Thursday, 10 June 2010

Junior Apprentice: Week 5

The difference between Little Apprentice and Big Apprentice is that, with Little Apprentice, you kind of reach a point where you like them all enough to want them all (but not Zoe) to win.  Or maybe I'm just having a warm-hearted week.  Although other evidence would suggest not.

Anyway, this week's task starts with a phone call telling them to go to Amsterdam, causing a frenzy of excitement, shrieking and leaping up and down, such as would make you think none of them had ever been any place foreign before.  Tim, of course, keeps his feet on the ground and his expectations low: 'There's not any place in England called Amsterdam, is there?'.  No, Tim, there isn't.

So after some talk of windmills and clogs... and tulips!, an appalling Dutch impersonation by Tim, a traffic jam, and sleeping on a flight, they are in a big warehouse thing with Nick, Karren and a TV screen, upon which appears Lord-couldn't-be-bothered-to-fly-to-Amsterdam-Shugah.  The task is this: go see some Dutch designers, pick 2 'cutting edge' products, flog them to retailers in the UK.  Two shops have already agreed to be 'pitched at', and the teams are also free to set up any other selling opportunities they can dream up.

The teams this week:
  Instinct (are we really still on that?): Led by Kirsty, consisting of Tim, and overseen by Nick
  Revolution: Led by Arjun, containing Emma, dominated by Zoe, and overseen by Karren.

Zoe is in the mother of all huffs; it is not clear why, but it's something to do with Arjun asking her to do things ('being authoritarian') and not asking her to do things ('leaving her out').  So over at Revolution it's all loud silences and pouts and sidelong glances.  Not so on Team Instinct, where Tim and Kirsty are having a blast on a canal boat, with Nick in sunglasses.

Anyway, onto the designers (who get to bring 2 things each), and we are treated to a demonstration of the dangers of legalising drugs:
1. The Hair Hat - a hat woven from human hair.  We don't see much else of this; nor do we find out what else they brought.
2. A big thing that appears to be a combination lampshade/bird house/see saw, but which we don't get to hear about.
3. A set of lights which kind of look like little mushrooms, and an individual cutlery set (including a story about the cutlery, which I'm not anticipating is a page-turner).  Quite why these go together is left as an exercise for the viewer; Zoe is almost asleep during the demonstration; and Emma states insightfully, 'when you design a product, surely you should know what the function of the product is'.  Yeah, and when, not 3 weeks ago, you came up with a camping product made of cardboard, you should probably be a little less harsh on designers.  Tim asks about negotiating on price, which shows some business acumen.
4. Stuff for dogs: a trailer thing to wheel the dog about behind your bike, and a 'dog bed on legs', which disgusts Emma.  Again, Emma, a cardboard camping cupboard?  Really?
5. Two bikes: the Bub(?), which is basically a bike with colour-coded plastic bits, or something; and the Stepper, which is like a combination of bike and cross trainer, because bikes don't give you enough exercise.
6. Knotties. 'Organic baby comforters which can be tied into the shape of a rabbit, or an elephant'.  I promise I didn't make that up.  Tea towels, essentially, albeit organic ones, with a slit in them so you can make the ears.  Emma isn't sure that a child would be able to tie the knot to make their knottie into a rabbit; given that these are aimed at newborns, you might think she has a point, until the guy points out that the parents are meant to do it.

So now they have to choose 2 designers each.  Arjun loves the Knotties (I have to admit, if I had a baby and someone gave me a Knotty, I'd be ok with that, but I'm not sure I could sell the 10,000 of them that are going to be required to beat one bike sale) and the bikes.  Kirsty likes the cutlery/lights and the bikes.

There is a vaguely tense stand-off over the bikes, with Kirsty saying Arjun can have the bikes if they split the profits from them (what?  Are they allowed to do that?  Just 'cos Lord Shugah isn't in the country, doesn't mean you can just get all fast and loose with the rules, lassie).  Arjun keeps saying nothing, and eventually, somehow, it ends up with Arjun having the Knotties and the cutlery/lamps, and Kirsty having the bikes and the doggy things.  Those of you who have a good, graphic imagination, will have anticipated the problem here: the team of three have a few lamps, some boxes of cutlery and a few tea towels to transport; Tim and tiny wee Kirsty have 2 bikes, a trailer, and a dog bed on legs.

Zoe's still in a huff, and says she'll do the pitch if Arjun wants her to.  Then she stops talking.  Loudly.  While sniffing.

They have the Yellow Pages out, and are phoning around various places to make appointments.  Tim has a conversation which goes like this:
Tim: Hi, can I speak to the manager please?
Man on phone: What's it regarding?
Tim: It's regarding a sales pitch
Man: Where are you calling from?
Tim: We're calling from Highbury
Man: Yeah, sorry, which company?
Nick rolls his eyes

Mercifully, they have appointments set up by LorShugagh, and they head off to them.  Zoe's huff has sunk deeper, and she's getting quieter, but apparently everything is 'fine'.  Then she stops talking.  Loudly.

Arjun's lot are off to 'The Chain Store', which they seem not be allowed to tell us is House of Fraser.  Zoe starts in about the Knotties:
Zoe: 'There's nothing like this on the market!'
House of Fraser man: 'It looks like a dishcloth'
Ah well, onto the mood lights.  Unfortunately, they didn't think to ask about whether they could negotiate on price, which doesn't impress House of Fraser woman, and they leave, looking worried, but thinking it went 'really well'.

Meanwhile, Tim and Kirsty are off to Liberty, 'the destination of choice for lovers of good design', as we are informed by voiceover man, who almost has to shout to be heard over the squeak of the brakes on one of the bikes.  Tim's going to pitch.  Once they get in the door.  Which they do, after a fashion.  First up, the Doggy Ride.  And, as Tim points out, you can put you shopping in it.  Or sling the kids in.  Maybe all three.  The guy loves the dog bed, though.  Onto the bikes.  In Liberty, remember.  The bikes are 'Bat-AY-vus', but Tim calls them 'BRAT-a-vus';  Nick is appalled, but frankly I can't see that it's going to make things any worse.

Now Tim and Kirsty head to House of Fraser (or 'The Chain Store', as we're still calling it).  Tim falls over the Doggy Ride.  Unfortunately, House of Fraser don't do exercise or cycling, and the bloke has 3 dogs, and wants to know how they'll fit.  Clearly the answer is 'They won't, you crazy, crazy man; don't be so fecking ridiculous', but Tim suggests he 'buy a large one'.  Blank looks.

Onto the bikes, then.  And House of Fraser have not, in the interveening 3 minutes, started an exercise section or a cycling section. Thankfully, Tim is now getting a bit fecked off by the annoying little man who doesn't like his bikes, and decides to say it straight:
Man: 'Where do the bikes fit into our store?'
Tim: 'They don't'

Arjun and Co are now in Liberty, unpacking their Knotties, cutlery and lamps from a plastic bag.  Arjun is pitching the cutlery.
Arjun: 'This is very much for the individualist, for people who like eating on their own'
Woman: 'So who likes eating on their own?'
Arjun: 'People who live on their own and like living on their own.  Somebody who likes being separate from other people' 
Ah yes, knives for psychopaths.
Blank stares.

Now it all goes back in the plastic bag, although not quickly.  Seriously, how long does it take to stick knives and lamps in boxes?

Next up, they have 4 hours to flog the stuff to anyone who'll buy it.

Arjun is relieved to be shot of Emma and Zoe, and enjoys some time with his comfort blankets.

Meanwhile, Emma is playing to Zoe's strengths and letting her do all the talking.

Tim is flogging bikes, although mostly trying just to keep control of both of them at once.  Weirdly, he takes them into a shop, fails to sell them, and then comes out with only one.  Why?  What's he done with the other one?  Is Nick pedalling furiously behind?  We never find out.

Kirsty is struggling under the weight of her doggy things, and tries hawking them to a dodgy-looking pet shop which has nicked the Jumanji name and logo, and then to Doreen's, which looks like it's probably more a 'Pitbulls and Piranhas' kind of establishment.

Zoe tries, and fails, to sell the posh lamp things to Poundland.

Tim gets his bikes caught in some automatic doors, but what he lacks in finesse and ability to manouver bikes, he claims to make up for in negotiating skills, as evidenced by him being really good at Monopoly.  Tim is a bit like James from last year; you get the impression he's kind of taking the piss, but actually is turning out to be not too bad at all; he sells 6 of the weird colour-change bikes, but no cross-trainer-bike things.

And so to the boardroom, and off they head with their suitcases.  We see interviews with all of them saying how great they are and how they're the best and not going to go home today, and the complete package, and really good.  They all look really nervous, and I'm even warming to Zoe, a little bit.

Lord Shugah makes a joke about 'Clever clogs', and they all laugh obligingly.  For the record, he later makes jokes about whether Arjun was 'William of Orange or a right lemon', and that one of them will soon be 'on yer bike'.

After some discussion on how Arjun was a bit indecisive, and how he was a bit autocratic and wouldn't make decisions himself (eh?) and how Kirsty shouldn't have let him have the lamps, we get to hear how much they sold.

First, the sales pitches they set up themselves:
    Arjun: £1146.45; Kirsty: £2529.09.... ooooh, Kirsty's ahead
Next, House of Fraser:
   Arjun: £9025; Kirsty: £0... That's Arjun on £10000, Kirsty on £2500.
Finally, Liberty:
   Arjun: £0; Kirsty: £39700



40 grand... and a new Apprentice record.  And Arjun's eyes nearly fall out.

There's no prize this week, so Kirsty and Tim head back to the house to play table football.

The others retreat to the Cafe of Doom to discuss what happened.  I'll tell them what happened.  Kirsty The Invincible and Tim The Clueless But Friendly landed on their feet and can't believe their luck.  But obviously they can't say that, so they blame each other.  Back in the boardroom, in fact, they form a nice little trinity of blame: Arjun thinks Emma should go; Emma thinks Zoe should go, and Zoe thinks Arjun should go.  Emma points out they did lots of stuff wrong; not that she did anything about it at the time, as is also pointed out.  Lord Shugah tells some complicated story about a zebra and a lion.

Then they get sent back out and then they get called back in, and are asked why they should stay in.

Arjun points out that he has the skills to thrive, which makes Zoe purse her lips.  He points out that he has the potential to become the greatest businessman in the world, which is pushing it a bit.

Zoe says she did everything she was asked.

Emma says she is not the best seller or pitcher, but she tries really hard, and then she cries a bit, and I feel sorry for her, because she's not bad, just a bit too earnest, but she could probably do quite well if she unwound a bit.

Lord Shugah sums it up:
Emma's rayzoomay is quite good, with lots of enterprising ventures (such as selling eggs and sweets), but is not that great on tasks.
Arjun is maybe too nice
Zoe is just... Zoe

Anyway, Arjun's in the final, yay! (dirty look from Zoe) and Emma's 'got summink there' and Zoe might not change her spots, but Emma's fired and cries.  As she leaves the room, she whispers 'well done guys', and gets a sneer from Zoe.

So Zoe and Arjun go back to the house, and Tim and Kirsty ask how it went, and ask Zoe what Lord Shugah said about her, and she says 'he said loads of positive things'.  So at least her confidence has not been dented.

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