The Apprentice blog: Episode 7 Series 7

Posted on by Nell Frizzell

“This is not a job.” And with the least reassuring recruitment slogan ever, Lord Sugarlumps cracks out Episode Seven of The Apprentice. Expect key phrases like “This is not a competition” and “I have no money,” in next week’s opening credits.

Once all the rubbish, heavy metal and scrapheap jokes from last week have been recycled about as successfully as a condom, it’s time to crack on with this week’s task.

It’s 5.45am and the phone is ringing. Like a lab rat hooked up to an electrical conveyor belt, Melody seems to have learned from torment, for she answers the dawn chorus not only dressed, but in full make up. The Apprentices have just 30 minutes to get to Fleet Street, making this sound like the most unappetising game of Monopoly since the 1930s.

This week, the Sugarettes are to create a free premium magazine in just 12 hours. These free premiumsare more commonly known as ‘freemiums’ in the same way that Lord Alan is known as a ‘Sugariatric.’

Natasha is chosen to lead Logic, which bafflingly now contains Helen, Melody, Tom and Leon. The man known to Twitter as ‘Jedi Jim’ and to me as ‘Staring Sociopath Jim’ is taking the Venture reins, leading Zoe (John Lennon), Glenn (Shrek) and Susan (a pirhana).

So, what will go on between their sheets, you ask, with a twinkle in your eye and vomit in your gullet? “Lads magazines are about lads, yeah?” opens Natasha. That’s the kind of profound thinking the British business community are crying out for. “Porn sells,” she reiterates. How does this bastion of taste and intelligence respond to the suggestion that perhaps the magazine could be a little more business-orientated? A little more classy? “Does that translate as boring? I don’t know.” Move over Noel Coward.

Over at Venture, the team are with their focus group, running over the good things about being over 60. “Holidays without kids… bungee jumping”. Perhaps this radical new magazine could give away a free holiday of throwing children off bridges as an introductory offer? Just a thought.

The naming section of the episode is always one of the creative highlights isn’t it? For Venture’s over 60s magazine we have Eternal, Lighter Life, Coffin Dodger and Zimmer (well, Bob “Zimmerman” Dylan is 70 now, I suppose) before settling on the joyful Hip Replacement. Because you know what older people like? Hip hop and being replaced. Yes indeed.

Over in Charm Central, Natasha has gone for Covered, suggesting a feature titled “How to blow your load.” “I’m kind of thinking dirty secretary,” she explains. I’m kind of thinking dim-witted misogynist. But I have a feeling she’s not going to listen to other people on this one. “One thing we have to bear in mind is that our focus group was quite focussed.” Ah, as I suspected.

By 5pm the poor designer working under Greyhound Jim has mocked up at least 20 mastheads for the appallingly-named Hip Replacement. In fact, in about two hours they appear to have designed an entire magazine. This is like doing Graphic Design for the Duracell bunny.

For Logic, Natasha and her team are walking the streets, asking men how they like to blow their load. I hope they were in Soho where there are menus and rate cards for that kind of thing. Once the magazine is finished (over night, no doubt by a team of poorly-paid, stumpy-fingered designers working in a pitch-black cave somewhere) Natasha is able to answer the door to her prototype announcing “I’m the editor of Covered magazine”. How nice. I’m sure it’s exactly how Anna Wintour answers the call from the gas man.

Now that the magazines have been distilled down to five preposterously big cardboard cut outs, it’s time for both teams to make their pitches. Jim refuses to negotiate on price, Hip Replacement is laughed out of the offices of Mediacom and Leon is interrupted more times than a couple using the rhythm method of contraception.

Everyone thinks Hip Replacement is a gap in the market. Sadly it is a gap plugged by a cardigan-wearing geriatric sex couple with a dreadful name, sold by an Irish psychopath. Everyone thinks Covered is a bit, well, laddie but are won over by Natasha’s innate mystique; “We don’t want to drop our pants before we get in there.” Quite right.

So, it’s back to the boardroom for a little literary criticism. This time everyone is finally allowed to sit down in front of a perfectly spaced glass of water. Oh no, apart from Melody. Who hovers behind the rest of her team like a fat kid at a disco.

By the by, just what is it that Karen and Nick write on those pads while they’re waiting for Lord Sugargoyle to come in? Probably, just putting the finishing touches to those Tesco application forms.

Despite their lapdancing-all-the-way-back-to-the-90s aesthetic, Logic manage to pull a ludicrous £60,000 offer out of the bag at the last minute, leaving Venture to choke on Logic’s chlamydic dust. To celebrate, the lads mag team are off to learn the delicate art of fencing. Pork swords at dawn.

Which means it’s cold cups of coffee, unused microwaves and stained tea towels for Venture in the greasy spoon from Hell.

Back in the boardroom, Captain Thyroid aka Jim twists out of all responsibility like a greyhound in a helter skelter. Also, despite trying to sack them all, Jim claims that all his team loved him. According to psychologists, a grandiose sense of self-worth is the hallmark of psychopathy. Just saying.

Glenn calls Jim a control freak. Karen calls Jim passive aggressive. Nick calls Jim a jelly on a wall. Mind you, Jim calls Susan all style and no substance, a mouse and Bambi. So, you know, at least the names are flowing like fine wine.

So, despite the fact that Jim is irresponsible, manipulative and deranged, Lord Sugar for some absurd reason decides to fire Glenn. Because, apparently, he’s “never known an engineer turn his hand for business.”

And that, my friends, is the sound of Henry Ford spinning in this grave.


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