The Apprentice 2009 episode 8 review

The teams went off to rebrand Margate this week, in a surprisingly strong episode. Sir Alan didn't look impressed, though...

Truthfully, I was dreading this episode. The trailer for last week had already hinted that it was to do with rebranding Margate, and tabloid talk had revealed in advance that Mona wasn’t entirely keen with it. I’ve little time for The Apprentice in tabloid wooing mode (hence I’m not going into the stories here), so lowered my expectations and crossed my fingers.

Fortunately, it all turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

The episode started with Sralan Sugar calling the teams out to the O2 Arena, and serving up some joyous bumph about how it’s been superbly rebranded and isn’t the Millennium Dome any more, and stuff like that. O2 must have been overjoyed with the free advertising. Anyway, the task was set: the town of Margate is apparently very miserable, and apparently it’s crying out for a crew of people to go down and rebrand it in two days. It’s just what reality television was made for.

So before you could say Kiss Me Kwick, the teams settled down to work out who should project manage. Howard and Debra both wanted to lead Empire, and Debra emerged from that tussle victorious. On Ignite, Yasmina took the lead, and off everyone went.

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I must admit, I thought Empire’s idea of rebranding Margate to appeal to the gay market was quite a good one, whatever Nick’s eyebrows had to say on the matter. Howard stepped up convincingly for arguably the first time in the series, and the team duly got down to work. Ignite, meanwhile, went with the more predictable family market, and were thuddingly dull to watch as a result.

Both teams had to produce a poster and leaflet – hardly the most convincing re-brand – and first up was hunting down the models for the shoot. This was a hoot. Nick’s reactions to Howard directing two male models was played up by the editing, but he had nothing on Margaret, who was seemingly having a whale of a time watching naked male torsos parade in front of her. I’m not quite sure what it is, but Margaret seems to be having a terrific time this series, and is increasingly the highlight of a given episode. The Margaret Mountford Show is surely being talked about by some TV commissioner somewhere. We hope so, anyway.

We then followed Empire on the research trail, which seemed to be edited in a way that was quite disingenuous to Mona. Whether she was in a gay club or awkwardly questioning the locals of Margate, she’d made clear her displeasure with the concept, and little evidence that had evaporated made the final broadcast. Even with her monologue about people of Kent and how they’d react, I did have a little sympathy for how she came across.

Ignite, by comparison, was quite dull. They were busy taking some fairly tired shots of the town, that looked dull as dishwater, and eventually converting them into text-heavy visuals that at least had a constant message to them. I’m not sure the town of Margate will be particularly appreciative though, either for the visuals produced or the hour of prime time television it had devoted to it. I like Margate, but it looked drearier than a night talking politics with the dullest of MPs. All claimed on expenses, of course.

The car crash, though, was taking place in team Empire. The posters were beyond dreadful, covered with text and images, and lacking a clear, obvious message. Furthermore, the leaflet wasn’t even finished, and Debra’s attempt to blag that would blow up in their face. We’ve left space to put in local adverts, she tried to say. You’re talking shit, the faces of the inquisitors opposite her seemed to be saying. Clue for future episodes: lying is bad, and Sralan doesn’t like it.

The teams pitched their work to both marketing and tourism experts, and a panel of Margate’s finest (including Superman, who appeared to be sitting in the back), and it was the latter group who proved particularly adept at cutting through the bull and saying what they thought. Sadly, thanks to shoddy execution, it was Empire’s riskier approach that failed, and Ignite’s safe as house non-existent re-brand that won. Sralan actually nailed this: Empire had a bold concept, and then was shy about backing it up. You might even call it a fatal error…

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Apparently, the treat for the winners this week involved driving some cars. I can’t tell you more about it for two reasons. Firstly, I don’t care. And secondly, you can’t account for the call of nature. Sorry about that.

The boardroom was fairly uninteresting by comparison with the events preceding it, and also compared to earlier weeks. As soon as Sralan gave his speech about how he was having to think about who he might be taking on, he may as well have reached for a lever to pull a trap door from underneath Mona. She’d been living on borrowed time for weeks, it seemed, and as it was, she was fired. Debra meanwhile – who also managed to squeeze in this week’s argument with Lorraine earlier in the show – survived for now. Same too for James, who Sralan gives the impression is living on borrowed time, but you can’t help but think that the old growler quite likes him really.

Next week? It’s off to the baby show, which if it mirrors the wedding show episode of last year, will be worth watching. Let’s hope too it’s as much of a pleasant surprise, and comedy treat, as this week’s.

Last week’s review is here.