The Apprentice - Did you know that Susan sells skincare products?

This week kicked off with a strangely unprepared Inspector Gadget (aka Tom), the courier arrived and he wasn’t wearing his suit. Was this an omen? I took it to be a bad sign. (He did, however, have on bright blue pants. Not sure whether that was significant, but you can never tell with this show….) Anyway for some bizarre reason, the team were chauffeured to the British Museum (which might have ‘dinosaurs and stuff’ according to Violet/Susan) to be told by LudAllen that the task was beauty, “A massive business” and they had to “get a piece of that action.” LudAllen added that there was money to be made "if you know what you’re doing." Unfortunately for LudAllen's bank balance, it transpired that none of the candidates (not even Violet/Susan who sells skincare products for a living) knew what they were doing...

LudAllen mixed the teams up a bit, moving Darth Jim over to Logic in the hope that they might break their duck and actually win something this week. Sadly the team also included Vince/Mickey and to add insult to injury, he put Felicity in charge. So despite the presence of the all powerful Darth Jim, things weren't looking promising for team Logic...

Meanwhile Team Venture was being led by Zoe, (so a girl was clearly going tonight...) whose voice could successfully be utilised as a method of extreme torture - In the event that her team won, I was hoping the prize would be elocution lessons, with an emphasis on how to modulate. (I had momentarily forgotten what a tight wad LudAllen has recently become with the prizes. It ended up being a dance lesson with a couple from the 'Strictly' team - Personally, I'd have preferred a trip back to the losers cafe...) Anyway Zoe got Violet/Susan (who by the way, sells skincare products for a living) on her team and as she later said in the boardroom, felt "all her birthdays had come at once." That feeling was to be short lived...

So the teams set off to the view the products they could bid for/sell. The excitement in Felicity's car was palpable as she confessed to being a “girly girl". Ellie, the obligatory Northerner (who struggled to spell the word 'vegetable' in the first task), seemed to think it was necessary to point out (in the style of Nora Batty) that she wasn't a “girly girl”. Yes, and Bears do sh#t in the woods Ellie... To lighten the mood Inspector Gadget pointed out that in Vince ("I know my cosmetics")/Mickey, they has the "girliest man in the group". Vince/Mickey, who is obviously more secure in his masculinity than Leon, accepted the comment with a leer. Leon spent the entire episode announcing, to all who crossed his path, that he has a girlfriend and on that basis couldn't get involved with anything to do with beauty products. Yes, because it’s a well known fact that men who have girlfriends aren't allowed to have anything to do with cosmetics Leon, especially if it involves spraying fake tan on another bloke. Violet/Susan pointed out that it would be OK, as she coerced Leon into learning how to spray tan later, "It won't make you gay”. She of course, is an authority on this as she sells skincare products for a living. Do you think that's what Leon was worried about....? (Watch clip on BBC iplayer)

Post a review of the usual collection of weird products, Felicity's team ended up with a clip-in 'winge' (a hair piece, cross between a wig and a fringe) - apt for a group that contained Natasha - and some shells that you heat up and massage people with. They had wanted the spray tan machine, but Zoe's team won that as, per the supplier, they were really "passionate" about the product. (Violet/Susan had also mentioned that she sells skincare products for a living & she squealed a lot, which is doubtless what swung it for them).

Inspector Gadget attempted to inject a smidgen of planning and common sense into the proceedings by: (a) reading all the materials provided; (b) having the effrontery to do some basic profit margin calculations and declare treatments (not products) to be the way forward;(c) questioning the efficiency of a treatment room that was so far away from the main stand and indeed the fact that there was only one. (Another one who has clearly never watched the show before or he'd realise trivial details like that are meaningless to the majority of Apprentice candidates). Later, the team would show some ingenuity by managing to carry out two massages and a hairdo, simultaneously, in what was basically a broom cupboard. For the moment though, Felicity instructed Inspector Gadget to "stop reading" as she had it all covered - and presumably no good would come of new fangled ideas like ‘reading’, ‘planning’ and ‘research’. In any event Melody "envisaged" that they would be fine. So that was sorted then…

As well as the spray tan machine, Zoe and team Venture secured some skincare/tanning lotions that Violet/Susan wanted to order 3 truck loads of, as she was convinced she could sell that quantity single handed,  (after all, she sells skincare products for a living). Zoe offered up a rare display of common sense for an Apprentice candidate, decided to ignore her and go for 1.5 truckloads. Team Venture opted for an out of town shopping centre that allowed them to occupy a three-room spa. No one mentioned repeat business at all throughout the day, because post Natasha’s awful & televised take on a Brummie accent, the team will never be allowed within the city limits again….

So to the task of selling, which predictably, both teams did badly and the editing team spliced together expertly to ensure maximum entertainment value for the viewer. On team Logic: Natasha won the award for worst selling technique of the episode with her proclamation to a potential customer that, ‘These winges are £24. It’s like a pet hamster isn’t it?” Followed closely by her assuring a brunette customer that a blonde hairpiece sat on top of her head didn’t look at all ridiculous – it did. Vince/Mickey was his usual oily self, only it appears that Brummie ladies are a bit more discerning than Londoners. His lead in of: "Your hair’s nice, would you like a massage?" being treated with the contempt it deserves….

Team Logic continued to ignore Inspector Gadget’s earlier advice re massive profit margins on beauty treatments and instead, focused on selling hairpieces and pink bows. They finally cottoned on to their mistake around closing time (OK 3.30 pm), at which point panic stations were hit. Felicity, in her infinite wisdom, decided that sending students up for free 3 minute massages would result in them paying to staying longer. It didn’t… It did however, result in an ‘interesting’ young lady announcing to Ellie that she had never been massaged by a woman before and that it “normally leads to something else doesn’t it?” Ellie’s considered response being, "Really? Well it won’t this time…" She obviously isn't a team player, think how much she could have charged for "something else". Zoe wasn't quite so sqeamish, cut to her massaging the feet of a positively orgasmic middle-aged lady. She explained that "If you can stimulate treatments from the foot, it stimulates the entire body". Clearly prepared to take one for the team...

Team Logic is seriously cursed, even, the generally suave, Darth Jim, came across all pycho. He lurched, unexpectedly, into the treatment room and announced to two bemused teenage boys, who expected to be massaged by Ellie that "4 hands are better than 2". One of the boys declined his offer (can't think why), the other probably figured Darth Jim was as feminine as Ellie and went for it.

Meanwhile Team Venture were, let's face it, purely by chance, focusing on the higher margin treatments. Even Leon, whose gay panic appeared to have subsided by that point, was pulling the customers in via "this weird finger thing," Karen noted he had developed. Elsewhere, Violet/Susie (who sells skincare products for a living) was failing spectacularly, at the task of selling the products she boldly declared earlier she could sell alone. It wasn't her fault though apparently, it was because everyone in the shopping centre was poor (will any of this years candidates be welcome within Birmingham's city limits again?). She held her ground whilst being attacked by the other girls (led by arch tactician Zoe), on the team for her failure by winging that it was "so unfair". Karen, was unmoved, declaring that "If you set yourself up as something you're not, you're in for a big fall." (At last, someone who's watched The Apprentice before).

So to the board room and a half decent LudAllenism: “Well you’ve done your beauty stuff and now you have to deal with the beast side of things. Me.” (7/10. Too generous?) The script writers were really on form last night as it was quickly followed up by LudAllen observing that team Logic lost the spray tan and it "looks like Vincent 'ad one before you lost it!" (Vince/Mickey was not amused...!). Anyway to cut a long story short, unsurprisingly, Felicity’s team lost with, as Nick eloquently put it, “A pig ugly loss of £246.28.” Late side note: What was up with Nick last night? He was in a foul mood, positively hormonal. He cut Darth Jim down to size with the comment “that was £14 that you bravely handed in”, when Darth Jim claimed to have started selling to save the team. Has Nick finally had enough of the numpties too?

An extensive period of dithering and confusion on Felicity's part ensued, over the fact that she had to bring two people back to the boardroom, (deep sigh, another one who’s has clearly never seen the show before…) Felicity finally decided to 'be decisive' and bring Ellie and Natasha back into the boardroom - for reasons that she couldn’t articulate. Ellie (who by this point sounded like a really miffed Nora Batty) and Natasha wisely formed an allegiance and ganged up on Felicity. The hapless Felicity, found herself in the black cab at the end of the episode. In a shock departure from the usual fake hugs and warm goodbyes, generally doled out to the loser, Natasha and Ellie completely ignored Felicity on the way out. They went on to shamelessly boast about their bad behaviour back at the house, with Natasha declaring that there are “no friends in business”. 

Did the right person leave last night? Yes, though, to be fair, a few more should have gone with her, they were all rubbish. Should Natasha have been given the chop too? Yes, for: (a) having the female equivalent of Leon’s hair (which for the 4th episode in a row, failed to move) and; (b) actually using the phrase “last minute dot com” whilst not discussing the website.

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