The Apprentice 2009 episode 9 review

Sir Alan Sugar sends the candidates off to sell baby things. What could go wrong?

Regular Apprentice viewers will, surely, have recognised this week’s task from old. Last year, Sralan Sugar ordered the teams to pick two products, and take them off to the Wedding Show (whatever it was called) to sell them. It was the one where Lee was selling pants to women, if memory services. It also made for one of the best episodes of 2008’s run.

If it ain’t broke, therefore, then why not get the teams to the maternity ward of a hospital in double quick time? They could put blue shoe covers on and everything. It’d be great. It’d also be a tenuous platform from which to launch the ninth task of the series, where the two teams had to look at a variety of baby products, and take them off to A Very Big Baby Show to flog them. Cackling loudly, the producers can then sit back and watch the ratings, and check the schedule at Earl’s Court for something for next year’s series.

The early vox pop this week was James, rightly talking about how Sralan Sugar had his number. Throw in the fact that he was picked as team leader, and the suspicions were instantly raised that said number was up.

He was picked to lead Empire (I think; I lose track of the useless team names in double quick time), with Ben, Yasmina and Debra on his team. Lorraine headed up Ignite, with Kate and Howard lining up behind her.

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The fun of episodes such as these is often the choosing of the products, and that also proved to be the case here. It was a fairly odd conveyor belt of options, with a multi-thousand pound rocking horse at one end, and what looked like a cot made out of cardboard at the other. Also in there was a buggy that collapsed in a second, a birthing pool and a protective hat for little kids. All health and safety approved, of course.

So the teams started choosing products. The highlight was James demonstrating the birthing pool, a product that he soon decided to back. The other half of his team, meanwhile, were quickly championing the high risk strategy, namely the rocking horse. Led by Debra’s loud cheerleading for the product, both she and Ben then failed to negotiate any kind of discount for it, meaning they were walking into Earl’s Court in the hope that someone wanted to spend a few grand on a horse. As it turned out, that punter wasn’t to be found. Sralan didn’t say the words “fatal error” this week, but you can tell he was thinking it.

Elsewhere, Ignite seemed far more sensible. They quickly decided that they needed a ticket product, and an impulse one, and it was hard to argue when Lorraine fixed on the buggy, thanks to its ease of collapse. From the usual comfort of my sofa, that looked like the one to back. Even though Ignite failed to price check the product, it still seemed like a sound choice, once they’d got over the conundrum of how to actually collapse the bloody thing. They backed it up with the foam protective hats, with the plan to sell then on some kind of guilt trip.

Not much of the show was then given over to the actual selling, and so we only got a few titbits. The desperation to sell a horse was clear, mind, and a last minute deal – that would have swung the final result – fell through Debra’s fingers. The buggies were doing well (once they worked out how to put them up), until Ignite discovered that someone else had them £35 cheaper, and the birthing pool seemed to do okay. Apparently, only 2.2% of people want home births, though. I never knew that before, and I live in hope that one day, it’ll win me a pub quiz.

Off to the boardroom, then, and Ben was sticking the knife in before a result had been announced. He’s come across quite well in the last week or two, after previously managing to piss off a good chunk of the viewing public, but he seemed to be up to his old tricks here. “There’s no way I’m going”, he’d proudly told us all, prompting me to ring up William Hills immediately and switch my tenner from James to him.

As it turned out, Lorraine and Ignite emerged victorious, and went off for a treat at the National Portrait Gallery that, for once, actually looked worth winning. There’s still no entertainment in watching other people get to enjoy it, though. Humbug.

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After the customary, and increasingly dull, trip to the café, it was boardroom time. It was fairly clear that Yasmina was going to be out of the firing line, and this meant that James, Debra and Ben were firmly in it. And, to be fair, any of them could have gone. Sralan wasn’t impressed with the products James chose, and apparently Nick and Margaret don’t like Debra at all. She was teetering on the edge for her insistence on backing the horse, and Sralan did not look hugely impressed. Even the whiskers on his face looked fierce.

But then the emphasis turned to Ben. “I can compete at a world class level”, he banged on. Then he threw in, again, that he went to Sandhurst. For once, speaking with the voice of the nation, Sralan got it spot on: “Stop banging on about bloody Sandhurst”, came the swift and brutal retort. Thank you Sralan, we cried, accidently hitting the red button on our remote as we did so.

It was still, however, a surprise when the cruel finger of firing pointed in Ben’s direction. The poor chap actually looked heartbroken. Still,  Sralan’s traditionally favoured those who fight for their lives in the boardroom,  and that helped James and Debra enough. But both, you suspect, are living on borrowed time, while Kate and Lorraine silently seem to emerge as the current running favourites.

Next week, it’s back to the archive of past tasks, as the teams pick products to sell on the telly. It’s usually worth it, though, for the catty remarks from Sralan as he watches the broadcasts from the comfort of his office, all the while no doubt stroking the big, white cat on his lap.

Same time next week, then…

Check out our review of last week’s episode here

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