Posts Tagged ‘Claire’

The Apprentice 2008: Ep. 11

June 5, 2008

Apprentice sluts

‘Bloodbath in the boardroom’ said the voiceover man before The Apprentice music piped up for the penultimate time this series.

As we already knew, this week would be the interview round. But this time five whole Apprentices would be grilled – I’m sure last year it was less. Add to this the fact that each candidate would be interviewed by four bastards each, the sheer amount of interview time meant this was a quickly-edited, non-stop whiplash of a show. Somehow though, the editors saw fit to fill half of it with shots of people walking from their interview to the comfy seats outside, which wasn’t very exciting.

The four interviewers comprised three regulars. The first was fat, beardy Paul – an unreconstructed sexist twat. Second was Gordon – whose name I couldn’t remember as I took notes, so I referred to him as ‘Stig’. Stig talks like John Major, looks like a well groomed ghost and works for Alan Sugar. He’s better suited to working in a morgue. Third of the old hands was Claude. A balding, boggly eyed managerial type who spoke softly before building on his reserves of anger until he’s actively reprimanding whoever’s put in front of him. All three of them, odious people – and Alan’s best mates. The company that man keeps, eh?

Added to the line-up was Karen Brady – that strangely attractive woman who was MD of Birmingham City. She might still be for all I know. She was a little wishy washy in her approach and visiting her probably came as a massive relief to each of the contestants – in that the most difficult question she asked them was what their name was.

Getting ready for the off, Claire was excited about the interview process as she styled her hair into a bizarre, Fonzy style quiff. Perhaps she already knew she’d be meeting Paul, who, in post-interview reverie, she described in glowing terms. ‘There’s something about ‘im – he’s hot!’ she squealed, whilst moistening her seat. ‘The fact he’s on 20 million a year?’ Lee asked, in an uncharacteristically astute observation. ‘I wanna suck his lips off’, replied Claire, making a nation’s genitals wilt.

In her interview with Paul she flirted outrageously, proud of her Club 18-30 past and boasting of her ‘eight million incremental profit margin’, whatever that means. Paul told her she was cheap – either as a reference to her comparatively low bonuses or her Repping past. It was hard to tell.

Claire sailed through, in truth – the only other notable incident being when Stig was physically unable to clamp her mouth shut as words flowed randomly and idiotically out of that gaping hole as she sat there like a big, fat babbling lemon.

Helene didn’t do too badly either. It seemed we saw very little of her. In an interview with fat Paul, she swore like a trooper whilst bigging herself up. Every swearword was greeted with a calm smile from Paul, like a proud father. He’s big on swearing it seems.

When Brady interviewed her, Helene seemed to sense that her audience wasn’t primed for that kind of language and so built a subtle rapport. The effect was ruined a bit when, at the end, she referred to her fellow contestants as ‘Fifteen gobshites’… but honesty is probably the best policy. Had to laugh at the ‘objective’ section of her CV though – apparently her objective is to ‘dive into the ocean of opportunity’. Made me picture Alan Sugar in a wet suit, using those big flapping hands as flippers. Helene as a mermaid. A lovely aquatic scene.

From the kick-off, Lee misjudged the atmosphere with fat Paul – and fell straight into what shall now and forever more be known as ‘the reverse pterodactyl trap’. When asked to show this move, Lee obliged whilst chuckling gamely – ‘oh mate! Unbelievable! – AWK AWK AWK!’.

The response wasn’t great. ‘This is a serious interview’, said Paul. ‘Why did you just do that?’ Lee’s pants filled with wee.

Later, when being interviewed by Claude he was asked if he was schooled in England. Yes – he was, he replied. The CV was filled with spelling mistakes – so not only is Lee a bit uneducated (no fault of his own), he also can’t use a spell-checker (fault of his own). Spelling ‘tomorrow’ as ‘tommorrow’ is pretty elementary stuff. Made me wonder if he ever commented on our 2 Pints of Lager post all those months ago.

Lee’s major foot-shooting was in lying on his CV. He said he’d completed a two year University course when in fact he’d completed four months then dropped out. This was the massive clanger of the episode. Sympathy for the dirty Spurs-supporting stormtrooper suddenly racked up as everyone in the country felt a bit guilty about having lied on their own CVS in the past (we’ve all done it). He wriggled out of it, both in interview and the boardroom, despite the fact he’d never get hired if sussed out in the same situation out there in the real world. As a recruitment consultant, you’d have thought he’d have known that. If you’re not hired Lee, don’t worry. There’s always tommorrow.

So we turn to Lucinda, who got the harshest grilling of the lot, and completely undeserved if you ask me. She’s a contracter, not an employee in real life. There’s not much more that’s entrepreneurial than that, surely? Pitching her business then getting deals with people? Somehow this was seen as a weakness. She’d never make a good team member, they said. She dresses like a dick, they said. She’s into Chinese medicine and feng shui, snorted Paul, the blinking fat cock. And so, just because she didn’t have the right ‘cultural fit’, the poor girl got booted. She was too good for it, is the stark truth.

For comic relief, let’s look at Alex. Long derided by the bulk of the viewing public, I think Alex has been great entertainment. A relentless and remorseless snake in the grass, this was the point when we saw that his enigma was built on vapour. There’s really not much to the poor boy. Despite looking like a Shakespearean actor, there’s nothing underneath but bluster. All he found himself doing in interview was screaming his age. I’M 24! I’M 24. YEEEEARS. OLD. An interesting, if slightly irritating tactic that didn’t really get him very far.

Alex is the most passive-aggressive, defensive individual you’ll ever see on your TV. One moment, he’s offering a faintly dismissive critique of a team member, the next he’s taking massive offence at being told he’s ‘a bit quiet today’ and being asked if he had ‘a heavy night’. Aside from reiterating his age until it was stamped onto the collective consciousness, he also let us know that he’s agile and dynamic. Which is useful down the gym, no doubt.

So Lucinda was handed her raspberry beret (the kind you find at a second hand store) and promptly shown the door. The big twist (ooooh!) was that all four will be in the final, two joint Project Managers leading past Apprentices. Lee’s got Claire to work alongside (poor bastard) while Helene’s got Alex (poor bastards).

And in other news, Nicholas De Lacy Brown has been crushed by a wall.

Advertisements

The Apprentice 2008 – Ep. 10

May 28, 2008

Show ten opens and by now we’re so used to the Sugarman’s spiel that it forms a meaningless babble. ‘Job interview from hell… wibble flib… 40 years gruggle plap.. etc…’

All you can really focus on is the stuff that went unnoticed before in the opening sequence over preceding weeks. And this week, for me, it was the size of Alan Sugar’s hands. They are enormous – without equal. They look like big cartoon hands. He’d be a bloody good goalie with those ridiculous flapping grippers.

Six contestants remain in the house and as the phone rang it looked pretty empty – nobody for Claire to hurdle over as she wobbled towards the telephone, shattering furniture and punching holes in the wooden floor as she went to take the call from the interchangeable Franceses. As news breaks that they’re to convene at a breaker’s yard, Sophocles picks up on the fact this this is possibly the last chance he has to show us his hairy nipples, so after a full frontal he gets himself dressed whilst moaning that ‘it’s never gonna fucking stop’. Poor lad’s had enough it seems – he’s ‘finding it harder than everyone else’. The nation is unified as every man, woman and child cries ‘DIDDUMS’.

‘What’s a breaker’s yard?’ asks Lucinda. ‘Gvwaveyard for cars, innit’, replies Lee. That’s what he’s talking about. Breaker’s yards are what he’s talking about. ‘Grr-vvvv-waveyards for du cars’. Just so we’re all clear.

They gather at the scrapyard and the beardie Super Hands turns up to inform them that they’ll be renting cars out. But hey – these aren’t any old cars – these are the sort of cars that make Clarkson spuff his globule into Top Man briefs. On the horizon, several posh four-wheelers rev onto the scene – Scalextric on a grand scale. While the girls smile, a little bit confused by the machinery, Alex and Lee grin from ear to ear. Michael feels that ‘cars are alien’ to him, on the other end. Looking at the high end, two grand a day Zonda, it’s not hard to see why as it looks like a mechanised shark from the future.

Michael was up against Lee as Team Leader and he chose the Ferrari and the Spiker whilst LEE MC-CONCERNED-MC-MCQUEEN’S-WHARRAM-TORKIN-ABAAART chose the Aston Martin and, as a high risk strategy, the Zonda.

All the footage at this point focused on how unfocused that hairy little twit Michael was. He sent Helene and Claire out to sell in the City while he went off on his lonesome to sell in Knightsbridge. Knightsbridge, for the unititiated, is a place where the kinds of people who don’t need to rent posh cars live. The kind of people who can actually afford posh cars, and therefore actually own a few. And so, unsurprisingly, not a single sale. Claire racked up a few small scale sells – renting out a Ferrari for a couple of hours here and there at 65 quid per sixty minutes. Michael’s strategy dead in the water, he used his ‘knowledge of London’ to pick his next spot. Portobello market – the popular fruit and veg stop. On a weekday. The prize idiot.

As Michael flapped about like a grimacing baby chick plummeting from its nest, Lee complained about Lucinda and invented a few cliches, just to pass the time. ‘When a woodpeckers pecking you, it’s time to say “Get off!” to the woodpecker’ he said, creatively.

Lucinda – perhaps predictably – wasn’t really suited to this task and so was disowned by Lee and Alex. Despite begging not to be sent off alone, she was kicked to the kerb and, without the slightest clue about the product, started selling the Aston Martin as a Zonda, her head all confused after wasting hours perforating raffle tickets that were never used.

Lee didn’t sell a huge amount with his tactic of begging businessmen but soon his and Alex’s isometric death-stares forced the Zonda onto a pinstripe prick. Then later, even Lucinda cracked a sale as the afternoon turned into evening.

Over on the other team, only Claire managed to vend her wares. Helene watched, goggle-eyed and confused while over in a completely useless location Michael chased a middle-manager down the street shouting not only ‘You’re going to regret saying no!’ but also ‘GO ON!’ and finally ‘COME BACK’. In the throes of desperation he began to follow this poor sod, asking if he could come to his meeting with him whilst abandoning the supercar in the middle of nowhere. Smart thinking! Ultimately, he was disappointed by his customers, he said. Which is perhaps the worst angle a salesman can approach his work from.

Then it was onto the evening stretch and selling under the traditional Apprentice marquee. You need a marquee for an Apprentice task. It’s stitched into the fabric of the show.

Michael’s positive attitude continued on even with drunk City boys wandering around with open wallets. ‘Treat yourself for GOD’S SAKE!’ he cried, trying to add bottles of champagne into the mix as a freebie, and coming away with nought. Claire managed a few more sales and Helene achieved nothing.

Alex, on the other hand, notched up at least three Zonda sales by the end. At this point, his future (and my place in the sweepstake) were secured. The last gasp chase for the final sale (in 60 seconds – yeah right) was so fabricated you could only laugh. Like they didn’t give him a quarter of an hour to sort it out.

So Michael’s team sold £2,114 whilst Lee, Lucinda and Alex flogged almost twelve grand. Which is impressive. Sugar almost raised his cartoon-hand to his forehead and said ‘fucking hell….’ in astonishment at just how well they did. Before they were sent off to gob out a load of trifle-tasting wine into a bucket in Mayfair, Sugar had a dig at Lucinda. ‘Shut up’ he said ‘before I give you a bigger shovel to dig your own grave with’. Yeah! Nice one , Alan! Stupid girls.

So it was between Claire, Michael and Helene. The former was told she was safe and the latter was told – at quite some length – that she’s a corporate nobody. She almost cried and that evil feline face was on the edge of cracking into tears. But then, joy of joys, the reckoning arrived. Despite ‘flickers of diminishing brilliance’ – the word ‘flickers’ being Alan’s contribution and the ‘brilliance’ Michael’s own, this mini ‘disaster zone’ was booted out, and not before time, eh?

Thankyou for the opportunity, he whimpered, before wandering off, probably more relieved than anything. He’s good TV, but pray you never meet the bumbling little tit in real life.

Episode 1
Episode 2

Episode 3
Episode 4

Episode 5
Episode 6
Episode 7

Episode 8
Episode 9

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?

Lembit

Episode 1
Episode 2

Episode 3
Episode 4

Episode 5
Episode 6
Episode 7

Episode 8

The Apprentice 2008 – Ep. 8

May 15, 2008

When that Alan Sugar character lets rip in his opening spiel, he tells the assembled morons ‘this is the job interview from HELL’. Clearly this is untrue. He’s indulging in hyperbole in order to talk up the gruelling series of tasks and the humiliation that approaches. Interestingly, he follows up with ‘your prize will be working with me’. Logically then, Alan Sugar is Satan.

Raef, answers the phone with his clockwork orange eyelashes and immaculate in his bedroom attire, only a few stray cockerel hairs on the back of his sweep betraying his shut-eye. St Barts church is the destination for the debrief, and they’re to pack an overnight bag.

In a between-scene vox-pop, Claire states that she’s building momentum, whilst Helene spits that, not only would she never mix with the housemates in real life, if she was working with them, she’d fire them. Therein she makes the assumption that she would be their boss rather than the other way round. It’s what makes Helene the most annoying of the flotsam that’s left. A superiority complex the size of Cornwall, all mixed up with a pathological lack of patience and a withering gaze that comes at you from three angles.

‘This church was used in Four Weddings and a Funeral’ says Beelzebub, as the remaining soldiers look about them, cooing and wondering why His Evil Highness hasn’t burnt up on contact with holy ground. The audience shrugs at the Four Weddings revelation. That film’s about 20 years old. Alex looks nervously at Claire, the memory of their boyfriend / girlfriend role play still firmly wedged in his brain and any thought of churches, weddings and marriage causing visible discomfort.

The teams were split again, with Helene as team leader taking Sara, Alex and Michael under her vulture-wing whilst Lucinda took the reins again, despite winning the ice cream task recently. She got LEE, Claire and Raef. A winning set up if ever there was one. It was clear from the off which team was headed for an almighty fall.

Michael’s vox pop followed and he noted his own effortless charm. If you’re aware you’re doing it, Sophocles, then it’s not fucking effortless, is it? Let’s dive in and look at Michael’s efforts this week. This week’s was the Sophocles show, so it’s only fair we focus on the hairy little twat.

When looking at prize-winning dresses by Ian Stewart, he brown-nosed the designer until he barely had a tongue left, then decried his work as ‘ghastly’. When describing it on the phone to Helene he had an ‘I can take it or leave it’ attitude to it, even though, when it was revealed that these high end dresses would win the task, Michael lied that he’d pushed for them. The squirming squirt. All he’d actually done was described them as ‘dresses like the ones in Beauty and the Beast’ and used the grammatical clanger ‘very unique’. Either it is, or it isn’t unique. Piss off with your very unique and effortless charm.

In the event, they let those dresses get away from them and Lucinda’s team secured the winning items. At a few thousand per dress, it always looked like Raef’s ‘high-risk’ strategy would work.

Helene’s team settled on some unbelievably tacky frocks, in every garish colour of the Essex wedding rainbow – as worn, according to the salesgirl, by your Katie Prices and your Jodie Marshes… a great sell, if half your brain has degenerated.

As every bad decision was made, including choosing to sell cakes that looked like shrubs, Alex silently sat and twiddled his pen with increasing frenzy. When he sold, he did very well, but it’s becoming clear that selling is all he can do. He’ll have to lead a team in the next couple of weeks, so if he gets beyond the lip-pursing whining, he may show some initiative beyond winking at girls in order to hoodwink them out of their pocket money.

Raef’s attitude to selling cake to girls was the only real stand-out laugh in the show. Discussing dresses for the larger, BBW side of the market, he declared that if they were going to sell big dresses, they’d be able to flog the cake too – as the larger-dress consumers are just that – big consumers.

Beyond that, this wasn’t the greatest Apprentice ever but there were a few cringe-moments that rescued it. All of these were supplied by Sophocles and Sara. Poor old Sara… the one-trick-pony beneath her lovely frock was exposed and the poor little mite got booted out. I’ll miss her. For a day or two. And then she’ll be gone from my brain.

Michael’s selling technique, branded ‘telesales’ by Alex, was actually quite terrifying and involved recrimination, accusation, holding his head in his hands with outright impatience and even, at one point, a cry of ‘FOR GOD’S SAKE’ when a lady quite rightly stalled on a purchase of his crap confections. He was absolutely terrible. With the expression of his doppelganger all over his face, this Costanzaesque idiot even resorted to calling the general public ‘dumb-dumbs’. Dumb-dumbs who just ‘don’t want to make decisions’. A laughable attitude, really, and just the sort of thing Jerry Seinfeld’s little mate might say to a laughter track.

Sara was similarly bad, but where Michael was passionately engaged to the point of almost openly weeping at his punters, Sara had her cold thousand-yard-stare focused on the great, empty, nothingness of existence behind the heads of her potential clients. She literally didn’t listen to what her punters said and that caused her ejection. But Michael should’ve gone. Because he’s 810% uglier than her.

Over on the winning team, Lee and Lucinda apparently fell in love as they cruised about looking at sale items. The princess and the pauper, as Raef might put it, the bit of rough has definitely wooed the beret girl and a posh nosh-off is on the cards. Especially considering that Lee is now an expert on selling thongs, as he proudly boasted to Satan himself in the boardroom. The fact he was selling £6.99 trinkets to Brummie slags compared to Claire’s thousand quid dresses was lost on the poor brute. But at least he sold something.

So Lucinda won and Claire did her PR machine a power of good with a recommendation from Maggie Mountford, who herself, it was insinuated, had a lovely honeymoon thong encased within her buttcrack, purchased from Lee McAnn McSummers McQueen.

For no reason whatsoever, Raef put on a teddy bear outfit at some point, apparently to drum up interest but mainly because this was a drab episode and it needed someone to be a berk for three minutes to lighten the tedium.

Before they faced Belial’s wrath in Brentwood, Michael stated that he’d be interested to find out how Helene was going to spin her way out of trouble. Which was interesting, as he’d already started the process of spinning her into trouble… 

In the boardroom Sara went with little ceremony, and Alex got the piss taken out of him. Like Syed before him, the favoured Michael will probably get to the final as Lucifer likes him and he makes good TV. But no way will he win.

Incidentally – why do the winners get so excited about the substandard treats they receive? It’s like Big Brother… OOH! We’ve got a task!

They should scrap that. It stops it being the interview from hell and turns it into the interview from a not particularly exciting corporate promotions company. But we did get to see Lee indulging in primal scream mantra therapy, like a bellowing Chelsea headhunter in a yoga retreat.

It’s the make-a-TV-ad episode next week. Be afraid.

Episode 1
Episode 2

Episode 3
Episode 4

Episode 5
Episode 6
Episode 7

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