Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Apprentice Series 7: Week 11

Normally, this being the penultimate week, we'd be watching the interviews, and that seems to be what the candidates expect too, because when they're summoned by The Telephone Voice to the City, they rush off to snazz themselves up and put on suits and stuff.  Jim even has a waistcoat for the occasion.  All of which is of no use, because what they're actually doing is setting up fast food chains.

They have some ridiculous time limit, like 2 days, to invent, brand and set up a fast food restaurant.  The teams are left alone, for once, so Helen is in charge of Tom (they barely even debate who should be PM), and Jim is refereeing Natasher and Susan.  You'd think the team with 3 would have quite an advantage, but then Natasher reveals that she has a "BA Onz" degree in this sort of thing, so technically they're at a disadvantage.

Helen (who seems extremely tense and worried throughout the task) and Tom actually make quite a good team; mainly because they're both fairly competent and organised.  They decide to go with a British-themed 'Pie and Mash' as their menu; they make it all feminine by having mini pies.  We'll summarise their efforts now, because they're so good that nothing really goes wrong at all; in fact, the only thing the editors had to work with was when they decided to name their pies after famous British people, and include Christopher Columbas (he's Italian, I think, but I couldn't honestly swear to it).  We see this relatively minor error from all angles, repeatedly, and I think we can tell from an early stage who's going to win.  Anyway, they call their place 'My Py' after Lovely Tom mis-reads something, and it's all red, white and blue.  At one point they debate whether Byron wrote at the same time as Shakespeare and was a vegetarian.

Mercifully, what Helen and Lovely Tom have in competence, the other three lack in every conceivable aspect of business acumen.  They decide to have a Mexican restaurant, because that way Susan gets to perpetuate some racial stereotypes, and have cheery sombreros everywhere.  Jim thinks Natasher's degree will come in handy, because her BA Onz was in hospitality; unfortunately she didn't ever really like the cooky bit of it, and refuses to have anything to do with that side of it.  Since they have a cook, it's hard to see exactly what the problem is, but in and case, she and Susan get sent off to think about branding.  They wander the streets of London going 'ariba, ariba' and pretending they're wearing sombreros.

Jim is doing market research, by going to a Mexican restaurant and asking what they don't sell, so he can do something different.  It's an intersting strategy.  Figure out what no one else will touch with a barge pole, and embrace it wholeheartedly.

Still, it's more useful than Susan and Natasher, who hate each other and everything each other says.  They're trying to come up with a name:
"Lots of them have names that start with el.  What's el?"
"I dunno".
They phone Jim, who suggests 'Caracas', after "those wee Mexican shaky things".  Or the capital of Venzuela, alternatively.  Your choice.  They love it, add an apostrophe, and "Caraca's" is born.  Which is much like calling your Hungarian restaurant "Pari's", but also thinking that a "paris" is some kind of Hungarian folk dance.  And then branding it using strawberries, or, to fit in with the Mexican theme, peppers.  That was Natasher's idea, which Susan hates (quite reasonably, and also because she hates everything Natasher says).  Susan is the Mexican food expert, so they go with her idea of sombreros instead.  Her expert credentials, incidentally, are that she eats more Mexican food than the other two.

The next morning, they see their restaurants for the first time, and meet their chefs and waiters and so on.  They have a few hours to practice.  Helen's lot do all manner of rehearsals of pies, customer service, removing foil trays and so on.  Over at Caraca's, the chef is having a wobbly, because no one has a clue what's going on.  Jim comes in and says that what they need to do is to heat up all the food and then serve it to customers.  When the doors are thrown open, My Py greet them with a cheery "Hi!  Have you eaten 100% British before?"; at Caraca's, there are nails and a hammer on the floor.  Jim is creating a box of nachos which looks like someone sneezed on it, while Susan whirls around yelling that there aren't enough chairs.

The queue grows and grows, and people are giving up and leaving.  This is probably for the best, because the food, when it comes, is stone cold and vile.  Say what you want about Lovely Tom, but the man can heat a pie and put it in a box.  And look quite fetching in a red hat.

After the test run, Susan is hysterical.  She goes to Jim and says he needs to stop serving cold food.  Jim asks for the solution.  "Heat it up" she says.  They've got a pile of customer feedback forms, which are making for depressing reading: "Food was cold", "Friendly but slow", "crazy waitress".

At My Py, it's like reading the report card of the school swot: "Loved the food", "Great idea".  The only thing that went wrong was that the cardboard box was a bit hard to eat out of, so they swap it for a plastic one, and that solves that.

Susan has a solution to Caraca's woes, which involves a diagram and some arrows, and keeping the food in the oven for a bit longer.

Lunchtime, and Lord Shugagh swings by with some industry experts.  I really, really want Ronald McDonald and Colonel Saunders to walk in, but unfortunately it's a crowd of people in suits who know all there is to know about vegetable oil.  Natasher successfully convinces Lord Shugagh to add nachos to his order of "fah-heee-taaas" (can he not pronounce any non-English word?); they are still taking a year and a day to fulfil orders, though, but at least the food seems to be edible, and with the sombreros and all, they all agree that it's obvious that the place sells Mexican.  The team are grilled on their business plan, which (as quickly becomes painfully apparent) did not exist until that moment.  Jim says that if he has 60 customers in 2 hours, spending £7 each, then he's making £4800 in a lunchtime, which is impressive.  He gets out of it by accusing Lord Shugagh of not paying his bill, and everyone laughs awkwardly.

Over at My Py, it's going quite well, although the wee plastic boxes are a bit too small to fit the pies in.  Still, they serve it all quickly, and hot, and without incident, and when it comes to the business plan, the only problem is that Lovely Tom keeps distracting Helen as she's explaining profit margins and percentages.

They go back to the boardroom, and we talk about the Caracas = capital of Venezuela thing; Karren dobs them in and points out that they all thought it was a made up word.  Lovely Tom talks about how they had a 'dummy dummy run' before the dummy run before the actual run, and all of them had gone really well.

The industry experts were rating them on all manner of things, and then they got the score by working out the average.  Caraca's had an average of 4 out of 10, which is a bit wick; My Py got 7 out of 10, and LOVELY TOM IS IN THE FINAL!  They don't get a treat, because that would be Just Too Much, but they go back to the house with Lovely Tom looking stunned.

In Cafe Ooops, Jim says he was like Mother Theresa trying to keep control of Natasher and Susan; they all defiantly state that they're not going home, and then it's back to the boardroom.

It's not an epic boardroom battle; they start by looking sadly at Helen and Tom's Business Plan, and then try to pretend that they had all those figures in their heads, and anyway IT WAS ALL JIM'S FAULT!!!!  Karren sticks the boot in and says that they were just generally not very good.  Natasher's contribution seemed to have been to try to distract customers so that they wouldn't notice how long they'd had to wait; while we're talking to her, we turn to the matter of her degree, and I kind of wish we'd shut up about it. Unfortunately, it seems to be some kind of fixation.

They go out, they come in.

Susan and Natasher both think Jim should be fired because he has a scary dark side; they may have a point, but Natasher plays it up a bit too much and comes over like someone who's just read Dan Brown and felt he had a case worth hearing.  Back to Natasher's degree, and she says again that she didn't really like the cooky part of it, and it shouldn't be all contextualised, and she didn't "claim" (she does the little finger wavy things) to have any expertise at all.  Lord Shugagh goes on about his degree in First Aid, a skill which may have been handy a little earlier in the day, for the patrons of Caraca's.  I think he's making up the First Aid degree, because it's not on Wikipedia, but I'm not sure.

Anyway, Natasher get fired, innit, and Jim and Susan join Helen and Lovely Tom for the final.

The final, incidentally, is this Sunday, and sees the return of Mount Margaretford for the interviewy bit.

Stay tuned, because it looks hysterical.

1 comment:

Fat Dormouse said...

I'm enjoying your summaries almost as much as the programmes. I'm rooting for Lovely Tom too.