Posts Tagged ‘LEE MCQUEEN’

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.

*sob*

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. 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.

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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?

Lembit

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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

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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