13/05/2011

The Apprentice - App-arently Racial stereotyping ISN'T offensive - so there

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So last night saw the emergence of: Darth Jim the Jedi mind warrior; Leon’s hair; Madam Edna’s gloves (more on those later) and the not untimely demise of Alex Bitez Cabral. The task, delivered in Baron Greenback-esq style by LudAllen, was to “think big an’ go global” via designing, launching and promoting a new mobile phone app. The comedy potential was apparent from the off and the candidates did not disappoint...


Early side note: Does Tom the Inventor sleep in his suit? At 5am when the courier arrived he was fully dressed??? The candidates had 10 minutes to get ready and everyone managed to be out of the door, full make up, hair expertly coiffed. Is this year’s house a time machine? That’s just not possible. Glen, (who I’m thinking may be this year’s totty…) put on the longest tie I have ever seen. He could have wrapped that tie around the necks of the entire boys team and still had enough to tuck into his troons. Leon decided not to wear a tie, because apparently his juices can’t flow when he has one on… (Turns out his juices don’t flow with his tie off either, but more on that later)


The boys immediately started making ‘app’ jokes (I use the term 'joke' loosely..) ‘the task is fast app-proaching’ etc. oh how they laughed...It’s fair to say that none of them have a promising career in stand-up comedy, especially Vincent (who looked even more orange this week btw) who offered up: "did you have an app-le". Even the boys didn’t laugh at that one and they missed a huge opportunity determine whether Vincent knew what an Apple looked like....


Glen, in an effort to rally the troops declared to the boys that: “We have to get ourselves heard this time and not for the wrong reasons like last time." (The owner of this years brain cell possibly?) "We’ve got to put ourselves on the map. We’ve got to prove why we’re here.” Bullshit generator app anyone? I would soooo have won that task…..


Teflon hair & Leon
Leon put himself forward as project manager, because fast food is his area (?) and he thinks it would be good for LudAllen to see him do well as P.M. “No offence,” says Gavin, “but basically I couldn’t give a shit about making you look good. I just want the best person for the job.” (Not in those words, but that was the general sentiment.) There was a flurry of volunteering to be PM, during which everyone highlighted why they would be fantastic at it, except Alex who basically said that the entire team would be better for this one than he would. The first ‘Nick face’ of the episode aired on the back of that statement, classic! Meanwhile, Madam Edna decided that she’s was going to be PM...whether the other girls liked it or not. “Anyone else?” she asked, glowering at each girl in turn…. no one was brave enough to challenge her and thus the matter was settled.



The teams then started to brainstorm apps. Tom the inventor suggested an app that ”...can tell you what the temperature was a year ago”. Huh? He also suggested “..traffic lights…” Just traffic lights, he hadn't thought it through any further than that...Bless! At least he was making an effort, but I think he may have peaked with his invention of the ‘curved nail file’….The boys finally settled on Glen’s suggestion of an app that has regional accent insults. You knew it wasn’t going to end well… In fact at that point, I felt the boys had lost until the camera cut to Susan who, in attempt to rival Lookey-Likey (Melissa) from last season in terms of articulacy, announced that she: “…just thought of this, I think it's a BRILLIANT idea…One where you’re you and I’m me and I say OK”. (Genius, because usually, I’m you and you’re me and I say no - this app will sell like hotcakes…) The girls unsurprisingly looked confused…Madam Edna was not amused “This sounds a bit complicated Susan” she hissed - Code for ‘we haven’t got time for this crap shut up’. Susan, this years Violet Elizabeth, whined that she should be allowed to finish her idea “..because I don’t think I’m explaining it very well”. (Massive understatement Violet….) Violet later announced that “because of our MASSIVE age gap…” Edna “….was down on me a bit". The other girls, left in no doubt as to how Madam Edna would deal with insurgents (post her announcement that she was PM and “if you don’t agree with the way that I do things then leave my team…”) wisely declined to comment..



Post a spot of market research the girls decided that they needed to create an app that was 'idiot proof' (I wonder who they used to test it….) and they finally settled upon an app ‘to annoy people with’, which clearly they were qualified to produce. Playing to their strengths, good strategy.


For the purposes of this task, I am now focusing
They moved to the design/production stage where Melody, who may be able to recognise fruit, demonstrated that she clearly has no idea what a cat sounds like… She did however announce that "For the purposes of this task, I am now focusing." Sadly, on doing worst cat impersonation in history. Their app also included a barking elephant. I have no words…..



Back in the boys camp, Vince pointed out that, given the nature of their app, "..we need to be careful not to offend anyone..” Cut to Glen suggesting that the “scouser” should say, “Hey mate, how’s your wife and my kids.” Strangely, Jim decided that shouldn’t make it to the final product….. " Nick, who appeared to be morphing into Kenneth Williams last night, announced that the app was “bland and meaningless..." and that he was ‘very perplexed”. You weren’t alone Nick, you weren’t alone…



On to the sales pitches where Felicity announced that the sales pitch should involve “…being really positive about the app." Thank God she was there, the girls would probably have just gone in and announced the app was a pile of poo without that insight. The girls suggested to Madame Edna that Melody be responsible for the sales pitch at the impending app expo as ‘she pitches to young teenagers for a living’. (Side note: Apparently, she’s been doing it for 13 years. Given she’s only about 12 years old now, I’m going to file that claim in the same drawer as the “I was personally taught by the Dalai Lama" gem…) Madam Edna had other ideas, she, apparently, had “looked at strengths and made a decision about who should do which task…” Her decision was that Melody is crap, she is all powerful and the world (aka the pitch) was “mine, mine I tell you. Brouhahahahahahaha…” OK, I made up the last bit, but we all know that’s what she was thinking. Madame Edna gave Melody the 'carrot' of pitching to the web companies to persuade them to market their app. Melody tried to be sporting about it, but felt she could only give 100% as the app was crap. Apprentice history must surely have been made last night? A candidate offering less than 110%??? Was she trying to sabotage her team??? Despite some rather lacklustre pitching from Melody and an inability to justify why their app contains a barking elephant, the girls secured “WIRED” the largest distributor.



Vince, ballsing up the pitch.....
Leon, whose hair appeared to have been be moulded to his head, throughout the episode (seriously watch it on iplayer, his hair doesn’t move), decided not to bring an experienced salesmen with him to pitch. Instead, he chose Vince... Vince, in an effort to ensure no one is left in any doubt that he's a massive cock announced that “I’ll go in there with my usual charismatic attitude”. He then proceeded to give a pitching master class and by that I mean a master class in how NOT to pitch. It was torturous.. Leon looked on helplessly as Vincent stumbled his way through, luckily Jim was on hand to ‘fix-it’ and saved the day. He couldn’t salvage things at WIRED, where one of the team raised the “issue of taste” and racial stereotyping. "How do avoid racial stereotyping if you put an Aussie guy there with a hat with corks?" he, quite reasonably, asked. Jim insisted it was OK because: “Racial stereotypes aren’t derogatory”. Really?? The WIRED staff were as unconvinced as I was and as it later transpired, declined to market the app. The deluded boys thought the meeting "went really well" and exited slapping each other on the back. Thus proving themselves to be stereotypical Apprentice candidates....


At the expo it became clear why Madam Edna was so keen to take on the pitch. It was basically so she could appear in her dominatrix black gloves in front of an audience of 500 nervous youngsters. All she needed was a whip to complete the effect. Madam Edna delivered the pitch in the style of a Bond villain (Baron Greenback would have worked too, but LudAllen used him earlier in the episode). The audience looked appropriately terrified as she announced that she had a "secret to share with YOU and YOU and YOU”. Felicity pointed out that Madam Edna’s pitch “was weak and I think she knows." If Felicity doesn’t turn up in next weeks episode, the police should impound Madam Edna’s gloves as evidence….


Madam Edna & gloves
Cut to the boardroom where LudAllen gave us a passable ‘ism’, wondering whether the candidates would be “Steve Jobs or would he be out of a job” (4.5/10). He also told them that “you don't show all of your goodies at once", (a maxim I live my life by) perhaps THAT’s why Madam Edna didn’t rock the whip at the expo….


The girls won with 10,067 people downloading their app. I think it’s fair to say that the boys weren’t the real losers last night, the morons who downloaded that dreadful app are. On the upside, that signifies that there are at least 10,067 budding Apprentice candidates out there, this show can go on for many more years!


LudAllen announced to the boys, as he sent them off to reflect, that while they were on the subject of phones: “The future is not bright (5/10).. for one of you, the next application you might be making is a job application (4/10)."


Leon, (who has a promising career as a 1960’s catalogue model and whose hair is clearly made of Teflon - it literally hadn't moved for days...) proved how decisive he was by asking for volunteers for the boardroom. “I’m going to ask you straight out, was anyone not pulling their weight?” He looked genuinely confused that there was no response to that question. Glen was very bullish about their pitch at the expo, he couldn’t understand what had gone wrong “We had five hundred people laughing at us on stage.” There were far more than five hundred Glen, millions of viewers were also laughing at you on stage.


Back in the boardroom everyone agreed with LudAllen that, in hindsight, their app was rubbish and definitely not suitable for a global audience. Leon agreed that they ‘didn’t understand that racial stereotyping would be offensive.’ They had all previously agreed that the description Jim wrote of their product was fabulous and Jim was the man. Now however, they agreed that it was ineffective and part of the reason the app didn't sell. Leon couldn’t decide who to bring back and settled on Jim (as LudAllen had signposted that for him) and Alex. Darth Jim was having none of that and utilised Jedi mind tricks to convince Leon that he really didn’t want to bring Jim into the boardroom.
Darth Jim: ...I'm not the person you should be bringing in...You need to change your decision. You have made a grave error my boy. I am your leader. You cannot sacrifice your leader.
Leon: I have made a grave error, I am wrong and evil. I cannot sacrifice my leader.
Darth Jim: Tell LudAllen you’ve changed your mind. Take someone less charismatic who doesn’t have Liam Neesons voice and is unable to ’fix-it’ like I can.
Leon: You’re right, the voice is very soothing; I know I can’t choose you, but who can I pick? It’s clear I am unable to make a sensible decision unaided...
Darth Jim whispering soothingly: LudAllen mentioned that evil GLEN thought up the hideously offensive app, blame him my boy

None of you will remember the bits of conversation in italics above, because Darth Jim transmitted it directly into Leon’s head. As a result, Leon decided to take Glen and Alex in. (Glen's entreaty to Darth Jim as to whether he thought that was fair was met with: "It's done and it's agreed...The PM has made a decision..". Darth Jim is a legend!") Alex was pretty much a shoe in to go, particularly as he helpfully pointed out to LudAllen that he was “..guilty of not showing or demonstrating what I can do”. He didn’t feel that was a reason to fire him though as, if he were to go into business with LudAllen “there’d be no bush to hide in.” LudAllen decided that he had to go as he could guarantee he wouldn’t be “sitting in a van slicing bread” with Alex.


Did the right person go? Definitely. He was clearly lazy and useless and as Nick succinctly put it, ‘ He had two weeks to shine, and spent two weeks in the shadows”.

Final point, I don't think Darth Jim is to be trusted, we all saw that wink.... 

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