Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Apprentice Series 7: Week 10

Right, we have to ratchet the reporting up a gear, because we're now 2 weeks behind and the final's on Sunday.

Last week we spent a lot of time disliking Melody, and that's where we pick up again today.  They're all hauled off to a big warehouse, where Lord Shugagh, with a tear in his eye, talks about how he started out in business by buying a truckload of toot and flogging it to unsuspecting passers-by; and lo! that's this week's task.  Each team gets a pallet-load containing £250 worth of the kind of plastic tack you find on market stalls up and down the country, and they have to sell it, and then come back and buy more.  It's all about selling what smells, or something.  I may have got that wrong.

The teams are Helen, Lovely Tom and Melody (boooooo), against Natasher (innit?), Susan and Jim.  Susan is appalled by the quality of the goods.  Snob.  She also thinks this is right up her street, as she does every week; Natasher (yeah?) slaps her down for the millionth week in a row, and wins the right to lead.  Melody appoints herself in charge of Helen and Lovely Tom.

Jim has a great morning touting umbrellas to people who don't really need them, on the basis that it might rain, some time in the distant future, and until then you can use the umbrella to point at things.  Natasher is selling nodding dogs to small unsuspecting children ('of appalling taste' says Nick).  Susan, for some reason, is stuck in traffic outside Buckingham Palace (whining and moaning about why can't the horses go faster); eventually she arrives in Knightsbridge or somewhere, where she attempts and fails to sell a pile of duvets door-to-door.  She gets very upset that no one's home.  It's so unfair.

Melody and Helen, meanwhile, decide that they're going to sell their stuff to shops, because why wouldn't you add in a middle man wherever you can?  Especially if you go into a pound shop and try to sell him £25 watches.  Idiots.  They also go into a hardware shop and try to sell duvets and towels.  It's so ridiculous, it's not even funny.

Thankfully, they have previously dumped Lovely Tom and a box of nodding bulldogs off at a tourist spot, where he gets outwitted by 5 year-olds and continues to be extremely lovely.  He sells all the dogs very quickly, and I'm quite proud.

Natasher and Jim have a fight about what they should re-invest in; they phone Susan to ask, but she's out for the count in the back of a cab.

Melody and Helen, for some reason, have become even more fixated on selling their stuff to shops, and finally find a guy who'll resell the duvets for them; if they can get another 30 by tomorrow, he'll buy those as well.  Despite the fact that they're now making about 20p on each one, they think this is great.

Now, the point of the task, you will recall, is to figure out what sells, and buy a ton more to sell tomorrow.  Susan, however, lives on another planet, and spends half the team's takings on random tacky-looking bracelets.  They would be doomed, except that Melody is also on another planet, and is buying random electrical tat.  Lovely Tom is in despair; all he wanted were some more nodding bulldogs, and he would've been happy, but no: he's being given travel kettles and alarm-clock-photo-frames.  Clearly the notion of figuring out what sells and buying more of that seems to have been entirely abandoned.  Heh.  Never mind, I'm sure Lord Shugagh won't be too fussed.

The next morning, and a shock on Team Melody, as Helen stages a coup and offers to take over as project manager.  They snark a bit, with Lovely Tom sitting in the middle thinking 'feck', and in the end nothing changes.  Off to a shopping centre, and the random electrical stuff is not popular.  It's a shame they didn't get a day to try out their stalls and see what would sell.  Helen's in a random square trying to press gang passers-by into buying bike lights.

At Shepherd's Bush, Jim is already flogging nodding dogs like there's no tomorrow; he's also offering hugs and kisses, and Nick's coming round to him.  While this goes on, Susan and Natasher are fighting it out at Portabello Road market.  The two of them seem incapable of coming within earshot of each other (and with these two, earshot is quite a distance) without screaming at each other, exchanging snide glances, and slagging each other off to the camera.  Natasher is being particularly obnoxious, but somehow I find Susan more irritating.

In all of this, it's tempting to forget that Helen has promised to sell 30 duvet covers to a random bloke for about 20p each.  She phones a duvet cover wholesaler, but it's closed for the day, so she heads off to another one which is 2 hours' drive away.  After a 4 hour round trip, she phones the duvet-sellerman, who has already gone home for the day.  Bummer, huh?

Jim is trying to get Natasher to re-invest, since that's the point of the task; she refuses because they already have plenty of stuff to sell (please note that their end-of-the-day-total includes any stock they still have, so it doesn't matter if they have stuff left over).  Also, Jim is now running out of things to sell.  Eventually, Natasher agrees to let him buy some more umbrellas.  He does this, but not in time to sell them, which kind of sucks.

They all head back to the boardroom, and it's a bit hard to be sure who has done better.  Helen spent a lot of time trying to acquire duvets; whereas Susan and Natasher spent much of the day trying to strangle each other.  In the boardroom, Helen says Melody was an awful team leader, and had no strategy.  Lord Shugagh says the strategy should have been to flog the crap they were given, which makes it sound less complex.  Natasher gets in bother for not re-investing in new stock; she says something about 'going heavy' on day 1, and Lord Shugagh nearly rips her head off, and then fines her £100 for being so impudent.

Melody & Co have assets of £728, which is ok; Natasher's lot have (after fines) £751.  Feck.  They still won.  But, Lord Shugagh is not happy, and they are NOT getting a treat because they were useless.  What with a coup earlier, and now this, it may be the most dramatic episode EVER.  Back in the house, Natasher tells Susan that she was really annoying all day.  I imagine she was, somehow.

Helen is in Cafe Dreadful for the first time, but it's ok, because Lovely Tom's a regular and can show her where to get napkins and stuff.  Melody brings up the coup incident, and says how much it demoralised her.  She's almost sobbing.  I still don't feel at all sorry for her.  I'm beginning to like myself less, and I blame Melody.

Back in the boardroom, and we can only hope that somehow Lovely Tom stays and Melody gets the boot.  This is most likely to be accomplished by Lovely Tom not saying a lot.  We start with Helen's attempted coup; she says she wanted to take over so they could go to retailers and get big orders.  Melody is all like "ha ha, you're so stupid, that's not what we were meant to do", and then Karren points out that Melody wanted to do it as well.  Lovely Tom says he asked for more nodding dogs, and Melody says she didn't want him to have more nodding dogs, and he says he felt all let down.  He calls the duvet thing a "fool's errand".  Oooooh, Tom, I love you.

Lovely Tom is doing ok until he somehow ends up taking responsibility for the duvet fiasco, which had nothing at all to do with him.  STOP TALKING, LOVELY TOM!  Helen and Melody do some yelling about the closing times of wholesale duvet cover suppliers; Melody then declares that she should be fired herself, and I can only agree.

They go out; they come back in.  I'm all nervous for Lovely Tom, but Karren seems to be standing up for him, so I like her a lot.  Melody gets all intense, and shouty, and full of herself, and I wish she'd shut up.  She looks all huffy when she shuts up, though.  I think I just wish she'd go away.  She says that when she was 13, she set up "one of the most successful democratic bodies in the world".  What, she founded America?  Also, she was on the Queen's speech one year.  Yippee skip.

Helen pretty much sits there being very cool and calm and a little bit scary.  She reels off some actual experience, which is actually relevant and might be useful.  She's safe.  I suspect she's been put up to the duvet thing by the producers, to try to throw us off the scent, because surely she has to win.

We turn to Lovely Tom, who's right up Lord Shugagh's alley, apparently.  I desperately hope Lovely Tom doesn't say much.  He does, though.  But he also points out that Melody runs a business which is all about talking, and I like that.  Melody is outraged, of course, which is even better.

Finally, and to the rapturous applause of the nation, Melody gets fired.  And I rejoice.

Lovely Tom almost faints with relief, and Helen's in a bit of a sulk with him because he was mean about her in the boardroom.  I don't think Helen really 'gets' the boardroom.

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