The Apprentice blog: Episode 9

Posted on by Nell Frizzell

Like an uneasy cat, the sixth series of The Apprentice has had eight lives so far. Eight aspiring men and women thrown to the hungry lions that are Dara O’Brien and the JobSeekers queue. Strangely, out of all the roaring chuffingtons and mindless twonks, it is Mel ‘this is a dumb arse thing’ Cohen that I miss the most. No-one can suck their teeth and masticate their quiffs like old Cohen.

But let’s not get caught up in a fit of nostalgia so soon. It’s 5.30am and the phone is ringing. Well, you know what these pensioners are like about early mornings – my granny wakes up at six every day despite having nothing to do whatsoever except eat mints and slag off the nurses.  So, Lordy Lordy Miss Maudy Sugar is calling at the crack of dawn to order his remaining no-marks to Tower 42 in ‘Central London’, wherever the hell that is.

“I need to show Lord Sugar I’ve still got my spark” gurgles Hollyoaks Jamie, who – let’s be honest – is dimmer than a 4 watt bulb, wrapped in a hessian sack at the bottom of a very deep well.

Once the taxis arrive, all the golden glowing lights and lilting choirboys suggest that the Apprentices are gathered in Tower 42 for Lord Sugar’s funeral. Or at least some sort of mass-suicide involving a bottle of Gatorade and a badly wired Amstrad. In fact, it turns out that they are gathered here today to learn a little something about business. Lord Sugaga tells his financial disciples that he wants to see some ‘wheeling and dealing’. Poor old codger. He means ‘meals on wheels’ of course. Mind you, while they’re out they might as well buy a shit load of rubbish for the best deal possible. I mean, that’s what retirement is for, right?

The teams are rearranged to make it girls (Apollo) versus boys (Synergy). Hollyoaks Jamie heads up the lads, while Bambi-eyed Liz agrees to look after the girls.

“I’m going to see who can drive the hardest bargain,” barks Lord Sugarpuff. Bargain chicken feet, truffles, singers and tartan… that’s the beginning of a delicious stew right there.

Before Synergy head out, Jamie gives a little pep talk about pitching at 70% lower than the price you are offered. Armed with no internet, no research and absolutely no clue, Jamie then heads out to chase ‘a plain single tikka… 22 carat gold’.  In search of their own tikka, the girls are off to Southall. Cue tablas! Frantic tablas! And a bit of chanting for good measure!

Meanwhile, the other contestants are all chasing up something called the ‘blue book’. If I know Lord Sugar like I think I do, then the ‘Blue Book’ is almost definitely porn. Tortoise porn. Or, as Joanna finds out, it’s the taxi drivers’ book of the ‘knowledge’. Well, it was a 50/50 chance.

According to Karen, “Jamie never takes no for an answer”. Which must make him fun in public toilets. Talking of which, the next scene sees Christopher the bionic blue-eyed boy shout “Come on baby!” to Stuart ‘the brand’ Baggs as they run down the middle of the street. Sexy, sexy, sexy.

So far the teams have been buying laptop memory, chicken feet, tartan and a four metre wooden work top… Personally I’m just holding on until Lord Sugar sends them out for ‘the long weight’.

Talking of long waits, Stella is trying to call Gordon Ramsay to ask for some truffles. That’s basically like calling Madonna because you want a ball of string. Or calling Andy Murray because you’re looking for some shoelaces.

Stuart and Christopher, on the other hand, are going for the tactic of telling long, laborious and ultimately insane stories about fictional family members in order to purchase totally reasonable items. Surely such delusions are the first signs of serious mental illness? “Somehow their stories are working!” says Karen, amazed. As if the enormous television crew, team of producers and truck full of filming equipment that follows the boys in to each shop has nothing at all to do with people’s willingness to sell.

After some pretty tear-jerking negotiation in the plate shop that time forgot – where Joanna and Liz are served by a dumpling in a baseball cap – it’s time for both teams to race back to the boardroom for a photo finish. “Come on big man up there!” shouts Liz, presumably addressing Lord Sugar, who she believes to live in the sky like Mary Poppins. Baggyface and invincible Chris, on the other hand, simply jump on Jamie’s knee like children greeting a father just back from the trenches.

The boys have driven some pretty hard bargains, but only managed to get seven of their items, while the girls bought all ten, but walked in to a couple of scams. So, is Lord Sugar going to reward aggressive lying and hardnosed bullying, or weak-willed competence? I’m so far off the edge of my seat that I’ve actually worn a hole in the floor tiles.

“You’re taking so much on board, you sound like a container ship,” Lord Alanstrad tells Liz. That’s a nice way to deal with responsibility, isn’t it? Meanwhile, Stuart’s generation game joke falls foul of the rigorous Sugar laugh-o-meter. Lord Sugarmort is accusing someone of making shit jokes?  Have we just fallen in to some sort of irony wormhole?

So, to the figures. All fines considered, the compulsive shopping Apollo spent £1,094 while the compulsive lying Synergy spent just £1,020. So, it’s a win for the boys, which means a little trip to Paris to make jokes about rosé and skip around in pretty hats.

The girls, on the other hand, are sent home for an uncomfortable night of reflection before the boardroom of firing and brimstone the next morning. Laura, of course, is having a good old fashioned sulk. One day I’d like to pull Laura’s perennially flaring nostrils right up over her entire head so I could see her tiny brain at work during one of these meta-sulks.

Liz calls Laura and morgue make-up Stella and in to the firing line with her.

“I should have been more aggressive,” admits Stella. “Aggressive? I heard you were a bit wooden.” Lord Sugar gives out constructive criticism like my mum gives out cups of tea; burning hot and painful to swallow.

Laura, of course, tries to sulk about having to call Liz all the way through the task. Sadly, this tactic massively backfires when Sugardaddy points out that the one time Laura was given a useful quote, she ignored it and overspent by £100 on truffles.

“This is about more than just truffles… It’s a bit bigger than that,” proclaims Stella. You’re right Stella, there’s tartan, plates and chicken feet involved too.

And so, Laura’s sulking, polo-necked huffing and general sense of ‘meh’ loses her the chance at that whimsical ‘six figure salary.’ Oh well. At least she has a nice collection of leaving presents to take home with her. Those taxi manuals will make a lovely coffee table display.

Conclusion: Whatever happens, don’t ever let Lord Sugar in on your Secret Santa. Ever.

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