Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The One With The Udderly Ridiculous Products (or The Apprentice Candidates Go Mad For Milkshakes)

Ooh, look, The Apprentice candidates' new logo!
This week, the girls need to put the Crappy Crate debacle behind them, as they fight for the chance to become Lord Sugar's business partner.

The call comes whilst the sparrows are still rubbing the sleep from their eyes and farting the national anthem, or whatever it is that sparrows do that early in the morning - I have no idea, I'm still asleep at that hour, like any normal slug-a-bed.

This time, Lord Sugar's called them to Surrey Docks.  Kurt doesn't know what's worse - being woken up, or being woken up by Luisa.  I can help him out with this - it's the latter, very much so.  The getting-ready banter includes speculating about whether the teams will be mixed up this week - with Luisa saying she doesn't want to work with Zee, because he's a bit full of bullshit and Zee neatly proving that instantly, by saying he could be the girls' "saviour".  Nobody agrees.

On their journey, the girls talk about how being in the bottom three makes you see "the bigger picture" - not entirely sure what the smaller picture is that's all you can see without a trip to the boardroom bollocking - but hey, let Uzma have her own moment of bullshit.  I suspect it won't be the last crap we'll see this week...

And, as if by some sort of blogger intuition style magical prophesying, the Apprentice hopefuls pitch up in a yard full of animal dung - they're at the farm, chaps!  It's almost like I watched to the very end of the last episode and saw the preview, isn't it?  Magic!

Shugs begins by introducing the concept of the "farm shop", saying that they're a successful new trend not just in London, but in New York and Tokyo too.  But the 13 remaining candidates aren't going anywhere but good ol' Blighty this time, as Lord Sugar has found them shops in perfect locations, for them to fill with unsaleable stock that only lunatics would purchase, doubtless.  Let's hope so, anyway.  Can I get me an early "bwahaha"?

But will he mix the teams up?  Yes, indeed, he will.  Natalie and Uzma move over to Team Endeavour (with a stern warning from Shugs that he's got his eye on them - ooh, I bet Team Endeavour are delighted to have them!).  And Myles, Jason and Jordan move over to Team Evolve.  And this mix-up means that there'll be a female in the winning team, for the first time this series!

So, will the teams manage to pick plum products, or will they end up with a bunch of Crackerjack (CRACKERJACK!) cabbages?  They're off to scour the Southeast for the best from farms all over the region.  Or, more likely, knowing The Apprentice candidates, to become fixated on one ludicrous thing and lose all sense of reason.  Or the limited sense of reason they began with, anyway.

Team Endeavour kick off with a welcome to the ladies and a rousing, "Let's make it four-nil!".  But the first job for the teams - picking their project managers.  Will they make a meal of it this time?  #hopefulface

Luisa volunteers for Team Evolve - she's got a shop, selling local produce, she deals with local farm shops.  Surely, following the pattern of the previous tasks, everyone will just nod and smile and they'll move on swiftly?

BUT WHAT'S THIS?!  Rebecca has an interest in farm produce (we all do, Rebecca, it's called "eating to stay alive").  Myles quizzes her thoroughly, asking her if she's produced anything herself (bit personal, Myles, frankly...).  No, she hasn't.  She doesn't think it's rocket science though.

Rebecca is snubbed, as the others recognise that having experience above and beyond "eating eggs and vegetables" is probably better value for the task that lies ahead.  But will Luisa keep that thing that's caused so many clashes on previous tasks in check for this one?  That's right - her personality.  Can she do it?  I kinda hope not #farmfireworks

She feels it's perfectly suited to her skillset though.  She has a cake shop, after all.

First on the list, what products will they stock?

Jordan favours buffalo meat.  This is the man who wanted the delicious-sounding nettle-flavoured beer on the brewery task - will he get his way this time?  He backs this desire up with the assertion that a van selling ostrich burgers used to visit his school every week and there were queues round the block for them.  People nod.  And agree the buffalo meat.

Jordan also suggests selling soup, so you have something high value and something low value.  Luisa says jacket potatoes and fruit.  So that's it, a buffalo meat, jacket potato, soup and fruit shop.  There's one on every street corner.

Team Endeavour have picked Neil Clough as PM.  He says himself he knows nothing about farming, but he's "a born leader", so he'll get good results.

They're almost decided on selling milk, when Alex the Vampire pipes up (I think he's antsy about selling milk - it's not red).  He says that people will have milk at home (well, yes, except those who've come out to get a pint of milk - think this through, Dracula!), and suggests cheese on toast, because vegetarians can eat it as well as meat-eaters.

Kurt, who is a health shake guru back on Merseyside, says that he makes amazing mark-up on fruit smoothies (sells for £3 what costs him 40p to make).  He guarantees the team top sales on milkshakes.  Uzma tries to say something further, but Neil shouts her down - he's the project manager, he's made the decision and he doesn't want to talk about it any more.  All right, Cloughy, blimey!  He makes the fair point that if they win the task, none of them gets fired, but it's dubious whether he's going to have much support for his approach if they find themselves back in the boardroom.

The teams begin the search for their farm-fresh produce, with Neil's team using a colossal map that they wrestle with in the back of their car as they try to decide whether they're looking for blackberries or blueberries.  And a mathematics moment as they attempt to work out how many potatoes are in a kilo (blank looks all round).  Will Apprentice candidates never learn that they're just pig ignorant?  Oh, hang on - difficult.

Comedy moment of the series so far - Alex suggests they go for costumes and offers to dress up as a scarecrow.  All together now... # If he only had a brain... #

Luisa and the rest of Team Evolve are at a buffalo farm and Luisa pronounces that she loves the smell of the farm.  The farmer is quick to point out that what she loves the smell of is silage.  Still, the smell of bullshit probably just reminds her of the fun time she's having in the Apprentice house - she's surrounded by it there, after all.

They snap photos of the buffalo, for their marketing tomorrow, and then it's off to work out what they're actually going to sell as they see the multitude of ways a buffalo can be sliced up and used.

As an aside - and whilst you're wondering how many ways you can munch a buffalo - did you know that "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" is a grammatically valid sentence?

And whilst you're pondering THAT bovine bombshell, it's on with the meat procurement.  Will they go for buffalo koftas?  Or fillet?  Fillet costs £28 and will retail at £45.  It's high cost, medium margin - and it attracts people.  Nick Hewer's impressed.  But they've got lots of money (£159) tied up in the meat - will their risk pay off?  There'll be beef in the boardroom if it doesn't!

The other team are endeavouring to work out how much milk they'll need in each shake - half of them head to a dairy farm and speak at Apprentice-typical awkward angles into mobile phones to the other half of the team, who are doing hard sums.  Well, sums.  But that's the same thing for Apprentice candidates.  Kurt and Zee disagree about the optimism of Kurt's shake selling ability - Kurt reckons 200 shakes, which is one every three minutes.  Count Alex of Transylvania (well, Cardiff) is unconvinced, but tries to baffle the lady at the dairy into selling masses of milk for fuck all - using the opening gambit that he's from Wales.  Will she be blindsided by his sparkling patter?  Unfortunately, he forgets how to use maths after this starting line, so can't go for the jugular with any sort of grace - he stumbles his way round adding one number to another, rolling his eyes heavenwards as if some sort of divine intervention might help him (a dangerous strategy, given the sizzling he'd do if holy water splashed his flesh).

The deal is shaken on at £40 for 100 litres of Jersey milk, but only if they bottle it themselves.  Oh, I am looking forward to this, aren't you?

Alex begins to milk the cow and makes a pretty decent fist of it.  Well, he is used to draining mortal creatures of liquid, I guess...  Natalie is horrified and terrified by the whole farm experience - she's "not an animal person".  This much is very clearly in evidence, as she declares that one of the milk-giving creatures on the dairy farm "a beautiful, not horse, dog...what's it called?".  Oh...dear.  Oh, dear indeed.  Udderly ridiculous.

Team Evolve's Jason, Myles and Francesca are vegetable buying - Jase has recognised that purchasing lots of vegetables means they can bulk out their shop content for a very low cost and they begin by buying a job lot of cabbages - do I hear me a Crackerjack? (CRACKERJACK!).  Oh, and beetroot, onions (or ungyuns, as Francesca calls them) and corn on the cob.

But Luisa chickens out of spending money - she only wants enough produce to make the shop look rural and rustic - she's not thinking of the veg as profit-making.  Nick Hewer winces his face inside-out as he listens to Luisa over-enunciate her way through her tortuous explanation of why.  So instead of the 200 corn on the cobs Francesca wants to buy, Luisa wants six, to dress the shop.  She asks them to "use a bit of logic" and "engage brain" and Francesca asks Myles and Jason if they can "see why they've lost tasks".  That's the team spirit, chaps!

At the other end of the scale, Neil gives Kurt's half of his team, who are out searching for fruit and veg, a budget of £100 for produce.  Kurt doesn't want it though - he says there's not much mark-up in it and they should focus on the milkshakes.

Francesca makes a bid for more cash from Luisa, saying they need £150 to dress the shop properly.  Luisa, Leah and Jordan are horrified - I think they thought the price of corn on the cob had suddenly rocketed - but Luisa finally says they can spend that much on the bundles of veg, so they do the deal.

Kurt's putting the brakes on buying anything at all - Karren hits the nail on the head when, rather cannily, she spots that it's because Kurt wants to go into business doing smoothies and fruit drinks with Lord Sugar, so wants this task to just be about that...but this task is a farm shop, not a milkshake bar - so will Kurt's penny-pinching on fruit and veg be the undoing of Endeavour?

Myles, Francesca and Jason are trying apple juice.  It's "amazing", apparently.  And "gorgeous".  They want to spend £25 more than the £52 they've been allocated for juice, but Luisa won't let them.  And, furthermore, she forbids them going anywhere else to buy anything else and sends them home.  Francesca isn't happy.  She thinks they haven't got enough stock.

Luisa thinks they've got enough stock and if they make loads of soup and sell each portion for £2.50, they'll be quids in.

Neil checks in with Kurt, who's underspent to the tune of £67 on his fruit and veg budget, meaning the shop's likely to look pretty bare.  Neil, Natalie and Alex end up whizzing round the farm shop just before they close, buying above wholesale price stock - they're not happy that Kurt's subteam have ballsed up.

Day Two

And the teams hit the road again, en route to their farm shops, for dressing and stocking and marking with B (if B stands for "Balls-up" anyway).  Natalie says she's never seen Uzma sell, says she always backs away from selling.  And, as always with Apprentice, it's been edited beautifully, and cuts to Uzma saying that you could put her anywhere, inside, outside, and she'd sell.  We'll be the judge of that, Uzma, me dear.

They're in Hackney, in Broadway Market.

Luisa's team have called their shop Buffalocal.  Do you see what they've done there?  Don't worry, "Buffalocal buffalocal Buffalocal buffalocal buffalocal buffalocal Buffalocal buffalocal" isn't a grammatically valid sentence - you can relax.  Which is more than Team Evolve can do, as they work out what their main selling points are - Luisa thinks it'll be the soup and jacket potatoes, as she sets Jason and Rebecca to work on peeling potatoes and chopping leeks and onions <pause for you to imagine how pleased Rebecca looks at this point>  Yes, well imagined - not bloody very.

Endeavour have called their shop Fruity Cow and have got a picture of Alex milking a cow on their poster.  How amoosing.  Kurt tries to defend not buying any bloody produce by saying they could've bought other things.  Well, yes, Kurt, yes, you could.  You fool.

Neil is pragmatic about it, though disappointed with his subteam's performance yesterday.  He's simply going to hold Kurt to his word that he can sell the 200 shakes he's promised, and make the team £600.

Buffalocal opens with a bang - almost literally, as Leah tells one of their first punters that the buffalo steaks (sorry, AWARD-WINNING buffalo steaks - as Jordan points out) are £20 for two.  Their customer, a lady with a keen nose for a bargain, seemingly, nearly faints clean away and leaves the shop as fast as her legs can carry her, gathering her small child to her as she does.  But Luisa says they're not dropping their prices just because one person has said they're too expensive.  My money's on it being a good bet to come back later for a bargain as they frantically try to ditch stock at the last minute #tapsnose

Back at Fruity Cow, Uzma's still dressing the shop.  They should have opened 45 minutes ago...and she's titting about with corn on the cob and straw.  She says it's really important to get it perfect.  But Karren's furrowed brow seems to be saying, "Perfection doesn't equal profit, young lady" - they need to get the bloody doors open!

Myles is trying to sell soup for Evolve, using the tried-and-tested Apprentice method of ambushing members of the public in the street whilst holding cups of soup.  Mmmm, appetising.  They need to shift loads of soup and jacket potatoes - but they can't give tasters away because the soup is, as they say among themselves...rank.  Yeah, good luck.

Over at Fruity Cow, business is booming, as the milkshakes fly out the door (well, not literally - it's a figure of speech.  Obviously).  And they're lovely, according to actual real-life customers.

Buffalocal are selling buffalo, at last!  One chap's just spent over £100, proving, Luisa and Jordan say, that quality sells.  They decide to make up some "really beautiful looking" tuna and baked bean jacket potatoes, to tempt more customers through the door.  I'll be fascinated to see a really beautiful tuna jacket potato made by an Apprentice candidate, won't you?

At Fruity Cow, they decide to go and buy some cartons of apple juice from a high street shop, so they can add their carrots and pears to it and make juice to go with their shakes.

Buffalocal haven't sold any jacket potatoes.  Jason and Rebecca are doing sterling work in the kitchen, but Jason's worried the salespeople will get all the credit for their hard work.  Unlikely, Jase, on present sales form, unlikely.

Leah comes out with two, as predicted, rather manky-looking jacket potatoes.  Myles says it's not going to be possible for him to sell them like that.  I spy buck-passing...

Alex is out yelling at passersby to buy his milk.  Well, not HIS milk (er, gross), the stuff he got from the cow.  Uzma feels embarrassed by this in-yer-face sales technique - and Neil has no idea what the point of her is.  If you find out, Neil, do tell us, won't you?

And what's this?  The soup and spuds start to sell!  Hurrah!  Maybe it's because it's lunchtime.  But Myles isn't impressed with Jason's lack of ability where putting soup in cups is concerned as he labours over putting a lid on.  Myles thinks Jason is "a trickless pony" - harsh, but, ultimately, given the appalling sales prowess and other talent voids he's shown on previous tasks, probably fair.  Jase continues  in the same vein, with an additional inability to fold a takeaway box with a potato closed - and Luisa says, incredulously, "I don't know how he goes about his everyday life".  Presumably, he has somebody to fold potato boxes together for him and put lids on his soup.  Clickety-boo.

Fruity Cow are selling milkshakes, but they've still got a fridge full of milk.  Neil decides, with an hour to go, that they'll start flogging the milk at cost price.  Have they done enough?  And, as I believe I predicted earlier, Buffalocal start dropping their prices through the floor too, in a final push for profit.  Has their focus on takeaway as their main profit-maker been their downfall?  Time will tell.

Boardroom Alert...

Team Evolve are in the spotlight first.  Lord Sugar asks them why buffalo, did they have any... #weakpunalert ..cowboys in their team?  Jordan asks Shugs if he's ever tried buffalo, which he hasn't, and cheekily oversteps the mark when he says, "Well, maybe you should".  Goes down like a lead balloon (WHY does that mean it goes down badly?  SURELY a lead balloon would go down a treat, being, like, heavy?) and Jordan hangs his head with shame, AND SO HE SHOULD.

Lord Sugar queries whether leek and potato soup and jacket potatoes were a good idea - and is horrified that their massively ambitious targets (150 jacket potatoes) weren't anything like reached (actually sold about 20).  But they changed their strategy from the limited lunchtime products to selling the potatoes raw, once they realised their massive error - did they realise in time and was it enough?

Did Luisa send them out to get a few bits to dress the shop, or to buy produce?  Hmm, incisive, Shugs, very good.  It's almost like you had Nick Hewer there the whole time, reporting back to you.

Was Luisa a good project manager?  Jason says no - there were "flaws all the way through".  And Myles says they had "no real budget, no direction at all".

Team Endeavour - Lord Sugar's pleased that Neil was project manager, rather than being the back-seat driver he's been up till now.  Shugs asks how the milkshakes came about and Neil's quick to give Kurt what will either be the credit or the blame, depending what happens when they drill down into the financials #Dragons'Den

Zee wasn't sure about the milkshake quantities - and Lord Sugar is quick to pick up on Kurt's point that he'd make £500 profit on the milkshakes (wasn't it £600 earlier?) - by saying, "Only if you sell 'em".  Quite.  Thud.

Was Neil a good leader?  Karren's told Shugs that Neil was quite dictatorial - she softens it with "direct".  Is Neil any relation to Cloughy?  Nope.  Was Neil a good PM?  All but Kurt say yes - Kurt quibbled over the budget and the direction set by Neil early on (what, was that the wholly unreasonable "buy some stock, please" thing?).

And now for the figures:

Team Endeavour

Total sales on the day: £1,097.82.

Total spent: £558.15.

Profit: £539.67.

Team Evolve

Total sales on the day: £1,249.52.

Total spent: £618.

Profit: £631.52.

So, Evolve have it.  And Jordan goes over the top with his celebration, practically pulling his shirt over his head and running round bare-chested.  Once again, he attracts a withering scorn from Lord Sugar, who reminds him that this isn't a football match.  Whoops.

There's £91 difference.  Luisa says, somewhat smugly, that she wasn't so bad after all.  Shugs cuts her back down to size by reminding her that if she'd relied on the takeaway products, she'd have come unstuck.

Their prize is a trip to The Tramshed, and a four-course meal using top quality British produce.

And Luisa, Francesca, Leah and Rebecca become the first four females to win a task this series.  Hurrah!

Over to the bollocking for Team Endeavour...  If they'd sold 200 milkshakes, they'd have won.  But they only sold 113.  I suspect Kurt may get brought back into the boardroom, don't you?

But for the moment, we're at The Tramshed with the winners, as we watch Luisa learning to take grouse off the bone from the chef.  And, to camera, away from the rest of the group, she's having a grouse about Myles, who said she had no control over the team when they were in the boardroom.  I suspect she's rewriting history underneath that scruffy mop of hair of hers - brush it, ffs!

They all clink their glasses to the first Evolve team win...and we're back to the sombre piano and mournful looks of the greasy spoon cafe.  Did they make the right choices at the beginning?  Were they too milkshake-focused?  Kurt says Neil needs to take responsibility for the failure of the task (I suspect Neil would tell him to pull the udder one, had he heard, but it was to camera, away from the group - still, I suspect it'll come up in the boardroom).

Back in the boardroom...

Milkshakes took over the focus of the task, didn't they?  Neil defends his choice, saying he'd be silly to overlook the expertise he had in his team.  But why didn't Neil spot the cock-up halfway through?  Why didn't he change the plan?  Well, they did - they decided to diversify into juices with carrot, apple and pear juice.  But Shugs asks the killer question - where did they get the apple juice?  It's almost like he had Karren Brady taking notes from him the whole way through...  Where indeed?  Why, it was that well known farm shop which sells fresh produce - that's right, Costcutter!  Shugs isn't impressed.

And, whilst the milkshakes and juices made over half the profit of the task for the team, the £270-off profit they did make was nothing like the £600 (or £650, or the £500 he's now claiming) Kurt said it would at the beginning.

But can Neil blame the whole failure of the task on Kurt?  Well, it seems he doesn't want to, as he says they could have done the whole job, just the same or better, without Uzma.  Eek.

And then it all begins to come out as Neil begins his sorry tale of "once upon a time, in a farm shop far away, because Kurt's team hadn't bought any produce wholesale, I had to buy at retail prices".

Then lots of yelling happens, and Neil blames Kurt for the failure of the task, but neatly makes the magnanimous gesture of taking some of the blame himself, which will either impress or rile Shugs.  Who's Neil bringing back into the boardroom?  My money's on Kurt and Uzma.'s Kurt and Uzma.  I might just be a genius.

But, first, the chat with Karren and Nick...a brief one this week.

Third time back in the bottom three for Uzma - will she be for the chop, or did the milkshake fiasco put paid to Kurt?

So, why's Uzma back in the boardroom?  It's no surprise to Neil that she's been in the boardroom three times, he thought she was the weakest link on the team for this task.  Instead of rising to the criticism and defending herself, Uzma "welcomes it".

What is it about Uzma that alienates people?  Why do people think she doesn't contribute?  Shugs is baffled.  Uzma thinks it's because it's the easy way out, to make her the scapegoat (ha, farm task #weakpun!), which Neil disputes - he says the easy way out would have been to bring Natalie in too, after last week's task - but Natalie worked really hard on this task.

Neil then reverts to form, having been surprisingly near-likeable in this task - and says he's been the best candidate in the last three tasks and more over-the-top rubbish and Shugs begins to smell silage...saying there's a fine line between confidence and being a bit cocky (he's doing the bad farm puns himself now - watch it, Shugs, that's my job).  Neil says he may be outspoken, but he delivers results.  Has he redeemed himself?

Lord Sugar says Kurt put a noose around his neck by putting a figure of 200 shakes as a target.  And then didn't sell them.  So should he be fired?  No, because he didn't stand in the background, he put his neck on the line (all this talk of necks - good job Alex isn't around, he'd be getting peckish).  So, who should be fired?  Will he gun for Neil?  No - he goes for Uzma.

Neil tries to hedge his bets and says for the failure of the task, Kurt should be fired, but as the weakest candidate, Uzma should, which Lord Sugar doesn't like - (is Neil trying to do Shugs' job for him?) - so he plumps for Kurt.

Lord Sugar's final summation

If Kurt was trying to prove his business idea with this task, he's failed.

Uzma's been in the bottom three more than once - she doesn't contribute.  Nick and Karren support some of that.

Neil took the helm here, but got browbeaten.  Putting the blame solely on Kurt is unfair.  Will he be fired?  It almost seems like it, but Neil's given a reprieve when Shugs says there's not much room for mistake.

But his intuitive feeling is that if Kurt wants him to believe in his business model, he's got to stop spouting his mouth off about how many he can sell...however, there's no smoke without fire and fired it is for Uzma.

And I, for one, won't miss her.  "Like, wow."

Uzma gets the cab of despair home, saying she'll make millions from her business idea.  Course you will, dear, course you will.  Just like all the others we've seen in that cab - er, there was...  Oh, hang on - what was his name?  And that other one - name escapes me.  Yes, just like them.

Back at the house - all the talk is of Kurt and Neil's mistakes - as Kurt and Neil walk through the door.  And it's all cheers and smiles.  Ha!  Like we believe that!

And, perhaps, just perhaps, we could have a small moment where we lament the lack of Alex dressed as a scarecrow in this task - what a loss to society that was.

Next time on The Apprentice...

They are in Dubai to find items for a hotel.  Will they buy cabbages again, or will it be luxury all the way?

No comments:

Post a Comment