The Apprentice blog: Episode 3

Posted on by Nell Frizzell

It’s 6.30 am and the contestants have been summoned to Piccadilly’s Fortnum and Mason. Tea? Marmalade? Biscuit-building with the royal son and heir? “Speaking hampers. That’s probably the thing to do,” honks Stuart. Oh Stuart ‘the brand’ Baggs, sometimes you just make it too easy.

Once in Piccadilly the ambitious Apprentices-to-be assemble among the nipple-like cup cakes and prostate-shaped doughnuts to get their marching orders. The crew are smart and soberly turned out, apart from Mel who has yet again come dressed as a thigh-slapping pantomime page boy with hair like a peroxide Mr Whippy.

“This is turning flour in to serious dough,” quips his royal Pugface. Where does this guy get his material? So, it’s another food challenge, but this time they’ll have to make and sell as many baked good as possible. They knead profits. They’ll have to rise to the occasion. Gluttony just got gluten-y.

In a laughable attempt to stop the ‘arguing and cackling’, the teams are ‘mixed up’. Well, mixed up in the sense that Synergy becomes full of all the loud-mouth, cliché-spouting numbchucks (Peroxide Mel, Cleaner Joanna, Maverick Alex, Hollyoaks Jamie), while Apollo is entirely made up of people you hadn’t really noticed were really in the show (Paloma? Chris? Sandeesh?)

Apollo is to be led by surgeon Shibby. The self-proclaimed “business virgin” suddenly loses his cool over the prospect of popping his business cherry, declaring; “I’ll smack your bums if I have to.” Ahem.

Synergy’s expert team leader Mel – a food distribution manager in her previous incarnation – fails to come up with a single bestselling bakery suggestion, choosing to instead chew her pen and stare wildly in to the faces around her. Luckily a colleague comes to her rescue with the unlikely mayday call of, “It sounds like you’re vying for bagels.” Whatever that means.

By 10am half of each team heads off to the infamous London Bread and Cake Factory to go wild in the floured aisles. To wake up to bake up. To get ahead with bread. The others head to the pitches set up by their very own knight of the realm.

Hollyoaks Jamie wants to “go through a quick role play,” in the back of a taxi, which turns out to be far less exciting than it sounds. This isn’t the stuff of wicked princes and naughty parlour maids, or even police officers and Shibby’s smacked bottoms. No. Hollyoaks wants to talk croissants; specifically how much 300 will cost. Unfortunately, this is the kind of dazzling maths that has Melissa totally confounded.

At the Park Plaza hotel, Synergy are met by the worst Village People tribute band we’ve ever seen. You’ve got the businessman, the chef and… well, another business man. No matter; Maverick Alex is on hand to talk artisan breads.

So, what can they do with an order for 1,000 bread rolls? “We can do many things,” replies Melissa enigmatically. ‘Many things’ turns out to be sitting at the table frantically punching at the calculator like late-period Keith Moon, while the rest of the team shift uncomfortably in their ready-to-wear suits. After fifteen minutes of fevered sums the team are called back in to quote a best price bread roll at £1.82 per unit. £1.82? Are these rolls cast in gold?

Just to put it into perspective, team Apollo quote 6p per unit. As opposed to £1.82. That’s a saving of, oooh, about a millon per cent. Apollo win the pitch, so now they just have to break it to their makers in the factory, with ‘break’ being the operative word. It’s an order so excessive, with such little notice that it would provoke any normal factory into taking up Marxism. Sadly, so far, only Sandeesh has raised the red flag and is going on a one-woman go slow.

Meanwhile, Team Synergy’s factory-workers are getting a little restless. Poor Stuart has resorted to wearing as many hats as possible to stave off the boredom. Seriously, it’s like the spirit of Carmen Miranda has been reborn in the body of a shiny-faced, bread-making bullshit machine from the Isle of Man.

Apollo are having quite the opposite problem – so snowed under are they with garish purple muffins and oily croissants that Shibby has to turn down another 1,000 unit order from a major restaurant. Well, you know what they say; you’ve got to eradicate to accumulate. Or is it defecate to accumulate?

Taking one for the Apollo team is Chris Bates, who is forced to parade around Covent Garden dressed as an oven. Shibby – a man who, lest we forget, is a trained surgeon – crows the infamous line; “I’m sorry madam, you’ve just walked in to the muffin zone.” We’re all going to hell in a bread basket.

As selling-time comes to a close most of the contenders are to be found arm-in-arm jumping up and down in celebration. Apart from poor cooker costume Chris, who looks like he’s just found out his pet dog’s been made in to a meat Frisbee.

With their suitcases packed and their faces set to Nervous Anticipation, the Apprentices-to-be head to Sugar HQ in yet another fleet of taxis. The tension is, well, palpable.

Shibby’s Angels have lost the task, so will the surgeon have to take a long walk off a short plank? Or is it goodbye from Paloma? Will Sandeesh get the chop?

Surprisingly, it’s surgeon Shibby who gets his marching orders. Apparently, Sandeesh’s total lack of effort and Arthur Scargill-like approach to factory life was what Lord Sugar was looking for all along. Who knew?

Conclusion: If you’re serious about making dough, it’ll take more than yeast to rise to the challenge.

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