Posted by: Paul | October 14, 2010

The Apprentice – Week 2

Single-handedly putting the cause of working women back 30 years, it’s…The Apprentice!

Last night’s show began with a bit of a surprise. With the boys team already a man down after their defeat last week, SirAlan announced that Raleigh had dropped out due to a family emergency, and Stella was duly despatched to their side of the fence to even up the numbers. Pity her. Still, at least the run will now be a week shorter, as he was never going to win anyway.

This week’s show was the episode where they have to design and prototype a product, and then pitch it to retailers. It’s a bit of a shame they can’t come up with any fresh ideas, as the whole format is becoming a bit stale and you can predict exactly what’s going to happen – one team will quickly plump for a crappy idea which seems just about doable, where the others will spend ages bitching and make the decision at the last minute, by relenting to the person who is shouting about their idea the loudest.

And so it proved. In designing an ‘innovative beach accessory’, Stella and the Boys (pub band name, anyone?) ran with Jamie’s idea of…ummm…a rolled-up towel…while the girls (fronted by Laura, who looks like a frightened rabbit by Clinique and Pantene Pro-V) in the end decided to give in to Joanne’s shouting about her book stand. She may aswell have stood on the conference table and shouted ‘if you don’t use my idea I’ll sqweam until I’m sick!’

There were a couple of nice juxtapositions used early on – Stella talking about having comfortably managed teams of seriously professional businessmen who knew exactly what they were doing, intercut with shots of the boys looking gormless and cleaning their ears out with the ends of their pens. But however coolly efficient a job she did managing them, the rest of her team went and blew it by reducing her to the level of a swimwear model, sniggering at the back with schoolboyish smarm.

But however objectified Stella was rendered by acting as the product’s model, that was nothing compared to the anti-feminism exhibited by her colleagues on the other side. The girls’ team did nothing but bitch, backbite and argue throughout the whole task, resulting in an idea no-one supported and, quite literally, zero sales for the first time in Apprentice history. Laura also managed to blow any slim chance the team had of winning by turning down exclusivity with the largest chain they were pitching to, Boots (weirdly referred to as simply ‘The Chemist’ except in the pitch itself!). I think the term these days is ‘EPIC FAIL’.

This disaster and the resulting boardroom catfight led to the first absolute gem of an Apprentice moment this series – a calm but stark dressing down issued by new ‘advisor’ Karen Brady, reminding them they’re representing young businesswomen and doing neither them, nor themselves, any favours with their behaviour. Go Karen! That’s you all told, now stop the bitching.

In any case, Stella And The Boys (I’ve capitalised it now, I like it so much) won by the narrowest of margins, flogging just 100 of their pointless bits of tat. Laura was duly dragged back into the boardroom and dodged a bullet if you want my honest opinion – putting joyless Joy in the firing line proved to be a smart move, far smarter than anything else she did that day – but she was dropped a megaton of a hint by SirAlan that Joy might be the one to go, hating ‘passengers’ as he apparently does.

I can’t get used to this ‘Lord Sugar’ business. It’s as if it’s the ultimate accolade a barrow-boy made good could receive, and he’s damn well going to use it!

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Responses

  1. Apparently Sugar insists on people addressing him by his title!

    I cannot believe the prepubescent behaviour of Alex, Chris and Christopher regarding the whole swimsuit photo-shoot thing. In the real world, they would all be facing warnings or even disciplinary hearings for insubordination, bullying and sexual harassment. What are they, 14?!?

    By the way, the series won’t be a week shorter, despite Raleigh’s exit. It’s still 12 episodes, same as in every previous year. I think they just flex the process to accommodate unplanned changes – for instance, they might just have one fewer candidate at the interval stage, or there is no double firing, that sort of thing. Very clever, those TV people!

    http://slouchingtowardsthatcham.com/2010/10/14/the-apprentice-candidates-discover-lifes-a-beach-in-product-design-task/

    • It doesn’t surprise me that he insists on it, but it does make me chuckle. Yes, the boys’ behaviour was appalling, and I wondered at the time how much of Stella giving in was due to the pressure of the cameras. I’m pretty sure in any other situation she would have flatly refused.

      Good blog of your own, by the way! Meant to say that last week, I did get round to reading it.

  2. No worries. Thanks for swinging by. I keep setting out to write a very short summary, but those idiotic contestants just give you so much material to work with … 🙂

    Totally agree about Stella. I’m sure she was fuming inside – maybe that got edited out? – but she kept her cool, ensured the task got done, and her team deserved to win more clearly than they did in the end. I thought she did a great job, particularly when you consider what a shambles the boys had been the week before.


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