Posts Tagged ‘Raef’

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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Episode 5
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Episode 8

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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.

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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

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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.

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Episode 4

The Apprentice 2008 – Ep. 4

April 17, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3

The Apprentice 2008 – Ep. 2

April 3, 2008

Apprentice Launderette

Ever been to a launderette?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t.

Episode one

The Apprentice 2008 – Ep. 1

March 27, 2008

Yer Fired 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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