Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Apprentice Series 7: Episode 2

A weird thing is happening.  I must be hormonal or something, but there are quite a few Apprentice candidates this year who I really think are quite lovely.  Lovely Jim and Tom The Lovely Inventor have been previously mentioned.  I also have a bit of a thing (although on a vastly-reduced scale) for Leon, Gavin, and possibly Glenn.  Anyone with me?  Anyone else think this year's boys are a notch up on last year's crew?  Or is it just Post-Baggs Relief Syndrome?

Anyway, on to Episode 2, and someone arrives at the door of the snazzy house with a laptop.  Tom The Lovely Inventor is dressed (sort of) and ready to receive; he summons everyone to the table, and they fire it up.  Lord Shugagh appears on the screen, because this week's task is all about technology, so he's delivering the task explainy thing via technology, see?  Technology, incidentally, is something he "knows a bit about", as all 7 owners of the Amstrad E-m@iler will affirm.  They have to make new apps, which will be launched on the internet tomorrow.  The apps will be free (obviously, like, let's face it), and the team with the most downloads wins.

Girls vs Boys again; in the boys' car, they're making 'app' puns. "APProximately 12 hours to get the app done" says Leon; "Are we fast APProaching where we need to be?" asks Jim; "This is APPsolutely fabulous" quips Leon, to a carful of hysteria.  "Did you have an APPle?" says Vincent.


So they need project managers.  Leon once used an app, and also wants to show off; Vincent is also up for it, but everyone remembers the APPle thing; Jim wouldn't mind doing it; Alex thinks "there are other people who'd be less crap than me".  Edna takes charge of the girls, and starts stomping Susan (easily amused) into the ground.

They each send a few people off to do market research, which we need say nothing more about, as it is of no further relevance to proceedings.  Back at the ranch, the boys are coming up with ideas: bubblewrap that you can squeeze and it crackles; temperature in London one year ago today; a traffic light; and then, finally, Glenn comes up with the gem of an idea that they instantly fall in love with: an app that lets you insult your friends in various forms of local slang.  Because what the internet needs is more casual racism.  Anyway, Lovely Jim comes up with the name 'Slang-a-tang'.  They quickly dismiss fears that it's a bit offensive and that it's not very global, because those things won't matter and aren't very interesting to think about.

Over Chez Girls, they're struggling more.  Apart from Susan (easily amused), who has a "brilliant idea":
So you've got 2 people next to each other, and you're you and I'm me, and I say, like I ask you a question like "where do you think we are" and I ask my phone, like where we are right now..."
Edna nearly stabs her, and Susan (easily amused) goes into a sulk.  Eventually they come up with an app that has no useful purpose, but which makes irritating noises and annoys other people.  Any similarity to any team member, alive or dead, is purely coincidental.  They suggest some stupid names and then settle on "Ampi App".

The boys are in the recording studio, and seem to have ditched the almost acceptable regional insults in favour of much more blatantly offensive stereotypes, such as the Welsh farmer asking "Has anyone seen my sheep?".  They seem to be having fun, though, and are baffling Nick, whose eyebrows are somewhere around the stratosphere.

The girls are in a padded room, arguing, but for the purposes of creating an app which consists of them arguing.  They also make some animal noises, and Susan (easily amused) gets all worried.

Tomorrow they have to meet some computery people to try to get them to love their apps.  Edna has given extensive thought to who should pitch to the local nerd-fest, and decides it should be her, and not Melody, who has experience of actually doing this kind of thing.

Off they go to meet computer website people, who almost universally lack enthusiasm for both apps. The girls make twits of themselves, and the computer website people wonder a bit why the app makes the sound of a dog while showing a picture of an elephant.  The boys take their turn, and Leon puts Vincent in charge of the pitch; Vincent gets about 3 nervous sentences out, falls over, and has to pull in Lovely Jim to salvage it all.

There's some kind of gadget shown on in Earls' Court, and half of each team are there.  Thankfully it's not an audience that's easily offended, as the boys are in full costume and touting their racial stereotypes as far as they can.  Meanwhile, at a pitch, Lovely Jim is trying to convince some computer people that having an Australian guy in a hat with corks is not stereotyping.  Still, they come out convinced it went really really well, so Lovely Jim is still smiling.

Back at Earls' Court, they check up on how the pitches went.  In summary, 2 sites recommend the boys' slang, and 1 recommends the elephant dog.  You have to assume they were paid a lot of money to ensure they featured any at all, of course.

Still, there's one remaining opportunity, as a gigabyte of software geeks have gathered in a room to learn more.  Edna has appointed herself to pitch the girls' app, and makes a complete hash of it, strutting on the stage in elbow-length black lacy gloves, and trying to be all sexy and mysterious.  The boys, meanwhile, realise that it you want to tell people how to get your app, being mysterious is not the way to do it; they sledgehammer the audience into downloading the app then and there, in exchange for a doughnut.

Back to the boardroom they go, and Lord Shugagh asks what they all thought of their apps. The boys thought Leon was a good leader, and Slang-a-tang was wow fab groovy; the girls almost universally despised Ampi Apps.  And so to download figures.  After 6 hours, the boys had about 3000 downloads, and the girls had just under 1000.  Not looking good for Edna & Co. But then Nick and Karren weigh in with the final totals; the boys have 3951 downloads, but the girls have rocketed up to 10,667, and dance out the door to perform their group-hug-and-whisper-scream and then to go for dinner at a posh restaurant; all of which goes to prove that if you're going to sell crap, at least do it on a global scale.

At the Cafe Del Doom, with the girls' laughter echoing cruely, the boys sit and look at each other, and it suddenly clicks that maybe it was a bit offensive.

Boardroom Part Deux, and Lord Shugagh points out that, in addition to the casual racism, an app that tells you how to insult your friends in a Geordie accent might not be that relevant in, say, Brazil, or China, or anywhere that doesn't speak English.  They blame Lovely Jim for the description being a bit wick (which, and Lovely Jim, if you're reading this, I'm sorry, is true); then they turn on Leon for making a bad decision.  Lovely Jim says that Alex didn't do a lot; Alex sneers a bit, and frowns, and blames Lovely Jim for lots of things, but Lovely Jim shouts him down and says Alex has done nothing at all.

And now it gets fabulous.  Leon is asked who he's bringing back in.  It goes like this:

Leon: Based on sort of the feedback I've been hearing today, I'd like to bring back Alex, and Jim
Lord Shugagh: Alex and Jim
Lovely Jim: Well, it's interesting that he chose myself and Alex.  There's actually a few fall guys: Vincent fluffed his speech, and I had to save the day, and I don't fluff speeches; Glenn designed the app, that turned out to be crap. Two tasks in and I've give 100% effort.
Leon: Jim has done a sterling job throughout
Lovely Jim: well then I'm not the person you should be bringing in, if you agree that I've done a sterling job throughout, so you need to change your decision
Leon: So on the basis of maybe Jim's dealing here; I mean, do you want me to change, is that..
Lovely Jim: Change!  It's obvious.  It's obvious!
Leon: Yeah, right, it's obvious, yeah. Ok.  There's a potential here that it could be down to the concept, so.. OK... I'm going to bring in Glenn
Glenn: You want to bring me back?  I don't think you should
Leon: Listen, Glenn, I know...
Lovely Jim: I strongly agree
Glenn: I don't think you should.  What do you think Jim?
Lovely Jim: The PM's made a decision, I highlighted who I thought made flaws and made mistakes, and he's chosen you Glenn
Glenn: I think it should be Tom

Way to go Jim!  I love you more by the minute!

Long story short, Leon brings Alex and Glenn back in.  Leon faffs about and doesn't really say a lot, while Glenn hammers him into the ground.  Alex wakes up and tries to get a few kicks in, but basically manages to stick his foot straight in his mouth.  It looks like Leon is doomed, but at the last minute it's Alex who gets the chop, for not doing anything of any substance, and because last week he spent the whole time cutting bread.  And I say "Yay!" because he's a bit of a slimer and nods his head too much.

Incidentally, neither Slang-a-tang nor Ampi Apps is still available on iTunes.  I checked.

Next week is the "Buying tons of tat as cheap as possible task".

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