Posts Tagged ‘Apprentice 2008’

The Apprentice 2008 – The Final

June 12, 2008

The Apprentice Final 2008

 I’ve heard it said that the little bit at the end of your CV called ‘hobbies and interests’ is unimportant and irrelevant. The people who say this are misinformed.

If you do your research, it can swing you a job. When I was a useless student, desperate for night work due to being physically unable to rise before midday, I noticed an opening at a 24 hour garage. After a brief chat with one of the staff there, I learned that the boss was, like me, an Arsenal fan. So in my hobbies and interests I wrote ‘avid fan of Arsenal FC’. I got an interview that day, spent the interview talking about Marc Overmars and was working the night-shift on pay and a half that very night – browsing the top shelf pornography and eating the pies in the backroom.

Lee McQueen must’ve been briefed on this little trick. Last night, the remaining contestants were sent out for some posh tucker with a very special guest. Only one of the most high-profile Spurs fans in the country… That’s right gang! It was Alan Sugar!

‘Oo do you support then, Lee?’ he asked the speech-impeded wideboy. We all knew the answer before he’d even opened his mouth. In these opening shots it was clear Lee was going to win no matter what happened in the task as he was gently jibed by the fuzzy millionaire like a favourite pupil. ‘Lee’s paying’, he said, as the bill arrived to indulgent smiles all round.

So – we know the drill by now. A few vox pops were aired in which Claire and Helene declared the size of their massive balls. The phone was answered. Frances was on the blower. They all got dressed in the space of three seconds and then they were off – this time to a massive, empty art gallery. This time, it seemed it wasn’t only Alan who had massive hands – they all appeared to be carrying huge pink claws by their sides. There must be something in the lens that makes fingers look like pinky-logs.

A massive art-gallery space was the base. The task was to launch a fragrance, pour les hommes, withthe assistance of past contestants whilst working as joint leaders – Lee with Claire (clearly the strongest two) and Helene with Alex. 

But not all of the past contestants were involved (as I think has been done in the past). Nope – if you remember, that made the Badger/Dewbury final far too crowded. This time we only get the most TV-worthy dunderheads. Sadly Sara Dadadadhada wasn’t included in the line up. Curses.

So – here’s how they picked their teams:

Claire & Lee: Jenny C
Whaaaa?! The first one picked is the most noxious of the bunch? Nice work on that one Claire. Pick a living, breathing, anvil-jawed failure as your first choice.

Alex & Helene: Raef
Good choice. Well liked by contestants and judges alike and generally quite successful in tasks.

Claire & Lee: Michael
Awww… they’ve broken up bum chums Sophocles and Raef. The utter sods. That’s just mean.

Alex & Helene: Kevin
Just don’t let him give a pep talk. Even better – don’t let him talk at all.

Claire & Lee: Simon
Can’t believe he was picked so late. As far as I could tell, he was the hardest working of the lot, if a little flimsy when leading.

So, Jennifer was sent to work with Alex and Helene as she was picked last. Don’t laugh – some of us know how that FEELS.


Helene buttered up Alex saying how she was soooglad she’d got him to work with as he stuffed one of his lips up a flared nostril in smug delight. Once again, in a well-timed vox pop, Alex felt the urge to remind us of his age – which is 24 years old, in case you’d forgotten.

In the meantime, Lee and Claire got down to business, discussing the target demographic for their parfum. Lee was on autopilot – getting right into the brainstorm. We’ve seen him outdo himself in this scenario before – suggesting ‘Snot’ for tissues and ‘cuppa tea’ as an ice cream flavouring. This time, he didn’t disappoint. Their target audience was a 22 year old metrosexual what shaves ‘is balls.

When it was time to come up with names, they pulled some right shit out of the bag.  ‘Pssst’, ‘Dollar’ and ‘Primal’ were all blathered into the ether until possibly the worst suggestion was hit upon and seized – their aftershave was to be called ‘Roulette’. Nice.

Helene got talking to some painter and decorators about the aftershave the men’d actually rely on their wives to buy them, thus rendering their focus group a waste of time. No names were decided upon though the rubbish ‘Connect’ and ‘Enigma’ were shouted. ‘Girth’ was one I particularly enjoyed.

In the midst of all this pandemonium, Lee started babbling like a boiling baby and lost the ability to pronounce his own product. ‘Woulette!’ he screamed. ‘Thas warram talking abairt’ he went on, possibly for the last time ever on British television.

Kevin rolled his sleeves up and got stuck in when the bottle was being designed, reeling off ideas for a concept from the part of his mind that deals with how to control going poo poo. He suggested a stressball texture to the bottle. How about a rubik’s cube shape? Something simple like that overtly complex idea. Alex was so stressed on the phone to Helene he needed that god damned stressballaftershave bottle. So stressed was he, that he let the designer come up with the concept, thus losing him the match on away goals.

As we watched the commercial being filmed, things seemed to be going well withAlex and Helene. Seasoned viewers know this is a terrible sign. Nick’s championing of the concept didn’t help – his praise alongside the presence of that idiot Kevin represented the proverbial kiss of death.

Their ad went smoothly where Lee and Claire’s was a 70s nightmare, straight out of the Hai Karate era. The only downside to Dual – the name Alex and Helene decided on – was the fact that they hadn’t designed it themselves and Helene had made it smell of old chocolate. ‘It’s certainly different’, said Raef, ever the optimist.

Despite things going well for them, Alex and Helene continued to bust up. ‘Conflicting against each other’ is how they othey put it in their garbled business logic. We’d already learned that a good business mind comes at the expense of the ability to communicate using recognised idioms – this, then, was the proof. The 11th hour rewrite of the script didn’t help, yet all seemed forebodingly to be on course for success.

To compound one team’s success, Lee was looking shaky. High drama! He couldn’t talk as he prepared his pitch and stumbled like a tit over every word.

And finally, the pitches themselves were both pretty awful. Where Lee’s dancers were geriatric, glowsticked, juggling freaks, Alex and Helene employed karate-kicking nutjobs. Lee and Claire started their pitch withthe words ‘Gambling is important’ – which sent a shiver down the spine of everyone who was considering how they might market this bit of tat. By promoting gambling! Great idea!

‘I know a little cheeky chap’ said Lee, talking about his demographic. It was, in Sugar parlance, a bluddy shambles. ‘The metrosexual is dead’, they incorrectly asserted. They stumbled over their words. They were laughed at. It was very, very poor.

Alex and Helene, on the other hand, were targeted withspontaneous applause. Their work was ‘coherent’ and ‘extraordinary’. Only one drawback was mentioned – that being the cost of the bottle to manufacture. This prohibitive cost was the black cloud that followed Alex and Helene to the boardroom. As Sugar made it clearer who the winner might be, Sophocles swung his head jubilantly like a happy little Pinnochio and Jenny’s enormous paving-slab jaw seemed to expand – though this could of been her way of smiling.

The rest is history. There was a little comic relief regarding SImon’s metrosexuality – met with his denial – though Christ knows how his hair gets that shape if he’s not… 

Then Alex and Helene were swiflty kerb-kicked, and very unceremoniously, too. Helene was realistic in the cab home whilst Alex wept his little eyes off, biting those lips that had so often betrayed the inner-workings of his nubile mind. Poor lad. He’s only 24, remember.

We kind of knew he hadn’t made it as his CV’s been very publically onlinefor the past month.

And then Sugar decided between Claire and Lee. Claire had evolved, he said… into some kind of whale/simian hybrid it seemed to me. Sugar bewilderingly said her pitching skills were superb. They weren’t. He said Lee was a very convincing candidate (despite the stupid dinosaur impressions, illiteracy, lying on his CV and bullying Sara).

He picked Lee. It was all over. A sigh of relief. A little trump came out of Alan’s bottom as he sat back, overwhelmed by the magnitude of this underwhelming conculsion. It was an abrupt ending, accompanied by the sound of the nation flicking over to BBC2 to watch ‘You’re Fired’.

They surpassed themselves this year, the BBC. It was a great series. Let’s hope they don’t push the audition process for anyone toogrotesque next time round. They should repeat exactly what they achieved this time round. Taking overconfident, arrogant numbskulls and pushing them into industries they have no experience of, then filming the bickering mayhem before editing it into appetising hour-long chunks.  

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The Apprentice 2008 – Ep. 9

May 22, 2008

Sometimes, when you lose someone early on, you get the impression that a handful of people are just too good for the world. Something about their raffish charm and twinkly brown eyes being beyond the capacity of the amount of goodness this world can actually handle.

On the other hand, some people are all mouth and no trousers, dress foppishly in order to distract from their empty personalities and have a decent vocabulary which isn’t backed up by any substance. Raef somehow had it both ways… being both a grade ‘A’ bullshitter and also an apparently lovely bloke. Rather sad to see him go – he was certainly this year’s Nice Contestant. We’ve not got much left to work with, after his exit.

We’ve got Lee – loaded with common sense but prone to unblinking twattishness and we’ve got his ex, Lucinda who is a lovely leader but a pain in the arse when asked to follow. We’ve got Alex who, despite his protestations about being a Sales Manager with an international remit, whatever that means, is all over the bloody shop. We’ve got Helene, who is dripping with awfulness. We’ve got Michael Sophocles who walked out of a sitcom and into the boardroom and then we have Claire, the one who won’t stop SHOUTING ABOUT HOW SHE WAS RIGHT.

Sophocles treated the ladies to the sight of his naked, miniature frame as he answered the phone in enormous boxer shorts. Frances was on the blower, predictably enough, and she told them they were off to the National Theatre. ‘I’ve got to step up’ said Sophocles in a split-second vox pop, his neck riddled with shaving cuts.

When they arrived at the National, Nick and Margaret waited patiently as the briefing  kicked in. Nick did that weird thing with his face. I think it’s meant to signify impatience but it actually looks like he’s trying to hold back a huge flood of diarrhoea.

Alan changed the teams about, as is his wont, and we ended up with Raef as team leader over Claire, Helene and Michael – the latter having been refused his plea to lead a team this week. The same old method used by desperate contestants to stay in the show. I DO BETTER NEXT TIME MUMMY. PROMISE! On the other team, Alex was to lead just Lee and Lucinda – who at this point were still very much in love.

They were asked to come up with a name for a box of tissues, as well as suitable packaging, a print advertisement and a 30 second television ad. Quite a lot of work for two days, so Alex’s team sat down to brainstorm. And they brainstormed really badly, with Alex totally non-commital, Lee in a bad-idea-frenzy and Lucinda coming out with some utter crap. When coming up with names, Lee barked ‘WHAT ABOUT SNOT’? ‘COSY-NOSE?’ ‘COSY-NOSE IN THE CAR, COSY-NOSE IN THE PLANE?’. At least he tried.

Lucinda seemed hell-bent on sabotage and suggested gathering the pink pound with snot-rags aimed at gay men. If they’d have done that, they’d have reduced their market by about 90%. So probably a good thing she was roundly ignored, despite her assertion that Alex was ‘worse than useless’. Her whining cost her the love of her life, as Lee Cold Eye McQueen finally seemed to dump her through the medium of swearwords.

Rather than do anything so insignificant as research and planning, Raef picked up his little pal Michael so they could be driven around the West End and talk of their thespian pasts. We learned that both had extensively trodden the boards – Raef as Sebastien in Twelfth Night and Sophocles with a singing part in West Side Story. Cue: Dodgy recitals of lines and show-songs. Never before have two birdbrains looked quite so preening. This culminated in Michael singing one of Fagin’s numbers from Oliver – and it was horrendous.

So, Alex’s box was designed and, good grief, in comparison to the others’ it was a thing of unbounded ugliness. An orange monstrosity with irrelevant stock photos and bad fonts. It was the Cillit Bang of tissues. The television advert was almost brilliantly awful. The mother figure was accepted after an awful audition in which Alex asked them to ‘freestyle for a bit’. Her reaction was to whimper like John Inman in a man-trap. The actual TV ad involved this whimpering and a father who was on the money as cheesy-ad-dad. At one point, he grabbed his ‘daughter’s’ nose and tweaked it so melodramatically it looked like he might wrench it off, stuff it in his gob and spit it out in a fountain of gore. The ad was so garishly orange and pink and ridiculously heavily branded, they might have handed victory to Raef before they reached the edit suite.

Might have, were it not for Raef’s Sophocles-buffered pretension. Their ad featured Sian Lloyd for bugger all reason (even SHE said they should’ve googled her before booking her) and for only about five seconds. In their mini-masterpiece, a couple of children shared a tissue (unhygenic) and then smiled as Ronan Bloody Keating warbled in the background. It was well-shot in every way but one. There was no branding, whatsoever. Not one logo, one mention of the brandname or even one shot of the box – a shame as the packaging was pretty impressively well-made by Claire and Helene.

Right from the start, it was obvious that branding was of the utmost importance, so how they could have forgotten to stick in a logo and deemed a close up of the box ‘vulgar’ reeks of a complete lack of awareness of how advertising stripped to its most basic elements actually works. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing, but for a businessman or a ‘tycoon of tomorrow’, it’s actually disastrous.

And so it was that Raef made a fundamental error, and it was with ‘all due respect’ that Alan told him he was full of hot air. And though it’s not very nice, it’s true. He was a likable statue, an affable ghost, a respectable spectre. But he hardly had acute business acumen. The ladies will miss him, I’m sure.

Sugar had a ball in the boardroom, sarcastically dubbing Sophocles and Raef the next Spielberg and Fellini, telling Lee he was mind-numbingly boring, laying into Alex… Rather than have anyone read out the scores, he simply launched ‘YOU LOST. YOU LOST’ at an unsuspecting Raef, telling them off for doing 95% of the task and leaving out the main product point – a call to action. And quite right too. He then told Alex that his ‘crap advert had won’, having a pop at the box, the clip and the print media while Alex smiled at the criticism, safe in the knowledge he’d lived through the trauma yet again.

Despite Raef’s eviction, Sian Lloyd probably came out of this episode worse than anyone else. Not only did she suffer the indignity of appearing in one of the worst pieces of advertising ever made, she also had the mickey ripped out of her by Alan – with his sly Cheeky Girl references. Add that to having been dumped by that lip-twisting turd, Lembit Opick and you have to say that things aren’t going too well, eh love?


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Episode 8