Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Apprentice 2010: Week 3

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm warming slightly to Alex Epstein.  I just wanted to get that out of the way before we begin.  I would also like to apologise for the lateness of this review.  The thing is, we're now slap-bang in the middle of the traditional Apprentice Lull, where we sort of know who's not going to win, but we can't really start to say who might win, and it's still more about weeding out the little sickly ones than anything else.

It begins at 6.30am, with Alex Epstein answering the phone to be informed that they're all being picked up in half an hour.  For reasons unexplained, Alex Epstein is already wearing his suit.  Does the man not own jammies?  It is quite possible he does not.  I want to stop thinking about that, but I can't.  So he heads off upstairs and wakes up everyone else in a very clear, decisive voice.

They all go to Fortnum and Mason or somewhere, where they're told they are going to be baking buns and stuff.  It's sort of like the sausage task again, but with flour instead of sawdust.  It's "turning flour inta serious dough", in fact.  Lord Shugah attempts to stop the fighting by swapping them all round.  I no longer have any clue who's in what team, and also I refuse to use the team names, because they're stupid.

Jamie thinks he'd be great as project manager, and Melissa thinks she'll be great too, and they both really want to do it, so the team vote and put Mel in charge.  She promptly spouts some marketing crap, and then falls to pieces.  On the other team, Shibby (who last week I was calling Chris, but hey!) is happy to be in charge, which is good because no one else can be arsed.

So far, so good.

Now they have to decide what they'll bake, and then they have to go to some hotels and stuff and get some orders from them.  Shibby and co decide quite quickly that they'll make breads and stuff.  On the other team, Mel is using her expertise in the food distribution industry:

"In my experience, people buy... It's difficult to say... If I'm thinking about it, and I keep coming back to it... It's a good idea to step out the box slightly, and introduce someink new"

But enough of this, let's go sell something to someone!  So half of each team troop off to the hotels to meet the people Lord Shugagh has set up meetings with; the other half go to the industrial bakeries and wear funny hats and exclaim over how much olive oil goes into stuff.  The first sales pitch is in a posh-looking hotel, so it would be wise to not look like twits.  Just saying.

Mel's lot go in, and it starts like a GCSE English project, in which the main objective is to make sure that everybody says something, whether it makes sense or not.  It doesn't, obviously.  It is, in fact, utterly witless.  The hotel people want some bread rolls, and Melissa begins working out costings, because the middle of a meeting is a good time for that.  After about 10 minutes of calculator tapping, the hotel people suggest they go outside and take 2 minutes to work out the cost.  Now seriously: packet of baps in Tesco, about a quid for 6 maybe?  So about 20p each, ish.  But this is wholesale, so, we're maybe talking in the region of 10p each, give or take.  They have a list of ingredients, so they can use that to get something more accurate.  Add it up, bit of dividing by 1000.  It's not that hard.  15 minutes later, they go back in.  Mel has her price: £1.82 per roll.  Yeah.

So Shibby's lot go in and are charging 6p per roll, which is more like it, and can make as many millions as they want, and come out with an order for 1000 rolls, and 900 other things, such as muffins, croissants and so on.  They "absolutely guarantee" the order will be delivered, and we realise they are doomed.  They phone the bakers to tell them, and the bakers have a fit, because they don't know how to make croissants, and they're already making other things, and then Sandeesh goes on strike, which appears to make no noticeable difference to production levels.

Back to Mel, who's trying to sell stuff to a coffee shop.  She puts Alex Epstein on maths, because she's crap at it and he's a nerd.  The bloke wants to know what size the muffins are, which seems to be a question pitched a little above their capabilities, but Alex does some quick adding up, or possibly says a random number, and the day is saved.

Shibby's off to another meeting, with a restaurant who want baguettes and buns and stuff.  The thing is, they want lots of them, so Shibby goes into a huff, because it's so unreasonable of them to want so much stuff when he can't make it and is not Superman.  Also, there appears to be no point in being polite about it, even in front of customers.

At Mel's bakery, things are going with military precision, because Christopher is in charge, and has a Plan.  At Shibby's place, Sandeesh is still in a wibbly, and they don't appear to have heard of the hotel order that they flipped out over earlier, so they haven't even started making rolls, never mind 1000 of them.  Still, in the car going home, Shibby and Paloma and Laura talk about how Sandeesh doesn't do anything.

Next morning, Shibby's lot have to deliver the 1000 rolls they haven't made, so they throw 16 of them in a box and head over.  Sean the chef freaks out, and Shibby fails to help the situation by laughing in his face.  Now, the thing to do here is to jump back in the car and leg it (I'm not saying that is the Right(TM) thing or the moral thing; merely that if one's primary objective is to win a crappy job in a dodgy computer firm on a tv show, then this is the thing most likely to forward that objective); Shibby, however, ends up giving the bloke £130.

Meanwhile, Mel is delivering her muffins, which are judged to be not classy enough, so that's a bummer, but the bloke likes the bread and at least they have some huge muffins to sell on the streets.

Onto the flogging stuff at markets, and it's the usual story: Chris inexplicably dressed as an oven, Sandeesh standing round hoping the muffins magically sell themselves, and a lot of 'sell, sell, sell'.  There is a glorious moment when Melissa thinks someone is French, and says (according to the subtitles) "You to buy the product and I search the toilet for you".  The other highlight is when Alex Epstein tells Melissa to stop being so obnoxious (but he says it nicer than that, which I think is why I've warmed to him), and they end up having a big row which he attempts to win by reciting his GCSE results.

So they sell all their stuff, or most of their stuff, and it's off to the boardroom.  To cut to the chase, Shibby's lot have lost, and he declares later "Even if we didn't pay that compensation to the hotel, we still would have lost".  Ah yes.  An excellent point, and well made.  If you had been less crap, you still would have lost.  You were 2 levels of crap below winning.  Excellent.

Mel's lot go off to some belly dancing, which gets a bit uncomfortable.  Shibby's lot go to the loser's cafe, which is selling Mel's muffins.  They all blame Shibby, which is not unreasonable.

Back in the boardroom ("I've heard about bread winners, I'm looking at six bread losers"), bit of a telling off from Karren, "Sixteen bladdy rolls out of a thousand!", blah blah blah, Shibby's bringing Paloma and Sandeesh back in.  Paloma's going to eat him alive, you can tell; Sandeesh goes along with it, and Shibby's fired.  Part of his defence is that he was so busy selling muffins that he didn't even have time to break wind, so it's probably fair enough.

Next week looks like things may pick up a bit, as it seems to involve drying a baby with a hairdryer.

I've also discovered an excellent video summary of the episode:


Jonathan said...

This is really funny. You've almost convinced me to start actually watching it ;)

Virtual Methodist said...

Jonathan, Apprentice is one of my guilty pleasures, but you really don't have to watch it... Sharon's precis is much, much better...

Jonathan said...

I can well believe that.