The Apprentice blog: Episode 5

Posted on by Nell Frizzell

Before this week’s programme even kicks off, the BBC continuity announcer warns of ‘strong language’. Is this the week that Nick finally calls S’r’Alan a braying, tortoise-faced old git? Does Karen threaten to kick Nick’s wizened hangdog face inside out if he doesn’t sit up straight? Will the Sugarmeister call his sexretary a trollop? We can but hope.

The episode begins with the traditional early morning phone call. Stella sprints to the handset, listens to the message and – taking her cue from Bruce Willis – abruptly hangs up the moment she’s received co-ordinates for the Fashion Retail Academy.

“Fashion is the most boring thing in the world,” says Stuart SickBaggs. “Selling £2 of cotton for a hundred pounds – that’s like selling magic beans.” I love it when he talks dirty, don’t you?

So, where are they off to this week? Paris? Milan? Rome? New York? Hell no! They’re going to the Trafford Centre. Yes, that Trafford Centre. In Manchester. Wearing his best navy C&A suit, Sir Alanstrad adjusts the teams in the name of fairness (to sort the Prada from the Primark and the fashionistas from the fascists). He then nominates the new project managers; Liz for Synergy, Paloma for Apollo. No bickering. No debate. No fun.

According to Alex Epstein (and who else?), Alex Epstein is a real ‘retail guru’. A magician of the mall, a genie of the general department store, and boy do I want to rub his lamp. Oh and guess what? He used to work at the Trafford Centre. He’s not giving us the specifics of what he actually did there, mind you, but we know that he was definitely in the building.

Faced with a fashion task, Hollyoaks Jamie admits that “my wife buys all my clothes”. Does she polish your head too Jamie? Pluck those eyebrows and baby-bio your designer stubble? I do hope so. “I don’t want to offend the Mancunians,” he adds. “But they’re always a step behind London. I mean, when you go to clubs in Manchester you still have to wear shoes.” As opposed to London, where we just cover our feet with Oyster cards and stick them up the nearest available pigeon.

Both teams meet an array of young designers including the brilliantly bespectacled Cassette Playa, who tries to tempt the corporate drones with talk of ‘future primitive’ and ‘cartoon couture’. To the ears of an Apprentice contestant these words roughly translate as ‘ghraehgsjr slkiusrtb’ and ‘isnakmse powerk’. So, instead, they chase down the glittery, low cost labels like last-minute fixtures at a Lily Savage convention.

Paloma’s team have their heads turned by a designer who recycles old business wear in to high fashion. Maybe they’ll make Sir Alanstrad in to shiny-foreheaded, grey-haired, finger-pointing leather dress. And what, I hear you ask, does Stuart CarrierBaggs think about recycled fashion? “I suppose it depends on who died that week.” Oh Dildo Baggsins, you old charmer. “Recycled clothing? Isn’t that what tramps do?” No Stuart, tramps drink themselves in to early septicaemia and shout at passing lorries.

Once the shops – Synergy’s The Collection and Apollo’s One for those of you taking notes – finally open, the real selling can get under way. Which means that Laura will push cheap sparkly dressed on to teenagers like a Diana Ross pimp, Tintin’s long lost brother Christopher will make lecherous remarks about every woman in the store, Stella will wave from the window display like a particularly sparkly prostitute, Paloma will stalk the shop floor like a Hooters waitress cooing “That’s hot, that’s smoking, I’ll be chasing you” while almost all the other men in the competition will stand in the shop doorways shouting at passing shoppers like fishwives. At least Christopher makes the effort to dress like an army cadet in a khaki straightjacket.

Back at Sir Alanismorrisette’s head quarters, all eleven contestants are ushered in to the boardroom to crunch numbers. Despite his frankly astounding £300 sale of a Widow-Twanky-gone-office-wear dress, Christopher’s team, managed by Paloma, pull in a slightly lacklustre £3,223 sales. Bambi-faced Liz’s team, on the other hand, sold £3,760 worth of sparkly style. Honestly, that woman could sell rain to the Irish. So, in true Irish spirit her team go off to fritter their money away at the horse track. Cheers!

So, Synergy are up for the chop. Sir Alan begins by giving the team a short lecture on fashion. Across town, Anne Widdicombe prepares for her lecture on tantric sex. Paloma apparently held Alex “100% responsible” for the failure of the task. Which is interesting, seeing as she was the project manager. Even more interestingly, Paloma then calls Sandeesh in to her terrible trio to be judged by Lord Sugarsnap. Really, Judas had nothing on this pan-global backstabber. Nick brands Paloma “arrogant”, Paloma tries to “pin anything on Sandeesh”, Sandeesh calls Paloma “destructive”, Paloma calls Alex an “irritant” and Alex decides that he’s the “scapegoat.” All in all, a nastier, twisting, bitching display of buck-passing than has been seen all series.

In the end, Sir Alan decides to that Paloma has talked herself out of the competition and fires the Peruvian pillock with a point of his magic finger. The girl who started her business life frying donuts has been well and truly Sugared.

“I think it’s his loss to be honest.” God, I’m going to miss her humility.

Conclusion: It’s no good selling sparkle if Sir Alan doesn’t like the cut of your jib.

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