Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The One With Cupid And Herbert (or The Apprentice Candidates Flirt With Disaster)

It's Mr Cupid to you...
The eight remaining candidates get the call at an undetermined time this week.  Leah answers the phone and pelts up the stairs to wake the rest of the candidates and tell them they're on the way to the Old Marylebone Town Hall in half an hour.  The montage of getting ready features Luisa drying her hair (not a brush in sight, obviously) and Myles and Alex and Neil in their pants (Myles looking like he's stashed some broccoli in his tight trunks - down the front, luckily).  Neil and Myles are ribbing Alex about not being project manager yet - will he volunteer (or be forced) this time?  Surely yes.

They're soon suited and booted and on their way.  Discussion en route is about the teams - after last time's double firing, there's three on one team and five on the other.  A bit of elementary mathematics suggests that one candidate will move to the other team, making four each (with number skills like this, I have just ensured I'll never actually feature as a candidate myself...  Still, that's Lord Sugar's loss).  Alex, Prince of Darkness, tells Myles and Leah that he'll be project manager and make sure they'll win the task, no matter what.  Leah looks unimpressed (though I think that's just her natural catsbum mouth).

The task reveal sees the candidates ranged in a function room in the Old Marylebone Town Hall, the busiest register office in London.  Are they there to witness, finally, the marriage of Karren Brady and Nick Hewer?  Or perhaps Lord Sugar and his ego?  Nope.  The task this week is to come up with an online dating concept and create an advertising campaign - a website and a television advertisement.  They'll present it to a team of experts - but it'll be Shugs who makes the final call and decides which team has won.

They've got two days - let's see whether they can make a total hash of this one, just like the English wine sparkling lot did of theirs.

Now comes the team reshuffle, and Lord Sugar moves Jordan the Nondescript across to Endeavour (now comprising Myles (Broccoli Pants Smug Bastard), Leah (Bulldog Licking A Pissy Nettle) and Mr Vampire Himself.  This leaves Evolve with Francesca (Squinty Eyeliner), Neil (Mr Motivator), Jason (Clickety-Boo) and Luisa (Through A Hedge Backwards).

But wait!  Alex wasn't told he had to be PM - so will he get his way this time?  Time will tell...

The teams head off to brainstorm.  Myles reveals that the first time he saw a picture of his wife was online, but he doesn't elaborate any further.  Thai bride?  Come on, we're all thinking it.

Neil hasn't ever done online dating.  He just doesn't think...  He couldn't...  He just doesn't...  Luckily, Francesca's there to put his stammering into words - "you think it's for losers".  Nice.  But she's done it herself, so this could be an interesting dynamic AKA fight.

Alex is busy describing the many variations of sexuality to Leah, saying it's important that they cater for everyone.  Leah's disgusted by the whole idea, wrinkling her nose and saying it needs to be done tastefully.  Perhaps a medieval theme, eh, Leah, very classical.  Alex puts her mind at rest, briefly...saying they won't have any of that 50 Shades Of Grey nonsense - but then again, he is Christian Grey of the Valleys.  Now, if I'd read the tortuous bag o' shite that is 50 Shades, perhaps I could make more jokes here, but since my literary standards won't allow me to read such poorly-written drivel, I can't.  Hey ho.  On with the process.

Both teams are in Farringdon, at creative agency Karmarama (have a look at their website - there's a little lucky cat waving hello).  Hilariously, one of the meeting rooms is entitled "Red" (I haven't read it, OK, I know nothing of the Red Room and what Grey gets up to in there).  And it's on with the traditional first task - picking project managers.  Will Alex be "it"?

Jason has headed a dating website before.  And he's not been PM before.  He goes into more detail, saying that his nickname on the website was "Cupid".  And, just like that, he's project manager.

Alex lays out his credentials (no broccoli, thank goodness) - he's got experience of graphic design, websites and he's used dating websites before.  BUT, what's this?  Jordan has also thrown his hat into the ring.  Alex interrupts Jordan to say that he's going to be good at business strategy too.  What will Leah and Myles think?  Leah says she thinks Jordan will have a better overview and not just focus on the website.  Myles agrees.  Is Alex happy?  "Not really".  But it's a done deal - and they crack on.

What's their target market?  Young professionals.  They're all on board with that.  Jordan's role is obvious to him - make sure he coaxes the best out of everyone and ensure there's a clear theme running through the whole thing, from the website through the advertising materials.  Wisely, he separates Leah and Myles from Alex - he's sent Frosty Face and Broccoli Drawers off to do market research and he'll stay and work with Alex on the website and branding.  They may need to give it rather a lot of thought, given that Alex's first idea is "50 Shades Of Work".

Cupid Clickety-Boo and his team are thrashing out their target market.  Over 50s seems to be going down well (are you in the "everything sounds like an innuendo" zone?  Hmm, thought so), until Luisa suggests young professionals, because they know that market, because they are those.  Except for her - she's a hairdresser's dream.  Anyway, Jason wants to bring passion and vigour to the over 50s (what did he get up to in the back of that folding caravan trailer he sold last week, hmm?), but Luisa thinks it's a risk.  Francesca's eyes narrow at the prospect...oh, no, hang on.  That's just her face.

Myles and Leah are talking to the great unwashed about their online dating experiences in a market research bonanza.  Myles has a camera, with which he takes photos of members of the public for their website.  And one poor sap ends up being Leah's imaginary boyfriend, with Myles making all sorts of "hold hands" "look more wooden(!)" suggestions to the unfortunate blighter.

Luisa is struggling to relate to...well, anything.  But mainly Jason's concept of the over 50s in lurve.  She tries her best, asking him if the website should be "timeless, elegant, classic" (has she been at Leah's vocabulary?) or "cheeky, fun...a little bit on the line"?  They want it very young and vibrant, apparently.  Francesca and Neil are doing the market research, asking a focus group of their target audience what they'd like to see.  Answer - classy.  Not too cheeky.  Market research feedback always gets followed through by Apprentice candidates, so I'm sure this will be no different.

Friendship and flowers is Francesca's suggestion - rather nice.

Back with the other team and Jordan and Alex are trying to get into the head of a woman (not literally - Alex prefers necks anyway).  A professional woman who works long hours and doesn't want to spend her free time in a bar, waiting for men to come and talk to her.  But Alex isn't sure that putting her on a throne and having her pick men is the way forward (sounds ace to me - c'mon, guys!).  Jordan seems on the money - describing women choosing men in this way as strong and sexually liberated.  Karren looks interested, keen even.  But then Alex fucks it all up by saying, "But when men do it, it's like buying a wife from Russia" and Karren holds her head in her hands.

So, given that they're aiming for strong, professional women, they go for a brand name that speaks to modern working women.  "Cufflinks".  Mm, all the women I work with wear cufflinks, course they do.  Fgs.

Neil and Francesca phone their feedback through to the other half of the team.  Luisa, predictably, hates it, but they go with Friendship & Flowers, because they'd be "mad" to go against what their focus group has suggested.  Looks like some lessons have been learned from "the process" thus far (anyone remember the heap of crap that was the Tidy Sidey?  No?  Thought not).  Mind you, Jason doesn't like it much either - not enough vim and vigour for him.  Still, they go with it.  Half-heartedly.  Ooh, goody - Shugs loves "half-hearted".  It's about his favourite thing (after "blaggers" and "bullshitters").

Leah and Myles hear the name "Cufflinks" for the first time.  And they hate it.  Leah, as a woman, says the thing almost all women would say, "I don't wear cufflinks".  But Jordan and Alex are set on it.  The logo looks good, after all.

Jason's dragging his feet finalising the logo.  Perhaps he'd be quicker if Luisa wasn't repeating over and over "make...a...decision", scathingly.  And telling him he's given her a headache.  And then bawling him out for not making a decision.  Mm, maybe she should just let him bloody talk.  Perhaps she could pop out and brush her hair or something?  They attract hilarity from the people of Karmarama as they argue the entire length of the walk from the office (late to the next task, as Luisa's mentioned in passing half a million times already).

Evening, first day

Jordan and Alex are making Cufflinks look even more corporate than it already does (a big ask, but they're managing it), much to the derision of Karren.  This is aimed at people between 20 and 30, they want fun, not sterile business presentations to look at.

And Alex won't let Jordan be an international spy on the mock-up resume on the site either.  Sob.

Jason and Luisa are two hours late for their website developer.  So they have an hour and a half to design three pages.  So Jason puts Luisa in charge of the website design.  And she's also going to ask him if he wants her to take over as PM.  Ooh.  Handbags.

Endeavour are talking about their telly ad.  And deciding who'll play the ugly guy.  Will it be...Alex?  He'd be my first choice, fo sho.  Eek!  Put those fangs away!

Jason and Luisa didn't get the website finished.  Neil's not happy with the coup Luisa's staging to oust Jason as PM.  Will this be the undoing of Team Evolve?  Shugs won't be happy about this tomfoolery...  But Luisa's project manager - and Jason's stepped down (he says for the benefit of the team - and describes that team as "a nest of vipers with blood in their lips").  Happy days!  The beginning of the second day sees Luisa and Jason back with the logo designer, designing a bus stop advert.  Can they do it in under half a day?  Let's hope so.  Jason gives Luisa more of a chance than she did him - he doesn't yell "DO IT NOW, YOU GREASY FUCKER!" at her constantly.

Myles and Jordan are out gathering market research about their website.  It's "corporate".  And not much fun.

Amusingly, Alex the Vampire is with Leah and a camera crew to make the ad.  I say "amusingly", because Alex seems to think he's some sort of film director.  And top actor.  Is that...cheese...I can smell?

Anyway, he's playing the part of "bad date" for the actress they have playing their lead, before she meets her "good date".  And he's dressed in shorts, a T-shirt with a crucifix on the front and most of Francesca's eyeliner, seemingly.  He looks hideous.

Neil and Francesca are filming their advert, in the altogether more sedate and, dare I say, elegant surroundings of a room wallpapered with some sort of flock.  There's chintz.  There's uncomfortable and ornate chairs.  And there are two silver-haired folk, of at least 52 (you know, "the elderly").  Neil wants to say "ACTION".  So he does.  A number of times.  And it all seems to be coming together rather nicely.  Maybe they'll save Jason from the boardroom after all.

Or perhaps the other team will ensure that Jason gets a treat, not taken out the back and shot.  Leah and Alex are doing their absolute best to help Jase out - by making a total cock of the advert shoot.  They're both trying to direct it.  Surely this'll end in tears.  Maybe Karren's - she's looking on in frustration - it's "mayhem".

However, back at the Friendship & Flowers shoot - Nick Hewer's not impressed either.  The advert is "mumsy and cosy" not "classy".  It's his age group - and he'd run a mile.

Myles and Jordan are at back at the advertising company's offices, looking at photos from their ad shoot.  Photos, specifically, of Alex - as their bad date character, Herbert.  As Jordan highlights - the risk with Alex is that he'll end up some way from the original brief by putting his own spin on it.  And, indeed, the photos demonstrate that he's "gone panto" and ended up being a total Aladdin cockstain.  Even Dame Wishy Washy couldn't fix that one...

Two from each team put the finishing touches to their ads, whilst the other two work on the wording for their pitches.  Jordan's decyded to let Myles lead thys one and Myles is quick to hylyght that he thinks thys ys a mystake (I'll stop now, I can't keep it up - unlike Myles, who continues to spell his name with a "y" - the prick).

Luisa and Jordan applaud Neil and Francesca for their advert, complete with middle-aged lady winking over her shoulder at the camera, before disappearing for a pint, a pie and a quick fumble round the back of the cinema.  Romance, eh, can't beat it!  Neil reckons they'll either love or hate the wink.  I think that's so vague as to probably be true.

But, what's this?  More trouble for Evolve - they can't decide who's going to do the pitch. Luisa wants to.  But so does Neil.  Given Neil's track record with public speaking at the team-building task, surely Luisa would be a fool to turn him down.  But - oh, yes.  Luisa's a fool.  She'll sleep on it, then decide it's her in the morning, apparently.

The Alex the Herbert Panto advert is being viewed by Team Endeavour.  Myles and Jordan are speechless, initially.  But then Myles speaks - and he's got concerns.  It's verging on silly and he has to pitch it to some serious people.  But - c'mon, chaps - they let Alex loose with a camera.  What did they expect?

The pitch

A whole lotta advertising execs and dating website experts see Luisa's pitch - beginning with the "work in progress" website, which gets raised eyebrows and scornful mouths and wrinkled noses and I couldn't see their ears, but I don't think they were impressed either.  And then the advert with That Wink - which attracts hoots of laughter.  So, very much the reaction Team Evolve were after then...

The feedback is full-on and scathing.  They've played safe, but they've also positioned it wrongly - 50 plus isn't that old, they've targeted the 80 plus market and the ad could've been in a funeral parlour.  The wink made them cringe.  And the website was unfinished.

Evolve leave, with Luisa saying they listened to the focus groups too much and Francesca pointing out that they had to listen to someone, because they didn't know anything about the target market.  Ouch.

Next up, Endeavour's Cufflinks.

Myles starts strongly, opening the pitch with the website, saying they wanted it easy to use and functional - and then introduces "Herbert" - who epitomises bad dates.  The audience aren't sure.  If "aren't sure" means "nauseous".

Still, on with the advert.  And it makes the audience laugh in what might not be a 100% mocking sort of way, which is pretty good.

But what's this?  The audience is also full of young professionals - and not one of them's wearing cufflinks - so the name's wrong, surely?  Still, Alex tries to explain.  Then bites the woman for asking.  Mwahaha.

Also, the advert and the website don't go together - there's a fundamental disconnect there.


As the two teams travel to the boardroom, Shugs takes calls from the experts, to give his tongue lashing substance.

How did Jordan get on as PM?  But, first, why didn't people vote for Alex as PM, Karren wonders?  Does he know?  No.  Thud.  So they play the advert and Evolve piss themselves laughing at it.  Shugs isn't quite so amused - why didn't Herbert feature on the website?

Was Jordan a good PM?  His team say yes.  Karren points out that he was a good delegator - Myles did the pitch, Alex was in the advert, Leah directed.  Is he "the great statesman" who doesn't like to get his hands dirty?  Jordan says no, he wanted to get the best out of his team.

Jordan gets a rest as the spotlight turns to Team Evolve and Jason's project manager hokey-cokey.  Surely Mr Cupid was the obvious choice for PM - what went wrong?  Jason tells it one way (he decided to relinquish the reins), Francesca tells it another (Jason buckled under the pressure) - but Nick Hewer gives the definitive story - Luisa nipped at his heels like a terrier at a bewildered sheep and drove him into a corner in "the most disgraceful display of bad manners" he's seen "in many a long day".  Ooh, that'll go down well with Lord Sugar (remember, this is the man who has the final say on the advertising task - so he can pretty much get rid of whoever he chooses this task - canny, Shugs, very canny).

Can Luisa defend herself?  She blames Jason for taking 45 minutes to choose the colours on the website - Neil asks if she should be taking some responsibility for that too.

Lord Sugar congratulates Evolve on being the first team ever to have a PM abdication - it's a "bloody mess" - and he goes on to pull apart their website.  Or, rather, the single page of the website they've half finished.  Then they run the ad.  There's some tumbleweed, Leah yawns ostentatiously and a tortoise ambles past.

It finishes, quietly.  And Lord Sugar (the wag) says it made Last Of The Summer Wine look like an action movie.  Yowzers.

The result

Lord Sugar says his industry experts are somewhat at sea.  Endeavour have a funny advert - and they often pay off.  But their website is ditchwater dull.  So they failed miserably in the coordination - it's disjointed.

As for Evolve - they picked the right market (big tick, Jason), but it was boring.  And the wink was cringe-worthy.  The only thing going for it was that it was cohesive.  What, like it was all shite?  Seemingly - because Evolve have lost the task.

Endeavour's prize?  They're off to Mayfair to taste fish poop caviar.  The lucky devils.

And Team Evolve - they need to go and have a long, hard think about being total shits and come back for a whipping in the boardroom in a bit.

The caviar scoffers are eating it off the backs of their hands (is this the done thing?  I'll stick with actual fish fingers, I think, made of fish and breadcrumbs and white beards and twinkly eyes - that's right, isn't it?  Only the best at the Captain's table!  #jollysmile  Or something.  Anyway, I'd rather that than the fishy hand slurping that's going on from Endeavour).  Jordan doesn't think it's fair that he was told he delegated and wasn't responsible for anything - he was responsible for the success of the whole task.  I think that caviar's gone to his head.

Cafe of Sorrow

Neil describes their performance as "a joke".  He's embarrassed to be a part of it.  Luisa says it's not Jason's fault that they failed (an attempt at avoiding boardroom blame?).

Anyway, they're in the boardroom.  And who's Shugs talking to, as project manager?  Both Jason and Luisa.  Why didn't they go for cool and vibrant as Jason had wanted?  Francesca says the focus group hated it.  Why didn't they go with their gut instinct?  Why didn't Francesca and Neil give better feedback from the market research?  And the advert was boring, boring, boring.

Jason is nice about how Luisa dismantled his project manager role, saying he thinks she probably felt she was being constructive, but it wasn't an approach that helped him.  He stepped aside because he felt they'd waste more time bickering if he didn't.  Very noble.

So, who does Jason think should come back into the boardroom?  Francesca.  And who does Luisa want back?  Neil.  They can't even agree on that!  But Francesca says that if her input, with making a finished advert, is a problem, then they should bring her back in, so Neil goes safely back to the house.

Shugs asks Nick and Karren what happened on the task - is Luisa powerful?  Karren says that Jason tries to come across as a deep thinker, but he's really just a ditherer.  Nick isn't impressed with the choice to bring Francesca back - she was calm and collected.  Perhaps Jason's frightened of Neil.  But did Francesca ask the right questions in the market research?  Maybe she just told them how she'd wanted to be a policeman.

Back in the boardroom

So, Jason, why's Francesca back in the boardroom?  She was the director of the video and didn't get good feedback from the focus group.  Francesca narrows her eyes.  Or maybe that's just her, you know, eyes.  But she defends herself - she made the video based on the theme Jason went with (the one she got the duff feedback to create, but she glosses over that bit).  Weirdly, Luisa goes into bat for Francesca, meaning Shugs turns the spotlight onto her and Jason.  Who should be fired?  I wonder what she'll say...  Oh...!  No surprise there - she wants Clickety-Boo out of the picture.

But what's this?  Shugs doesn't want to hear from Francesca or from Luisa (who he thinks intimidated Jason with her constant "we need to make a decision!" banging on) - he wants Jason to speak.  And Jason is rather eloquent - he says that if the team works together, the team wins and nobody on the team is fired.  Francesca rolls her eyes and tries to speak, but Lord Sugar asks her what she doesn't understand about "shut up".  Nicely done, Shugs.

But why did Jason give up the project manager role?  He says that he could have said shut up, I'm PM, I'll rule the roost...but he took the courageous decision to step down.  Shugs isn't sure that it was "courageous".  Luisa and Francesca continue being shrill at Jason, till Lord Sugar shuts them up.

Francesca - produced an advert that was a total mess.

Jason - last week, Shugs was impressed by his caravan sale last week.

Luisa - he's very concerned that they'll have more problems with her.  Shugs felt that he browbeat Jason and wore him down.

But, nice, academic fellow that he is, it's the end of the road for Jason, as Lord Sugar points the finger of fire at him.

And I, for one, will actually miss him rather a lot - we're left with Luisa and Francesca - out for themselves and nasty of character.  Shugs, you've got it wrong, mate, this time.  Tsk.

Karren wants to follow Luisa next week to see if she's a strong businesswoman or whether she'd just be too hard for Lord Sugar to handle (c'mon, Brady, see through her!).

And we're left with the "magnificent" seven, as they come up with their own ready meal.

Will it be a chilling experience, or will they savour the moment?  We'll have to wait till next week to find out.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The One Where They Sell Caravans (or The Apprentice Candidates Camp It Up In Birmingham)

Camping it up, Apprentice-style
As ever, the introduction to this evening's Apprentice reminds us that this process is not about a job.  It's about Lord Sugar, ploughing £250,000 into a new business.

With that firmly in mind, we churn through a rehash of last week's tortuous away day task - because we all needed to see Alex as Corporal Freddie Mercury the Vampire again and Francesca squinting through her eyeliner as she outlines how much plastic flamingo hire is (FYI - £shitloads).

And...we're on with the next task.  We're in the last of the double figure cast lists - only ten remain.  It's like an Agatha Christie novel title - Ten Little Muppets.

It's another 6am call - and the candidates are off to the Tower of London, with the instruction to pack an overnight bag.  Jason packs his teddy (not an all-in-one lace number, an actual enormous teddy bear - not sure entirely which is the more disturbing image... One for the #brainbleach, I suspect).

Neil winds Alex up by saying it's still legal to kill a Welshman at the Tower of London before 9am - Alex's patience is wearing thin as he hisses and exposes his pointy canines, vowing to kick Neil right in the Crown Jewels if he carries on.

So, they're at the Tower of London, not for diamonds and rubies type task - oh, no, nothing that glamorous.  The link between the location of the task reveal and the actual task is that the Tower is visited by tourists and their task is linked to holidays and recreation.  Tenuous, Shugs, vair tenuous.

And...they're off to the Motorhome & Caravan Show at the Birmingham NEC, where they're to choose products to sell, including one high-ticket item.  The caravan industry is worth over £6 billion per annum - as-ton-ish-ing!  That's a whole lotta chemical lavatories!

The team that sells the most will win.  One of the losing team will be fired.  Same as ever - gotta love the format (and I genuinely do - the Beeb has got it spot on here)!  #weakpunalert Anyway, whatever happens, the excitement will be...<drumroll>  Sorry.

Jason is warned not to hide any more (there are no vegetables to prep in this task, SURELY?!), as Lord Sugar mixes up the teams.

Team Evolve
Neil (moves across from Endeavour)

Team Endeavour
Count Dracula

First task - to decide the team leaders.  Myles is not keen to volunteer - his glamorous lifestyle means that he has no experience of caravans (they're apparently "banned in Monaco").  Conversely, Kurt has had plenty of experience, and has lots of energy for the task.  Alex also offers, but he scuppers himself by not having had any caravan holiday experience (they're not popular in Transylvania either), so they go with Kurt.

Neil's project manager for Evolve and one of his first duties is to knock back Jason as he "puts his flag right at the front of the sales queue".  Wise move, given that Jason is always looking to "sweeten deals" that were in the process of being done by leaping about like The Eager Discount Puppy and offering money off where none was needed.  The teddy-cuddling guffawing twat.  Neil says everyone has to have the same opportunity, so Jason picks up his metaphorical flag and tucks his enthusiastic puppy tail between his legs #brainbleachagain

Myles "literally hates caravans".  Jason asks "why on earth" people go caravanning.  Great team!

Alex and Kurt are doing market research en route to Birmingham, using the failsafe "let's look at how old we think the people driving cars pulling caravans are".  Over 50 is the answer.

Meanwhile, the other halves of the teams are scoping out the products they're going to sell.  They've been given a number of options from which to choose - a chair with a hood, a roofbox boat, a plantpot barbecue, a battery bike, a children's camping kit.

Next task, to convince the vendors of the products that they're the right team to sell on their behalf.  Myles does his best crawly-crawly-bum-licking flattery act and over-enthusiastically tells the creators of one of the mediocre camping accoutrements that they should be really proud of themselves.  Nick Hewer isn't impressed - he felt "nauseated" by Myles's approach.  But Myles thinks he can deal well with people at the very highest level, including A-list celebrities and royalty.  He forces a smile to prove it.

Luisa (who still hasn't brushed her hair) is gushing over the kids' camping kit to its vendor.  Not literally gushing, but she may as well be.  Jordan does a G-G-G-Granville and fetches a cloth.

Then Myles and Leah get their hands on the kids' camping kit maker - and Leah does her best Banquo impression as she pours cold water on any enthusiasm Myles might fake, saying she hasn't got kids and asking how much discount she'll be able to offer at the end of the day's trading on this product.  I think Luisa's unseemly gushing might have won the day there.

Kurt and Alex are at the Motorhome & Caravan Show, spotting old people (or, as Kurt ironically calls them, "coffin dodgers" - a concept that Alex the Vampire surely isn't familiar with).  They're there to look for their high ticket item.

Neil and Jason are also there.  Jason wants to buy a motorcycle.  Neil doesn't.  So Jason sits in a comfy chair.  Neil calls him a big girl's blouse; the weakest member of the team.  But he is an affable buffoon - maybe that'll help him with this task.

Francesca, Luisa and Jordan are looking at an electric bike (the Batribike).  It retails at £949 and there's no flexibility on the price.  None.  Last year, the vendors of this item sold 55 over the six days of the show - is the lure of the high value sales price enough for the possibly low turnover of this item for Francesca, Luisa and Jordan?  But, for the other team, Leah wants to offer more discount at the end of the trade show?  No.  Natalie wonders about offering a discount for selling more than one?  No.

They ask Neil and Jason which products they should choose - suggesting the Batribike and the kids' camping kit.  Neil tells them to make the call, but afterwards, Jason doesn't think much of the bike as a choice.

Kurt and Alex get their call - and Myles, Leah and Natalie want the exact same products.

Which of the teams have the product owners chosen to represent them?  Well, neither of them was impressed with the penny-pinching cost-cutting that Leah and Natalie favoured, with their insistence that discounts at the end of the show were a necessary part of the deal.  They both plump for Team Evolve and Myles has the difficult task of calling Kurt to tell him that the products he had wanted aren't on the table any more.  Alex is unimpressed and does some angriness.  He loses his rag rather a lot about people, doesn't he?  I wonder if that'll keep going unnoticed?

Neil and Jason are looking at high ticket items.  Jason falls madly enough with a little silver caravan that you could apparently fit an elephant in.  Unless there was an elephant in it already, I suppose, in which case it'd be quite a squeeze.  Luckily, for all sorts of reasons, there's not.

Neil's favouring a retro camper van.  They've already sold six this exhibition, but is the £17k funky camper right for the older demographic?  He's unsure.

Alex and Kurt are looking at a trailer that pops up into a tent - which fits all demographics, apparently.  It sells for £11k and they've sold 11 already.  They seem to prefer the retro camper though, saying that if they sell one of those for £17k, they'll have won the task.

Neil and Jason decide they want the folding trailer tent, based on the sales figures.  Alex and Kurt go for the more expensive retro camper.


Neil sets targets for his team - nine bikes, 60 kids' camping kits.  He wants to see who can sell the most - it's a competition.  Jason looks horrified.  I think he'd like a comforting spud to peel.

Kurt wants to sell the retro campers, with Myles.  Alex argues with him, sounding petulant, fair stamping his feet over not being able to sell the bespoke pretty campers.  But Kurt's made his decision.  He thinks 22-year-old Alex is too young to be a plausible salesman for a camper van.

To give him his due, Alex then puts his whole self into the hokey-cokey process of selling chairs with hoods.  I can't help but sing to myself, "I'll protect you from the hooded...chair...keep the vampires from your door..." but then I get a bit Frankie Goes To Hollywood at this time of night usually, so I shouldn't read anything into it if I were you.

Luisa tries to sell an electric bike to a humorous older gentleman who laughs at the concept - why would he buy an electric bike?  If he wants exercise, he'll buy a bike and pedal it.  Quite!

And the kids' camping kit is £99, which is, as Karren points out, not an impulse buy either - they've chosen two relatively high ticket items as their low-price accessories.

Alex, meanwhile, has sold a roofbox boat for £550.  Get in there, Mr Vampire!  He's promised the buyer that when the chips are down, he'll be around, with his undying, death-defying love for him - but I think the guy was fine with just being able to empty his camping shit out of the roofbox and going for a float on a nearby river without all that nonsense.  Still, Alex made the sale and he swishes his cape and hangs from a rafter for a bit to celebrate.

Myles has come up against a caravan snorter - one of those chaps who gets so excited about caravan dimensions and potential for avoiding tolls on French roads that he starts to make small, excited pig grunts as he speaks (he doesn't really - but wouldn't it be fun if he did?).  Nick Hewer shakes his head as he highlights Myles's schoolboy error - he hasn't qualified his potential "buyer" to see if he's actually in a position to purchase at the show. And, indeed, he isn't.  For the very excellent reason that his wife isn't with him.  I should think not!

Jason's rather impressing Karren with his rather camp, theatrical, "overly sincere" sales patter - perfect for this demographic.

What's this?  Luisa's sold a battery bike!  AND a kids' camping kit!  Jordan asks her what she's doing that he's not - she's initially defensive, but Jordan's actually asking for help.  Luisa very helpfully says she doesn't know.  She's "just selling them".  She should write a book on sales tips.  Well, a pamphlet.  Well, a Post-it note.  In fact, what Luisa knows about sales, you could write on the head of a pin.  In a fat Sharpie.

Neil's not impressed with the sales figures, but Luisa, Jordan and Francesca tell him he's set them unrealistic targets.

Natalie and Alex have a bit of a debate over whereabouts you sit in the roofbox boat to work the oars.  Natalie thinks the bench in the middle is a table and you sit either end.  Alex thinks Natalie is stupid.

Jason's trying to close a folding trailer tent sale.  And, actually, he's sold one - for a whole £10k!  Which hurts Neil's manhood.  He shouldn't have stood so near it as it was being folded then.  Oh, hang on, that may not have been what happened.

Myles is blaming the product choosers for picking the retro camper, as he can sell things, but just not this, to the demographic in the sale.  All the punters say their children would love it, but it's not their bag.

Kurt's sales technique is what Nick Hewer describes as lackadaisical.  And that's no good on  a one-day sales task!  C'mon, Scouser, raise your game!

The end of the day is nigh, and the teams pick up the pace.  Leah sells a roofbox boat, Neil sells a folding trailer and Luisa sells another electric bike.  Jordan doesn't.  And nor do Myles and Kurt.  Kurt decides they need "eye candy" to sell the camper and suggests that Leah comes over to encourage sales, though doesn't outline his precise reasons to Leah herself...

And with one more folding trailer sale for Neil, the curtain comes down on the day of camp sales.

Boardroom time

Lord Sugar makes his tiny way into the boardroom, climbing onto his boardroom chair and swinging his legs as he outlines why he set them the task and what he hoped they'd achieve.

The high ticket product - he thinks - is a difficult sell.  So, either team manage to sell any?

Team Endeavour

Shugs asks why Alex wasn't project manager?  He never has been...  So why not?  Don't the other candidates trust him?  Surely it wasn't because Kurt has been in a tent as a child?  Apparently so...

Myles says the girls were responsible for them not getting the products they wanted to sell from the vendors, because they weren't enthusiastic enough.  Leah and Natalie argue about how many times they asked for discounts, both fibbing somewhat.

Kurt and Jason chose the retro camper to sell - which had a target market age of 35-45.  Not an amazing thing to pitch to the over 50s then...  Was Alex happy with the salesmen decisions Kurt made for them?  Were Kurt and Myles the best people to sell them, or should Alex have been there?  Unsurprisingly, Alex doesn't think Kurt made the right decision - he's sold to royalty, no less!  Well, sort of.  The people of royalty.  Or perhaps the corgis, Shugs quips - he's quite the card, eh?

Team Evolve

Did they meet their sales targets?  No.  How did Neil, as project manager, choose the high-ticket product?  He looked at average sales per day, went for the one with the highest and figured that if he could meet or surpass it, they'd be OK.  That almost sounds sensible.

Shugs asks Jason if he's ever been in a tent or a caravan - no, nor had he ever been to Birmingham either.  Good lord, he's so posh it hurts!  But Jason thinks they worked well as a team.

Drilling down into the financials

Team Endeavour

Accessories sales: £1,479.
Retro camper: Leah came closest, but no sales.

Total sales: £1,479.

Team Evolve

Accessories sales: £3,116.
Folding camper: £30,499.

Total sales: £33,615.

So, Evolve win, on accessories sales alone!  And their treat is to go to the velodrome in Manchester, to meet up with eminent cycling enthusiast and Lycra wearer, Sir Chris Hoy!  Team Evolve leave in delight, hugging each other and punching the air, as is their wont.  Shugs calls Jason back into the say don't look so worried, well done for selling one of the folding campers.  Jase, to whom I am warming, with his foppish manner and ludicrously posh ways, backs out of the room, bowing slightly, saying he hopes he can keep impressing Lord Sugar. So do we, Jason, so do we.

The treat

At the velodrome, in fetching stretchy garments, the winning team have another chance to compete - this time against one another, as they do a time trial.  Jordan wins, with a 19-second sprint cycle round the track (and Luisa leches over Sir Chris Hoy's backside as she cycles, which is surely treason).

The losers

They head to the cafe of sorrow and blame and are sorrowful and blame each other.  Alex thinks it's the fault of the sales strategy, not the selection of the high-ticket item in itself.  Myles thinks it was the selection of the high-ticket item that's to blame.  This is shorthand for Alex blaming Myles and Kurt and Myles blaming Kurt and Alex. Natalie blames Kurt.  I wonder who Kurt will blame in this Venn diagram of buck-passing?  We won't find out till they're back in the boardroom - which is now!

Boardroom time

Kurt's blaming Alex for high-ticket item product choice - Alex defends himself by hissing and showing his pointy teeth.  Oh, and he flannels on about how he quite understands when Karren and Shugs pull him apart for choosing a product for the wrong target age for the demographic they knew would be at the show that day.  Quite what he understands remains a mystery.

Lord Sugar turns his attention back to Kurt.  Didn't he want to prove something to Shugs?  Hmm.  Yes, except he forgot.  Or something.

What about Myles?  Nick Hewer is scathing - Myles failed to qualify the people arriving at their stand to see if they were in a buying position or not.  Myles says there were no buyers at the show and apologises for letting Shugs down.  Crawly-crawly-bum-lick.

But Shugs remains unimpressed - Myles has described himself as "the Jedi knight" of sales.  And he hasn't sold anything.  He and Alex blame one another for poor sales technique versus wrong product choice again for a bit and Alex says that Leah came closest to selling one, so nur.

Ah, yes - what about the reason behind Kurt's decision to bring Leah across to try to sell?  She was "eye candy" - was she aware that this was why she was brought over?  No, she thought it was because she was the best at sales.  Oh...dear.  Zee the Chauvinist all over again?

But, what's this, Natalie starts talking!  And she may just make Lord Sugar forget all the hopelessness and poor behaviour of the other candidates by saying that she should have been brought across to sell the retro camper, because she's "in recruitment" and she "headhunts people".  Yes...just like selling camper vans to pensioners, that!  She finally concedes that maybe being in recruitment isn't the magic answer to being able to sell motorised camping equipment.  You THINK?!

So, who's coming back into the boardroom?  Will Myles have his first trip to the boardroom?  Nope. Kurt plumps for Alex and Natalie. Both disagree with his decision vehemently, with Natalie warning him not to be "tactical", but Kurt sticks to his guns.  Will he come unstuck?  Myles and Leah go back to the house; the others head to the sofas in reception to await their boardroom fate.

Shugs asks Nick what happened on the day.  He's unimpressed with Kurt's defence of the wrong product choice and Nick confirms that he's right to be.  He also thinks that Alex realised there was trouble at t'mill with the retro camper sales, saying that he hid in the long grass of the accessory sales team and kept his head down, despite his protestations otherwise.  Karren's confused as to why Natalie thinks she could sell retro campers, but Lord Sugar's a canny sort and thinks Kurt's made a tactical calculation that because Shugs said he didn't want to see Natalie in the boardroom again, she'll be a definite "fire".  Time will tell - maybe she'll be OK if she doesn't talk again...

Back in the boardroom

Why did Alex think he should have been selling the camper vans?  Alex says it's because he was involved with Kurt in selling them, so it should've been him and Myles selling them.  But Kurt defends his decision, saying he wanted to prove he could sell them.  Lord Sugar points out that he didn't sell any #thudmoment

Oh, dear.  Natalie starts talking.  She says woulda, shoulda, coulda a lot - she woulda picked the right product, she shoulda been the one selling, she coulda been a contender.  But Shugs stops her - saying she has the utmost confidence in herself, but she hasn't delivered anything.  She did sell more than Kurt did though...

Was it a tactical move on Kurt's part to bring Natalie back in?  He, after all, knows that Shugs said he didn't want to see her in the final three again the last time she was in the boardroom - though Kurt denies this #implausible  He blames Natalie for the loss of the bike products.

So why should Kurt stay in this process?  He says he could have sold the right product, but he didn't choose the right product.  Hmm, clear as mud.

And why should Alex stay in this process?  Because he's "set up a company on his back" (is he a tortoise?) at the age of 19, and making it a success.  This business is bespoke tombstones - is there a more perfect company for a vampire to run?  Perhaps a blood bank, but it's pretty much top three ideal vampire businesses, eh?  He does lots more talking.

However, Lord Sugar points out that product selection was a fatal error for this task, though Alex has performed well up till now.  Surely he hasn't forgotten the success of the Foldo chair already?

Shugs admires Kurt's honesty - it was the wrong product and he's admitted that he's got it wrong.

And he's also concerned that Natalie's in the boardroom again.

But it was Kurt who messed up the most.'s Kurt who's fired.  And I, for one, won't miss his slapped arse face and lacklustre performance.

Shugs says he's worried about giving his £250,000 to Alex, because he's young and lacks experience.

And then he turns his attention to Natalie again - Kurt may well have made a tactical move to bring her back into the boardroom, but she's had too many chances.  Shugs' patience has run out - it's the end of the line for Natalie as he fires her as well.

And I, for one, won't miss her little witchy chin and whining about what she could've done, if only she'd had some 20/20 hindsight binoculars at the beginning of the task.

Alex returns to the house alone, with Lord Sugar's warning to take his words on board ringing in his ears.

And then there were...eight.  And next week's task is to create an online dating concept.  and there's a frankly disturbing image of Alex in what looks like drag to whet our appetites...  #dryheaves

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The One With Corporate World And The Pink Flamingo (or The Apprentice Does Away Days)

C'mon, Mr Hewer, gizza kiss
We're six weeks into "the process" (and they've said "the process" six bazillion times thus far) and the task call comes at 6am.  With three sixes already in this post (albeit one of them totally fictitious), will this task be devilish fun?  Or will we just have to make do with Alex, the vampire of bonhomie?  Time will tell.

Anyway, the ludicrously-shaped (though probably achingly cool) phone's still ringing.  Shall we let them answer it?  They do!  But there's no squealing this week; they're old hands now.  And they're off to Guildhall, City of London.

Natalie doesn't want to be in the boardroom again.  And Rebecca's desperate to be PM.  But Luisa doesn't rate her.  Coincidentally, I don't rate Luisa.  And will Myles win, yet again?

The task this week is to put on a corporate away day for two paying clients.  They'll be judged not only on the profit they make, but also on the customer satisfaction.  Oh, well, that'll be fine - Apprentice candidates never fuck up relationships with clients, do they?  And it's bwahahaha o'clock, already!

Shugs mixes up the teams - Myles moves over to Endeavour.  Is that the end of his run of success?  He makes Leah project manager for Endeavour (leading Myles, Neil, Prince of Darkness, Natalie and Kurt).  Francesca is project manager for Evolve (leading Luisa, Jordan, Rebecca and Jason).

Apparently the company away day market is worth one billion smackers a year.  But Luisa seems set to scupper the task from the off - whilst the self-defined "Mrs Corporate" Francesca waxes lyrical about how this task is made for her, Luisa says she hates corporate life, she's really anti corporate, it's boring, the people are dull.  That's happy news for Francesca, isn't it? And won't Shugs be delighted with that attitude?

Neil's ideas are based on his experiences of corporate away days.  He wants to do a schooldays sports day, including a sack race.  #weakpunalert Let's hope his ideas don't get him the sack, eh?  Sorry.

Leah wants to go back in time and do a history day.  Neil thinks everybody has been to school, but not everybody likes history.  Neil - you dick - what sort of criteria is that?!  Not everybody liked school either!  Then they start talking about wearing school uniform, St Trinian's style, and Lead pouts and almost voms on the table.  I think she isn't keen.

Meanwhile, over at Evolve, Francesca's going glam - talking about themes such as Vegas, Bond, Moulin Rouge.  But the others are talking about...back to school.  What's wrong with these people?!  Luisa really likes the back to school theme.  Is that because Francesca didn't suggest it?

So, Evolve try to come up with activities for their SCHOOL themed day.  One of the first suggestions is wine tasting.  Now, I remember going to school, but I don't remember the wine tasting lessons.  Maybe I just went to one of those boring teetotal schools (though there was a Thunderbirds and Diamond White after school club - I'm sure many of you had similar at your educational establishment).

The client budgets are £5,000.  But Evolve choose to spend almost £1k of that on a chocolate-making session - when Luisa does cupcake-making sessions as part of her day job.  Luisa slates Francesca to Jason as they're en route to the chocolate folk (not ACTUAL people made from chocolate - that just wouldn't work, would it? #meltymelty).  She does an impression of Francesca, not taking responsibility for anything or using a decisive tone of voice.  Funnily, she sounds just like Luisa doing it.  Except slightly less of a total bitch.  Anyway.

Endeavour are still endeavouring to come up with a theme.  Neil says Leah's proposed lawn games and archery history day is boring and pushes for schools.  It's four versus two in favour of schools, but Leah overrides the team vote and goes for history.  That's either exceedingly brave and sensible, or the kind of decision that makes people unravel and ooze all over the boardroom floor later.  Which will it be?  Karren's unsure of the logic of the decision.  Ah, an early steer as to the answer to my just-asked question then.

Half of the teams are arranging activities - the rest are meeting the clients.

Evolve have got as their client.  Their ethos is five star quality for three star prices. Amazingly, Evolve's ethos is five star fuck-ups the for five star prices, so they've nowt in common.

Endeavour are running late to meet Barclays UK Retail Banking.  Myles is "not trying to undermine" Leah by totally disagreeing with her and pushing for a school theme again.

Karren is deeply unimpressed by their lateness, as Leah makes up some bull about traffic, when it was really indecision over theme.

Barclays go through the intended outcomes for the session - improved listening and communication skills.  If the team-building away day works, they'll roll it out to 35,000 people.

Leah then keeps saying classic majestic medieval escapism a lot, whilst her clients look at each other, incredulously.  They're not keen.  They're so not keen that they tell Leah, Myles and Natalie to go away and keep the objective in mind as they come up with something.  Something else.  Something...good.

But Alex, Neil and Kurt are booking the archery.  And they got it for £320, not £400.  But it's irrelevant, because, ironically, they need to keep "good communication and listening skills" in mind as the focus for the day's theme.  And therefore, Leah's changed it to "army".  Do they still use bows and arrows in the army?

Luisa and Jason are in the chocolate shop.  They'll teach the delegates to make their own truffles, for £795 for the first 12 people, then £70 per head after that.  So, interestingly, it gets more expensive per head after you've got the first 12 people through the door.  Bizarre.

So Luisa decides that she'll run a cupcake workshop.  And then she tells the chocolate lady (not actually made of chocolate, do keep up) that she'll run the cupcake workshop, because it's cheaper than paying for a chocolate workshop.  And then she asks the chocolate lady if she can buy some piping bags from her.  Presumably, she'll charge £795 for them, and give Luisa the cheeky mare a kick up the backside on the way out.

Jordan, Rebecca and Francesca then go and buy things for the cupcake workshop.  And instead of the £150 Jordan had budgeted, they spend £284.

Leah's playing hardball in a cash and carry, driving prices down.  But then the phone rings and she answers it with the frankly prickish phrase "Speak to me".  #fgs  Then Alex does swearing and Leah does huffy and Neil and Kurt try to calm Alex down and, frankly, Leah had better keep her neck covered up later, because of the biting with the vampire fangs thing.

The upshot of all of that is the boys in the car don't think they've got enough activities and they'd like the management of Barclays to do sumo wrestling.  Leah thinks it's distasteful, but she says she'll go for it if there's nothing else, but they're not wrestling, they can just "touch each other".  Now, I don't know about you, but I really don't want to see the management of Barclays "sumo heavy petting" much either.  Well, I say "much".  I mean AT ALL.

Natalie and Jason are on two planks of wood, holding bits of rope, and both trying to jump in the air in unison and get their "skis" off the ground.  They, obviously, fail miserably.

But they book the activity, for £310, not £350 (woo!) and Luisa says it'll look like they've delivered something high quality.  Er, OK.  Bits of wood, and some jumping.

End of day one

And they're back at the house, dissecting the day's events.  For Leah, it's a bit of character assassination before bed - Neil says she didn't listen - or something, I wasn't listening.

Francesca's setting up a timetable for the day, and Rebecca's keen to end their event with a motivational speaker.  For £600.  But the others think they can do that themselves.  Of course they can.  They just need to read from their Apprentice applications and say "never be such colossal fucknubbins as us and you won't go far wrong.  OK?" then do a cheesy grin, double-thumbs it a bit and then jig off into the sunset, a la Morecambe and Wise.  Honestly, what could possibly go wrong?

Neil wants to be the motivational speaker for Endeavour, because he's been a football coach.  Leah says yes.

Day two

Leah's team are in Hertfordshire (maybe even in fucking Tring, that old favourite Apprentice destination, who knows?).  Ah, no, it's Cheshunt - and they rock up at the gates of Theobalds Park, agreeing it looks amazing.

Neil and Myles sit together and talk about improving communication and listening skills by saying and repeating and writing down the phrase "communication and listening skills".

Natalie and Kurt are cooking.  Because food is "such a big part of it".  Well, yes.  The bit to fill them up when they're hungry.

Evolve are kitting out a marquee with props which cost £300, including a pink flamingo, which gives Nick Hewer the evil eye.  Or maybe that's the only eye it has, given that it's plastic.  And a prop.  Nick's not keen.

Rebecca and Jason are in the kitchen, with Rebecca saying it's the most effective use of their skills.  Well, they'll have a lot of prepped vegetables by the end of the morning, that's true.  Not sure whether Lord Sugar wants to go into business with a Victor the Vegetable though.

Then Evolve's clients arrive.  And eat biscuits.  And drink tea or is it coffee?  Jason's being mother and he's not doing a great job.

Over at Team Endeavour HQ, Neil's being bossy to the bank managers.  He makes them say good morning to "Sergeant Neil" and they're unimpressed, despite the polite laughter.

Then Alex is introduced - he's in full army uniform, with black stripes on his face.  He's "Corporal Alex", apparently.  The clients look as dismayed as if he'd been introduced as "Corporal Punishment" and then they march to the first activity, some also with the black stripe facepaint on, some making do with embarrassed looks of mild horror.

Over at the marquee, Evolve are making tea and coffee and leaving their clients to talk amongst themselves.  It's a shambles, to be frank.  Nobody knows what's going on.

Luckily, Francesca then introduces the day.  And it's still a shambles, to be frank.  Nobody knows what's going on.  She says there's one goal - success at work, success in themselves and success in life.  And happiness.  For the love of all that's holy, some CLARITY, woman! But, no, Francesca starts talking about how she used to want to be a policewoman when she was at school.  It's cringingly bad.

Endeavour are playing lawn games - bowls, to be frank.  Or maybe boule.  I dunno, it's a load of balls.  But the client feedback is good - Endeavour have decided that they'll play the game blindfold, so that the person doing the bowling (or the bouling?  I neither know nor care) needs to listen and the people doing the guiding need to communicate carefully. Neat.

Neil takes all the credit for the success of the event.  Again.

And then it pisses down.  Which sort of puts the mockers on quoits.

Evolve, meanwhile, are doing the wooden ski coordination activity with their clients - and Nick Hewer says they're having a lot of fun.  It's also not raining there.

But Endeavour don't have a plan B for shit weather.  Oh, dear.  So their clients are in a hall drinking tea and coffee.  And standing about.  Then Leah tries running a conflict resolution workshop.  But she'll be using this experience as an answer to the old favourite "tell me about a difficult situation you faced" example at interviews forevermore, as the blank looks and folded arms are all the feedback she needs from her audience.

But, waiting in the wings...what's this?  It's the SUMO WRESTLERS!  Well, it's Neil and Myles, demonstrating, apparently, what can happen if conflicts aren't resolved in the workplace.

Because, of course, that's an all too common experience, isn't it?  Somebody doesn't answer your email query - so you go and draw a ring of chalk on the ground by their desk, each strip to your underpants and thrash it out - literally.

The clients are deeply unimpressed.  They shake their heads off with negativity (which is a shame, really).

Over to Evolve, for the Rebecca and Jason show.  They're leading a wine-tasting event, though neither of them is an expert in wine.  But they do know which is the most expensive, which is apparently the way you always tell which is the best wine.  And that links in with the company aim to do something five star for er, something about prices, mutter mutter, says Rebecca.  Weirdly, the clients seem to see through her spurious bullshit patter (goodness, what an astute lot!).

The other half of the lot are making "very funky" cupcakes with Luisa, letting their creativity run wild.  With marshmallows and bought cupcake bases.  OK, whatever floats your banana split, I guess.

Unfortunately, nobody on Evolve seems to have thought much about a common theme thread to run through the day and it does rather appear to be coming apart at the seams, even though the activities have been, as one participant puts it "a lot of fun".  But there's nothing about business objectives, however much Francesca tries to waffle about "what it means to them" and "their experiences".

Rebecca and Jason have, to nobody's surprise, made a massive fucking mess of the wine tasting and forgotten how to count, to write and to remember which wine they poured in which glass.  Maybe the next task will be some sort of rocket science.

Luckily, back with the army at Team Endeavour, the rain has cleared and they're doing some archery.  And Neil and Myles are doing sensible client engagement in a focused and mature manner.  Good lord.  Am I still watching Apprentice candidates?  They're asking each of the branch managers what their biggest business challenges are at the moment and making jottings of their answers.  Karren has noted herself that Neil and Myles have worked out that they need to link each task to the business outcomes the client has asked for - the sensible chaps.  She looks impressed.

Francesca's team finish the day with a professional motivational speaker and there are giant heaving sighs of relief all round (mainly from the clients, that they don't have to listen to personal history anecdotes from Francesca).  And, indeed, their professional chap is deemed "the best bit of the day".

But Endeavour have gone the homespun homily route and they've got Neil doing their motivational speaking.  Will he be much cop?  He gets quite the round of applause - and some lovely feedback from one of the clients who says Neil's really stood out for him as warm, engaging and having the ability to relate to everyone at a personal level.  Praise indeed!

And it's applause all round and some whooping, etc.  

So, boardroom time

#weakpunalert Will Evolve be caked in disaster?  Or iced with glory?  Will Endeavour have hit the bullseye, or will they have to wrestle with their consciences about the decisions they made?

Shugs starts with Endeavour.  Leah didn't find being a project manager easy.  Lord Sugar mocks her ability to run a vote in the brainstorm - what was the point of doing it if she was going to ignore the outcome?

And then they were late to meet the CEO, as Karren pointed out, and flannelled their way through the description of the themes.  Unimpressive.

Lord Sugar isn't impressed with Leah's ability to be decisive, basically because she can't do it.  As a doctor, he says, this is a worry - then he says something about giving him an enema and my ears panicked and turned inside out so I could stop listening.

Anyway, my hearing came back into focus at the time Shugs was being incredulous about them then going for an army theme, and asking how this panned out.

Was Alex bullying the clients, as the pantomime colonel?  No, he was getting the best out of his troops - sez he.

Lord Sugar is horrified to hear that they put sumo wrestling suits in front of the biggest bank in the country - but they did.  Jordan laughs so hard at this he almost sucks his knickers up his bum in his effort to remain silent.

Neil gives a very sensible account of their objectives - listening, communication and to improve teamwork and says he gave a personal account he hopes they found motivational.

Time will tell.  It's over to Evolve to talk cupcakes and wine.  Why was there wine tasting at a school themed day - were they trying to get the delegates pissed?  What business message is there in a cupcake?  Unless you pipe one on, I guess...  But they didn't, they just heaped them with marshmallows.  Anyway.  Jordan has gathered himself and he says their themes were communication, collaboration and creativity.  That was apparently what they delivered.

But what was Francesca like as a team leader?  Rebecca thinks she was very good.  But Jordan says "weak management and non-existent strategy" and Luisa agrees.  Francesca declares this "a proper surprise".  Goodness.

It's figures time!

Team Endeavour

Bank paid £5,000 for the event.

They spent: £2,170.50.

The bank have asked for a partial refund of 25%, because they felt the structure collapsed at times, with no rainy day contingency plan.

Profit: £1,579.50.

Team Evolve paid £5,000 for the event.

They spent: £2,654.19.

The client asked for a refund due to the almost entire lack of business sense, amounting to £1,250.

Profit: £1,095.81.

So, Leah's Team Endeavour have won.  And it's a sixth successive victory for Myles!  Karren says the client was very impressed indeed with Neil.  The treat is a luxury spa pampering session.

But Francesca's Team Evolve need to think about the almost complete lack of business sense on their task - and with the dire warning that "at least one of them will be fired", they leave for the greasy spoon cafe of despair.

Alex, meanwhile, is getting his vampire eyebrows waxed.  And then the winning team sip tea in unison as they sit on loungers by the pool.  Ah, bliss.

Back at Bridge Cafe, there's talk of buck passing.  Or not doing it.  But if they'd not had the motivational speaker, they'd have won, according to Jordan, because he cost £600.  He's clearly gunning for Francesca and Rebecca.

And Francesca talks about going down decisively in flames.  Positive mental attitude, I love it!  Um...

And they're back in the boardroom...

The feedback's not good.  Were they blagging it?  Did they, as one delegate wrote, take them as mugs?  Francesca talks about one goal.  Who knows.  Then she talks about putting in creativity to make something great, and everyone coming together to do that (on the subject of why they iced cupcakes as a task).  Karren asks her if she believes what she's saying, if she can hear herself.  It's not looking good for the one with the eyeliner.

Why didn't they do the motivational speaking themselves?  It would've saved them £600, after all.  Jordan and Luisa smugly say they would have done it - but they didn't offer on the day.

And then Luisa bangs on about how she doesn't like the corporate world and attracts a scathing comment from Karren, who says she'll find it difficult to get investment from a bank with that attitude.

Jordan did a shit job as a finance director.  But Rebecca's ideas cost them £900, with the wine tasting and the motivational speaker.

Who's Francesca bringing back?  Shugs warns her not to play favourites - so she brings back Luisa and Rebecca.  And Luisa gets her claws out instantly, perhaps scared her corporate loathing is fresh in the minds of Lord Sugar.  She worked her best, she did one of the core tasks, yada yada.

The Apprentice magic formula decrees that it's time for Lord Sugar to talk to Karren and Nick now.  Nick points out that if Rebecca can persuade Francesca to take the wine tasting and the motivational speaker, perhaps there's something about her that she's not shown them in the boardroom yet.  Karren sense an animosity between Luisa and Francesca (doesn't take a psychic to pick up on that one!).  But then isn't there just animosity between Luisa and everyone?  She'd start a fight in an empty room.

As if to demonstrate this, one of the first things Lord Sugar does when he gets the girls back into the boardroom is read from Luisa's application.  She's apparently "very unforgiving" and "when she flips, you don't wanna be there".  She whines on about how she's misunderstood because of the way she looks and how she works better with men.  But Shugs can't have a business partner who alienates people.  And Rebecca calls her obstinate.

Rebecca's very quiet, other than that comment.  She's given up an awful lot to be in "the process".  But what does she contribute?  Shugs says she's been good at selling on other tasks.

If Luisa's argumentative nature is her real personality, she can go home now.  But if it's because she's working with people who don't speak much sense, that's a different story.

Shugs put Francesca in charge because she had corporate event experience.  But this task was a disaster.

However, it was Rebecca who Lord Sugar felt he hadn't seen much from - and his instinct was to fire her.  So he did.  Bang.

He warns Luisa he has his eye on her.  I wonder if it'll make a difference?  Or if she'll brush her hair at any point in this process?

Warm hug from Rebecca to Francesca as they walk past her back to the house, brief courtesy hug for Luisa.

Back at the house, Jason thinks two people are going, Jordan thinks Francesca's going.  They're both wrong.

Neil motivates the remaining candidates by saying there are only nine more to be fired before he wins...and there's laughter.  For now.

Next time, it's something about camping.  And selling.  And Alex is sitting in a chair with a lid (not called Foldo).