The Apprentice blog: Episode 6

Posted on by Nell Frizzell

The Apprentice opening credits are starting to look a little like the obituaries section of the Oscars, so many of the little Lord Sugarists have been given the push. Oh well, at least we have this poignant look back at the heyday of Mancunian fashion failure to warm our rapidly freezing cockles.

Ah look, there’s that infamous tie dress. And look, here’s Bambi-eyed Liz dressed a bit like a lap dancer. And look, Paloma dressed as a call girl. Nostalgia, eh? If you could bottle it you’d be a millionaire. Or, in the case of Stuart ‘the brand’ Baggs, a man with fifteen thousand bottles of nostalgia gathering dust in your parents’ garage.

So, anyway. Here we are. Week six. And the brilliantly staccato narrator is back. You know. The man who can’t speak. In sentences longer than seven syllables: “7.30am. A lie in. This morning a wake up call. In person.”

Cor blimey! Stone the crows! Paint my face with Cuprinol and call me Alan! Lord Sugar is in the house! He’s turned up unannounced to give his minions their marching orders before they’re all suited and booted. I’m sure the fact that he might catch a few of them dangling about in their underpants is pure co-incidence. Far be it from me to presume that this whole little stunt was just an elaborate ruse to get a look at Stuart Baggypants in his socks and unsupportive undershorts.

Amazingly, having a relative stranger turn up at their home unannounced first thing in the morning does little to dim the Apprentices’ enthusiasm to have him as their boss. I’m starting to believe that if Lord Sugarmort turned up at the birth of their first born and demanded a pedicure and PowerPoint presentation on the various uses of the pencil these people would still want him for a manager.

So, this week the task is to create a brand for a new household cleaner in just two days. That means a label, a radio advert and a television commercial. So, it’s not entirely obvious why they all had to rush down in their wobbling pyjamas to get briefed, but there you go. Ours not to reason why.

Team Synergy, by default, is led by ex-Marine Christopher as he is the only one not to have ‘managed’ so far. Synergy also have cleaning company Joanna on their team. I hate to use the term ‘secret weapon’ here, so instead I will use the term ‘sulky cow’.

For Apollo it’s either Maverick Alex or Stuart ‘the brando’ Baggins. While Baggins undoubtedly has the face to sell grease remover, Maverick Alex “thinks so far outside the box that if I was an apple pie, then the apples inside would be orange.” Mmmmm, genetically modified radioactive apple pie. That settles it – Alex has got the job.

The first thing to be decided is the product name. Old blues eyes himself, Monotone Chris, comes up with the snappy ‘Germ-o-nater’. I know that leather-clad Republican killing machines are certainly the people I’d entrust with light domestic chores. Talking of lethal operatives, the next scene sees Syngery’s Christopher go in to a nursery to conduct some market research. They’ve sent a marine in to a nursery? Please god someone tell me they’ve hidden the water pistols and spud guns. Mum Eva comes up with the idea of the housewife as octopus – not so much a football-predicting cephalod as many-armed domestic goddess. The rest of the team fall on the idea, as Nick later puts it, ‘like tramps on chips’.

Next stop is the graphic design office to get their labels ready. Surprise, surprise, the Apollo designer has a silly haircut and is wearing a Breton-striped jersey. To be fair, this does look like the design job from hell, with two squabbling no-marks shouting things like ‘colour’ and ‘punchy’ in to your face as you try to quietly load photoshop.

Over in the Synergy Corps, The Apprentice seems to have been replaced with a new reality show called ‘The Marine wants a Mistress’ as Christopher auditions actresses to play his wife in tomorrow’s advert. “If she’s a minger then it just won’t work… Sex sells. Let’s be honest. Sex sells everything.” Couldn’t have put it better myself commander. Really challenging that sexist squaddie stereotype with this victory for female equality. Strangely, Sugary assistant Nick isn’t so convinced; “This commercial is about a stereotypical mumsy housewife sending her children off to bed early so she can grope her husband.” In fact, the advert sees this dream wife dressed up in a padded octopus suit, spraying bleach around the kitchen like an agent of chemical warfare. Well I for one know that whenever we’re planning an early night my boyfriend likes me to slip in to my kinky octopus outfit.

For Apollo’s advert Stu-artlovlierthanasummer’sday is doing a quite incredible impression of a cheesy local radio DJ. I mean, who would have thunk it? The man makes ‘hasta la vista, gravy’ sound like the voiceover for an upcoming Jason Statham movie. Sadly, in the television advert the Germ-o-nator is played by a small child – precisely the sort of person warned never to come in to contact with the product on the very bottle. Ah well.

Both teams then pitch to industry experts including squeaky clean employees from Unilever who fail, universally, to hide their sniggers. Particularly when Sandeesh announces, “This brand is going viral.” A bit like leprosy.

“I’m not sure if you’re selling marital harmony or a cleaning product,” one of the experts asks Commando Christopher. Don’t be silly Unilever, he’s selling sexism. After the pitches are complete, the experts feedback to Lord Sugardaddy as he cruises around town in his black Bentley.  They use words like ‘travesty’ and ‘offensive’, which Monotone Chris handily translates as ‘memorable’ and ‘funny’.

In front of the assembled cast, Lord Sugartits gently introduces Christopher to a little thing called gender politics. His 1950s advert would, Lord Sugar tells him, “go down like a lead balloon,” with his female market. Or like a flaccid pair of pulverised bollocks, as the saying goes.

Still, it seems they just about managed to pull it off. “Synergy. I wouldn’t say you’ve won. Technically, you haven’t lost,” admits Lord Sugar. So, it’s off to a ‘private karaoke party’ so they can all to get shitfaced and sing ‘We Are the Champions’. Or ‘We Are The Vaguely Less Shit Ones’ as Twitter suggested.

So, we finally come to Lord Sugarmort’s favourite bit. The shouting, bitching, betraying firing squad. This week it’s between Alex, Sandeesh and Chris. So, between the bog-eyed, the monotone and the minutely testicled. Alex screams about how rude it is to talk over people and tries to fire on his colleagues like a vigilante paintballer on Byker Grove, but all to no avail. He’s as fired as a 12 ft high canon ball and leaves in a flurry of grovelling politeness and quivering voice.

Back at the house, the remaining competitors are in a contemplative mood. “If Alex comes back then I will genuinely eat an item of clothing from every one of you.” Oh Stuart Baggs, I love you.

Conclusion: Where there’s muck, there’s people ineptly trying to sell yet more muck.

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