The Apprentice: Tat for tits

This episode began in Enfield, in a warehouse full of cheap plastic tat. Chandeliers, sponges, bales of towels. It was like the massed crap-heap of years of rejects from the Generation Game conveyor belt. Something inside me felt the sinister grinning pile of gnomes were looking on and mocking. So. To the task. Each team was given a trolley full of miscellaneous stuff to sell, “worth” £250. The concept, Lord Sugar explained, was to “smell what sells.” Sniff out what products can be shifted, then restock and keep “flipping” for profit.

Venture featured Susan, Jim and Natasha, none of whom I like very much. Natasha thrust herself forward as team leader, but signally failed to grasp the fundamental “flipping” concept. To Jim’s credit, he worked incredibly hard to sell the cheap nodding bulldogs and rubbish umbrellas to passing members of the public – and had a clear grasp of the concept of the task. At one point Nick Hewer actually smiled in his presence and said, approvingly to camera, “I’ve never seen such an abundance of baloney. But people like him, and I quite like him – now.”

On the second day, Susan also sold like a demon. It is Natasha who wins my coveted award this week for being the most passive-aggressive, deluded and unpleasant twonk in the pile. I have found Susan rather irksome in previous tasks, but she was doing a grand job here, whilst Natasha did very little. When Susan mildly pointed this out, Natasha, behaving like one of those nasty girls we all knew at school, had the nerve to snap at her:  “Stop embarrassing yourself.”

Later in the boardroom, Jim pointed out that, however hard he tried to sell, it had been a struggle with Natasha’s dismal leadership skills and lack of strategy. I liked his phrase: “It’s very difficult to push treacle up a hill.”  Sadly though, her team won, so she couldn’t be fired, but it should have been her sent, not on foot, but Verruca-Salt-like, down a chute-of-shame to a new life and a decent haircut. Lord Sugar was hacked off her team “won” despite a fine he imposed for Natasha’s failure to reinvest, and he took their prize away as punishment. Jim, Susan and Natasha went miserably back to the house where Natasha basically dumped all her own crap and insecurity on Susan’s shiny hair. All very unpleasant.

Logic comprised Helen, Tom and Melody, and Melody suggested herself, terrier-like, as Team Leader. Tom, (who I was surprised to find looked less nerd-like and significantly more attractive this week – perhaps it was the steely glint of a man finally asserting himself. Slightly), went against type and sold his socks, and all his novelty nodding dogs, off swiftly. So did Melody then seek to restock this fast selling, if shit, product? No she didn’t.

So far in this series, Helen has been pretty goddess-like. But this was the week that was nearly her undoing and she finally ended up in the losing team. She wanted to sell the tat to retailers, not the public, which is missing the point rather in terms of flipping a quick profit, and this led to a vastly daft wild duvet chase to find closed wholesalers in the back of beyond. In the meantime, Melody was floundering around a warehouse, missing the “smelling what sells” message from Lord Sugar entirely and buying random electrical items such as digital photo frames and alarm clocks. Tom pointed out that she was “not taking charge” and the fragrant Helen went for an Apprentice first and tried, unsuccessfully, to stage a leadership coup. Not a good morning for Melody.

When asked in the boardroom if Melody had been a good team leader, Helen went for the jugular again. “She was terrible.” It didn’t help matters that Melody, who let us not forget, has advised the Dalai Lama as well as most of the world leaders in her time, here claimed “Of course, I set up one of the most successful democratic bodies in the world.” Did you Melody? Did you really lovie. I think we all believe you’d like it to be true.

Lord Sugar up to this point had seemed remarkably tolerant and even approving of Melody’s self-centredness and other bulldozer personality traits in previous tasks. We know his judgement can be dubious and his ignorance and prejudices go infuriatingly challenged week after week. He showed his sexist twat credentials to full effect by belittling the competent, intelligent and capable Helen (and with her, all women in support roles) with the words: “Basically you’re an assistant?”  I so wanted her to take her chair and whack the fool backwards through the double glass doors.

But in the end sweet Tom stayed, as did Helen, and it was Melody who got the pointy finger. No doubt this will get reinvented by her as some huge achievement where Lord Sugar benefitted from her decades of success, running the universe.

Other Apprentice posts here

Posted by: Inkface

4 Comments

Filed under The Apprentice

4 responses to “The Apprentice: Tat for tits

  1. Tim

    Quite right. In the same way Sugar imposed a random fine on Natasha, he should have fired her anyway even though she won the task, because it was quite possibly the worst performance by a PM of the entire season.

    Jim did do very well, and he even seemed to get Nick under his spell this week. I did absolutely love Tom dissing Melody at the end, though. “Melody runs a business which, unsurprisingly, is all to do with talking” was genius. But I still want to know what the amazingly successful democratic body she set up was. I’m thinking it has something to do with Robert Mugabe.

    Seeing as you beat me to the “tat for tits” line, I’ve resorted to random Shakespearian references this week. Hey, what else is a classical education for? 🙂

    http://slouchingtowardsthatcham.com/2011/07/07/the-apprentice-a-tale-of-sound-and-fury-is-finally-exposed-as-bluff-and-bluster/

  2. inkface

    Much to my surprise, I fell a little in love with Tom this week. Maybe it was the moment he was ripping the pocket money off those cute little kids on the South Bank on those terrible nodding dogs.

  3. Velocity Girl

    Great review, Inky.

    Ah, BaronAlan’s pragmatic sexism – happens with depressing regularity every year, yet never fails to be outrageous. I did wonder if Helen might have channelled her newly-discovered YGG (You Go, Girl) gene towards him as per your suggestion but alas not this time.

    Do you reckon Tom gets a Cafe of Doom loyalty card? Surely he must qualify for at least a free can of whup-ass by now.

    Natasha (yeah?) really was a witless, empty-headed drone. The double-firing that took out both Ellie and Vincent surely could have been used to better effect here? Both team leaders were crap and also rather devious – both were careful to send who they perceived to be the most threatening members of their teams (Natasha with Susan and Melody with Helen) on isolated, thankless tasks that if failed would make them look a) stupid and unsuccessful and b) like they were hiding from the frontline. Fortunately Helen (being more worldly wise than Susan, who continues to be an annoying lightweight but did actually do quite well this time around) twigged this and made sure the wholesaler decision rightly remaining with Melody. In fact, I thought Helen played a bit of a blinder, actually. Perhaps not her usual all-commanding self and yes the retail thing was a cock-up but it wasn’t entirely her cock-up by any means and the way she asserted herself with Melody was admirable.

    Well, looks like my Melody v Helen final is out. Plus there’s no final, we now learn. So – my relegation zone for next time would be Susan v Natasha – with Natasha getting the boot for me. As for a winner, Tom’s probably nearest to what Lord Sugar is looking for but I get the impression Lord Sugar doesn’t entirely trust him, Jim has probably annoyed him too much in the past, Helen ought to win but may be seen as too colourless, which leaves Susan – and I sadly suspect that her spark and enthusiasm may be what Lord Sugar wants. I do hope I’m wrong!

  4. Qwerty

    Marvellous stuff. I liked all this talk of flipping, because I kept flipping between who I hated the most: Melody, then Natasha, then back to Melody. I grew fonder of Susan, especially when she fell asleep in the car. I thought that was charming. I even liked Jim because compared to Melody and Natasha he was like Melody’s mate the Dalai Lama. I don’t know who will win, apart from it won’t be Natasha.

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