I have to admit to being a little apprehensive about last night's Apprentice, after Philip being booted out last week (oh, yeah, sorry, this post contains spoilers). With only Ben left to be obnoxious, would it be worth watching? Thankfully, yes, because Debra stepped in to fill the breach.
So the task: do for Margate what was done for the Millennium Dome, a re branding so awesome it will make Siralan's eyes pop out. Or something. Anyway, 2 teams: Howard, Debra, James and Mona on one, and Ben, Lorraine, Yasmina and... whoever the other one is who's still in on the other.
So Project Managers must be selected. Team 1 (the Empire/Ignite thing has lost all meaning since they shuffled the teams so much) are debating between Howard and Debra. Howard is keen and would be quite good and would be so grateful for the opportunity that he would give a million percent, but Debra is scarier, so she wins. On the other side, Yasmina takes up the reins and they trot off.
Next, they have to decide which 'market' they're pitching at. Team 1 go for the 'gay market', because they have loads of money (obviously). Mona is delightfully unsure that it is wise to focus all their energies on 'those people', what with being gay not being particularly common in Kent, and you can immediately tell that we're in for comedy gold. Team 2 play it safe, aiming their campaign at all those South of England families who are unable to go abroad this year; they are confident that Margate is a suitable alternative to Mauritius.
We'll do a quick summary of Team 2's campaign first, because there's not a lot to say and we might as well get it out of the way. Yasmina and the other one... oh, yes, Kate! - stay in London or somewhere and interview models by looking at the men's bodies and the women's legs. Meanwhile, Ben and Lorraine are sent off to Margate itself (well, someone has to go) to see the sights and take pictures for the photos. If ever there was potential for an explosion of personalities, it is surely Ben and Lorraine, but in the event they get on disappointingly well. Ben appears to be happy as long as he can make little frames from his fingers, ostensibly to set up the shots, but judging by Lorraine's reaction it is some sort of primitive mating call that the rest of us have never come across. Anyway, it seems to work.
So Team 2 make reasonably decent posters and leaflets, and it's all a bit sedate and run-of-the-mill but they get the job done and there's not a lot to comment on (except that Lorraine seems to spend half the episode wearing knitted body armour).
Back to Team 1, and their rainbow roulette. Debra and Howard, who can by now barely look at each other without snarling, stay in London and interview the models - several blokes who look a bit awkward about holding hands. Meanwhile, Mona and James get sent to Margate where James buys ice cream and Mona looks a little anxious about the 'gay market' again. They interview a few people to see whether Kent is really a reasonable cash till for the 'pink pound', and find that the locals think it's a great idea (which is good, since they're going with it anyway).
Highlight of the episode, however, is Mona's interview with an actual real life gay person in a club. Actually, it's not really with a gay person, as we discover when she discretely asks 'So what is your sexuality?'. In fact, the person is a transsexual who is about to have the operation. Mona is simply delighted by this, and asks 'so what are you now, a man or a woman?'. 'A man', as it turns out. 'Really?' gasps Mona (although by this stage all attention is on James' face in the background), 'I'd never have known!'. It's worth asking what an appropriate response might have been, but clearly she should have stopped after the initial 'So what do you think of Margate's gay scene?', at which point it was all going not too badly.
Next stop is the beach, to take photos of lesbians running through the sea with rainbow flags (as they do), and two blokes holding hands and eating ice cream. This goes not too badly, in contrast with what is happening with Howard and Debra back at the ranch. Somehow, these two have spent all day with no obvious productive activity, and then start the poster and leaflet with about half an hour to go. Needless to say, they only get half the leaflet done, and the posters and leaflet look crap, but at least it's a hack-up - because frankly, we were in danger of falling asleep. Oh yes, and Debra yells some more.
The teams have to present their campaigns to professional people and the people of Margate. Howard is selling the gay thing, and starts off with a winning question to the professionals:
'Do you know Margate?'
'Yes', they reply, in unison.
It goes badly, the team lie about the blank space on the leaflets (it's 'advertising space', they claim) and generally look worried.
For the other team, Kate pitches well, and their 'boring but safe' campaign gets a lukewarmish reception but is not completely slated. Their slogan is 'See Margate through children's eyes' or something.
Then they are hauled off to the boardroom, where Siralan doesn't understand the 'children's eyes' thing ('Why are there no children in the photo? You're looking through children's eyes, there should be children in it.' No, Siralan, we're looking through the children's eyes, like we were inside their heads. They can't see themselves, can they? Oh, never mind.), but is otherwise not too distressed by it. He is less impressed, however, by the gay leaflet, and when we see it in all its glory, we see why, for it is truly appalling. A map of Britain, with a rainbow on it, and 4 towns marked (Manchester, London, Brighton and Margate) - why? Something about nice restaurants. Some blokes holding hands.
So the family lot win and go driving, while the gay ones are off to the Caff Of Loserdom to fight. Essentially the whole thing is Debra's fault, but we can't have that coming out too strongly, because she's quite entertaining, and into the boardroom go Debra, Mona and James.
Debra squawks and yells a bit more, James blames everyone else and Mona looks worried. It's as if last week's 'selling giant people-shaped sleeping bags' triumph has never happened, and she is told by Siralan to take a long walk off a short pier. With regret, though. It's the first time he has said 'with regret' as he fired someone, and let's get real here, he might as well be honest about it: 'Mona, you're not as bad as these two clowns, but you're not as entertaining either, so I'm afraid it's telly and my hands are tied.'
So Mona is gone, and we are left with 7 contestants.
Ben: twit. Arrogant, twitty, obnoxious twitty twit. Walks funny and wears braces. But entertaining.
Kate: the one Philip fancied. Also one of the few to have shown any kind of discernible talent, being quite good at sales pitches. If we forget the 'blinis' thing.
James: one to watch. Mainly because, as far as I can tell, he is receiving a disproportionate amount of airtime for all that he's doing. It's like they really, really want us to meet James.
Howard: another one to watch. If only he did anything, ever.
Debra: please get rid of her.
Lorraine: seems to fancy Ben, a little bit. But still quite scary.
Yasmina: she'll go far, but she'll never win. Was responsible for the cedarwood/sandalwood thing, and yet seems to have ducked out of it, so she clearly has some business nous.
For the record, my money is now on Howard, with James and Kate as strong contenders.