Archives for category: 2012

No sooner have Nick and Jade returned back to the house in Week 11, and started sipping champagne, when the phone rings and Lord Sugar reminds everyone that they have only two days to “familiarise” themselves with their business plans before being thrown to the slavering interview hounds.

 

We get a quick run down of our remaining contenders from most to least successful in the process, starting with FlopsyNick who was on the winning team 8 times and thinks his “fantastic concept” could make “millions.. millions”. Wow. wow. Next up is Tom, who the voiceover reminds us is the “youngest survivor” at only 23 (Unlike many previous youthful contenders, Tom himself fails to constantly remind everybody how young he is”. He’s followed by Jade, who was only on the winning team five times (but actually lost 6 times). Somehow this puts Ricky Martin last even though he only lost 5 times, he was in the boardroom on four occasions, but he does think his business plan guarantees a Return on Investment.

 

The BIG Bonging Bram Stoker Dracula music indicates 48 hours have passed and it’s time to face the music at New Broad Street House where they gather, armed with their little cardboard folders and Lord Sugar demands that they each pitch their ideas “in simple terms”.

 

Nick’s idea is an “online platform for the grocery market enabling people to purchase recipe ingredients”. Simple enough, and Lord Sugar indicates he’s interested in more online enterprise.

 

Tom pitches a “Hedge fund allowing people to use fine wine as an asset”, which I think I get, erm sort of. (Does it mean that he would encourage people to give him money for him to invest in barrels of wines he thinks will be worth lots more, making them money on their investment and making him some too, providing he doesn’t lose the climate report for the Loire Valley and end up getting bummed by a fake gorilla? My only financial knowledge comes from repeated viewings of “Trading Places” so I can’t be sure).

 

Jade declares she wants to start up the “largest telemarketing call centre”, where numbers are “sold on as leads”, which she admits has been done before, but “not at this volume”. Maybe she can call this new telemarketing giant “EnormoCunt”?

 

Ricky waffles on about an “ethical, sustainable professional recruitment agency”, and thankfully Lord Sugar demands that he “cut the crap” and confirm whether it’s “a recruitment agency for technical people” (Ricky: “Yes it is”).

 

They hand over their business plans to Nick & Karen, and prepare to be grilled, broiled and roasted by Lord Sugar’s assembled interrogators; Claude Littner (The Bulldog), Margaret Mountford (The Divine) and the interchangeable ones who both look a bit like Alan Hansen (Mike Soutar and Matt Riley).

 

Tom’s first to see Free Magazine guru Mike Soutar, who discovers that our lazy eyed young hunk has never had a job interview before. Tom’s reference is extremely impressive, but maybe less so when it transpires it’s written by his dad. Soutar suggests Tom’s a “daddy’s boy” who got his dad to write his “very sophisticated” business plan, but Tom insists it’s all his own work and points out that “My father only joined my company after it posted a revenue of £1.25 million).

 

FlopsyNick greets Margaret as though he’s Stuart Baggs (“Margaret! Nice to meet you”), and strangely gets away with it, although she raises an eyebrow at his claims of intelligence (“Modesty becomes some people”). She pulls him up on his claims of a “Non conventional upbringing”, due to him being half Swiss. Nick elaborates that he was “very outdoors” and into “woodwork” and “sewing” and didn’t have a computer till he was 16 as he was too busy skipping up and down the Matterhorn with his goatherd friend Peter. “As soon as you got a computer at age 16 it made you obsessed?” she queries, hinting slyly at frenzied cyber masturbation, and he admits he turned into a ” geek”.

 

Ricky’s in with Matt Riley, who starts “I opened your application and there were so many things in there…”, whilst Ricky starts to look a little smug, … “that made me want to be sick” continues Riley. Oops. Ricky admits that he uses the forename Ricky, rather than his real name Richard, so he can be “memorable”. “Is that why you use the name Ricky Hype? Or the Fitness?” asks Riley, concluding that our favourite fin-headed part-time wrestler “sounds more show business than real business”.

 

Poor Jade is first to be savaged by Claude who’s “pretty underwhelmed by” her CV and her “grubby little business” plan. To be honest, I’m with Claude when he points out that most people “don’t want cold calls” and that selling leads on people in debt is “a bit unsavoury”. Even worse, the business plan doesn’t include cash flow and suggests an £80K turnover in the first month (Claude, oozing sarcasm: “That’s lovely”), but hasn’t worked any costs into that. Jade reckons they’re “already paid for” out of Lord Sugar’s investment, and Claude sneers that on paper she’s “blown it all in 6 months”.

 

Jade staggers back to the waiting room, “absolutely slaughtered”. “I’ve got to have a drink” she gasps.

 

Margaret gets the pleasure of talking to Ricky next and quizzes him on the he describes himself in his CV as “Thor in the Nordic Pantheon”. “‘Call me Thor'” she quotes, eyebrows dancing with mirth. It transpires that Ricky also promises to “take over Lord Sugar’s empire”. “I wanted to differentiate myself from the others” he explains. “They’re not all gods you mean?” Margaret smiles, before asking if he thinks he is “the reincarnation of Lord Sugar”.

 

Claude gets Flopsy Nick and congratulates him on his business plan looking like a “Good piece of work for an MBA or academic exercise” before tearing it to shreds (“Its irrelevant.. not worth the effort.. dream on”). He just about makes it out with his fringe intact (“That was like being in a war zone”).

 

It’s sadly a running theme that nobody thinks Nick’s idea is worth the effort (I quite like it myself). Matt Riley doesn’t think anybody plans recipes in advance, maybe because he doesn’t do any cooking. He asks what the year 5 return would be and Nick claims £145 million (“It’s very difficult to put an actual figure on it”). Hmmm! Mike Soutar’s not convinced by Nick stating his current business (a platform for mobile barcodes) is making millions a year. “Are you smoking something? What are you even doing sat here”, before hitting on the notion that Nick’s flitting from business set-up to new business set-up with no ability to focus. It hits a nerve “I am aware that focus is something I have to erm focus on” Nick retorts flopsily.

 

Jade sees Matt Riley next and he quizzes her about her business qualifications, whereupon she only recalls some modules in her degree. “Are you sure about that?” he concludes bringing up her “N” for business A’Level. “Oh that?” laughs Jade. “For some reason that was taken out of my mind”. Margaret questions the fact Jade’s had “six jobs in a short space of time”, but accepts that each time she was getting promoted so gaining in terms of experience and money.

 

Margaret sees that Tom described himself as a BNOC at University, which he apparently thinks meant “Big Name On Campus” (arggh!). “Are you sure N stood for Name” she asks gently. Next he’s with Claude, who points out that he needs to raise £25 million to launch the hedge fund and queries Tom’s ability to do this with some sneaky ageism. Tom sticks up for his CV claim that he’s “entirely well rounded”, but Claude can’t believe that he would raise the money “So your business concept falls apart”. “How’d it go?” asks Ricky when Tom emerges pale and shaking. “Stressful” he admits. He doesn’t fare much better with Mike Soutar who points out that it’s a very risky proposition (“Are you a gambling man?”), but he argues that he’s never let anyone down in his life. He’s almost emotional when he comes out (“I was like ‘please believe me'”).

 

Mike Soutar calls Jade’s bluff on her list of four different websites supporting her business model. “You say you have chooseenergysupplier.co.uk?”. She nods. “You don’t own that… I’ve checked… I own that one. I’ve bought it” he reveals gleefully. She brushes it off well “I might have to buy it off you” she rasps. “Good news” he smirks naughtily. “I’m an entrepreneur. Give me an offer”.

 

It’s Ricky’s turn to meet the Claudinator. “I hope he gets as good a grilling as I did” Tom crosses his fingers. It’s almost a shame that Claude isn’t stroking a white cat. “I’ve been looking forward to this encounter” he purrs. “Your personal statement was the most crass, obnoxious, infantile one I’ve.. well not had the pleasure… but had the opportunity of reading”. Ricky’s brash CV claims are dissected starting with him being “the best business partner on the planet” (“You stick by that do you”), via his dismissive attitude towards Lord Sugar (“I will teach an old dog new tricks”). Ricky agrees it was “immature” and that he regrets his tone. “You’re an arrogant fool” continues Claude, adding, amazingly “but I read your business plan and was quite impressed. It was well written and you have done well in life so far”. Wow! Has Claude ever been so generous to a candidate. Perhaps Ricky’s tactics have worked, although he insists that he has learned through the process that he doesn’t need to show off and he’s a “different person now”. It’s all getting a bit “Journey”. The rest of their interview is conducted in a far more equal atmosphere with Claude questioning that it’s a good time to start a recruitment business and Ricky arguing convincingly that the confidence is growing again. I hope George Osborne is watching as Claude concludes “that sounds plausible to me.. you come across as someone who’s thought very hard about their chosen business”.

 

All interviews finished, Nick thinks he has a good chance, but Ricky’s not sure (“Nobody’s perfect.. as much as I would have said I was 11 weeks ago”). The witchfinders are called first to the boardroom and Sugar cautions them “I’m a pensioner now.. I don’t want too much hard work”.

 

The concern about Jade is that nobody wants cold calls and that she didn’t do the maths in her business plan. Everyone has a good chuckle at Mike Soutar buying one of her domain names though.

 

Claude describes his “sleepless night excited about how to rip Ricky apart” before astonishingly admitting that “in real life I’m mesmerised by the guy. Karren Brady states Ricky has changed the most (journey klaxon again), but Margaret’s still convinced he has a silly streak. Nobody plays around with mythological names and gets away with it on Margaret’s watch.

 

Margaret worries that Nick is obsessed by his “unconventional background without television”. “Where did he live? A nunnery?” growls Sugar before deciding that an online recipe site “doesn’t ring the bells of NASDAQ”.

 

Mike Soutar thinks that although Tom’s business plan has big risks that there are “potentially huge returns”. He thinks Tom has a “charmed life”, but Sugar disagrees (“He’s a West Ham supporter”). Karren pulls everyone up on their ageism (“At 23 I was running a football club” – into the ground), and Nick Hewer plays devil’s advocate by reminding Lord Sugar of how much he’s always enjoyed risks. Matt Riley thinks Tom’s business plan is “one of the best” he’s ever read, but concludes that our unblinking young Stewart Lee lookielike needs to tone down his ambition.

 

The candidates are sent in and in response of suggestions that telemarketing annoys people Jade sadly gets shouty and annoying.

 

Tom thinks that the Asian market for fine wines is “robust” enough to not end up “lumbered”, but Sugar still thinks he’s “trying to run before he can walk”.

 

Lord Sugar’s most amused by Ricky’s comments that “as Lord Sugar is getting to a later stage in life he will be planning his succession”. “So I better let my kids know about you?” he cracks. Ricky reckons he’s “learned to shut my trap a lot more”. It’s nice that he’s even planned for his office Christmas parties as part of his business plan, I hope there is a milk fund in there too.

 

Nick reckons he’s got a working prototype of his system and at least it’s innovative unlike the other candidates. Ricky points out that doesn’t matter if it won’t make money, but almost blows it by unwittingly patronising his potential business partner (“I don’t think you need to tell me what to do Lord Sugar”).

 

So it’s decision time, and whilst Tom’s idea “could be a calamity” and Nick hasn’t convinced him (even though he was first to be picked when the teams got to choose extra members), it’s Jade who is first to be fired “with regret”, as Sugar doesn’t want to be associated with “disturbing people at home” beyond his TV appearances, and she’s off with a cheery “Good luck guys”.

 

Nick is next to go (without regret) as although he’s “obviously very intelligent”, Lord Sugar doesn’t want to be dragged into such an enormous project when he “can’t see where the money is”.

 

So Ricky and Tom are sent outside, whilst Nick Hewer tries to tempt Lord Sugar to the dark side (“So it’s pedestrian old recruitment – or ONE LAST HURRAH!”) and lets face it, it’s a choice that’s been playing out globally – and given the damage hedge funds have done, perhaps there’s only one “ethical” choice here. The boys come back in and Lord Sugar says Tom’s proposed turnover is “Blahhdy good” before hinting he might not be comfortable enough in his knowledge of the often reticent wine dealer to be able to go along with the risks involved. Ricky thinks Tom’s a “fantastic person” but also doesn’t know enough about wine to ever think about investing in it.

 

Down to the crunch and Lord Sugar admits he likes a gamble so views this choice as between “safety” and “devilment”. As it’s not 1984 and Lord Sugar wants to keep things “simple and straightforward”, Ricky is hired and is sent off to a new life in a flash car, while Tom looks so stunned he even opens his eyes.

 

On the “You’re Hired” show afterwards, everyone, even Ricky, looks far healthier and nicer than they did on the show (I love BBC make-up people), and we even get a glimpse of The Fitness in action, which would be oddly erotic if I had the erotic sensibilities of an ageing gay man. So yes, I had to take a cold shower. Apparently The Fitness is now being retired for good, whilst the business fitness is exercised. Good luck to him – and a kind of heartwarming final decision from Lord Sugar considering the mess the rest of us are in.

 

So at the conclusion of perhaps the dullest season to date, what have we learned?

 

1) It’s all in the “journey”. Which is a bit of a pain in the arse, as I’d always enjoyed the fact that The Apprentice on the whole was largely free of this reality contrivance.

2) Although it’s sometimes hard to be a woman in the reality TV business, it’s even harder to be from an ethnic minority. Even gingers and Northerners have a better chance.

3) Scotch Pot was the best food idea there’s been on the show. Closely followed by Drunken Jellies with extra booze.

4) For the final time, being a barrow boy type won’t make Lord Sugar completely love you as though you are a son. (Although it might a little bit). However good looking middle class white boys are still doing ok.

5) For most people “luxury” is still summed up by smellies and chocolate – i.e. the things we get as gifts by people who don’t actually know us very well.

6) If you say “This task is right up my street”, better go and pack your bags.

7) If you have mad staring eyes and hold your nerve enough, people will listen to you when you are talking utter bollocks.

8) Tourists in London will buy any old shit.

9) Scottish football crowds have a low percentage of gourmands.

10) If you really worry about your child splashing in the bath then you are probably mental.

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Week 11 sees our candidates summoned to Burlington Arcade, apparently offering the finest in luxury retail, which is why I’ve never been there. They rendevouz with Lord Sugar who grumpily assignes them the task of creating an “affordable luxury” brand and prototype shop, then pitching the idea to industry experts. Ricky stands alone on Sterling, as though he’s the bouncer, so Tom is sent to join him. Adam is pressganged to be the Project Manager of Pheonix (comprising Jade and FlopsyNick).

Ricky thinks now is his time to lead, having lost twice, and Tom’s happy not to waste time arguing. Tom suggests the male grooming market, and Ricky, who loves “a bit of cosmetics” is sold. As Nick Hewer observes dryly, they both have the gelled quiffs to demonstrate “obvious personal interest”. This could be the start of a beautiful bromance. “What about the word ‘dapper’?” Tom ventures. “I like it!” Ricky gurgles contentedly. They brainstorm brand names, “Debonair, The Grooming Club?” (Tom), “Men’s Choice?” (Ricky)…”Nah, it sounds a bit like…” (A Gaymosexual Dating Site?) ..”Adult magazine” Tom angsts.

Adam doesn’t ponce about looking at markets and quickfires at his crew “Name? Identity? Logo? Packaging? Er… any ideas?” Nick likes the idea of hot chocolate, but they end up plumping for chocolate in general.

Poor Jade, whilst all the men suck in their guts and announce that it’s time to sort out the men from the boys, she’s like a forlorn Smurfette, still assertive, energetic and full of ideas, but banished to the 2 hours distant sweet factory by Adam in case her womanliness mess (“You know about chocolates, I’m sure you can come up with something” – translation “Get in the kitchen, love”).

FlopsyNick however becomes the long suffering adviser of a particularly thick, red-faced king. Like Blackadder doing a Hugh Grant impression. Adam gets creative: “How about Choco Lite? Or Choco Loco?” FlopsyNick cringes subserviantly before exploding “Stop stop stop! I think I have to remind you it’s meant to be luxury”. All Nick can offer himself is “Co Co Co?” or “Cho Cho Cho.”. “It sounds like a train” snorts Adam. “Yes” admits Nick, “but it’s a chocolate train.” Adam becomes very excited about “Chocolate Bar!” and flopsyNick starts hiding behind his fringe to escape. Mercifully Jade calls and offers the suggestion “Sweet thing”, which she thinks is cool and quirky, and I think sounds about as luxury as the BHS Christmas gift selection during the January sales. Adam predictably loves it. He and Nick pat each other on the back and go off to taste lots of sweets and chocolates, whilst Karren Brady winces at their failure to ask anything about the confectioners business plan. Adam’s especially taken with jelly sweets which clearly transport him back to a freckle faced Northern childhood, and, being told that they are “high end jellies” his face likes up like that kid off the old “Mad” Magazines.

Ricky chooses to be the exiled princess at the factory for Sterling, whilst curiously enough it fells to Tom to do all the market research, design and branding. He’s rather taken with the old skool appeal of a traditional barber’s chair at a salon and murmers happily about “heritage products” (like leeches?).

Yet again it’s off to the derelict spaces of East London (thanks Coalition) to do up the now sadly familiar pop up shops with the aid of an interior designer.

I like how Tom, who clearly has an eye for design (“I want heritage and tradition, so that’ll be charcoal grey and dark wood”), has no stomach for practically, and whines like Henry’s Cat having a vasectomy as he’s forced to actually paint the walls. “Are you used to manual labour?” laughs the designer bloke as Tom scowls at his paint covered hands.

Meanwhile Adam is waffling incoherently to his designer about having the walls in “baby blue” (yuk!) when mercifully Jade interrupts him asking what the final product will actually be (yes they haven’t sorted that out yet according to the edit). Adam insists on his jellies, despite flopsyNick’s misgivings (Adam “Jellies is the next big thing though!”). Nick still thinks there are too many products, confusing the brand but Adam insists “They will all tie in tomorrow. They’re all sweet” (so’s revenge, chastity and love mate but you’re not selling them). In case nobody realised, they’ve plumped for Jade’s “Sweet Heart” suggestion, and there’s a heart motif to the design. How very Clare’s Accessories.

Back at’kitchen Jade decides that if she’s going to incorporate the ghastly jellies, then she’s at least going to get legless, and suggests adding booze and calling them “Drunken Jellies”. Adam and Nick don’t like the idea. “Got any better advice, arsewipes” she asks (sort of), and for all Adam’s eye-rolling and FlopsyNick’s sensitive flinching, they don’t, so Jade gets the green light to play with booze, which makes her a smart lady in my school.

Tom and Ricky are much more sedate as they discuss facial routines and compete to out metrosex each other over the phone (Tom “Gentry?”, Ricky “New Tradition? Oh you don’t like that do you?” Tom “Modern Gentleman” Ricky “That’s it!!!!”. Ricky dips his non phone hand in a vat of Modern Gentleman moisturiser. “I can feel my hand getting more youthful” he grins, as his finger nails fall off and vestigal tails sprout from his knuckles.

The shops open and Flopsy Nick has decided that the buzzwords for the brand should be “Indulgence, Luxury, Ethical and Fun”, pissing off The International Law Enforcement Forum. In a stroke of crushing tedium he also decides that the product should be aimed at females from aged 15 to 80. Or all women, until they are dead.

Karren Brady decides to ask them about pricing. £2.99 insists Adam proudly. “No, £4.99” suggests Nick. “So what is your pricing strategy? £2.99 or £4.99?” Karren asks. “Yes” says Nick and Karren’s facial bullshit alarm explodes.

The Sterling bromance flourishes as Ricky loves Tom’s simple design for both the product and the store (which, with it’s empty shelves and one open cigar box looks like a looted Peruvian tobbacanists), and is taken with the idea of the barber demonstrating the products. It’s all a bit GQ at their dullest though.

Jade decides to liven up Pheonix’s shop by offering alcohol shots to go with the jellies. “Like a little cocktail” she slurs to Karren Brady’s complete lack of being impressed. So Nick welcomes customers in to a “full chocolate flavour” and then Jade confuses them by offering “Drunken jellies”. Not that they’re complaining. “Does anyone need a top up?” hiccups Jade. “YESS!!” screech her merry little band of loyal customers.

Lord Sugar decides to send in some industry expert spies so the teams have at least one customer. For Sterling he ends up being the guinea pig whilst Ricky demonstrates the products on him. If that included the shaving cream then thankfully ut wasn’t shown.

The industry spies think that Sterling’s “Modern Gentleman” are professional but dull, and they prefer the  colours and labelling and general warmth and atmosphere at Pheonix’s “Sweet Thing”. That’ll be the free booze.

Ricky and Tom sit up working on the pitch idea and although Tom admits that his packaging is a “big mistake”, Ricky suggests they talk about developing it by putting it into a box to suggest luxury, before they both go for some refreshing shuteye. Awwww.

Wilst Ricky and Tom fret about the pitch the next morning, over on Pheonix, Nick has hidden in the garden folly with his frosties to express his myriad concerns.

It’s pitch time and Sugar turns up with all his cronies for the spectacle.

“It’s crunch time written over everyone’s face” worries Adam, who seems ironically to have written the salient points of his pitch all over his hand.

Sterling go first and Ricky and Tom’s hours of good hard bonding have paid off as Ricky shows he’s done the market research. They’re asked about the indistinct packaging and manage to fend the query off by admitting that they think that the branding lacks distinctiveness, but they would be prepared to develop a box for the product that was more “synonymous with luxury”. Maybe with a crown and a gooses liver on it.

The eperts all decide that the idea of “retail tainment” (aghh!) was good, but they thought that the brand wasn’t very memorable or unique.

Next Pheonix pitch and Jade froths about “Our conceptual view” before handing over to Adam who appears to have developed a throat tummour and chokes through some lacklustre material about the product being “ideal for Christmas, errr (cough) birthdays, Easter and Valentines or hust erm a girly night in “whilst FlopsyNick glares at him.

Pheonix are quizzed about the impact of their “complimentary cocktail” on retail, and Jade suggests she wouldn’t give the drink away for free but would instead sell it on the cheap. She suddenly realises what she’s said… “Er yeah we’d obviously need licensing”. Oops!

Lord Alan points out that the prices are all to cock and the experts find the mixed messages too confusing (Nick “We are confectioers, not just chocolatiers”) and everyone agrees that though the chocolate (and booze) are delicious that Pheonix didn’t do as much homework as Sterling.

So come the boardroom Sugar suggests that Sterling’s “Modern Gentleman” was boring and that the minimalist look for the shop (which Tom takes responsibilty for) was rubbish.

Pheonix get flack from Karren Brady for Adam and FlopsyNick not bothering to discuss the business model with the chocolate shop, whilst she’s clearly rooting for the girl (Adam “I came up with nearly all the possible names”, Karren “Your ideas weren’t as good as Jade’s.. Choco Holster? Cho Cho Choc”. FlopsyNick does an enormous about face and finally acknowledges that the girl du good this week.

So Lord Sugar decslres Sterling the winner for being more professional (and nowhere near as shit) and sends to boys home to consolidate on thei business strategy. Or bum each other senseless. And he says there’s “No treat”.

Meanwhile Sterling get to reflect in the Cafe of Doom.  “Last time I was PM I lost” blushes Adam, “and this time. yeah I’m gutted again.”

Back in the boardroom and Adam’s blaming Jade for pricing. “Er was I?” she barks. “OK”. FlopsyNick explains that they somehow organically all decided to price themselves between the supermarket and luxury chocolatiers. Lord Sugar points out that they manged that way to be too pricy for the mass market and too cheap for the luxury end. “We went for affordable luxury” Adam misses the point.

Flopsy Nick finally points out that the main issue was due to “very little strategy”. “Nick Nick Nick”, Lord Sugar complains, channeling Jim Davidson “You’re the strategist”.

“Everyone mentions strategy when things go wrong” grips Adam , remembering Azhar.

Sugar’s just disappointed that the “mug’s eyeful” of the shop, which offered so much promise simply disintegrated when they started speaking, whereas Modern Gentlemen actually did their homework before the pitch.

“Where did it go wrong?” sighs Sugar. “It’s hard to say” Adam muses, “It was a really small team?” (against an even smaller one).

Nick and Jade sense it’s “Get Adam” time, Nick blaming the ginger Yorkshireman for “lack of any direction” and Jade pointing out “It would have been better if Adam had done the product” whilst she and Nick did marketing strategy.

Adam’s latent chauvenism in sidelining Jade to food preparation has not gone un-noticed, certainly not by Karren Brady, and he turns a brighter shade of scarlet (“I don’t think I would have said it quite like that”). However he still feels his “Thirteen years” market stall experience makes him more important than whatever it is Jade does (“I work in consumer data!”). Adam thinks Jade should be fired because she’s only good for “emotion” (!!!!) and marketing.

Damningly for FlopsyNick it transpires he used to run a shop selling “high quality ethical cofee”, so he’s criticised for not insisting on his posh hot chocolate idea and therefore focussing the brand. “I did try, but I failed” he stammers all Hugh Grant with rabbit eyes. “You didn’t try THAT hard” insists Karren firmly. Nick decides to join in the manly Jade bashing and accuses her of having no negotiation skills, whereupon she rightly points out that she built the relationship with the spa company that got them 8 grand and won them the last task.

Jade’s no flopsy wimp though and calls both the men out; “If you’re such leaders in business why didn’t you come up with any ideas?” Nice one love.

Ultimately though it’s Adam who’s fired (“It’s time to leave the process”) due to his “lack of shrewdness and awareness” (brain). He leaves the boardroom with a sheepish little smile playing round his chops and the Taxi of Doom returns an idiot to it’s village.

Tom and Rick, who should by now be giving each other little hand massages, agree that strategically they would prefer FlopsyNick to win (Jade of course doesn’t figure in their calculations), and they both give sad little groans when our favourite hairy posh boy bounces back in.

“When it came to who should get fired I said Jade” he announces slightly too enthusiastically. Jade tactfully rolls her eyes “Anyway it’s over now”

So THIS SUNDAY (set your klaxons) thankfully Sugar unleashes Claude, Margaret Mountford et al to grill the remaining four on their business plan. It’s a shame that some potentially better people (Duwayne, Katie) have missed out, and given the attitude towards her, I’m definitely siding with lovely husky champion of alcohol Jade.

But seriously: Jade, Ricky, Flopsy Nick and Tom have all demonstrated plus and minus points throughout the process, but the most interesting have proved to be Jade and Ricky, so much as I love Tom and would like him to teach me about wine and interior decor.

I’m not bothering with the list today as a result. Blame that brilliant programme about John Cooper Clarke that was on BBC 4 last night for the last minute shoddiness of this blog. If you’re readng this and didn’t watch that – get on iPlayer ASAP.

Week 10 treats us to the knowledge that even at 6am Ricky Martin in his vest and boxers and tattoo looks like a wrestler. Not quite “The Fitness” but certainly a Medium Sized Daddy . This isn’t a pretty morning for the candidates, as Jade trowels on mascara and Adam’s ruddy head pokes from the bed like a mewling newborn ginger ferret rat. Flopsy Nick is the only candidate looking vaguely cute, but as he seems to have dressed like a school boy (blue coat, red tie, all he’s missing is a little green cap and tan sandals) I can’t take him seriously.

This week they’re off to the city, and after last week’s emphatic card marking, Steven’s not prepared to lose and will use every cliché in the book to make this point (“I was on the edge of a cliff, one foot over the edge and got pulled back in. I’m gonna give it 110%”). They meet Lord Sugar on a predictably tall building overlooking London, flanked by a grimfaced Nick Hewer in a mac looking like something out of Smiley’s People.

This week the teams have to act as agents for Key Noir, a deal website, by going out and getting luxury establishments (restaurants, hotels etc.) to offer deals for people to buy and for employers to fob off their employees with in lieu of pay rises. The website will then choose the viable deals and run them on their site for 24 hours, after which time, the team which has taken the most money in sales wins.

Obviously Steven is automatically Project Manager for Sterling, leading Gabby and Ricky. Pheonix are told to “Sort it aht amongst yourself”, and Jade thinks she’s “the best person for the job” (Warning Klaxon!), and her team of Tom, Nick and Adam are only too happy to agree with her.

The teams get a pep talk from Graham the CEO of Key Noir, who empathises the “higher end” aspect of their website and tells them to always try to consider whether the discount on offer is “enough to attract a customer”.

Steven thinks he’s got it sorted (“It’s very simple… it’s all about negotiation and persuasion”) and thinks the secret is to get multiple deals from each location. And with that they’re out of the starting blocks like whippets on red bull as Steven’s trusted Man’o’War Ricky is sent off alone to a luxury restaurant, whilst Steven chooses to chaperone Gabby, because he’s a cheeky little bulgy eyed bastard who thinks “some things are a little beyond” her.

Jade’s still slow to start, but in this case she does seem to be doing some proper brainstorming and planning rather than banging her head repeatedly against a wall. Tom gets to show off about all the posh restaurants that he knows and how amazing they all are. Well done Tom.

The voiceover tells us Steven and Gabby are “making appointments on the move” which sound impressive until you realise they’re just sitting into a car shouting things at a phone cupped in Steven’s hands like they’re about to feed it to a horse. Gabby doesn’t even get to talk to people. First they go to see an evil money grabbing twat who amazingly also happens to be a cosmetic dentist with a nice line in “power whitening systems” that cost £475. Because people who buy high end discounted goods all have grubby teeth, Steven tries and fails to negotiate a 40% reductions, and gets a couple of deals with £100 off instead. I get a bit worried when it’s clear Gabby, not being allowed to negotiate by Steven, has been entrusted with the calculator, but she somehow manages to grasp this manly tool and get the sums right.

Steven wants Ricky to go far away. To Tring to be precise, which is like being sent to Coventry, but with more pre-1940s architecture. Having worked out that the travel alone will take an hour each way, Ricky’s not convinced. First he has to go to El Posho restaurant in London. Gabby goes all mumsy telling him not to forget to ask how long the period of discount will be. Ricky goes all “Oh mum!” as though she’s just wiped his face clean with her spittle (“I know all that… you don’t need to teach me how to suck eggs.”).

I love Ricky’s time at the restaurant (I think it’s Galvin at Windows) with the ever attentive Andre, who spots the TV camera and gives Ricky a long involved tour of his premises (“I must just show you the view”). Ricky starts to worry that they haven’t discussed business yet, and tries his best (“I know you’re pressed for time”), but Andre merely whisks him off to the kitchens (“I want to show you something else!”), as though Ricky is an old friend. In the kitchen Ricky gets offered the restaurant’s “Signature dish”, a plate of scallops (that old staple reality TV foodstuff) and does an “I’m really not sure…” face, before wolfing it down and trying to turn the talk tentatively to discount websites. “I want to show you something” Andre insists, dragging him off to look out of another bloody window and pouring him some wine. Eventually Ricky somehow manages to blurt out that he’d like to negotiate, but Fred (the manager known to many as being a lovely maitre d’ on “Service”), having got a virtual tour filmed for prime time BBC,  resolutely says “No. We never do discounts. We couldn’t even give you 10%”. He icily refuses to negotiate, and Ricky slumps off, a morning wasted and Tring looming ominously.

Meanwhile, Pheonix finally limp out of the office. Jade and FlopsyNick head towards Sanctuary (billed as an “exclusive female only spa” even though it makes me think of Quasimodo). Jade’s keen to pitch. “I would like to do it” ventures FlopsyNick, adding slyly “It’s very important isn’t it”. “I’m sure I’ll manage” insists Jade brusquely, rather than just hitting him with something like I’d be tempted to. It doesn’t seem to be going to well at first for Jade as Sanctuary insist they don’t do big discounts and she says she’s looking for 50% and they look at her like she’s just farted and followed through in one of their jacuzzis. Nick keeps darting nervous little looks between Jade and the snooty Sanctuary ladies. Looks that say “Please let me speak and I will save this pitch with my boyish charm” and “I’m so sorry about her. I had to give her a go. We’re not all shit on this team, honest” alternately. Despite all this, Jade’s persistence gets them a 50% off deal on some sort of unspeakable pamper package from Sanctuary and FlopsyNick looks a bit shocked and sheepish and like he’d quite like to go to chess club after school.

Tom continues in his sentimental education of Adam, this time taking him to another posh restaurant, where Adam gets to try another signature dish (Scallops, natch) without asking for ketchup. Tom’s not very good at pushing for big discounts as he’s too keen for the restauranteers to see him as a man of taste and distinction, so he fails to get 50%, but they offer 35%. Adam doesn’t give a monkeys what they think of him and asks if they can chuck in free “teas and coffee” as though he’s in a greasy spoon. Bless him. Everyone looks at him as though he’s suddenly started sticking scallops into his anus, but his unflinching insistence on joyous post meal mugs of beverage eventually breaks them and they agree.

“I don’t want to go to Tring” insists Ricky, like a Home Counties Elvis Costello. Steven is convinced there are more potential deals at the Hertfordshire Health Spa, and as he agrees to “put his neck on the line 110%” Ricky agrees to go, muttering “It’s illogical Captain”. Gabby finally chips in “He needs to come out with more than one deal” and Steven, put out at a slightly flaky creative woman calling him out on a decision, completely panics, working out that it would take too long for Ricky to go. He calls Ricky and asks him to go to restaurants in London instead.

Jade tries some cold calling from the car. “Hello is that Thai massage” she rasps, getting a strange cacophony of noise in response to her mentioning “discounts” before the line goes dead. “I think that was a whore house” she chuckles. We all did, Jade.

Adam’s stumped on luxury idea (“It’s not going 10 pin bowling with your mates”) and Tom seems too quiet to contribute. “Takeways?” suggests Adam. “It’s not exactly high end” Tom advises before plucking up the courage to offer “Hairdressers?” “Nah!” harrumphs Adam manfully.

Gabby’s convinced Steven that a “Fish spa” represents high end luxury, even though all the ones I’ve ever seen are now closed down and the small shabby room that they end up in contains only a red seat that Steven sits on as he plunges his feet into a small goldfish tank for the tiny shoal-ette of chubby fish to chow on, making Karen Brady gag. Gabby manages to get 3 offers of 50% off, but Karen’s not convinced it’s luxury enough for the website.

At St Pancras (again!) Jade and Nick sit with Marcus Webb at his posh restaurant. Jade’s after a “magical experience” discount package (“2 course meal and a glass of bubbly”), but Webb’s not helping them. “Show me in numbers” he insists and Jade can’t use the calculator. Nick has a go but only succeeds in offering Webb some SHELLOIL and BOOBIES, which, tempting though they are, don’t make up for their unprofessional approach. Webb gives them 5 minutes to find some intelligence and accuracy. Because every chef who isn’t Michel Roux Jr has to make up for this by being all spiky and impatient and making cooking look less fun than it is.

Meanwhile Ricky goes to Rhodes and gets them on-side for a 50% discount for one day. They’re even asking him how many discounts they should go for. And Ricky says he doesn’t want to go for too many even though that’s what he should be saying. So why not say “SHIT LOADS” you suddenly polite eedjit? Instead he takes 100 for both lunch and the set menu.

Finally Nick has done the hard sums and he shows his homework to Marcus Webb (“You should have said that earlier”) who agrees on 30% off dinner for two.

Nick Hewer pops up, like a tramp shouting “Nobody ever goes near the old Henrikson’s place. Not since the tragedy…” in a Horror movie, to point out that the teams are running out of time (“The deadline’s rushing towards them like a steam train at 100mph and they don’t look up and see it coming”. However Ricky still manages to close another restaurant deal AND get to eat another plate of scallops (“Our signature dish.. on the house”), this time with an almost rueful grin.

Steven and Gabby run around like headless chickens looking for the shittest experiences imaginable in the hope that wealthy perverts will get their jollies by buying them and then not showing up. Next is a tatty “golf experience” (hitting balls at a green screen) for posh people who have to avoid golf courses due to hay fever or an allergy to ugly clothes. They manage to get some discounts though. Woohoo.

Tom and Adam are still struggling, but as the deadline honks it horn they rush into a perfume shop, and Adam, who had snortingly dismissed hairdressers has to pitch blind to the bemused retailers of scent. “Do you know our shop?” they ask him, and I’m not sure if Adam is being honest or just trying not to look effeminate when he admits that “Tom’s a lot more familiar, his girlfriend shops there”. For some bizarre reason they go for a deal on a candle set. Tom gives his best embarrassed smile (which makes me forgive him for being so rubbish of late), “We’d need to sign the contract in the next 4 minutes, I don’t want to put that sort of pressure on you”. I wonder if they fall for it.

Steve’s eyes are bulging like a surprised thyroid problem. “I feel a bit of pressure, I’ll be honest with you Ricky” he blubbers over the phone. Ricky talks him down (“We have some good deals”).

The teams hand in their discounts (6 deals on Pheonix, 9 deals for Sterling) for 7pm, so the Key Noir bods can laugh at them for a bit then choose what to run on the website. Deals go live at midnight for 24 hours and then it’s boardroom time. Can the candidates really be deprived of internet and phone access for so long (so they don’t tell their mates to order or plug the discounts)? It’s making me itchy just thinking about it.

Steven already looks a beaten man as they wait outside the boardroom and Jade looks him up and down and licks her lips like a husky lioness.

In the boardroom, Ricky quickly grasses Steven up for buckling under pressure, but Lord Sugar’s more peeved by Ricky’s time wasted at Galvin at Windows (“Would you be interested? Yes or No!? BOSH!” barks Lord Sugar, “I made a bad assumption” Ricky confesses). However everyone gets brownie points for making multiple deals at each location.

Pheonix didn’t go for multiple deals as that’s how Jade roles (“We needed quality rather than quantity” – actually both would be nice) so Sugar doesn’t give them a gold star even though they managed a deal with everyone they saw (good planning?). They also get some flack for fucking up their sums in front of an irritable chef. Tom’s deals (35% at the posh French restaurant, 50% off the candle sets) are rightly mocked (Sugar “It’s gotta be a bladdy good candle”). Sensing a potential firing Tom gets in a jab at Jade for not communicating with her subteam. Oh Tom, your wimpishness is not unexpected but it still disappoints me.

We find out what deals the website accepted

Pheonix – of 6 deals only 2 were accepted. Oh dear.

Sterling – of 9 deals only 3 were accepted. Ah. I think this may be the usual completely predictable “surprise result” already.

The sales results come in.

For Sterling

Steven and Gabby only managed to get the “golf for the friendless” experience online which sold 7 units making £350

Ricky’s dinner deals sold out and 90 lunches sold making £6090

So Sterling made £6440

For Pheonix

Tom and Adam managed to get no deals at all onto the website. Losers!

Jade & Flopsy’s Marcus Webb lunch deal made £5950

However the Sanctuary deal (of course) made £8613

So Pheonix made £14563

I guess that means Pheonix won. Steven’s already starting to look sweaty and twitchy (more than usual). Pheonix get sent off to posh afternoon tea, and right after I suggest that Adam could get a deal on it he makes the same joke. “I really love winning” growls Jade happily. The boys all should admit that it’s down to her that they didn’t lose, but they just drink their expensive tea and eat truffle butties triumphantly instead.

In Bridge Café the tea’s cheap, but it doesn’t console Sterling. Steven thinks the answer is that they “didn’t sell enough” (no shit!) before his eyes dart around for somebody to blame. Oh surprise it’s Gabby.

I don’t know why Steven just doesn’t get automatically fired given Sugar’s threat last week. However Ricky gets a verbal spanking for limiting the dinner deals (which sold out) when he was effectively given a blank checque by the restaurant (Sugar “sickening”).

Steven gets stick for his rubbish non luxury choices, but surprisingly the Health Spa in Tring would have been a good er ting as Sugar reckons it’s famous. (Oh it’s Champneys – I have heard of it, but I never knew it was in Tring). Steven insists he was prepared to take the risk of losing Ricky for three hours, so um why did you change your mind Steven? He then blames Gabby and Ricky for talking him out of it, but Sugar rightly asks “If you felt that strongly about it why didn’t you go?” Steven argues that he and Gabby knew London better than Ricky (as though the pointy haired wrestler is some sort of bumpkin), but Sugar points out it didn’t particularly show as the team of two did sod all compared to Ricky the Hick.

Gabby holds up her hands to the fish spa (and hence has no unsightly dry skin), but Karen Brady intervenes to say Steven and Gabby were both as shit as each other. Sugar muses that it’s the fourth time that Ricky has been in the final three (erm that’s because there’s only three people left). “If there were three of me, we’d beat the other team” Ricky insists modestly, adding that Steven was “cracking”. That makes Steven crack and he throws all his best random sequences of power words at Ricky (“I’m gonna put something out… ” before getting flustered by Ricky’s refusal to allow him to interrupt. “You’re talking none stop” gasps Steven after trying to talk over Ricky none stop. “May I actually speak then?” he asks. “No you may not” Ricky counters politely and I start liking Ricky a little bit.

Steven knows he’s toast, so he starts trying to blame Gabby, but she comes out fighting “Maybe I’m not as articulate as the other two boys, but I’m a better all round candidate and have sold things which I don’t do day to day”, adding that “Steve lost the plot”.

Steven can’t help himself and goes into full on patronising mode. Maybe he can get a job advertising Cillit Bang when all of this blows over. “This is the most passionate..” he starts, adding “I like it” as though he’s James Bond telling a woman she’s beautiful when she’s angry before slapping her and shagging her, “..you have been in the whole process.” he states. Gabby, who is very sweet and scatty, refrains from hitting him with a chair and merely looks as though she would like to be a million miles away from him right now.

It’s time for everyone to argue their cases for being there. Ricky thinks he’s “Fantastic at everything” and even owns up to his mistakes fantastically. Gabby’s accused of being a nice girl (ouch) and losing her fight. “I do have fight” Gabby says proudly, and Steven immediately starts trying to interrupt. “Can you let me FINISH please?!” Gabby squeaks, but Steven can’t stop belittling her (“I think you performed to your capability”) and eventually Ricky Martin is moved to intervene, quietly yet potently (“Can you stop being so condescending. Let her speak”) and I decide that I very much like this Ricky Martin but don’t like the business one (and I’m completely unmoved by the Latino pop sensation one).

Still despite Sugar noting Steven’s “air of panic” he fires Gabby for being a nice person, and not contributing much.

Steven starts to relax in his chair, having gotten away with it. Lord Sugar gives him just enough time to get really smug and then fires him too, for losing.Steven deflates and looks like a sad thyroid problem Iain Lee.

In the Taxi of Eternal Regret, Gabby is lovely, with no regrets, just a positive wish to show people “behind the smile there is a brain”. I hope someone employs her as a designer as that’s definitely where her strengths lie.

When the Taxi returns to get Steve he just moans that he wishes he’s sent Ricky to Tring.

There’s a point where I almost think Sugar will fire Ricky too, which would be cool, having the other candidates wait around for hours and then nobody come back, but he just gets a final card marking (“It’s the last time I’ll be telling you to get back to the house”). Ricky returns and proves the incredulous housemates that he is alone and yes Steven has gone. Jade puts up bunting.

Next week the candidates have to develop an affordable luxury range (what the fuck? That’s like trying to develop a John Steinback novel with a happy ending, or a trustworthy cabinet minister).

Anyhow as the final looms (and there had better be bloody interviews!), here’s my fickle like-list.

Liking: Jade

Warming to a lot: Ricky

Disappointed by: Tom, FlopsyNick (I was clearly blinded to their nesh ways by their relative beauty)

Refusing to like: Adam

Bye bye: Steven, Gabby, Jenna, Laura, Azhar, Katie, Duane, Jane, Michael, Maria, Bilyana

Week 9 slaps us in the face with a 5.45am shot of Steve in his bathrobe, taking the call to assemble at St Pancras International Champagne Bar (the longest champagne bar in Europe, enabling thirsty commuters to be ignored by unmotivated bar-staff by record breaking distances . Yet again any candidates hopes of being allowed to leave the country are dashed as Lord Sugar (I’m calling him LudSugar from now on. It won’t catch on, but it’s quicker to type, hope that’s liveable with) sets them the task to brand English Sparkling Wine so every thinks it’s much better than Champagne and we don’t end up importing so much of that French fizzy rubbish every year (apparently 35 million bottles). The teams have to design a website and an online marketing campaign then pitch to industry expert. Best one arbitrarily chosen wins.

First the lop-sided Pheonix (Adam, Jade & Tom) get to pick a member of Sterling to even up the teams. Adam goes all school football captain and picks flopsy Nick, confident that he has the finest website and hair-flicking skills of them all. It’s taken for granted that wine merchant Tom will lead the team and Nick will do all the online stuff.

Over on Sterling; Jenna puts herself forward as Project Manager. Ricky does too. As does Gabby (who’s done websites). And Stephen (“I am SO motivated”). “Shall we have a vote on it?” suggests Jenna our resident maths expert. D’oh! Ricky somehow wins most votes as he does a rousing 300 style “Spartans! We may be few in number and lack a wine merchant and a website expert with flopsy hair. But prepare for glory anyhow!” speech.

First of all Adam needs to clarify an important point with Tom. “Is Sparkling Wine nothing to do with champagne then?” he queries uncertainly. Tom of course is keen to share his vast knowledge and informs Adam that there are in fact many brands of sparkling wine from different regions, one of which is called Champagne. Adam flushes with happiness. “I get it! Brilliant!” Enjoying his role as wine guru, Tom takes his ruddy faced young acolyte on an apparently pointless wine-tasting tour (where a scary gruff man instructs them on how to taste wine) so that they can say things like “I’m getting notes of vanilla; that will be the French oak” (Tom) and “I can taste a tangy flavour like Granny Smiths” and “Can you smell Christmas cake?” (not Tom) and get steadily pissed. Meanwhile Jade and Nick have to do all the boring designing websites and not getting shitfaced work. As Tom and Adam lurch from a focus group/ tasting session where Tom “taught” a roomful of people how to drink wine, Tom declares “I’ve really enjoyed myself today.. we’ve really got to grips with the English win sparkle sorry English Sparkling Wine.. tee hee!”. Adam merely belches in agreement and they both agree that they’ll definitely win the task as they are in fact brothers.

Stephen’s eyes bulge from their sockets with creativity as he self brainstorms words as his sub-team-mate Gabby looks on incredulously. “I’m looking for one word that will represent English Sparkling Wine” he declares, before suggesting “cert” or the quintessentially English “grandeur”. Finally he comes up with the Father Ted-esque “chink”, and Gabby can’t hold her laughter in any longer. Stephen really is proving himself to be a prize donut as they then go to Tescos to research colours, designs and names for the website and branding (which is their job), and he starts snappily insisting that he speaks to a sales adviser about English Sparkling Wine (which is not their job). “Are you happy to leave here without seeing an English sparkling wine” he huffs at her. “Yes” she exclaims firmly. Back at their media hideout, Gabby designs a halfway decent logo (a wine glass in the shape of an English rose ), which I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone actually using.

Sterling’s other sub-team, Ricky and Jenna meet grape growers to ask them how they can bullshit about wine. The word heritage is important, but quality is so important that the plummy English grape grower lady has to say it three times in a row in that way people do when they think it will magically make something true (think Tony Blair). Ricky actually hates wine (he’s definitely more of a WKD man), but as he seems this as a pure marketing task he thinks it doesn’t matter as he reckons “Tom will do too much talking to prove he knows so much about wine”. Fair point.

Ricky plans the video shoot for the online advert. He wants a wedding reception to be shown to emphasise the point that you don’t always have to buy Champagne for these occasions. He and Jenna choose props in advance, although Ricky wrinkles his nose at a lavish throne that Jenna selects. Ricky thinks the Beckhams might have got away with thrones (they didn’t), but nobody else would without it being really cheesy. “When I get married I want a throne” Jenna giggles. Ricky then puts Jenna in charge of the video shoot, insisting that it must represent quality, and although there can be humour, it cannot be gimmicky or cheesy (sparkling wine and cheese don’t mix. You should aim to be fishy) . Yes that’s the Jenna who’s sitting in a throne pretending to sip wine and looking happy as Larry. Good luck with that one. The next day Jenna and Stephen arrive at Kenwood House for the shoot, and Steve contributes the half decent line “Less fizz, more sparkle”. Ricky’s sure that by organising the props in advance that even Jenna and Stephen can’t screw this one up. Cue a clip of the old boy playing father of the bride declaring woodenly “And finally our glasses are charged with a fine English sparking wine! Less fizz and more sparkle!”. Subtle like.

Tom also wants “quality” in his video, and he sends Adam and Jade (who really doesn’t like working with Adam on creative tasks) to capture this elusive er quality in an East London Gastro Pub where a group of diverse thirty something actors unite at a fake dinner party to celebrate the end of their careers. Now Adam’s learned how to drink wine, his role is to tell everybody else how to do it (“I’m not patronising everyone by any means”) and he insists to “choreographing” them, down to how high up the stems they hold their glass. Next he’s telling the make-up lady what to do (“Just touch everyone up a bit”). Jade rolls her eyes and growls “he can pretend he’s in charge and I will make sure the vision happens”. “Do you even know what choreography means?” Jade mocks him as the shoot ends. “I know! It’s having people in the right places and stuff.. it does mean that.. I checked with people” Adam insists, and to be fair he’s partially right, although I’m not sure he knows why.

There’s a suggestion that Pheonix have seriously misunderstood the brief when Tom advises Nick to add links to suppliers websites, and Karen Brady observes “They seem to have designed a website for existing users. They should be attracting new customers”. They also seem to have come up with a logo (some grapes with ESW on it). Exhausted by doing this much work without sustaining alcohol to help him, Tom falls asleep in the car home after the admittedly dull advert screening of “Holly oaks mums and dads go out for some English Sparkling Wine and nobody learns anything about themselves”.

At 7pm, Steve and Jenna finish their ad shoot (Jenna “Let’s hope it’s a win or it’s on my neck”) and Gabby and Ricky join them for a viewing. Ricky looks especially perturbed as a simple tale unfolds of an unconvincing posh bridezilla offered champagne (“Ugh! It’s a horrible! I want English Sparkling wine”) before gagging and collapsing (“She obviously needs English Sparkling Wine”). Stephen is all gurning grins and high fives as Ricky ventures “It’s a lot cheesier than expected” but Steve insists that it’s classy.

It’s pitch time and Ricky Martin wants to take us on a journey. One in which he says the word “heritage” a lot, and the word quality is said three times in a row just to prove how true it is. It’s all going quite well for them with the Anglo-vinophiles as they scroll through the website (in colours of “gold, black and white which are synonymous with luxury”.) with it’s free prize quiz which collects potential customers email addresses for their database and English Rose logo. They even think “Less fizz, more sparkle” has mileage as a slogan. So now it’s time for the thirty second video, which they watch with increasing bemusement until the last, killer line (“English Sparkling Wine. Oozing luxury with every pour” (oozing pores. Nice imagery, Stephen). It does seem to have livened them up a bit. In fact the oldest wine expert bloke is positively livid. “Why is it necessary to make it so flippant?” he demands, oozing rage with every pore like Roger Scruton looking at a picture of a living fox. “Could you find a Champagne website which would portray itself in that way?”

Pheonix go subtle to the point of invisibility apart from their idea of displaying the ESW logo on the neck of bottles (which I think is actually quite natty, apart from you need to make people aware that that’s a good sign too). Even the wine buffs are bored by the video and ask what’s specifically English about it. Adam defends it patriotically “The people were very English, the setting was very English, the occasion was very English”(they weren’t watching football or fighting though. Heritage fail!). Nick shows off his natty link to stockists via the website, but the wine experts point out a problem with getting stockists to interact. “They can just call up if it’s not up to date” ventures Tom, missing the picky wine man’s point that “it’s potentially more annoying to the customers if things aren’t up to date”.

We get treated to a montage of the wine experts opinions designed to make us think that Sterling have this one in the bag as Pheonix didn’t deliver according to the brief and then it’s Boardroom time.

Tom’s backed by the rest of Pheonix despite him going off on a wine jolly on day 1. Nick’s proud of all the pretty pictures on his website (LudSugar: “It’s a field”), but along with the video LudAlan finds it all a bit “www.yawn.com” and suggests it seems more like a sales pitch than awareness raising.

Over to Sterling and Ricky says he saw it as an online marketing campaign, suggesting that given the teams skill sets that on paper it seemed like “David versus Goliath, but David always wins” (Tom laughs at this, but to be fair he’s probably still pissed. Sterling failed to come up with an overall name for ESW oh sorry English Sparkling Wine, and Stephen’s “grandeur” only ended up on the bottle label in the advert due to what Ricky describes as its “French connotations” (Nick Hewer “It’s a French word”). Sugar quite likes Gabby’s English rose logo too, although again it all falls apart with the video screening (Sugar: “This is a serious product, where’s the quality in that?”). “Our passion can overcome our lack of expertise” insists Stephen emptily and you just know he’s a crap shag.

Anyhow without actual numbers it’s all down to how LudSugar interprets the feedback from the industry experts and although they thought Pheonix missed the point and were boring, he’s convinced that Sterling’s advert was so unforgivably shit that they must be punished. So Pheonix get to win by default and are sent to a London rooftop Jacuzzi to soak in bubbles whilst inhaling smog (the only one I can think of is on top of the backpackers hostel on Borough High Street. I’m so classy. But I do drink champagne). Anyhow Tom feels fantastic to have won (by sheer luck) and gloats in the Jacuzzi about “More Fizz Less Sparkle”. Oh dear, it’s all going to his head and that’s going to make him a bit of a tit.

In the Bridge (of sighs) café, Ricky’s upset at being beat by a boring campaign. Jenna insists that everyone agreed that humour was acceptable and even Stephen states “I’m as accountable as anyone on that video”.

Back in the boardroom and Sugar still can’t get over the cheese factor “I didn’t want “Carry on Boozing”. I was expecting Kenneth Williams to pop up going “oooh! Maître d!””. Jenna’s in trouble for telling Ricky it wasn’t cheesy and she admits she “went for a bit of comedy” but it may have backfired. Nick Hewer, ever the force for justice reminds her that “Stephen was actually with you” and predictably Stephen starts talking his way out of the picture, telling Jenna “Maybe you had a bad day at the office and made a mistake and bad decisions”. Sugar’s not buying it “What about you? Didn’t you make decisions?”. Stephen ignores this and next starts suggesting that Gabby lacked contribution, which even Ricky has to refute given her design skills and the fact she did what he wanted her to.

I’m loving Gabby as she actually sticks the knife right back into Stephen by relating the story of him looking for a wine connoisseur in the supermarket when they only went in to look at the colours on the bottles. Stephen, knowing he’s beaten on this front then pats Gabby on the head for her “very good” logo. What a tool.

Uncontroversially Ricky brings back Jenna and Stephen, with Nick Hewer championing Jenna with faint praise (“She’s a good sport who tries terribly hard”) and Karen pointing out that given Stephen’s “articulate” (an incoherent buggle eyed babbler) in the boardroom, that he should have been able to step in and help Jenna out when she was going wrong with the video.

Anyhow the three are called back before LudSugar and Ricky’s asked what his aspiration for the video was other than it not to be like a bad episode of Midsomer Murders. He explains that his idea of humour was the bride refusing champagne and preferring English Sparkling Wine. Nick Hewer backs him, having written down that “Ricky pushed for quality and not gimmicks or cheese” (I like them reading the notes, it makes the boardroom a bit like the Leveson inquiry). Ricky finally susses that Stephen “let her run with her idea with no input” (Stephen “Is it my job?”).

Each of the contestants has to try to save themselves and although Jenna speaks sense I think her accent may doom her. Stephen insists that having never been in the final 3 before and because he’s been such a WINNER he would definitely win if he was Project Manager again. “Definitely?” muses Sugar. “I’d put anything I have on me right now on that” Stephen gambles. So that’s one shiny suit LudSugar stands to win.

It’s summing up time, and as much as I dislike Ricky, he gets an unfair beasting as Lord Sugar accuses him of a defeatist attitude towards the skill set of the other team which lead to “bad project management”. I must have missed that bit. Ricky’s also blamed for not going along to supervise the filming, but predictably and with an almost “with regret”, Jenna is fired “despite your hard work”.

Stephen’s card is double stamped with the word “Twat” and Sugar tells our bulgy eyed anti-hero “You are this close to going outside that door… But you did say give me a chance… so you are going to be the Project Manager next and I expect you to win even though you don’t know what the task is”.

Poor Jenna thinks that LudSugar missed out, but she’s even more “determined to go it alerrrrrn”

Back in the house whilst most people think Ricky or Jenna will go, Gabby thinks Stephen “has nothing left to back himself up”. I’m liking Gabby again. She may sometimes seem like she’s on drugs, but she’s pretty astute tonight. Ricky and Stephen return, and Gabby can’t hide her sad face as Stephen finds yet another way to dishonestly aggrandize himself “I made a bet to Lord Sugar… and he took it”. I can only hope they’ve got something pretty good on this prat that they’re saving for the interviews round.

Liking: Nick, Gabby (surely one of these has won?)

Liking with reservations: Tom, Jade

Disliking: Adam, Ricky

Really fucking hating: Stephen

Bye bye: Jenna, Laura, Azhar, Katie, Duane, Jane, Michael, Maria, Bilyana

A beautiful 6am orange filtered sunrise heralds the candidates travelling to the Waterloo underpass to watch Lord Sugar on a plasma screen telling them he’s too busy to be there right now, but their surroundings hold a clue to the task. They look at each other confused, but no it’s not selling tramps piss, Lord Sugar is referring to the vibrant graffiti adorning the cold concrete surrounding them. This week’s task is buying and selling urban art at “cutting edge galleries” in Brick Lane. The team with the most commission wins.

Sterling (Nick, Steve, Ricky, Jenna, Gabby) wisely head to Cubana bar where Steve (who’s already willy waving about having been on the winning team a couple of times). Gabby trumps his footballers knowledge by declaring she’s worked with artists and helped run exhibitions, and she’s unanimously selected as team leader (I love how Steve says “OK that’s three votes versus one, when he actually voted for himself and Gabby clearly didn’t think of that). Steve does sulky faces.

Over on Pheonix, Adam can’t be doing with the nightmare of losing again. Tom modestly mentions that he knows a little bit about street art and there’s a resounding show of hands in his favour (I don’t even think the vote had started). Adam looks on with his aghast ruddy caveman face as Tom talks about how to read graffiti that doesn’t have spunking willies on it, but instead has a “message” and some “history”. Everyone else smiles and nods.

Jade takes Adam off on their roving art inspection mission, talking about the mystery of Banksy “Nobody knows who he is?”, “He’s like the Stig int he?” gasps Adam, finally impressed. They meet “Anti establishment artist SPQR and stare at his Banksy-esque tanks and sticking it to the man art. Adam’s determined to interact with the artists and offer his own interpretation on their work (unfortunately without listening to what their interpretation is). “It gets your mind going, dunnit” he whimsies, like Brian Sewell after years of steroids and black puddings.

Gabby cleverly briefs Sterling to listen enthusiastically and patiently (in other words to suck up, no matter what the bullshitometer is saying) although Ricky (off on a roving subteam jolly to Bristol with flopsyNick) manages to find a way to undermine his Project Manager.

Meanwhile Tom is meeting with Pheonix’s Corporate Client (Renault) who they must buy some art to suit. Tom establishes that Renault want something typically French for their UK Office (they just haven’t got over Waterloo Station have they?) , and wisely he establishes that their budget is about £5000.

Gabby, Jenna and Steve head to the Beefeater Gin distillery where their corporate client talk about establishing a heritage London brand and their art choice reflecting that whilst Gabby looks all enthusiastic, Steve boggles his eyes as though something is happening behind them and Jenna.. well maybe Jenna’s doing the numbers again as they fail to ask what the Beefeater budget is or even how big the Beefeater wall might be. Karren Brady is enormously unimpressed. Next they head to ex-builder Nathan Bowen who has devised squiggly urban characters (apparently based on the Queen’s Royal Guards – which Steve immediately connects to Beefeaters). Gabby decides that Nathan is ideal to pitch to Beefeater.

Meanwhile on da streets of Bristol, the Sterling subteam of Ricky and flopsyNick, unwittingly witness some of Nathan Bowen’s artwork on a big scale. They’re unimpressed. “That’s just some crazy alien workman peeing on another alien” scoffs Ricky. What a philistine. It was clearly a stormtrooper. Next they trip off to “CopyRight” a kind of urban version of that bloke who painted the Chinese lady and the crying boy. They ask all the right questions, but somewhat robotically. Outside flopsyNick says he liked all the different textures (shame he couldn’t have told the artist).

Next up is PURE EVIL. Firstly Laura and Tom visit the man who likes to paint cartoons of women with black bleeding eyes and guns. Tom launches into a lecture on how he knows so much about street art, but fails to engage with PURE EVIL, yet leaves thinking it’s his first choice.

Oh dear. Next Sterling approach Pure Evil and whilst Gabby gushes madly, Steve gabbles “Nothing’s what it seems” (there’s any number of reason women might have black stuff running from their eye: mascara, pen related accident. haemorrhage.

Jade and Adam are next to visit “Copyright”, who they love (Jade: “Really good innit?”). Adam feels he has connected with quite a few artists with his “interpretations” of their work, and throws his critical eye over the more user friendly stencilled and painted ladies of “CopyRight”. “You could look at it for hours and come up with several different interpretations”, he manages masterfully, adding “It’s .. very good.”.

All teams quake in the shadow of James Jessop‘s “The Big Green Monster” (really called “Demonology” but that’s less fun) an enormous (and wonderful) 50s B movie inspired piece. Sterling discover that James deals in serious money as he discloses that he recently sold 2 pieces for £15K. As soon as the money starts taking, Steve gets enthusiastic “He represents everything about arts … I mean Van Gogh chopped off his ear, but this guy…..”

James then tells Pheonix how proud he is, of his latest work “The Horror” (Like a B movie poster – with “The Horror” as a dripping creepy title and only priced at about 1000 times more than I would pay for it. Laura in particular can’t seem to get the amounts of money involved, which makes her even more slack jawed and robotic.

It’s time for the teams to choose their 2 artists, and Gabby’s adamant on having Pure Evil, although Steve insists on Nathan just to prove he’s a key decision maker.

Meanwhile on Pheonix Jade likes CopyRight and Tom thinks Pure Evil is a must. artist decides. Of course this means it’s down to Pure Evil to decide and he predictably plumps with Gabby’s flaky creative charm, gutting Tom who doesn’t have a plan B for Pheonix. Tom calls Adam and Jade who goes for SPQR on her gut instinct, but wimps out on endorsing him as Adam thinks he was “controversial” and used anti establishment “subliminal messages” (No Adam, that’s IDEAS. Do you see?). Therefore “having lost pure evil” (I love that phrase) Tom gambles on James Jessop’s monstrously expensive art.

Meanwhile Pure Evil lets Gabby know and she skips around trilling “Thank you pure evil!” like a remedial witch.

The teams have to set up there galleries in Brick Lane, spiritual home of the pseud, and have to open from 5pm til 10pm. There’s lots of lovely shots of Nick Hewer creeping around making sniffy faces at the paintings. Ricky’s unimpressed with Sterling’s choice of Nathan Bowen (“This is not the message we want to give to a corporate client”).

In the Pheonix gallery Adam’s gob is well and truly smacked by the size of The Big Green Monster (price-tag £10K) and thinks the collosal art work is a collosal risk.

 

Here’s some art:

Grrr puny human I will lazer beam your eyes out!

 

Ouch!!! I can’t see!!! Hang on, what was that? It sounded like a gunshot…

Gabby press gangs Nathan into drawing live during the exhibition, which is a nifty idea but Steve phones thinking he can go one better (and hide Nathan away) by getting Nathan to do his live art round the back so nobody actually sees him. Everyone agrees that this isn’t “live art”, but Steve doesn’t take it as a put-down and speaks (not entirely) for everybody: “Thank you for loving the idea, but not enough to take on board”. He really is getting more massively punchable every week.

The doors open, with Adam manning them like a bloody bouncer for Pheonix. Tom’s main priority is to sell the Big Green Monster, and he’s reasonably upbeat, although it’s the more accessible and manageable CopyRight art which is flying off the wall (Jenna sells a couple – using her voice!). Even Adam manages to sell it, looming over someone twirling a till roll on his finger and wittering on about the artist capturing “My innocence, my naivety”, although the customer buying the painting just wants something to hide a stain on the wall of her bog or something. Adam, who appears to be getting pissed on the complimentary white wine, confesses to camera that when he was asked “Which medium did the artist use” he thought they were talking about Derek Acorah, but he’s still cleaning up, selling to the flock of customers running away from Laura with her grating, insincere “soft sell” tactics (“Are you enjoying it? Good stuff… errr”).

Over in Sterling’s gallery, Steve’s not doing so well and wanders round forlornly being rejected by potential customers (“Is there anything you like in particular?” “No”). Nathan’s work isn’t selling despite the live art and it “only” costing £500 a pop, whereas Pure Evil’s going down a storm with starting prices at £1200 (there’s a lesson for us all there). I like Pure Evil’s most expensive piece “JFK’s Nightmare” – a Warhol-esque lithograph of Jackie Onassis with bleeding eyes. Art is all in the name. I’d have messed up and called that one “Should have gone to Specsavers”.

Tom’s showing his desperation to clinch a 2 painting deal with a beardy smartarse, knocking off a couple of hundred quid and throwing in more drinks (aren’t they free?), but gets the handshake. Another couple have discovered a novel way of getting their glass attentively replenished is to toy with Tom’s emotions by standing thoughtfully in front of The Big Green Monster. Team Renault walk in and Tom’s able to show them round, leading them wisely towards the more budget appropriate Copy Right.

Beefeater Gin turn up unheralded at Sterling gallery, and don’t even get offered a drink at the door. Eventually Steve spies them and goes for some sales patter, and they’re not amused. He eventually offers them a drink. “Well we were hoping for a G&T” cracks Beefeater man (not entirely joking). Steve takes it as a joke: “I wish” he splutters pathetically. Tumbleweed rolls by. “Nobody’s explained to us what’s happened so far.” snaps Beefeater woman. “Have you selected Nathan for us?” Steve witters on about Nathan’s work representing London, before leaving them to show themselves out, utterly pissed off. Sterling don’t even say goodbye, and they don’t get to talk to Gabby. “I just witnessed a master-class in how not to treat a corporate client” gasps Karen Brady.

In the boardroom, Sugar loosens everyone up with a wisecrack about graffiti (“The irony is that it’s the writing on the wall for one of you”). How does he do it?

Pheonix all back Tom, and Market Greengrocer Adam is commended for working outside of his comfort zone (Sugar “More the Turnip prize than the Turner prize” – arggh somebody stop him doing it!) and Sugar admits the whole task is about throwing candidates into something they don’t know and seeing how they operate. Which doesn’t bode well for Tom who proved a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing by failing to suck up to Pure Evil (Sugar “Maybe you were too interested in trying to put yourself forward as an expert”). It’s established that Tom rolled the dice and lost with the Jessops.

Poor Gabby, most of Sterling refuses to enthusiastically endorse her aside from Nick and a reluctant Jenna. Steve and Ricky truly are arsehats par excellence. Karen appreciates Gabby’s strategy for getting artists on board (“You fawned, you flatted, you listened”). However Sterling get a slapping for failing to ask intelligent questions about budget of Beefeater gin (Gabby: “I will explain why – they are willing to pay any price”. Lord Sugar and everyone in the world who isn’t a space cadet “You need to ask what kind of ball park!” – it was about £10K apparently). Ricky twists the knife by reiterating “The question wasn’t asked by the London team unfortunately”.

So it’s time for results from the corporates.

Unsurprisingly Beefeater didn’t order anything.

However Renault bought a £5K painting, giving £2K commission.

In general gallery sales Pheonix sold £5980 worth, making a total commission of £4442

Sterling sold £11,630 worth (£10K of which was Pure Evil, ohoh), meaning a total commission of £4579.

So Sterling win by £137. Blimey that’s tight.

Gabby’s team get their treat – painting on a giant canvas. Oh come on Lord Sugar, how cheap can you get? Are you going to give the winning team play-doh next week.

Poor Tom strokes his chin thoughtfully in Losers café. “It was my fault both times” he murmurs. Adam is incandescently gutted and blames Tom “as he bought a canvas big enough to make a boxing ring out of” (but what a cool boxing ring!).

Back in the boardroom, Tom manfully takes responsibility for the way he approached artists and for putting all his eggs in one basket with no contingency plan. Let’s face it, if Big Green Monster had sold, he’d be hailed a genius right now (and enjoying a crap reward). Even Sugar admits that there’s nothing wrong with taking a gamble. Tom implicates Jade, saying he relied on her opinion for his decision, and she didn’t give one. Jade goes all shouty and raspy (she’s starting to sound like Jenny Éclair) retorting that Tom should have realised the Jessop paintings were too big “THEY WERE 12 FOOT TALL!!!”, which Sugar confirms would have limited the market.

Laura’s looking pretty vulnerable on sales, having only flogged £750 worth (Adam managed £2480). “I cannot question my sales ability” she squeals modestly. Maybe she should start – after all it’s easy to sell wedding dresses in a wedding dress shop to people who are desperate to buy wedding dresses. She complains that Adam was blagging, but it doesn’t matter, I think Sugar’s made his decision at this point. “You couldn’t get any more out of your comfort zone than him” he indicates the gurning Yorkshireman, “He’s a fruit and veg man”. Lets hope this means Adam stays to get torn apart so much in the interviews that his crimson face finally explodes.

Tom (who appears to be wearing some fetching yellow eye-shadow) doesn’t mess about and brings Jade and Laura back in, sussing that Adam is currently Sugar’s barrer boy pet.

Laura’s application says sales are her best skill, and she witters on incomprehensibly, concluding that she “didn’t work smart last night” (please fire her just for saying “Work smart). Tom thinks Laura took a back seat.

Jade reinvents history, claiming “I really pushed for what I thought”, but nobody’s convinced, and Tom, who’s taking the brunt of the criticism from Lord Sugar and the two shouty women points out “At least I make decisions”.

“So you’re saying it’s your way and no other decision” queries Lord Sugar (and what’s wrong with that when you’re surrounded by numpties?).

Yet again Laura comes under fire for her crap selling and yet again she screeches “That is completely unfair” (hasn’t this happened whenever she’s in the boardroom). “I’ve got the talent, ambition and determination to go through this process” boasts Laura, boring Lord Sugar too, so he fires her, sending her off to make bitchy Scottish threats in the taxi of doom.

Meanwhile Jade’s card is marked over her decisiveness, but Sugar sees Tom in a new and positive light over his ability to take risks and stick by his decisions.

Next week the teams have to help rebrand sparkling British wine – and yes there’s more video making. Excellent.

Liking: Tom, flopsyNick (surely it’s a two horse race now)

Not on the same planet as: Gabby

Disappointed by: Jade, how crap the women have been this year.

Disliking: Ricky, Adam

This week I am mainly loathing: Steve

Bye bye: Laura, Azhar, Katie, Duane, Jane, Michael, Maria, Bilyana

Week 7 sees the increasingly lazy candidates called to a Wholesale Warehouse in Essex at 5pm. Surprisingly it’s not Amstrad HQ, but a dodgy shed full of tut in boxes (just like the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, if it was set in Brentwood) where Lord Alan tells them they will be starting “a business from scratch” (just like every week) by using £150 to buy stuff, selling it at a choice of Essex locations and then “smelling what sells” in order to wisely replenish the stock. The team with the greatest total assets (sales plus assets) wins. Lord Alan tries to wake us up with another team reshuffle – so Steve joins Nick, Jenna, Gabby and Ricky on Sterling, whereas Laura goes to Pheonix with Azhar, Tom, Adam and Jade.

Lord Alan drops a none too subtle hint that anyone who hasn’t been Project Manager yet should think about volunteering, which, as the boys lead by Azhar have already pointed out means Jade. She duly puts herself forward and nobody objects.

Meanwhile Ricky jostles for pole position on Sterling (“I want to do what Lord Sugar did”), but much to the fin-headed tits chagrin, he’s gazumphed by a stuttering FlopsyNick, who actually manages to quickly decide on locations (Romford Market and Romford Shopping Centre) and get the team checking out products. Steve bizarrely guarantees he can sell a flimsy looking “beard trimmer” for a tenner. Jenna offers her Northern fake tan selling skillz (“Essex girls like to be really dark”). Overseeing their antics is Nick Hewer who’s impressed by their efficiency, despite their key product being “ghaastly fake tan”.

Jade’s getting a bit rattled by Azhar continuously challenging her authority by using big words (mainly the word “strategy”) organised into largely meaningless sentences like he’s in a real world team meeting. He then starts banging on about working out whether to buy cheap products and only travel a short distance or expensive ones and go further. Erm wouldn’t just working out the nearest place to the warehouse with a decent footfall and then working out what might sell well there make more sense? Sterling are already at the checkout and Jade’s still dithering away with a map in her hands until randomly Azhar suggests Pitsea market (about three times as far as Romford) and Ilford Shopping Centre, which leaves them 10 minutes to do a haphazard warehouse sweep, only aided by Tom working out that the hot water bottles have a pretty good margin.

FlopsyNick seems pretty on the ball, taking Jenna and Gabby with him to Romford Shopping Centre to set up a beauty product stall, and consigning Ricky and Steve to a doomed bromance selling household products in the market.

Jade however decides to take only half of their random shit (and Adam) to Pitsea even though it’s sodding miles away (to be fair, Azhar does try to warn her, but the magic of the word “strategy” means that neither Jade or I hear what he says as little bunnies in pinstripe suits dance in front of our bewildered eyes). Tom, Laura and Azhar get to make Ilford shopping centre look even messier than usual whilst Adam and Jade set up stall, realising belatedly that Pitsea is full of cheap shit too. “Do yer wanna look at what we’ve got today?” Adam bellows enticingly to passing women. “No” comes the instant retort. “Thanks” he perseveres.

Steve has worked out a Brechtian dialogue to perform through their protesting PA system to help sell “Supermops”, whereby Ricky convinces Steve (feigning a spinal injury of some sort) that the extendable (and most usefully, blue!) mop will solve all his back problems and make him more attractive to women and or men. The grannies lap the mops up.

I’m not convinced by FlopsyNick trying to flog hair trimmers for a fiver, whilst sporting a barnet so apparently untroubled by trimming that it’s probably got green belt status. However Jenna is certainly shifting the fake tan at a tenner a can. “Soon everyone in Essex will have them” Nick Hewer shudders, troubled by visions of a white stillettoed Terracotta army rising from Canvey Island.

Unsurprisingly Tom is finding the weird mix of products hard to shift at Ilford, but Jade’s ignoring any phone calls from her subteam in case she has to hear the word “Strategy” (arggh!) again, and she concentrates on slashing all her prices so that she and Adam (who’s turned into a Ginger Del Boy) run out of stock, reduce their margins and have to shut down the stall and go to Ilford via the warehouse because it’s too far away to simply restock. Ruddy and happy at having proven his barrer boy potential, Adam even tempers his sexism with what he feels is generosity and offers Jade a job with him on his market stall for not having answered back to him or anything.

Happily it starts raining on Ricky and Steve in Romford, and as the market empties, Ricky calls Nick who advises them to go to the warehouse and buy all the fake tan they can find then come back and help sell it after a little training from Jenna (Hissy Fit Ricky “How hard can it be to sell a bit of tan?!”). In the absence of bronzing elixir, Gabby’s forced to try and market the beard trimmers as bikini line trimmers. After a nightmare journey our shoppers arrive at the warehouse to find there’s only 84 bottles of tan left. Gabby looks like she’s about to have a nervous breakdown, but Nick simply plumps for hot water bottles as well.

Jade’s back at the warehouse and gets to talk to Tom, who thinks the little toy bugs are selling well and have the best margin. “It’s good to have different things though” barks Jade, completely missing the point of the task. Azhar gets on the line and says strategy again, and it’s back to the dancing bunnies.

After two hours stalling punters waiting for fake tan before they drift away like beige zombies, the boys arrive with messy great boxes of the stuff and Jenna’s immediately flogging it to gullible Essex girls. Almost immediately it’s time for a second restock and Nick asks our hapless market traders to go back to the warehouse (“I feel bad asking”). Ricky’s nose is now well out of joint (“Me and Steve are the best sales people”) but he still goes, well, flounces.

Both teams get late night shopping pitches at Lakeside, and Jade asks the subteam what they need for the second restock. Azhar wants some strategy. Tom requests a “large proportion of insects”, but Jade over-rides him saying they should get “Hot water bottles, fake tan and er whatever other things you think” (Either it’s a wonky edit or she’s going to be disappointed). Even Tom looks a little bit annoyed as Azhar declares triumphantly “No strategy!”

Steve’s finally gets to unleash his selling skills indoors for Sterling and he sounds like a bloody Scientologist, yelling “Sometimes in life you make a decision, it may be a good decision or a bad one” at hapless punters. Sterling keep their prices high and still sell, whereas Jade insists that Pheonix try to get rid of everything like it’s got AIDS (“Everything is half price!!! Two for five quid on fake tan!”). As trading ends at 8pm, Jade thinks that although her strategy (arggh!) was risky that they still made a profit on everything so she’s sticking by what she’s done.

Back in the boardroom and Nick Hewer presents Lord Sugar with Sterling’s fake tan and fingernail wraps (“Kind of an Essex kit”), but Sterling still get a verbal spanking for Ricky and Steve failing to drop off their unsold stock with the rest of the team in the shopping centre before they went to the warehouse. Because extendable blue supermops would have really added to that “beauty stall” feel. Maybe Gabby could have marketed them as anal bleaching mops?

Pheonix are mocked for spending lots of time picking Pitsea as their faraway market location, although Karen is worryingly impressed by Adam’s market patter. Azhar thinks it all looks bad from a strategic perspective. “Strategy was mentioned a lot of times by Azhar” Jade snaps sarkily.

It’s time for the scores:

Pheonix made £422 in cash and had £415 worth of stock left, so their total assets were £838

Sterling took £681 cash and had remaining stock worth £273 – meaning their total assets were £955 – so they are sent to get pissed on smoking cocktails in thatLondon, whilst Pheonix weep into steaming bitter beverages in the Bridge Café. Jade’s still confused as she thinks they did really well. Azhar thinks it may have been down to str… oh for fucks sake stop saying strategy!

Back in the boardroom, Lord Sugar gives them a dark Nookie bear stare, pointing out that Sterling’s average selling price was £6.71, whereas theirs was only £3.50. Tom admits he wasn’t sure on the beauty price products so went with Jade and Laura’s advice, and Jade (who pays between £7 and a tenner on fake tan, fact fans) only thought the self tan was worth £2.99 (which lets face it is what Jenna probably thought – but as a beauty professional she wouldn’t think twice about ripping people off with potentially dodgy chemicals).

Next Jade gets some stick for not getting more stock to sell at Pitsea, and she goes into a husky breakdown, babbling about Azhar talking about strategy all the sodding time. “You could have shut him up” Lord Alan suggests, “It’s nonsense”.

He’s still looking for a reason to get rid of Laura who insists that she did as much as everyone else, but as usual doesn’t go into detail apart from excusing herself for buying more of the fake nails she’d complained hadn’t sold because Jade told her to.

It transpires that Pheonix failed to sell out any of their products, suggesting they didn’t smell what they sold. “There doesn’t seem to be any strategy” grumps Sugar, getting in on the act.

Anyhow it’s time for Jade to choose who to face a firing with her, and despite all the obvious hints that Sugar might fire Laura, the silly cow chooses Azhar and Tom, who makes a quiet pop about her decision making skills. Jade just loses it, and it’s clear the word strategy has rendered her, like many of us, a gibbering wreck. Still it’s a bit crap that Tom has to gently tell her he doesn’t mind her wrongly taking him back in. “I don’t know what else to do” Jade gasps pathetically.

It turns out that Jade’s application says her worst fault is making hasty decisions and not analysing things thoroughly (and clearly not being able to count). She admits Tom shouldn’t be there and that she didn’t expect to lose so had to make a decision under pressure. This is embarrassing. Tom asks why Jade didn’t bring Laura in and Jade may as well answer “cos she’s a girl… like me”.

She is right on Azhar though (“He just comes out with big long sentences and no solutions.. it hinders what you’re doing and wastes time”). “I think the word strategy was out of Jade’s depth” slams Azhar.

Jade argues that she should stay as her business plan will make Lord Sugar a group of multi million pound global companies. “I’m thinking about today” retorts Lord Sugar, clearly thinking about the money as although he blames Jade for the task’s “strategy” (arggh!) fail, he admires her plucky spunk (and hypothetical multi millions) and fires Azhar.

In the cab of broken dreams, Azhar isn’t bitter much but thinks Jade should have gone and that the other candidates saw him as a threat. He says strategy only once, but then he says strategic and annoys me again.

Back at the house, Adam’s big stupid twatty red face flushes with joy when he realises that Azhar has gone. “Lord Sugar knows what I’m about” he declares proudly.

Next week it’s buying art, usually one of my favourite tasks. It looks like it could be the best episode of the series so far, but that’s not saying much.

Liking: Tom, FlopsyNick

Sweet, but is she on drugs: Gabby

Meh: Jenna

I know he’s a dickhead, but I find him strangely entertaining: Ricky

Disappointed in: Jade

Disliking: Laura, Steve

Enjoying loathing: Adam

 

Bye bye: Azhar, Katie, Duane, Jane, Michael, Maria, Bilyana

 

 

 

It’s 5pm on Week 6 and the candidates are happily playing Wii Twat when LordAlan makes one of his increasingly predictable surprise visits and everyone plasters on their best surprised faces. The task is to travel to Edinburgh (no main feat on Virgin East Coast) and set up a mobile restaurant embracing the ethos of the “revolution” that is gourmet street food. After buying ingredients and making the food, the team that makes the most profit on sales will win.

Lord Alan chooses team leaders this week, and in an attempt to ensure that someone really useless goes, Adam is put in charge of Pheonix (Steve, Tom, Azhar, Jade & Katie) whereas Jenna is made manager of Sterling (Nick, Gabby, Laura, Ricky).

Adam feels he’s perfect for street selling, what with his barrer boy experience. He’s also not bad at stereotyping: “Scottish people eat deep fried mars bars, haggis…” he starts before a wincing Tom suggests Sushi. Adam’s having none of that weirdo foreign muck though; “Who eats raw fish?” he retches. Katie suggests pasta and Adam thinks it’s the best idea so far. Meekly Azhar suggests “chicken wrap”, but everyone pretends it was just the wind.

Jenna’s also confident (“I can’t cook, but I worked in a restaurant for ages, so I have an idea”). Gabby thinks a Scottish theme will still go down well amongst the many tourists in Edinburgh, but Laura wisely reminds everyone of the “quality” remit to the task, so they decide upon a casserole with a Scottish twist using Aberdeen Angus beef, which immediately sets Ricky worrying about the task.

“You’re a bit of a foody aren’t you Tom” bellows Adam aggressively, as though he’s outing a paedophile. “You know the score with that sort of thing” he adds suspiciously. Tom agrees and is co-opted as kitchen assistant.

Adam then bizarrely appoints Steve as manager of the market research/marketing team of Katie & Azhar (Jade seems to be given her own separate role which is also, erm marketing). You get the feeling Adam really wants to slap his team members on the arse as he self importantly gives them their roles. Especially Steve. Anyhow Steve and Katie go to check out a gourmet food fair and phone back brimming with more tales about scallops with celeriac purée than a whole afternoon’s worth of “Come Dine With Me”s. “I get it” he blusters impatiently. “High quality ingredients”.

On the train oop North, Nick calls a city centre hotel to suss out the best selling spots in Edinburgh, and although he’s tempted by the footfall of the derby match at Tynecastle, he reasons that the punters might not be best suited to gourmet stew. Katie however thinks it’s a bloody brilliant opportunity as there will be 40,000 people around (divide that by a few hundred maybe) and despite Steve’s warning that the average football fan won’t want more than a burger and a beer (or up North a beer and a beer) she’s adamant that she’ll take responsibility if it all goes tits up, so Steve’s eyes go “kerching” and they feed the idea back to Adam.

Both teams get top chefs to help them, so Adam is meanwhile dressed in chef’s white and hat and looking a lot like Pob as he tried to argue with top Italian chef Matteo that it would be cheaper to use dried rosemary (“It’s about profit, not taste”) whilst Tom insists that they should maintain at least a shred of “quality”. Whilst Adam looks chastened, an observing Nick Hewer complains that with Adam it’s all about “Cheap, cheap cheap!” Adam does manage to get Matteo to agree for them to use his name on the product, which would be nice and authentic sounding without going all Dolmio ad on everyone’s arse. However roving Marketing Manager Steve has other ideas. “We’ve gone for something very slick” he boasts, announcing, after a silent drum roll, “Utterly delicious” (did that little gem beat “Not bad” and “You can live on it but it tastes like shit”?). For some insane reason Adam allows Steve to go with this name, with the proviso they at least add the word meatballs to it, which would be kind of useful.

Jenna’s chef gives everyone a chuckle by saying “Well hung”, but of course he’s talking about the best Aberdeen Angus beef to stew away until there’s no flavour or texture left. He tells Jenna that a good casserole would cost about £2.50 to make, but when she phones the team Gabby is horrified. “You don’t get meals in actual restaurants that cost that much to make” she cries. I’m guessing Gabby needs to get out more. However she and Nick do come up with the fab name “Gourmet Scot Pot” and some nifty packaging.

The teams adjourn to the kitchens where Jenna worries after spending £200 at the butchers that they may have bought too much meat. Ricky points out that the other items in the casserole cost £68.82 and Jenna starts messing with the dreaded calculator with her mental number blindness before Ricky helpfully points out that comes to £268.82 which means each portion they make will have cost them £1.52. No pressure.

Over in the Pheonix kitchen, as Azhar squints at the shrinking meatballs which are starting to resemble mummified testes, Adam’s still convinced that “if we can sell these at £5.99 and make £5.80 a portion we’ll smash this!” Lovely. They set up outside Tynecastle the next morning and Azhar’s sent off draped with an Italian flag to drum up business (at this point it sounds like Adam mutters “Go fight a lion or something” and I’m still trying to work out if that’s just really crap racism. Adam just doesn’t seem the type does he?).

Sterling have apparently chosen Parliament Square for the post-Church punters, which almost seems as misguided as Pheonix’s footy location, as when the godly spill out on the square it soon becomes apparent that the ones who haven’t had their porridge this morning are full of the love of Christ and have no need of Scot Pot. Laura and Ricky lure a piper to play a jig or too besides the van with the promise of a free lunch, but if anything it possibly dissuades potential business.

Tom’s convinced that £5.99 might be too high a price for pasta and meatballs as he and Adam nervously eye the crowd of many bellied men clutching things in batter heading up the road to the match. However Katie calls saying that she and Steve think the price should be raised to £7.99, because rubbing out the price and adding a higher one in front of thousands of people could never be construed as taking the piss. Adam’s not budging (“There’s café’s round here doing full brekkies for 2.99”), an despite Azhar telling Katie to say “Don’t panic”, the gingery Yorkshire scrote lowers the price to £3.99 (“Three for a tenner”) and manages to sell a couple of portions before the early match kick-off time of 12.30pm . Surely they’d have been better off selling grub to punters leaving the footy when they’ve been stuck standing with no food for ages?

Steve comes up with the masterstroke of getting a spot on the Edinburgh city tour bus beguiling passengers with descriptions of meaty balls and directing them to Grassmarket, the second afternoon location he’s chosen for the van (I may be wrong but I think the market at Grassmarket finishes in the morning – oops). In practice this means Steve and his marketing team legging it up an insane amount of steps to get to the Royal Mail and catch the bus in order to confuse an handful of passive tourists (lets face it if they can’t be bothered exploring beyond sitting down and letting someone drive them around and tell them what to look at, they’re not likely to make it to Grassmarket). To make matters worse, Katie is dressed as a pizza. “Guess what food we’re selling?” she asks brightly. “Pizza” everyone chirrups. “No you’ll have to think outside the pizza box” she says and everyone glazes over as she adds “It’s meatballs!” After two stops, they have no takers (because it’s a stupid idea), and they then miss the next bus back to Grassmarket so Adam insists they “Sack off this bus tour now”.

Jenna goes through lows (nobody selling, realising Gabby can speak fluent French to a Gallic customer when Jenna can’t even speak fluent English), then a brief high of a couple of customers and back to low in parliament square and eventually at 2pm, Ricky and Laura have a reccy of Princes Street and despite a potential threat in a stall selling cheap Aberdeen Angus burgers, Jenna’s convinced that the footfall will make it worth moving there. It’s the right decision and should have been made hours ago.

By 3pm, everyone’s desperate to sell, but Pheonix can afford to drop their price (Adam “We made the product for under £100, I don’t care as long as we shift it”). At this point a squirrel runs past and everyone makes like the dogs in “Up” and shouts “Squirrel” (I was kind of disappointed after the trailer that squirrel wasn’t on the menu). However, as things become more tense he gets redder and redder and wonders where “Kaytay” is.

Poor Jenna has to be cagier about dropping prices as it would eat into her margins, so Laura and Ricky are taunted into sales overdrive. Laura starts sounding like a flirtatious Ivor Cutler “Have you had your tea?” and Jenna ultimately thinks they’ve lost. Will there be an amazing surprise?

In the boardroom, Lord Sugar’s unimpressed by Adam’s insistence that pork is a nice cheap meat (“But also the key to quality meatballs!”). “Was you trying to keep the cost down?” scowls the wrinkly peer, “Where was the gourmet side”.Adam ropes Tom in to big up the product with his poncy food speak, and Tom points out that the meatballs were “made to an authentic Italian recipe using FRESH ROSEMARY”. Next the price is scrutinised “£5.99 a portion to Rangers fans… they don’t pay that for a striker now!” plus the fact they “missed a big trick” not going with the personalised chef’s name but instead going with the “not very Italian” sounding “Utterly Delicious Meatballs”. Given the selling location at first perhaps “Old, Firm Meatballs” would have worked better?

Sterling get away relatively unscathed with Jenna’s team all backing her, and Jenna pointing out that she’s a Northerner* so prefers traditional food. (*”I never noticed that” cracks Lord Sugar). However their choice of location and spend cause a few raised eyebrows.

Anyhow the scores come in.

Pheonix spent £90.25, sold £388.29 so made a profit of £298.04

Sterling spent £268.82 but sold £588.60 worth, so made a profit of £319.78

So Sterling won by £22, surprising even Lord Sugar (“You must have done well on the selling side”) and as punishment he sends them off to swan around on (and fall off) segues at a 5 star Country Club. That’s Country Club.

Meanwhile Pheonix are sent to Losers Café with a thoughtful “Hmm well you can’t cook the books…” so they can all sit around looking a lot less smug than they did five minutes ago when they heard Sterling’s spend.

Back in the boardroom and Adam gets stick for his cheapskate attitude and not listening to the market research feedback on quality (“I seen things like those meatballs on the floor of the elephant pen at the zoo”), but most fingers point at Katie for her crazy targeting of footy fans. She insists that she’s paid £6 for a burger at a football match. “Where do you go? Chelsea?” scoffs Lord Sugar.

Steve plays mind games with everyone over his contribution claiming that he took responsibility for calling it a day on the bus idea before deflecting attention elsewhere (“You’re missing a trick picking on people who contributed when Azhar is sitting there quiet as a mouse”). Tom picks up on Steve’s eagerness to claim responsibility for good ideas and deny bad ones such as the Grassmarket location (“Why do you lie so much at this table”), but Steve’s still chipping away at his chosen fallguy (“The contribution from Azhar was nil”). Even Azhar knows he’s deflecting the blame (“You make a mistake.. you pass it on to someone else”), and eventually he gets Steve to admit he was responsible for the second location fail. But Steve’s work is done and after some unconvincing dithering, the clueless Adam brings Katie and Azhar back into the boardroom.

Lord Sugar thinks 13 years running a market stall has limited Adam to thinking in terms of buying cheap and selling high, and as Adam denies this his forehead goes so red and blotchy he looks like an albino kamikaze pilot. Azhar puts the boot in (“He didn’t take control”), but Adam insists he isn’t out of his depth (“I kner wha I’m doin!”). “In Adam’s defence” Azhar points out “He passed all the responsibility to Steve to make the decisions”. Ooh nicely played.

Adam accuses Katie of disappearing on day two (Katie: “Oh god that is soooo untrue!”) and pleads with Lord Sugar “Keep me in this process. I’ll show you what I’ve got”. Lord Sugar retorts that we’ve already seen that (and it doesn’t look like much) in this task. “It was good of you to ask me to step up to the mark” Adam honks gracefully.

Azhar argues that he’s committed and driven having grown his own successful business which he funded from a redundancy package. Katie however moans that she feels scapegoated ever since she was first in the boardroom. Whinging won’t get you nowhere love and Lord Alan’s heard enuff. He compliments Azhar on having come out of his shell and made sense “compared to some other people” and tells Adam that he let other people drag him down, but gives him another chance (boo!). Katie is therefore toast, having been in the firing line three times Lord Sugar’s unconvinced and she’s packed off to the Taxi of Regret whence she moans that she was robbed, but seems relatively chirpy about her future prospects (if only she knew then that they included being almost leg humped by Gino D’Acampo on “You’ve Been Fired”).

Adam’s card is properly marked (“You borderline got away with it”) but he acts all humble (“I understand it Lord Sugar”) and he returns to the house where everybody’s face falls when he enters (Jade looks particularly miffed). Azhar gets a bit of revenge by letting everyone know that it was “touch and go” with Adam. “He also got a very stern warning” lies Adam, who really does seem to have a bit of a problem with Azhar.

Never mind Adam. Next week’s task involves selecting items that will sell on the street. You’ll be perfect for that.

Anyhow sorry I couldn’t make this week more interesting. They really are a dull lot this year.

Liking: Tom, Azhar, Jade

Meh: Nick, Gabby, Jenna

Disliking: Steve, Ricky, Laura

Sick of the sight of their stupid red face: Adam

Bye bye: Katie, Duane, Jane, Michael, Maria, Bilyana

Week 5 sees our be-suited buffoons called to York Hall (Ricky: “It’s your call” – ho HO!), which rather than being a Northern Whippet repository is a boxing gym in the East End that the voice-over says has “been keeping Cockneys fit for almost 100 years” (it took over from TB). It looks like the sort of gaff that the Krays chilled out in when they weren’t looking after their own, hence Lord Sugar looks utterly at home as he outlines the latest task: to design a new fitness trend and sell licenses to some of the “leading health club chains” (Fitness First, Virgin and Gym Box for those of you who like me didn’t know or care). He lists a few current trends to inspire the candidates: Zumba, Spinning, Body Pump, Insane Self Torture Bop…

Steve’s confident that his sector knowledge as a shiny suit wearing ex footballer will help him lead Pheonix to victory, and nobody disagrees, which leads him to worry that this task “could be a banana skin” for him.

Ricky suggests that as an ex-pro-wrestler (“They call me ‘the Fitness'” – I think he may have misheard that one) that he’s the best project manager for Sterling, and he’s voted in ahead of Jenna (who er rides horses and has realised that she’s done sod all yet in the series). Ricky wants to look at the current trends and add a new twist, suggesting that the “boot camp element” is currently big. (How about Guantanamobics – where to pumping metal music you lift weights fashioned to look like bits of dead suicide bombers?). Laura, who used to be a dancer but doesn’t like to talk about it, thinks street dancing is (annoyingly) very “now”. Whilst Ricky goes off to watch some kick dancers spar (and do a bit of fisting in the ring himself) and pick up moves; Duane, SilentAgainGabby and flopsyNick take notes at a street dance session. They come up with the intense sounding Beat Battle (tag line: fight to the music!) which incorporates the elbows and knees of martial arts into street dance routines into a fitness regime that enables you to flirtatiously combat would be sex attackers.

Sterling brainstorm ideas. Adam likes “Fit Skip”, which sadly just involves jumping rope rather than work-out moves inspired by rooting through bins. Katie rather scarily likes the idea of a fitness dating class (“OK now thrust that pelvis!”), but she’s also smitten with a retro 80s theme which is (shit) music to Steve’s ears and he drags Adam along to an 80s disco to get “really excited” about girls gyrating over a space-hopper to Flashdance (“Blimey!”). Adam copies the girls doing some of the moves to Thriller and manages to look like a brain damaged ballet dancer

Sterling demo Beat Battle to “fitness expert” Lindsey who asks if any of them have any fitness experience. “I danced when I was younger” squeals Laura, reluctantly. Although Lindsey likes the concept she thinks it could be a little bit too complicated.

I’m not sure if Pheonix really have a concept as such, and Jade points out that they have to at least pretend to care what effect doing “the funky lunge” and the “swingaling” will have on the human body. Tom’s concerned that gyms might not buy all the space hoppers as they have nowhere to put them, but everyone chooses to ignore him and Katie (who’s finally starting to annoy me) tells him they can “only win big by taking a risk”. Steve decides to call the package “Groove Train” and I have only just worked out that “train” could be interpreted as “training”. Oops! He bounces eagerly on Mr Hoppy in front of another fitness expert Stuart who stifles hysterical laughter and pretends to think it’s all an ok idea.

Jade recruits a weedy looking bloke in a headband for the promotional video for “Beat Battle” and asks Adam if he’ll lead the workout as he knows it. Adam goes a nice shade of plum, spluttering angrily “I don’t know it ALL!”, but nonetheless gets our retro waif lunging like a pro. His feet just can’t help themselves!

Ricky asks Duane to lead a video shoot with support from flopsyNick and Laura. “What if I need to make final decisions and can’t get hold of you? Can I make them?” asks Duane eagerly. Ricky gives him his blessing and as soon as they’re at the location Duane decides to re-make a few of his project manager’s initial decisions too and rewrites the script for the shoot. Oh dear. As is the curse of many men given a DV Cam in “The Apprentice”, the hitherto excellent Duane is doomed to act like a massive, dictatorial cock during this part of the “process”. As long as Laura teaches dance moves and flopsyTom wonders around looking a bit vague and ruffled in headphones like a proper media lacky, Duane is happy. As soon as anyone questions his ideas, he goes ballistic and they shut up (“These tasks always end up in a squabble” observes Nick Hewer sagely). Thus Duane manages to direct a video about a street dance:martial art fusion that contains hardly any martial arts moves. Maybe Laura should have rhythmically waved some nunchuks about. Even flopsyNick gets annoyed when Duane bombastically declares “I don’t feel like we’re working together to be honest” (translation: I don’t feel like you’re obeying me completely). In the car to the editing suite, Duane complains that “there was a disagreement at every single stage” of the shoot. “I agree” declares Nick with promising comic timing. Duane seems to think that his accepting leadership for this part of the task means that anyone else offering input at a later stage is a Johnny Come Lately out to steal his glory. Eventually Nick notes how killy this is making Laura and tries to encourage everyone to shake hands and be friends, but Duane’s still off on one, and Nick reverts to the last vestige of the sensible; looking out of the window and chuckling.

In the 80s nightclub, Adam is proving that even proximity to a DV Cam can turn some people into tools as he constantly reddens and grips at Jade’s directing skillz. As he’s clearly bottled leading the workout, Azhar has to take one for the team and prance about in little red shorts whilst Adam “motivates” from the sidelines. (“Er yeah do tha!”). Meanwhile Ricky has bizarrely given the calculator of deadly power to Jenna and Gabby so they can work out costings whilst he demos his ninja Beat Battle skillz at them (whilst mouthing off David Brentisms like “my team is really happy”). Has he not seen what damage Jenna and Gabby can do with a calculator?

In the edit suite, a now beetroot Adam slags off Jade’s lack of panning on the Groove Train dvd, rather than pointing out that the opening graphic looks like a 1980s video game. Jade chooses wisely to blithely ignore him (Adam: “She doesn’t shout me down ..no-one could do that – but she just doesn’t listen. Ah don’t know if she’s thick or deaf or what!” – no love she’s just normal).

After finishing his final tweak on “Beat Battle”, Duane sits back happy with his work and asks Laura and Nick if they have anything to say. Silence ensues.

It’s pitch time and after all the fuss, the Beat Battle video is just very dull, and so short! The pitch is fairly strong from Ricky, although the bloke from Virgin just thinks it looks like Boxersize. Costings are £45 per month for a class, with a 2 month discount for a year (I have no idea what it should cost so fall asleep a little bit here). Ricky wants to learn from the questions, but the main one seems to be about the video not demonstrating what Sterling say the regime is due to the lack of elbow moves in the video or something.

Steve runs Groove Train past Fitness First who look a little bit stunned at Azhar’s mental yet jolly face beaming out as he does lunges and sit-ups in his little shorts, calling out instructions in his North Western accent. “It looks like you had amazing fun making that” sneers FF lady as Steve and Tom outline the pricing (£35 per course per month, but £1500 off per year if it goes to all their venues nationwide which doesn’t seem all that generous but again what do I know?). FF Lady asks what would happen to studio capacity if they bought all the space hoppers and hula hoops required. “You’d lose 8 people per class” says Steve confidently (as though he’s worked it out), but he then promises that they would supply all the space hoppers as part of the license (which proves he hasn’t worked things out). “Er where would we keep them all?” smirks FF Lady.

“These questions about stock are doing my head in!” moans Steve post-pitch. “It’s only £20 per course”. Tom does some quick math; “Erm 2000 space hoppers, made out of rubber?” Karen’s especially unimpressed at Steve “pulling prices out of the air”.

Next Sterling pitch to Gym Box, and there’s a live demo in which Laura skips around like something out of The Wicker Man. Duane demonstrates the campest “super punch” ever (Ricky: “You’re struggling there mate”), but the Gym Box bloke thinks the regime could have a “wide appeal” and there’s big matey hand shakes all round.

Pheonix meet Virgin and Steve hula hoops hopefully before them like Alan Partridge dancing for Tony Hayers. He claims that Groove Train is aimed at “the female market. All ages and abilities?” “Isn’t it just a kids class” asks Virgin bloke mockingly. “That would work” Steve brightly clutches at straws.

Ricky pitches to Fitness First and has clearly done his homework on the market and any potential competitors. If this is another typical predictable attempt at wrong footing the viewer as to which team win, then it’s going to be a massive shock.

Back in the Boardroom and a particularly grumpy Lord Sugar describes “Beat Battle” as “like a punch up in a disco”. Ricky thinks they got “good buying signals” from Fitness First and Virgin.

“That was myself!! Me me me!” yells a purple Adam as soon as Lord Sugar asks who choreographed Groove Train. Turns out he’s a bit premature but does want to make it seem as though he did something of import on the video shoot. Azhar cringes as there’s yet another dvd play and looks shiftily from left to right hoping to catch out the bastards who are snickering at his performance (everybody is). “Is that IN at the moment” gasps a genuinely gobsmacked Lord Sugar and Steve assures him that it is, although Steve does live in 1983.

Sugar’s less than impressed that Steve was offering Space Hoppers for £2, Hula Hoops for a quid and skipping ropes for 50p (Bargain!), suggesting the whole thing is a “flawed business model”, but Steve’s still convinced it could make a “very healthy profit”

Anyhow here’s the scores from each of the gyms:

 Fitness First

They hated Pheonix and didn’t order any licenses

They quite liked Sterling and offered a £5,000 “one off development fee”

 Gym Box

They hated Pheonix and didn’t order any licenses

They quite liked Sterling and ordered licenses on a 3 month trial basis totalling £2,970

Virgin

They didn’t order any licenses from Sterling

They didn’t really like Pheonix for the target market, but liked it for families (hence the kids question) so ordered licenses at £17.50 each (eh?) on a 6 month trial across 122 clubs totalling £12,810 – so there is your shock.

Sterling are hilariously stunned as the jammy gits of Pheonix waltz off for luxury spa treatments while they have to sweat in the steam of Losers Café. FlopsyNick points out that the gyms all suggested the product needed further development, but Duane refuses to accept that anyone did anything wrong. “We did though… we did lose” flopsyNick points out gently.

Back in the boardroom and Nick Hewer mentions that all the buyers felt the routine was very watered down, which is blamed on the blandly inoffensive video which apparently got negative comments from all the gyms. Ricky feels Laura is at fault as she took the sequences to the video shoot, but on the evidence of the finished dv clearly tried to show off her dance skills that she doesn’t really care to mention much. When even Jenna starts saying that Laura should have thrown “a few more kicks in” (eh?) Laura’s clear that she’s “not liking the way this is going at ALL”.

Duane starts digging by stating categorically that he takes FULL responsibility for the video. “Compare yours to Pheonix’s..” Karen suggests. “Yours is dull”.

“But theirs was cheesy” Ricky gapes. Apparently that’s the bladdy point and cheesy still sells.

It’s quietly pointed out that the licenses were also seen as too expensive but nobody points their finger at Jenna or NowMuteGabby for their already evidenced dodgy sums. Therefore Ricky stupidly brings Duane and Laura back into the boardroom and few lucky souls slink back to the house.

Lord Sugar points out that Ricky’s bought back the people who contributed the most, allowing the slackers to get away with it, but Ricky’s adamant that he wanted the job to be done correctly and that “the man who said he could do the job under-delivered” because he got too “emotionally involved” with the filming. As Lord Sugar turns to Laura, Duane leaps in to excavate a little more from his hole. “Laura shouldn’t be here.. she contributed lots” he insists, adding unconvincingly that Ricky “hid himself away” during previous tasks. It gets Laura on side at least, and she also thinks Ricky should go (“if he was so concerned about the video, he should have gone to the edit”), but there’s little chance of that and after reprimanding Ricky for his “bad management move” of bringing the wrong people back, Duane is fired, although there’s a slight card marking for Laura. So maybe not such a rubbish strategy for “The Fitness”.

In the taxi of doom Duane thinks we haven’t seen the best of him. I kind of think we’ve seen the worst, so as long as you stay away from cameras you’ll be fine Duane.

Laura meanwhile struggles to disguise her pique at Ricky daring to take her back into the boardroom in the first place. Ricky however just gives it all that when he gets back “Lord Sugar knows who I am! He knows what I got!”. Wow, for a pro Wrestler he sounds a lot like every cocky telesales team leader I’ve met. Weird that.

Next week the teams try to sell unhealthy meat options to the Scottish. That should really test them.

Liking: Azhar, Tom, Jade

Come on love, sort yourself out: Katie, Gabriella (was she on drugs for this episode?)

Warming to: FlopsyNick

Meh: Steve

Disliking: Ricky

Should go next: Adam or Jenna

Really disliking: Laura

Bye Bye: Duane, Jane, Michael, Maria, Bilyana

It’s Whiff Whaff morning in the Bayswater luxury pad as the candidates enjoy their morning off knocking balls about, only to be rudely and predictably interrupted by a request to meet Sir Alan at the Old Cinema in Chiswick pronto, sending them into a panicky blur of blusher and aftershave. The Old Cinema turns out to be a posh furniture warehouse, setting the scene for today’s task; buying a load of retro furniture tutt (furnitutt?) and flogging it to over-moneied headcases in two shop spaces on Brick Lane in two days team; biggest profit wins.

Lord Sugar mixes up the teams like a fruit machine addict looking for a perfect grouping of lemons. Ricky joins Nick, Duane, Laura, Jenna, silentGabrielle and Jane on Sterling. Meanwhile Jade is assigned to the ranks of Pheonix with Katie, Azhar, Adam, Steve and Tom.

Duane wants to Project Manage yet again as he’s convinced that the lowly beings on planet Sterling have come to view him as a GOD. However Laura also volunteers and everyone votes for her, even the boys. “Thanks guys” laughs Duane at his vote of non confidence. Over on Pheonix, nobody bothers challenging Tom, who feels that his experience flogging wine despite him being “only 23” makes him a “well rounded individual” and therefore ideal for the task of flogging furniture.

Tom does seem to be treating this task just like selling wine. He knows that there aren’t enough tramps actually in Brick Lane to get away with any cheap crap, so aims for a stylish, classic feel to the store. The rest of the team are tasked with selectively buying treasures that only Tom would approve of, with Katie, Adam and Steve sent to an auction house in Greenwich with only £200 to spend whilst Tom keeps his beady eyes on Jade and Aznar at a car boot sale, poopooing almost everything the others present to him (Team: “We won’t have enough stuff!”; Tom: “I don’t really like it”) and absently mindedly rolling his fixated eyes when Jade accidentally smashes something vaguely valuable. It’s how I imagine the French do micro-management. I kind of warm to Tom’s jib. He’s clearly an annoyingly stubborn obsessive young man who knows what he likes and won’t be swayed by any other pleb. And he still looks like a young Stewart Lee. The rest of the team are understandably going spare though, although as Nick points out they didn’t argue hard enough with their mild mannered yet surprisingly steely manager. The auction team only manage to win three items thanks to Adam making wanker signs whilst talking about Tom’s strategy and how empty the shop’s going to look. Nick sneers and hides behind sunglasses as Adam rummages happily in the skip behind the auction house on the way out coming out with a broken metal wine rack/do it yourself abortion kit.

Sterling seem to be on a mission to recreate Reggie Perrin’s “Grot” shop, with Ricky enthusing about “buying crap” and “upcycling” (ugh) it into stylish products. Ricky’s been watching too much “60 Minute Makeover” – the reality is that if you buy crap, in two days you might be able to make it into shit. Laura takes an opportunity to offload a massive amount of responsibility by telling silentGabby that she is the creative team. Gabby silently assents, but she still looks tired and confused after her meltdown in the boardroom three weeks ago. Giving her creative control could lead to wonky chairs with little tampon tassels attached if we’re lucky. In Tooting Laura allows Ricky to run amok in junk shops (“we’ll take the broken table”) like a coked up womble. They leave the shop with enough gear to generously refurbish a Premier Inn and even Laura stammers “Um we’ve bought a hell of a lot of stuff haven’t we?”

Sterling seem to be confused as to whether they’re “upcycling” (arrgh!) or doing “Shabby chic” (giving things a good rough sandpapering). Somehow the latter sounds cheaper and more promising to me, but without any remit or budget restrictions from Laura, Gabby’s got a reupholstery catalogue from somewhere and is mentally shouting out things for Jenna to order. Shit loads of things. Oh creativenotsilentGabby! Just because your purchasing team has come home with a load of turds does not mean you have to personally polish and “brand” every single one. Especially not with numbers in big blobby letters. It’s just weird. Although I am liking the suitcase with legs as it reminds me of the weird creepy hybrid toys in Sid’s bedroom in “Toy Story”.

Looking at the tiny circle of furniture in the huge warehouse-like Pheonix pop-up shop I wonder if Tom’s brilliant strategy is to get arts council funding, as it certainly looks like something that would. Adam and Steve go off on a mission to find some more stock and find a secret room full of treasure too special to try to sell to customers at the back of a junk shop. It’s even got a wonky wine rack in it, and Adam can’t get enough of those bad boys. I love the fact that Junk Shop Bloke even haggles with the boys just for fun, shoutily forcing them up from £25 to £30 and making Steve think he’s done a Jedi mind trick in closing the deal with the slightly odd “£30 from a North Londoner to a South Londoner” (surely the only true response to that one is “Fark off from a Sarf Londoner to a Wanker!”). As they leave, the Junk shop bloke chuckles “They picked all the rubbish stuff”. Maybe they should have politely asked his advice. I bet he’d still have been a bastard mind.

Sterling muscle in on a house clearance for a dead person and flounce around respectfully taking anything that isn’t nailed into a coffin. Although Duane can’t imagine buying any of this stuff, at least it’s free. How’s that old saying go Duane? Oh yeah “Don’t look a gift horse in the eye”.

With a little bit of jiggery pokery and some pensive lip fingering Tom has transformed the empty space of Pheonix’s Vintage shop into a Hoxton twat’s idea of a Bond Villain’s lair. There’s even a brilliant round leather chair – and an ash tray shaped like a rocket. If I was a privileged child I would have liked a place like this as my den.

Sterling are still murdering stock, but on the plus side Nick and Duane look cute in dungarees. Karen wonders if the “upcycling” is actually detracting from the rubbish items value as Gabby insists on painting union jacks onto perfectly acceptable chairs as though she’s anticipated the interior design branch of the EDF having a rally in the vicinity (silly girl – they’re all at Homebase where ironically they are buying furniture produced by the Muslim Defence Front – that is what MDF stands for isn’t it?). Ricky and Duane are endearingly unconvinced by the patriotic furniture – mind you most of us have a mad nan who’d love this stuff – especially if you pretended you painted it yourself as they still think you’re five. Laura gets wind of this and manages to stress Gabby out about it. Just paint all the chairs different colours (one red, one white, one blue if you must) and if you really want to get wacky paint some Cath Kidston style dots onto them – the Yummy Mummies will go wild women of wonga for stuff like that.

Despite Tom’s efforts, on the Harry Enfield “I saw you coming” scale Sterling are winning so far.

It’s selling day, and aware of the achingly cool aspirations of Pheonix’s shop, Steve has put on his coolest grey cardigan. Sizzle! Already the annoying beautiful people with silly hair are loving the shop, with one customer declaring “Not too cluttered but all pretty special”. As more things sell, Nick points out “there’s a difference between minimalism and emptiness” (Maybe they’re going for nihilism?) and Katie timidly asks if they should get more stock. “Stock” mumbles Tom, a man controlled by forces beyond our ken. “Stock.. stock” he rubs his fingers through his hair blankly. I really hope he’s just putting this on for the clientèle.

Sterling open up shop late and are still figuring out the pricing. Nick can’t help with pricing as “I don’t buy this shit”, so touts for trade by the door, scaring businessmen away. Duane does a better job by telling customers that he doesn’t get the items in the shop (“You’d have to be really cool to get that… clearly you are.”). Jane meanwhile shows them how it’s done; slapping on her fake beatific smile as another potential victim approaches before swooping on them like a snarling banshee demanding “What about a chair then?!!” Laura must have picked up on this as she sends Jane out to do flyering (which she can barely disguise her contempt for), mind you Laura sends the competent Duane out to flyer as well. He does better at giving pieces of paper away than Jane too. Laura thinks she will be pleasantly surprised when everything’s totted up. That’ll be until you see the bill from Hobbycraft, love.

Finally Tom agrees that that Steve Jade and Adam can buy more tutt at a car boot sale in Battersea (they’re half way there in the car when they ask) – relinquishing briefly the control of his personal aesthetic vision. Actually they do quite well, annoying one car boot lady into giving them a load of cheap chintz (“You can have it for a pound…as long as you promise you will go away…”). Sales continue apace despite Steve dropping one customer’s bagged purchase (“Shit!”), and even Nick apologises for sneering at what he thought was poor product selection (“What do I know?”).

With one hour left everyone’s dropping prices to get a sale, apart from Jenna who engages in a pointlessly annoying Mexican stand-off with a foppish boy (“£9.50”, “£9.25!”, “£9.50”, “£9.25!”, “£9.40”, “£9.25!”, “£9.30”, “£9.25!”, “Er £9.25”). The Union Jack stuff doesn’t sell well with one customer saying it’s just cheap and tacky to buy things with flags on. She’s not American or German sadly. Gabby has an almost scary mental moment at a couple buying a table, but somehow gets a pity sale. Appropriately, as Sterling’s shop closes – the woman who bought the scary suitcase with legs realises that the legs have a tendency to fall off in the middle of the road.

So it’s boardroom time and Laura claims that Gabrielle was her team’s advantage (cue Gabby looking utterly defeated). Lord Sugar’s confused by some of the high faluting concepts being flung around such as “Shabby chic” and the difference between Vintage and Retro (Sterling were apparently aiming for the latter). Let me sort it out for you Al. If a shop scatters leaves around the floor (“Like Oxfam in a hurricane”) and they aren’t selling squirrels then they’re likely to be crap and overpriced. Lord Sugar asks Laura who most impressed her with their sales. “I was quite impressed by myself to be honest” she smugs endearingly.

Tom is open and clear about his strategy and states he doesn’t have a bad word to say about anyone in his team (as they all did his bidding). Bless him.

Anyhow the scores on the doors are:

Pheonix sold £1423.50 worth and spent £360.10 making a profit of £1063.40

Sterling sold £1444.42 worth and spent (surprise surprise) £660.76 making a £783 profit

So it’s a 1940s style vintage party for Pheonix, who get taught how to swing by Sam and Nicky before getting drunk, turning all the lights out and getting pregnant.

Meanwhile violin music accompanies Sterling on their well worn way back into Losers Café (soon we’ll have a clip of the café manager saying “Same again?”). Nick, graduate of University of the Bleeding Obvious, hits it on the head “The problem was costs – but with higher sales that wouldn’t have been an issue”. Ricky scents blood and blames Gabrielle’s design, but she sticks up for herself claiming that maybe some of the other items bought were too expensive. Sadly that doesn’t explain why the arts and craft gumph cost a third of the total spend.

Anyhow back in the boardroom, Laura’s very keen to blame the upgrading and creative team (i.e. Gabrielle), despite not having to anyone’s knowledge having given Gabby a budget. Karen clarifies the situation (“None of you knew how much you spent”). Laura starts making screeching Scottish mountain lion noises as Jenna chips in and things inevitably descend into an incomprehensible bitch scrap.

It transpires that Laura, Ricky and Duane bought over 200 items from the junk “dealers”, but Laura still tries to offload the blame onto Gabby with her “concern” over the Union Jack stuff. Gabby finally comes out fighting and makes some sense, holding her hands up to having had a lot of responsibility, but asking Laura “if I am taking responsibility for a lot of this stuff then what are you taking responsibility for?”

We discover that Gabby actually sold the most for the team (£414 worth) with Jenna the next highest (people bought things to make her and her voice go away). Jane’s people skills got her £10 worth of sales, with Karen describing our favourite evil Nolan’s sales technique as “desperate”.

Laura brings back Gabby and Jane, only for Lord Sugar to reiterate Gabby’s question to Laura, “What did you do?”

Ever modest our favourite evil Clare Grogan points out that “I did a good job” and “I did manage the team well” on top of which “I motivated the sales people” and also “They sold well… apart from Jane obviously.. oops!” (Too late, Jane’s eyes have gone Hulk Smash and she sides with Gabby against their rubbish Project Manager).

Sugar asks Laura why she didn’t set a £50 budget for upcycling gubbins, and she sneers in response “I was hoping a small amount of common sense would prevail”. “Some of that should come from you” comes the righteous Sugar slam.

Gabby’s having another moment and starts unnecessarily echoing Lord Sugar echoing her… “OK you gave good speech now and again” she slurs ironically, “but what DID you do?”

Laura retaliates in full on blank cat faced patronising mode, like an infant school teacher talking to children (who we already know she doesn’t really like). “THAT was a very good speech. That’s commendable. Thank you very much. Yes you put masking tape on a window. Well done you!”

Imagine this bitch selling you a wedding dress. Ouch!

“The point is, you have to delegate” Laura adds, conveniently missing the “everything” off the end of her sentence.

Jane gets picked on for her sales performance, but she points out that despite not being a “market trader” she was “out in the street for most of the day”. Blimey that’s dedication. Both Jane and Gabby think Laura should go. Laura thinks that everyone who isn’t Laura should go. “I have been successful in everything I have ever done” she gloats. “Not this week you ain’t” Sugar shoots into the open goal.

Sugar does his summing up and goes all noble, allowing Gabby to stay as she’s been picked on and blamed too much this week. Laura tries to interrupt but gets shut up, but sadly Sugar’s attention turns to Jane, who Karen’s been telling him ain’t all that despite the CV and fires her (gasp!) for being on the losing team three times, even though she was on Duane’s winning team last week and every other woman in Sterling has the same fantastic record.

Poor Jane. I’m going to miss hating her. She has a blub in the taxi of despair, but assures us all that she will rise again and destroy us all (or that Lord Sugar will be sorry he fired her). Most of the girls back at the house seem to have expected Jane to go (although Nick reassuringly thinks Laura should go) so there is much faux rejoicing on the return of Laura and Gabby (who now looks completely frazzled – someone slip her some Kalms please!).

Next week I’m hoping it’s TV selling of gym equipment, but to be frank I couldn’t figure out what they were doing. It certainly looked ahem interesting though.

Liking lots: Duane

Liking: Tom, Jade, Katie, Azhar

Feeling sorry for, but annoyed by: Gabrielle

Still not sure about: Steve and Steve’s cardigan, Nick

Disliking: Adam, Jenna, Ricky

Loathing: Laura

Bye Bye: Jane, Michael, Maria, Bilyana

 

This Week’s Favourite Gratuitous Man with No Shirt On: Azhar

Week three dawns and Duane looks at his alarm in disbelief as the candidates are summoned to St Katharine’s Dock, home of posh yachts and overpriced pubs, and as Sir Alan explains, where he played as a lad as cutter ships sailed in laden with spice. That’s the tenuous link to today’s task, which is to create and sell a new condiment.

The ailing girls of Sterling are given a hot testosterone injection with the addition of Duane and erm Nick, whilst Katie is given some respite from the coven and forced to sit with the Pheonix boys, who do their best not to behave like the Anchorman news team upon the arrival of . Adam “officially” welcomes Katie, “We do things a bit differently here… like winning”. Katie smiles slyly “Um thanks for being such winners”.

The Sterling girls are broken from their celebratory “Katie’s gone!” reverie by Duane putting himself forward as Project Manager in order to add “structure” to their team. Whilst Laura and Jane look suitably horrified and oppressed, Duane wins the vote and hopes to bring “creativity and positive energy” to the mix. Good luck there.

Katie volunteers to lead Pheonix, causing Stephen to go all “careful now.. it is a very complicated job for a lady”… “I think I’d do a good job” she insists, slightly wounded, and wins the vote over Stephen who looks a tad miffed. Ricky’s straight in there asking if he can be “Second in charge on the subteam” (Katie agrees) whilst telling the camera he thinks she’s nowhere near the strongest candidate.

Pheonix brainstorm a “table sauce” (Katie) with a “spicy kick” (Michael – who I forgot existed in last week’s summing up), and Stephen channels memories of the Dolmio advert to come up with the name “Belissimo” to sum up all those sexy Mediterranean qualities that this will entail. Katie suggests they name-check “Belissimo” (“It would be awful if it was like ‘crap’ in Italian”), but Steve’s adamant he’s an “Ideas Man” (i.e. he never shuts up) and it will win the task for them.

Duane at Sterling are all about the chutney, and Jane’s not happy as from her food marketing experience she thinks the market is so “ridiculously saturated it’s impossible to differentiate yourselves”. She adds that food nowadays is all about the “health and well being line”, Duane ‘agrees’ “Let’s go for quality and luxury”. Jane calls up the travelling subteam of Nick, Jade and Gabby with her suggestions of brand names “Natural Fusion, Simple Goodness, I Have a Baby”, and everyone agrees on the suitably ambiguous and just wanky enough “Infusion”. Nick likes infusion too. Jade looks ecstatic “This might be the best subteam I’ve ever been on” she rasps happily. What a difference a flopsy bit of cock makes.

The subteams are dispatched to the Victorian splendour of Tiptree jam factory just down the road from me to knock up sample condiments. Both sets need to get samples to London within the hour in order to pitch to a poncy deli. Ricky proves he’s not just a simple recruitment manager by day/ pro wrestler by night by revealing he also used to be a biochemist a skill he can easily turn to creating new life.. sorry spicy ketchup whilst Tom stands around looking a bit surly but confused like Stewart Lee and working out the costings on ingredients.

Meanwhile Duane’s leading the Sterling production line on pineapplea chilli chutney (I made some for Xmas – it’s very nice since you asked), but needs Jane to work out what they can afford to make before he commits the team to following the recipe. Yes that’s right – Jane’s on finance again. “I need a definite answer Jane” Duane finally snaps after half an hour of her umming and ahhing about margins and percentages. She just looks all flaky and hurt after all she’s “not an accountant” or anything. Just someone who started this show by barking at all the other girls about margins.

Katie’s subteam work on packaging “Belissimo” and she’s keen on a holiday vibe – cue a condom packet style “sunset” label. Eventually they end up with a plain red pepper on a white background (which misleadingly would make me think “Yum. Pepper sauce”).

Pheonix come up with a tasteful blend of browns and yellows and an explanation of what the product actually is on the “Infusion” label. Those crazy mavericks.

It’s taste test time, and Duane bravely volunteers to test the evil looking chilli based gel that lurks in the first batch of “Infusion”. “It’s perfect” he starts before being propelled around the room Exorcist style by an unholy coughing fit which eventually casts him retching into the corner. Nick concludes the chutney current contains “too much chilli by a factor of three”.

Once Duane has been safely hosed down he declares “I’m going to take charge” (well you are project manager mate). Jane’s immediately on the defensive “I didn’t do that”. “I know you didn’t” says Duane (leaving “you mad bitch” unsaid).

“Ricky!” bellows Adam like a Northern Frank Butcher as he peers into the unseasonably dark batch of Belissimo. “Something’s not right. It’s boiling like an omelette” he frets. Something tells me Adam’s mum does all his meals for him. Having failed to figure out the mystery shit tasting ingredient the boys dump the whole batch and start again, but somehow they manage to produce a sample for the posh deli. All goes swimmingly until deli man points out to a crestfallen Steve that there’s actually two Ls in Bellissimo if you want to use the real world.

As Sterling have to start the chutney again from scratch, Nick, Jade and (silent) Gabby have to pitch without a product to the bemused posh deli men (“It’s the first time in history someone has turned up without a product”). Cue much squirming.

Back at the factory, Duane runs around like superman, but this time he hasn’t had another taste of the chutney, but is working hard co-ordinating the rest of the team (the increasingly sour faced Jane is of course given stirring duties). They manage to jar up shed loads of the stuff and it actually looks quite yummy.

Ricky’s subteam have realised that Belissimo coagulates as it cools so they can’t get it into the bottles. Rather than keep it over a very low heat they rush to pour as much as possible of the rubbery liquid into bottles, wasting loads in the process. Ricky has the smart idea of adding water to save some more of the product. That’s what a biochemistry degree will do for you. The boys still seem to end up wearing more of their product than the bottles contain, their white lab coats splattered with more red than malpracticing surgeons.

With 10 hours to sell they call Katie to inform her that a fifth of the product has been lost (actually a third has if you count the other wasted batch), so the cost price has to go up. Katie calculates that they will have to increase the cost price to £3.99 so takes most of Pheonix to Westfields shopping centre in Stratford to flog jars at £3.99 or 3 for a tenner to gullible members of the public, whilst Michael leads Tom and Azhar in the relatively simple task of selling only 80 bottles to trade.

Nick, Gabby and Jade try to flog Infusion at another Deli, but unfortunately, explains the beardy in-house chutney maker, it’s one of those places that prides itself on selling only British ingredients and the totally tropical taste of Infusion would look out of place next to the Pontefract Cakes and golliwogs. “The Chutney maker has spoken” apologises the owner.

Duane leads Jenna and Jade to pull faces and growl at people in a supermarket at lunchtime, but gets less interest than he expected for some reason.

Pheonix meanwhile are doing a roaring trade at Westfields, but the trade team call to ask the bottom price. Katie suggests £1.99, so Michael manages to throw away a potential sale to a woman in a café who actually likes the product but doesn’t want to go above £1.95. Rightly Tom and Azhar rebel and demand the chance to negotiate and Michael sulks and sweats like a suicidal clown while his subteammates manage to flog a few bottles to an Italian café owner, despite him pointing out the spelling mistake (presumably they found a few howlers on his menu in return). Michael moans that the boys are “jumping in with loads of ideas and that” but decides “as long as we sell that’s the main thing”. Just figured that one out then.

Finally Sterling return to the posh café with the long awaited chutney and manage to sell 300 jars of the stuff, but slightly cheaper than they wanted to at £1.70 a jar. However Duane has lead his subteam to a posh foody shop in Marylebone and managed to sell loads of jars at £2.15 each.

Katie’s rather more desperate and her subteam flog their last 48 bottles of Belissimo to a bloke in a corner shop for £40 (Katie has to Shhh one of the blokes who pipes up “Can you meet us halfway?” when the deal is actually done). However they discover that Michael’s team still have 23 bottles left.

Meanwhile Duane’s subteam (well Duane) have sold all their jars for an average of £2, but the other subteam still have 72 units left.

Time for the boardroom, and Lord Alan points out that Katie said in her application that “Men can be manipulated”. The boys don’t like that, but they still back her when she giggles, tosses her hair and says “Don’t say anything nasty”. Adam bigs up his “major role in operations” (I think he retrieved a spoon from one batch they chucked). But it boils down to the fact that production screwed up and Katie had to increase her margins by selling to the public.

Sterling all back Duane’s leadership, apart from Jane, who’s pulled up on whether she’ll give Duane any credit by Lord Sugar and says something suitably non committal. There’s a good chuckle over the first batch, which Nick describes as a “dangerous and poisonous concoction.. to be in same room was certain danger.”, and Sugar bemoans the fact Sterling didn’t think of taking at least an empty jar to the first pitch, and then it’s score time and there’s no surprises.

Pheonix sold 305 bottles and took £585.56 profit

Sterling sold 607 bottles and made £1028 profit

So basically had Pheonix made enough, they’d have walked this, but has Katie introduced a world of lose to the boys or (more likely) has Duane taken away a world of win with him. No matter as Sterling are sent off to race cars, where Jane manages yet again to be a miserable cow about Duane (who notes his disappointment with her to camera).

There’s a lovely arty shot of the losers in the bridge café half framed by a plastic ketchup bottle. Katie’s convinced that she wasn’t the weakest link, but Ricky’s equally assured that “all the good things that happened were down to me – the bad things were the other guys” (he really said that! Wow!). Everyone’s underwhelmed by Michael’s selling.

Back in the boardroom, and Lord Sugar yet again points out that production “was all screwed up”, undermining Ricky’s claims of having masterminded “the best recovery since Dunkirk” by saving 21 bottles worth. However when it’s pointed out that Katie’s subteam sold 253 bottles to the public and Michael’s only managed to sell 53 to trade, everyone starts blaming trade sales too – even though they were already completely doomed by not having enough bottles to sell. Tom quickly points out that it was all Michael’s fault as he was in charge and Tom has no autonomy, being the pretty boy of this year’s series.

Katie brings back Ricky as he was subteam manager (despite admitting that “he sold his heart out”) and Michael. I wouldn’t have bought back Ricky as he’s the sort of person who will keep on arguing his corner until everybody else caves in, and he comes out fighting with the excuse that Katie didn’t make it clear what the target market was. Michael joins in “Katie should have said – get as many made as possible”. Katie rightly argues that this is a “none point” as selling units depended on a good amount of units (within budget) being made.

Karren suggests that Ricky mismanaged the production line (“There were too many people cooking and not enough filling”) and Ricky admits that it was an “oversight” due to his lack of experience (you volunteered, sharkboy). Michael plays the boardroom all wrong and clearly expects Ricky to join him in trying to savage Kate, but Ricky’s not stupid and turns on Michael “Why didn’t you phone Katie and say you weren’t selling or make a decision and drop the price. I’d be embarrassed with those figures”.

Michael’s an excuse man and next claims that Katie’s subteam made it easier for themselves (by stopping random shoppers as opposed to following up leads?). He proves to be a bitter little man by bemoaning the fact he wasn’t “born with a silver spoon in my mouth” (but he does have the FA Cup for ears) like some of the other people here who are “highly educated” (what?!) “and all that stuff.” Sugar’s unimpressed and asks Michael if he’s not out of his depth. Michael clearly thinks his anti-intellectual cockney geezer spiel is working and launches into an apples and pears bedecked tirade about how “some people can talk the talk” (but can’t do the Lambeth walk). So despite the failure all being at the factory, Lord Sugar fires Michael for being rubbish, grey and looking like a junky Mr Potato Head. Michael reflects on his personal successes in the taxi of doom, as the manager of a kitchen and bedroom furniture store. Am I the only person who finds that combination odd?

All the girls hope Katie’s gone, but Adam annoys them by giving her some credit for trying to deal with the Belissimo fiasco. Ricky returns and admits that Lord Sugar “had me for a minute, but then I realised Michael was there”.

Next week the teams are selling scrap and rubbish to people. Pheonix must win this one.

Loving: Duane

Liking: Katie, Azhar, Jade

Meh: Tom, Nick, Gabrielle

Irritated by: Steve

Disliking: Laura, Ricky, Jenna

Itching to slap: Adam

Loathing with a twitchy fury: Jane

Bye Bye: Michael, Maria, Bilyana