Tag Archives: Lord Sugar

The Apprentice: A petri dish of twonk

Top Twonk

Top Twonk

(Series 10, ep.8) The delicious smorgasbord of idiocy that is The Apprentice got turned up to 11 last night. We’re at episode eight –  or roughly stage two as laid out in Qwerty’s series opener blog. Some chaff has been fired. Plenty more left to sneer at.

We know their names. We could do a set of Apprentice Twonk Top Trumps card featuring those qualities of imbecilic delusion that make them so annoying. But into the mix, we got the pleasure of the Royal Bath & West Show this week (best cider bar this side of Yeovil), hot tubs, flat cap handbags and Nick Hewer looking hella cool on a ride-on lawnmower.

Team Summit comprised Bianca; sexist über-knob 1 James; Solomon; calm, collected Roisin and Sanjay. And Team Tenacity included domineering Aussie Mark; the adorable Paddington bear-like Columbian Felipe; sexist über-knob 2 Daniel and the normal-seeming Katie. UK1 James got to be PM for Summit, Felipe was made PM for Tenacity over Katie, for no explicable reason that I could see, other than the fact that she carelessly forgot to be born with a penis.

This is the episode where members of each team gets to select from a parade of random objects, which in this series included a pet finder and a flushable cat loo. It’s the sort of motley collection that you used to see on the Generation Game conveyor belt or as prizes on Sale of the Century. Teams decide what they want most, then the PM has a conversation with the manufacturer of said chosen objects to try to convince them they are right team to sell to. Continue reading

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Young Apprentice: It’s for putting candles in

(Series 3, Ep.3) Although I’m tempted to shake my head sorrowfully at the woeful state of the British education system – imagine not knowing what a candelabrum is! Imagine not being able to even pronounce “candelabrum”! – I’m not going to. Ok, I suppose passing acquaintance with literature other than Harry Potter and Back-Stabbing for Dummies might have given the candidates a clue, but in the real world they’d have been on Google and found the answer in less than ten seconds.

Nevertheless, steam-powered technology (maps, Yellow Pages) was what they had to rely on, as well as initiative, teamwork and leadership. Sadly, the last three elements were not quite equal to the task. This week’s Moody Young Madam award went to Amy, who kept breaking off her conversation on the phone to yell at David to stop interrupting her. Even when he wasn’t interrupting her. Was this a cunning move on Amy’s part to position David as the bad guy, or are her nerves really on a knife-edge?

When their team lost, team leader Steven brought the warring factions back into the boardroom, hoping that either the two of them would self-combust, or the Baron would tire of David’s repeat appearances and fire him. David comes across as fairly sweet – he always looks like he’s about to smile, apart from when he’s actually smiling  – but his only strategy for dealing with people (get a member of the opposite sex to flirt with them) is not going to get him much further. Further than Amy, though, as she was at the receiving end of the Baron’s pointy finger and was fired. “You haven’t heard the last of me,” she vowed. Original. And, I’m almost certain, inaccurate.

Meanwhile, the winning team were lucky to scrape the win (although they at least knew what a candelabrum was and managed to buy one. And a car). Andrew must have been weak with relief, because he’d certainly have been right in the firing line in the boardroom. In previous weeks I’ve been quite impressed by Andrew, who seems like a sensible sort. As soon as he became project manager, his eyes acquired a haunted, fearful look and he never really got a grip on proceedings. Motor-mouth Maria was a bundle of righteous indignation throughout the episode, and made sure she got everyone primed to throw Andrew to the Baron if they lost. They didn’t lose, and got sent to Hamleys to play with some toys as a prize.

Next time: The candidates have to organise a tea party. Absolutely no scope at all for anything to go wrong there.

Posted by PLA          (all our Apprentice reviews here)

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Young Apprentice: Cookery book task

(Series 3, Ep.2) I’m going to find it hard to be too critical of the participants in Young Apprentice, because I’m mindful that they’re only a tiny tad older than PLA Jr and, without wanting to sound patronising (and probably failing), a lot of their mistakes are down to them just being young. Nevertheless, they’ve put themselves forward for what we must call “the process,” and they’re not short of self belief, so I doubt they’d be devastated by anything I’ve got to say anyway.

This week, Baron Alan wanted the teams to produce cookery books, and the usual statistics were trotted out about it being a multi-billion pound industry blah blah. The Baron took his big wooden spoon out to mix up the teams, sending Maria, a girl, into the boys’ team, and replacing her with Steven, a boy.

Maria had clearly been on the receiving end of a motivational speech or two about women having to work hard to make their voices heard in the workplace, and she decided from the outset that the way to do this was to shout louder than all the boys working together. If any of them dared to make a squeaking sound of objection, she smartly told them that, as a woman, She Must Be Heard. Despite this, the poisoned chalice of being the Project Manager fell to Sean, with his “dragged through a fashionable hedge – forwards” hairstyle (as Chris Ramsey described his own hair in the marvellous Hebburn).   Continue reading

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The Apprentice Final: A walk in the park with added hand grenades

So The Apprentice is over for another year. The “boardroom” has been dismantled and returned to its former glory as a corner of a warehouse somewhere. Office workers in the more prestigious buildings of London can work happily knowing that they won’t be buzzed by helicopters filming attractive shots of all the buildings Lord Sugar isn’t in. And Tom Pellereau – inventor, speccy-geeky bloke and all-round nice guy – can settle into his new career as Baron Sugar’s business partner in his new venture, Chaises Pellereau (I’m giving them that name for free. It has a bit of a ring to it, I think).

So what did we learn in the final episode? Or, at least, the first hour of the final episode because I don’t do the Dara bit. As soon as the pointy finger has been pointed, so has my remote control, and I’m off in search of other entertainments.

Well, one thing I learned was that the man with the lovely eyes from Viglen, Bordan Tkachuk, has been replaced in the interview process by a couple of people with fairly standard eyes. This was a cause of great sadness to me, as I’d been looking forward to a stare-off between him and Jim.   Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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The Apprentice news: No final task this year

The interview round is always the most pleasing episode of any given series of The Apprentice because we get to see our hitherto cocky contestants brought down to size under the withering scrutiny of Baron Alan’s industry bigwig chums. With bullshit detectors set to maximum strength, the fearsome foursome rip CV’s to shreds and reduce grown men and women to quivering wrecks.

This year’s interview episode is also set to be the series finale, as apparently the traditional final round, where the two remaining finalists go head to head to do a spot of ninja-level events planning, has been scrapped. Instead, four people will remain at the interview stage, where they’ll be delicately grilled by scary business types Claude Littner, Mike Soutar and Matthew Riley, as well as the marvellous Margaret Mountford. Baron Alan will listen to their opinions and then ignore them and make his own mind up before peeling £250,000 from his wallet to enable the winner to start up a business with him.

The previously fired contestants usually get to return in the final show to help (or hinder) the finalists, but this year they’ll have to be content with a banquette in the You’re Fired! (or Hired!) studio for the final episode, which will be screened on 20 July.

Posted by PLA          (all our Apprentice blogs can be found here)

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The Apprentice: Taking the biscuit

It’s week nine for our entrepreneurial elite, and a relaxing Sunday in Apprentice Towers is disturbed by a late night knock on the door. It’s his Lordship himself. They must have edited out the swearing that this surprise visit would have generated amongst the inmates.

What possible task couldn’t have waited until Monday morning? Were our heroes required to parachute into Palestine and secure a lasting peace with Israel? Or fly to Africa and design a lifesaving mobile water purification unit? No. Their task was create and sell a new brand of biscuit. There was some travel involved though – Lord Sugar had laid on a trip to a development kitchen in Wales, or ‘Wows’, as he calls it. It’s not all bad then.

Venture, this week, comprises Natasha, Helen, and Darth Jim. Jim must have been delighted as Helen has proved unstoppable so far. Also, he likes Helen, as she’s ‘passive’. Goes with his ‘passive aggressive’ then, as diagnosed by Karen last week. In any event, passive or not, Helen puts herself forward and no one feels like arguing. This is a guaranteed cert with her form.   Continue reading

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The Apprentice: Turning garbage into gold?

(Series 7, Ep.6) “It’s a very subtle business,” muses Nick Hewer from the safety of his bespoke overcoat. The business to which he refers is the buying and selling of rubbish. And frankly maybe it was a bit too subtle to make good TV out of it. The people who devised the task (I’m not kidding myself it was Lord Sugar – or Baron Alan, as @MrBButterfield – AKA Peter Serafinowicz – was calling him on Twitter last night) presumably thought the mere idea of getting the candidates out of their power suits and into high-vis jackets and hard hats and getting them to actually do some manual labour would be hilarious.

It wasn’t. Not at all as hilarious as watching them try to make a video for cat food, or sell cheese to the French or cosmetics to Brummies. Indeed the physical part of the task was no problem at all, as they all fell into lugging old sinks and office chairs on and off trucks with a pleasing air of can-do.

What they couldn’t do particularly well was work out the pricing. Do you pay people to take their trash or do they pay you? What kind of stuff is easiest to resell? And how do you cope with a dodgy builder who has popped a few more items than previously agreed onto his heap of stuff to be removed?

The answer to that final question is that you send in Jim, who’ll have a good go at the bloke, threaten him with his laser beam eyes, and then back down and clear the rubbish anyway. It was a bit of a low-key episode for Jim after last week’s impressive display of Vulcan mind-meld with Vincent. Indeed the most frightening he got was when he and Tom patrolled a leafy neighbourhood in a truck looking for household rubbish to take away, and Jim’s Dalek voice issued threateningly over a loud-hailer: “House number 73 with the skip outside! HELLO!” I could picture the inhabitants of no.73 crouching behind their curtains, utterly terrified. Tom looked pretty scared himself, but then Tom usually does.  Continue reading

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The Apprentice: A dog’s dinner

Last night’s programme kicked off with the bleary half-awake Apprentice contestants taken to ad agency TBWA where we found Nick and Karren standing in front of a freakishly huge bristly ‘big brother’ screen face of Lord Sugar telling the teams their mission, before self-destructing in “3,2,1…” No, not really, but he should have done. There are seventeen million pets in Britain, apparently, and simply not enough brands on the market. Cue – the perfect opportunity for Teams Logic and Venture to come up with a ‘new’ product and then create an ad campaign around it. Something exciting, cutting edge…

Save me from these bloody amateurs

Well obviously none of those things. You’ve seen this before with breakfast cereal. We know that the teams will create a bloody awful name then cobble together an unholy amalgam of some of the worst and most clichéd advertising strategies ever made. Do branding and advertising agencies watch these shows and piss themselves laughing? I hope so. I would.

Team Venture was led by Glenn and Team Logic by Vincent. They got together to ‘brainstorm’ and the puns were falling thick and fast. ‘Thick and fast’, in fact, would have been every bit as good as the names the teams actually came up with. The ideas that sadly fell by the wayside included Vincent’s suggestion of something one letter away from one of the biggest brands already on the market – ‘Pals’. Jim used his Northern Irish accent to great effect when suggesting an excellent pet porn name ‘Fur Play’ (they sure missed a marketing trick there). Logic’s sub group of Leon, Zoe and Helen were filled with pride at coming up with the ‘Lucky Fish’ name (Leon: “Shall I just become the Apprentice?”). But we then saw their happiness balloon shot down with callous disregard by team leader Glenn as they stood forlornly holding the phone up in a supermarket aisle. It became clear that he regarded actually listening to the feedback of pet owner focus groups (and therefore the work he had set his sub-group) as being pointless. Anyway, he had already decided on a charming concept suggesting body conscious pet owners extend their own neuroses about weight to their cats, and plumped for ‘Cat Size’ (cats eyes, geddit???) with a strapline so bloody awful and grammatically excruciating that I was actually gnawing the television screen: ‘see their light’.

Logic, led by Vincent, who of course had the advantage of looking like a cartoon dog, also decided to go against all focus group advice (and that of dog owner Ellie) about targeting food towards a particular size of dog and go for ‘universal appeal’ with the name ‘Every Dog’, with the not-cliched-at-all strapline – ‘has it’s day’. I was slightly surprised no-one suggested an offal-based product called some variant on the Dog’s Bollocks idea, but I digress. Vincent seemed to be operating under some kind of hypnotic spell cast by Jim, who was the one who suggested the name, and indeed concept. I’ll say it now, however creepy, arrogant and up-himself Vincent has proved throughout the series, Jim is a man whose behaviour really gives me the willies. It’s the eyes. If it came out in the paper that he had been under suspicion of crimes involving tempting old ladies to part with their life savings, I wouldn’t be at all surprised. Continue reading

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The Apprentice: Top hats and tea

We all know that the success of The Apprentice is due, not to our aspiring to be one of the chosen few ‘entrepreneurial elite’, but thanking the Lord that we’re not. Tonight’s episode did nothing to upset this general theme. Having lost the hapless Edward (a man with strength of character, honest and direct, according to the website) and Alex (ambitious, driven and extremely focussed), we’re now down to fourteen ‘hopefuls’ competing for the pleasure of a £250k business deal with Lord Alan of Sugar.

The call came early –“we leave in thirty minutes to go to the Shtrand!” What was waiting for them in the Shtrand, turned out to be The Savoy Hotel, coming to the end of a three year refit. Leon, Jim and Glenn were sent to Venture. Melody, Zoe, Ellie and another one (there’s too many to learn all the names at this stage) went to Team Logic. The teams have a few hours to find ten items that The Savoy, weirdly, seemed to have forgotten to buy. Logic choose Scouse Gavin as leader, whereas Venture get ‘Market Trader’ Susan (“I helped my mum pay off her mortgage when I was doing my A levels) Ma.

Nick seems impressed with Susan at the start – to be fair, she did take control, chiefly by shouting ‘go – go now – NOW’ at her team mates.

Vincent for Logic leaps into action on the phone: “can you tell me anywhere in London that sells fillet steak?” Try Tescos mate.

It all starts to turn a bit ugly. Gavin, after two hours of team wrangling, actually said, in his Liverpool accent, “calm down, calm down”. Three hours in and team logic still don’t know what a ‘cloche’ is. Wonder if they know what a cliché is? Have none of them got a dictionary app on their iPhones? Failing that, nip into a book shop and find a real paper one – ten minutes, and you’d know what you’re looking for which can only help the buying process. Continue reading

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