This morning the alarm radio went off as normal, and I'm lying there listening to the news, and then, suddenly, the announcer says 'And last night Howard Ebison's Apprentice dream came to an abrupt end when he became the latest candidate to be fired by Sir Alan' (oh, yeah, spoiler warning for this post, by the way). And I thought 'Damn. That's that ruined' (and since when did Citybeat start announcing what happened in The Apprentice?). Anyway, it's still interesting to watch when you already know what's going to happen, and in any case it's not like I had anything better to do.
We haven't yet discussed last week's visit to the Baby Show, in which James displayed a worryingly so-near-and-yet-so-far understanding of childbirth, and Debra bludgeoned the rest of the team into trying to sell a £1000+ rocking horse, all of which led to a not very interesting episode, but one which proved its worth by getting shot of Ben.
This week, however, proved much more lucrative, as the candidates were packed off to flog tat on a shopping channel. To summarise who's left and the teams and so on: on one team, we have Howard, Kate and Lorraine; on the other we have Yasmina, Debra and James. Also, we have reached that point that you always get to in things like this, at which none of the girls can safely be left together unsupervised without an almighty bitch-fight breaking out, and so we know we are guaranteed a good night's entertainment.
Step 1 is picking what they are going to sell, and we are subjected to the biggest pile of glorious guff outside of my grandparents' attic. My personal favourite was the robot dinosaur, but the teams neglected this (on the reasonable basis that it costs a miniature fortune) and instead, between them, went for the following: a scarf/snood/fleecy thing, a chip fryer thing, an air guitar thing, some hair clips, a radio controlled car, a polystyrene cat, the most gloriously dreadful leather jacket imaginable ('polyester with genuine leather leaves, available in gold, silver or bronze'), and an assortment of other tat. An excellent start all round, then.
Step 2, they get in a bit of practice, which is horrendous, and then they have to decide who on their team will form a presenting pair, and who will present alone.
On the Yasmina-Debra-James team (with Yasmina in charge, but only after a great deal of screaming in a car park, with James interjecting things like 'Well, I think', 'Well, my opinion is', 'Well, what I was going to say' and the other two squawking him out), it is deemed best to separate Debra off; Yasmina and James make quite a good double-act (prompting, as we later discover, a viewer from Lancaster to write in and congratulate the shopping channel on its new comedy hour) but almost take the model's head off when they try to demonstrate the hair clips. They also get the price wrong:
Yasmina: "THREE of these hair clips for just £9.99 - what a BARGAIN! That's £9.99 folks! Just £9.99 for THREE! Absolute bargain!"
Meanwhile off to the side, James puts his finger in his ear and looks worried; cut to the director's chair where Debra is screaming 'You've got the price wrong, they're £17.99!'
Back to James: "Actually, they're £17.99"
Yasmina (getting higher and higher in pitch): "£17.99 for THREE! Absolute bargain!"
Next up is Debra with the weird headscarf thing, in pure man-made polyester (James: 'They can make polyester these days?') and an array of ghastly colours. It is, she informs us, "the answer to the scarf" (Eh? What did the scarf ask?), and she goes on to demonstrate some of the hundreds of ways in which it can be worn - round your neck, or on your head, basically. We see Sir Alan in the boardroom saying 'Ew de bladdy 'ell would want a wear DAT?'. As we find out later, half the population.
Team two (Howard in charge, with Lorraine and Kate) have less of a decision to make about who should go it alone. It's like that quiz thing you used to do where you had to get a chicken, and fox and some birdseed across a river in a boat. If the girls are left together, it is clear that Kate will club Lorraine to death with the polystyrene cat. If, on the other hand, Lorraine is on her own, something bad might happen. So Howard gamely pairs up with Lorraine, leaving Kate to try to flog the cat and the air guitar.
Howard and Lorraine are selling the hideous jacket and the chip fryer. It is hard to describe how ghastly this jacket is; but if I tell you that it's exactly the kind of thing people buy on shopping channels, and that we later learn it is one of their best sellers, you should get the general picture. So Lorraine models the jacket, and Howard says how lovely she is, and Lorraine claims she'll wear it the next time she's invited to a party, and Howard says he'd be honoured to have her on his arm at the party, and we're left with a horrible image of being so desperate for people to come to your party that you would actually invite Howard and Lorraine. Onto the chip fryer, which they can't really work, which Lorraine knows nothing about, but which makes such nice chips that they basically spend most of the segment scoffing them and don't bother to tell anyone the phone number.
And finally, Kate pops up with the polystyrene cat (and matching dog), into which you are supposed to stick sequins and pins, a point which she labours unto death (a tip, Kate love: once you've seen one sequin stuck into a lump of polystyrene, you've seen 'em all). She then sends dog and cat off for a little love-in, and moves on to the air guitar. This actually looks quite good fun - it has infra-red beams which you 'strum' to make the noise, and buttons you press to do something else that I didn't quite pick up on, and it's only about 15 quid, so it shouldn't be hard to sell. Again, Kate goes off on one, and we are treated to minutes of her air-guitaring and flicking her hair about.
And so to the boardroom. Please remember that at this point I already know who goes home, and hence I already know which team is going to win, but now I can't quite figure out how it's going to happen because surely the chip pan will have wiped the floor with the snoods. It seems not, because no one wanted the chip pan and everyone wanted the snoods; on the plus side, only one person wanted a polystyrene cat.
So Howard's lot lose (by a couple of hundred pounds), and it gives me immense pleasure to see James actually being on a winning team for once, and getting a treat. He's like a little puppy who's been given a new tennis ball, all grins and twinkly eyes and 'yes, yes, yes'. So they head off to fly planes, which prompts Debra and Yasmina to do even more screaming, although this time it's not at each other.
Howard and co go to the cafe and sulk and snipe a bit at each other, and then come back, and at this point I really am sorry that I know that Howard's going home, because it seems to come from nowhere and I would've enjoyed the surprise. Up until the last second, you're thinking 'It has to be Lorraine. It cannot be anyone else; it HAS to be Lorraine', and then suddenly Howard is picking up his little suitcase and getting into the taxi and it's all over for another week.
There are only 2 weeks left now; never having seen this before, I'm not sure how the last bit works (do they do a normal one next week and have 4 people in the final?), but next week appears to be every man for himself as they are grilled on their CVs. We learn from the little trailer thing that James has claimed that his job involves 'Putting people on a leash to stop them from spunking money up the wall'; I'm not sure what he actually does, but I'm fairly sure it was never presented at any careers fair I ever went to.
In any case, we shall look forward to it, and if it's any good, I'll tell you all about it.