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The Apprentice 711: Columbus at the Coliseum

Gratuitous pic of Tre from Series Three

In the normal run of things I don’t generally miss an Apprentice candidate once they’ve felt the wrong end of the pointy finger. I think back to the start of this series and can barely recall those who fell early. Alex? Felicity? Edward? (I had to look them up.) Even ones I thought I’d miss like Ellie (too normal for her own good) and Edna (off her head; leather gloves) are gone from my affections. Watching The Apprentice makes Roman emperors of us all. We sit on our comfy thrones watching funny little people doing crazy things for our amusement. If one of them gets gored by a lion, or whatever it was that went on in the Coliseum (why should I be expected to know this when other people think Columbus was the potato guy?), we just say ‘Who’s next?’ The Apprentice juggernaut is far bigger than its candidates.

Very occasionally a personality impresses itself so indelibly that it is remembered after its sell-by date. Stuart Baggs from the last series for instance; and I’ve always had a soft spot for Tre from Series Three because he was so stroppy and interesting. I might have to face up to the fact that actually I just really fancied Tre. But generally I don’t miss anyone after they’ve gone, except Margaret.

All that said, this week I did find myself missing Melody and her over-defined enunciation just a bit. I would have loved to have seen her in Helen and Tom’s team, insisting that ac-tu-ally it was Charlie Raleigh who liked to smoke potatoes and Byron studied poetry at Yale with Al Gore. I would also have been interested to see if Helen and Tom still decided to choose a nodding BNP bulldog equivalent of a restaurant with Melody present. Say what you like about Melody, go on, you know you want to, but she certainly didn’t look ‘100% British.’ Which was the best thing about her.

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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: Handbags and Lads’ Mags

Firstly, apologies for the lateness of this missive. It’s taken 2 whole days to lever my jaw back off of the floor after the sheer witlessness of this week’s antics of our favourite bunch of halfwi- I mean Business Entrepreneurs.

Thankfully I’m now re-Covered – I make this hilarious witticism as one of the mags created as part of this week’s task was called Covered! Re-Covered! Do you see?! (We’ve spoken about this before, VG – I’ve a shepherd’s crook and I’m not afraid to use it- Bad Pun Ed.).

Anyway, time for Velocity Girl’s Non-Exhaustive Run Down Of The Least Bad Bits!

This Week’s Task – Create a free magazine in a day and then spend a day pitching it to advertisers. Minus side – it involves the Apprentices (should the plural in fact be Apprenticii? Oh I don’t know, I’m still traumatized by Pants Man) being creative. Exhibit A – Slangatang. Exhibit B – EveryDog. Etc, etc. On the plus side – no more high-visibility jackets! Every cloud no longer has an eye-burningly neon lining!

This Week’s Runners and Riders – Team Illogic, led by Natasha-yeah (this appeared to be her name, given how often she said it) with (in)capable support from Helen (who?), Tom, Leon and Melody. Their fierce competition this week? Team Ill-Thought-Out Venture, led by our old favourite Lucky Jim. I was particularly pleased at this turn of events, as it gave us a further chance to observe Jim’s sudden and spectacular transformation from Richard Curtis film to Alfred Hitchcock film. If they’d shown a scene of him trapped in a darkened room squinting through a telescope, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. His unfortunate victims team mates this week were Glenn, Zoe and Susan, which goes to show that everybody gets their Just Desserts in the end.

Mummy, make the bad man go away now, please.

This Week’s Upsetting Pseudo-Sexual Encounter – Zoe and Jim. Oh god, Zoe and Jim. Jim: “Nayw, we’ve not werked together befayre, Zoe, so we haven’t!” Zoe: “heeeheeheeheeHEEEE”. Imagine Adam’s Rib, except with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn both replaced with SHARKS.

This Week’s Sensible People Who Are Sensible And Therefore Ignored – Helen and Tom. In true Apprentice style, they went to see the focus group and came back with lots of helpful insights about how they shouldn’t make their lads mag (I know, they’re partying like it’s 1996) too, erm, laddy. Which was promptly ignored by Human Bulldozer Natasha, yeah, who, really likes using boobs, yeah, to sell things, yeah (oh shut up, I’m still not as annoying as her). Seriously though, Helen seems to be gradually coming to the fore, helped by her victory as PM (Project Manager, not Prime Minister, although given the way the world’s going…). Plus she came up with the name, “Covered”. Which was considerably better than…

This Week’s Worst Idea Ever– So, Jim’s Lot, you’re pitching a magazine at the over 60s, who are actually an untapped market and shouldn’t just be written off as old and duff. So what do you call your magazine? Hip Replacement. I’m sorry, I’ll just say that again. HIP REPLACEMENT. The look on Nick’s incredibly-offended face was enough to stop the programme and in fact should have done, for the dignity of the remaining participants.

This Week’s Best Conversation Ever– “Ideas for a name?” “Pension Mention?” “I don’t think you should mention pensions”. Beaudiful, man. Like Gilbert and Sullivan for the iPad generation. Or, er, something.

This Week’s Most Insightful Insight –Leon: “Our focus group was quite focused”. See above, I’m too busy weeping at the futility of it all.

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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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