Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Apprentice Candidates Go Mad In Vineyards (or The One With The Quality Piss-up)

Quality fizz. Sorry, quality sparkle.
The rise and shine call comes at 5.45am this week and the remaining eight candidates are delighted to hear they are headed to the Champagne Bar at St Pancras.  Lord Sugar is there in person this time, rather than as a disembodied head on a massive telly, and he soon dashes any hope that this will be the episode in which the candidates go on a Eurostar jolly.  Instead, the brief for this week is to raise awareness of English sparkling wine – superior to much of that French muck, says Lord Sugar (I’m paraphrasing, slightly).

The standard fodder of branding, website and advert are all required elements for this task – though, one hopes, without the Tight Red Shorts of Azhar we have all been trying to forget.   Oh, sorry.  *passes brain bleach*

Since Laura’s departure, the teams are an unbalanced five-three, so Lord Sugar offers Phoenix the chance to do something PE teachers across the land have been doing for years (no, not that, that’s illegal) – they get to pick someone from Sterling.  Like giddy schoolchildren, they jump up and down and clap their hands, squealing, “Nick, we want Nick!” and Nick is duly wrested from the arms of Sterling to assume his position between Adam’s big pink face and Tom’s bum-fluff ‘tache.  Ricky and Gabrielle look particularly bereft at this loss, but Stephen’s colossal alien visage remains impassive (or has he been at the cryogenics in his spaceship again, we may never care).

Traditionally, the team leader bunfight is the first thing to occur on a task and this is a particularly messy one, as each team member knows that any seeming reluctance to step up to the plate will mean ball-squidging wedgies from Lord Sugar in the boardroom. Team Sterling ALL want to be the leader.  So, they have a vote.  And Gabrielle, Jenna and Ricky all manage to vote for other people, but Stephen wants to vote for himself (the weasel-dicked dickweasel).   He is soon slapped into place by Jenna and manages grudgingly to cough out a less narcissistic vote, and so it is that Ricky is team leader.

Team Phoenix have a wine entrepreneur in the form of Tom (street art and now wine – he’s basically a pisshead vandal, isn’t he?) and Nick is a tech wizard who wants to take responsibility for the online stuff.  So, without any of the unseemly squabbling of Sterling, Tom is installed as team leader and there are congratulations for being Very Clever Bastards all round.

Ricky’s first words to his team are the inspirational, “Let’s forget that the other team have masses of experience in this very field.  We’re better than them.”  However, he offers not evidence of this (because there isn’t any). And…they’re off! Adam’s massive pink face looks confused (you’ll have seen this expression in previous tasks.  All of them) as, alongside Tom in the back of a cab, he tries to understand why Champagne is called Champagne and why English sparkling wine isn’t.  Tom explains it to him using Vaseline (oh, dear GOD, that sounds revolting), by saying that petroleum jelly is the product and Vaseline is the brand name.  Adam seems to get it, but then Tom muddies the waters by offering Coca-Cola as a brand name for the generic…er, he doesn’t seem to know what and Adam’s massive pink face comes over all bamboozled again.

Stephen, keen to prove that his forte is, well, everything, tries rummaging round in the alien brain he keeps behind his alien face for a word that sums up English sparkling wine.  “Cert” is his first offering, and then it gets worse.  “Grandeur” or “Chink”.  Gabrielle, seemingly more aware of offensive terminology than Stephen (whose "how to be a human" manual must've skipped any mention of race relations), vetoes “Chink” immediately and it eventually dawns on Stephen why.  So, “Grandeur” it is.  You have until Nick Hewer mentions it in a minute to work out why it’s a bad idea for an English sparkling wine.  Tick-tock.

Ricky and Jenna head to a vineyard, where they’re told to remember three things about English sparkling wine (ESW) – “quality, quality, quality”.  I’m concerned that this might be at least two things too many for them to remember, but we’ll see.  Ricky wonders whether Tom will remember they’re not “creating wine” - as apparently it already exists. Meanwhile, Tom and Adam are quaffing wine.  Adam knows as much about wine as he knew about street art.  Zilch.  Nada.  Nowt.  He is “completely” out of his comfort zone and knows “zero about wine”.  This much is in evidence when he says you can “smell Christmas cake” in the wine.  Karren is amused.  Just not very.

Gabrielle and Stephen are in Tesco.  Gabrielle is looking at labels and branding.  Stephen is looking for a wine connoisseur; about as common in Tesco as gin at last week’s street art gallery task. Nick and Jade and Stephen and Gabrielle begin work on their respective websites.  Nick and Jade make their desire for an English Sparkling Wines brand clear, whilst Stephen splurges random guff at his poor website developer, including the strapline “Less fizz, more sparkle” and his “Grandeur” brand name.  Nick Hewer is on hand to tell us why "Grandeur" isn’t a good name for English sparkling wine – did you work it out?  Of course – it’s a FRENCH word.  But Stephen believes in the logo (a pretty English rose/wine glass combination, that Gabrielle designed), he believes in the name and he believes that it looks like a really nice bottle of wine, so Gabrielle goes along with it.  Colour us baffled.

Ricky and Jenna plan their ad, a wedding party with a demanding bride, who wants English sparkling wine.  Ricky thinks having her sitting on a throne may be de trop, but Jenna’s keen to fill us in on the plans for any wedding in her future – she wants a throne.  Heaven help us all.

Adam and Tom are…well, getting pissed in a vineyard.  Nick wants them to do some work on the advert, but Tom makes it clear that drinking wine is what they’ll be doing.  Jade says she thinks it’s strange, because Tom already knows about wine.  But Tom feels he needs to show off and drink more.  They’ve really, “ to grips with the English wine sparkling…<giggle> Sorry… The English wine sparkling…” – yeah, Nick and Jade have every right to be hacked off that their team leader and Adam Corblimey have been on a piss-up whilst they’ve been doing all the work.

Ricky’s team are planning their ad campaign.  Ricky doesn’t want it to be gimmicky.  It has to be quality, quality, quality.  Not gimmicky.  No gimmicks.  Gabrielle wants it funny.  Ricky wants it…quality and “thinks it will come back as we are expecting”.  I suspect the advert will be gimmicky, don’t you?  *hopeful face*

Ricky says “quality” some more.  Is this going to be the word of the episode?  Or will it be…”grandeur”?  Jenna can’t manage to say it – “grand-yoo-er” – so perhaps not. Adam is “choreographing” the Phoenix advert, and asks that the make-up isn’t too over the top.  Indeed, he requests simply that “everyone is touched up” which Jade finds rather amusing.  As do we all, if we’re honest with ourselves, don’t we?  Yes, we do.  Jade says she doesn’t enjoy working with Adam, which we can all also understand, can’t we?  Yes, we can.  And Adam offers his services as advert choreographer to the professionals he’s been working with to create their vision (which, incidentally, is a lot of people saying “Cheers”, smiling and clinking their glasses together (“clinking”, Stephen, not what you said)).  Karren does her unimpressed face A Lot.

Ricky calls Stephen and Jenna to make sure they haven’t killed each other (they haven’t, not even a flesh wound, I'm afraid, fight fans) and to check the advert won’t be “too gimmicky”.  He talks about quality again.  And he’s sure they won’t make it gimmicky.  Really sure.  *upcoming opportunity for Schadenfreude face*

Stephen and Jenna's advert is a bride in a throne, with a few others toasting her with English sparkling wine (including a man who isn't sure whether to look at the camera or not.  Awkward).

Karren highlights the flaw in Tom’s team’s campaign – they’ve created a website for people who already drink ESW, not something that will grab people who have never tasted the stuff.  Whoops.  Oh, surely the industry professionals won't notice.  It's not like they know about this stuff, after all.

Gabrielle and Ricky finally see their advert.  And Ricky pronounces it… “a lot cheesier than I expected it”.  #SchadenfreudeAchieved

Nick and Tom’s verdict of their own advert - “A bit boring, really”.  Cheesy and boring – Lord Sugar’s gonna be SO proud, guys!

Pitches next...

Ricky Martin is taking the industry bods on a journey.  He talks about quality.  A lot.  And heritage.  But mostly quality.  Quality.  And quality.  They’ve used gold on their website, so that’s definitely quality.  They’ve also started an English sparkling wine social networking forum, with its own logo and everything.  Quality.  Mark Zuckerberg must be shitting himself.  So, it’s all going quite well.  They even like Stephen the Alien’s strapline, “Less fizz, more sparkle” – and then they show the bridezilla advert.  “Why is it necessary to make it so flippant?  Do you think you would find a Champagne website that would portray itself that way?”.  Ah.  Fuck.

Next, Phoenix and ESW.  Remind me – “Extra Special Winners”?  “Ever So Wank”?  “Equally Silly Whingers”?  Oh, no, of course, “English Sparkling Wine”.

Tom talks about branding all English sparkling wine with their own logo and they play their “boring” advert.  The industry bods question whether a group of people drinking wine and saying “Cheers” is a good plan.  “Er…” say Team Phoenix.

Nick demonstrates how the website will work.  Or not.  Mostly “not” – because stockists won’t be interested in keeping their stock levels up-to-date on the ESW website.  Whoops again. Lord Sugar speaks to the panel to get their opinions.  The panel say random things that could be about either team edited together in a montage of raised and then dashed hopes and Lord Sugar says it’s interesting and “hmm”.


Lord Sugar introduces the task as a marketing campaign for English sparkling wines. Lord Sugar asks what Tom is like as team leader – Nick channels Azhar as he praises his “strategy”.  Shuggs asks, “innocently”, whether Tom and Adam tasted the wine…  They look at Phoenix’s website and advert, “An English tradition that’s finally English” – which is somewhat bizarre.  What was it before?  French, perchance?  Lord Sugar asks if the url for the website is – oops.  He points out that they’ve missed the point of the brief, making it a sales campaign rather than a marketing campaign.

Ricky Martin saw himself as David to Phoenix’s Goliath.  And he doesn’t like wine.  But he sees this as an opportunity, not a weakness.  Lord Sugar does some scoffing at that. Stephen pushes his “Cert” again as a brand name, saying they wanted something simple.  They should’ve called it “Stephen”, in that case.  Lord Sugar and Nick Hewer roll their eyes at it being called Grandeur, because it’s FRENCH, as we all know.

The last line in their bridezilla advert is “English sparkling wine, oozing luxury with every pore” – bleurgh!  “Spielberg can rest easy, that’s for sure,” says Lord Sugar, the frantic wag. Gabrielle done good with the rose glass logo – English rose, etc.

Shuggs – “Hmm…” The industry bods say Sterling started off reasonably OK.  Phoenix were boring.  More sales orientated than awareness.  They haven’t mentioned quality yet.  Will they?


The Phoenix campaign didn’t do what Shuggs asked them to do, but Sterling messed up So Much with the bridezilla farce that it was they who lost. Phoenix head off to the rooftop of a boutique hotel.  The lucky bastards.  And a hot tub.  With some sparkling wine.  Six nipples and Jade in the hot tub, laughing and joking. Sterling head off to a greasy spoon cafĂ©.  The unlucky bastards.  Although, to be fair, they don't have to see those six nipples... *reaches for brain bleach again*

Ricky – “The result is not the one that I wanted”.  No shit, Sherlock.  But Stephen is hoping that his gigantic alien face will save him.  Or his win record, I can’t remember – I was side-tracked by his looming eyes.

Back to the boardroom for the bollocking…

Why did you use humour?  WHY?!  Lord Sugar is baffled.  “I might remind you of Sid James, but I didn’t ask you to make Carry On Boozing!” – he’s getting funnier year on year, isn’t he?  He imitates Kenneth Williams as I cringe my face inside-out.

Stephen attempts to defend Jenna by saying that Jenna had a bad day at the office.  Talk about backhanded compliment.  Gabrielle attacks Stephen for trying to find a wine connoisseur in Tesco and Stephen tries to take credit for Gabrielle’s logo, in a staggering display of arrogance.

Ricky looks at the facts of what went wrong and decides to bring back Jenna and Stephen to face the firing.  Stephen does an upside-down U for a mouth again – is it game over for the alien?  Or will Ricky Martin dance his way out of the programme?  Jenna…described as “A good sport who works hard” by Nick Hewer.  But will it be enough to save her?


“Why did you think humour was a good idea?  WHY?!”  Lord Sugar is still incredulous. Nick Hewer reads from his notes and backs up that Ricky’s requirement was for “quality, not cheese”.  Lord Sugar questions why Ricky didn’t take more responsibility for the quality of the advert.  Apparently he should've been in two places at once.  Jenna is given enough rope to hang herself – will she?  She’s been in the losing team five times, in the final three twice. Stephen blames everyone else, Ricky points out that Stephen is good at deflecting any kind of responsibility.  Perhaps his skin is coated with Teflon, in some sort of alien/saucepan hybrid, not seen since Enid Blyton wrote the Faraway Tree series.

Lord Sugar, “Stephen can talk the hind legs off a donkey, looks like butter wouldn’t melt, Ricky, defeatist attitude.  Jenna, you work hard, you take responsibility for the disastrous video”. Jenna didn’t realise that this was a high-end, quality product and she should have worked out that this was not an opportunity for humour.  Lord Sugar isn’t joking as he fires her and Jenna leaves the process.

And I, for one, won’t miss her.

Stephen is project manager on the next task, whatever happens…  Will he save himself?  He pretends to the other candidates that he made a bet with Lord Sugar that he’d win the next task – he got as much brass neck as he has alien face.  And that's loads.  And loads.

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