Halfway through this series of The Apprentice
and it's one of the annual favourites, the advertising task. Although after Pantsman, what can this year offer to make it stand out? IT'S TIME! TO FACE! THEoh no wait, wrong show.
There's no telephone race because this is the one where LdAlan "surprises" them in their pyjamas at Apprentice Mansions. But it's Stella who answers the door after the (very annoying!) doorbell rings. The contestants are in various stages of undress but neither Jamie nor Chris has his tits out so who cares? BallBaggs sleeps with his socks on, and LdAlan comments on the sartorial choices of Baggs The Brand. They have to brand and advertise a cleaning product, and the Project Managers have to be people who haven't been PM before, so I'm sure Sandeesh will be jumping up and down to volunteer, right? Right? It's Alex vs Ballbaggs vying for Apollo 13 leader (oh, so not Sandeesh? Sandeesh who was apparently gagging to be PM weeks
ago and was definitely going to do it but just hasn't got round to it yet? I think when LdAlan said "I'll bladdy tell you when you're bladdy going to be bladdy PM" she took this very literally, and thinks she's been banned from being PM until told otherwise. Meanwhile I think LdAlan's forgotten he ever said it.) So Alex gets the job, because if he was an apple pie you'd cut him open and the apples would be orange. Well yes I suppose that would
be different Alex, just not in a good way. Also, Alex is just about hanging by a thread at this point so everyone's happy to let him take the bullet, especially since Apollo 13 are being followed by the Karren of Doom again this week so they know they're fucked.
Over on Synergy Joanne/a can't be PM but she quickly sets herself up as the fall guy if anything goes wrong, because she runs a cleaning company in real life. Is this Apprentice
-speak for "she's a cleaning lady?" Anyway MILITARY Christopher is PM. We're not going to see much of this team though (mercifully, as it turns out) because it's back to the losers and Chris is pitching calling their cleaner "The Germinator." Laura suggests "Helping Hand" and dammit, BallBaggs is being likeable again by making jokes about how piss-weak this name is ("it's better than nothing.") If I like you, BallBaggs, I have to hate myself! But then making me hate myself is A Bad Thing of you to do, so on that account I can hate you again. *phew* Still trying out ideas, Alex is suggesting "The Blitz" and informs Laura Snakeeyes that "It was a big bombing thing. In London." But naming a toilet cleaner after it is totally fine, because "most of the people alive then are dead." Yeah, a lot of them were killed by that big bombing thing, for a start.
At this point my notes say "Christopher's team to be cunty and talk some Pope." The moral of the story is, my handwriting's really bad.
Never mind, we're straight back to Apollo 13 and Chris is still pushing "Germinator." It's going to be Pantsman again, isn't it? He wants to direct. It's definitely Pantsman. But it's what they go with because the other options were "it's slightly better than not cleaning at all" and "thousands dead in the East End of London." BallBaggs suggests the tagline should be "Hasta La Vista, Gravy" and that's what swings it. Indeed. The bottle will be red and black. REALLY? OK.
Over on Synergy, MILITARY Christopher's main concern is the TV advert, because he's going to be playing the husband in it, and the actress they hire to be his wife had better not be a minger! At least their product looks vaguely the right colour to be in the cleaning product aisle, even if their logo is a cartoon octopus. Because it can get a tentacle right down the U-bend? Oh right, using this stuff is like having eight arms. Pfft, don't get eight arms, just get a wife to do the cleaning for you, this is surely the message the TV advert is promoting? Anyway it's supposed to be called Octoclean, but they seem to be spelling it Octi-Kleen. I'm hoping the "Kleen" bit is a deliberate misspelling for "hilarious" effect, but they do genuinely seem to think the first bit is right, and that the animal in question is called an "Octi-Puss." For the advert, Christopher has chosen the actress who'll play his little woman. "Fancy an early night?" Ewwwww! It's funny, I was thinking only the other day that I used to be barely able to watch The Apprentice
because of the cringe factor but lately seem to have become immune. But Christopher being revealed as an ultra-creep had me hiding behind the cushions. Nick Hewer's gurning about the woman being an octopus groping her husband. Go on Nick, call her a WHORE like you want to.
Apollo 13 and finally BallBaggs reveals what on earth he's doing on this show: He's auditioning to do comedy voiceovers. Fair enough, there's good money in them. I imagine he'd be devastated if the job he ended up getting from this show actually was
the one with LdAlan in a business estate in Thurrock. He so
sees himself with a Prime Time impressions show. Well, I guess he can't be any worse than Jon Culshaw. Meanwhile Chris is directing the TV ad and demonstrating to the actor how to grunt as he tries to mop gravy up. I'm enjoying watching Chris make grunting noises in a way that he perhaps had not intended. I'm also thinking up things to do that involve Chris making his own gravy BUT THIS IS NEITHER THE TIME NOR THE PLACE! Hey look, there's Alex! Oh that's right, he's the PM for this task. What a significant contribution he appears to be making. Finally a little kid comes in and uses the Germinator to clean up the kitchen, breaching any number of copyrights as he does so.
Boardroom! Chris is on about appallingly bad adverts sticking in your mind, so LdAlan wants to know if his ad was meant
to be appallingly bad, and Chris squirms a bit. Frankly he should have gone for it and pointed out that they're two groups of amateurs trying to chuck something together in a day, whereas marketing professionals work months to produce ads that are often just as shit-awful, so maybe actually trying for the so-bad-it's-good approach is the smartest option. But we're supposed to be pretending these are all earnest attempts at advertising gold so we're not going there. Anyway, two things are going to lose it for Team Germinator: The godawful packaging that yes, is
different from what else is on the shelves in the cleaning section, but it's different in the way an orange apple pie is. And the advert which doesn't say enough about the product. The latter is what always
loses this task every year and to be fair this year's lot did better than usual - it did at least mention the germ-killing stuff in passing, which is about as much as the winning ads usually manage. The bottle design is the real problem but it gets bogged down under the advert which is the latest of Alex's mistakes.
Team Octi-Puss had a much stronger message, although their message was "buy this and your wife will clean the house and then fellate you." This being LdAlan, this isn't that
much of a problem though. He does have a go about the sexism, but only because Karren is kicking him under the table. Funnily enough nobody tells Christopher he's betrayed his entire gender. They're not so much the winners as the not-losers and so get an appropriate not-prize: Karaoke. The production team forces them to "spontaneously" do "We Are The Champions" and Stella is enjoying it so much she looks like she might go on a killing spree any minute now.
Alex, unaware of the little red laser dot on his forehead, says he's "happy to discuss this" with LdAlan. In the loser cafe he asks if there were any issues with how he managed the team. I'd say there's silence but you can practically hear everyone's eyes rolling. Back in the boardroom Sandeesh is doing evil eye and there's a big flashing "this is your scapegoat!" light over Laura Snakeeyes, who's actually a marketing bod but didn't contribute much (or did and was ignored, depending on who you ask.) To be fair she did
mention that using a child to advertise a product that shouldn't be used by children was a mistake, and this was one of the things that tripped them up in the end; but I'm not sure anyone else would have even held it against them if she hadn't spotted it. She was also involved in the disastrous colour scheme choice so would have been a handy scapegoat for that, but Alex can't read a room so he brings back Chris and Sandeesh, the latter because she, er, did a pitch that everyone liked? (Actually when we heard her rehearse her pitch it was all about MP3 players and search engines, she might as well have just squealed FUTUREMODERN! and it reminded me of "CD-ROM Paranoia" from Knowing Me, Knowing You
so maybe it wasn't as great as everyone's pretending it was.) The point is LdAlan's basically said "if you bring Sandeesh in I will fire you" so Alex brings Sandeesh in. In a surprisingly clever move, LdAlan tells her pretty much straight away that she's safe and sends her out. A clever move because LdAlan hates Sandeesh but when he does, probably quite soon, get rid of her whether she fucks up next task or not, he can't be accused of bias because he saved her this time. So now it's Chris vs Alex but Alex has been in here loads already, is a complete tit and besides did the now-madatory little freakout a few minutes ago, so he has to go. He says it was nice to meet LdAlan and Nick. He thanks Karren but presumably meeting her wasn't as nice. In the car he tells us he doesn't need LdAlan. Well that's handy. Usually on You're Fired
afterwards, the fired contestant at least makes some
attempt to appear a bit more human than they did on the show and you can blame their behaviour on the pressure, the nutters around them etc. With Alex, not so much. If anything his bullshit levels go even higher. Oh dear.
Next week: It's something to do with giant screens (in These Difficult Times?) but I'm not entirely sure what the hell's going on there frankly.