I very much apologise for the lateness of this Apprentice update. I've been busy. Working. And tidying. And so on. I will try not to do it again, but to be honest, I wouldn't hold your breath. I'm on my own at home this week, as The Sister is staying at The Boyfriend's Parents' house to mind the animals and provide general security services while they're away. This could speed up the blogging, slow it down, or have no measurable effect - we shall find out soon enough. Also, I'm toying with writing a post on Matters Spiritual, and would like a brief consensus on whether this is allowed. I may ignore the consensus, if I don't like it, of course. Just saying.
Anyway, this week it's Stella who picks up the phone, fully dressed in business suit at 6.30am, or whatever time we're supposed to believe it is. They're to meet Lord Shugagh someplace I don't catch, and bring their overnight bags. They all get excited that maybe the overnight bags mean they're going to Paris or Milan, as they all do every time they're told to bring overnight bags, even though it turns out every time that they're going to Bristol. Or, in this case, Manchester.
Long story short: they have to visit some fashion designers, choose 2 to represent, take the clothes to Manchester, and spend a day there selling them. Stuart Baggs The Brand thinks fashion is like magic beans, but pointless, so since it would clearly be ridiculous, if amusing, to put all the boys on one team, they get mixed up again, so we now have: Synergy (yes, we're still on that, apparently), led by Liz, featuring Joanna, Stella, Jamie and Christopher; and Appollo, led by the terrifying Paloma, and featuring Laura, plus all the people you wouldn't want on your team for the fashion task: Alex, Stuart Baggs The Brand, Sandeesh and Chris. There's a better than average chance of bloodshed this week, I think we can agree.
Paloma wants to suss out the fashionistas on her team, and identifies Laura and Sandeesh. The chaps are more circumspect, but thankfully Alex is a 'retail guru', so we know he's going to be part of a monumental feck-up at least. He was taught retailing by a 'very famous professor of retail'.
On the other team, Jamie admits that his wife buys his clothes, and Nick sneers at him.
As well as being a retail guru, Alex used to work in the Trafford Centre, so is able to pick out the prime promotional area. So now we know what the monumental feck-up will be.
Off to the fashion designers. On the way, Jamie sagely points out that Manchester is a good couple of years behind London, as you can't get into a club there without shoes.
Paloma is talking to a girl with crazy hair and big glasses. She looks like Penny Crayon, and describes her clothes as 'future primitive'. Both teams go to speak with 'Liquorice', but take different approaches: Liz's lot are all big eyes and gasps and 'oh I can't believe how affordable it is'; Paloma, Sandeesh and Chris opt to stare like corpses. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the designer wants the first team to sell her things, since they appear to have a pulse. Never mind though; Paloma and co head off to see a place where they sell recycled clothing, consisting of such garments as a dress made of ties, hooded suits, and an outfit which appears to be made entirely from cuffs.
So Liz and co have a vintage line and the sparkly Liquorice stuff; Paloma has some cheap stuff and the recycled gear. Concern is growing over Alex's prime promotional spot, which Paloma has realised is millions of miles from their shop. Stuart thinks the recycled range is more for tramps.
No sense worrying though, as it's Day 2, and the shops need to be set up. Alex dispenses a lot of advice, being a retail guru and all. Paloma gets really narked with him, and they squabble a bit. Particularly irritating is the fact that he points out you can't see the clothes from outside the shop, so it looks empty, and you have to admit he has a point.
Meanwhile, Liz is prancing around in a dress, instead of opening her store.
Chris is sleezing over a woman who tried on the tie dress.
Liz, who has finally raised the shutters, is running around barefoot, but not selling much, so she sticks Stella in the window, where she stands looking awkward and waving. Nick disapproves. Although he thinks it would be ok in Amsterdam.
Alex is leaning in the doorway, being useless at bringing people in to the shop. Every now and then, he whips out a dress and yells 'Do. You. Like. This. Dress?' at passers by. He comes up with a cunning plan of saying Aleesha Dixon's inside, which is vetoed by Sandeesh, because it's a lie. Then he comes up with an actual cunning plan, and they make an advert to be shown in the cafe in the shopping centre. Which is quite clever, and, in my opinion, makes up for the prime promotional spot being 10 minutes' walk away. Cleverer than Paloma, who tells guys in hooded suits that they look 'smokin'. Unbelievably, Chris flogs the tie dress.
At 5 o'clock, Joanna's brain clicks into gear: "Is there anything like a marketing strategy we could put into place?". So they knock off 20%, and Joanna goes outside the shop and starts yelling at people about 'ow nice the cloves all is.
It's hard to tell how it's gone, so off we go to the boardroom to find out. It's all quite tame: a rehashing of the Stella-in-the-window thing, and more on Alex being a retail guru and having worked in the Trafford Centre (doing what? We never find out). Liz's lot have won by £500, and are off to the races.
The other lot head off to the cafe, where it quickly becomes clear that Paloma has Alex in her sights. This is despite the main problem being that they had the wrong product in the recycled clothing, because Paloma and co failed to get the sparkly stuff, because Paloma and co looked like zombies when they went to see it.
Back in the boardroom, and Sandeesh says a full sentence for the first time. That must be her quota of words for the episode used up, as she then reverts to the big eyes. Paloma is bringing Alex back into the boardroom, but everyone else was great, so she decides to short-circuit the entire premise of the show and bring Sandeesh back in too, as she's not a good candidate generally. Which is kind of Lord Shugagh's job, as he points out.
So you think Paloma's safe: Lord Shugagh doesn't seem to like Sandeesh anyway, and Alex is a bit of a muppet, but on the You're Fired show afterwards, they provide an excellent summary of where Paloma went wrong. She has basically taken the two candidates with Bambi eyes, and now proceeds to start clubbing them to death. To summarise, Paloma gets fired for being obnoxious, despite being seated between the two people who can most reasonably be labelled incompetent. Being placed third out of those three is reason enough to be sacked, in my book.
I've kind of gone off Alex a bit again. He has a bit of a creepy laugh.