The Apprentice blog: Episode 11 Series 7

Posted on by Nell Frizzell

“Sixteen candidates, twelve tough weeks, one life-changing opportunity”. That’s Apprentice maths, chums, and we’re down to the final five.

It’s 6.30am and Natasha has made breakfast in bed. Imagine Jeeves, but with the jawline of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the squint of Josh Hartnett and the vocabulary of Vicky Pollard.

The phone rings and the job seekers are ordered to the city at once. “Do we have to wear anything in particular?” Jim burrs to the dead tone. Never mind. “I’ll wear what I always wear and look a million dollars,” he recovers. Green, paper-thin and crumpled it is, then.

The challenge, presented before the plate glass windows of the Square Mile, is to set up a new fast food chain restaurant. “I’ve laid on some staff for you, so you can put on a proper fast food experience,” says Lord Alanstrad. That’s two fat men in tracksuits fighting outside a kebab shop, then.

“I’ve got a BA hons in hospitality” Natasha tells her teammates Jim and Susan. Hospitality? Natasha exudes all the hospitality of a sandpaper suppository.

“What is our USP?” Helen asks her teammate Tom. Chinless, underweight neurosis, broadcast across the nation?

Venture’s Natasha, Jim and Susan choose Mexican food for their restaurant while Logic plump for great British pies. Oh I see. They’re running a catering van at a festival. I hope they stocked up on E-coli.

“I’m thinking of a big happy looking Mexican man with a moustache,” muses Susan, strolling through the sex shops of Soho. Well, we all need a break from work sometimes.

Tom, meanwhile, is playing the name game. Micro pie, pie in the sky, Brit Pie? “I’ve just dyslexically read some things and possibly come up with some genius ideas,” claims Tom, echoing the famous last words of King Cnut.

“How about Caracas, as in the little shaking Mexican things?” says Jim, the Northern Irish cultural attaché for Latin America. Meanwhile, in the office, things are turning sour between the Venture ladies. “If I say black, Susan says white” barks Michael Jackson. Oh sorry, no, that’s Natasha.

Helen and Tom are naming their pies after Britain and its history. How about ‘Rape and Pillage’? Or ‘Syphilitic Naval Force’? Or maybe just ‘Peasants’? “Didn’t Columbus discover the potato?” interjects Tom. “Yes he did!” beams Helen. Can you hear that? That is the sound of geography, crying into history’s pot noodle.

MyPy is starting to look a little like an English Defence League rally. Just in time for it to be completely unsalvageable, Nick then points out that Christopher Columbus was about as British as pesto.

“I’m Nacho man!” Jim tells his kitchen hand within the Tango-smeared walls of Caracas. Can you imagine if The Village People had included a thyroidic Irish bullshit whippet? Gay culture would have never recovered.

And so, it’s business time. 100 customers come in to each restaurant ready for lunch.

“Have you ever eaten 100% British before?” chirrups Helen before offering a Nightingale pie. If we’re talking archetypal British shouldn’t they be serving up a Piccadilly pigeon in tabloid pastry?

Caracas’ fast food, meanwhile, is slower than an underwater armadillo, not to mention cold. The solution? “Put the food in the oven,” suggest Susan. She really is a business brain.

It’s the big day and Lord Sugarnuts has brought his friend Ronald McDonald and Dominic Dominoes for lunch with him, to mark each restaurant out of 10.

“We’re Caracas!” screams Susan. I’ll say you are, you wild-eyed banshee.  As the queue builds up I’m half expecting  the three of them to jump on a passing horse, chant the Three Amigos motto and ride off into the unemployment sunset. Instead, they face a grilling from the ‘experts’ during which Jim’s maths goes as wonky as a one-legged duck on a rollercoaster.

Over at MyPy Helen and Tom are serving up their great British dishes. Plastic trays, miniature portions and not enough staff? Forget MyPy, I would have called it Bryan Air. The pitch even runs like an on-board safety announcement, except with tourettes-style outbursts of the word menu.

So, lunch has been served, pitches have been stumbled through and Ronald and his Sugar-dusted food mates have done a dine and dash, leaving nothing but a ballot box of criticism and snide points.

“I relish every opportunity to have a dialogue with Lord Sugar!” effuses Susie in the taxi ride to the boardroom. “I think I would make a stunning business partner for Lord Sugar,” counters Tom. Well, he is a bit of a stunner. Not to mention a  babe.

The boardroom bickering kicks off with a discussion of team Venture’s name. Did they really mean Venezuelan capital Caracas? Or was it moneymaker shakers the maracas? Cut to the chase. They should have just called it Baracka’s and sold Obamaburgers.

So, how did the teams stack up? Logic’s dummy dummy run (sometimes they just make it too easy) appears to have paid off as they scored an average of 7/10. Venture, on the other hand, barely scraped together a cheese-encrusted 4/10.

So Jim, Susie and Natasha are off to the Café de Despair. I wonder which of them will be able to use Tom’s ‘special mug’? They never show it in the footage, but the other wall of that café is just plastered with pictures of Tom, his arm around various members of staff, holding up a commiseratory doughnut.

Jim characterises himself as Mother Teresa, presiding over the warring female factions. In ten years’ time, people will be spotting visions of Greyhound Jim in Chelsea buns and raspberry ripples, you mark my words.

Back in the boardroom Jim lets rip: “I felt as if I had complete excitability and even manic enthusiasm from Susan, but downright despair from Natasha.” Now that is a threesome that will haunt my nightmares for years to come.

But what’s this? The women are turning on the Jimster? “You’ve got a bit of a dark underside, Jim,” says Natasha. I reckon he has a shaved underside. Possibly with a winking face tattooed on it. Or worse, Chinese lettering that spells out ‘Winner’.

Anyway, both women must be wearing anti-charm tin foil head protectors under those raven nylon wigs because they are taking the Jedi down, tag team-style. But will they manage to nobble Jim? Or will the greyhound live on to chase the mechanical rabbit of capitalism once more?

“Talk about box of tricks? I’ve got it all. I can break records.” Well Jim, we’ve all frisbeed a stray LP at the wall when our minions are disagreeing with us. Unless he’s talking about the world record to fewest blinks per minute.

So, who will Lord Sugartits banish to the dog house? Will it be the thistle-chewing bulldog, the mind-altering greyhound or the underbiting boxer?

Natasha, you’re fired. Hand your bollocks in at reception.


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