It was Lorraine who took the thirty-minute-warning call from Amstrad Incorporated last night at the top of the show, and I don’t think a more unflattering shot’s been employed in Apprentice History ™. Lorraine wobbled away from the phone like a crumpled crone, while all around her prepared for the day. Kim partially flopped her sugar puffs out for the camera, Kate removed a lobe of her brain, James done a line in the bogs and Ben flexed the muscles of his four foot frame in front of the hallway mirror, naked, with a puny erection.
Before they’d even set off, Phillip moaned about having to go to the boardroom, despite not yet knowing who’d be going to the boardroom, while Ben employed another of his pleasant allegories – ‘whoever I’m up against, their arseholes’ll be twitching like rabbit’s noses’.
What a gloriously overconfident turd he’s turning out to be.
In the ‘world famous’ Lea Valley Athletics Centre (don’t ask me – I thought Lea Valley was a brand of double cream) the teams were mixed for the first time. Kim and Kate went over to join Empire, siding with Howard, James, Majid, Kate, Ben and Cream Puff Kim. Over on the Ignite side, Noorul and Phil crossed over, joining Debra, Lorraine, Paula and Mona.
Got that? Then we’ll begin.
Debra put her foot down so hard she trampled part of Lorraine’s face when implanting herself as Team Leader for Ignite, whilst James was met by blank expressions and the odd unenthusiastic ‘ok then’ when he put himself forward. So – Debra vs James. The brutal brunette versus the jittery jumper. Bring it on.
Empire kicked off with a brainstorm. Ben took the bull by the horns and started talking about some kind of spring mounted system for having sex on. In the background, James grasped for the reins but couldn’t take control as Ben prattled on about his boingy-bonk machine, wasting valuable time. Eventually they settled on a multi-gym knock off which went from being called the Bingo Wing Buster to the Home MultiSomethingorOther. When it was returned from the designers to Empire’s specifications it resembled a knackered, practice guitar amp, looked like it smelled of ashtray and underwhelmed all concerned.
Ignite’s brainstorm seemed to consist solely of Phillip swivelling around on his buns, gyrating his hips and bending his knees. A decision was made, based on the fluid movement of the Estate Agent’s ball and socket kinesis, to create a Bum Ball. The name got changed somewhere along the way.
A strange incident in the car later, when Debra took a call from Yasmina regarding who would model their Bum Ball Hip Swivel when the time came. Yasmina preferred Phillip to Noorul because she feels he’s better looking. But then she mixes her signals by adding that it would be better to have one white model and one from an ethnic minority – so Phillip and Mona would be a better shot.
Now, quite apart from the clumsy juxtaposition of her points and despite the fact she insultingly discussed someone’s physical appearance on speakerphone, I don’t think Yasmina meant any harm here. There’s a marketing term – multi-ethnicity – referring to the mix of colour in a promotional shot, and I think that’s all she was driving at. Debra reacted badly, however, and kicked off a short, sharp argument in which it became quite clear that she was trying to place herself as a non-racist, overstating it to the point where you had to question her motives. As a result, it’s hard to see her as anything other than a card-carrying member of the BNP. Reverse psychology, see?
When their Swiv-hip 2000 arrived in the post, Mona demonstrated it by straddling it missionary-style and pulling a sex face. The product looked pretty good in neutral green and white, and clearly to the mind of Mona that was too much to bear and she began to require its services sexually. Admittedly, in comparison with Ben’s monstrosity, theirs was some hot-sexy product design, so you can’t blame Mona for her perversions. When she took her place for the photoshoot she literally spent the entire shoot with her legs spread, as the male element in the room gazed around the room for somewhere right and proper to look. On the other team, Ben flexed his little muscles, the self-appointed best looking member of the group turned hopeless creative force and, by now, squat model. It’s hard to tell if Ben’s appearance is all a cleverly constructed joke on the viewer.
And so to the pitches – traditionally a barrel of laughs but a little short this time. Still, we had some memorable fluffs, like Phillip declaring his Swivelhip 2000 was the new iPod and Ben slapping his own arse-mid presentation – but my favourite was either Mona’s foot-shooting ‘It doesn’t work on my bottom – so it’s brilliant’ or Lorraine explaining that ‘Nana’ could use the multi-gym – which put the unwelcome image of Nana Swineshead doing squat thrusts to my tired mind. Debra’s assessment of whipping girl Lorraine’s pitch style was a shocker – ‘she comes across as either hearing impaired or slightly stupid’ she said, and you can’t help but wonder how many complaints that drew from people watching with subtitles.
Incidentally, I’m sure one of the retailers being pitched to was one of the Last Millionaires. And the fact I recognised him reveals that I watch far, far, FAR too much of this kind of television.
To the boardroom!
Sugar was on form last night for the first time this series, mainly because he’s better when reacting to bullshit, shooting down his prey than he is reading from a script. I particularly enjoyed his pointed explanation to Debra that anyone who gives 110% is a mug, because ‘they’ve been done for 10%’.
James’s Empire received 500 orders, remarkably. On the other team, Debra’s Ignite received 10,180 and won by a country mile. Yasmina was criticised by Sugar for throwing the figure of 20,000 for six months exclusivity into the pitch, but it seems entirely possible the 10,000 from John Lewis came as a reaction to her not buttoning up her over-quote. She should be championed if you ask me – good old unbiased Swineshead. Anyway, it’s by the by – they won and got to watch a blonde woman destroy some Leonard Cohen.
Off to the Bridge Cafe, an establishment that must be pig sick of failed Recruitment Consultants and Property Sales Sods mooching about their floor, bickering like children and letting their tea go cold. If I were the proprieter I’d put a sign on the door – ‘No more than two pinstripes at a time’.
James took Majid and Ben back into the boardroom. Personally, I was crossing my fingers on Ben being a surprise firing, what with him seizing the task, wrestling it from James and sending it down to hell in a knackered lift.
Whilst the viewer second-guessed whether it’d be multiple loser James who got the chop or snarky little berk, Ben, Sugar had other ideas and gave Majid the boot. Affable, friendly Majid – the lovely fellow with that beardy talking point.
Truly, nice guys come last.
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Tags: BBC, Ben Clarke, Culture, Debra Barr, Entertainment, Howard Ebison, James McQuillan, Kate Walsh, Kimberly Davis, Lorraine Tighe, Majid Nagra, Media, Mona Lewis, Nick & Margaret, Noorul Choudhury, Paula Jones, Phillip Taylor, The Apprentice 2009, Yasmina Siadatan