuffle off to the Cafe of Recriminations. “We committed marketing suicide” sighs Tom. Vincent’s adamant that the only issue was the name “Every Dog” (yeah, if you’d only called it “Dog” you’d be home and dry). Natasha reveals her Maciavellian streak by suggesting to camera that Jim could go based on the task and “If Vincent puts friendship with Jim first then he’ll be in the firing line”.

Back in the Boardroom (LordAlan “Logic should be rebranded tragic”) and Vincent points out his team backed him earlier, but Sugar gently explains that they often change their mind once they know they’ve lost. The vet’s words of wisdom at the focus group are key, and also complete news to Tom, Ellie and Melody, who’d all been told by Vincent and Jim that the focus group loved Every Dog. “We were trying to be really clever” huffs Vincent. “You could’ve called it ‘Any Old Dog'” snaps Karen.

It’s acknowledged that Tom expressed concern about Vincent’s marketing direction, although the jury’s still out with LordAlan as to how hard Tom tried to convince people.

Natasha’s asked about the advert and starts massively backpedalling (“I realised there was a problem with ‘Every Dog’ and tried to direct away from that and  concentrated on the USP of “Hearts and Joints”). Not to be outdone in the arsesaving bullshit stakes, Jim explains “I came up with the name but not in association with the way we branded it”. This doesn’t get Jim off the crap name hook, and he tries to come out streetfighting (Jim “Do you want me to sit mute and not contribute?”, LordAlan “If you open your mouth, you should stick by what you said.” Slam!). “I’m not taking responsibility for the overall marketing strategy of Every Dog” insists Jim bullishly, “it was endorsed by the project manager and team. If I give a dog a bone, they don’t have to eat it”. Sugar’s suddenly hating Jim (“I like people to focus on the task, not their arse”), and no amount of mind tricks are working. Vincent’s criticised for keeping onside with Jim because he fears him as a more powerful contender. “I don’t think he’s better than me” whines Vincent, before bringing Ellie and Natasha back into the boardroom. Before he leaves, Jim tries one more mind game, requesting that Lord Sugar make him Project Manager in the next task, but Lord Sugar’s not impressed; “I have your card marked son… you’ll be project manager when it’s time”.

Whilst the three in the line of fire wait outside, LordAlan and Nick discuss Jim (Sugar: “He has control over people”, Nick “I think Vincent’s scared of him”) before dragging the trio back in.

Vincent’s like a Weakest Link contestant scrabbling round for excuses for bringing Ellie and Natasha back in (“Ellie’s got no creativity.. Natasha er did the ad well but didn’t ask many questions”), but mainly this is all about the Irish Head Warlock that got away with it this week. “He don’t give a damn about you, I’ve seen that type before” advises LordAlan like an ageing agony aunt, before admiring Jim for seeing things as “dog eat dog” (hoho!). Natasha pipes up “Tom’s voice wasnt heard. You were so far up Jim’s behind, you couldn’t see the wood for the trees”. “I wasn’t up Jims arse” Vincent bristles, “but at least he contributes”. Natasha’s got Vincent’s oily cage rattled though. “I’m not gonna argue with you c c cos you gotta stay calm” he stutters, like a nerd American Psycho.

Lord Sugar does his summing up, and finds it hard to disagree with Natasha and Ellie when it comes to Vince, but still turns on Ellie for not being forceful enough and fires her (“I don’t think I could go into business with you”). Blimey, harsh!

Vincent is just starting to look smug when LordAlan, almost as an afterthought turns and fires him too, making the spray-tanned Mickey Pierce’s face freeze like a bunny in a Smeg. “He bought in all the wrong people for the wrong reasons” adds LordSugar as Vincent scuttles out of the room.

Ellie’s nicely philosophical in her losers cab (“I don’t wanna be something I’m not, so maybe I’m not the right person”), whereas Vincent is still deluded that he and Lord Sugar potentially had something beautiful going on (“I thought we were in our infancy in terms of what I’m capable of. Maybe I should have bought  Jim in”. – well durr!).

Back at the house Jim looks almost pale as he justifies himself to the rest of the house, but they’re all shocked when only Natasha returns home. It’s her turn to mess with minds as she “reveals” that “LordSugar said Vincent sacricficed himself to Jim”. Jim’s shaken, but as always fights back (“You were no better than me in that task”), but unless he proves to be a Sith Lord, I think his chances have taken a knock.

So there we go. Two firings and a card-marking. Quality stuff. Next week the teams shovel shit (or handle rubbish). And I’ll be there right after them.

Liking: Tom, Sullen Susan, Leon
In the balance: Zzzzzzzoe
Nothing to me: Helen, Glenn,
Disliking: Jim, Natasha, Me-Me-Melody, Evil Edna

Byebye: Bye bye: Vincent (I’m kind of going to miss him), Ellie, Felicity, Gavin, Alex, Edward

Week 4 dawns with the candidates summoned to the British Museum (Susan “What’s there? Dinosaurs and stuff?”, Vincent “I’ve a feeling Tom looks like he knows about the British Museum”). They file past all our stolen ancient treasures to the statue of Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, flanked by the walnut faced god of grumpiness LordAlan, who tasks the candidates to choose and buy two beauty treatments (and associated products), learn how to do the treatments and sell both to unsuspecting members of the public. Seeing as London is saturated with poncy Spas, Lord Alan dispatches them to Birmingham, a city that knows little of beauty.

Zoe’s called to task over her promise to take on more responsibility and is moved over to lead Venture, which now consists of Glenn, Susan, Leon, Helen and Edna.

Felicity’s moved over to manage Logic (Jim, Vincent, Ellie, Melody, Natasha and Tom).

Susan struggles to contain her excitement at this task, given she’s worked selling skin care products for three years (not that she cares to mention it much more than a thousand times throughout the day). This boosts Zoe’s hopes no end (“just another of this team’s reasons to win sky high”).

Team Logic has a more fractured outlook on the remit, with Vincent of course oozing confidence (“I know my cosmetics”), but Northern Ellie rather less sure of herself (“I’m not what you’d class as a polished woman. I work on a building site”).

Melody sets herself up as an expert on Birmingham so suggests the team choose a location in the centre of the Bullring, which would leave them with only one treatment room in a department store some distance away from the sales stand. Tom rightly points out that this doesn’t sound right, and starts frantically leafing through the extremely rough guide to Birmingham, until he’s put in his place by Felicity who tells him to drop the book and stop saying things that sound intelligent.

Meanwhile everyone in Venture backs Zoe’s decision to focus on the captive audience in the West Midlands biggest shopping mall, outside of central Brum.

So the teams get the chance to see the various products pitched and demoed. Firstly Tom is the recipient of a “chocolate facial” (goes down a treat at Lib Dem conferences and BNP rallies). This would go down nicely with “Wavy Gravy” (a hair curler that Su’s brave enough to allow Glenn to try out on her). There’s a weird solution that’s soaked into bandages and wrapped tightly around a bikini clad model for that Egyptology/ burns unit chic. Next up is a bizarre “fringe” hairpiece called a “whinge” (RRP £23), which reminds me in many ways of ex England football manager Steve McClaren and his coy little forehead hamster. Leon’s forced to resignedly submit to the application of “discreet men’s cosmetics” (“I can’t sell this. I’ve got a girlfriend”). There’s a cold stone foot massage thing, which Zoe plumps for and a hot “lava shell” massage er shell (a lump of plastic with chemicals in to make it go hot), which Tom likes for its gadget status (and he works out there’d be a large profit margin if it paid off), so Felicity selects it.

Both teams are left chasing the final product, a spray tan kit, and Zoe cannily hints to Susan that she mentions her background in beauty. It takes very little persuading for Susan to start gushing on, but it seems to strike the right chord with the suppliers. Logic on the other hand sit there coldly scribbling in their notepads and scowling, until Felicity curtly dismisses the spray tan people. “I feel that will be our winner” Felicity tells her team. Tom agrees having worked out the profit margin per minute is the best of all the products they’ve seen. Felicity’s in full on patronising mode towards anything the hapless Michael Sheen lookielike says (“Thank you. I’m happy you worked that out”) Boo! She smugly calls back the supplier who inform her that the other team showed way more passion, so they’d rather Venture flogged their spray tans. Logic have to pick a different product and whilst Felicity likes the self mummification kit, everyone else goes for the “whinge” (Felicity “I just wanted to be sure I had everyone’s backing” – well now you know love).

The teams also get to pick and purchase extra products to sell (but spending is deducted from their takings). The “whinge” comes with a series of not very nice supposedly Lady Gaga bows and hair extensions for example. Venture appear to have to pick some colours of nail varnish (to go with the pedicure thing? I’m lost with this stuff) and Glenn proves a surprising expert on nail colour. They have to decide how many products to buy (the main profit should theoretically come from treatments) and both Felicity and Susan work out that they should be able to sell three products per hour. The difference being, Susan’s not team leader and Zoe’s having none of her “let’s spend £800 on 70 products. I can sell them… did I mention I’ve worked in selling beauty products”, arguing down to buying only 35 (Susan “I think we’re making a mistake, we can sell a lot more”).

Next it’s time to learn how to administer the treatments and Tom unashamedly and intently gets his hairy hands all over Jim’s back. It’s like bi curious porn. Leon is rather less keen to get physical with the spray tanning practice on a male muscle bunny, until the girls beast him into getting his hands dirty. He has all the personal touch of a broken robot (“If you want, if you have boobs I can put you in a paper bra and pants” – Leon I think male models don’t do pectoral tan lines, unless they pose for specialist publications).

Whilst Jim admires the splendour of the Bull Ring and Nat works on her comedy brummy accent in the car, Tom’s still running figures through his bat computer brain (“I think the best case scenario is just under £2000”, Vincent “Sorry, I wasn’t really paying much attention.”). Whilst Logic indeed have a prime sales spot on the main concourse, the treatment room is upstairs and miles away and tiny so the hair treatment and massages have to double up in there at the same time. Well that would be if there were any treatments done, as whilst Felicity, Vincent, Jim and Natasha flog products downstairs like tomorrow the whole of Birmingham will be as hairless and achy as Duncan Goodhew’s bollocks, Ellie (exiled as Felicity thinks she’s “not a natural salesperson” – read “scary Northern dyke”), Melody and Tom mooch around idly in the treatment room, awaiting victims.

In the out of town shopping complex, Venture have a three room beauty salon, plus a retail unit just next door to it. Zoe and Helen have that spooky Stepford Wife patter that identifies all beauty professionals down to a tea (especially in their surgical whites), in fact whilst Zoe wows a weary middle aged shopper with her foot massage bullshit, Helen reassures a waiting client that Zoe “always gets really involved with clients and gives them the best experience” whilst little fembot cogs click and whirr behind her lovely cold, blank face. She only appears human when she tries to give a spray tan and complains that the machine isn’t working, only to realise she hasn’t plugged it in (that should fill her client with confidence).

Zoe gives Susan some motivational sales talk on the products stand (“you wanted to buy double so selling this lot should be easily achievable”), getting her boardroom ammunition neatly in place. Susan doesn’t start well, pitching the benefits of the tanning lotion at machine gun pace and quickly resorting to desperate offers of discounts until her potential customers run away (“nobody’s got any money! Everyone must be poor round here”) and Karen winces in disbelief (“If you set yourself up as something you’re not, you’re in for a big fall”).

Leon seems equally uncomfortable, trying to encourage a young woman to take the tanning treatment (“We can do two things for you – either get you naked and spray you ,obviously I won’t be doing that – a girl will…”) in front of her boyfriend, who is comically unthreatened by this suggestion, coming as it does from Leon. Bless. Glenn has a more cocky approach, but is just as clueless (“I can’t say what they are.. I just know they’re pretty. And you’re pretty. Oh go on, I’ll give you them for a tenner.. come back!”).

Back at the Bullring, Nick’s despairing of Logic, who are shifting the products but haven’t done a single treatment, so are missing out on the bigger profits. Ellie’s getting frustrated reading “Take a Break” in the treatment room and asks Felicity “Have you sent people up”. “Yah.. we’ve been sending quite a few” breezes Felicity dismissively (lying get), before sending Tom (of all the options) down to pitch treatments to punters, their disturbed eyes drawn to his hairy wrists as he shows off his hot shell massage action moves. Before too long he’s switched over to selling Lady gaga bows, sounding about as in touch with modern culture as a Stewart Lee routine pretends to be (“You look like… I don’t know her name.. one of the pop stars”). Nicks unimpressed (“Tom knows all the figures..what’s he doing? Selling bows. Why? Cos it’s easier!”). It takes Melody to eventually lose her cool and come downstairs demanding of a dithering Felicity what to do (Nick “I wouldn’t stand here gassing about it, I’d get on with it”) for some positive action, and before long Melody’s escorting punters upstairs for a “free” 3 minute massage with any extra minutes costing £1 (if you pay £50 Ellie will give you the full “Avram Grant”). At first, Ellie’s a bit strong and silent as she kneads her first female punter’s shoulders. “I haven’t had a massage from a woman before” confides the client. “Have you had it from a bloke then?” Ellie summons up some basic banter. “Yes. It normally leads to something else”. Ellie harrumphs and slaps down the hot shell vigorously, “It won’t do this time!” Next up are two shifty student lads, clearly enticed by the offer of a free 3 minute rubbing from a real woman. They’re a little disconcerted by Ellie’s gruff exterior, but hey she’s still female. To their horror, Jim wanders in, in his Holby City Masseuse outfit, cracking his fingers in preparation with a manic gleam in his eye like a psychotic Father Dougal. “Four hands are better than two” he bellows gleefully. Approximately 2 minutes and 59 seconds pass before the students make their excuses and leave, a cloud of dust kicked up in their wake. Now everyone on Logic is finally focused (is it too late?) on selling the treatments and the spa room’s business is stretched to breaking point. Vincent floats around harrassing women (“Hey! You’ve got nice hair, why don’t you go and have a free market”, but Nick clearly thinks if they do manage to win, it will be a “close run thing”.

Leon has blossomed in his selling role, bigging up the scent and “warm olive glow” of the tanning lotion, and using his own creepily camp but effective Jedi move “the finger trick” to abduct young female shoppers into the treatment rooms (Leon (holding up finger):”Do this”, giggling woman copies him, Leon wraps his finger round her raised finger and drags her away – try it guys. Not everyone will mace you).

Zoe checks on Susan’s progress and finds it wanting, so gets all passive aggressive school marm on the ex Avon Lady’s arse. “You said you wanted to push 60 products.. we trusted you”. Susan’s all “You’re not my mother! This is so unfair”. “No it’s not, you made your bed, you have to lie in it” harps Zoe, maternally, with Helen backing her up. “Why have a go at me” whines Susan. “This is not good for team morale”. Whilst she has a point, curiously she seems to slow down and sell slightly better after her Stepford bollocking.

Trading finishes at 7pm and the candidates traipse forlornly into the boardroom the next morning. “The beauty part is done, now you have to deal with the beast side, which is me” crinkles Lord Sugar.

Team Venture all back Zoe’s leadership, although Leon suggests she could have been more motivational. Zoe generously states she’s heard that Leon did “excellently” once he got over the fact he was selling girls things (ugh!). Unsurprisingly both Zoe and Helen lay into Susan’s rubbish supposedly expert advice, and Zoe regrets compromising and ordering more products than she’d wanted to.

Logic are equally supportive of Felicity, although they rue losing the spray tan product (Lord Sugar “It looks like Vincent had one before you lost it”, cue overload laughter). Ellie rather pathetically claims that all the girls on Logic are not “Girly girls” in comparison to the women on Venture, and Natasha, Melody and Felicity all think “speak for yourself you builders bitch”.

Anyhow, Venture spent £734 and made a profit after sales of £203.01. Logic spent £924 and made a LOSS of £246.28. Even with a rubbish result considering the potential sales margins, Venture have thrashed the arse out of this one and get a suitably metrosexual prize of dance lessons with Strictly pro dancers Katia and Robin.

Jim’s face is a thunderous study in disbelief as Lord Alan notes his induction into the world of fail (“Welcome to team Titanic”). He’s rather more prosaic in his reception of Tom and Vincent on their return to Losers Corner (“We need to stop meeting like this. You’re like a couple of stalkers.”).

Tom’s not happy in the “Sad Café” (“I’m personally getting pretty fed up of this place”) and all of a sudden Melody’s not so keen to be described as an “expert” on Birmingham.

Back in the boardroom and predictably the main criticism is that Logic focused on less profitable peripherals, although rubbing salt into their wounds (probably costs £1 a minute) Lord Sugar points out that by missing out on the Spray Tan they lost the product that made most of Venture’s money. The fact it took so long for the penny to drop about shifting treatments (Ellie et al were left doing sweet fuck all in the treatment room from 11am til 3.30pm, which Lord Sugar sees as “hiding”) also comes in for some stick, as does Tom wimping out from pushing the massages and choosing to sell poncy hair bows.

“The big problem was location” starts Tom. “Stop going on about location” snaps Melody.

Natasha makes her corporate jargon gambit “There was no sales process implemented. Nobody identified a strategy on how to focus on the treatment, and when they did it was very Last Minute Dot Com”.

Jim plays the hero again (“I felt like I was the cavalry”), but Nick deflates his dander, revealing that Jim means he took two people up for cheap massages (“that was

£14 you hauled in so bravely”).

Felicity keeps passing on all responsibility to the team (“as a team”), as though that’s not going to piss off Lord Sugar. Has she ever watched this show? (Probably not). Anyhow she easily selects her first candidate to take in, and unamazingly it’s Ellie, cos this is CLASS WAR. “Oh this is so hard” Felicity sighs. “Just take me in” snaps Ellie. “No not about you, I don’t think you’ve ever been a team player” slams back Felicity, who does that annoying pompous eyes and neck rolling thing that posh people do in lieu of poking someone’s chest with their index finger. After a five minute Mavis from Coronation Street impression, Felicity finally decides (“I’m going to be decisive”) to also bring in Natasha. “I sold more than Jim” complains Nat. “But the job I gave you was to drive sales” explains Felicity. Yes – you can’t “drive sales” by selling. Erm.

Karen warns Lord Alan that Natasha is a snake in the grass (“It’s all talk”), and the three come back to the firing line. “Any idea what you’re doing here?” Lord Alan quizzes Ellie. She knows; “Yeah II want to be your business partner… and my mummy and daddy gave each other a special hug.. Oh! You mean in the boardroom!”

Natasha and Ellie both feel that Felicity sidelined them during the task, and promoted for examples from their struggling Project Manager they cite Felicity’s poor decision making on spending. “I thought three items per hour was do-able” argues Felicity and Ellie slam dunks her (“Lord Sugar, I wouldn’t go into business with someone who can’t work out profit and loss”).

Predictably Natasha goes all revisionist: “I asked on a number of occasions what was going on. I said ‘Hello! Where’s the strategy?”” Felicity points out that five minutes earlier everyone was saying she’d been a good leader. “I only said that to be nice” bitches Ellie. “You’re only saying that because I brought you back in bitches Felicity right back”.

Felicity wrongly decides to attack Ellie, claiming she just moaned all day long (Christ, she must have been loud), but Ellie justifies her work on the task with the rather unsavoury image of her “carryin out massages, sweating all day”.

Lord Alan’s not convinced that Natasha sussed out where the task was going wrong, and still can’t believe Ellie sat on her arse for over three hours doing nothing, but ultimately he blames Felicity’s inability to lead and make decisions for the task failure and she’s duly fired whilst the other two get some major card marking. Natasha necks her water shiftily, knowing she’s gotten away with this one. Ellie snubs Felicity in the exit lounge of shame, but I wouldn’t take that too hard as if Ellie really disliked you, she’d probably give you a Bradford Kiss.

Felicity is a bad loser in the taxi of doom (“They stabbed me in the back and said I was a bad Project Manager, which was going against what they said earlier” – maybe they told the truth the second time round) – but has nothing positive to say about her skills.

Back at the house and Tom’s talking tough about Felicity (“She would have been in trouble had she bought me back in” – presumably he would have invented a posh seeking missile), and the remaining candidates all seem pleased to see Natasha and Ellie return. Although as Susan points out “this is business now, there’s no room for making friends”.

Next week it’s the wonderful advertising task, and they have to make, brand and market pet food. There’s a lovely clip of Vincent trying to tell a growling dog to “Chill out”. Good dog.

Liking: Tom, Susan, Leon

Warming to: Ellie, Jim, Glenn

Meh: Zoe, Edna

Disliking: Helen, Natasha

Still laughing at: Vincent

Really annoyed by: Melody

Bye bye: Felicity, Gavin, Alex, Edward

It’s week 3 and Melody takes the 6am summing them all to the Savoy Hotel. 30 minutes in the car, Vincent’s feeling determined (“There is no option but to win”).

As the finishing touch to the Savoy’s 3 year, £200million refurbishment, the teams are tasked with a shopping task to buy the 10 items that will add those much needed finishing touches, namely:

7.5kg of prime Aberdeen Angus fillet steak

A top hat

500 loo rolls

Chandelier bulbs

4.5kg loose leaf chamomile tea

An unknown quantity of ice

Some organza silk

A brass sign for the wine cellar

A 10 inch cloche (?)

And something else I didn’t quite catch. Thistelus?

As usual the shopping task is designed to show the candidates negotiation skills (and ability to find items using only a stack of Yellow Pages and the oft ignored map of London), with the team spending the least by 5pm from their £2000 budget winning (the penalty for incorrect or missed items is the hotel’s guide price plus £50); oh and to make the show dizzyingly difficult to blog off as it spins off following sub-teams throughout every suburb in London.

It’s time to mix up the teams with Venture now comprising Susan, Leon, Jim, Glenn, Edna, Felicity and Helen, who decides that this task requires someone organised as Project Manager. Step forward Susan, who could barely organise her own thoughts whilst brainstorming apps last week. Susan claims she made a £70K profit at the age of 18 whilst attending a top class University. She’d make a great poster girl for the Coalition. She makes a great start by assigning items to team members and points out that things are usually cheaper in the East of London (apart from the Olympics) and they’re immediately phoning for leads like there’s no tomorrow. Nick’s impressed by how well Susan’s managing “fairly egotistical people”.

Of course for “insanely egotistical people”, you have to go to Logic, which now consists of Melody and Vincent plus Zoe, Ellie, Natalie and Gavin, who finally unequivocally elects himself PM, only for Vincent to vaguely waft his hand in the air muttering “I’d do it, but I suppose you’d be best”, and everyone to vote for Gavin. Gavin starts with the best of intentions, it’s almost as though he’s lead his team down the corridor to peer in at what Venture are doing and he’s said “Do that”. So of course they all utterly ignore him and it’s a massive shambles. The phone-calls lead nowhere (Vincent: “Is that the special fish and er meat place? I want fillet steak.. No not fish.. I want meat!”) and Natasha tries to steal a leap by demanding that the procurement manager of The Ritz hands over all their hard earned supplier contact details, whilst Karen winces at the foolish cheek of it all, and Gavin begs Natasha to “end the call now”. Logic’s “logistics aren’t working” moans Vincent, prompting a comedy “calm down calm down” moment from Gavin, who sensibly suggests that they get familiar with all the items, as nobody knows what a cloche is. Long after Susan’s team have discovered it’s a poncey dish, team Logic are none the wiser. By the time they randomly hit the streets at 11.25am, team Venture have already been out for a couple of hours (and with 8 items already pinpointed bar the haggling).

For all Susan’s organisation, it seems as though she’s fallen into the well worn trap of trying to get as many items as possible without considering prices. And thus her sub-team (Susan, Leon and Felicity) end up in the poshest top hat shop in the whole of London, which is surely infinite poshness. This hat shop are the official suppliers to Lord Snooty from the Beano. They hand middle class people plums to put into their mouths on the way, like the posh equivalent of a babelfish. They try to get the miserly milliner to drop his Top Hat price from £365, but he’s not playing, not even by just one penny (“This is St James Street”). Nick Hewer namedrops the King of Tonga who he apparently saw the last time he visited this shop to find a hat that matched his scowl. “The King of Tonga doesn’t come in here looking for bargains” Nick says knowingly. Felicity is rather less than regally outraged by the “greedy” shopkeeper.

Jim leads his Venture sub-team of Helen, Edna and Glenn to the butcher he’s arranged to buy steak from. And he does his Derren Brown mindbending negotiation again, haggling down the butcher (whose top line was £200) with baffling ease to £180 . And just when you thought Jim couldn’t get any more terrifying, he manages to play the butcher’s accountant against the shop owner (“Bob, the accountant says £170, as long as it’s OK with you”), to get an extra tenner off. The man is a fucking witch.

Logic are in disarray still, with hardly any items found and Gavin desperately trying to motivate a team that looks and sounds like it’s on mogodon. He apparently OKs Melody going to Teddington (13 miles away) to follow up her lead on chandelier bulbs and gets a sulky Vincent to co-ordinate the other sub-teamm of Natasha, Zoe and Ellie, which immediately perks Vincent up as he can play at Charlies Angels. “You have to phone back every hour on the hour” instructs Gavin, but Vincey boy is too busy checking his rohypnol supply.

Vincent’s leadership style is like David Brent (“I can be in charge of three strong laydees”) badly pretending he’s fucking D’Artagnan (“Yeah just call em and say ‘what is that bloody erm thing?'”). It’s charming how he lets his laydees do all the work sourcing things and then steps in at the last minute to help them out before their pretty little minds explode. He first shows off his patronising bellend skillz on Natasha’s behalf, as she attempts lamely to cut the throat of the brass plaque seller (Natasha:”£20″, Brass Man: “I can’t do it for £20″, Natasha:”£40″, Brass Man:”No”, Natasha:”If we can close for £50″, Brass Man:”No”, Natasha:”If we can just close for £60″, Brass Man:”No”, Vincent “£80 all in”, Brass Man: “Including VAT? OK.”).

Venture are still trying to get a bargain top hat from the second most posh top hat shop in London (“Price is price..We don’t negotiate… if you can get it cheaper may I suggest you try somewhere else”. Susan’s getting sick of top hat shops and begs him to drop just a penny off the price, which he grudgingly does – doing the deal at £349.99 whilst Nick grimaces. Mind you Melody tries mind control to haggle down a Top Hat salesman later and still pays £360. Never trust anyone who sells top hats.

Logic are still struggling to identify the “cloche”, with Tom using his inventor skills to invent things it might be (“A bell? A tiny greenhouse”) prompting Gavin’s Logic sub-team to plot routes to church towers and garden centres, whilst the edit shows Glenn purchasing a catering cloche for £8.50 (saving all of 44p) for Jim’s Venture sub-team

Vincent shows his angels how it’s done by getting 25% off the steak at a butchers in Highbury. He pays £240, but thinks it’s still a result as this steak is usually £45 per kilo so the butcher says (making Jim seem all the more powerful).

Lost in the suburbs of Shepherd’s Bush, Gavin is falling apart and hallucinating that the grimy “Top Hat Dry Cleaners” could have anything to do with aristocratic headgear, which only bemuses the ironically bald dry cleaner (“I’m guessing you er dry clean these kind of items” “No”). Karen just shakes her head sadly. Melody senses imminent Scouse meltdown and raises the fact that she knows a “cloche” isn’t a gardening centre purchase, prompting a row about whether or not she voiced her concerns earlier. “I don’t know what the hell is going on” Melody confides to camera, “Gavin’s not listening, he’s just stressing out”. Sadly, like a disoriented gravedigger, Gavin has indeed lost the plot, which becomes apparent when he calls Vincent for help and advice.

Susan is seeking silk, that treasure of the East in the budget stores of um Mayfair. “It’s actually for a very important wedding” she tells the shop woman. “Why would that matter to me?” snorts the snooty silk seller, “That part doesn’t make any difference to me.. what I paid for it does.” Fair point, and Susan’s forced to pay near to full whack and regrets not actually going to East London, although further West in Shepherd’s Bush, Gavin has one result, eventually haggling down an unconvinced silk salesman down to a quarter less than Susan paid.

Vince and his angels are stuck in traffic in North West London so have to call the ice suppliers that Zoe found (which are in South East London) to say they’ll be late. Meanwhile Ellie is able to hold a phone at the requisite 90 degrees and speak to a loo roll supplier in comprehensible English, but is just about to get unladylike and do a deal when Vincent gallantly rescues her (“Can I speak to him? .. I just wanna get it done”). Swoon! Ellie’s not that impressed though (“He certainly doesn’t charm me much.. in my industry we’d call him a bit of a wide boy. He’s full of bullshit.”), but fortunately she manages to argue the loo roll company down to below cost price before Vincent can jump in and “save” her again. They then realise it’s 12 miles to Zoe’s ice supplier. Zoe, as always, sits silently looking out of the car window, chewing pensively on her lip. Vincent will like that. That’s the contribution of a laydee. Of course now it’s getting really late and the shit’s hitting the fan, Vincent finally decides to phone Gavin, who informs him they only have five items. Vincent suggests they only focus on either ice or tea and forget everything else. Hang on – there’s TWO sub-teams aren’t there? What’s wrong with checking who’s closest to which leads and sending them there? Gavin seems much too pale and beaten by this point to do anything but meekly agree with Vincent.

Having effortlessly sourced toilet rolls, Jim moves on to the chandelier bulb. “I’m desperate” he grins at the jaded cockney milf in the lightbulb shop. “Are you desperate for bulbs or a good deal?” she leers, before succumbing all too easily to his Irish sorcery. “Thank you so much for dropping the price to hardly anything” winks Jim. “It’s only your smile wot’s done it”, she deadpans huskily.

The last item on Susan’s list is the chamomile tea. Now when mad inventor Tom bought tea for Logic, he ran, arms flailing up the stairs of a tea shop where a man opened an ornate box of chamomile tea and he haggled 30% off the price, paying £120. Susan’s showing us the pro tea buying method, having pre-arranged a meeting with the woman from “The Rare Tea Company” at the front of a pub, where, somewhat presumptuously the tea is already giftwrapped and tagged. “So how much do we owe you” smiles Susan. “£990 for 4.5 kilos of the most beautifully crafted tea”, chirrups the tea lady (crafted?! FFS!). Susan’s smile nearly shatters into a thousand pieces as her chin hits the floor. Everyone pinches themselves just in case they’ve fallen asleep and ended up in that Harry Enfield “I saw you coming” shop, as the loony tea purveyor continues “It’s the rare tea company.. I only do the finest teas”. Maybe that’s why she’s wrapped it – this tea is so fucking rare will burn up on contact with air. Susan aims for a discount, and the tea lady offers them a £700 bargain; it’s only when Felicity tragically splutters “But we only have £410” that there’s any sign of relenting. “Done!” snaps the tea lady, who pockets the cash and disappears, like a tea leaf in the night.

Susan’s team get back to base first and full-handed, but she’s still worried they’ve made a mistake or missed an item (Leon “We can’t have”), whereas Gavin’s mob limp in knowing they only have 6 items (which given their start is a result).

So back in the boardroom, Venture all congratulate Susan and Jim for good PM and sub-team manager skills, but LordAlan lays into them for poor research on the top hat, silk and tea shopping (“A clever business person won’t go to a top class poser shop”). “But it was the best quality tea in the whole of London” sighs Susan all misty eyed. “If it was that bladdy good, how come they gave it to you to £410?” rejoins LordSugar.

In contrast, when LordAlan asks Logic their opinion of Gavin as leader there’s tangible tumbleweed. “We were not as successful as we would have hoped” mutters Gavin, before he’s torn apart for leaving the hotel at 11am, going to Top Hat Dry Cleaners and not knowing what a “Cloche” is. “We found out it was French for ‘bell'” elucidates Tom, who adds “I suppose it being stainless steel we should have known it was catering”. “Why did you want to go to a garden centre then?” smiles Karen archly.

Apparently both teams didn’t get all their products- although I missed why Venture screwed up. Venture got 9 items and after a £202 fine spent £1381. Logic only got 6 items but their fines were relatively minor (£312) but still lost by £8 by spending £1389. It surprises me that after years of seeing this task, nobody figures out that they should focus on pricier items and risk smaller fines. Anyhow Venture get sent to a Cabaret Show in Covent Garden where they get to enjoy cocktails and snacks whilst women in Esther Williams swimming cossies contort above them on trapezes.

Meanwhile in the café of despair, dark clouds are the only thing hovering over the steaming mugs of blame. Vincent thinks that Gavin will try to blame him, whereas Gavin is resigned that his team will let him “sink and drown”.

Back in the boardroom and Gavin blames the quality of his leads, before pointing out that he tried to manage his team and set groundrules. “Nobody took any notice of you” points out Karen. Vincent complains that they spent 60% of their time in the hotel room, but Gavin accurately points out that the maths don’t work, adding that Vincent said at 1.30pm that they had lots of items sourced, with this vision only drastically changed just before 4pm. “You had nothing then” Vincent rallies “Only Tom saved you” (with his tea).

Vincent then claims he put himself forward as project manager, with Gavin pointing out in an ironic pastiche of week 1 that it was “Only half heartedly”. “I bet you wish you had been Project Manager” wheedles LordAlan and Vincent agrees. “He couldn’t run a bath!” splutters Gavin.

Ellie lays into Vincent for taking the call from her mid-call (“I was insulted.. he just talked down to me”). “I just wanted to win” whines Vincent. Natasha blames him for messing up her amazing sign negotiations (even though he merely followed her technique of adding £20 to the previously rejected offer), but she only opens herself up for criticism for phoning up the rival hotel. “I just thought I could get information by calling people like the head chef” she fibs furiously, but Karen dobs her in “You were calling the procurement manager”.

Gavin chooses however to bring back Vincent and silent Zoe, who’s finally given the chance to speak, but has such a dull voice I miss most of what she says. Something about not having a chance to prove herself, even though she “went through several phonebooks”.

“I think you’ve got a voice” observes Karen gently (yes a boring one), but “I don’t think you’ve found a way of getting it across”. This is stretching girl power to the limits. LordAlan’s not so easily fooled and points out that she could have spoken up about the distance between companies, but sat back and watched. “Why should I be punished for being professional?” asks Zoe, proving she doesn’t just have a boring voice, she also has an annoying one. LordAlan’s not impressed “It’s not professional – if the ship’s sinking I jump in!” (The Robert Maxwell Business Model).

Gavin’s criticised for not being able to control his team. “I told them what needed doing. They chose not to.. Some of the phone calls were unbelievable” gripes the specsaving Scouser. “Why did you allow them to do it?” leaps in Zoe shrilly. Yeah love, you’ve found your voice. Now shut the fuck up.

Gavin blames Vincent for the failure of the task because, er, he’s a sleazebag. Vincent starts to oil his response, but he’s pulled up short by LordAlan’s talk to the hand gesture. “I’m sick of all this. I know you’re Belgian.. that’s were the waffles come from” growls the bearded walnut (and he thought “Slang a tang” was offensive!). Vincent then claims he got the steak (true) and the toilet rolls (Liar pants on fire!). “You reckon you’ll be remembered long after you’ve gone?” smirks LordSugar. “I hope so”. “Let’s see if I remember you.”

In the summing up though, it’s Gavin who comes out worst (“You let it run riot”) and sadly he’s fired. They always fire the ones I like. Zoe’s card is well and truly marked (“It’s up to you to show something”). In the taxi of doom a gutted Gavin reckons Lord Sugar’s made a mistake (“If he’s looking for someone like Vincent, then good luck to him.” – to be fair it’s probably the producers who are keeping Vincent in – to keep us all shouting at the telly).

Back at the house and Ellie leads the girls in a Vincent slagathon, so it’s no surprise that when he enters, like some posing Christ, everyone rushes to give Zoe a hug.

Next week it’s the world of beauty. Here’s hoping Vincent gets a pubic waxing. On his face.

Liking: Tom, Susan

Warming to: Ellie, Felicity

OK: Glenn, Leon

Scary witch man: Jim

Meh: Helen

Zzzzzz: Zoe

Disliking: Natasha, Edna, Melody

Lordy but he’s a nob: Vincent