The Apprentice blog: Episode 2

Posted on by Nell Frizzell

“We are in tough economic times,” nasals Lord Sugar, accompanied by the thundering strains of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. This, however, is the tale of star cross’d apprentices, not lovers, and the houses Synergy and Apollo are at war. Luckily ‘Britain’s most belligerent boss’ is on hand to make them “work as a team, but shine as individuals.” Shine his massive forehead, one assumes.

The episode begins with a 5.30am phone call ordering the contestants to Heathrow. Is this an annual holiday to Sugar’s evil Thunderbird Island, where puppets from previous episodes churn out twelve tonne Amstrad 200 Dominateurs with keyboards the size of surfboards and screens that glow black? Sadly not.

The teams are met by Nick, Karen and a ‘live’ video link-up of Lord Sugar, who has mistaken the morning talk for an acceptance speech at the Grammies. “Beach holidays are big business whether you’re going to Bermuda or Bognor,” says Alan’s floating 2D face. So the task is to create a new beach accessory. Stuart ‘the brand’ Baggs watches the disembodied call to arms with an expression some way between that of a bull dog and a naan.

Following the loss of Dan, banker Stella English is sent over to the boys’ team to ‘keep them in check’, while Laura Moore leads the women. Despite being the youngest of the females, Laura is seriously committed to two things; making money and wearing polonecks. And with half a million pounds of business and one hell of a white rollneck tucked in under her belt, who are we to argue?

Faced with the oyster that is the world of holiday product design, back-slapping Shibby Robati has the electric idea of creating a ‘really long hand’ to apply suncream to his own back. It’s a bold notion that takes on Darwin himself, but unaccountably it falls as flat as well-ironed stingray. Meanwhile the Hollyoaks dream team of Jamie Lester and Christopher Farrell have the epiphany of a blow up towel that keeps your drink cold. Maverick Alex instantly declares that he would ‘buy Jamie’s towel right now.’ Whether he’s referring to the imagined beach product or the towel recently used to dry Jamie’s nadgers is unclear. Still, it’s always nice to have a fan.

On their way to Bognor the boys propose marketing a ‘coolie’. Far be it from me to point out the niggling problem of modern labour laws but a poorly-dressed, underpaid manual labourer seems an unlikely accessory for holiday makers to pick up in Tie Rack. Luckily, this is coolie spelled with a double ü, making it something else entirely.

In true holiday spirit the girls are arguing over chairs, towels, books and bumbags. Joanna Riley plugs away for so long at the idea of a book stand that project manager Laura finally makes the bold decision to give in.

It’s day two and the prototypes arrive. The Book-eeze is outstandingly uneezey to assemble, coming as it does in eight separate parts. These eight parts join together to create a stand that, when finally constructed, dangles the book, face down, three inches above the ground. Perfect for a hamster with aspirations towards literature, but something of a letdown for the rest of us. The Cüüli, on the other hand, is a towel with an inflatable headrest.

Now for the pitching. Stella sticks with “drab and monotone” Chris while ‘battering bulldog’ Melissa pitches that her product is “built in to our end user”. Which makes it sound uncomfortably like a catheter.

The products are pitched to Boots, World Duty Free (like Call of Duty, but with slightly more perfume) and some people called Kit to Fit. The boys declare that “the age of the beach towel is ultimately dead”, while the girls schlep around town with their very own box of lucky sand. The pitching is patchy, to say the least.

Once back in the boardroom for the firing finale Lord Sugar declares the Cüüli a ‘Swiss army towel’ and the Apollo team back away from the Book-eeze like a shit in a lift. The men ultimately managed to drum up 100 orders; the women a big fat zero. So, it’s victory for Synergy and the firing line for Laura and her team.

Apparently, Sugar is not looking for the person who can shout loudest, which is a shame as most of the women appear to competing for the title. Instead, he takes all the Joy out of the competition by firing John Lennon-alike Joy Stefanicki. It’s alright though, because she’s sick of all the shrieking anyway. Her and me both.

Conclusion: Too much sun makes a desert and too much sand makes for gritty knickers.

Quotes of the episode:

“This is like watching a bunch of amateurs”

“We have to beat those girlies”

“Take one for the team”

“I’m like a bottle of champagne. If I can’t open my mouth then I’ll just explode.”

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