Sunday, 10 July 2011

The Apprentice Series 7: Week 9

So, after last week's trip to Paris, we're back in Blighty, and still really hoping to get rid of Melody (well, I am.  Hoping to get rid of Melody.  Not back from Paris.  Never was in Paris.  Well I WAS, but not since you've known me. Do you see?).  It's a Sunday afternoon, and they're all lounging around in the house when Lord Shugagh turns up on the doorstep.  Mean Melody is wrapped in a towel.

The task is thus: they are to create a new biscuit and then flog it to supermarkets.  It's a bit like the dog food thing, but without the relief of the advertising part.  So, teams:  Helen, Natasher (yeah?) and Jim in one; Susan, Zoe, Mean Melody and Lovely Tom in the other.  They appoint leaders: Helen sells food, so that's quite relevant, so she gets chosen.  Susan thinks this is right up her street, because SHE ALWAYS DOES.  Every week.  Every. single. freaking. week.  But Zoe works in the food industry, and slaps her down to take the lead.  "That's SO unfair, Zoe" says Susan, for about the millionth time this series.

Anyway, they start drawing pictures of biscuits.  Melody wants to do Valentine's Day biscuits, which is a bit crap when it's not Valentine's Day.  She gets sent off to the biscuit factory with Lovely Tom, mainly, I suspect, to get rid of her.  Jim has also been packed off from his team.

Lovely Tom wants to make an emergency biscuit, called an Emercrunchie.  The best that can be said about this is that he's very cute the way he says it.  They spend a while at the factory, watching a Welsh guy making biscuits and playing with ingredients.

Helen's lot are making a biscuit for children; Jim puts fizzy poppy stuff on a his and nearly chokes Karren.  Lovely Tom comes up with the idea of having a biscuit inside a biscuit; Mean Melody thinks that's a bit complex.  Meanwhile, she is trying to make popcorn out of a pile of squished Corn Flakes, marshmallows and biscuit mixture.

Cut to London, and ooooooh, Susan says she can't stand Zoe.  This should be good.

Jim takes a tray of biscuits to some children, and then steals all their ideas.  They suggest that he makes star-shaped flapjacks called Special Stars, so that's what they do.  In fairness, these are the best ideas we've seen all series, and since the kids are only small, nicking their suggestions is probably quite an astute move.  He phones Helen and Natasher, who are drinking coffee and doing feck all, and tells them about the star thing.  They like it, but they need a tag line.  The biscuits are going to be for after school.  So they need a tag line that suggests that these are biscuits which you would give your child after school, like in the afternoon, between the hours of 2-4pm, roughly.  That sort of time.  "Any time is treat time!" they yell, and, despite some resistance from Natasher (who, rather sensibly, points out that "after school" is quite a specific time), that's what they go with. *sigh*  Now Jim just has to make a truckload of the things.

Lovely Tom and Mean Melody go into their focus group with more plates of biscuits.  They hate the emergency biscuit, but - and here's the critical bit - Lovely Tom REALISES this, and moves on.  To something else. He actually listens to a focus group.  They love his biscuit-in-a-biscuit thing, though.  Mean Melody tries out her popcorn biscuits, and calls them 'popsquits', which is just as dreadful a name as one could imagine.  On the other hand, they like her heart biscuit.  Probably because they're so relieved that it doesn't sound like something you'd catch on holiday.  Of course, by the time she phones Zoe, Melody is claiming "They didn't like any other biscuit shape, apart from the heart".  That's because the ONLY OTHER SHAPE you showed them was 'crumbling landmine'.  Lovely Tom explains his biscuit-in-a-biscuit idea, and Melody stands there going "I don't like that", as if anyone cares what she thinks.

Helen and Natasher are at the designer, trying to explain how "Any time is treat time" goes with "After school".  Natasher is "opening up time".

Susan and Zoe are thinking up names, and come up with Bix-Mix, which is actually not too bad.  The biscuit looks quite good too - it's a digestive with a buttercream bit in the middle, and half is covered in chocolate.  The idea is that you can snap it in half.  The designer comes up with a box that looks quite nice and classy, I think.

The ones who were at the factory are now on their way home, and Melody is spending the journey coming up with what may be the worst idea of the series so far.  They're discussing tomorrow's pitch, see. "I think we should do a role play.  We'd be silly not to".  She forces Lovely Tom to rehearse it.  He takes the piss A LOT, and we hope he is humouring her.

The next morning, the biscuits arrive.  Bix Mix looks quite good, although it snaps in half so that one person gets all the chocolate, and the other person gets no chocolate at all.  Foolish would be the person who tried to give me the non-chocolate half.  The star things look quite good too.

Into the pitches.  Mean Melody thinks Bix Mix needs to be aimed at someone, but Zoe thinks anyone should be allowed to eat them.  We barely get time to ponder this, however, before being hauled into the pitch and being made to sit through the Role Play.  Yes.  Yes.  Yes, they actually do it, and it is the most cringe-inducing piece of television I think I have ever seen.  Seriously, go and Google it.  We'll be here (I tried to get it on YouTube, but the only version I could find had added swearing, so I decided it was Inappropriate).  It ends with Melody saying "Where was this made?  In Heaven?", which leads into Zoe saying "No, actually, it was made here in the UK".  It is dreadful.  It is mind-bogglingly awful.

Special Stars, in comparison, seems lovely and clean and wonderful, even though they're basically saying that children can have treats at any time.  Natasher tries to explain the time-bending thing again.  And fails, again.

Lovely Tom is stuck in a car with Melody, going to Asda.  Melody decides they need a target market.  When they get to Asda, she tells Zoe this.  Zoe disagrees, and they have a screaming row in the midde of the supermarket.  The role play happens again, this time with Zoe and Melody in the main roles, as best friends.  We know they are more likely to stuff the Bix Mix down each other's throats or clobber each other with the boxes than they are to 'snap and share'.  The Asda people think the biscuit is a bit gross, so Susan tells them about its unique selling point, which is that it can be snapped.  Kit Kat, anyone?

Jim and co go in with their Special Stars, and get asked about how they would launch them.  Jim starts waffling about TV advertising, and how it'll be endorsed by Harry Potter and all sorts of other things, and he promises that they'll spend millions on advertising.  I think this is quite clever - if it's all fictional anyway, you may as well pretend whatever you want - but Karren is nervous.

To the boardroom, but not before Zoe moans about Melody a bit more.

In front of Lord Shugagh, Melody actually tries to defend the role play thing.  It does not work.  We all have a laugh about Jim's advertising promise; we can only hope that that's next week's task.

The results are in.  Bix Mix has bombed; no orders at all.  Special Stars, on the other hand, received an order for 800,000 units, which is worth about £1,500,000.  I rather feel they should deduct the £30 million they were planning to spend on advertising, but they don't.

Jim, Helen and Natasher get sent off for afternoon tea, which is a bit of a crap treat at this stage of the game.  The others go to Cafe StareAtEachOtherAndSnarkABit, where they all stare at each other and snark a bit.  Lovely Tom seems to be in bother, because nobody liked the biscuit he made.  I think this is unfair on Lovely Tom, because he tried very hard, and because I love Lovely Tom.  Back in the boardroom, Lovely Tom says that he didn't know that he was making a luxury biscuit.

Anyway, we quickly descend into Zoe and Melody yelling at each other.  Zoe has the most boring voice in the world, and Melody (who, as someone fabulously pointed out, looks like Jimmy Carr) over-enunciates everything, so it's a very weird argument.  They both just yell whatever comes into their heads, which doesn't help, as the stuff that comes into their heads is not of that high a quality to begin with.

Zoe brings Lovely Tom and Mean Melody back in.  I want Mean Melody to go.  Please please please.  Lovely Tom is accused of not knowing that £1.99 is a premium biscuit price.  I do not think that knowing how much biscuits cost is a key part of being a successful business person.  Zoe yells a bit, and Lovely Tom says "umm, err, umm" in reply.  Melody finally decides she's had enough of no one talking about how great she is, and butts in with how great she is.  Lovely Tom points out that the focus group didn't like her ideas, and she says that 10 people do not represent the biscuit-buying public.  She was not saying this last week, when 4 people in a Metro station represented all of France.

Eventually, Zoe gets fired for not going to the factory, even though Helen didn't go to the factory either.  Outside, Melody stalks off with her nose in the air, and Lovely Tom gives Zoe a very awkward-looking, but extremely endearing hug.  In the taxi back to the house, Melody goes on about how awful Zoe was, and Lovely Tom looks like he wants to chuck her out the window.

Over on You're Fired, we learn that Zoe has had Cancer twice, and then she gets presented with a copy of 'Coffin Dodger' as her firing present.  Which is a little unfortunate.

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