We’re half way through the series, I figured, and Baron von Sugar still hasn’t gone to dig them all out of bed yet. Ah, my fears were allayed. “Lord Sugar is waiting for us downstairs”, came the call. Down they all came, like the cast of Trumpton, to be told they were advertising a cleaning product.
This, I thought, was good. Advertising tasks make a nice change from the bellowing-like-a-market-trader episodes of The Apprentice. And it does seem to actually test something other than an ability to flog stuff. Be careful what you wish for, however, is a wise prophecy.
Project managers? Alex thinks outside of the box, he said. He does something with orange apples, or something. He gave one of those suicidal vox pops where he buffed his ego. It was his turn in more ways than one, we were left to conclude.
Also giving a silly vox pop was Christopher, the other team leader. He was a marine, and was thus off to shoot everyone. Something like that, anyway. He, crucially, got Nick following him too. The same Nick who wanted last week’s task back. That much was clear.
Alex quickly vetoed The Germ-O-Nator as a product name, instead leaning towards Helping Hand. His team was swiftly divided. The prospects continued to look grim. The Germ-O-Nator would be back, I swiftly concluded.
Market research , meanwhile, took place at a mother and toddler group, and one of the mums there came up with an idea for an octopus-named product. Christopher was very keen, made the call, although part of his team didn’t like it. Joanna in particular wasn’t keen, and the arse-covering to-camera piece followed.
Alex’s team were still brand name hunting, though, leaving Karren Brady skulking around the corridors of Asda. Laura, then, came up with The Blitz. Alex nearly cried. Chris, therefore, moved in with The Germ-O-Nator once more, and put his neck on the line. Even though the market research suggested this was not a good name.
The design brief followed, then. This is always fun, because you get to work out which designer looks the most pissed off with the team behind them. It was a score draw here. Octi-Kleen, instantly, looked like a kids’ drink to me, while The Germ-O-Nator bottle looked, er, fairly terrible. And Laura correctly raised the fact that the product had to be kept out of the reach of children, yet it was a child that was being featured in the advert. Alex overruled her. The programme editor was pointing us in a very pronounced direction here.
That direction was cemented further when the product designs came in. Both were terrible. One looked too child-friendly, the other just looked awful. However! This was, as the Baron had pointed out, an advertising task. The golden rule of Apprentice past? Feature the product lots of times. That is the law. As it turned out, that was the least of the problems.
Octi-Kleen, mind you, was a terrible looking product, but at least the radio advert were fairly solid. Meanwhile, for the Octi-Kleen TV advert, Nick appeared to have woken up. It appeared that he was approving of Christopher’s choice of wife, although he did then did a rant to camera about stereotyping women. I noted he didn’t have such comments to make last week, but Christopher soon addressed Nick’s concern, by dressing his ‘wife’ up as an octopus. You can’t say he doesn’t act on feedback.
But heck, at least they hadn’t cast a child, one who was holding the product he wasn’t allowed, according to the label, to hold. In fact, the kid was The Germ-O-Nator of the advert, stepping through a smoky kitchen, and surely leading Alex to a showdown with Baron von Sugar. It couldn’t go any other way.
Never mind cutting to shots of Nick cringing at Christopher’s outdated commercial, and bad gags about eight hands being better than two. Christopher was surely safe because he at least stayed within the rules and regs of the product. He didn’t do well. But he wisely stayed more towards mediocre, as opposed to outright terrible.
Onto the pitch, then. Laura spent ages preparing a pitch, and Alex promptly appointed Sandeesh to do it. By this time, to be fair, he may as well have stripped stark bollock naked from what I could see. The man was doomed. And Laura was pissed off. “Have you ever seen me this pissed off?”, she ranted. Well, yes. Quite regularly, from what I can tell.
The pitch was to marketing experts, and you could see the car crash coming a mile off. In fact, I spent the next five minutes cringing like I’d never cringed before. “Hasta la vista, gravy”, and comparing a product to e-coli? Or saying it’s like an ugly man? Crikey.
How could it get worse, I wondered? I didn’t have long to wait. Octi-Kleen. Eight handed women. “If only I was an octopus”? Sheesh. “Oct-Kleen! It gets you a shag in the evening” was the theme I saw developing. “We didn’t want to focus on the octopus”, insisted Christopher to the executives. Yikes.
I usually complain that the task bit doesn’t make enough of the episode, but here, I was cringing so much that I was glad they called it a day. I’d have been happy with a shorter episode and a couple of Tom & Jerry cartoons by this point. Bluntly, it looked like neither side was going to win. Multiple firings? It was impossible to rule it out. But that wasn’t how it turned out.
Up came Alex’s Germ-O-Nator first, and the Baron liked the name, not the execution. With Octi-Kleen, meanwhile, he took little time discovering that the advert was something off Nick’s DVD shelf. “You were all over it like a tramp on chips”, said Nick of the choice of name. He’s had better lines than the Baron this series.
So the result? Christopher’s team prevailed, but only just. Alex? It seemed he may as well call his taxi there and then. The Baron chucked out another bad line, this time about Psycho, and then we had to sit through the crappy treat. Yawn, yawn, yawn. For added torture, said treat featured bad singing. Crikey.
The cringing continued as Baron von Sugar’s scriptwriters got worse. His Titanic line was a genuine contender for worse line of the series. But there’s been lots of competition.
The final showdown saw Alex, Sandeesh and Chris. Alex was given lots of camera time to shout and rant and stuff, but this was surely the most obvious firing of all time. And had been since five minutes into the episode.
Still, they strung it out for a bit, trying to inject tension that wasn’t there, before the obvious happened. Bye, bye Alex. Don’t let the door hit your backside on the way out. “It is with regret”, bullshitted The Baron, as his pointed his firing finger at Alex. I should point out that the editors of the programme did Alex few favours here, as he had come across as a decent bloke until he found himself in the programme’s crosshairs. The post-firing comments in the boardroom certainly didn’t reflect the programme beforehand.
A very traditional episode of the show, in all. But heck, for cringe television, it’s had no equal in some time…