Television: The Apprentice – week one

25 Mar

Week One

The closest I’ve ever come to the Apprentice was printing out A4 photos of all the candidates to stick up on the wall for the writers when I worked at Zoo. But as it bought me dinner last week (see, girls, research.) I thought I ought to give this year’s a go.

Sixteen seemingly incompetent hopefuls battle it out to try and win a hug from Lord Sugar, or get a £250k investment, or something, by taking part in businessy challenges. At the end of each episode the project manager of the team which made the least money must drag the two people they think were the weakest links, but naturally just choose the ones they hate most, to the boardroom, where good old Alan points at them and, without much enthusiasm by this series, tells them “YOU’RE FIRED!” And then, well, they’re fired and they just bugger off.

The episode started with little intros from some of the candidates, making most of them instantly dislikeable. “I truly am the reflection of perfection.” What, backwards? JESUS. I would give Azhar Siddique £250k just to explain who, exactly, calls him ‘the master puppeteer’.

Sir Alan pitted girls against boys, seeing who could make the most money selling some random crap printed with something they had designed. But never mind the actual task, more important were the team names.

The boys picked Phoenix, as if they run into any trouble in the next few weeks they’ll have to rise from the ashes. That’s the spirit, chaps! Pick something that really reflects how you think you’re going to do. At least the theory behind that wasn’t: “Something came to me in a dream last night.” It’s sentences like that, Jenna, that make me understand misogyny. After some awkward pausing, and a look from Alan’s man on the frontline, Nick, that seemed to say ‘am I really not gay?’, the girls weirdly did go for the dreamy Stirling as their moniker.

Next up it was time to pick a team leader. I was expecting the fantastically named Ricky Martin (he’s a wrestler by night, just in case you were wondering) to jump at the chance of dominating of a group of men, but apparently not. Not one of the boys wanted the job. In the end Nick Holzherr stepped up. I say stepped up, what he actually said was “I’ll put myself forward if nobody else wants to do it. I don’t really want to do it.” I’ve always thought one of the best leadership qualities is a complete and utter reluctance to be in charge. Nick, by the way, likes to rank everything in his mind ‘a bit like an Excel spreadsheet.’ Orderly queue, please, ladies.

Gabrielle Omar volunteered to manage the task for the girls, and, as someone who has just opened her own print and design store, she was basically perfect for the job. Except she describes herself as quirky, something that makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a rusty butter knife.

Choosing products the girls went for children’s clothes, jigsaws and bags, but Gabrielle seemed to have completely forgotten that they needed to make more money than they spent. Jade Nash, a woman who dresses like a chunky Wallis Simpson, drew the animal designs, prompting the character building comment “It looks like they’re drawn by kids for kids.” Even Sir Alan’s Nick described them as “smashing”. Unfortunately Gabrielle’s apparent number Alzheimer’s meant that the group sent to buy the blank clothes had absolutely no idea how many items they needed to buy. Irish giant-hair, Jane McEvoy seemed pretty ready to start a mutiny early on, having a little bitch about Gabrielle’s lack of control. She did, however, make some excellent faces. I am always a fan of expressive eyebrows.

The boys didn’t fare much better, plumping for (more) bags and teddy bears. Because who doesn’t want every day to feel like a trip to a train station shopping arcade? In a hideous sign of things to come Nick chirruped “The design comes second, just the product at the moment.” By the afternoon the boys were still talking numbers and had come up with absolutely nothing to put on their bags. At this point I started to think that they should just put fucking anything on them, which is pretty much what they did. I have no shitting idea who actually wants a bag with ‘THIS IS A [picture of a bus]” on it. Union Jack on a teddy? Mind blowing stuff, guys. Ricky, though, was fully behind the design: “I think it’s terrible, but it’s done now.”

While Stirling got to work printing all their stuff, Katie “I would call myself the blonde assassin” Wright did pretty much bugger all. I lie; there was a shot of her feeding some paper into a printer. Phew, rough work, have a sit down, love. Perhaps the boys should have taken a leaf out of her book, though, as almost everything they printed was a sodding mess. Most of the bags were splashed with paint, but, as they pointed out, they could just sell them to a gullible tourist.

The next day the boys headed to a stall on Southbank where Nick decided they’d sell the bears at £15 a pop. FIFTEEN QUID? Are you kidding me? I wouldn’t pay £15 for a real life bear. Never mind one the size of my (admittedly large) hand, with a crappy t-shirt on it. Half the gang took a box of merch and just… walked around St Pancras. Would you buy a children’s toy off a spiv wandering in a station?

The girls had a pitch at Greenwich Market and had the brilliant idea of personalising their products for the customers. Four of the girls were supposed to be heading to the Zoo to pounce on unsuspecting, tired parents but rather than doing this they decided to all shout at each other instead. What a winning sales technique.

In the cab Jane and Bilyana Apostolova continued their row. I was really hoping Jane might kneecap her but instead she just rolled her eyes a lot. Half way through the day and the girls were still stuck in traffic. Keep up the good work. When they finally got there Bilyana practically pushed all the other girls aside to get to the customers first. Her grating voice would have made me buy one of the bags just to throttle her with it.

By the end of the day both teams went round to shops in the hope of palming off the stock they had left. The boys managed to convince a nice girl to buy their shoddy bags, but the girls didn’t manage so well. After Bilyana made them walk for miles they then all towered over a shopkeeper who made it very clear she didn’t want to buy their products. Rather than just giving up the girls instead started shouting at her, and each other, before getting told off by the poor woman’s husband. I honestly could have put my foot through the television. Unfortunately for the boys the nice girl called them back to basically say “WTF?!” having noticed the paint marks all over the bags, and made them give her a full refund.

To the boardroom! Sugar was less than impressed with the boys’ design efforts, and even less so with the £15 they had priced the bears at. He was full of praise for the girls, and I really thought they were going to have won it, but the boys beat them by a mile. The girls made a profit of £214.60, but Phoenix managed to come in at £616.20.

Gabrielle picked Katie and Bilyana to go back to the boardroom with her and, my God, if I had to hear Bilyana say “Lord Sugar” one more time… Once she started talking she wouldn’t stop, prompting Alan to tell her he didn’t want her life story. There was a lot of shouting from Gabrielle, who constantly sounded like she was going to cry. She also kept using the phrase “everyone under my eye”. Wha’? Bilyana kept rubbing Sugs up the wrong way, so it was absolutely no surprise when the finger came up and she was FIRED.

Bye Bilyana, I cannot tell you how glad I am to not have to see you next week.

I made this myself.

Pictures © BBC Picture Publicity

2 Responses to “Television: The Apprentice – week one”

  1. mattdupuy March 25, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    I like the word ‘businessy’. I’m not sure that it’s actually a word, but I’m going to try and use it in conversation.

  2. Sarah Duggers March 25, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    See if you can get it into some copy.


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