Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Apprentice Returns (or "Container" Yourselves, It's The All New Muppet Parade)

Let's all wave like Lucky. Or...not.
The new series begins with a selection of quotes from an array of what must surely be the most irksome and arrogant hopefuls The Apprentice has seen yet.  But maybe I'm being selective in my memory, or perhaps we just haven't got to know the kind, sweet-natured bunch this series.  Er, ok.  Here you go, anyway - you decide:

Zee: I'm a great of my generation. I'm an innovator and leader in business. I take inspiration from Napoleon.  I am here to conquer.

Jaz: I'm half machine.  I can process things at a speed that is out of this world.

Jason: Some people come to this process with a game plan.  I just feel my effortless superiority will take me all the way.

Alex: I'm an old head on young shoulders.  I believe that I'm the new breed of businessman that this process requires.

Myles: I have run successful businesses.  I can generate profit.  I'm business perfection personified.

Luisa: I have energy like a Duracell bunny, sex appeal like Jessica Rabbit and a brain like Einstein.

Francesca: I'm prepared to fight to the death to become Lord Sugar's business partner.

Neil: I will do anything to win. Cheating, manipulating, I will do it.

But, unfortunately, after all that swagger and posing, Lord Sugar says actions speak louder than can they do it?  Can they do what other Apprentice candidates generally fail to do - come up with good ideas to make money without making the other thing that Apprentice candidates usually do - twats of themselves?

With this shower, it looks like the "open a container with a random assortment of tat inside, choose randomly and flog it for as much as you can" challenge might be just that - challenging.

It's midnight.  It's the boardroom.  Lord Sugar gives them a peppy pep talk - you're the collateral, you are the asset.  But he doesn't like their CV "bullshit".  He wants to hear a bit about their business ideas (a new twist on the format this year - we'll hear more about what they plan to do with Lord Sugar's cash should they be fortunate enough to be victorious).

They all look on, each convinced that they have the most amazing business idea.

Neil's is a unique online estate agency business.  Really?  How unique can it be when there are other estate agencies online?  Surely, by its very definition, it's not unique already.  Tsk.

Lord Sugar helpfully points out that Myles says on his CV that he thinks estate agents are tossers.  Neil hastily notes that he isn't an estate agent.  He doesn't let on whether he's a tosser or not though.  Time will tell.

Jaz's idea is enthusiastically described (by her) as an online learning platform to eradicate low levels of literacy.

Leah's...a doctor.  But we don't hear about her business idea.

Jason's never had a fulltime job - he's a student, studying Greek modern history.  But will he get the golden fleece?  Haha, Lord Sugar, very good (someone writes these for you, right?  Ooh, job opportunity!).

The task: the container of tat, grab it all, flog it off quick for big cash sums.

Jaz wants to be team leader for the girls.  Her hand went up so fast, she almost gave herself wrist whiplash.

Jason is team leader for the boys (volunteering himself at a slightly more sedate pace).

In the back of the car, the boys are trying to find out about their team leader.  Jason's intelligence is like a machete, apparently.  But does he have a job?  No, he does "a bit of this, a bit of that".

Jaz isn't bossy, but she will tell people what to do.  Hokay...

Alex looks like Freddie Mercury, he says.  Or Dracula, the others think (and they're right, he's the spit of the virgin-bothering garlic dodger).  And he's from Cardiff.


The girls come up with Evolve, relatively quickly.

The boys are Endeavour, also relatively quickly.


Hey ho, onward and upward.  It's CONTAINER TIME!

The teams choose:
Water, toilet rolls, cat litter, bubble wrap, leather jackets, mugs with Union Jacks on and china cats.  AKA tat.

Jaz asks what the girls expect from her: delegation, clear direction, to listen to her team.

Let's see, shall we?

And Sophie already feels patronised.  Good start, Jaz, good start.

Jason's having a problem herding the cats on his team.  Luckily, they've got cat litter to sell, so...

But he has appointed a sub-team leader, Neil, which Neil feels is clear proof that he's really in charge.  The boys get on their way, and start making calls offering very interesting products.  Let's hope they've got something more than cat litter then...

Back with the girls and Rebecca apparently always comes out on top - she's won loads of sales awards and always sells the most.  Pride comes before a fall?

But look, she's made £15, selling two cases of water!  WOW!  #underwhelmed

Alex, the vampire, flogs all their water (presumably not holy) for 12p a bottle to a coach company.  Neato.

Jason's trying to sell the lucky cats now - to a casino.  Apparently they retail for £12 (oh, come now), so they wanted to sell them for £6.  PAH!  The casino owner is having none of it and suggests three quid each (still pretty fucking steep for the plastic tat-cats).  Myles offers batteries with them, for £3.50 (bizarrely, since they have no batteries to sell) and they shake on £3.25, but the others doubt his motives - did he just want a sale at any cost to cover his back in the boardroom?

So now they've got to get batteries.  From somewhere.

Back to Evolve and the girls are looking for somewhere to sell lucky cats.  They're Chinese lucky cats...but they're not in China, so...  OOH!  Chinatown, thinks Jaz!  Unfortunately, it's closed, because it's still, like, well early.

Back with the water-selling girls - Luisa wants to sell the water, so makes a snide remark to Rebecca about selling more than two cases this time, then has an argument with Dr Leah before she tries her hand at selling, about whether she's likely to be able to memorise some figures before she tries the pitch.  Less Jessica Rabbit, more bunny-boiling loon.

The rest of the girls are back in Oxford Street, trying to sell lucky cats.  Ironically, they're having no luck.  Which sort of begs the question about just how lucky the little feline fuckers are, doesn't it?

They're also trying to sell Union Jack mugs for a penny more than they're on sale for in the shop already.  Basic mathematics, ladies, c'mon!  But, wait, they've got "just ten" leather jackets left!  Ooh!  The shopkeeper buys them all, unable to resist such an offer.  Or...does he?  Nope.  He's got to speak to his boss.  Talk to the decision maker, girls, fgs!

Nick "Countdown" Hewer is NOT impressed.  Jaz is "a nice woman", but this is business.  Oh, dear...

The rest of Team Evolve ring to say they've sold the water.  Jaz and the three other girls in the back of the car do "the lucky cat wave" to celebrate.  Excuse me whilst I add that to the list of things I didn't think I'd see on The Apprentice.  It's almost up there with the red shorts from the last series (#brainbleach).

The boys have flogged the cats (RSPCA?) for £160.  AKA fuck all.  And wasted time finding batteries.  And what's time?  MONEY, of course!  Worst of all, Jason misses the opportunity for a weak pun and calls it the "cat catastrophe".  Fool.  Lord Sugar will never hire you for weak pun writing duty with that sort of lack of attention to wordplay detail.

Alex is now trying to sell the bog roll, clarifying that it's "clean".  Well, that should help matters.  Even Stuart Baggs himself couldn't sell used lav paper, could he?  Actually, he probably could.  To a whole field of ponies.

Jason suggests a strategy for approaching clothes shops.  "Do we want to carry the ukulele and the mug and seem like purveyors of...tat?" - well, Jase, if the crap fits... (SEE, JASON, THAT'S HOW YOU DO A WEAK PUN!  Come on, Shugs, gissa job #Yosser).

They smash a mug to celebrate (whoops).  And then go off to try to flog the leather coats (with real polyester lining, folks).

Evolve are trying to sell the cat litter.  The Mutts Nuts aren't interested, though.  Perhaps because "mutt" means "dog".  And it's "cat" litter.  However, I'm now wondering what "dog" litter would - no, no, stoppit #brainbleach

Neil "despises cats", but, when trying to flog the cat litter at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, he pronounces the kittens "beautiful".  Disingenuous much?  Remember he said he'd do anything to win - "cheating, manipulating" - and, it seems, lying about how much he likes pussy.  Interesting.

Over to Zee to try to clinch the sale for the kitty litter.  Well, sort of over.  Neil can't help himself, banging on, leaping in with suggestions and wincing whenever Zee opens his mouth.  Karren wasn't impressed.

Eventually, they sell the lot for £213, £5.20 a bag.

Neil and Zee have a brief row in the back of the car, over Neil hanging up the phone and where to sell high-vis jackets.  That'll be one to look back on fondly, boys.

AND Evolve are back in Chinatown (which is open now), still trying to sell lucky cats.

Sophie tries to sell them for £5 each.  Then Natalie leaps in with a £3 offer.  But for only ten of their fifty units, so they're back on the trog round Chinatown, trying to hawk the other forty.

Endeavour are selling the high-vis jackets.  The unaptly named Tim "Still"well leaps about all over the place after selling all 100 of them for £1.20 each.  Bless his eager and excited cotton socks.  And that's it, they've sold their half of the tat.  It's over to project manager Jason's half of the team, who are still trying to sell ukuleles and six of their leather jackets.  Neil's half of Endeavour are deeply unimpressed with him as project manager.

The girls are in a tat shop, where they manage to sell ten rolls of bubble wrap and a load of bog roll - for the princely sum of over £400.  #weakpunalert  That's shitloads of bog roll, right?  

Uzma says it doesn't faze her not to be in the limelight all the time, but really needs to work on her poker face, as she looks more miffed than Mrs Miffed after she's been particularly miffed by Miffy doing something super-miffing.

Endeavour are "running like hell to sell those ukuleles".  Jordan spins a massive whopper with "we've saved these specially for you" to the lucky shopkeeper they chance upon with their twangy stringed instruments.  George Formby's spinning in his grave.  And the shopkeeper seems more interested in plucking than purchasing, so to speak.  But, with 30 seconds to go, they clinch the deal - five ukes for £30.

Sophie squeaks about nobody listening to her.  But nobody listens.

Jaz's half of Team Evolve have sold items to the value of £270, which horrifies the other half.  Luisa says that if Jaz even suggests that any of the horrified half of the team are to go back into the boardroom, she'll be "on her like a fly on shit".  What a lovely image.  And now I'm thinking about fly litter.  Oh, STOP IT with the various animal excrement imagery.

Anyway, I predict a boardroom slaughter, because neither team leader has been anything like impressive.

Mwahahahaha!  C'mon, it's what we all tune in for, eh?

Jaz asks for feedback on her team leader abilities.  THE DIMWIT.  It's met with resounding silence (though that may just be because nobody said anything interesting enough for the final edit.  That's how telly works, kids).

Neil thinks Jason has committed "business suicide" by appointing him second in command.  But will Lord Sugar agree?  Traditionally unimpressed by arrogance without substance, Neil's talking over Zee's pitch may be his undoing.  But we have to see how the teams did first.  And they're back in the boardroom for the breakdown.  The financial one - though there may be sobbing, I guess, once the backstabbing starts.


Did Jaz regret putting herself forward as project manager so quickly?  No...  Might she by the end of this boardroom?  Almost certainly!  It starts off friendly enough, with nice words, but lots of eye-rolling.  And...there it is.  They feel like Leah was the project manager, not Jaz, and Leah made the decisions.  Cor, that didn't take long!

So, did they sell anything?  Half the team very nearly sold out.  Jaz's team, as she details, had remaining all the mugs, seven leather jackets and 40 lucky cats.  Jaz then DEMONSTRATES the lucky cat wave to Lord Sugar.  A moment, whilst we pause to cringe our faces inside out at that.

A brief criticism from Shugs of their naivety over talking to the monkey, not the organ grinder, when it came to selling the leather jackets in Oxford Street.  Surely that's Business 101 - don't try to sell to someone who can't do the buying?

Over to Endeavour - a team name that is more "to hope to succeed" than to actually do it - though they did sell everything, so maybe they'll have squeaked it.

Jason thinks they did well as a team.  But Lord Amstrad has picked up on Neil's leadership challenge (even if Jason didn't).  Why did he do that?  Not enough leadership.  Alex "stakes" his loyalty (oh, do keep up, weak pun fans) and puts the boot in too, saying clear, concise instructions were left out from the beginning.  Karren chips in to point out that it was difficult when they were all talking over each other.

The boys' bunfight continues, with Neil saying he should've been team leader from the beginning. Jordan says it's embarrassing that Neil believes in himself more than anyone else does - then makes the rather bizarre statement that "it's not a competition, we're a team". Has he ever seen this before?

Karren says, through gritted teeth, "I've had a whole day of this" and she's "very tired of it".

Alex tries to stand up for Neil, but fucks up totally when he says he's "worked with Liam all day".  Another Business 101 lesson (or, perhaps, "Being Human 101" - something that may be harder for Mr Undead than at first glance) - "learn the names of the people you've spent all day with, especially when you say them in front of Lord Sugar".

Myles calls Jason's sales approach "more Vicar of Dibley than market trader" - something that's probably fair, but I can't forget the batteries for cats fiasco.  And nor, it seems, can Lord Sugar - his next question is whose idea was the batteries for the lucky cats.  Loadsa time wasted powering up the little pussies.

Tim bobs about some more, and says he felt the way to prove himself on this task was through sales.  Hey, guys, we've got a genius here!  He regales us with the story of how he sold the high-vis jackets.  And Lord Sugar tries a weak pun of his own - "they must have seen you coming".  I'm so very proud #fondpunster

And it's time for the numbers - from Nick "busman's holiday" Hewer.

Team Evolve:

Jaz's subteam sold £270.
Leah's subteam sold £839.30.

Total: £1139.30.

Team Endeavour:

Jason's subteam sold £324.50.
Neil's subteam sold £843.40.

Total: £1167.90.

Team Endeavour, as the winners, head to their luxury house in Holborn, with Fortnum & Mason's chef to cook for them that evening.  Bizarrely, Tim decides to then explain himself and say he's taken on board what Lord Sugar has said, yada, yada, yada...  He's cut off, by Lord Sugar pointing out that he's won.  Thud.

So, it's Jaz's Team Evolve who are back in the boardroom.

But first, a glimpse of their new home - which is rather nice, as you might expect.  And it's all smiles and "cheers" over posh grub.

Team Evolve are in the traditional losers' greasy spoon - Luisa points out that they sold more than triple the amount of stuff in their sub-team.  Uzma says they had all the figures, the appointments, the strategy.  The next day, after a good night's sleep, they're back to the boardroom.

Jaz really doesn't think she did anything wrong - she led the team.  Er, the losing team, remember?

And so to the boardroom...

Lord Sugar suggests Jaz began like the start of a netball match, all positivity and motivational blathering.  But that's jack shit, Sugar wants facts.  Leah made the strategy, she didn't implement Jaz's strategy.  Uzma didn't sell anything, but Leah had allocated her a non-selling role; operations and logistics.  Good call, except they didn't get as far as Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, who would've cheerfully munched through all their cat litter supply (as they did for the boys).  Logistics your way out of that, Uzma.

Luisa tries a bit of a backstab with Rebecca, but wisely sidesteps her way out of going in for the kill when it's pointed out to her that Rebecca was actually the biggest seller in their group.

Sophie sold nothing in Jaz's sub-team, but knew that lucky cats weren't going to be easy to sell in Chinatown.  However, nobody seemed to have heard her say it.  #weakpunalert  Maybe the cat had her tongue?

So, who's Jaz going to bring back?

Sophie's her first choice, which Sophie doesn't think is fair (well, of course she wouldn't, but who's gonna listen to her - not Jaz (again)).  And then there's some sarcastic arm-waving, which ALWAYS goes down well with Lord Sugar (have these people watched the series before?  Jeez!), before she decides on Uzma.

The girls in the firing line step outside, whilst Lord Sugar, Nick and Karren have a chat.  They decide it's tough to be a project manager, especially with a team like that.  Sophie was "a big disappointment" to Nick.  And the jury's out re Uzma.

And...they're back in the room.

Will Jaz stand her ground?  Will Sophie be heard?  Can Uzma operate and logistic her way out of a paper bag?

Sophie asks a rather dangerous question of Uzma - did she not think, as it was a selling task, she should've tried to sell?  Dangerous indeed - Sophie didn't sell anything herself, nor was she on the half of the team that sold over £800-worth of tat.

Jaz describes Sophie as a "passenger" on the task.  But Jaz didn't sell anything herself.  And it was Jaz's idea - and one she kept on about and followed through with, even though it was ridiculous - to "take coals to Newcastle" and try selling the lucky cats in Chinatown.  And then comes what could well be the clincher.  She sighs and says, "Oh, man..." - no, not "man" - he's "Lord Sugar", as he quickly points out.  Thud.  Again.

Shugs gives Jaz credit for jumping in and being project manager. wasn't clever to do it so quickly.

Lord Sugar is confused about why Jaz has brought Uzma into the boardroom - logistics is an important part of sales.

Sophie didn't sell anything - did she pull her weight on the task?  That has to be given deep consideration.

But...there was "terrible mayhem" and "fatal mistakes" were made.  Her biggest mistake was jumping in too quickly to be project manager.  The pointy finger of Lord Sugar fires...Jaz.

Jaz is "gutted" to be fired before she's had the chance to show how amazing she is.  What a loss to the world.

It's all hugs and smiles when the other two are back in the house.  How long they last remains to be seen.

So, it's the final 15 (good grief).  And they're making money from flavoured beer next time (and we only have to wait till 8th May - twice in two days!  With a double helping this week of the Muppet Parade, zey're really spoiling uz!).


  1. As is always the case, Jaz came across terribly in the episode (although she was better on You're Fored), such are the vagaries of a narrative process which has to paint her in a bad light. She did seem completely unable to lead people, though, and treat them as adults rather than children. There are many capable businesspeople who are terrible people managers (I count myself as one) and as a parent I do like her business idea and hope she succeeds, but she was the right person to go here. Anyone who loses the first task as PM knows they're in big trouble.

    I'm also blogging The Apprentice after every episode - my thoughts on episode 1 are here:

  2. Ah, very good! They're a particularly likeable bunch this year, eh?