Monday, 8 June 2009

Life's like a box of chocolates

Well, they saved the best to, thankfully, a not-very-entertaining series of The Apprentice ended on a high.
And not only was it the last episode; it was also the final glimpse of so many much-loved aspects of the show.
No more Margaret. No more Sr'Alan (he'll be Lord Sugar...will they remember to call him that in the boardroom?) No more classic James one-liners. And no more montages of Philip dancing. Thank the Lord.
The final task was based on chocolates, designing and selling.
"I've invited some of the key people from chocolates to your presentations," said Sr'Alan. You could tell James was dying to ask if Willy Wonka would be among them.
Then past candidates returned to be put into either Team Yasmina or Team Kate.
The big question was, would Team Kate pick boyfriend Philip? In the end, Team Kate did not. She allowed Philip, Philip's invaluable advice and Philip's dancing ability to leap off to Team Yasmina where he spent much of her time muttering about how people still don't get Pantsman.
"People don’t get it at the time. They will eventually." We await the day.
Yasmina set him to work choreographing a "nice and snappeee" dance routine while everyone else got on with the much more trivial stuff, such as actually inventing the chocolates. After some wrangling about a "chocolates for men" campaign, which all the men interviewed said they wouldn't buy, Yasmina dreamed up the name Cocoa Electric...the idea being electrifying chocolates...and a box with a zig of lightening on it.
"It lukes like a crarkurr," Lorraine blarneyed, still in her mysteriously acquired Irish accent.
Over on Team Kate, Ben was proving equally helpful. His little mind was rattling around chocolates and threesomes, not to mention somehow using the number 69 as a selling point.
"Ben, there's no way in the world..." Kate said.
She did, however, let him talk her into using the brand-name Intimate...until the rest of the team caught wind of it.
"Frankly it sounds more like something to do with feminine freshness rather than chocolates," said Nick.
"It looks like it's a box of Tampax," said Debra.
"Something you'd find in vending machines in gents' loos," was Sr'Alan's reaction.
The name was swiftly changed to Choc D'Amour and Kate stepped in to oversee the transformation of their ad campaign. Until this point we haven't been big Kate fans but she seemed the deserving winner. Ominously, though, the deserving winner never actually wins The Apprentice.
Meanwhile, Yasmina was back to her Week Two strategy of sprinkling basil on everything and hoping for the best. During the filming of her ad, even the poor actors were begging: "Can we spit it out?" as they tried Yasmina's "electrifying" strawberry and basil chocolate.
Come the presentations Kate, again, outclassed Yasmina's sergeant major style.
"IT'S SEXY! IT'S FUN!" Yasmina barked at her crowd, before trying to whoop up a bit of atmosphere. "Orange and coriander. What do you have?"
"An ingestive nightmare?" we wondered.
Nevertheless, come the boardroom bit, Sr'Alan's hiring finger pointed at Yasmina. Even though her chocolates were inedible, Sr'Alan wasn't bothered about the taste. The price was right. Poor old Kate was left feeling as robbed as someone who'd forked out a fiver for a box of orange and coriander chocolates. It's not as bad as the Dewberry versus Badger travesty of 2007, but it's still not an inspiring decision.
Anyway, after 12 weeks of crazy, blood-shedding rivalries, it's Yasmina off to work in Sr'Alan's digital signage department. What a fantastic prize! We give her six months.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Apprentice - the final five

Apart from Shopping Channel Task and Annual Advertising Balls-Up, Interview Week has to be one of our favourite Apprentice episodes.
Just think of the great moments it’s produced in past seasons: Pterodactyl Lee and his c.v. truth-economising, Posh Boy Simon fielding complaints from his tenants. And those two went on to win the thing!
All the familiar faces on the Sr’Alan’s interview panel of “trusted associates” were back with one exception – bristling-chopped Cockney geezer who has maybe been scared off by Claire’s attempts to flirt with him last year. We missed him. The bloke they got in instead wasn’t half as cutting.
Regardless, we were all poised to see Perfect Kate squirm and stutter or Shouty Deb-rah get frogmarched out by a couple of coppers for threatening behaviour. Sadly, none of the above took place. Perfect Kate rattled off perfect answer after answer in deadpan Brummie. Debra managed to rein in her scarier tendencies.
In fact, the biggest casualty of Interview Week was the one we always suspected was going to come a cropper at this stage – poor old James.
Every time there was a short silence and somebody said something like: “James – why should Sr’Alan hire you?”
He proceeded to drop clanger after clanger, with statements like: “I want him to be like Willy Wonka” or, to the man himself, “Sr’Alan - you and I could be a good match” or "You don't need to reinvent the wheel with me... just fix a few spokes."
By the end, viewers were on the edge of their seats shouting: “JUST! DON’T! SAY! ANYTHING!”
James’ one aim was to get through the programme without Sr’Alan kicking him “so hard up the a**e I’ve got his toes for teeth”. Sadly, it didn’t happen. James was fired.
Also fired was Lorraine, who mysteriously lapsed into Irish during her interviews, then back to West London the minute she left the room. Twirly-haired Karen Brady tried to make a big deal about Lorraine lying on her c.v. because the dates were a year out on one of her jobs but, to be honest, it didn’t have the same impact of somebody trying to make a whole education for themselves, like Lee did. Anyway, even though Lorraine had had a hard life Sr’Alan didn’t want to hear her “blathering on” about it – and neither did we, if we’re honest. Yer fiyud!
So that left it between Debra – who had spent the episode being weirdly touchy-feely, even CRYING when James got the chop – Yasmina and Perfect Kate. Yasmina had messed up her interview a bit because she didn’t seem to know how much profit her business made – or indeed, what profit was – but squeaked through. Perfect Kate was in the final, of course, although Sr’Alan told her he thought she was robotic (“I’m not robotic” said Kate, robotically) and very serious (“I’m not serious,” she said, trying to prove it with a giggle).
So that meant it was Slab-Faced Debra who was fired.

Which leaves us with probably the dullest final line-up in the history of the show. We can’t help thinking what it needs – what it really needs – is a pterodactyl impression.