The Apprentice blog: Episode 8 Series 7

Posted on by Nell Frizzell

Do you know my favourite moment of The Apprentice’s opening montage? It’s when Felicity shrieks “He wouldn’t even take a penny off!” as though the man in question just asked her to ingest an avocado through a suppository. It’s that kind of indignation that made this nation, well, indig.

To make a change from the usual floral effluence, this episode’s dawn call is punctuated by a strangely lingering shot of a spider crawling up a lampshade. Maybe this is our first clue that Margaret Mountford is in fact living in the attic, covered in a lace of spiders’ webs, clutching a signed press shot of S’r’Alan’s finger to her white gowned breast, weeping in to an Amstradkerchief. But I digress.

The Apprenti (this is the plural of ‘tosser’ – believe me) are off to Paris to sell their wares. I can’t wait until Lord Alanie comes out with a brown bob, in a flowery dress, holding a spoon.

Tom is put in charge of Logic, which makes sense because he wears glasses and tends to talk with all the passion and humour of a robot. Venture, endowed with the apparently unbeatable Helen, is led by Piranha Susan. Or Susie, as she calls herself in a hopeless attempt to appear child-like, rather than hopelessly moronic.

So, what retail delights are our aspiring interns – sorry, I mean partners – wrapping around Paris? Well, there’s a £1,500 electric bike (because a bike needs electricity like a fish needs a lumbar puncture), some pipe cleaners and a £325 beanbag. Fantastique. Not to mention a child seat, an espresso maker and some cress on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Finally, we have a light shaped like a teapot. Well, as anyone who’s ever had the misfortune to chew on a Lipton dust bag knows, the French love tea.

This task was inevitable going to involve some problems of translation. For instance, while Susan says, “I’m pretty much kid-sized,” Karen translates this as “She is actually very immature.”

Which may seem a little harsh, until Susan asks her imaginary group of invisible pixie friends, “Do French people drive?” and “Do the French like their children?” Mind you. Have you ever seen the trainers French children wear on school exchanges? Their parents can’t really love them that much.

One of the items Susan plumps for is called “The Universal Travel Grip,” which I had always thought was what Leonard Nimoy used to get a seat on Klingon buses. But it turns out to be a jumble of twist tags in which you can put your phone and, well, your phone really.

Meanwhile, for Logic, Melody is conducting some vital research in a Parisian Metro station. “It’s just so impressive that you can talk to them and understand what they’re saying back!” exclaims Dildo Baggins, even more boggle-eyed than usual. Well, you would be pretty impressed too if you’d just discovered the concept of language.

Surprisingly, when Melody talks to people on the Metro about transport, many of them say that they travel on the Metro. Well, that’s certainly unexpected. So, consequently, the car seat is discarded like a pube in a baguette, leaving them selling radioactive teapots and cress gardens. Good luck.

Over on team Venture, Zoe turns up at a rather chic interiors shop, wearing the kind of rucksack that Floella Benjamin would call ‘a bit silly’. Oh wait, sorry, that’s the car seat. Either way, the owner couldn’t be less interested. Bah oui.

The next appointment is the big one: La Redoute. Famous international catalogue and retail brand. To whom Natasha and Tom would like to sell a number of teapot lights. Any by ‘number’ I mean ‘ten’. That’s, what, one per every ten thousand customers? At least Natasha backs up this blinding bit of business pitching by explaining to the board that here in England we like to eat crockery at dinner parties and make scones out of bones.

The fact that Melody can actually talk to people in Paris is making her look like Popeye at a Mr Muscle casting, while Tom is wishing people on the phone a “Bonne holiday. Ciao.” Finally – and I’ve honestly been waiting all season for this – the Apprentices’ frankly baffling habit of holding their phones out from their chins like little spittoons finally results in Tom making a total cobblers of his call. That’s right – he drops it on the medieval street.

Back in the boardroom, Leon moans that Melody rather took over as team leader: “She was speaking French of which I cannot speak.” Although he does appear to speak fluent 16th Century. Natasha, meanwhile, spends the entire boardroom meeting wincing silently, like someone having a lemon squeezed through their knickers.

Despite Melody’s teapot turnover for Logic, the mighty Helen managed to land an order of over 214,000 Euros for their booster seat backpacks. In the words of the talking tortoise, “This isn’t just a loss. This is an annihilation.”

So, Venture is off to get some flying lessons. Look out for the bit where Helen swoops over Susan’s plane, windscreen-to-windscreen, flipping the bird, Top Gun-style. It’s quite a sight.

Back in the boardroom, Tom takes Melody and Leon in for a thorough drubbing, leaving Natasha to slink home and iron her face.

“Did you research La Radoute or not? That is my question,” barks Lord Sucre, leaving the soliloquy of Hamlet in smouldering ruins around him. In fact, Lord Sugar is finding it hard to see what Leon did at all during his trip to Paris. Which is exceptionally dense because as anyone watching this boardroom interlude can see, Leon spent most of his time in Paris buying pink lipgloss. The man’s mouth is shimmering like a pearl, for chrissakes.

Melody is let off the hook, thanks to her Tiger-like ability to communicate outside of the M25, leaving it a choice between Tom and Leon. Can I be honest with you readers? I genuinely think that, up until this moment, I hadn’t quite realised that Tom and Leon were two separate men. I think all I ever saw was a miasma of flopping brown hair, Neolithic eyebrows and stuttering ineptitude.

But anyway, Lord Alanstrad manages to tell them apart for just long enough to give Leon the finger. So it’s back to the Shire for him, I’m afraid. Bye bye Dildo Baggins. Bye bye.


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