This week we had the annual bit of bonus Apprentice
background info in the "final five" special. Which I won't recap because it came down to "Jade hates Adam with every fibre of her being, Tom's hair has more personality than he does, and Nick sells coffee." Actually the latter will, sort of, be relevant in this week's episode proper.
It's the semi-final. Or, "the one that used to be the final until the semi-final became the final and the final became the semi-final" to give it its proper name. It's the one where they launch an imaginary product, except you don't even get the fired Apprenti returning to ooze resentment at whoever's left.
We open with The Apprentice
openly acknowledging that the viewers treat answering the phone as a weekly competition, by showing Jade and Ricky Martin racing for it. Honestly, what with Family Guy
the other week dissecting the "everyone hates Meg for no reason" joke, is every
show on TV going to start ruining its running gags by hanging a lantern on them like this? Anyway Jade gets there first, as she's been sitting up next to the phone all night waiting for it, and Ricky Martin's having to run down the stairs. They're to meet LdAlan at Burlington Arcade, and as Ricky Martin is getting ready he remembers he's the only one left on Team Sterling, and smugs that he wants to be a one-man team. Realising someone will
get drafted to Sterling, Adam says "hopefully they'll stick Jade with you." Hur hur because she am a BLADDY WOMAN and is therefore RUBBISH. Yes, how terrible for Ricky Martin if the person who single-handedly won last week's task were to join his team. LdAlan tells them the pretend products this year have to be "affordable luxuries," Tom will join Sterling and Adam will be PM of Phoenix, because he remembers the last time Adam was put in charge of a "quality" product and we could all do with a laugh.
Ricky Martin becomes Sterling PM, and after looking at the off-camera list of producer-approved products, he and Tom go for male grooming, because they are male and groom themselves. Or, as Hick Newer barks to camera with undisguised disgust, "looking at them with their hair-gelled quiffs, they obviously have a P
ersonal interest in that particular sector." He proper spits on the "p" and everything. Then Ricky Martin looks into Tom's eyes and tells him how much he likes his hair. Great, first the show steals the internet's jokes, now it's doing the slash-writers' work for them as well.
Meanwhile Team Adam will be making chocolates, with Nick on brand and Jade at the factory creating the product range. The boys try to come up with names in the car, Adam suggesting that "Choco...like?" is quite clever, which Nick greets with the face it deserves. Although he shouldn't throw stones, as the best he can come up with is "Cho-cho-cho." It's like a chocolate train. Yeah OK, Jade's on the phone to inform them that the name is Sweet Thing. Doing "research" at a sweet shop (stuffing their faces) Nick and Adam are told that jellies are quite popular at the moment, and Adam becomes fixated with incorporating them into the product range, despite them having previously said they wanted to concentrate on chocolate as their signature product. Overriding Nick's objections Adam insists on jellies as well, and Jade's all "OK but can we at least make them alcoholic, because fuck knows I need something to deal with being on a team with you. Actually scratch that, let's make them very, very
alcoholic." We don't see Adam suggesting they make the jellies out of corned beef to save money but I assume this definitely happened.
Ricky Martin is using his wrestling biochemistry skillz to put together the aftershave and make sure it's not too gay. He wants to smell like a real heterosexual MAN when he's gazing into Tom's eyes, thankyewverymuch. Speaking of whom, Tom's done the research in a barber shop that has its own cosmetic range, come up with the name "Modern Gentleman" (god they're all so boring this year; how about Prism? Given the editors' favourite shot of London, a Shard-shaped bottle would surely be a hit) and is doing the packaging, which even he
knows is boring. As Hick says, Tom's been left to do everything, including the "inspiration." See, you sneer about Tom's grooming habits but you're back to swooning over him soon enough Hick.
Each team has a little mock-up shop for members of the public and the odd incognito industry expert (the cameras keep zooming in on the same bald man with glasses in case we hadn't figured out he's one of them) to visit, as a sort of trial run. Although how helpful it really is, since Modern Gentleman's main problem turns out to be how boring the packaging is and they can't change that in time for the final presentation, is a different story. (OK, if not Prism, how about Jism? You can't argue it's not manly.) Tom is once again going for a "minimalist" look, which doesn't work quite
as well for after-shave as it does when trying to impress hipsters with recycled bric-a-brac. There will be demonstrations of professional shaves with the product, and Tom tries it out first - properly shaved he's a lot better looking for some reason, and a lot less Adam Woodyatt. Then bald industry man volunteers for a wet shave, only to discover Ricky Martin himself will be doing it. We see bald industry man again the next day so it turns out Ricky Martin didn't
slit his throat and drop him through a trapdoor. Bit of an oversight really - I bet LdAlan would have loved a business plan with a whole added revenue stream from the pie shop downstairs.
Sweet Thing meanwhile have a mock-up shop that's more Willie Wonka but with extra booze - having figured that making jellies that are 45% proof isn't going to be enough, Jade has added an actual cocktail bar. Noticing that nobody's even mentioned it, Barren Krady asks them what their RRP is, and gets blank stares followed by "£2.99... or £4.99." Well that's OK. Once opened to the public, women customers seem particularly fond of all the alcoholic content. To be fair, to reach the bar they needed to get past Adam asking them to iron his shirts, so they needed a drink. Overall the sweet shop (with added booze) goes down a lot better with customers than the aftershave shop. But then, one of them's a sweet shop (with added booze) and the other one's an aftershave shop. This leaves Adam and co pretty relaxed and confident, while Ricky Martin is more nervous, repeatedly going over the details with Tom in preparation for the next day's presentation.
...which goes as you'd expect: Modern Gentleman rather dull but slickly presented and professional; Sweet Thing all lovely and chocolatey and jelly-ey and an absolute fucking car crash when anyone asks any questions about price, franchising or if they've noticed they'd need a license to open a bar in their sweet shop. Wait, who's that watching the pitches? Why it's bald man with glasses. WHO COULD HAVE POSSIBLY FORESEEN that he would turn out to be one of LdAlan's invited experts? (Incidentally, LdAlan very rarely pipes up during these things but he's so annoyed at Phoenix not having worked out the money that he asks Jade himself if the "flagship" stores are meant to be a loss-leader. She should have just said yes, it was part of the marketing budget.)
BOARDROOM! And instead of bombast like most weeks, the music goes a bit sad and wistful, almost as if a "beloved" running joke is about to finally end... Sterling get criticised for the design being boring (but again, they knew this - the problem's with the format of the task that arranges for them to get feedback after
it's too late to do anything about it.) Tom tries to salvage the packaging zzzzz by saying they would have put the bottles into cardboard boxes, because that says quality and excitement. But anyway, it's obvious that Phoenix were the ones with a whole ton of problems under the glossier surface, and Sterling are the winners, and in the final. No treat though! They just get an extra night to do their homework before interviews, and a MANLY HUG on the way out. LdAlan says "we'll pick this up in the morning" and then apparently Phoenix have to spend the whole night in Loser Cafe.
Next day and the main points are: Barren Krady stirring things up good and proper. Nick saying "strategy" a lot because that worked so well for Azhar. Adam claiming he's the best candidate and Jade has no special skills, and Jade laughing in his face. Nick getting into trouble for not pushing hot chocolate more, since his coffee shop experience would have been relevant. (Nick really is that rare Apprentice
candidate who's a lot better as a PM then as a team member, isn't he?) Also, Nick's never been in the bottom three before, and he probably knows this is usually death at this point 'cause LdAlan hasn't seen him be bolshy in the boardroom - this is the only explanation for his nonsensical choice of Jade as the person who should go this week, he probably thinks it makes him look more interesting than the obvious "Adam should go as he's clearly a vegetable." To be honest who cares about what happens in the actual firing, since Hick Newer at some point decides this episode hasn't been homoerotic enough, and declares "Tom and Ricky drilled each other for an hour and a half."
Anyway it's allegedly a difficult decision but obviously LdAlan puts Adam out of his misery. I say misery, he's grinning from ear to ear as he gets fired, so either he was a deliberate comedy candidate all along, or he doesn't know what the words mean. So, finally, Adam's gone. Although I guess on some level seeing the gits inspect his "business plan" would have been fun - I'm guessing his proposal involved drawing a smiley face and hoping LdAlan chose it to put on his fridge. Adam goes off in his cab, where he nods off, and dreams of all the fired female candidates, led by The Blonde Assassin, standing in a row having made his dinner for him. Obviously, it's meatballs, in a cross between the Gluttony death in Se7en
and the Simpsons
Halloween episode where he went to Hell and was force-fed donuts. "You want women to make your dinner? Well here, have all the dinner in the world! Ahahahahaha! Ahahahaha!" ASSASSINED!
Back at the Apprenticave, we have our four finalists: Nick, Jade, Tom and Ricky Martin. Nick's all "LOL I said Jade should be fired." Jade is somewhat less LOL about this.
Next week (or Sunday, anyway,) Finals! Interviews! Gits! Claude! *boo* *hiss* Margaret! *yay* *but also kind-of boo because she'll be being a git* And here is an exclusive preview of the finalists' SRS BZNS plans:
WRESTLING BIOCHEMISTRY + ????????????? = £££££££££££££££££!
WINE + ????????????????? = ££££££££££££££££££££!
SOMETHING INTERNET + ????????????????? = ££££££££££££££££!
LOVELY HAIR + ????????????????????? = £££££££££££££££££!