19/05/2011

The Apprentice - Darth Jim wins the day...again

This week the candidates had to buy 10 items for the recently refurbished Savoy hotel (yeah, like they’d rely on that lot for critical items days before opening). This task is usually one of may favourites and hot on the heels of one of the best episodes last week (Madam Edna’s glove must surely have they’re own following?) I had high expectations. I was cruelly disappointed, it had to be one of the dullest episode ever.…Side note: Inspector Gadget (Tom the Inventor) definitely does sleep in his suit, 6am and he was fully dressed. Gavin, (a scouser, who actually SAID "Calm down" in tonight’s episode), made the huge mistake of saying: “There is no way I’m going to lose the task”. Gavin, Gavin, Gavin, have you not watched this show before? You pretty much signed your death warrant with that statement. There was little doubt in my mind that Gav would end the episode wheeling his little suitcase into the waiting black cab. 

The King of Tonga wouldn't ask for a discount...
Mindful of the fact that the boys team had been rubbish for the last couple of weeks, LudAllen decided to mix things up a bit, sending Darth Jim, Glen and Leon to join Venture and Natasha, Zoe and Ellie over to Logic. Glen, forgetting that he had jinxed himself earlier, foolishly volunteered to be P.M. Vince, (who clearly hadn’t forgotten LudAllen’s “the future's bright” quip last week & wore the most hideous orange tie I’ve ever seen…) made his, now customary, half-hearted play to be PM, however, the team settled on the hapless Gavin. Back in camp Venture, Susan decided she should be PM because she’d worked on a market stall and had paid her Mum’s mortgage whilst doing her A’levels, apparently. The severe girl with the scraped back hair (and red dress in the promo pic) announced that she thought this was a task for an "organiser and a delegator". Given that Susan couldn't even organise her own thoughts last week (an app where "you're you and I'm me"??), it seemed more than a little foolish when the team supported her bid. I pushed my scepticism aside and started to take her seriously when Darth Jim seconded her, that man knows what’s what….

Susan’s team started off well, securing leads for pretty much all the products. Susan decided that their strategy would be to go ‘cheap, cheap, cheap”. “Whatever they say” she said; “say a fiver…” and “go East” as everything in London is cheaper if you go East (right....). Meanwhile Gavin’s team had no idea what they were doing, or what any of the products were – Apart from Filet Steak, which Vince later tried to buy from a Fishmongers (deep sigh). No one was surprised, we know Vince isn’t great at the identification of foodstuff…Natasha, who we hadn’t seen that much of before tonight, proved why she should have remained in the background. She did this by deciding to call The Ritz, a competitor of the Savoy and offering them the ‘win-win’ opportunity to just give her their suppliers list. The staff in the procurement department of The Ritz, unable to recognise a ‘win-win’ opportunity when they hear one, surprisingly declined…..

Vince or Mickey Pearce?
After 3 hours of making no progress Gavin’s team having been told to “calm down” decided to just get out there and find stuff (I’m sorry but what WAS Gav thinking? A Scouser, telling people to “calm down” …I wonder if he mixed this task up with last week’s and still thought he was creating a racist phone app?) Gavin, even though he was “gonna make the decisions”, wanted to know whether his team agreed that “collectively it was the right decision” to leave. They did and Gavin (some may say foolishly), put Vince put in charge of the sub team. According to Vince, he was the obvious choice for that role as: “I’m direct. I’m efficient. I know how to negotiate and I can be in charge of 3 strong ladies.” Strong ladies up and down the country, barfed at the thought of being a charge of Vince’s… (Side note: Vince is definitely a dead ringer for Mickey Pearce from "Only Fools and Horses").

Mickey Pearce or Vince?

Susan, despite her earlier directive to go East, went very, very West. In fact to Mayfair, which as LudAllen put it, is “not exactly the paaaand shop area is it?” Unsurprisingly, no one was prepared to negotiate with them in any of the shops in Mayfair. Especially the scary silk Organza lady whose response to Susan’s, "It's actually for a very, very important client” plea was, not unreasonably: "How does that make a difference to me?" Meanwhile Gav’s team managed to get some Organza for 25% cheaper, by going slightly less West (not even East) to Shepherds Bush. It was to be one of the few victorys they had tonight though. Such was the difficulty Susan’s team had negotiating in Mayfair that they became orgasmic at the prospect of a 1p discount on a £350 Top hat….Had they listened to Nick pointing out that the last time he was here "none other than the King of Tonga.." who clearly doesn’t barter, was there, they would have run like the wind from that shop. OK, why was Nick in a shop selling Top Hat’s??? Anybody???

Meanwhile, Darth Jim explained to us that he was an “Irish bulldog of charm” and that whilst he doesn’t know what rapport is, if he did, he’d “bottle it and sell it.” (There speaks a real businessman, give that man £250,0000 worth of cash and "value"...). He demonstrated this by using mind control techniques to get Bob, the accountant, in the butchers where they were buying Filet Steak, to give him meat, not for £180 as agreed with Michael the butcher, but for an EXTRA £10 off, at £170. That £10, would prove to be crucial later in the show… (Side note: ‘Butchers’ Vince/Mickey, you buy meat in a ‘Butchers’, not in a ‘Fishmongers”, deep sigh….)

Gavin’s team, continued to flounder with:
(a) Natasha actually negotiating UP from £20 to £80 for the brass sign, before being interrupted by Vince/Mickey. “I could have driven the price down further” she moaned. What ‘down’ from £80 to £450 ??? I can’t imagine that I will be in agreement with Vince/Mickey very often this series, but this time, I think he made the right decision.
(b) Vince/Mickey forgetting that you should never tell a seller how much you have to spend before establishing their prices, ended up paying over the odds for Filet – On the upside, at least he recognised the Filet.
(c) Gavin, and Tom deciding that a Cloche was a little greenhouse. Obviously, because you often see little greenhouses in hotels….I really wish they had bought one, LudAllen would have ripped them to pieces! (Side note: It IS actually a little greenhouse as well as culinary equipment, but context people, context??)
(d) Gavin enquiring as to whether Top Hat Cleaners would be somewhere he could buy a Top Hat. The bemused proprietor could barely conceal his amusement as he pointed that you couldn't buy a Top Hat from a DRY CLEANERS (deep, deep sigh).
(e) Melody asking people whether they had any syphilis (I swear that’s what she said…) unsurprisingly, no one she spoke to admitted to having any. (To be fair, I'd never heard of Physalis either, but in my defence, I did know what a cloche was).

Vince/Mickey decided that none of the ‘3 strong women’ were capable of negotiating (to be fair Natasha had not raised the bar very high on that one…) and interrupted Ellie when she was trying to buy 3-ply toilet roll. “By the sound of it, you can’t find it anywhere,’ he observed (rudely). “Well I’ve only rung one”, said Ellie, who proceeded to find some with her next call. Vince/Mickey punished her for her insubordination by taking the phone off of her and taking over. (He’s obviously been taking ‘management’ lessons from Madam Edna – is it my imagination, or did she have the gloves on again tonight?!)

Pippi the Elder fleecing Susan
Susan, aware that Darth Jim’s sub team had bought pretty much everything (of course), decided she couldn’t come back without Camomile Tea. The strategy was to pay £30 for it, so imagine her surprise when the shopkeeper (who for some reason was in fancy dress as Pippi Longstocking’s older sister or more worryingly Eva Braun...), informed them that it would be £900. Yes that was £900, for Camomile Tea. Just in case you missed that it was £900, for tea. As LudAllen later put it, “where’s ya brains? ‘Ow can tea be £900?” Apparently, it can be £900 if it’s very ‘rare’ Camomile Tea, that comes from Turkey? (Where it must have been dried on the thighs of young virgins or something? I repeat £900???) None of them had brains, because instead of running screaming in the other direction (as both LudAllen and I would have - or at the very least to a supermarket for some Twinings) they decided to negotiate with Pipi the Elder. Strangely, Pippi the Elder was happy to give away her rare, virgin dried Turkish tea for £400. So not THAT rare then….Pippi the Elder was killing herself laughing behind the cup of (doubtless not that rare, or dried by virgin, or maybe even Turkish) tea she was sipping throughout the entirety of the ‘negotiation’. She clearly, saw the numptys coming from a mile off… I must admit, for a moment I thought Susan had lost the task, until I remember that Gav had said the magic words at the top of the episode….

Zoe's first (and almost last) outing
Anyway, Gavin’s team managed not to get the majority of the items, whilst (Turkish, virgin dried tea included), Susan’s team got 9 items. With fines for missing items, Susan’s team won by £8, Darth Jim’s extra tenner obviously being the deciding factor!!!! Sadly, there was no opportunity for Darth Jim to display his super powers in the board room, but to be fair he’d worked them hard throughout the episode - He merely smiled at a women when buying light bulbs and managed to get loads of money off. (At least, outwardly he appeared to be smiling at her. In reality, he was clearly transmitting instructions to the hapless lady who had no choice but to succumb...) Is it me or are the winners prizes become more ‘budget’ with every series/episode? For their efforts, Susan’s team were rewarded with views of the crotches of two bendy women on trapezes in an empty room??? Madam Edna did not appear to be amused, though she was probably kicking herself for not having worn the gloves. (Not sure why, but the bendy crotches, put me in mind of Madam Edna’s gloves – I may need therapy…) On the upside, they appear to have been given cocktails. 

Gav, looking calm...
So to the ‘bitchfest’ that was the final board room. Gavin bought Vince/Micky and Zoe in. “Who’s Zoe?” I hear you cry. No idea, I think she turned up this week (Grandma Twanky style) and was saved merely because LudAllen had no clue who she was either. Gavin decided Vince/Micky should go because his management style was questionable and ‘he couldn’t run a bath’. (LudAllen’s script writers should really have had that one….) Vince/Mickey’s attempts to defend himself were met with a rather good LudAllenism: "I know you're Belgian and that's where the waffle comes from" (6/10? Well I thought it was funny….) I wasn’t worried for him as, apart from the fact that the Producers couldn’t possibly allow the comedy potential that is Vince/Mickey to leave this early in the game, Gavin had said the magic words earlier. I was right, Gavin went and as much as I liked him, (despite the “calm down” incident), he did deserve to go…

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