Thursday, 18 July 2013

Let's hear it for the girls - The Apprentice Final

It’s a two-hour special edition of The Apprentice tonight, hosted in the You’re Fired studio by Dara O’Briain. But I’m only going to cover the main part of the show, because I have work in the morning and you, presumably, still have the will to live.

This has been an odd series, packed with weird and wonderful characters, all demonstrating the cumulative business acumen of a hole-punch. Cake makers, dance entrepreneurs and sports centre managers have battled it out for eleven weeks, just to see who was the best at shouting at passersby in the East End while wearing a sandwich board. And then, once a week, Lord Sugar would pootle in at the end of each episode to tell them “You’re all bladdy useless.” Nick’s ‘close scrutiny’ face has now become a full-blown nervous tick, and Karren has taken  to de-emphasising her formidable décolletage by dressing in an unflattering selection of caravan awnings.

The show kicks off with a quick recap of last week’s hilarious semi-final, before O’Briain invites us to “Sit back and enjoy Luisa versus Leah,” as though they’re going to be wrestling in jelly for the investment. It’s unusual enough to have an all-woman final, but it’s even more surprising to see two such girly girls make it all the way. Margaret Mountford clearly disapproved of both Leah and Luisa last week, preferring to fixate on their obsession with appearances rather than their business smarts. We’re clearly a long way from the formidable Ruth Badger, who could have given Desperate Dan penis envy.

As Luisa and Leah prepare for the final task, we’re basically treated to an extended make-over montage, as hair is straightened, eyebrows are drawn and powder is applied. “We have to show what we’re made of now,” warns Luisa, and I’m beginning to suspect that she’s eighty percent glitter gel. I’m trying to remember what the equivalent footage has involved when the final has seen two male candidates going head-to-head. Reading the FT while taking a good, long shit?

At One Marylebone, Karren’s still feeling the chill, buttoned up in an overcoat that even the Amish would find a little severe. Lord Sugar tells his finalists that it’s time for them to create the brands for their would-be businesses, including a website and launch campaign. In a bit of clever foreshadowing, he tells Luisa to make a good presentation, because all the promos for tonight’s show have seen her running off the stage in floods of tears. Leah’s challenge, on the other hand, will be explaining the world of aesthetic treatments in a way that Lord Sugar can understand. “This is something that is alien to me,” he adds, drawing unnecessary attention to the wrinkles he could lose his car keys in.

The first challenge is to build a team from all the fired candidates. Leah is obviously quick off the mark and gets all her first choices. Poor Luisa is left to pick her team from a line-up of overweight asthmatics. None of the candidates sound particularly excited to be involved in the Apprentice’s version of Jim Bowen’s “here’s what you could’ve won…” moment, but they feign interest for their friends. Jason is thrilled to have been asked back by Luisa, but then he didn’t hear her describe him as completely detrimental to the team. To the consternation and confusion of her colleagues, Luisa attempts to describe what her business is, but she’s not doing a very good job. “It’s about everything you need to make a cake, apart from the cake.” “So, flour?” “No, not flour.” Jason’s got about 11 degrees, and even he’s struggling to follow this one. 

Leah’s proposition is much simpler, so Myles offers up his own vanity to support the project. I’m not sure how that helps anybody, but his veneers look shiny when he smiles, so I’ll go with it. Leah’s listening to her team’s suggestions for brand names, so that she can throw them all out and go with Niks. Because it’s ‘skin’ backwards. Somewhere in Glasgow, J K Rowling is sucking the air through her teeth and saying, “Really?  That’s fucking lazy.” Her team don’t think much of the idea, or Leah’s terrible scribble of a logo. “I just love Niks. Is this not beautiful to you? This is beautiful to me.” But if that’s her idea of beauty, her clients are going to end up looking like a doodle in Dali’s Moleskine. 

Luisa’s not having much more look, offering up Masterbakers and Sugar Central; both of which sound like specialist lap-dance bars rather than a one-stop-shop for bun-cases and piping bags. In the end, she settles on Baker’s Toolkit, and heads off to get some customer insight from a cupcake business. In the shop, she seems more interested in demonstrating her knowledge of baking apparatus than digging out any valuable information. Jason tries to help, asking “Before you leave, do you want to get some numbers?” No-one really knows what numbers he means, prompting Luisa to roll her eyes like she’s apologising for an autistic nephew who’s making a scene.

For her logo, Luisa has decided she wants to be rendered in cartoon form, which is weird because that’s how I’ve seen her since week one. “I think it’d be really good,” she tells the oh-so-patient designer, “you know, ‘cos I’ve got quite big eyes.” Something of an understatement, given she could make a bush-baby look like Richard Gere. Over on the other team, Alex is offering some words of wisdom for Leah’s design: “You know, for logos, typography is really in.” That thwapping sound you can hear is a million designers simultaneously punching themselves in the face. Leah wants it ‘clinical,’ telling her unsurprised team “I like boring.” Luisa’s not doing much better, barking orders at her own designer, who’s secretly speed-dialing a recruitment consultant under the desk. 

With their logos designed, the teams now have to shoot a promotional video for their respective brands. Alex wisely warns, “This has got to be not only tasteful, but also professional,” so as to distinguish it from all the amateur cosmetic surgeries out there. Myles and Francesca are doing their bit, chasing people through Holborn and asking them if they’ve considered some non-surgical facial improvements. In retrospect, it’s amazing neither of them got their own faces rearranged non-surgically. Niks is now N.I.K.S. because a focus group pointed out that it made them think of shaving cuts, so now Leah is stuck with a fake acronym that doesn’t really mean anything. Although, curiously, that lack of depth suits her business perfectly.

Now our two finalists have to stand up and give their presentations to an assembled audience of “100 industry experts and Lord Sugar.” Oooh, burn. Luisa is getting giddy about some pink balloons and icing some cupcakes, but Nick’s not impressed. He’s been reading his inspirational quotes toilet paper (Margaret’s pick in last year’s Secret Santa) and offers up “Failing to prepare for that presentation, is preparing to fail.” But Luisa doesn’t need to prepare – she’s confident that her big personality will carry through. She certainly needs all the help she can get when she describes her product range as extending all the way from “the smallest pot of glitter to big professional rolling pins.” As an aside, this episode deserves some kind of award for consistent disservice to the word ‘professional’. The industry experts seem reasonably impressed, telling Lord Sugar “The brand was strong… it rides well with the renaissance in baking,” but Luisa’s honesty about not knowing the five-year projections probably didn’t help her. 

Leah’s presentation gets off to a curious start, as Francesca gives an inspiring ribbon dance in a revealing white outfit. Then it’s over to Leah, who spends far too long explaining her ridiculous attempt at branding. Her business plan is simple – a chain of clinics offering facial fillers, anti-wrinkle treatments and skin peels. “I personally know how important your own skin is,” she tells the crowd, and I suppose she’s got a point, otherwise she’d just be standing there in a pile of guts. Having established her credibility as a medical doctor, she’s a little put out by a question from another doctor in the audience. The invited expert suggests that Leah doesn’t really understand the business, and her abrupt reply causes Lord Sugar much LOL-ery. Not to worry – the experts are on board with Leah’s concept, telling Lord Sugar it’s a strong business proposition, and an expanding market that’s only going to go one way.

In the boardroom everyone is being painfully nice to one another, now that it’s down to the last two. Jason admits that “I was very touched that Luisa called me,” as she visibly shudders, and Lord Sugar passes judgment on Leah’s business name: “NIKS. Sounds like Mr Hewer has opened a winebar.” As the Apprentii all chuckle approvingly, Nick adds an “I wish” with weary resignation. Someone’s regretting a lifetime spent chortling politely in this boardroom. “It’s a play on the fact that we’re not cutting anything,” explains the Great Yarmouth Waxworks’ Heather Locklear in her own defence. Lord Sugar remains incredulous: “Is that really what you think works?” “Well, it’s not great, but that’s how we’d spin it,” she adds noncommittally. Alan’s trying to work out where he fits in - “I can bring my name. You probably don’t need my face, that’s for sure.” Unless, of course, she needs some decent ‘before’ shots.

As the two women retire to the reception so that Lord Sugar can deliberate, Nick weighs in with “For Leah I’ve got stubborn, and under Luisa, I’ve got less stubborn.” Karren might be thrilled that Alan has selected two women for his finalists, but Nick is clearly assessing their capabilities based on how easily they can be controlled, so let’s not call this a feminist victory just yet.

Helping him make the right decision is the fact that Leah’s looking to sell her business after a couple of years, whereas Luisa’s in it for the long haul. Given the short lifespan of most of Lord Sugar’s Apprentice affiliations, this get-out clause could be music to his ears. Plus, as Leah confidently reminds him, “How many pots of glitter do you need to sell to make the same profits?” And that’s it, with those words, Leah’s fate is sealed. Sugar moans that he’s 66 and doesn’t need any more aggravation, but at the same time, he’s not ready to play it safe just yet. As a result, Leah gets the Bentley ride to the studio and Luisa has to settle for the black cab. As for Karren; she’s already needling Sugar for mates’ rates on the dermabrasion.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Fail to plan, plan to fail - The Apprentice Week 11

This is the one that the die-hard Apprentice fans have been looking forward to. Lord Sugar has finally uncaged his beasts, cranked up the heat, and taken out Margaret’s ball-gag. It’s the interview round; a task so grueling that it could reduce The Rock to floods of tears at the sight of red biro on his CV.

There’s a lot to get through tonight, so there’s just time for a quick reminder of how Jordan almost came a cropper last week, when he introduced a notional third party into the prospective business negotiations with the gruff investor: “What bleedin’ world do you live in?” Lord Sugar asked of the diminutive entreprenobhead. My guess would be Munchkinland, but I’m not the one in the big leather chair.

The housemates, sorry, candidates have had a lie-in today. It’s already 8am and they’re just lazing around the kitchen island having a game of business cliché bingo. Just as they’re getting into ‘stepping it up another level’ and ‘working hard to get here’, they’re interrupted by the dildophone. Neil answers, but has to wait a few seconds until one of the sound technicians presses ‘play’ on the prerecorded message from Lord Sugar. They’ve got 24 hours to get their shit together, before going up against four of Alan’s most trusted advisors.

As well as prepping their business plans, the final five also have a chance to psyche themselves up for the horrors that lay ahead. Jordan is as smug as ever, Neil is displaying a level of self-belief that would make Jesus look wracked with insecurity, and Francesca thinks that being nice makes her a unique candidate. Luisa talks about the advantages of being a strong woman as if she’s just invented the concept of feminism, and Leah damns herself with faint praise, saying “I’ve really blossomed, and now I think I’m as strong as the other candidates.”

The following day the candidates make. Their way to. The Institute of. Directors. As the voiceover. Becomes increasingly. Staccato. Alan and his minions greet the gang, as millions of viewers at home all think the same thing – that jacket might look nice, but if Karren doesn’t take it off, she won’t feel the benefit when she gets outside. Lord Sugar cautions the candidates that they’re about to meet four of his most trusted advisors, and that there’ll be no pulling the wool over their eyes. Unless, of course, one of the interview tasks is helping them try on an Aran sweater. Unlikely, I know, but stranger things have happened on this show.

The interviews kick off with an introduction to the people who’ll be grilling the candidates. We see our old favourite Claude getting testy with Luisa, when she dares to draw a parallel between herself and Lord Sugar. “Don’t compare yourself to him, ever,” warns Claude with a tear in his eye and a suspicious bulge in his boxers. Margaret is back too, and still looking utterly unconvinced by everything anyone says. New face Claudine Collins is here to expose the real people behind the self-promotion, but I’m concerned that she’s in for a big disappointment when she pulls back that metaphorical curtain. And finally, there’s Mike Soutar, who’s a pioneer in the ‘free magazine industry’ and is busy being told what a fucking mess he is by Leah, who’s recommending a bunch of Botox and fillers to try and salvage his sagging features. I can see that exchange going particularly well.

The theme for tonight’s episode is established early on, as Neil sticks out his blotchy neck and attempts to convince four different interviewers that his online real estate portal isn’t a waste of time. Claude tries explaining that the market’s full, to which Neil responds by saying, “Maybe I’m just not explaining it properly.” “It’s crap,” barks Claude, attempting a more direct form of communication. Neil looks quizzically at him, as though he’s momentarily lost the ability to understand English. Faced with Claudine, Neil tries a different tactic, and launches into the motivational speech he gave a few weeks ago in a marquee in Hertfordshire. By the time he gets to his desire to make his dead dad proud, Claudine’s eating out of his hand. “I think your dad would be very proud of you,” she says with a noticeable wobble in her voice. Sorry, but I’m here for The Apprentice, not Surprise Surprise. Thankfully, things get back on track in Mike’s office, where Neil’s still struggling to comprehend how anyone would doubt his business plan. They clearly all love Neil, so Mike even offers him the chance to come up with a new idea, or change part of his existing concept. Neil refuses, repeating that he can make this work. Hours later and they’re no further along. Outside, Luisa announces “I’d rather give birth than do this again,” and I’ve a feeling that Mike would second that emotion.

Jordan starts off by facing the formidable Margaret Mountford, who appears to be gradually transmogrifying into an angry-looking Christmas pudding. Madge has obviously been told to go easy on Jordan, so she complements his impressive intellectual prowess, but neglects to commend his ability to find pin-stripe suits in Mothercare. The smugness is almost off the chart as Jordan makes a bid for Claudine’s affection. I guess he’s aiming for enthusiastically passionate, but it comes across as borderline psychotic. But we glimpse the first chink in his armour when Claudine challenges his business experience: “I’ll admit, the only real kind of business I’ve run for myself is selling things on eBay as a teenager.” If you didn’t already want to punch him right in the quiff, you certainly would when he punctuates the word ‘business’ with air-quotes.

Jordan’s astonishing downfall continues apace, as he compares himself to Steve Jobs and then fails to complete a Rubiks Cube in three minutes at Mike’s behest. However, his fate is sealed when he enters Claude’s office. “Hello, I’m Jordan,” he announces cheerily. “Yes, I know,” replies the battle-weary interviewer without looking up from his notes. Is it just me, or did it just get cold in here? Claude can’t even be bothered conducting the interview, telling Jordan: “This isn’t your business. You’re feeding on someone else’s idea, someone else’s business. You’re a parasite. This interview is terminated. You can leave now.” I hope someone uploads this clip to YouTube – think I’ve just found a new replacement for Fabio being hit in the face with a goose, as my favourite video ever.

Francesca’s interviews are fairly unremarkable, as she comes across as a pleasant but entirely inconsequential also-ran. She’s the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter of the series. Claude gives her some decidedly underarm questions, even imploring her “Don’t let me down here.” Unfortunately, she fucks it up by admitting that she made up the £5 million turnover on her CV because it was the first number that popped into her head – the reality was more like £36,000. Let’s just take a moment to remind ourselves that these are supposed to be the finest business minds in Britain. Post interview, she admits to Luisa. “That wasn’t the highlight of my career,” although it’s unlikely that there’s stiff competition in that category. Luisa seems to be making the situation worse by grilling all the candidates after every interview, although it’s mostly an opportunity to talk about herself. She even tells Francesca, “I hope you’ve seen how much I’ve changed.” Fran nods graciously, but her expression looks like she’s trying to swallow an unpeeled avocado.

Luisa’s a bit of a dark horse in this competition though, and her post-interview tactic could all be part of her sinister plan to undermine the other contestants. She’s certainly got every reason to feel confident, since she nails most of her own interviews. Claude applauds her business acumen and asks why she wants Lord Sugar’s investment. “I’m successful, but I always want more,” she grins flirtatiously, as Claude fidgets with his collar and lets out a jet of cartoon steam. Margaret’s not so easily swayed, picking apart Luisa’s girly-girl persona. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a bit of personality in business,” is Luisa’s commendable defence. But she’s talking to a woman who earned a PhD in old bits of paper for fun, so her argument is falling on indifferent ears. Mike interrogates Luisa’s strategy for selling cupcake ingredients, glitter and sprinkles to independent businesses. “Your business plan is half baked,” he jokes weakly, missing the opportunity to point out that she’s pitching to Lord Sugar, not a My Little Pony. “Luisa, I think you’re crazy,” he concludes, leaving her to lean in hopefully, as if to say “Crazy, like a good thing?”

And finally, there’s Leah. She’s looking to set up a chain of non-surgical aesthetics clinics, in a bid to make the rest of the country as inexplicably emotionless as she is. Margaret puts her through her paces for being obsessed with appearances, which is as pointless a criticism as telling a chef he looks a little well-fed. By the time she’s in Claude’s office, she’s got her game face on, even though that’s hard to tell where Leah’s concerned. After a brief interrogation about her ethics (“I’m a very moral person”), she launches into a spectacular presentation of her entire business case, all delivered in a single breath. Claude looks utterly bamboozled, like he’s just watched both seasons of Twin Peaks at 16-speed.

The café of broken dreams is taking a hit this week, as no-one’s heading out for a weak cappuccino to discuss what went wrong. Instead, Lord Sugar consults with his advisors to get the lowdown on his final five. Margaret tells Alan that Luisa just wants his black book. “Yeah, well, I can just pick up the phone and call a supermarket,” he boasts. He doesn’t add that it’s only when he needs to change his Ocado order. The advisors all lament Neil’s inability to get past his own self-confidence, which disappoints Lord Sugar deeply. Leah’s business case prompts a load of weak jokes from the grizzled business icon, followed by a smattering of ingratiating laughter. I imagine this is a pretty close approximation of what Richard Blackwood hears inside his head.

Jordan gets taken down pretty sharply, with the criticism “He’s not an entrepreneur, he takes credit for other people’s work.” Interesting, that certainly sounds like one to me. Not to worry though, he’s obviously fired before he’s even clambered up onto his chair. Luisa, on the other hand, knows how to keep Sugar sweet. She only gets as far as “If we was going to go into business together…” before he cuts her short, if only to disguise his excitement at finding another grammar-mangling kindred spirit. In contrast, he’s unsure about Leah’s proposition, since he distrusts “scientists, doctors and boffins.” One more clue as to why Amstrad remains such a dominant force on the technology landscape.

And so to Neil, the prodigal candidate and Karren’s clear favourite throughout the entire process. Alan’s inconsolable about Neil’s shitty business plan, wailing “It don’t work. It don’t make sense.” Neil is still refusing to see sense, adopting “I take that on board” as the grown-up equivalent of “La, la, la, I’m not listening.” Sugar tells him that if this was about giving someone a job, Neil would have it tomorrow. If only someone hadn’t fucked about with the format of the show. Neil gets a “with regret” prior to the inevitable “You’re fired” and skulks off to BBC Two to spend twenty minutes telling Dara Ó Briain how his plan really does work.

So with three women vying for two places, it’s down to Lord Sugar to make one last weak joke – “The dance studio has got legs” – before sending Francesca on her way. In a refreshing first for the series, the women are all pleasantly supportive of one another, and seem genuinely happy for each other’s success. Let’s see how long that convivial sisterhood lasts when they go head-to-head in next week’s final.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Apprentice Week 10 - If It Ain't Bespoke, Don't Nix It

Hang in there, people. There’s just a fortnight to go now, before we discover who’s going to be condemned to spending the next year driving back and forth to a trading estate in Edmonton. Meanwhile, we can content ourselves in those inspiring shots of Lord Sugar striding purposefully towards Canary Wharf. The inference, of course, is that he’s heading into a high powered meeting, when in fact he’s off to Square Pie to buy a meat and potato with the works, that he can eat in the van on his way back to North London.

Last week we were treated to Alex’s Poppidy Ping (“He’s on a gondola; Italian innit”) and Ming the Merciless designing a ready meal that looked as though it could rid your basement of rodents. Meanwhile, the voice over man runs through every possible cooking pun imaginable, so I’m exhausted before tonight’s adventures have even started.

The dildophone rings and it’s Francesca’s turn to answer.  There’s no frantic commute to a random London landmark this week, instead they’re going to be watching a prerecorded video in the sitting room. As simple as that sounds, there’s an awful lot of confusion about the venue: “The sitting room? The SITTING room?” Perhaps they think it’s a new members only club.  

The bewilderment continues as Jordan races in, wearing giant tie & dye sarong. “It’s not a sarong,” he argues pointlessly, “it’s a kikoy.” “You’ve got a lot on in the next few days,” comments Lord Sugar, subliminally advising Jordan to try a pair of trousers.  

They’re watching a video, because as Sugar explains, “I can’t be with you because I’ve just had to go off on a foreign business trip…” Which probably means he’s just remembered the 24 boxset he got for Christmas. How do I know he’s lying? Because real professionals don’t need to name drop the fact they’re on a business trip, unless they’re Romy and Michelle looking for the special menu in the Café of Broken Dreams.

This week our final five will be tackling the Alan Sugar Biography Task, as they attempt to turn £150 into a thriving retail empire, via a market stall in London’s East End. Ming Merciless is talking about “smashing it,” whereas Luisa is busy complaining about “those stupid boys” as she daubs Neil’s name on her pencil case in eyeliner.

Lord Sugar’s reverted back to a boys versus girls structure, and both teams are seeing plenty of competition for the role of project manager. Luisa comments “It’s perfect for me, given my professional background. I own shops.” I’m amazed she’s managed to keep that a secret for so long. The girls quickly decide that fashion is where they can make the most money, with Luisa commenting knowledgeably, “Fashion is really on trend.”

The boys are equally well informed, deciding that they need to buy stuff that’s going to sell. “Teapots are cool” offers Ming Merciless to no-one in particular. Jordan also likes the idea of greetings cards, presumably buoyed by Clinton’s inspiring success story. 

Luisa sends Francesca off to Spitalfields to size up the vibe of East London, adding that they need to “Stack it high, sell it cheap,” which is like pillow talk for Lord Sugar. Leah may be a doctor, but it turns out she also has her finger on the pulse of fashion, confidently asserting that “beanie hats are very 1998.” In contrast, the boys are still struggling to make a decision. Karren interjects to see if they’re any closer to a decision, only to get shushed by Ming.

Neil and Ming have decided to explore ceramics, and are cooing over a £25 butter dish. Because they’re going to be selling their stock to 1940s housewives who’d actually find use for such a thing. It’s just a shame they couldn’t lay their hands on a lorry-load of mangles. They’ve also fallen for a soapdish that looks like a marigold glove. In the end, they walk out with just 16 items to sell, which means they’re going to have a pretty minimalist market stall. The girls, on the other hand, are lugging great bin-bags full of cheap hats.

Karren is concerned about the boys’ high-end purchases, cautioning them against bespoke ceramics. Personally, I’d caution her against using the word ‘bespoke’ incorrectly, but each to their own. She’s clearly in a critical mood, teasing “they haven’t got anything that would entice me over to have a look.” I’m guessing Neil’s going to take that one personally. With a job-lot of cards to shift, Jordan makes the audacious decision to try and sell them to other card stalls. Later, he’ll try flogging fridge freezers to some vacationing Inuits.

Nick’s bored shitless because the girls haven’t made any ridiculous mistakes, although I may have spoken too soon, as they’re now trying unsuccessfully to shift their funky leggings. They might not be moving but the hats are still shifting like hotcakes, as Leah lies “Oh my god Francesca, isn’t that gorgeous?” as some unsuspecting punter tries on a fake-fur headband. Over on the boys stand, Neil is waving his cock about because he managed to sell a couple of butter dishes.

Day two, and the teams relocate to a pop-up shopping mall near Brick Lane, made out of old shipping containers. They’re all doing their best with merchandising and layout, but at least the girls have enough stock to work with. The boys, on the other hand, are even struggling to fill their own doorway. Karren’s concerned that their stock in failing to entice people in, when it’s far more likely that passersby are put off by Neil pacing back and forth with his fists clenched.

Francesca comes back from the wholesalers dressed like a spare Puppini Sister, and a bag full of identical retro dresses. Speaking of outfits, Karren observes that the usually calm and collected Ming Merciless is “fraying around the edges,” but she could just be dissing his pullover.

Having been dispatched to source more products to fill their woefully understocked store, Jordan somehow manages to spend four hours pricing candles, despite the fact that half of them wouldn’t even burn that long. He does also select some enormous cathedral candles which, in certain shots, appear to be taller than he is. Ming frowns at Jordan’s product selection, to which Jordan responds by saying “I would jokingly say they’re immortal candles.” You should hear his stand-up routine, people have literally died laughing.

Luisa’s panicking about the remaining stock, and races into the street shouting “Lovely vintage style dresses, only £40” but the only person in earshot is Francesca. Since the hats and scarves seem to be the only things that are shifting, Fran is sent back to the wholesalers. She’s still wearing her fake-fur headband; I do hope she whip that off the moment she’s out of sight. It’s very hard to engage in serious negotiations with someone who looks like she’s on her way to a Hen Night.  

The last few minutes of the task are dedicated to the story of Jordan’s zsa-zsa. That’s not a euphemism; it’s a ridiculously overpriced objet d’art that’s been hand spun by a woman who must have seen Jordan coming. She explains that it’s a specially designed vase, but no-one seems entirely sure where the flowers would go, unless you were to remove the entire stem and just plonk the heads on top. In the end, a £200 dish isn’t what the passersby of Shoreditch need, so Jordan’s reduced to wandering from shop to shop, trying to offload his impulse purchase like he’s got Vincent Van Gogh’s ear wrapped in brown paper. Finally, he finds a hipster shopkeeper with a thing for pint-sized pottery pushers. Will he sell it in time? We’ll just have to wait and see. Spoiler warning – No.

Lord Sugar’s back from his overseas business trip (watching the Homeland boxset and eating Supernoodles from the packet) and he’s eager to see how the teams got on. The girls are happy with Luisa’s performance as PM, and they allow themselves to laugh a little when Lord Sugar lamely jokes that they weren’t supposed to sell a bowler hat to Nick. “We tried,” they all bleat, as Nick looks at the floor in embarrassment. Maybe he’d have preferred the fuzzy hat with cat ears instead. Karren reveals her own interests as she leaps in to celebrate Neil’s stellar sales effort before we’ve even got to the boys’ efforts. Once again, she’s erroneously describing their ceramics as bespoke, whereas Lord Sugar opines that the boys’ shop must have looked like the bailiffs had been in.  

In the end, the boys are left with combined assets of over £500, but the girls are way ahead with £800. There are congratulations all round on a job well done, so let’s not quibble about how effective these businesses would be if they’d had to pay for the market stall and retail unit rentals.

Over at the Bridge Café, Jordan is picking fights before they’ve even made it into the boardroom. No such worry for the girls, who’ve teased out their hair and are toasting their success in the world’s most desolate pop-up restaurant. They’re bigging up the fact that three of them in the final five, so much so that even Jessie J would tell them to give their ‘girl power’ shit a rest.
Back in the boardroom and Lord Sugar hauls Jordan over the coals for his ridiculous pottery. “It’s a vase, and it’s unique,” he argues, neglecting to follow up with the fact that its uniqueness comes from the fact that it’s totally unfit for purpose. Sugar’s not convinced: “What makes you look bad here Jordan, is you’re sitting here saying you like that vase.” And just like that, homophobes up and down the land find themselves with an all-new euphemism.

The talk swiftly moves onto the candidates’ business plans, all of which sound like variations on “I want to build a website.” Jordan gets himself into trouble by bringing up a previously unmentioned third partner. He tries to convince the grouchy guru that he’s a safe bet, but Sugar refers back to “That bloody vase there…” whilst pointing at Karren who’s actually doing her best teapot impression. Fair play to Lord Sugar; his fake-out pre-firing is more convincing this week, and I’m prepared to bet my zsa zsa that someone’s going to be loading a suitcase full of tie-dye man skirts into a black cab. In fact, it’s Ming who gets the chop, since Lord Sugar is unsure what his expertise is. Clearly, anyone who’s been watching this show know that it’s ab-crunches.

Final word for this week goes to Luisa, who’s busy assessing the competition. “I think Jordan may struggle,” she wonders out loud, but only if the prize is on a high shelf.