Posts Tagged ‘Simon Ambrose’

The Apprentice, Series 3, The Final

June 14, 2007

All conts 

It was always going to be an anticlimax. Especially seeing as some mug on the Guardian website ruined it by telling every reader what was going to happen despite claiming he hadn’t any inside info. The bastard. Simon and Kristina were pumped. In the opening interviews, Simon said it was his dream to work for Sir Alan. That’s not on a par with some of my best dreams. He must sleep badly. Later, when faced with the task – this week it was all about creating a new London landmark for the South Bank – Simon said it was ‘his dream to build things’. Quite a lot of dreaming going on there. While Simon daydreamed about his chances, stern-faced Kristina Grimes simply repeated ‘I will win. I will win’, like a malfunctioning Speak & Spell.So they had a spot in a grimy area of London upon which they could build (in concept, not with diggers or cement or anything – that would be disastrous) any old shit they fancied. But first they had to pick teams from the pool of people they’d stepped on to get to where they were. Simon chose Tre immediately and we all know by now why he did that. He fancies him. He is Mummy to Tre’s Daddy. Simon also chose Jadine who had had a nice hairdo for the occasion, Lohit, who barely featured at all again and Rory. Tre and Rory, we were reminded, had history. They hated each other, essentially because Tre picked on the hapless, clown-mouthed Rory endlessly. They’re both very boring men.Kristina plumped for Naomi straight away. No idea why, I can’t remember her doing much the whole series. Perhaps my memory is somewhat childishly obscured by the memory of her enormous zeppelin-breasts dangling over the camera lens every five seconds a couple of weeks back. She also picked Adam (must’ve been by mistake) and that cockney single mother, whose name escapes me.

Katie, meanwhile, was noted for her absence. Perhaps she hadn’t sorted things out with her child-minder…

I suspect the architects the two gangs spoke with gave a huge amount of direction to the contestants, as the ideas they finally came up with were completely incongruous with their original ideas. Simon and Tre wandered off on their own, hand in hand, discussing putting a boat frame structure onto the building. The idea was shot down in flames by the rest of the gang, with Rory coming up with a new idea. He drew the outline of three bananas, so they went with that. The final product looked pretty interesting compared with Rory’s felt tip nightmare, but credit to him for beating the coracle idea in a straw poll. I think Tre’s boat theme was ultimately overturned when the rest of the team were sick on themselves when he used the term ‘as such’ three times in three sentences. ‘The reason for the nautical theme, as such’… How can you misuse that suffix so badly? I really don’t know how it’s possible. ‘If it doesn’t work out, I’ll look like a pillock’ said Simon, laughing Butthead style, exactly like a pillock might.

Kristina’s team, with Trainee Surveyor Paul – he of the uncooked sausage, leading the charge, came up with a rectangular building to make optimum use of the space. Dull.They also had the idea of putting an angel on either end of their building, looming above passers by like, as the architect pointed out, a Nazi eagle. This was eventually adapted to be two peaks, the angel changed to a phoenix after the team fortunately realised that the Angel Centre wasn’t an apt name for a centre that wasn’t actually in the Angel, Islington. Paul reminded us that he didn’t have to like Kristina to do a ”fucking jood gob’ for her. The tit.

After letting the architects do all the work for them, it was time to choose the optimum way to present the concept to hoteliers, building contractors and property industry bigwigs. Kristina slipped up here by allowing Adam to play a major part in choosing the theme and the stage decor. As a result, their presentation was a back to basics approach, as all the tacky crap he chose got chucked out almost as far as Adam was out of his depth.

Rory and Tre were paired up to sort the night’s entertainment out, after a speech from Simon which was meant to be invigorating and rousing. it was let down a little by its faltering delivery. He sounded like Basil Fawlty having a panic attack. Realising he was losing his audience, he stuck on a little ‘oh, and I’ll take you all to Barcelona if we win for a weekend’. Incentives… nice, desperate management. Tre piped up later with ‘I’d rather a rusty screwdriver in my eye than go on holiday with Jadine, Rory and Lohit’. Suggestion to Simon: make it happen.

Simon’s presentation went smoothly and he answered questions with aplomb, clearly having done his research. Kristina didn’t perform so well, sadly. Neither really bombed, which was disappointing in terms of ‘good telly’. Never mind.

In the boardroom, Sir A asked both ‘why do you want this job’. This is the biggest non question any potential Manager can ask in an interview. It only ever results in cliche upon babbling cliche. It was a brief boardroom, presumably because nobody fucked up, meaning the situation couldn’t be milked for comedy value. Alan reminded us that he has a bit of a kink for Simon, hired him, and we were done. Case closed. End of series.

Most reality series end with this kind of anticlimax. Though clearly not grounded in the truth, the people involved are generally real people (though I have my doubts about the evil creation that was Katie). As a result, we’re always left with an open ending. With Big Brother the question’s always ‘how will so and so use the fame to their advantage’, and past experience tells us they won’t, they’ll trust a management company that will tie them to Heat magazine forever. With the Apprentice, we want to see the winner succeed after all that hard slog. But we don’t, obviously, as they are just working drones on a superficially high wage for one year only in an office in fucking Brentwood. Still – it’s fun, and we wouldn’t have had the gut-wrenchingly cringeworthy scene of Simon screwing a trampoline leg if we didn’t have the Apprentice. Roll on next series.

The Apprentice, Series 3, Episode 11

June 7, 2007

Back off 

Tonight we learned that the humble CV can act as a window to a lorry-load of bullshit. In the penultimate episode of this series, we joined three of Alan Sugar’s most trusted business advisers. They were so important that I’ve forgotten their names. One was a sleazy slimeball with unkempt hair and a clear inferiority complex about his lack of a degree, one looked just like a permanently unimpressed Mark Heap and the other, a troubleshooter, was bald, firm and fair. The unenviable task of trawling through the resumes of the remaining five contestants fell to this funny-lookin’ crew.

During the recap we were reminded just how badly Tre had performed in the last task. In fact, it served to remind us that it’s a miracle Tre had got this far. How did he manage it? It certainly wasn’t charm, and his sense of humour isn’t the most apparent attribute he carries. The only answer can be ‘good TV’. He swore a lot and was sexist and we found it all terribly amusing. Quite sad when you think about it.
But there he was, in the last five with Katie, Simon, Lohit and Kristina.

Before the interviews took place, in the ‘half an hour’ in which they were getting ready (no idea why they pursue this idea of them hurrying to get ready when they’ve clearly got all morning to do so), we saw them discussing the research they’d done. Simon, an Amstrad owner since he was five, ruminated on the finer points of the games he had on one of Sugar’s systems (Jet Set Willy is, indeed, a classic) whilst Tre wandered around the house, stony-faced because he had done bugger all in the way of investigation. Digging around in Simon’s knowledge and getting nothing from him, Tre demonstrated that he really wasn’t going to get anywhere this time. ‘Wanker’, he called Simon, realising the game was up. ‘No, you’re the wanker’, replied Simon, wittily.

Simon, yet again, became a walking CV. ‘I like to think of myself as a freethinker’ he claimed. ‘If I’m meant to turn left, I’ll instinctively want to turn right’ he later claimed, making him sound like Princess Diana’s driver. His schoolboy charm was a winner though, and he knew it, talking nervously from under his brow. I noticed matching shirt and socks. Bizarrely, in any office this does mark a man as someone with coordination, which is odd, as aside from shirt and tie, it’s the only decision on colour a man in pinstripe would have to make. It’s not difficult.

On an unrelated note, I was shocked when I noticed Lohit’s full name for the first time. Lohit Kalburgi, it sounds like a Japanese car crossed with a dutch cheese.

In the interviews, it all came frothing to the top. All the crap that had been spoken was suddenly exposed, dredged and ultimately flushed away. What we learned was this. Tre is a bullshitter, Simon is a crap landlord and little else, Katie is a psychopath, Lohit is a little bit timid and Kristina is really, really bloody good. She really must win.

Tre was dissected, literally torn apart by the unkempt interviewer who wanted, not unfairly, to boil down the facts on Tre’s experience. In his own words, Tre was apparently an international business consultant with five job titles applicable to different roles. Under pressure, it was revealed that Tre worked in his father’s business, which somewhat undermined absolutely everything he’d ever bloody said all series. I’m sure, if my retired Dad were to set up a business selling lemonade from the front of his house he’d be happy to take me on board as a lemonade taster, and would be able to give me some vague and impressive-sounding job title like ‘FMCG Analyst’. Tre stuttered and ummed and aahed and could come back with nothing when asked if the five worldwide businesses he operated from were actually bedrooms. The interview became a post mortem, and Tre’s days were numbered. When asked, as a self-styled ‘computer-expert’ why he hadn’t done any research, even googled Sugar’s business, he blankly stared ahead and muttered weird little nothings.

Lohit, who appeared very little (both in terms of stature and screentime), was effectively told by the same interviewer that he was a nice guy, but not what was needed. Better to be honest, rather than waste someone’s time with a needless grilling I suppose. He didn’t manage to claim any points back with the other interviewers, and it all fell apart. Still, when he was eventually fired, he was given a nice send off. ‘You’re a good, fine fellow’, Sugar said, as he departed.

Katie scared the shit out of me. With the cold, hard stare of a genocidal maniac, she claimed that, out of ten, her CV displayed an eight on the ‘ruthlessness scale’. Considering she’d written (on her fucking CV) that she’d stolen a married man from his wife because she ‘wanted him’, I’d say she warrants a ten. What sort of mental freak would put that in a CV? And why, when it came to the boardroom, did they all say she had something special? Thankfully the Mark Heap lookalike chipped in with some negative comments but she was defended to the hilt by the sleazy sod, who clearly fancied her. Her interview with him was like the split beaver scene in Basic Instinct. He even looked a little bit like Newman out of Seinfeld.

Simon, having taken the mantle of comic contestant from Tre some time ago, teetered on the brink of triumph and disaster constantly, providing the show’s real entertainment. Without entering the room, his CV had already insulted the bald interviewer on age discrimination grounds. ‘I’ve achieved more than people double my age’ it asserted. ‘I’m more than double your age, and I’ve done more than you’, he countered, to silence and a little chuckle from the boy Ambrose. It came to light that Simon’s only real enterprise was as the landlord of a house. It was a piece of genius to bring out the testimonial of one of his tenants, who complained of television ariels being replaced by coat hangers and horrible blocked bogs. Again, Simon chuckled his endearing chuckle and took the flak, to his credit. Better to admit your failing than do a Tre and get bolshy (as such). On the positive side, he knew everything there was to know about Amstrad, thus fulfilling a very important criteria. If you know nothing about the company you’re looking to work for, it’s very unlikely you’ll fit in. Simon could identify areas where he’d excel, so he’s readymade for working there. Smart thinking.

But not as smart as Kristina. We’ve all known, since those sausages started sizzling in the week they went to France, that Kristina would be in the final. And she sailed through the interviews as though she were applying for a job in Tescos. No question rattled her, and the interviewers struggled to find fault.

The boardroom went weird. Tre and Lohit were easily disposed of. But then, against the wishes of every viewer and the basics of common sense, Katie was pronounced to be ‘in’. Despite the fact she was a body language car crash with the face of the Joker, she had wormed her way in, probably using some abrasive hypnosis. Which meant it was between Simon and Kristina. One had to go. Shocking, you would think, but then a twist. Sugar questioned Katie’s suitability for the role in terms of outside commitments. And she backed down. Whether it was Sugar’s lack of faith in her or her own priorities, she backed down and the final two were then decided. Very strange. I’m not sure what I make of the whole palaver, but I thoroughly bloody enjoyed it.

It’s between Kristina and Simon, and unless something goes horribly, horribly wrong for Kristina (ie, she chooses Katie and Tre to work with her), she should run away with it.

The Apprentice – Series 3 – Episode 10

May 31, 2007

Alan

Naomi – she had her knockers, but I thought she had a strong chance to be in the final three. Speaking of her norks, the producers, clearly aware that the blonde would be leaving the Fray, milked every cleavage shot they possibly could. This was the Naomi bosom show, and it was relentless. I felt sorry for her when she finally faced Sugar’s extended finger, in truth, as Simon had clearly ballsed up royally on so many accounts that I actually lost count and ran out of space as I took notes.

Yes – I take notes. I’m not anal, I do this for you.

Two teams of three were in it to win it. Naomi, Simon and Tre were in one team, doomed to fail and the other was made up of Katrina, Katie and Lohit. The latter is quite likely to win the whole thing, I think, unless Sir Alan is as homophobic as he is sexist.

Briefed at the BT Tower, that awful 60s-eyesore phallus, Alan told the gangs that this project was all about pricing and products. They were to sell items they’d selected on a shopping channel – the potential for disaster was lip-smackingly immense.

The shopping channel was based in glamorous Peterborough – pride of Cambridgeshire. Katie was quiet this episode, slinking into the background aside from one snipe at Kristina and some burbled bollocks about their target customer who she named ‘Mavis’. What is it with Katie’s need to personify everything? Remember ‘Jay’, the target market for the Jams? She’s the sort of twat who names her car ‘Lucy’ or something equally as pathetic. Alongside Katie’s nonsense, their seemed to be an inordinate amount of Simon acting like a walking, mechanised CV. ‘I’m a risk taker’. ‘I go out on a limb’. ‘I talk about myself endlessly even though I have the brain of an average 12 year old’. (I made that last one up, obviously). Tre was a silent man this time round, only popping his head in to be miserable occasionally, ending his sentences with those now dreaded words, ‘as such’. I get the feeling he’s had his brain replaced with n Amstrad email phone to impress Alan and his cronies.

When it came to selling, Kristina went solo, trying to sell a chocolate fountain (a talking point at any dinner party, so long as you live in the 70s) which looked like it was chugging out liquid plops. She then moved onto a ‘steam broom’. What you’d need one of those for, the good lord only knows. Kristina confirmed this, calling out ‘Jesus Christ!’ as her attachment fell apart, causing quite a flurry of stressed activity in the production room. In contrast, Katie and Lohit were natural – in fact, I think we’ve seen their future.

Tre and Naomi, taking instruction from a mute Simon, tried to sell the wheelchair he had procured which turned out to be their main source of profit. The wheelchair idea was roundly mocked, but it turned out to be Simon’s saviour, even despite Alan’s obvious contempt for the item. Tre was hilarious when caught on camera, looking simultaneously embarassed and terrified, walking off set at one point in sheer panic. Naomi managed well, on the basis of her presenting performance she shouldn’t have gone, but then you have to remember she chose a lorry-load of shit for Simon to sell, so it’s probably the fair choice.

Simon’s turn on camera was perhaps the funniest thing I’ve seen on reality TV since Tourette’s Pete fell in a swimming pool. Constructing a trampoline onscreen, he managed to screw the legs on the thing in such a way that it looked like he was indulging in a little do-it-yourself. I mean wanking. The crew fell apart laughing as he remained oblivious, turning his plastic phallus very calmly and announcing that anyone can have fun on it, kids, old people – anyone can jump on. Worth a good belly-laugh I thought, very Carry On…

Alan watched the whole lot on a monitor back in London and we were subject to his criticisms as he watched. This was a great idea, as it was essentially like watching yourself watching the Apprentice, but a version of yourself with curly white hair and messy beard. And an East London accent with peppered yiddish slang.

So, in the boardroom, Naomi copped the boot. I have to admit I agreed with Sugar’s summation. but felt Tre needed a much bigger kicking. The bloke skulked around in the background contributing nothing. At least Simon and Naomi applied themselves, Tre did naught but act like a petulant little sod who was having the worst birthday ever. Simon’s a lucky boy, but Sugar’s clearly taken a shine to the jammy little swine. Two weeks left… I shall be sad when it finally fucks off.

The Apprentice, Series 3, Episode 9

May 24, 2007

 Bunch of Apprentices

Bad timing. In the same week that the Cutty Sark – that symbol of defiant English trading – burned to naught but a shrivelled nub in suspicious circumstances, the BBC transmitted Sugar’s secretary calling the remaining contestants, first thing in the morning on one of Amstrad’s ludicrously massive phones. Guess where she told them to assemble to meet the big man? That’s right – Greenwich, home to the Sark. Immediately this episode felt like a bit of a relic, something knackered and wheeled out from the past.

Sugar appeared on the quayside flanked by his henchman and woman. Canary Wharf loomed in the background actually forming a bishop’s mitre around Alan’s big ears. The concept of international trading would be the basis of the task, we were informed. Tre would lead JadineSimon and Lohit whilst Katie would lead Kristina and Naomi. If Katie’s team lost we had a chance of ousting either the revolting Katie or the smugly professional Kristina. My fingers were already crossed to the point of fracturing my knuckles. But then the fear set in. Look at the state of Jadine! She’s blubbing! The editors are telling us something (and they’re not being very fucking subtle)! SHITE! Obviously Tre found Jadine’s femininity disgusting. ‘You know what women are like’ he said, like the sexist shitbag he is.

So Katie (I spit a huge phlegm-cob into the dust every time I say the name) went off with Naomi (who is hopeless at everything apart from looking good in a frock and will not win). They sold a fair few pieces of tat having decided on going with the Canadian trader. They were selling a weird insole (effectively a fancy odour eater), a solar panel which I think was meant as a tanning soloution or possibly to ward off S.A.D. and a rug/jigsaw thing that they found impossible to flog until Kristina did the business, again marking herself out as the future winner unless something goes very, very wrong for her.

One of the buyers Katie and Naomi sold to was very clearly taken only by one of the sellers’ appearance. And I think we can conclude that we’re talking about Naomi rather than Katie. Slime oozed off him when he said ‘I’ll take a cent’, meaning ‘I’ll buy a hundred off you, cos I fancy the crumpet’. He didn’t exactly do wonders for the reputation of sellers of Chelsea rubbish. Faint echoes of Harry Enfield’s ‘I saw you coming’ character wafted across the eardrums. After the deal Katie bigged herself up on a wave of confidence. ‘I have taste’, she exclaimed, clearly forgetting the racks of sub-regal pink suits she has at home.

On the other hand, Tre and Simon chose Swedish goods. Firstly there was an air filter which Tre said he liked for its ‘ethical qualities’. How wasting electricity on getting rid of a bit of pollen is ethical is beyond me, but Tre has started to make it clear he is intelligent by, instead of swearing, using the words ‘as such’ as a suffix to every sentence, as such. So he admired the filters ‘ethical qualities, as such’. What a thicko. They also chose a weird heatable fluffy toy beanbag monstrosity and something else I can’t remember. It was probably useless.

Jadine’s sensitive outburst was clearly going to be her downfall, despite the fact that she and Lohit made the biggest sale for their losing team while Simon (who did precisely fuck all) and Tre, as such, made few sales and farted about like bickering shoolmates. With about a grand less in profit in comparison to the ladies, they ended up Sugarside and Tre took Jadine and Lohit with him. Tre let off Simon in a show of camaraderie which made me nauseous. How is Simon coasting through so easily? It seems mighty unfair to me considering he’s got so little to offer aside from a nice-but-dim manner spiked by the occasional borderline-racist ethnic impression. But the rules dictate that only two need to go through for the final showdown and Jadine and Lohit were destined to face the rap as they weren’t key members of the Tre/Paul massive.

Lohit really didn’t deserve to be there and he defended Jadine very well. Unfortunately, though Sugar had said how tough the decision was, it seemed he’d already made his decision. He criticised Lohit for ‘talking the talk’ and essentially made him do a 360, turning him on Jadine so that, as the boss, he could fire Jadine with everyone’s backing. At least he gave her a good send-off, praising her to high heaven and sending her on her way with the best sentiment displayed so far.

In the closing moments, Tre revealed his devastating game-plan. ‘Keep tellin’ people you’re da best, and soon enough they believe it’. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. He’s paved the way to his own exit with that statement. As such.

The Apprentice, Series 3, Episode 8

May 17, 2007

Simon Ambrose thinks he's the man 

The world of corporate branding, no matter what the experts tell you, is dominated by one cold, hard rule. Mark E Smith put it best when he garbled some brilliant, unrelated nonsense about the ‘three Rs’ – ‘repetition, repetition, repetition’. Repeat your brand name at any given opportunity – stamp it into the empty, blinkered heads of the masses. Flash your logo whenever you can. One word intertwined with one image, and there you have your branding. Repeat it a mind-numbing amount of times and pray that your target is stuck with it for life. And that, as we all know, is what corporate branding is.

In this series of the Apprentice it’s becoming clear that the tasks are structured a lot more rigidly. Essentially it boils down to this: listen to the brief, word-for-word. Follow it to the letter. Don’t allow peripheral annoyances to bother you and you’ll win. Sugar say: ‘best of British produce’ – get the finest quality Brit foodstuffs you can lay your paws on. Sugar say: ‘Get all the products on the list’, don’t worry about a bit of tardiness. It’s actually amazing how this hasn’t sunk in for some of our cast of hopefuls, but still, it hasn’t. Meaning the quality of the series remains.

Incidentally, Sugar was on Jonathan Ross last week, and he slagged off the likes of me, calling us armchair critics a yiddish word (‘kvetsch’, possibly?) which sums up those who mock without trying. He has a point, but nevertheless, let’s focus on where the losing team fucked up, and balls to Sir Alan.

Ghazal was taken up on her offer of being team leader, looking to prove a point as she failed to shine last week. She led a team of girls – Naomi, Kristina and Katie. Ah – Katie. Dreaded Katie – the scourge of this series. Katie said, at one point, that she hoped Kristina would get fired in a ‘physical sense’. Which suggests she wants Kristina dead. Killed by gunshot. She’s a nice girl, ain’t she?

As Naomi – herself an experienced ad executive – prepared to take a leading role, coming up with an umbrella concept for them to brainstorm (vomit-inducing word), Katie stole the reins from her loose grip and began pushing the name ‘JAM’ for the trainers. It was given to the designers and the logo promptly branded onto the footwear. As the brainstorm (again, horrible word that – can’t believe I’m using it) progressed, Katie coerced Ghazal into using the tired pun on sole/soul, coming up with ‘Music’s In Your Sole’ as a strapline. Not great. They couldn’t tie it into the name JAM (though there is actually a tenuous link), and thus their branding was all over the bleeding shop, to use Sugar parlance.

Jadine, finally at the forefront having skulked in the shadows (has she been on holiday?) took charge of the other team and made the decision to go with an all boy’s group. With Tre, Simon and Lohit on side, she cruised to victory. Despite the utterly woeful advert they produced, they branded heavily. In fact, I’m sick of the word ‘street’, which was the name of their product from the off, alongside the tagline ‘Reclaim the Streets’. Cheesy as a fetid cock, but it sticks in the mind. In fact, it’s indelible, I can still hear Hampstead-boy Simon’s attempt at bustin’ a flow over some urrrrban beats as he told the massive to reclaim the streets. His crap patois is still ringing through my poor shell-likes. Subtle, it was not. Why not get Jadine or Tre to do the voiceover? Admittedly Lohit might not have sold many running-shoes with his softly camp approach.

They also got Simon to do the dancing for the video as they couldn’t find any actual dancers. The sum total of his skillset was the ability to pull off a handstand. Shite-bollocks dancing, Tre called it and I couldn’t have put it better myself. ‘I’m a dance-man’, he repeated to himself, over and over. ‘You’re no 50 cent. More like 2 bob’, Sugar more accurately had it. He seemed tickled by Simon’s performance though, his mask slipping slightly in the boardroom. Golden boy Simon somehow won the day yet again. They all got to make cocktails in the Savoy afterwards, and then put those cocktails in their faces. The lucky bastards.

In the boardroom, fun and games. Ghazal’s tactics of defence were simultaneously clever (bringing back Katie and Naomi – the worst performers) and idiotic (shouting meaningless nonsense whenever asked a question or criticised). Katie largely kept quiet whilst Ghazal needlessly laid into Naomi. We, Katie, Sugar and Ghazal all know that it was Katie’s fault the task was failed, with all her talk of urban consumer ‘Jay’, the street kid she’d invented, presumably drawing on her experience of working with down-and-out Etonians.

When it came to what has now become the regular ‘Katie-dig’ section, she was branded a ‘loser’ by Sugar, having been on the losing team for 6 out of 8 tasks. You can’t really argue with that. Sugar put it in football terms, and 6 points out of a possible 24 is surely relegation form. However, in a slightly artificial moment of drama, Sugar switched from a huge Katie-critique to Ghazal and fired her. Which is a shame as she’s a bit of a smasher in the looks department. Especially when sitting alongside the boardroom face of Katie, which is essentially a rictus grin on a puce/purple backdrop of wobbly skin.

Somehow, Katie holds on. Her card’s marked and she’s disliked by a nation, but somehow her claws remain on the corporate ladder. God willing, she’ll slip spectacularly.