Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The One With The Oud And The Bravado (or The Apprentice Candidates Hit Dubai)

This is not the ood you're looking for...
And then there were...12.  This week sees the dirty dozen receiving the call at the unholy hour of 4.30am.  Jason answers the phone and blearily tells the rest of the candidates to "pack their camels" - and he doesn't mean 20 cigs.

Zee's cock-a-hoop - he used to live in Dubai, so he's hoping his local knowledge puts him ahead of the game.  Luisa's concern is how many bikinis she should take.  That sort of gritty determination and focus is bound to stand her in good stead.

They're on their way to a new multimillion pound hotel, being built a mile and a half outside the main city.  Waiting for them, Karren Brady, Nick Hewer and Lord Sugar's too busy to make the trip himself, so his disembodied head greets them, on a TV screen.

The task?  To find eight items that are required for the opening of the luxury hotel.  They can choose where to buy them from, the shopping malls or the markets - the main thing is to drive the hardest bargain.

Shugs then sees to it that the teams are balanced up - Leah moves over to Endeavour and joins Alex the Vampire, Zee, Natalie, Neil and Kurt, leaving Evolve with Francesca, Jordan, Jason, Luisa, Myles and Rebecca.

With Lord Sugar's warning that the candidates are representing him for this very important client ringing in their ears, they set off to forage for all manner of things in the shopping hotspot that is Dubai.

The teams have ten hours to find eight items.

For Endeavour, Zee puts himself forward as project manager.  The man who wants to make history, aligns himself with Napoleon and says no human in this world intimidates him.  Leah puts herself up for PM as well - she's been there, she's good with finance, she can convert the local currency with ease.  But Zee's local knowledge wins the others over and he's project manager for the first time this series.  But will it be the last?  Is his confidence well-founded, or is it bullshit blag and bravado?  It's The Apprentice - it's surely bound to be the former!

Zee begins cockily, by telling Leah she can put the map away, because he knows Dubai like the back of his hand.  Let's hope he's not wearing gloves.

For Evolve, Myles is looking for his fifth successive win.  Will his glamorous lifestyle help him win this task?  He has, after all, lived in Monaco for a decade and worked all over the world.  And his business idea is focused on building a luxury brand with Lord Sugar.

So, the teams have their budget and a list of directories.  All that remains is to scout round Dubai looking for eight things.  And they have all day - how hard can this be?

Evolve's first task is to work out what the list of things they need to buy actually are, starting with an "oud" (no, it's not one of those aliens that looks like they've been eating spaghetti from Doctor Who).

Endeavour are ahead of the game, with Zee telling the rest of the team what they're looking for - a "kandura" is the national Emirati dress.

They also need to find an Arabic coffee pot and a falcon hood (which Alex says is the brown leather cap that goes over a bird of prey's head).

Oud is the local perfume, according to Zee.  It smells of mahogany, which is why the description says "mahogany, standard size".  He's adamant he's right.

Back with Evolve and they've hit the phones, asking locals what ouds and falcon hoods are.  Another item on the list is the UAE flag, which has to be a very specific size.  They finally work out what a kandura is and decide to head to the mall.

Endeavour are taking a different tack - Zee says the key to winning this task is to buy as much as possible from the markets and "as less as possible from Dubai mall" (let's hope his business idea doesn't have a grammar focus - maybe it's writing "five items or less" signs for supermarket queues).  He sets his team off to hit the Dubai markets, or souks.  Or he tries to, anyway.

Leah sets herself up as subteam leader and says she'll head to Dubai mall.  Zee's taken aback by this power challenge - but, grudgingly, lets her, telling her to head to a particular souk.  So she does, with Neil and Alex, Agent of Darkness.  Except...Leah changes the destination of the taxi and goes to the mall anyway.

Luisa, Jason and Jordan are looking for kanduras.  Jason tries one on - very fetching indeed - but it's 300 dirham.  Can they find a cheaper one?  Yes, they find one for 125, which they knock down to 110.

But the shit's hit the fan for Leah - Zee rings and finds out she's changed the plan and headed to the mall.  So Leah's subteam do a swift about-turn and are now headed to the souk, without getting out at the mall at all #wasteoftime  They've been given the Arabic coffee pot and the kandura to source.

Myles is at a garden centre, looking for a palm tree.  He gets a 15% discount, but he doesn't speak to the boss to negotiate any further; Karren's not impressed.  250 dirhams down.

Zee's looking for the 4' by 6' UAE flag.  He gets a quote for one for a tenner, on the phone.

Myles's team have ordered a flag that'll take an hour to be made.  And it'll be 175 dirham (a quick calculation using Google in my head shows that to be about thirty quid - three times the price).  Karren's shaking her head again, as Francesca offers to pay for the flag upfront.

So, Jordan, Jason and Luisa have a kandura and information for some other products they think they can find now.  But information isn't goods - and time's running out.  They're still in the mall - should they have hit the souks instead?

Neil, Alex the Drac and Leah are in the souk, looking for an Arabic coffee pot.  And they don't find anywhere to buy them.

One market stall holder offers Alex "fresh Viagra".  He dismisses him with a cheery wave, saying he doesn't need any of that, as he's "from Wales".  Mm, where men are men and sheep are - oh, come on, I'm not doing any of those old stereotypical gags here.  Of course, Alex may just not need any because he's an Apprentice candidate - they're perfectly capable of doing all their own cock-ups without help...

Jason is doing his best "speaking to a foreigner in a slow and accented version of English" voice to try to explain to one shop owner what a falcon hood is.  Luisa looks on, making helpful bird squawks to try to aid the discussion, but the man looks blank.  They're making slow progress.

Zee's team are at the same flag shop as Myles's team to collect their smugly pre-ordered UAE flag - and there's a problem.  They tried using maths to describe how big they wanted their flag to be - with 4' by 6' translating to 48cm by 72cm.  Can you spot the error?  Mmm...quite.  It's titchy, because Kurt got inches and centimetres muddled - and all of a sudden, their bargain price flag isn't looking such a bargain.  When will Apprentice candidates learn that they can't actually do sums?  Nick Hewer notes down their massive fail in his book, with a flourish.  And it'll take an hour to make.  Zee writes it off as "no big deal".  We'll be the judge of that, Zeeshan.

Leah, Neil and Alex are looking for a kandura.  Neil's not bothered about the quality, just the price.  He drives a hard bargain and gets it for 60 dirhams.  Will driving the price down and going for the cheapest one pay off when they get to the boardroom?  Or will quality matter to a high class hotel chain?

Back in the car and Zee and Kurt are working out who to call.  Natalie is roundly ignored by them both as they try to round up the rest of the items on the list.

By 5pm, having paid upfront an hour ago, there's still no flag for Myles's team.  He goes to have a look at it, where he's assured that it'll take five minutes to finish.  He cheers on the man who's sewing the hems on the flag.  Somewhat patronising.

Leah discovers that "oudh" is perfume, but "oud" may be something else.  But what?  Neither team knows, but Jason thinks it might be..."something else".  Well, thanks for that flash of genius, Mr Clickety-boo!

Francesca tries to gather a discount at the flag shop - but remember the head-shaking Karren did over her paying upfront for the flag?  Well, it was appropriate - the money's in the till and the flag shop owner isn't giving it up.  No discount for Francesca.

The rest of the Evolve are hoping they've gathered enough information to purchase some things, but Myles isn't happy.  Information's not Actual Stuff, is it?  Shugs won't be impressed with "But a man told us where we could get something" - he'll want to see the something!

Zee's team are palm tree purchasing.  And they are in luck - they find a shop manager who's prepared to give them a 50% discount.  Will we hear a phrase including "monkey" and "organ grinder" later in the programme?  If not, we definitely should.

Francesca's looking for another thing on the list - golden mosaic tiles.  Without luck.

Jason's patronising shopkeepers again - the Arabs are a generous people, apparently - and he's managed to get an Arabic coffee pot for 300 dirham.

Zee gets his flag(s) for 200 dirham - they have to buy the erroneously-sized weeny one too, but he brings the price down from 40 to 28 for that one.  That's 28 that he wouldn't have had to spend if he could, you know, count.  And it's 25 dirhams more than the other team paid for their single, correctly-sized flag.

Luisa, Jason and Jordan discover that an "oud" is, in fact, a musical instrument.  And they can have one for 1,850 - which they barter down to a much more tuneful 990 dirhams (but would they have got it cheaper in a souk?).

Leah's still looking for perfume and Alex is bitching about Zee, but it's time to return to the hotel with their items now, so back they head.

The hotel manager inspects their goods for suitability - as the candidates fly home to London.

And...it's boardroom time.

Lord Sugar hopes the candidates put on a good performance and represented him well.  Bless his little optimistic cottons, eh?

Zee begins confidently - he's lived and worked in Dubai.  Shugs asks the others if he was a good team leader and they...lay into him.  He was "terrible".  Zee looks surprised (self aware much?), but they continue the mauling with his "ability" to work out what the items on their list were - starting with "oud", which wasn't a fragrance at all.  Nick Hewer points out that Alex was dubious about this from the off, raising "one of his eyebrows" at it, since the description for this fragrance had it as "mahogany, standard size".  Know much perfume made of wood?  No, nor me.  And, as Alex puts it, "no-one wants to smell like a dining table".  Quite.  Or a Foldo chair, come to that.

Leah says that Zee didn't have a clue.  And Shugs goes in for the kill when it comes to the flag size; Kurt owns up to not getting the size of the flag right.

But then it gets slightly better, when Neil says he got the kandura down from 100 to 60 dirham and Kurt says he got the palm tree down from 150 to 75.  The other team look worried...

Lord Sugar moves over to speak to Evolve, saying Kurt would probably call Myles "Kilometres" - a #weakpun which has Kurt wincing hooting with pain mirth.

Karren says Jordan's team wasted three and a half hours to purchase anything.  But Myles's subteam stayed to wait for the flag to be produced - it's wasted time all round.  And then the palm tree purchase from the shop assistant, without reference to the manager for a discount, comes up.  They paid 250 dirham for their palm tree - Myles hopes it doesn't cost them dearly.  It might.

Team Evolve

Six items, at a cost of £311.54.

Failed to get the golden mosaic tiles and the falcon hood and they're fined at the market value of those items.

Total: £695.16.

Team Endeavour

Four items, but one of them - the kandura - was the wrong sort, a modern one, not a traditional one.

They also failed to source four items.

Total: £783.36.

So, it's a win for Team Evolve and Myles hasn't lost yet.  Their prize - they're going to the world's best cocktail bar, to sample some of their drinks.

Lord Sugar sends Team Endeavour off to discuss amongst themselves what went wrong.  I think that's code for "lay into Zee", but we shall see.

Meanwhile, Team Evolve are at The Zetter Townhouse, sampling cocktails and saying "hooray".  They watch cocktails being shaken, not stirred, and drink themselves silly, which takes all of 14 seconds.

Over at the greasy spoon, they're blaming each other and trying not to make it look like they're...blaming each other.  Kurt's worried that he'll be for the chop for getting centimetres mixed up with inches (maybe he should've had the Viagra?).

And they're back in the boardroom...

Lord Sugar says the wrong kandura contributed to the loss of the task, because they had to pay not just for the one they bought, but also the market value of the one they should've bought.  Whoops.

But can they blame it all on Zee?  Why didn't Leah go with her gut feeling when she got to the mall and head in, rather than change and go to the souk?

Nick Hewer says that Natalie and Kurt didn't say anything much.  And then Shugs gets The Flag out - and Kurt cringes his face inside-out as his maths "ability" is questioned.

But who's Zee going to bring back into the boardroom?  Will he risk the undoubted tongue-lashing he'd get from Leah (and not in a good way), or go for a seemingly softer option?  And...he does both - and brings back Leah and Natalie.  But why not Neil and Kurt, who did actually buy incorrect items?  Hmm...

The others head back to the house, with Alex tossing an obsequious "sorry to disappoint, Lord Sugar" over his shoulder, swishing his red silk lined cape, hissing as he shows his fangs.

Shugs, Nick and Karren discuss the three, whilst they wait outside, all nude high heels and lashings of eye-liner (and that's just Zee).  Leah and Zee were clearly gunning for one another from the start, but Natalie needs to have something to say for herself when she gets back into the boardroom; Lord Sugar hasn't forgotten that he said he was keeping his eye on her a couple of weeks ago.  Karren points out that Natalie says she's said things a lot, but not actually done much.  Will this be her undoing?

The candidates head back in, with Zee dropping the door on Natalie, much to her chagrin.

Why did Zee bring Natalie in?  He says she's lovely to be around, but she didn't contribute.  But Natalie says that's because Zee didn't let her - she asked to make calls, to be given the directories to do research - does Zee have a problem with women?  He has, after all, brought the only two on his team into the boardroom.  Natalie calls him chauvinistic and Leah backs that up, saying Zee had it in for her from the beginning of the task and seems to have a problem with strong women.

Zee tries to make it about Leah, saying she got the kandura wrong - but it was Neil who did that; why didn't Zee bring Neil back in?  Leah continues - two males on the team made errors that lost them the task, yet Zee brought the two women back in.  Hmm indeed.

Leah highlights her strengths thus far in "the process" (don't you love it when they say "the process"?).  She's sold, she's pitched, she's yada-yada-yada...  Shugs isn't impressed and asks her again why she didn't go with her gut instinct when she was at the mall.  She wishes she had.  Don't we all, Leah, don't we all?

Zee's an international property broker with a claimed by him turnover of half a million pounds.  Shugs then amuses us all by quoting from Zee's CV.  He's "not receptive to the authorities of others, or their criticism".  Zee's comfortable with that - unless the person's credible and has his respect, he doesn't listen to them.  Lord Sugar says that he comes across as arrogant.  Probably because it's really arrogant.

Zee looks up to Napoleon - but has Napoleon ever been fired from Phones 4u?  Zee was their top salesman, apparently (another thing Napoleon almost certainly wasn't).  But who should be fired?  Zee says Natalie.  Natalie says Zee.  Leah says Zee.

Lord Sugar rounds up:

Zee - puts himself forward as someone who knows it all.  He's not a man of modesty.  But Shugs admires what he's achieved.  He's got a good business.  And everybody has it in for him.

Leah - Shugs hopes that she hasn't used the personality thing against Zee on this task.  That would be...very unfortunate.

Natalie - two weeks ago, Shugs said he'd be keeping his eye on her.  He regrets that she's back in the boardroom.  But she has shown him some passion here today - and this is her very, very last chance.

But...Zee's idea of coming into business with him is trading internationally in real estate.  He's just demonstrated that he can't trade internationally.  He is to blame for the task, it was out of control.  Zee's fired.

And I, for one, won't miss him.  Or Napoleon.

Natalie and Leah leave the boardroom, Natalie in tears - and, unusually for the fake hugs and smiles that Apprentice candidates usually plaster on for these moments, totally ignore Zee on the way out.

Nick Hewer sums Zee up - a man whose mouth outran his abilities.

And then Zee, in the cab of shame, demonstrates that this is true - by saying that his name will go down in history.  He's just not sure for what.  Perhaps he could make a film, Carry On Bullshitting?

Next week - the teams are tasked with the ironic challenge of running a corporate team-building event.  And it looks as though Alex might just get his dressing-up wish, though not as a scarecrow this time.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The One With The Udderly Ridiculous Products (or The Apprentice Candidates Go Mad For Milkshakes)

Ooh, look, The Apprentice candidates' new logo!
This week, the girls need to put the Crappy Crate debacle behind them, as they fight for the chance to become Lord Sugar's business partner.

The call comes whilst the sparrows are still rubbing the sleep from their eyes and farting the national anthem, or whatever it is that sparrows do that early in the morning - I have no idea, I'm still asleep at that hour, like any normal slug-a-bed.

This time, Lord Sugar's called them to Surrey Docks.  Kurt doesn't know what's worse - being woken up, or being woken up by Luisa.  I can help him out with this - it's the latter, very much so.  The getting-ready banter includes speculating about whether the teams will be mixed up this week - with Luisa saying she doesn't want to work with Zee, because he's a bit full of bullshit and Zee neatly proving that instantly, by saying he could be the girls' "saviour".  Nobody agrees.

On their journey, the girls talk about how being in the bottom three makes you see "the bigger picture" - not entirely sure what the smaller picture is that's all you can see without a trip to the boardroom bollocking - but hey, let Uzma have her own moment of bullshit.  I suspect it won't be the last crap we'll see this week...

And, as if by some sort of blogger intuition style magical prophesying, the Apprentice hopefuls pitch up in a yard full of animal dung - they're at the farm, chaps!  It's almost like I watched to the very end of the last episode and saw the preview, isn't it?  Magic!

Shugs begins by introducing the concept of the "farm shop", saying that they're a successful new trend not just in London, but in New York and Tokyo too.  But the 13 remaining candidates aren't going anywhere but good ol' Blighty this time, as Lord Sugar has found them shops in perfect locations, for them to fill with unsaleable stock that only lunatics would purchase, doubtless.  Let's hope so, anyway.  Can I get me an early "bwahaha"?

But will he mix the teams up?  Yes, indeed, he will.  Natalie and Uzma move over to Team Endeavour (with a stern warning from Shugs that he's got his eye on them - ooh, I bet Team Endeavour are delighted to have them!).  And Myles, Jason and Jordan move over to Team Evolve.  And this mix-up means that there'll be a female in the winning team, for the first time this series!

So, will the teams manage to pick plum products, or will they end up with a bunch of Crackerjack (CRACKERJACK!) cabbages?  They're off to scour the Southeast for the best from farms all over the region.  Or, more likely, knowing The Apprentice candidates, to become fixated on one ludicrous thing and lose all sense of reason.  Or the limited sense of reason they began with, anyway.

Team Endeavour kick off with a welcome to the ladies and a rousing, "Let's make it four-nil!".  But the first job for the teams - picking their project managers.  Will they make a meal of it this time?  #hopefulface

Luisa volunteers for Team Evolve - she's got a shop, selling local produce, she deals with local farm shops.  Surely, following the pattern of the previous tasks, everyone will just nod and smile and they'll move on swiftly?

BUT WHAT'S THIS?!  Rebecca has an interest in farm produce (we all do, Rebecca, it's called "eating to stay alive").  Myles quizzes her thoroughly, asking her if she's produced anything herself (bit personal, Myles, frankly...).  No, she hasn't.  She doesn't think it's rocket science though.

Rebecca is snubbed, as the others recognise that having experience above and beyond "eating eggs and vegetables" is probably better value for the task that lies ahead.  But will Luisa keep that thing that's caused so many clashes on previous tasks in check for this one?  That's right - her personality.  Can she do it?  I kinda hope not #farmfireworks

She feels it's perfectly suited to her skillset though.  She has a cake shop, after all.

First on the list, what products will they stock?

Jordan favours buffalo meat.  This is the man who wanted the delicious-sounding nettle-flavoured beer on the brewery task - will he get his way this time?  He backs this desire up with the assertion that a van selling ostrich burgers used to visit his school every week and there were queues round the block for them.  People nod.  And agree the buffalo meat.

Jordan also suggests selling soup, so you have something high value and something low value.  Luisa says jacket potatoes and fruit.  So that's it, a buffalo meat, jacket potato, soup and fruit shop.  There's one on every street corner.

Team Endeavour have picked Neil Clough as PM.  He says himself he knows nothing about farming, but he's "a born leader", so he'll get good results.

They're almost decided on selling milk, when Alex the Vampire pipes up (I think he's antsy about selling milk - it's not red).  He says that people will have milk at home (well, yes, except those who've come out to get a pint of milk - think this through, Dracula!), and suggests cheese on toast, because vegetarians can eat it as well as meat-eaters.

Kurt, who is a health shake guru back on Merseyside, says that he makes amazing mark-up on fruit smoothies (sells for £3 what costs him 40p to make).  He guarantees the team top sales on milkshakes.  Uzma tries to say something further, but Neil shouts her down - he's the project manager, he's made the decision and he doesn't want to talk about it any more.  All right, Cloughy, blimey!  He makes the fair point that if they win the task, none of them gets fired, but it's dubious whether he's going to have much support for his approach if they find themselves back in the boardroom.

The teams begin the search for their farm-fresh produce, with Neil's team using a colossal map that they wrestle with in the back of their car as they try to decide whether they're looking for blackberries or blueberries.  And a mathematics moment as they attempt to work out how many potatoes are in a kilo (blank looks all round).  Will Apprentice candidates never learn that they're just pig ignorant?  Oh, hang on - difficult.

Comedy moment of the series so far - Alex suggests they go for costumes and offers to dress up as a scarecrow.  All together now... # If he only had a brain... #

Luisa and the rest of Team Evolve are at a buffalo farm and Luisa pronounces that she loves the smell of the farm.  The farmer is quick to point out that what she loves the smell of is silage.  Still, the smell of bullshit probably just reminds her of the fun time she's having in the Apprentice house - she's surrounded by it there, after all.

They snap photos of the buffalo, for their marketing tomorrow, and then it's off to work out what they're actually going to sell as they see the multitude of ways a buffalo can be sliced up and used.

As an aside - and whilst you're wondering how many ways you can munch a buffalo - did you know that "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" is a grammatically valid sentence?

And whilst you're pondering THAT bovine bombshell, it's on with the meat procurement.  Will they go for buffalo koftas?  Or fillet?  Fillet costs £28 and will retail at £45.  It's high cost, medium margin - and it attracts people.  Nick Hewer's impressed.  But they've got lots of money (£159) tied up in the meat - will their risk pay off?  There'll be beef in the boardroom if it doesn't!

The other team are endeavouring to work out how much milk they'll need in each shake - half of them head to a dairy farm and speak at Apprentice-typical awkward angles into mobile phones to the other half of the team, who are doing hard sums.  Well, sums.  But that's the same thing for Apprentice candidates.  Kurt and Zee disagree about the optimism of Kurt's shake selling ability - Kurt reckons 200 shakes, which is one every three minutes.  Count Alex of Transylvania (well, Cardiff) is unconvinced, but tries to baffle the lady at the dairy into selling masses of milk for fuck all - using the opening gambit that he's from Wales.  Will she be blindsided by his sparkling patter?  Unfortunately, he forgets how to use maths after this starting line, so can't go for the jugular with any sort of grace - he stumbles his way round adding one number to another, rolling his eyes heavenwards as if some sort of divine intervention might help him (a dangerous strategy, given the sizzling he'd do if holy water splashed his flesh).

The deal is shaken on at £40 for 100 litres of Jersey milk, but only if they bottle it themselves.  Oh, I am looking forward to this, aren't you?

Alex begins to milk the cow and makes a pretty decent fist of it.  Well, he is used to draining mortal creatures of liquid, I guess...  Natalie is horrified and terrified by the whole farm experience - she's "not an animal person".  This much is very clearly in evidence, as she declares that one of the milk-giving creatures on the dairy farm "a beautiful horse...no, not horse, dog...what's it called?".  Oh...dear.  Oh, dear indeed.  Udderly ridiculous.

Team Evolve's Jason, Myles and Francesca are vegetable buying - Jase has recognised that purchasing lots of vegetables means they can bulk out their shop content for a very low cost and they begin by buying a job lot of cabbages - do I hear me a Crackerjack? (CRACKERJACK!).  Oh, and beetroot, onions (or ungyuns, as Francesca calls them) and corn on the cob.

But Luisa chickens out of spending money - she only wants enough produce to make the shop look rural and rustic - she's not thinking of the veg as profit-making.  Nick Hewer winces his face inside-out as he listens to Luisa over-enunciate her way through her tortuous explanation of why.  So instead of the 200 corn on the cobs Francesca wants to buy, Luisa wants six, to dress the shop.  She asks them to "use a bit of logic" and "engage brain" and Francesca asks Myles and Jason if they can "see why they've lost tasks".  That's the team spirit, chaps!

At the other end of the scale, Neil gives Kurt's half of his team, who are out searching for fruit and veg, a budget of £100 for produce.  Kurt doesn't want it though - he says there's not much mark-up in it and they should focus on the milkshakes.

Francesca makes a bid for more cash from Luisa, saying they need £150 to dress the shop properly.  Luisa, Leah and Jordan are horrified - I think they thought the price of corn on the cob had suddenly rocketed - but Luisa finally says they can spend that much on the bundles of veg, so they do the deal.

Kurt's putting the brakes on buying anything at all - Karren hits the nail on the head when, rather cannily, she spots that it's because Kurt wants to go into business doing smoothies and fruit drinks with Lord Sugar, so wants this task to just be about that...but this task is a farm shop, not a milkshake bar - so will Kurt's penny-pinching on fruit and veg be the undoing of Endeavour?

Myles, Francesca and Jason are trying apple juice.  It's "amazing", apparently.  And "gorgeous".  They want to spend £25 more than the £52 they've been allocated for juice, but Luisa won't let them.  And, furthermore, she forbids them going anywhere else to buy anything else and sends them home.  Francesca isn't happy.  She thinks they haven't got enough stock.

Luisa thinks they've got enough stock and if they make loads of soup and sell each portion for £2.50, they'll be quids in.

Neil checks in with Kurt, who's underspent to the tune of £67 on his fruit and veg budget, meaning the shop's likely to look pretty bare.  Neil, Natalie and Alex end up whizzing round the farm shop just before they close, buying above wholesale price stock - they're not happy that Kurt's subteam have ballsed up.

Day Two

And the teams hit the road again, en route to their farm shops, for dressing and stocking and marking with B (if B stands for "Balls-up" anyway).  Natalie says she's never seen Uzma sell, says she always backs away from selling.  And, as always with Apprentice, it's been edited beautifully, and cuts to Uzma saying that you could put her anywhere, inside, outside, and she'd sell.  We'll be the judge of that, Uzma, me dear.

They're in Hackney, in Broadway Market.

Luisa's team have called their shop Buffalocal.  Do you see what they've done there?  Don't worry, "Buffalocal buffalocal Buffalocal buffalocal buffalocal buffalocal Buffalocal buffalocal" isn't a grammatically valid sentence - you can relax.  Which is more than Team Evolve can do, as they work out what their main selling points are - Luisa thinks it'll be the soup and jacket potatoes, as she sets Jason and Rebecca to work on peeling potatoes and chopping leeks and onions <pause for you to imagine how pleased Rebecca looks at this point>  Yes, well imagined - not bloody very.

Endeavour have called their shop Fruity Cow and have got a picture of Alex milking a cow on their poster.  How amoosing.  Kurt tries to defend not buying any bloody produce by saying they could've bought other things.  Well, yes, Kurt, yes, you could.  You fool.

Neil is pragmatic about it, though disappointed with his subteam's performance yesterday.  He's simply going to hold Kurt to his word that he can sell the 200 shakes he's promised, and make the team £600.

Buffalocal opens with a bang - almost literally, as Leah tells one of their first punters that the buffalo steaks (sorry, AWARD-WINNING buffalo steaks - as Jordan points out) are £20 for two.  Their customer, a lady with a keen nose for a bargain, seemingly, nearly faints clean away and leaves the shop as fast as her legs can carry her, gathering her small child to her as she does.  But Luisa says they're not dropping their prices just because one person has said they're too expensive.  My money's on it being a good bet to come back later for a bargain as they frantically try to ditch stock at the last minute #tapsnose

Back at Fruity Cow, Uzma's still dressing the shop.  They should have opened 45 minutes ago...and she's titting about with corn on the cob and straw.  She says it's really important to get it perfect.  But Karren's furrowed brow seems to be saying, "Perfection doesn't equal profit, young lady" - they need to get the bloody doors open!

Myles is trying to sell soup for Evolve, using the tried-and-tested Apprentice method of ambushing members of the public in the street whilst holding cups of soup.  Mmmm, appetising.  They need to shift loads of soup and jacket potatoes - but they can't give tasters away because the soup is, as they say among themselves...rank.  Yeah, good luck.

Over at Fruity Cow, business is booming, as the milkshakes fly out the door (well, not literally - it's a figure of speech.  Obviously).  And they're lovely, according to actual real-life customers.

Buffalocal are selling buffalo, at last!  One chap's just spent over £100, proving, Luisa and Jordan say, that quality sells.  They decide to make up some "really beautiful looking" tuna and baked bean jacket potatoes, to tempt more customers through the door.  I'll be fascinated to see a really beautiful tuna jacket potato made by an Apprentice candidate, won't you?

At Fruity Cow, they decide to go and buy some cartons of apple juice from a high street shop, so they can add their carrots and pears to it and make juice to go with their shakes.

Buffalocal haven't sold any jacket potatoes.  Jason and Rebecca are doing sterling work in the kitchen, but Jason's worried the salespeople will get all the credit for their hard work.  Unlikely, Jase, on present sales form, unlikely.

Leah comes out with two, as predicted, rather manky-looking jacket potatoes.  Myles says it's not going to be possible for him to sell them like that.  I spy buck-passing...

Alex is out yelling at passersby to buy his milk.  Well, not HIS milk (er, gross), the stuff he got from the cow.  Uzma feels embarrassed by this in-yer-face sales technique - and Neil has no idea what the point of her is.  If you find out, Neil, do tell us, won't you?

And what's this?  The soup and spuds start to sell!  Hurrah!  Maybe it's because it's lunchtime.  But Myles isn't impressed with Jason's lack of ability where putting soup in cups is concerned as he labours over putting a lid on.  Myles thinks Jason is "a trickless pony" - harsh, but, ultimately, given the appalling sales prowess and other talent voids he's shown on previous tasks, probably fair.  Jase continues  in the same vein, with an additional inability to fold a takeaway box with a potato closed - and Luisa says, incredulously, "I don't know how he goes about his everyday life".  Presumably, he has somebody to fold potato boxes together for him and put lids on his soup.  Clickety-boo.

Fruity Cow are selling milkshakes, but they've still got a fridge full of milk.  Neil decides, with an hour to go, that they'll start flogging the milk at cost price.  Have they done enough?  And, as I believe I predicted earlier, Buffalocal start dropping their prices through the floor too, in a final push for profit.  Has their focus on takeaway as their main profit-maker been their downfall?  Time will tell.

Boardroom Alert...

Team Evolve are in the spotlight first.  Lord Sugar asks them why buffalo, did they have any... #weakpunalert ..cowboys in their team?  Jordan asks Shugs if he's ever tried buffalo, which he hasn't, and cheekily oversteps the mark when he says, "Well, maybe you should".  Goes down like a lead balloon (WHY does that mean it goes down badly?  SURELY a lead balloon would go down a treat, being, like, heavy?) and Jordan hangs his head with shame, AND SO HE SHOULD.

Lord Sugar queries whether leek and potato soup and jacket potatoes were a good idea - and is horrified that their massively ambitious targets (150 jacket potatoes) weren't anything like reached (actually sold about 20).  But they changed their strategy from the limited lunchtime products to selling the potatoes raw, once they realised their massive error - did they realise in time and was it enough?

Did Luisa send them out to get a few bits to dress the shop, or to buy produce?  Hmm, incisive, Shugs, very good.  It's almost like you had Nick Hewer there the whole time, reporting back to you.

Was Luisa a good project manager?  Jason says no - there were "flaws all the way through".  And Myles says they had "no real budget, no direction at all".

Team Endeavour - Lord Sugar's pleased that Neil was project manager, rather than being the back-seat driver he's been up till now.  Shugs asks how the milkshakes came about and Neil's quick to give Kurt what will either be the credit or the blame, depending what happens when they drill down into the financials #Dragons'Den

Zee wasn't sure about the milkshake quantities - and Lord Sugar is quick to pick up on Kurt's point that he'd make £500 profit on the milkshakes (wasn't it £600 earlier?) - by saying, "Only if you sell 'em".  Quite.  Thud.

Was Neil a good leader?  Karren's told Shugs that Neil was quite dictatorial - she softens it with "direct".  Is Neil any relation to Cloughy?  Nope.  Was Neil a good PM?  All but Kurt say yes - Kurt quibbled over the budget and the direction set by Neil early on (what, was that the wholly unreasonable "buy some stock, please" thing?).

And now for the figures:

Team Endeavour

Total sales on the day: £1,097.82.

Total spent: £558.15.

Profit: £539.67.

Team Evolve

Total sales on the day: £1,249.52.

Total spent: £618.

Profit: £631.52.

So, Evolve have it.  And Jordan goes over the top with his celebration, practically pulling his shirt over his head and running round bare-chested.  Once again, he attracts a withering scorn from Lord Sugar, who reminds him that this isn't a football match.  Whoops.

There's £91 difference.  Luisa says, somewhat smugly, that she wasn't so bad after all.  Shugs cuts her back down to size by reminding her that if she'd relied on the takeaway products, she'd have come unstuck.

Their prize is a trip to The Tramshed, and a four-course meal using top quality British produce.

And Luisa, Francesca, Leah and Rebecca become the first four females to win a task this series.  Hurrah!

Over to the bollocking for Team Endeavour...  If they'd sold 200 milkshakes, they'd have won.  But they only sold 113.  I suspect Kurt may get brought back into the boardroom, don't you?

But for the moment, we're at The Tramshed with the winners, as we watch Luisa learning to take grouse off the bone from the chef.  And, to camera, away from the rest of the group, she's having a grouse about Myles, who said she had no control over the team when they were in the boardroom.  I suspect she's rewriting history underneath that scruffy mop of hair of hers - brush it, ffs!

They all clink their glasses to the first Evolve team win...and we're back to the sombre piano and mournful looks of the greasy spoon cafe.  Did they make the right choices at the beginning?  Were they too milkshake-focused?  Kurt says Neil needs to take responsibility for the failure of the task (I suspect Neil would tell him to pull the udder one, had he heard, but it was to camera, away from the group - still, I suspect it'll come up in the boardroom).

Back in the boardroom...

Milkshakes took over the focus of the task, didn't they?  Neil defends his choice, saying he'd be silly to overlook the expertise he had in his team.  But why didn't Neil spot the cock-up halfway through?  Why didn't he change the plan?  Well, they did - they decided to diversify into juices with carrot, apple and pear juice.  But Shugs asks the killer question - where did they get the apple juice?  It's almost like he had Karren Brady taking notes from him the whole way through...  Where indeed?  Why, it was that well known farm shop which sells fresh produce - that's right, Costcutter!  Shugs isn't impressed.

And, whilst the milkshakes and juices made over half the profit of the task for the team, the £270-off profit they did make was nothing like the £600 (or £650, or the £500 he's now claiming) Kurt said it would at the beginning.

But can Neil blame the whole failure of the task on Kurt?  Well, it seems he doesn't want to, as he says they could have done the whole job, just the same or better, without Uzma.  Eek.

And then it all begins to come out as Neil begins his sorry tale of "once upon a time, in a farm shop far away, because Kurt's team hadn't bought any produce wholesale, I had to buy at retail prices".

Then lots of yelling happens, and Neil blames Kurt for the failure of the task, but neatly makes the magnanimous gesture of taking some of the blame himself, which will either impress or rile Shugs.  Who's Neil bringing back into the boardroom?  My money's on Kurt and Uzma.

And...it's Kurt and Uzma.  I might just be a genius.

But, first, the chat with Karren and Nick...a brief one this week.

Third time back in the bottom three for Uzma - will she be for the chop, or did the milkshake fiasco put paid to Kurt?

So, why's Uzma back in the boardroom?  It's no surprise to Neil that she's been in the boardroom three times, he thought she was the weakest link on the team for this task.  Instead of rising to the criticism and defending herself, Uzma "welcomes it".

What is it about Uzma that alienates people?  Why do people think she doesn't contribute?  Shugs is baffled.  Uzma thinks it's because it's the easy way out, to make her the scapegoat (ha, farm task #weakpun!), which Neil disputes - he says the easy way out would have been to bring Natalie in too, after last week's task - but Natalie worked really hard on this task.

Neil then reverts to form, having been surprisingly near-likeable in this task - and says he's been the best candidate in the last three tasks and more over-the-top rubbish and Shugs begins to smell silage...saying there's a fine line between confidence and being a bit cocky (he's doing the bad farm puns himself now - watch it, Shugs, that's my job).  Neil says he may be outspoken, but he delivers results.  Has he redeemed himself?

Lord Sugar says Kurt put a noose around his neck by putting a figure of 200 shakes as a target.  And then didn't sell them.  So should he be fired?  No, because he didn't stand in the background, he put his neck on the line (all this talk of necks - good job Alex isn't around, he'd be getting peckish).  So, who should be fired?  Will he gun for Neil?  No - he goes for Uzma.

Neil tries to hedge his bets and says for the failure of the task, Kurt should be fired, but as the weakest candidate, Uzma should, which Lord Sugar doesn't like - (is Neil trying to do Shugs' job for him?) - so he plumps for Kurt.

Lord Sugar's final summation

If Kurt was trying to prove his business idea with this task, he's failed.

Uzma's been in the bottom three more than once - she doesn't contribute.  Nick and Karren support some of that.

Neil took the helm here, but got browbeaten.  Putting the blame solely on Kurt is unfair.  Will he be fired?  It almost seems like it, but Neil's given a reprieve when Shugs says there's not much room for mistake.

But his intuitive feeling is that if Kurt wants him to believe in his business model, he's got to stop spouting his mouth off about how many he can sell...however, there's no smoke without fire and fired it is for Uzma.

And I, for one, won't miss her.  "Like, wow."

Uzma gets the cab of despair home, saying she'll make millions from her business idea.  Course you will, dear, course you will.  Just like all the others we've seen in that cab - er, there was...  Oh, hang on - what was his name?  And that other one - name escapes me.  Yes, just like them.

Back at the house - all the talk is of Kurt and Neil's mistakes - as Kurt and Neil walk through the door.  And it's all cheers and smiles.  Ha!  Like we believe that!

And, perhaps, just perhaps, we could have a small moment where we lament the lack of Alex dressed as a scarecrow in this task - what a loss to society that was.

Next time on The Apprentice...

They are in Dubai to find items for a hotel.  Will they buy cabbages again, or will it be luxury all the way?

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Apprentice Flat-pack Frenzy (or The One With The Box On Wheels And The Folding Chair)

Think inside the box. Grey sky thinking. Nice.
Week three and we start this episode with a 6pm call.  The candidates, who've had a day off (WHAT?!) are all lounging around, painting their toenails.  Well, Jordan is having his toenails painted.  I'm sure that'll impress Shugs.  Actually, if Jordan wins, we'll know what tipped it, eh?  #tapsnose

Natalie takes the call, and is so excited that they're going to Islington (maybe she thinks that's Islington, Paris) that she hangs up with an excited squeak, rather than any kind of telephone etiquette.  The Design Building it is.  Much getting ready footage, including over-enthusiastic "game on" type talk and a boy bottom in a thong (yes, really), then the lucky cat in the hall waves them off to face their next task.

They all stand in the lobby, whilst Lord Sugar, Karren Brady and Nick Hewer loom over them from a balcony above.  The Design Building is home to the Design Council - and this week's task is to design a piece of flat-pack furniture, to retail at £75.  Since Apprentice candidates are usually incredibly practical, clear-thinking and design focused, this should be a doddle.  What's that?  I can hear the bwahahaha from here!

Lord Sugar sends the teams off with a "Fgs, girls, don't bloody lose again, you useless shower of twats" (I paraphrase) and it's on to choose their team leaders.

Natalie puts herself up for Team Evolve project manager.  Her business idea is focused around designing and manufacturing garments, so that's just like a piece of furniture, isn't it?  I wear wardrobes, bookcases and futons most days.  So, fabulous idea, I'm sure she'll do a sterling job of making a hammock out of knickerbockers or something.

Over to the boys and Jordan's in charge.  They really don't make much of a meal of who's being PM this year, do they?  Kurt, the long-haired health drink guru from Liverpool, has come up with a frankly revolting idea for a chair that doubles as a recycling bin.  Nick Hewer leaves the brainstorm to retch and generally spew bile in the direction of Kurt's suggestion, and then staggers back into the brainstorm, wiping traces of vomit from his lips.

There, he discovers Alex being told to "keep it brief" by Jordan.  Alex the Vampire has designed a flat-pack coffin... Oh, no, hang on, it's a chair that turns into a table with the nifty removal of a pin.  Interesting, that his idea quite literally hinges on what is basically a metal stake...

The boys don't come up with anything better, so it's the folding coffin - sorry, chair - for Endeavour.

The girls, meanwhile, have had Francesca pitching the idea of a cube which flips over to reveal a different function per side (laptop table, seat, er...table).  They all wet themselves with delight about how glorious an idea it is, then Leah starts suggesting that it could have an ice bucket, a bit to rest your drink in, a wine rack (she's a doctor, chaps) - and then it all goes mental, with them suggesting fondue sets, hedgehog rescue centres and helipads on various sides of the cube.

Karren sums it up when she says that there are a lot of talkers on this team and not many listeners.  Perhaps this is best evidenced when Rebecca is ignored totally, about 15 times, whilst Natalie stands next to a flipchart with "CLEVER CUBE" written at the top of the page.  Just writing it doesn't make it so, ladies, heaven help me, I should know that!

Alex calls the chair the "Foldo".  I think this may be his vampire poker name - Count Foldo.  Let's see how they get on when they take it to market research.

Sophie's done a lot of market research for her dissertation, so she's GOT to go and do market research.  Rebecca doesn't like the cube concept.  But she's sent off with Sophie anyway.  Francesca is also doing the market research and she doesn't think much of the cube either.  Er, wasn't it her idea?!  And - surprisingly, given their relentless positivity - in the first shop they go into, the chaps running it aren't keen on a cube - they'd prefer a desk-height table, otherwise you're hunched over when using it.  And they call the cube a "boring shape".

They ring Natalie, Leah, Luisa and Uzma to report back.  Gleefully.  As ever, the design team totally ignore the market research and plough on regardless.  Luisa does her best "Nikki from Big Brother" impression, saying, "A table!  Why wouldn't they just buy...a table?".  Leah looks generally pissed off, but maybe that's just her face at rest, who knows.

Jordan says the idea was very much Alex's concept, as he unveils it to the designers.  Jason looks on, whilst trying to rub his hair into a point, it seems.  He's worried about something - I wonder if he'll dare to speak after being called a stupid shit last week?  My money's on "of course he bloody will".

Myles is out with Zee and Kurt gathering valuable market research insight from the man on the street.  The men on the street are "not convinced about it".  They'd be "puzzled and troubled about it" and would "stand in their sitting room, crying".  The Foldo Chair, sit, fold and hold - there's a memorable strapline, chaps - yes, well done.

Meanwhile, the girls have designed a box with a lid.  The market research team are baffled by the whole concept, which always impresses Shugs - be sure to remember to all argue over who was responsible for the total failure of the task in the boardroom, won't you?

Jason speaks, as I predicted, to express how against upholstering the chair he is.  It's too complicated, it adds cost.  Everyone ignores him, but the boys decide to go with the market research and pad the chair (I think Alex just likes a cushioned satin-lined finish, preferably red).

Myles, Zee and Kurt visit an upholstery shop (much to Jason's horror, I'm sure), and Myles calls Zee the "king of bling".

The girls are designing their loathed-by-half-the-team cube.  Clever.  They suggest a tool-less solution, with the cube slotting together neatly.  They're brought back to the earth with a bump by their designer, who says it needs to overlap to slot together.  Well, OBVIOUSLY.  I think they may be the tools in their solution, don't you?  The beautiful curved form that Natalie had envisaged will apparently not be held together by unicorn wishes and magical butterfly kisses, it'll need sticky-out wood and stuff, which she dismisses as "too like a trolley".  Shame, she could get back on it, rather than try to come up with a storage-cum-chair-cum-table (no sniggering, go and learn bloody Latin, you plebs).  Anyway, with all this flipping you'd need to do, you could hardly store anything in it of any great import - it'd be scrambled egg by the time you'd used your laptop for a bit, eaten your dinner, sat down.  No use for storing your fine china or best biscuits.

Karren's unimpressed.  These girls all say they can manufacture, they can design - but there's no evidence of it yet.  Uzma seems to agree, saying they can't just produce a box with a lid, it needs to be "like, wow".  A bold design vision if ever I heard one.  Like, wow.

The boys all sit on a chair to see how tall a chair needs to be, in order to be a chair.  Good plan.  Alex is delighted to be in charge of seeing the design of his idea through - ahh, a happy little vampire, he was flapping his cape and clapping his lily-white hands with joy!

Jason's input, having not liked the cushioning of the chair, was to implore the rest of the team not to forget that women are smaller than men.  Again, his team-mates are dismissive, saying they're talking about single centimetres here.  C'mon, boys, any woman will tell you that that can make all the difference...  Also, Jason, what woman's going to sit on an un-upholstered chair?  FOOL!

Nick Hewer's worried.  His eyebrows are positively crumpled with distress.  Alex is pushing the boys so hard that they're making mistakes.  Nick's come up with a clever little soundbite, especially for Twitter - "Will this end up like a camel, which is, of course, a horse designed by a committee?".  Well done, Mr Hewer, well done.

The girls are trying to make their box with a lid less like a box with a lid.  Uzma's decided to put lines on the side, which they all like.  And they decide to buy a cushion to stick on the top.  And paint it all grey.  That'll make it less like a box with a lid, DEFINITELY.

The Evolve market research team are shopping for bits and pieces when they're phoned by the design team to ask them to get a cushion.  They're unimpressed, with Sophie asking why they're ignoring the market research so comprehensively.  Are they just listening to Luisa?

Francesca suggests they find a suitable cushion to Velcro to the lid.  They're in a DIY store, with 45 minutes left on the task, looking for a 35x35 cushion for the clever cube which is so brainy, it's changed design totally.

Now they're all on their way back to the house, with the boys all leaving the design studio through a small yellow door they have to climb through very awkwardly.  Irony and design, meeting in a glorious union of banged heads and cricked knees.  Marvellous.

At 8am the next day, their products arrive.  The boys are awed by their chair, which doesn't collapse when Alex sits on it - bonus!  The cushion isn't attached to the girls' cube, now called "Tidy Sidey" (catchy...like the plague) - the designers had left a note which said it wouldn't fit, but I think, reading between the lines, they meant something that rhymed with "wouldn't fit" - "it looked shit".  Because it did.

Sophie hates the product.  She wouldn't have it in her living room, she wouldn't pay £75 for it.  So, a roaring success.  Rebecca watches them try to sort a cushion out by pulling lots of the filling out.

Jason very poshly, demonstrates how the chair folds together, saying, "That goes clickety-boo, like that, clickety-boo".  The British public, as one, all sigh, "Ahh, what a total bell-end".

Uzma and Luisa have a ruck over the cushion, which isn't a way of saying that they added some embroidered detail - they really don't see eye to eye, do they?  In loud trilling voices, they all say positive things about the cube thing that is basically a box with a lid, without ever once saying "Oh, dear GOD, we've designed a box with a lid".  Karren doesn't like it.  And she doesn't like that the girls don't like it, however much they trill.  Can good come of this?  They'll have to do a bloody good job of their pitch, for this box on wheels.

They boys are arguing over who's going to pitch.  They're going to be doing a mix of pitching to big retailers and trogging round smaller shops.

On their way north in the back of the car, Neil moots the idea of the "sales orgasm" to Alex, who blushes.  Oh, no, hang on, that's just the blood of some young virgin still round his chops - must have had a crafty snack en route.  Anyway, the sales orgasm is the idea that you get them to say "yes" three times during your pitch and it shows they like your product.  That definitely sounds like some excellent sex there, Neil, well done you.

Zee's first to pitch to a shop.

He begins with saying they've identified a problem, and built a solution.  Well, sort of, Zee - wasn't it more that Lord Sugar told you to win this task?  But OK, crack on.  The man in the shop says they've made it too high (Jason turns into the Cheshire Cat at this point).  The woman in the shop says it's an interesting concept, but the current design is difficult for us.  You SEE, Zee, those couple of centimetres do matter!

The shop don't buy.  They let the rest of the team know, who aren't impressed with Zee's sales "ability".

Leah's excited to be in the shop, pitching to two chaps in dark shiny shirts.  They don't look as excited, to be perfectly honest, to be pitched at.  They like the function of the box on wheels, but not the design - Leah helpfully suggests it could go in another part of the house, but the reply of "one you couldn't see" is maybe not what she was hoping for.  The lines on the side - that el neato design touch from the Wizard of Zhuzh, Uzma - make it look like a garden planter.  Thud.

The overall feedback - the product isn't good or glossy enough.  And it's fucking grey.

Happily, the teams now head to Argos.

Luisa, Natalie and Sophie are pitching to the Argos team.  Luisa is the main voice of the pitch, demonstrating the quality of the wood, how it slots together, that there's storage in it, and not once mentioning that it's a box on wheels.

Unfortunately for them, the Argos team are pretty astute and one of their first questions is "isn't it just a box on wheels?".  Good call, Argos team.

Luisa really believes that this product will be a good fit for Argos and the pitch was rather convincing - the Argos team seem to like the storage it offers.  Maybe, just maybe...  Where's that unicorn when you need it?

And now the boys, with their Foldo.  Kurt, Dracula and Myles are pitching.  Alex spends much of the beginning of the pitch with his arse facing the Argos team, as he screws the chair...together.  I did wonder whether he'd taken the "sales orgasm" direction too literally for a moment.

The Argos team say "It's a bit high".  Jason was right, wasn't he?  Shouldn't they have shaved  a bit off the bottom of each leg before their next pitch?  Tsk.

Nick Hewer is horrified, his eyebrows doing their revolted beetling thing again - this time it's by Alex presenting his rather wide backside to the Argos buying team for the first part of the pitch as he put the chair together.  

Jordan then pitches to a shop in London, and gets an agreement to start with a trial order for 200 units.  Nice.

Francesca's turn to pitch - and she sells four to her first shop.  And then she's on a roll.  She actually starts pitching it as a box on wheels (AT LAST!).  The next shop take 20.  She's now only 176 behind Jordan's first sale...  Another 50 in the next shop - GAWD, this is tortuous, ladies!

The second big trade pitch is to John Lewis and it's Rebecca to front it.  The John Lewis team are - well, I think the word is "meh".

But wait till they see FOLDO and Myles decides to say they're pitching it to 16 to 40 year olds.  Yes, Myles, lots of 16-year-olds have £75 to spend on a folding high chair.  Of course they do.  Good LORD, man, have you not heard of Diamond White?

Jason's turn to pitch to a shop and he goes for a sky-high punt when he asks them to buy two...or maybe three...  Don't give yourself a fucking hernia, optimism man!

Zee's back on the pitching wagon again and Jordan asks him not to get "two ducks in a row".

But the woman in the shop doesn't think it's for her target market.  She thinks it's more "your British Home Stores".  Jordan wants Kurt to do the next pitch, despite Zee's protests, and he sells 12.

Leah rounds off the day by selling 100, bringing their total to 174.  They have an excited hug to finish the task (not like that, Neil).


Smug looks are exchanged between the teams as they wait for Shugs.

Their products are on a table, for Lord Sugar to look at.  He quickly appraises them and asks the girls what they did.  He likes the no-screw assembly concept - probably because Hewer's told him of Alex's arse fiasco during the screwing-in at their Argos pitch.

But did the girls like their product?  Rebecca and Leah say not a lot.  The girls say that Natalie was a wonderful project manager and Natalie says she had a great team.  Shall we hope that this love-fest doesn't continue if they find themselves back in the boardroom later?  I don't think we need to hope - it never has yet!

Lord Sugar points out that he's a short bloke (he is, I've seen him and let's just say if he's small on telly, he's TINY when you see him in 3D real life with your actual eyes) and he's not sure he'd fit on the chair.  Nick Hewer says it looks like an electric chair (not really a surprise, given that it was designed by the Lord of Darkness himself, is it?  Alex has the grace to look shifty at this point).

Lord Sugar asks both project managers why they chose not to pitch to the big retailers.  Were they scared?  They both come up with some fluff-arsed no-answers made of bullshit and glitter which don't impress him much.  And Myles takes a bit of a knocking for trying to sell his chair to children.

Team Evolve:
174 units - shops
No orders - John Lewis

Team Endeavour:
216 units - shops
500 units - John Lewis (subject to a few tweaks - probably a couple of inches off the legs, eh?)

And now, the clincher, Argos...

Team Endeavour:
2,500 units

Team Evolve:
They really liked the pitch.  And they really liked the team.

But they hated the product and didn't place any orders.

So, Endeavour win the task with 3,216 units sold, to Evolve's 174.  And the boys are off to the O2, to walk across the top and take in the panoramic views of London.

Lord Sugar also gives Alex some kind words to take away with him - Foldo is one of the best products he's seen in all the years in the boardroom.  Very, very good indeed.

Back to the morose minnies, who've failed again.  Their product sucked, however good their pitch - like going into war with a peashooter, says Shugs.

The boys head down the river to the O2, spending some time ripping the piss out of the girls for trying to sell a box on wheels, then don blue boiler suits to protect themselves from, er, climbing up a bouncy slope or something, as they head up the O2 (do you remember when it was called the Millennium Dome and was the least cool place in the world?  Wow, amazing to think that remembering that will one day make me old.  Whaddya mean, it just about does now?  Crikey!  Oh, hang on, that was the Diamond White reference earlier, wasn't it?  #shouldasaidHooch).

The girls, meanwhile, are in the greasy spoon, not passing the buck in loud voices, whilst passing the buck.  I think you understand, having seen this programme a couple of times before, how that goes.  Luisa says (to camera, away from the main group) that Sophie is the weakest link.  But Sophie defends herself (again, to camera, by herself), saying that this task wasn't anything she does - she doesn't design, manufacture, sell or pitch.  What the fuck she does do is anyone's guess.

And they're back to the boardroom...

Lord Sugar doesn't hold back.  The Tidy-Sidey, the Wishy-Washy, the Poxy-Boxy - that's what it is.  He asks how the idea came about - wasn't it Francesca's idea?  She steps away from the Crappy-Crate asap, saying she suggested a cube with multi-functional sides.

A debate about the colour, the criss-crossed sides and Uzma's ability to pass the buck ensues, with Natalie and Luisa claiming all the credit for the interlocking system, as soon as it transpires that Shugs is seemingly quite keen on that feature of it.  Uzma, once again, says that she said it should have "wow factor" - and it does, I guess, it's just a shame it's "wow(!) factor".

If Rebecca didn't like the idea, and Leah didn't like the idea, why weren't they strong team members and why didn't they shut the idea down straight away?  Leah says they didn't have anything better.  Thud.  Again.

Karren puts her finger on it when she says that Natalie tried to amalgamate everyone's ideas into one cube - seat, storage, laptop, amphibious landing craft, etc.

Sophie's moment in the sun when Shugs asks what came out of the market research - after all, she did do her dissertation on it.  Unfortunately, Sophie comes unstuck when she says the design needed to be "functional", when Lord Sugar says he supposes it's on wheels, so he can wheel it out to the skip to throw away.

Natalie decides to bring Sophie and Uzma back to the boardroom, and Lord Sugar sends the rest of the girls away with a flea in their ear, saying they should be embarrassed to be in the boardroom for a third time.  Well, they should, downright ashamed of themselves, the underachieving little stoats.

Lord Sugar, Karren and Nick have a quick conflab, during which they decide that Natalie hasn't done a good job of project managing a design and manufacturing task, given that she wants to go into business with a design and manufacturing idea.  And Sophie - Nick Hewer had high hopes of her, but nobody knows who she is.  Uzma - she has had problems with the girls on the last few tasks (er, all of them then?) - cue Carry On-esque moment when Shugs says, "You know what women are like" to Karren Brady.  I suspect she gave him a wedgie for that.

The three girls come back to the boardroom.

The design task was one where they're meant to think outside the box.  And all they thought of was "a bloody box".  What the actual fuck was Natalie thinking exactly?  And why has she brought Sophie and Uzma back?  I have my own theory - Natalie wants to be the only grey-purple eyeshadow wearer in the village, and Sophie and Uzma do it better than she does - but that's just me being relentlessly shallow, so we'll move on to actual reasons that don't involve woad.

Apparently, ironically, it's because they shy away from responsibility.  Sez the woman who didn't go on the main pitches to the retailers and is now saying it wasn't her fault the task failed, despite project managing it.  Hokayyyy...

Lord Sugar takes Uzma through her CV (always a pleasing ramble through the turgid witterings of an over-ambitious prick, as we know).  She's basically responsible for all that's right with the world - and the clincher - she keeps on top of current design.  Not if the grey cross-hatched garden bin is anything to go by...

A robust debate is had by Natalie and Uzma, with the choice phrase (I hesitate to reproduce it here - I can't abide bad language), "That's a whole load of crap" uttered - in the boardroom, ladies, honestly!  Have some fucking respect!

Natalie hits the nail on the head (or, rather, assembles the point neatly, using slotting, without the help of tools), when she says that Uzma is afraid of putting forward a design that's fully her own, in case it goes wrong; she doesn't have to take responsibility then.

Uzma says she's in the business of looking good - and Shugs offers her a shovel, to keep digging, cos "that don't look good" - gesturing towards the Dalek storage unit.  He's not wrong.

Sophie doesn't think she's responsible for the failure of the task.  Of course she doesn't.  She doesn't pitch, sell, yada yada - she doesn't do anything, so how could she be responsible for anything happening?  I think that's what she said anyway - I got bored.

Lord Sugar wraps up:

Natalie - you claim that you managed well.  You didn't.

Uzma - you seem never to be responsible for anything.  Never your fault.  As a design person, you should have been better at this.

Sophie - market research is a way of not being responsible for selling, designing, manufacturing - you're hiding.

But...Natalie...this was an unforgivable disaster.

However, his gut feeling...Sophie, you're fired.

And, I, for one - won't remember her in about three seconds' time.

Soph...who?  See?

Shugs finishes off with a weak pun - my favourite.  He says it may not be fair, but the only fair that happens when his £250,000 is up for grabs is the cab "fare" home!  BOOM-BOOM!

13 candidates...and next time, their task is to open a farm shop.  How very a-moo-sing!  Will they make a pig's ear of it?  Will they chicken out of project managing, kid around, shout themselves "horse" and end up looking sheepish in the baadroom as they duck responsibility?  Oh, I do hope sow.