Has it really been a week since the bakery farce? Watching the re-run at the start of The Apprentice, it felt like eons ago, although we were sternly reminded that Melissa had seemingly made her way onto Baron von Sugar’s shitlist. This, it appeared, was important. So it was to prove.
Cue, then, the early morning call (they always looks surprised to get this?), and it was off to the Science Museum in London. A tenuous link to the task, perhaps?
Well, sort of. The task was all about inventions, so there was something of a link this time. That in itself was something of a shock. But then it was clear which, oh-so-familiar task we were getting. Ten products would be pitched to the two teams, and they had to pick two to flog. The Baron did the speech about how hard it is to sell to the trade (which he could have phoned in from previous series to be fair), and talked about how he laid everything on for them, while researchers in the background gritted teeth as he took all the credit.
The battle for the project management role this time came down to Jamie and a keen-to-try-again Melissa. Given how rubbish Melissa had been last week, oddly she lost the vote unanimously. The other side? Chris, someone who I hadn’t even noticed was a contestant until now, stepped forward.
So what crap were they offered? Well, there was a facelift helmet that made you look like a character from Halo. A beeper that went off whenever you slouched (it’d run out of batteries in no time here). Some odd machine that made a man flail his legs in the air. A £50 T-shirt for blokes to sculpt their body. Gardening tools to stop you hurting your back. A water-saving shower head. And a baby grow for ill babies, that involved blasting the little infant with a hairdryer, for what I could see.
In the midst of it all, Jamie got told off by his team for being rude to the babygrow inventor. And she inevitably went with the other team when he called up to try and snag her product. That was crucial, as it turned out, although it wouldn’t be the defining moment in the boardroom (in fact, it was barely brought up). Jamie, thus, ended up with the shower head, and his team then tried to sell it to a store that didn’t sell shower heads.
Melissa, in fact, kept ignoring this, and kept trying to talk at every opportunity. Karren was not impressed. On then to Jamie’s teams other product, the gardening tool, which she was trying to flog to Debenhams. By reading notes off a piece of paper. It did not go well. Melissa’s pitching was getting worse, and she was listening less. This was surely going to be her week.
Over to the other team, where Chris and his team started flogging the sculpting T-shirt. He also had the glowing baby grow, which Liz was pitching. Debenhams (sorry, ‘leading department store’) seemed much happier.
Jamie, meanwhile, dropped Melissa from the pitch for the rest of the task, which she didn’t take well. But it seemed a good idea from where I was sat. Melissa going on about him feeling threatened was the ranting of someone who hadn’t seen the final edit of last week’s programme.
But she seemd to get a reprieve when an appointment was secured with another chain, that she was set to lead the pitch on. Blimey. Jamie, meanwhile, booked in a £10,000 order, which should keep him safe from the sack for a week or two. And then pissed Melissa off by telling her she wouldn’t get the full order benefit should she flog the product.
It all become moot when the demo unit went tits up, and then when the retailer wanted the product for a lot less than they could sell it for. Thus, Melissa was pissed off, and her order book was still empty.
Chris’ team went sales hunting too, knowing that each team member had an order book. And Laura got pissy when she thought somebody had nicked her orders. Primarily because they had.
But the glowing baby grow still seemed to be going quite well, even if nobody liked the packaging much. The other part of the team went off to try and flog the sculpting T-shirts to, er, ‘adult’ shops in London, and faced The Apprentice conundrum of the exclusivity deal. Which never goes well. This time, it was laced with a massive argument about who took what slice of the deal, while Nick pulled his unimpressed face in the background. Then Chris pointed out that they might not be able to offer it exclusively anyway. Once again, it was all moot.
Back to the other team, and the shower head seemed to be going quite well, but – as voiceover man kept telling us – we wouldn’t find out for sure until everyone met again in the boardroom.
It did strike me at this point that, while this was a regular task for the show, it remains an interesting one. And I was enjoying it again here. There are so many little mechanics to it all, that it was almost a shame it had to end up in another 20 minutes plus boardroom endgame.
But it did, and already, the knives were being sharpened for those with relatively empty order books.
Baron von Sugar was soon down to the business of tearing new arseoles, with one lot of sales disallowed due to selling below the agreed price. And then the exclusivity issue came up, with The Baron not counting that order either. The big fight was for nothing.
So who won? Jamie’s team trounced Chris’ on street sales. To the retailers? Liz’s pitching turned things round, with retail orders turning the task. Straight away, the crosshairs appeared this week over Melissa’s mush.
A quick, unnecessary look at the winners at a spa followed, and was as dull as it sounded. Please, please, please, can this nonsense be dropped?
The argument in the café was more interesting, as Jamie and Melissa went head to head (“there was no room for manouevrement”), but given that the team did get a lot of orders, it was the ‘sub-team’ that was in trouble. It turned out that Melissa, Stuart and Stella didn’t even bring in £1000 between them. Oh dear.
The boardroom bit then went through its fairly tedious routine, and it was far less interesting than the task that had gone before. Basically, the editing was such so that it looked like two or three people were being shuffled in front of the bus. Jamie brought Melissa and Stuart in, and – on the basis of which would get the better ratings for staying on – I figured Stuart was for the high jump.
Instead, The Baron actually did the logical thing and fired Melissa. She called Stuart and Jamie “horrible people” on the way out, seemingly oblivious to how she has been coming across for weeks. A terrible loser? Granted. And it’s been clear for two weeks now that she was never going to win, too. It was hard, for a change, to argue with the end decision. Even if The Universe will get its revenge, apparently.
Two thirds of a cracking episode in all, then, save for the drawing out of the firing. I could have lived without that, and the spa treat, but I’ll be happy to see the task return this time next year. For now, we’ve got fashion to look forward to in a week’s time. And Melissa won’t be there, either…
Read our review of the third episode here.