Posts Tagged ‘Alan Sugar’

The Apprentice 2008 – Ep. 7

May 9, 2008

Watching The Apprentice whilst pissed is a strange experience and one I don’t recommend.

For a start, if you’re meant to be writing a review about it the next day and attempt to make notes on what’s going on, you’re screwed. Events occur in a different order to how you note them and your notesheet ends up being a scrawled list of obscenities along the lines of ‘Claire is an interfering knacker-shit’. It’s not helpful at all. With this in mind, I’m only able to put down the stuff I remember with events all scrambled and probably embellished with a load of bollocks.

‘Oo’s next?!’ asked Alan after firing Jenny and Jennifer, the two inept ladies of similar nomenclature. The rest of them – Alex, Claire and Michael, looked at one another as if to say ‘how are we meant to know?’. It’s not their decision, after all.

It was, to quote Alan, a total disaster, but it was always going to be. I’ve never been to Morocco, but I’m sure I’d fare just as badly as our contestant friends in this task. Buying stuff from a list is hard enough in Ridley Road Market, in deepest darkest Dalston – so going overseas to some foreign clime would spell the end for me. I’d not only spend more on the items than they actually cost, I’d also lose my phone, my wallet, my dignity and my mind.

So I actually felt a twinge of sympathy this week, empathy even. Only for a few minutes though, up to the point where LEE MCQUEEN (the one who’s concerned) shouted ‘THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABAIRT’ – his new catchphrase. It must be his new catchphrase – he said it four or five times.

Sara, looking like a scared, smacked guinea pig, performed pretty well – but I could be misremembering that because I have a soft spot for the oval eyed beauty. Alex also performed his job admirably but ended up on the losing team – his efforts curtailed by Claire enforcing a boyfriend / girlfriend role play act in a feeble attempt to negotiate using acting skills in place of shrewd cunning. Needless to say, it didn’t work. When Alex managed to barter costs down, Claire would jump in as the concerned girlfriend and mindlessly force the price back up using sheer brute force. It was painful to watch.

On Lee’s team, for he project managed, things went better, simply because Jennifer – the other team leader – dived in head first with no planning whatsoever. All the same, I didn’t feel she deserved to go. She project managed two people who are complete dunderheads. Sophocles and Jenny, working as a team, managed to balls up every task they were given.

When fetching a kosher chicken, they approached a Muslim gentlemen who gladly pretended to bless the beast before slicing its throat open. That was fine, decided Jenny and Michael as they walked off with the un-kosher chuck, proceeding onwards to their next disaster – getting a tennis racket. Not only did they get the tennis racket, they also attempted to delay the stringing of Lee McQueen’s sports equipment in order to make him lose the task. ‘I thought that’d be the jewel in my crown’ said Jenny in subsequent interviews. She honestly thought that being a vindictive swine would endear her to people. But nobody likes a cheat, and she was subjected to the most casual firing since Lawrie Sanchez left Fulham. No ceremony – just a ‘you’re shit, fuck off’ type of hasty exit. On her 36th birthday as well. What a sod.

Sophocles really should’ve walked. He lied about his heritage to get in with Alan: ‘alright, I’m half Jewish’. ‘Shall we pull your trousers down and find out?’ asked the big beardie boss. Now – amusing though this was, this was a trick the Nazis used to use to separate those who were to be sent to their certain death. Using it as a gag in a corporate environment, in the real world, would probably end in an industrial tribunal. It wasn’t in the best taste, I didn’t feel.

Remarkably, Sophocles stayed. ‘I remember what it was like being 23’ said Sugar, proving that age comes into the equation when he recruits. This makes a mockery of the recent change in age discrimination laws, frankly. You’re not even allowed to use the word ‘lively’ when describing an office environment these days, as it discounts doddering old farts from being eligible. So, nice one Alan, you’ve made a joke about pulling down pants to check a man’s willy for scars and you’ve also let someone off being a useless plank because he’s 23. Maybe he should just hire an 8 year old  with no pants on and be done with it.

And that’s all I can remember. So, in lieu of a decent report (and apologies for letting the side down), let’s look at who’s left and see what their chances are:

Sara
An outside chance this one might do it. She’s the wildcard who, like Simon Ambrose last year, has shown gradual improvement. The nation’s also taken her to their collective heart because she was bullied, and everyone loves an underdog – especially one with big puppy dog wide-eyes.

Helene
Not a hope for Jabba the Hut – due, I’d say, for a firing next week. She was pretty much absent this time around, and the show was better for it. Her mock exasperation and constant bickering with Lucinda does the nation’s nut in.

Lee McLee McQueen (concerned)
Shows flashes of brilliance, but his chicken impression and his abuse of Sara may put him out of the running. He’s a twat, let’s face it. That’s what I’m talking about? I’d rather you didn’t talk at all, if you’re going to keep coming out with that shit.

Alex
Hard to say. Is often shown in a sympathetic light despite constant moaning, stupid bad-boy hats, quivering lips and scrawny, lanky frame in superman jim jams. He’s all I’ve got left in the office sweepstake, so I’m rooting for a dickhead. He’ll make the final I think.

Raef
Constantly edited to look good. Like a charming statue, Raef stands there looking handsome with nothing to say, then strikes a deal with someone by blinding them with posh arrogance. Overtook Alex in the ‘one-for-the-ladies’ stakes in week two and hasn’t looked back – but he’s way to posh to be recruited, surely? Imagine him and Alan having a breakfast bap together in Brentwood – it wouldn’t happen.

Sophocles
Hasn’t got a hope in hell. From the sounds of it, he’ll probably make the final just so those nasty bastard mate’s of Alan can rip his caked-in-bullshit CV apart. ‘Nice Jewish boy’ indeed.

Claire
Evens on this one. One week is portrayed as  a cantankerous bullying cow, the next a shrewd business expert. She’s a buyer by trade, as Alan keeps pointing out as though she’s his own over-achieving daughter, so would probably wow the folks over in Brentwood. She’s an insufferable moaner too, which can only help her cause.

Lucinda
She fades into the background despite her ludicrous wardrobe. How that’s possible I have no idea. Despite having been a good project manager, she’s just to flaky and way too plumy mouthed to make the grade, so I think she’ll be ejected ‘with regret’.

If Sophocles gets the job – and I’m putting my arse on the line here – I’ll eat the biggest hat I own.*

 

*I don’t own any hats

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4

Episode 5
Episode 6

The Apprentice 2008: Ep. 6

May 1, 2008

Kevin and Jenny

This week, the tycoons of tomorrow (and the satellite installation men and bank managers) had to troop over to my manor – the glorious town of Hackney – where they all stood about looking smarter than they actually are. The main lobby looks a lot swisher than it did when I was there to pick up some important forms, I ought to add.

Old Alan made a very clunky speech regarding births, marriages and deaths. ‘I was registered as being born here, in 1852’. ‘My marriage was registered here and, most probably, my death’ll be registered here after I’ve ‘ad you lot in the boardroom one too many times!’ Ho ho! The Apprentices smiled the smiles of a classroom of scared children.

The task was as follows: come up with a theme for a greetings card, make five examples on that very theme and then pitch it to buyers. Tesco, Celebrations and Clintons being the big fish expected to take the contestants’ dangling maggots.

Old Man Alan put Michael ‘It’s Gore-tex’ Sophocles in charge of one team, guaranteeing hilarity. This was compounded by his making Kevin ‘Nails’ Shaw the leader of the other. If laughs didn’t follow, the show’s raison d’etre would fall apart. Obviously it didn’t and we were subject to ineptitude and incompetence on a grand scale.

Sophocles was a sulky, confused kitten throughout and basically delegated everything to Raef, who rose to the challenge, despite a couple of hiccups. We were reminded of Sophocle’s vox pop – that he would manipulate anyone to get to where he’s going. In this case, manipulation appeared to be asking people ‘can you do this?’ so that he didn’t have to. His first idea, which he really tried to push, was a plastic surgery themed greetings card. Along the lines of ‘Congratulations on your penis extension!’, one assumes. It didn’t go down too well, despite the fact that Raef championed it, stating that the women he’s met what’s ‘ad ’em done are always only to happy to pop them out on request, so would love a card. I think that says rather more about the feminine company Raef keeps than the fairer sex.

Instead, Raef piped up later on with a brainwave. Let’s do a National Singles Day! Or a National Singles’ Day… With an apostrophe, somewhere. Or not. Does it have an apostrophe? They took four hours to work it out. They called the Editor of a national newspaper. They ummed and aaahed. They didn’t come up with a definitive answer, despite Raef declaring earlier that words are his tool…’ He’s got skills in that field ‘to… er… ah….you know… full capacity.’

The actual answer, fact fans, is that you can either have the apostrophe or not. It’s up to you. It can be the national day of many singles, which requires no apostrophe, or it can be the national day belonging to singles, which does require one. Bearing in mind, from a marketing perspective, the public is a bit thick, best to go without punctuation. It only confuses people. If in doubt…etc…

Before all this was going on, a proof-reading frenzy no less, the photographs were being shot by the stony-silent Jennifer, mute and still smarting from last week’s humiliation. Doing all the work on her behalf were the loggerheaded Lucinda and Helene – two women who can’t be in the same room without arguing. And we all know what that means, right lads? Sapphic sexual tensions! Next week they’ll be lezzing up with the best of them, mark my words… ‘Nobody’s telling me what to do’ said the alien life-form, Helene. Lucinda diplomatically responded by calling her ‘sweetheart’ in that patronising posho voice she does so well.

Kevin fell into a similar trap as Michael – allowing a stronger contestant to take the reins whilst floundering. ‘820%’ Kevin said he was going to give, which I thought was pathetic. Why not 830%, Kev? Up the ante! It turned out that Sophocles was lucky his rein-man was Raef. Jenny, the red-headed goon was the architect of Kevin’s downfall. The scary part is that neither of them realised they were working on a really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, SHIT idea.

Greetings cards to remind people to be ecologically sound. A ‘Save The Planet’ day. I think that’s what it was going to be called. They wavered between that and ‘Save the Earth’, without actually settling on one. Later, Kevin even said – after a pitch went spectacularly badly – ‘with that kind of attitude they aren’t gonna be saving any planets’. So I’m not even sure it was Earth he was babbling on about.

With two hours to go before the pitch and with scrawled handwriting on the walls, Kevin started flapping his feathers and bottling the pitch. Jenny and Claire refused to do it, with there only being two hours prep time left, leaving Kevin to pitch himself and dig his own grave. All credit to him, the boy is sure handy with a shovel.

There were echoes of the time, a couple of series ago, when Nargis pitched a kitten calender. Remember that? Well this was ten times worse, given that Kevin has an amusing accent, a small boy’s face and gets very aggressive when queried. At one point he instructed the buyers that not buying the goods would be equivalent to America ‘not caring about pollution’. Quite a claim.

Raef pitched quite well but came across a couple of brick walls as Sophocles had put his singles day date at February 13th – the day before National VD. What a plank. Fortunately, by the third pitch, that was changed and they fared better. At one point, the most unlikely scenario possible happened when Lee McQUEEN saved Raef in a boardroom as he stumbled over the plums in his mouth.

And so, to the boardroom.

Wally Bazoom, a regular on WWM, mentioned to me the other day that I should imagine the sound of a toilet flushing as Old Alan emerges from behind the frosted glass to judge the contestants. Now I can’t shift it from my head, and it detracts from the gravitas, to an extent.

Sophocles was grilled and he responded with petulant looks around the room, like a kid who COULDN’T BELIEVE he was being told off. ‘Don’t get impatient with me, young man’ said Alan. Then the bearded one turned on Kev. ‘I just wanted to learn how to pitch’ said Kevin, squeaking rodent-like.

When the scores were read out, Kevin lost by some margin. Sophocles, in one of the funniest boardroom moments I’ve ever seen, shouted COME ON!

Not once, but twice, whacking his fist into his palm. In a crafty edit, Margaret responded with amazed revulsion. Sophocles was reprimanded then sent off to listen to Myleene Klass banging away on an old Joanna. Raef smiled at him, lovingly.

Like the fool he is, Kevin resisted making Jenny part of the instant death trio and took Sara and Claire. Claire, it should be pointed out, worked harder than when she was Team Leader. Sara, it ought to be pointed out, was only there because Jenny bullied her and Kevin made a huge tactical error in thinking he could swing Old Alan round to believing she was at fault. He didn’t, for one moment, stating that he was old enough to know when someone’s being ‘ganged up on’. A rare victory for wisdom in The Apprentice and an even bigger victory for those of us who think Sara is a smashing looking lass.

The end sequence was, I think, a first for the format. We were treated to extended highlights of the two saved contestants returning to the house where LEE MCQUEEN discarded any public goodwill he’d gathered by shouting at Sara like he was on the fucking footie terraces, in the 80s, pumped full of Skol. As Alex joined in with a whiney beep, Raef, to his credit, stuck up for Sara, who looked on the verge of tears. Thankfully, before it all went Big Brother on us, it ended – leaving us hungry for more poison. A brilliant episode.

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5

The Apprentice 2008: Ep. 5

April 24, 2008

Boardroom Blitz

‘This is outrageous!’ screams Alan as the opening montage strikes up. You half expect ‘this is contagious!’ to follow as it sounds so similar to Jeremy from Peep Show’s electro smash. We’re reminded it’s week 5 and suddenly you realise just how much of your life has whizzed past since Nicholas ‘De Lacy’ Brown was booted out. Over a month. Frightening.

We’re at that stage where it becomes harder to hate the contestants. The ones who made ridiculous claims about how competent they are have already blown apart the illusion by acting like nitwits and we’re left with a bunch of misguided, sympathetic goons and a couple of people you vaguely like but would never want to meet. Apart from Jennifer, who had barely said a word up to this point.

Claire is first to rise in the Apprentice house, making a cup of tea whilst dressed as a furry tent, chatting with Jenny about how best to stab the others – in their sleep, while their back is turned or in the shower?

Oh shit! It’s the doorbell!

And there he is, all wrinkles, pinstripe and sneers – Alan Sugar arrives for the spaz doorstep challenge. He asks them all to get changed and some kind of bongo mania kicks in as they run around getting changed. Some arrive fully dressed, some arrive in their jim-jams and Raef arrives dressed as a 1920’s cad, with smoking jacket and vigorously parted hair. Lucinda appears to be wearing a sporran.

Though only half awake they’re told they’re going to be making ice cream, then selling it to buyers. As promised last week, Claire is designated Team Leader and she manages Kevin the gerbil, Alex the weasel, Sara the shrew, Michael the hamster and Jenny the gutter-rat.

On the other team, Lucinda is asked to lead mortal enemy Helene, Raef the enigmatic twerp, Lee the sweetest Nazi in Essex, lovely Lindi and the best Salesperson in Europe – Jennifer. And in this episode, we actually got to discover where that claim came from. Hold tight, let’s dive in.

Claire starts her first meeting with a softly, softly approach. She can overpower people, she says. She realises that, so please pull her up on it. The thought of being overpowered by Claire is too scary to contemplate. Imagine, if you will, Claire dressed only in her fluffy white dressing gown, pinning you down on a stained lino floor as the kettle whistles in the background…

*shudder*

Some ideas for flavourings are brain-stormed, which (in layman’s terms) means ‘kicked about’. Vodka and coke ice cream is Claire’s first idea, to give you an idea of how brilliantly things start. Eventually they settle for Berrymania, Chocolate orange and Cider and elderflower, which all sound alright. As Alex, Kevin and Sara get busy making the stuff, Claire, Jenny and George Michael Costanza Sophocles set about finding 50 oranges as the ingredients demand. Oh – and they manage a couple of sales calls as well – which is handy as that’s their bloody job, the idiots.

Over on Lucinda’s team, everything ticks over like well-oiled clockwork. They talk about the ice creams they might make and it’s even worse than before. Ginseng. Carrot. Gooseberry fool. How about, chips in Lee McLee McQueen, a cuppa tea flavour?! I can think of nothing more revolting. Silly boy. They settle on – and this left my jaw on the floor – toffee apple (fair enough), cosmopolitan (eh?) and avocado with chilli (retch, wince, vomit).

Lucinda, Lee and Kevin make the product. Lee seems particularly in his element, whooping with delight as he makes the product. He’s found his niche. It’ll be hard to drag him from the factory floor. He was MADE to work in a hairnet and white-coat. Go Lee!

In the meantime, Raef, Jennifer and the number two for the task, young, naive Lindi go crazy on the phones, selling like crazy and growing more and more confident. I completely missed their ultimate error, which was to offer exclusivity to every single buyer without actually considering that might mean something and was logically impossible. It was ‘best salesperson in Europe’ Jennifer who set the ball rolling on this, clearly forgetting every trick she’d ever learned in a mad moment which weirdly sustained itself throughout the day. Lindi did notice, but did nothing about it and so, sadly she received the boardroom blitz when Lucinda lost the task – which was a shock, to say the least.

Happily though, Jennifer got a good hiding too – which may hopefully have brought her down a peg or two. She is the lady cyborg to Alex’s T2000. They’d need a jump start if they ever fell into bed, those two. Spark plugs and sockets… it doesn’t bear pondering.

So somehow Claire (one of the most questionable of the lot) won the task. Cleverly edited so that twist followed twist upon twisted twist, I didn’t expect the outcome (again). When they learned they’d done it, Alex showed his ‘smile-face’ – a collection of facial movements involving combined grimaces, morbid grinning and rictus smirking which was completely inhuman.

They won despite trying to test their product on a confused yoga class, a couple of pissed men, in a pub and finally a collection of pensioners. Alex got a massive deal which was then hijacked by the other team but ultimately a deal with the Hoxton Bar & Grill got them the cash they needed.

Without any other choice, after exposing Helene as a two-faced twat in front of Alan and the others, Lucinda dragged Lindi and Jennifer back with her and Lindi, as the one responsible for sales, got sacked – which is a shame as she’s better for TV than monotone monster Jennifer.

Some lovely destruction of the language this week. My favourite was Claire saying that, pre-boardroom she could feel the ‘guillotine literally inches away from her neck’ which was interesting as there was no guillotine in the shot. Perhaps she is a hallucinating mad-woman.

If only they’d punish them every time for making these rudimentary grammar errors. Maybe if Jenny had really been made to breastfeed two other contestants and Claire had actually been forced to have her block knocked off by a hanging French blade, the others might stop abusing our finest idioms.

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4

The Apprentice 2008 – Ep. 4

April 17, 2008

Christ. Well I wasn’t expecting that? Were you?

A major twist this week, of which more later. It’s interesting how this reality show is allowed (by us) to have a clearly fabricated narrative, editing that would’ve done Goebbels proud, a plot conjured out of thin air and a twist every episode. It’s so transparent that the whole thing is completely contrived, but we allow them to get away with it. I’m not sure why… the programme really is a waste of an hour. But for some reason it’s an unmissable waste of time. Peculiar.

So the phone goes, as usual, and Claire – a key performer this week – answers it in a big white, dressing gown that makes her look like she weighs 21 stone. Raef surfaces from bed with that carefully constructed hair lattice all askew, rubbing his sleepy little reptilian eyes before treating us to a shot of his left nip as he showers. One for the ladies.

Surrounded by some lovely paintings which Piqued would probably be able to bore you to death about, the contestants wait for Alan, dressed up to the nines. Alan – for he is now just plain old ‘Alan’ to me, after Simon burst his knighthood bubble last week – emerges to a 70s bongo fury soundtrack, making him resemble a withered Bee Gee crossed with a wasp. Or literally a ‘bee’ Gee.

You’re gonna be doing some photography in Bluewater, Alan instructs. ‘YES!’ mouths Simon, aware that he’s got to be Project Manager this time round, to save face. Boys and girls are mixed up for the first time this series, and on the face of it Simon has by far the better team – Alex, Claire, Jenny and Sara (lovely Sara). Helene ends up leader of the other team after some discussion and her team looks hopeless. Kevin, Raef, Lindi – all of them protrayed as buffoons in recent weeks.

When deciding on Project Manager Simon immediately jumped to the front of the queue – he knows photography and he knows Essex, right? But, when tempted to mock the people of Essex he states he would never ‘degenerate’ his own people. Which is good. He gets the job and asks Alex to be his right hand man. Alex dithers, aware that it’s a shortcut to the boardroom should they fail. At this point, cyborg faced Alex inadvertantly disrupted the whole effort, broke all confidence in Simon and ruined their chances. An immense lack of confidence that everyone else picked up on – most notably Claire who became this week’s hate-figure. They lost, if you hadn’t guessed by now.

Luckily the other team (I refuse to call them ‘Renaissance’ or ‘Alpha’ as they’re such terrible names) had Kevin on board. He wanted to SELL. He wanted to be out there ‘nailing it’. He likes nailing things. Also lucky that this team had Helene as team leader as she’s ‘got balls’ and she gets ‘pissed off’ easily. Ooer. She’s quite a horrific character – all boggly-eyed ferocity, blunt insults and faux-exasperation.

Simon chose Glamour and Beauty as his theme. Helene went for a lookalike Davey Beckham and ploughed money into a football theme – England shirts, terrace backdrop – the works. All good, but bloody expensive, so they made a poxy return, just shy of 200 quid.

I’m not sure if we were meant to believe that they’d set up the lookalike auditions. It was incredibly fabricated, but did give us the chance to laugh at what George Clooney might look like if he only ate doughnuts and Britney if she’d stayed off the drugs and moved to Surrey. As the auditions went on, Simon went to the same prop warehouse used every series and bought a few red sheets and a sofa whilst consistently asking his team to trust him, every five minutes, whilst on the verge of tears, smile wibbling on his face like a dodgy tightrope. Particularly enjoyed the scene where Simon called Claire and when she answered, said ‘hello’ as though he had received the call rather than made it. ‘Erm… Simon – you called us’. We’ve all done it. Well – I have.

After a night’s kip it was off to Bluewater.

Both teams were rubbish. Helene charged more and that probably won her the task. She was assisted in gaining victory by Alex and Claire spending the entire time complaining in the back room – making Simon’s job impossible, his face quivering and his forehead sweating all over the shop floor. Also out at the front selling rubbish photos were Sara, Jenny, Kevin, Lindi and LEE MCQUEEN. The latter was made to look vaguely human. He interacted with a child without using his stormtrooper fists to tear it limb from limb. Kevin nailed nothing, Jenny moaned and Lindi stood there looking pretty.

Out the back where the photos were developed was where everything went wrong for both teams. Helene battled with the skinless Lucinda over IT issues neither of them had the ability to resolve, whilst Raef managed to print a mug upside down with a comical ‘oh deeeeear’. And all of this with a disgruntled Dave Beckham looking on.

As I type, I realise that Jennifer – the Irish bob girl – didn’t feature at all last night. Was she even on camera? How is this allowed to happen?

In Simon’s squadron, Alex spent his time taking the piss out of the proles in the photos, telling Claire why he couldn’t do as Simon asked. Claire was meant to relay why errors were being made, which she patently did not do.

But she wasn’t fired at the end. Simon was. Fair enough, they made a loss – but there was a reason for that, and the reason was Claire. So another nasty, foul-tempered twat gets the nod ahead of someone who’s willing but just a bit feckless. It’s so unfair. It doesn’t seem right.

It’s the way the world works. Get used to it. This is business, alright?

 

Addendum 1: Sugar singing ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda…’ – is he a secret fan of Beverley Knight?

Addendum 2: Simon, in his exit interview, mentioned that he honestly ‘gave it 100%’. And that was his major failing. EVERYONE knows you have to give it at least 110% percent, otherwise the maths make sense and you’ve no hope of winning…

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3

The Apprentice 2008 – Ep. 3

April 10, 2008

Straight into week three and we kicked off with a reminder of Shazia’s unfair exit. We sat through the trauma once again as Shazia whimpered the word ‘please’, just before getting booted. And then it’s on to Tate Modern for the briefing. They’re going to run out of London landmarks soon. By series six Sugar will be asking them to rendezvous outside the Holborn Wetherspoons, six a.m. sharp.

The task is to transform a London boozer – Upper Street in Islington and Hampstead are the locations, so hardly spit and sawdust locals – into a credible gastropub. Or at least into a pub that serves food.

By my reckoning, that’s actually a pretty simple thing to do. Usually I balk at the Sugar-suggestion at this stage, wondering how the hell I’d cope, certain I’d make as many elementary mistakes as the preening pricks lining up for the bum-job. This time, however, I actually thought ‘easy’. They had a kitchen ready to go, a chef waiting to be utilised and a restaurant ready to be filled. All they had to do was sit down for a couple of hours, decide what food would suit the area (food they could actually cook), work out how much everything would cost and how much, as a result, they could sell it for. Pretty basic stuff.

Instead and as usual, both teams ran straight out of the door, barking rubbish into blackberries and making shit up as they went along. The insufferable goons.

Led by Ian Stringy Stringer, the boys’ period of research and planning seemed only to involve a lot of guarantees and pledges that they would work hard (Raef winning the ‘first to say 110% percent’ competition this week) and deciding they’d do Italian food. The girls, led by the sweary-mouthed Sara argued about what theme to follow. Someone idioticly bellowed ‘Let’s have a murder-mystery night!’ (in a pub?!) whilst Sara wanted a Bollywood theme whilst Claire wanted English fare. Sara won as she was Team Leader. Sara won because she has the dead-eyed gaze of the living dead and the ability to repeat herself until all around her wilt and perish. Sara, for some reason, is very attractive – against all the odds.

A key failing on Ian The Stringboy Stringer’s part was the appointment of Kevin as Head Chef. It came to light that this was a tactic by which he could transfer all blame to the Somerset George Dawes should things conspire to go wrong – which they did, thank God. If they hadn’t – where’d be the fun in that?

Kevin was asked to lead a chat on what food they were going to make as he’d declared his expertise on Italian cuisine earlier – apparently he eats in ‘a lot of Italian restaurants in Guildford’. His speech on what menu he fancied working on was a kind of confused stream, listing vaguely intelligible food processes. Watching him stumble over terms he’d seen on the cooking channel was the highlight of the show for me. ‘We take a mushroom. Then we bake it’ he said, not unreasonably. ‘Then we put some salt and pepper on it’ he continued before completely losing his train of thought, ‘and then we puree it’… This carried on for some time, until the baked, pureed mushroom had been flambeed, whipped and crumbled over fruits of the forest. Kevin, by this point, had proved himself to be either a very convincing actor or the greatest example of incompetence since Eddie The fucking Eagle. What’re we making for dessert Kevin? A latte with chocolate sprinkles. Mmmmm! Fetch me a spoon!

These scenes were interspersed with Lee having the most working class nervous breakdown ever seen onscreen. ‘I am concerned!’ he yelled into his mobile at one point. ‘LEE MCQUEEN IS CONCERNED!’. Within the gap between two sentences we watched him disassociate himself and plant his ego a few yards from his id, lapsing into third person in the process. ‘Dunno how to spell ‘accent” he said at one point, the big Nazi-faced thicko.

Sara wandered around in a sort of stoned, glazed wilderness of her own making as the other girls pulled together to make her curry night happen. She bought spices for the curry in minute quantities – I have more in my kitchen than she’d bought to feed at least a hundred people. Luckily her charges did the work for her and though her night was a bit of a shambolic mess – the Bollywood dancer being a particularly David Lynch-like lowlight – they made loads of money. This rested on the fact that Jennifer (the Irish one, not the redhead) had charged a fiver for entry. Profit before the doors had opened. Success. Jennifer is one to watch.

Meanwhile, the boys ended up being led by nobody. Ian turned into an empty shed, devoid of ideas or emotion, Raef hid in the shadows, Alex did what he could, Simon searched for answers from his boss and found himself in Ian’s pretty-boy dead end, facing disaster. Sophocles made his customary George Costanzaesque mistakes and got away with it. LEE MCQUEEN was concerned and continued to shout, his words forming a white noise it was quite easy to ignore. And Kevin, poor little Kevvy boy with his Westcountry accent and unrequested Head Chef role, had to do something. He made revolting food, gave a David Brentesque pep talk out of nowhere and, bless his heart, he tried. The fact that Ian Stringy Stringboy didn’t grab him by his neck and tell him to SHUT THE FUCK UP is the Stringy man’s problem.

Kevin tried, he failed, but at least he gave it a go. And that’s what resulted in Ian getting fired. He did absolutelty dick all apart from worry about his hair straighteners. Maybe he’s thick. Maybe he was just overwhelmed by the situation. Either way, Sugar sent him on his way and was justified in doing so.

The boardoom was fun. Simon was pretty much exonerated, Kevin was entirely unconvincing when talking up his progress and Ian sat there denying everything he’d done wrong.

Simon was dragged into the final three, which was baffling. So shocked was he that he made the amusing error of calling ‘Sir Alan’ the more familiar ‘Alan’, before realising his mistake and lifting his hand to his mouth, as if to say ‘Sorry Sir’ like a little boy. Quite endearing, really.

Instead of forming an argument and sticking to it, Ian simply denied everything. He denied that Kevin had given a pep talk (surely he knew Sugar had seen the footage?) and he might as well have denied the fact he existed. He was appalling under scrutiny, and it’s the boardroom where you have to be convincing. Forget the actual task, if you can’t cradle your balls against a counter attack in front of the bearded fat-cat, it’s the highway for you. And off he popped, without fanfare, back into anonymity.

Upon their return to the house, young Kevin shouted ‘Booyaka!’, delightfully using a very 90s term to express his happiness. ‘I totally nailed Ian in there’ he declared, as all around him looked on in stunned disbelief.

Noted for their absence, for a lack of footage around week three equals likely progress later on, were Raef and Alex. Neither said anything of any real consequence, Raef sat about looking other-worldly and Alex wore a stupid hip-hop hat at the end. They’re going to be key players later on and I can’t wait to see them fail, fail and fail again. That’s what it’s all about, after all.

The Apprentice 2008 – Ep. 2

April 3, 2008

Apprentice Launderette

Ever been to a launderette?

I have. So I have a pretty clear idea of how much it costs to wash clothes.

None of the girls last night can ever have frequented a washroom or a dry cleaners, as when tasked with pitching business to a hotel chain they saw fit to charge £4.99 per item. So 1,000 items of bedding could be washed and ironed for the bargain-rate price of £5,000. This really was shake-head-in-disbelief stuff. How could that figure have been agreed? Was it that these girls have never had to wash their dirty linen in public? Or was it a case of one voice shouting louder than the others and the rest of the troupe following blindly and obediently?

The latter, you have to say, when you consider that the girl’s Project Manager for this totally shambolic episode was Jenny. Good God – what an abomination this redheaded, tube-faced monster is. We should have seen it coming when she squeaked ‘I just love sales!’ with a giggle of perversion (like she was sitting on a washing machine, aptly enough) in her week one vox pop. She’s this year’s Saira Khan but with none of the charm or bewildering attractive qualities. She’s this year’s Jo – (remember that insane Tigger contestant last year?) but with none of the slightly lunatic joie de vivre. In short – she’s terrifying.

The boys were ‘led’ by Raef. His leadership strategy involved splitting the chaps into the two camps he complained had developed last week and making the jocks do the hard work whilst the nerds strolled around town fixing their cufflinks and checking their reflections in shop windows. I’m no fan of Alex, Ian, Lee and Simon, but at least they get their hands dirty (for evidence, see Simon spiritedly battering that fishhead last week). They were destined to win – so Raef stays in for at least another week despite clearly being eventual Yer Fired-fodder.

Jennifer, oh Jenny. Where to begin? The girl’s made so many ludicrous errors last night that it’s tempting to think they were doing it for a laugh – or getting a fiver from the cameraman per mistake. So error number one was, as with last week, not considering that if you’re going to sell something, you have to work out the right mark-up. Blindly trying to sell something without considering its value is just beyond belief. After the £5,000 laundry shocker, they went to their next client and offered to wash, dry and iron his massive pile of shop-soiled smocks for a tenner. One twisted extreme to another.

As they wobbled along the valley of disasters, they left the actual nitty-gritty of actually doing the laundry to the very last minute. With huge piles of clothes sorted by Shazia, they set to work and realised they needed more irons and equipment, so went back to the house to pick up spares – only to find the boys had nicked everything they needed earlier in the day. From that point, they were doomed. The boys seemed to go from strength-to-strength while the girls added insult to their own festering injuries.

Trying to enforce tips? What the fuck? Beyond bolshy bellboys hanging around a bit too long, I’ve never heard of anything like it. Imagine a waitress talking in depth about the tip they expect to receive after serving you a mediocre salad. It’s not on, is it? Now imagine that salad’s got certain elements missing, like dressing, croutons and vegetables. For that is what happened – the girls lost clothes.

Jenny somehow pinned the blame on Shazia – saying she upped and left having only labelled some of the clothes. From where I was sitting (and admittedly I was pretty pissed up) I thought Jenny had ordered her to go with her. I could be wrong.

At one point in the catalogue of rubbishness, Jenny actually made Lucinda cry. Actual tears…  I’ve had managers who’ve made me angry, managers who’ve made me punch inanimate objects out of sheer frustration and managers who’ve left me so washed out and overworked that I’ve stared into space for hours. But making your employees cry? That takes a special kind of graceless idiocy.

So how did Jenny survive the boardroom? Why did Shazia go? I was particularly pissed off about this as I picked Shazia in an office sweepstake. I was robbed!

The reason is, once again, ‘good telly’. Jenny will continue to writhe in her own two-dimensional villain status for the next couple of weeks and we’ll lap it up, criticising the silly cow to make ourselves feel a little bit better about our own offices, colleagues and careers. It becomes more apparent, show upon show, that this is only TV, pure entertainment and not the job interview it professes to be. But who cares?

I don’t.

Episode one

The Apprentice 2008 – Ep. 1

March 27, 2008

Yer Fired 

Last night’s Apprentice was a winner. It’s good to see it back. Old Pa Sugar was on form as he listened to the explanations describing how one team went chaotic and the other split into two sub-teams of ‘cockneys and toffs’. A crowded and hard-to-follow episode, probably because there are 16 of the bastards to get through.

Last night he separated the girls and boys and set them to the task of selling fishies down a market of their choice in dirty ol’ London Tairn.

Young Alex, a budget Ethan Hawke who the ladies already seem to love, stepped up to accept the role of Project Manager whilst all the other lads bickered like little shitbags about it. Raef in particular decided to immediately stick his neck out in order to display to his fellow players that he was the peacock alpha-twat of the group.

Look at me!’ he seemed to yell – ‘I’ll be your Tre, your Saed for this series! Every opportunity I get I’ll make myself look like a panto villain for larks and chuckles!‘…

The project management delegation was interspersed by vox pops from the contestants. Sara excelled in this to-camera self-celebration, trotting out an aggressive spiel, but really nervously – with the effect of her looking like a completely adorable psychopath. The sort of girl who’ll win your heart whilst stabbing you repeatedly in the leg with a scalpel. Bless ‘er. She continued in her tender, fixated beration as all the ladies squawked at a hapless fishmonger they’d decided to quiz – barking queries at the poor sod like he was in Guantanamo.

Both teams decided to sell fish down at Chapel Market – a market attended by unemployed misfits missing teeth. The perfect demographic for blowfish and lobster.

The girls started selling immediately. Without actually looking at what they were selling. Sugababe Lindi initiated this as the others squabbled, selling stuff for figures that popped into her head at random. The others, headless chickens at this stage, all decided this was a ruddy good idea and joined in like a shower of fools. They eventually got their game together though and at least guessed better than the boys, as they ended up winning the task. They got served fish cooked by Johnny Christopher Novelli – that slick French character of Hell’s Kitchen, series 2. These reality types get about, eh?

The boys, on the other hand, gave the gig of pricing up to young Nick De-Lacy Whatsisface (don’t matter no more – he’s been booted) and he royally fucked it up – leading to his expulsion via the Sugar-finger process.

In the dizzy scenes of fish-selling, all a bit confusingly edited, we saw:

  • Teardrop headed Simon attempt to cleaver the head of a big fish, balls it up and decide to saw it off instead. This was one of the most brutal things I’ve ever seen on normal telly. My missus is a delicate old soul and actually had to look away at that point.
  • Sophocles getting mugged by a solicitor who bought all his pricey fish for next to nothing. Sophocles thought he’d got a good deal, but anyone who’s ever had to deal with anyone who works in the legal profession and didn’t feel ripped off by the experience is clearly an imbecile.
  • A fight rage between the boys about an apparent ‘class-divide’. How that happened in the space of two or three hours is pretty much down to Raef, the engineer of the rift. Basically he got all those with slightly posher accents onside and broke down any chance of winning.

In the boardroom, Alex quite easily beat Raef into a corner using that crazy little thing called ‘logic’. Apart from the fact he kept referencing his CV, he came across as alright, I felt, and made Nick De-Lacy Whadjermacallit look like a complete tit. Apparently the fact that the buffoon is into his art and his culture meant he couldn’t sell fish, or so his explanation went.

An amused Sir Sugar watched the fireworks with a distant grin on his face before firing Nick very quickly.

Raef was lucky not to have gone, but they’ll have to keep him in as he gives good telly – and that’s what this is all about. Right kids?

The Apprentice 2008 – Preview Part 2

March 26, 2008

Alan Sugar 

Ok – let’s have a look at the rest…

Katie Hopkins

What’s this? You’re not allowed a second pop at the Apprentice! This ain’t the X Factor Katie – so fuck off and take your Fido Dido look with you. You bloody cheat.

Jennifer Maguire

This is the one who got all confused in the trailer, mistakenly declaring herself to be the best salesperson in Europe. Jennifer can apparently sell pieces of paper for 50 quid and make a living out of it. I’ll wager those pieces of paper are hundred quid notes. You’re not going to make a living doing that Jennifer, but you’ll make plenty of friends – you moron.

Sara Dhada

‘Naturally glamorous’ Sara ‘da-da!’ Dhada is a trained lawyer with scary eyes. She wants to follow in her father’s footsteps (he was a millionaire by the time he was 25). But we also learn she had to ‘save the family company’ at some point – so presumably his millionaire status was flagging by the time his daughter was adult. Effectively, she wants to follow in her father’s footsteps by getting rich quick then fucking it up. Great.

Kevin Shaw

‘Never trust a Kevin’. That’s what my old ma used to say to me – and she turned out to be right. Just look at K-Fed, currently framing B-Speares for insanity and child abuse. Kevin Keegan? False Geordie messiah. So I don’t trust Kevin Shaw neither – what with his ‘come on, reckon yer ‘ard?’ expression and his lop-sided quiff. You’ll never win, Kevin. Never.

Simon Smith

When Simon visits the hairdressing salon, he asks the scissor-man to make his head resemble the teardrop his last employer shed when he realised what a pack of lies Simon had presented him with. Teardrop-headed Simon is 35 and falls for little old ladies.

Michael Sophocles

The first rule of manipulation? Never say ‘I will manipulate others if necessary’. FAIL.

Helene Speight

‘Single Helene is equally at home drinking wine with the girls and having a pint watching the rugby’. So she’s comfortable drinking with anyone then. That’s an attractive quality – alcoholism. Definitely one for the ‘hobbies and interests’ section of your CV Helene…

Alex Wotherspoon

Come off it, sunshine. At least brush your hair before a televised job interview. You’re not fooling anyone with your little-boy-lost routine. I know Ambrose won the last season by being an eight-year-old in the body of a twentysomething, but surely Sugar’s got wise to that by now? Having said that, Alex manages to be single while having a girlfriend. If he can market the secret to how that works, he’ll make a small bloody fortune.

And that’s your lot. Tune in tonight to watch them hash up a pointless task. Laugh at their idiocy. Avoid pondering the fact that you’d screw it up too. Go to bed. Talk about it at work the next day. Work until retirement. Die.