I must admit from the off, I'm not diving into this year's series of The Apprentice
with quite the excitement I usually do. 2010's series was kept back 6 months because the BBC couldn't give a peer a TV show during the election (unless he happened to be a Tory peer with a musical to hawk.) Then 2011's went back to its usual summer run and now 2012's is a few months early, presumably because the traditional May start would make the final clash with the Olympics. Add the second series of Apprentice
-Club Juniors at the end of last year and that's four whole batches of Apprenti to put up with in an 18-month period. Forgive me if I'm suffering from a bit of LdAlan overload. But last year's opening episode was one of the best yet, so would this year's match it and get me excited about freak-pointing again?
As is traditional, we're introduced to some of this year's contestants via their, by now almost entirely self-aware, gibberish business boasts. So there's a woman who says she's like an animal. I hope it's a tortoise! A man says "they" call him the Master Puppeteer. Given what show you're on, I think you've misheard, and that second word isn't "Puppeteer" but "Bater." Another woman says she's called The Blonde Assassin, because she's personally murdered a number of people. A bloke calls himself a shark, and has styled his hair in a fin to illustrate the point. He says he's "the reflection of perfection," which seems legit to me since the reflection of a thing is, basically, the opposite of that thing. Then some "here's some twattery to look forward to in the next few weeks" before we get into the boardroom.
Apparently if LdAlan wasn't LdAlan he'd be on this show and winning. He's willing to invest in products nobody else will invest in - yes, yes, we all remember the E-m@iler. Like last year he's no longer looking for an apprentice but changing the title this far into the thing would be weird. He's looking for the Marks to his Spencer, the Lennon to his McCartney, the Richard to his Judy. He's looked at their business ideas, which would have saved a fuckload of time last year, wouldn't it? And if we get to the final two and it turns out the business proposals he has to choose from are "white slavery" and "a chair" we know who to blame. Anyway Task One is to take blank materials and oh, the one with the hair's quite cute isn't he? In an Arctic Monkeys way. Anyway, something something printing. LdAlan says one of the blokes looks like he's sweating. I'd be more concerned that he looks like he's had a stroke. Another bloke licks his teeth and it is literally fucking terrifying. He licks his own teeth, I mean. Either way, it's terrifying.
Then they brag to each other in the ApprentMobiles on the way to the ApprentCave, as per. The blond guy called Tom is also possibly quite cute. One woman is called Bilyana and she brought down Communism. Arctic Monkey has "a coffee business and a technology business." So, an internet café? Tooth-licker is called Stephen. Maria, who is played by Stacey Solomon, says people either love her or hate her, which obviously means she loves herself and everyone else hates her. Shark bloke is called Ricky Martin. He's a wrestler by night. When he's in a big group of sweaty men, he is the alpha male. He thinks LdAlan felt his charisma. Basically the man is such an overload of gay jokes that it's imploded and isn't funny any more. Boo. This year the ApprentCave has an indoor pool, which traditionally means everyone except
the attractive ones will strip to their swimming trunks at some point.
In a shattering twist which goes against all the rules, both teams instantly come up with team names without fighting over it. Tooth-licker suggests Phoenix for the boys because they'll rise up out of failure. Well, at least they know there's going to be a lot of failure to rise out of, eh? A Northern woman dreamed that the girls' team would be called Sterling, and they certainly can't go messing with destiny like that! Slightly more fuss over choosing a PM, in that none of the boys is remotely willing to do so, until Arctic Monkey finally capitulates and says he doesn't want to do it but will. Everyone else nearly collapses under the table with relief. Arctic Monkey is called Nick, which is obviously a great name, but there's also Nick Hewer (currently watching Sterling and wondering why there isn't a beautiful Eastern flower for him to fantasise about this year) so I might stick to calling this one Arctic Monkey. Tortoise, who is called Gabrielle, volunteers for the girls because she knows it's years since the girls lost the first task so it must be safe, right? Right? Sterling will print designs onto baby clothes, Phoenix onto bags and teddy bears.
Jade, who has a pearl necklace, is drawing the animal design for the girls' stuff. They have a designer to help them, and he is seriously cute. To be honest I'm still thinking of the phrase "pearl necklace." Can we ditch the Apprenti and just have 12 weeks of looking at their design teams? They're invariably more attractive, not to mention more bearable as human beings. Meanwhile the boys will just be putting on some random London buses and defunct red telephone boxes for ver tourists. Karren is unimpressed at how they can't have nice things. Wimminz is better at handicrafts so they do their printing nice. But Nick thinks Blonde Assassin Katy is too quiet and showing weakness. Fool! That's just her ninja stealth skillz, with which she does her assassining! Meanwhile boys are not as good at handicrafts because they prefer boy things like cars and masturbation. But they're going to try to sell the smudged bags to "gullible tourists" anyway.
Next day! The boys' main stall is on the South Bank, by the skateboarding bit. Arctic Monkey does a little motivating speech, and Tooth-licker butts in to do a demotivating one. Their sub-team goes to St Pancras to try and catch people off the Eurostar while they're still disoriented. The girls are at Greenwich Market, which this show is determined to poison, and (eventually) send a sub-team to London Zoo. Although they will mainly spend the day in the car trying to get there. When they finally arrive, they try to attack families, which doesn't work too well. Nor does Bilyana shoving herself in people's faces, so she says they'll go hawk the tat to shops. It's a very long road without any shops in it. Bilyana insists it isn't and there's shops very nearby. But she suggests they run anyway. They arrive, presumably quite sweaty, at some shops where they try to intimidate a nervous-looking woman into buying all their stock by all barking at her simultaneously. When they finally give up (the woman's actually shaking a little bit by this point) they get accosted by a bloke with a smoothie who quite rightly gives them a bollocking for the way they spoke to her. Meanwhile the boys have sold their overstock but had to take it back because of that thing where they didn't print them properly. Karren says they deserve to have their tails between their legs. Stop talking about their penises Karren. That's traditionally my job.
Boardroom! I do hope at some point we hear LdAlan call the receptionist Frances, as usual. It's nice that the same person has stayed in reception all these years. Not a familiar face, as such, since Frances' face changes more often than the Doctor's, but I do look forward to them insisting it's the same woman, who just happens to be black now. When LdAlan asks who the PMs were, both Arctic Monkey and Tortoise reply "myself." Funny, they don't sound Irish. Pearl Necklace says anyone would be intimidated by working with strong women, "even
one of the guys!" Pearl Necklace in "not quite that good at feminism" shocka! Careful, Karren'll be after you. Anyway, Sterling done made £214.80p profit, Phoenix done made £616.20p profit. Phoenix done won! They can go back to the house for sushi, and to make ill-advised comments about bromance and how well they work together, to come back and haunt them in the next few weeks.
But for the wimminz it's Loser Café, where Sterling are already screaming at each other. Girl power! Anyway, save it for the boardroom, where "at least one" (i.e. definitely just one) of them will be fired. Jane says they lost 'cause the boys knew what they were doing before they did it, and they didn't. Karren snarks "that's called strategy" at her, and everyone rushes to say the word "strategy" a lot to kiss Karren's arse. Including LdAlan. Bilyana's decision to walk them miles away to the shops comes up, at which point she gets out her shovel. When LdAlan tells her she's wrong about where the nearest shops are, she replies "yes exactly, anyway." Ah, the old "pretend you're agreeing with what someone says while saying something different." She's basically Dr Fox in Britain's Got The Pop Factor
. She continues to use this technique, as well as talking over everyone else. Blonde Assassin's lack of actually doing anything is brought up, but she replies that she got her hands dirty. WITH THE BLOOD OF INNOCENTS! But this isn't enough and Tortoise brings back Bilyana and Blonde Assassin into the firing line.
Bilyana claims her problem is that she wasn't as loud as everyone else, so she's clearly been watching a different show. The whole thing turns into a big shouting match between Bilyana and Tortoise, while Blonde Assassin sits quietly to one side, not in the least bit confirming the whole thing about her being in the background (to be fair, she did slip away halfway through to slit Frances' throat.) Bilyana's yammering is clearly getting on LdAlan's nerves by now; well, not clearly to Bilyana, who keeps going, of course. She tells us all about her life but LdAlan doesn't want to listen to a sob story. Not this week anyway. Not spotting that Katy is the person in most danger, she keeps attacking the relatively safe Tortoise instead. LdAlan does his summation, which Bilyana interrupts. Despite this, as he's about to point the finger he's clearly
going to fire Katy because he's talking about how he doesn't like people to hide behind others so... But Bilyana's inability to read the room is such that she interrupts yet again, and gets fired instead. She gets into the cab, where you can see the driver turn the meter on. Heh. That's it Bilyana, no free rides from the BBC any more. It's OK though, she won't have to pay it, because halfway through the journey a katana skewers her from out of the back of her seat, where the Blonde Assassin's been hiding in the boot.
Next week: "Make a thing."