Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Apprentice And The Flavoured Beer Task (or How Not To Organise A Piss-up In A Brewery)

Man cannot live on beer alone. Or rhubarb.
After the midnight start of the container of tat challenge, the 15 remaining candidates had a veritable lie-in for their second task - a 6am wake-up call, answered by an over-excited Luisa, summons them to the Old Bank in Fleet Street.  She squeakily and shriekily wakes them all up and we're treated to a few soundbites as they get ready (cue gratuitous abs shots) and travel to what turns out to be a pub, not a bank at all (the boys are apparently "teamwork all the way now" and Jason thinks that they should go for a tried-and-tested formula; him as PM and they'll win again.  Er, doubtful, Jase, very doubtful).

So, they're at the pub.  Beer is Britain's favourite alcoholic drink, says Lord Sugar, with sales totalling £18 billion a year.

With a twist on the boys versus girls teams, bouncy bloke Tim is tasked with heading up the girls in Evolve.  His business idea is to come up with a new drink; this task should be right up his street then.  Candidates with experience in the field ALWAYS perform well, right?  Bwahaha!

And Scouser Kurt, who barely featured in the first episode, is project manager for the rest of the boys in Endeavour.  He's also in the drinks industry.  Can I get me another bwahaha?  Cheers!

And...they're off.

The task?  The first day, they need to create an interestingly flavoured beer.  The second day, they need to sell it...for a profit.  I wonder if they'll bother with that bit though - they don't always.

Kurt, the health drink entrepreneur (spinach and ginseng smoothies maybe?), initially favours chilli and caramel beer.  But Lord of Darkness, Alex, is worried that chillis are a little bit too adventurous (are vampires scared of chillis as well as garlic?).  Neil suggests chocolate orange, though he missed a trick there - surely Drac-a-like Alex would've preferred blood orange?

Jordan forages the hedgerow of his brain and comes up with "nettles" as a beer flavour - will people think it's going to sting their mouth?  Only total idiots, Jordan.

Over to Tim, heading up Evolve.  The girls are captured giving him some of their best suspicious looks - a boy in their midst?  Can he win them over?  He's keen to target the female market with something healthy.  He does know what beer is, right?  But he's ever so enthusiastic - I think he may be caffeine powered.  He's not a lone ranger, though, he's definitely a team player.  His early attempt at trying to get the girls to "go round in a circle" to stop them all talking over one another fails miserably and the poor lad is left looking on helplessly as they discuss the mass market appeal of pomegranate and akai berries.  Karren's quick to pick up on his lack of control of the laydeez; she says that although he started well, it's "all gone to pot".  She frowns and writes in her notebook (presumably "Task Two, for Tim, it's all gone to pot"); her homework for Shugs.

Tim overrules his OWN decision, swayed by the stronger women in the group (which doesn't go unnoticed by Karren and her notebook), and they decide to target men, not women, with their flavoured beer.

Over at Endeavour, they decide to split into a marketing team, doing branding and design, and a manufacturing team, er, manufacturing.  Zee and Jason are put into the manufacturing team, with the rationale from Kurt that Zee doesn't drink, so won't be able to do market research as he doesn't understand the likely audience for their beer, despite having a marketing background.  Surely he won't be able to drink the bloody product, either, so it could end up tasting like donkey wee.  Mind you, probably better than spinach and ginseng smoothies...  And Jason, it transpires, doesn't drink beer either.  Alex is also tasked with manufacture.  No garlic-flavoured beer then.  And Jordan is leader of the sub-team (this is Jordan who wanted nettle beer, folks).

The manufacturing team head out of London to the Midlands, to make the beer that two of them won't be able to taste.  Clever Kurt.

Back with Evolve, Francesca suggests they try selling their beer at the Real Food Festival, but this is scoffed at by Rebecca, who wants them to go to a beer festival.  They decide on the Kent Beer Festival.  Which is, obviously, in Putney.

The manufacturing sub-teams for both Evolve and Endeavour pitch up at Banks's Beer and begin to try the product.  Well, those of them who drink it, that is.  Zee and Jason watch Alex and Jordan make English Wine Sparkling type comments about beer.

But the other half of the boys' team have already decided on the flavour, and are waist deep in branding it.  Let's hope they've communicated it or they'll have a devil of a job explaining why chocolate orange packaging contains nettle and the blood of a willing virgin flavoured beer.

Myles suggests an orange peel effect for the bottle.  Cellulite?  Tasty...

Ah, there it is - Endeavour ring their manufacturing sub-team to tell them what flavour beer to make.  There's nothing like giving your colleagues a bit of decision-making power - and this is NOTHING LIKE giving your colleagues a bit of decision-making power.  It's a good job Jason's wearing hygiene goggles in the brewery as his eyes look like they're about to pop out of his head.  Not in the beer, Jase.

Kurt ploughs on regardless - the amber bitter base with the chocolate orange.  But his sub-team preferred the stout base - and half of them have tasted it, so surely their opinion should count for something.  Ah, no, no, it doesn't.  Myles dismisses Alex's protests - the amber bitter base it is.  Nick Hewer's incredulous (he does do that well, doesn't he, boys and girls?).

The ladies (and Tim) are trying all sorts of flavours - from blueberry to bacon.  Rhubarb is pronounced bitter, so they add caramel.  And that's their flavour - even Karren looks like she might enjoy it.

Uzma's the leader of the marketing and branding sub-team (ably assisted by Luisa, Leah and Sophie.  Well...assisted).  Luisa and Uzma have an argument over 10% and 5% blacks on the label, across the designer chap, which Uzma finds disrespectful.  As do we all, Uzma, as do we all.  Their label, Rhubarb & Riches, is dismissed as "like a fashion boutique" by Luisa, who snaps at Uzma to BE the leader.  She really is a charmer.

For Endeavour, Neil is, once again, bigging up his own contribution.  "Behind every project manager, there's a Neil Clough", he brags.  I bloody hope not.  He's come up with the flavour, the name - he's basically running the show.  Apparently.  Again.

The boys start trying to do maths to scale up their formula into barrel-sized portions.  What could possibly go wrong?  Apprentice candidates are always bang on with their mathematics, right?  But maybe, just maybe, they'll get it right this time #evertheoptimist      Zee's confident that their sub-team has delivered their end of the bargain and it looks like he might just be right - their flavouring goes without a hitch.

Francesca is also trying to haul basic maths out of her brain, which is confused with metres and grams, as Evolve attempt to work out their millilitre ratio.  But they balls it up totally, twice, making two casks of beer that's not safe to drink - a triumph!  The other half of Evolve are horrified that they haven't produced any frigging beer yet (frigging beer - I don't think that's a winning flavour, do you?).  They've wasted 150 pints of beer trying to get the mix right, but finally they get some kegs with drinkable liquid in them out of the door.

The next day, they all try their beer and see their branding.  Happy days.

Tim sends half of Evolve off to sell to the trade (eventually, after a kerfuffle about who'll do what that sees him changing his mind a lot and doubtless making Karren use her frowning pen to write in her special notebook and do wiggly caterpillar eyebrows), but forgets to appoint a sub-team leader.  So he rings and tells Rebecca it's her.

The boys of Endeavour are at the St Albans Beer Festival, with prices set at £4 for a pint or a bottle and £2.60 for a half.  Nick Hewer reckons it's a big risk to sell so far above the competition, who are on sale for £3.20 a pint.  And it's St Albans, guys - how much will people pay for a pint outside central London (where prices start from £476 for a half, traditionally)?

Tim's half of Evolve are in Putney for what appears to be the deserted Kent Beer Festival, which is actually held in a pub.  Perhaps everyone went to Kent for it by mistake?  The trade half are trying to sell to a pub that does specialist ales.  Their beer is pronounced quite dry, but...the landlord likes it.  They'll go for four casks!  Rebecca suggests £80, but they want to pay £75 a keg.  Uzma instantly tries to leap in, but Rebecca cuts her down with a waggy finger and gets the sale for £78 a cask.  Watch out, though - there's resentment brewing (HA! See what I did there?).

The boys then try to pitch their beer, which they've called A Bitter This (A Bit Of...oh, never mind).  But...the total planks - they've only brought an empty bottle with them.  Alex, somewhat bizarrely, suggests they sniff the bottle, but the buyers aren't keen to sell a product they haven't actually tasted, which is pretty reasonable, I'm sure you'll agree, as their customers will be expecting to drink it with their mouths, not snort it with their noses (that's a different sort of high, kids).  When phoned, Kurt says he wasn't asked by his sub-team to send them with any product, which is why he didn't, apparently.  But he attempts to rectify this colossal error by sending six bottles over to his trade sub-team.

Back at Putney, things have livened up for Evolve, and Rhubarb & Riches is selling very well indeed to the relatively small number of people there.

Endeavour are still in St Albans, trying to sell expensive beer to punters who are unwilling to part with their hard-earned, even for the pleasure of a cellulite-feel limited edition bottle.  The weirdos.  Kurt wants to go to the Southbank, but shouldn't they stay put, drop their prices a bit and try to sell, rather than haul their wares to the other side of London, where people may still be reticent about the chocolate orange beer?

At last, the boys on the trade sub-team have product for their potential buyers to taste.  But their argument in the car about whether Jason should do any of the selling (Zee and Alex keen he doesn't speak, with Alex respectfully calling him a stupid shit) hasn't worked - and Jason goes totally off-piste with a way under budget offer of £75 and £80 for two casks.  The others round on him, in front of the buyers - fisticuffs?  Well, no, not in front of the customers - they agree on £75 for one barrel.  But, outside, Alex and Zee lay into Jason (who, away from them, calls them the most intolerable and moronic people he's met in a long time), saying he made them look stupid.  To be fair, Alex, with those eyebrows, you manage that yourself.

Evolve decide to move to another venue, and have a catch-up with the other half of the team en route, who aren't impressed that the Kentish Putney team have only sold a cask and a half compared to their four.

Zee, Alex and Jason are in another pub, trying to sell beer.  This time, they have product that the buyer can try with his mouth, but they don't have pump clips, which will brand the brew for the customers' eyes.  They're basically missing senses out (sight, taste, common).  Zee's just about to shake on a £70 for one keg and no pump clip deal, when Jason leaps in with a three kegs and pump clips offer, which almost earns him a black eye.  Will he never learn that his role is logistics, not sales, on this task?

Kurt decides to move from St Albans to the Southbank.  It'll take two hours to get there and they'll need to sell two or three pints a minute once they're there.  Simples.

Meanwhile, Evolve have moved from St Albans to Richmond.  To a wine bar.  Clue's in the name, dear hearts - surprisingly, they're all drinking wine.  Nobody bought their beer.  Shocker.

Endeavour are flogging their beer on the Southbank now.  They've dropped the price to £2.50 a pint - which if they'd done it in St Albans, maybe they wouldn't have needed the two-hour journey.  Then they drop to £2 a pint and finally a quid a pint for the last five minutes of the task.

Evolve's Leah sells their final two casks for £90.  Each.  Bingo.  But, as usual, there's no way of telling who's done the best till the boardroom.  Because that's how telly works. it is!  Suited and booted, the 15 candidates range their perfectly coiffed and heavily made up selves (and that's just the boys) in the waiting area outside the boardroom, before they're summoned in.

And here's Shugs, or "oh, man" as I prefer to think of him now (thanks, Jaz).

But, what's this?  Alex is slouching!  Lord Sugar asks him to sit up straight.  Perhaps he's slept funny (you know, upside-down from the rafters, or crooked in a satin-lined casket, something like that) - anyway, he sits up, sharpish.

Lord Weak Pun mocks the name of Endeavour's beer - A Bitter This - asking whether if you drink enough of it, it becomes funny.  Pots, kettles?  Neil takes all the credit for thinking up everything to do with the brand, the beer, the theme tune, etc.

Was the team split properly?  Kurt's criticised for sending people who didn't like or weren't allowed to drink beer for religious reasons to make the product.

A brief argument ensues over whose fault it was that they rocked up at the first trade appointment with just a bottle to sniff - Alex saying it was either Kurt or Myles to blame and Kurt calling him a liar.  Careful, he'll get his fangs out.

Jason then turns into Mary Whitehouse (neat trick if you can do it) and says that Alex disgraced Lord Sugar by swearing at him the whole day, and using deception to sell a good quality product.  Shugs questions whether he's from the Office of Fair Trading - clearly unimpressed with Jason's holier-than-thou approach to the nefarious business of flogging stuff.

Over to Evolve.  And Karren says that Francesca nearly melted down over doing her sums and Shugs isn't impressed that they wasted 90 litres of beer trying not to poison people (though the option of keeping and flogging the poisonous beer is a step too far, even for Lord Sugar).  The girls thought Tim was a good project manager, overall.  Will they keep saying that if the finance doesn't add up and they find themselves in the greasy spoon again?  Let's find out.  It's...numbers time!

Team Evolve
Spent: £648.67
Sales to the trade: £492.
Sales to the public: £555.69.

Profit: £399.02.

Team Endeavour
Spent: 601.40

Sales to the trade: £284.98
Sales to the public: £1,147.98.

Profit: £831.56.

So, Endeavour have it again.  Shugs sends them over to Belgium as their prize.  Presumably because they make beer there.  Although maybe he's just a Poirot fan.  Ah, no, it's beer.  Cheers, boys.  Again!

Evolve are back to the greasy spoon, arguing over who suggested the Kent Beer Festival.  Rebecca and Tim both pushed that location, but the rest of the girls aren't keen for the buck to stop with Tim (presumably because Tim's deciding who else goes into the boardroom with him - so transparent, ladies).

Back in the boardroom, nobody's keen to speak up initially, but Shugs says he doesn't want to give £250,000 to a dummy, someone who looks at him with a dumbfounded expression, so they start to pull each other apart with posturing and pointing and allegations of being undermined (OK, fair enough, that's mainly Rebecca).  But whose idea was the location?  Everyone blame...Rebecca, who fights back, accusing them all of being in cahoots (paranoia always goes down a treat with Lord Sugar, good tactic).

Shugs puts the tin lid on the omnishambles that is Evolve's endeavour (see what I did there?), saying that they couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery.  Ba-doom-tss.

They're all a bloody waste of space at the moment, he continues, failing on elementary things such as mathematics and location for sales.

Francesca and Rebecca are chosen byTim to face the pointy finger of firedom in the boardroom.

Can Rebecca redeem herself with being the one who sold most to the trade?  Will Francesca's GCSE Maths qualification save her?  Can Tim show that location location location wasn't their downfall?

Shugs wonders whether Rebecca's tough enough to hack the process.  She assures him that she is, by saying she's tough enough to hack this process.  Well, that's that sorted then.  I'm convinced.

Has Tim made any decisions?  Or is he hiding behind being a team player who was trying to appease the ladies?  He thinks Rebecca should be fired.  But has he reckoned without her superb selling abilities?  And Rebecca thinks Tim should be fired.  Shugs wants to know what Francesca did right.  Apparently she priced the pints.  But is being able to use a pricing gun enough to save her?  And is Rebecca a sensitive troublemaker who Lord Amstrad won't be able to work with?

Well, Tim's a young guy, with a drinks industry business idea.  But he's made too many mistakes on this task for Shugs and he'll go no further in this process - Tim's nice, but dim and he's fired.

Will the girls shape up?  Will Rebecca have an actual fight with Uzma next week?  Will Francesca work out the difference between metres and litres as they tackle the next task, which is to make a piece of flat-pack furniture?  Let's hope so, or they may end up with a water bed by mistake...

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