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Next time, just get Dee and Ross in a room and film it.

March 13, 2009

apprentice“This ain’t cher kissy kissy, luvvy luvvy, hug it hug it world no morwah!” So began Sralan’s first boardroom with this year’s celebrity Apprentices (is that the plural of Apprentice? Apprentici?). But that prediction was a bit of a damp squib. On the boys’ side, Jack Dee contended with (what is surely his natural comedy partner) Jonathan Ross, rolling his eyes and simmering away, while Ross acted the clown. I’d’ve been happy if Comic Relief had just stuck those two in a room together and filmed it. No, no rowing, no storming off in a huff – that is until Patsy Palmer was told to fake a strop just to inject a bit of drama. Bollocks.

Sadly no one mentioned Ross’ what-would-have-been-recent Sacksgate Saga (this was filmed almost directly after), but Sralan did manage a hint of it, telling him to “Suppress your childishness and get down to some real business.”

This year, there were two ‘business brains’ in with the Slebs. Michelle Mone (yes, I had to Google her too). And Gerald Ratner – he of the “our earrings are worth less than an M&S sandwich” fame. Sralan seems to think Ratner has marketing knowledge. But then Sralan seems to think that Amstrad DVDs are any good.

appr2This year the teams had to create and pitch a toy for the 5-8-year-old market. I work for a kids mag, so was instantly amused. Sralan told the Slebs that if their product was any good, they’d make it, and sell it with proceeds going to Comic Relief. “That’s a really good idea,” said Ruby Wax, voicing her approval of Sralan’s idea to make money for a charity they’re filming a programme to raise money for… Sralan then did bugger all for his reputation as bring a bit of a sexist, dubbing the teams “the girls” and “the mens.” Bless him. He’ll never learn, will he?

While Mone protested too much that she didn’t want to be team leader, it was no surprise that both teams picked the ‘business minds’ as forerunners for each project. That’s a bit boring if you ask me. Yes, it was obvious and probably made better sense seeing as the aim was to actually make a product and make money (therefore forcing them to take the task seriously and see it as not just a task), but it would have been cool to have had Wax and Ross as leaders, each lending their own unique um… charm to the proceedings.

So, to brainstorming. Blue Sky Thinking. Ideas. Whatever.
Gok reckons yoyos are good because he had one as a kid. This idea is batted away and Ross wades in with his Belt-with-collectable toy/Brand expansion idea. Ratner shrugs this off as too ambitious. Yes. An awesome business brain, Ratner.

Over on the girls’ team, Patsy Palmer reckons a hugging suit is what the children of our nation need. Ruby adds that it should be a Velcro suit. What wank! You don’t need to work on a kids’ magazine to know that when creating a toy for both sexes you must – absolutely must – think of the boys’ market slightly more than the girls’. Boys aren’t going to touch anything girly with a barge pole. Girls, however, are more willing to try typically ‘boy’ toys. Sure, the Velcro hugging suit (and the dice – what the feck was the dice all about?) might look like fun at first, but kids will get bored of hugging and eventually reach for their Playstations and hoodies. Boys hate any physical contact (unless it involves a football) and I very much doubt parents today would be happy allowing their kids to be so intimate with each other (especially if that dodgy bloke in the advert is involved). At the pitch, Patsy said that kids should be fine with intimacy, which heralded a cautious round of applause from all the Guardian-reading (mostly old) men in the audience. Patsy, they’re not. Simple as.

Back with the boys, and they’ve developed a belt with clip-on toy. They get the name, Swap Belt from a random kid in a toyshop. The girls force their idea on a load of scared primary school kids. The Swap Belt is clearly the stronger idea with the most legs due to its brand expansion capabilities. Yes, it’s incredibly difficult and unpredictable to get fads off the ground, and the costs would be high – it’s a massive gamble. But compared to the Velcro suit, there’s no question who has the better product. OK, so the market has a helluva lot of collectables at the moment but, hey, kids are fickle and have massive appetites for consuming.

A quick mention again to the comedy gold that was Ratner sandwiched in a taxi between Ross and Dee. Does this man have absolutely no sense of humour? He seemed to take everything literally. Everything. No, rilly. EVERYTHING.

Now for the infamous commercials.  This is where the egos come out. Patsy starts talking of herself as a director already, much to Fiona’s badly hidden amusement. Alan Carr does his annoying voice in a sound booth – he manages to make any word annoying. Try saying “blow job!” or “chocolate cake!” in an Alan Carr voice. There. See? You want to self harm, don’t you?

Meanwhile Gok is styling the room for the presentation. I kept expecting him to hug the room, tell it it’s amazing as it is, even with its big windows and massive floor space, and try and persuade it to go without curtains and carpets for their pitch. But alas it’s drapery all the way. He’s thinking chiffon, lace – imagine if Jordan came in and vomited everywhere? That’s what he wants.

Cut to Mone chewing her pencil and trying to do sums while Vorderman stands over her, tapping her foot impatiently. Palmer wants to perform. Fiona and her are stuck in the background, cutting up pink and blue strips of Velcro. They’re getting narked because they’re performers (an actress and a TV presenter, by the way, not simply the two most annoying people to have been on TV in the last year). This promps Palmer to have a strop at Mone because Mone is telling her they have an hour to sort the pitch out. Palmer ‘does an Everette’ and then comes back after 5 minutes. It’s all very dull and clearly done for a bit of drama. Sod the drama, let’s have the comedy…

…Cut to Ross tightrope walking a sofa, while Dee hurriedly types his pitch on a laptop. “Hey, Jack! Jack! Look at this, Jack!”

“Hey Jack! Look!”

Jack grinds what are left of the stubs of his teeth. Awesome. When’s it out on DVD?

Boys pitch
The boys’ team have dancers with epilepsy for some reason, choreographed by Gok. Ratner says some shitty business quote mis-attributing it to Sralan. Sralan looks even grumpier than normal. Ratner hasn’t done any prep, and stutters his way through a badly researched presentation, looking like an utter shambles in front of seasoned talker Ross. He admits their product is “Shit or bust,” clearly doing as much for the Swap Belt as he did for Ratner’s jewels. What a cock. How is he so wealthy? Ross, Carr and Dee manage to pick it up with a few laughs.

girls-winGirls pitch
The toy is inappropriate, dangerous (for some parents anyway) and their stab at doing ‘comedy shambles’ just isn’t funny. Their ad features a dodgy looking bloke playing a game with kids that involves getting wrapped around each other and stuck together…

The only reason I can muster for the girls winning is that it was clearly a decision that came from the production team. The boys make much better television and the girls are bland as anything, so of course they want the boys on camera more.

As usual, we won’t know who is fired until tonight. I’m hoping Ratner is given the boot, but something tells me Sralan will back his peer and fire Ross in a moment of comedy just desserts. Maybe this was why Ross was allowed to take part ¬– so the Daily Mailers would get their recompense.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 14, 2009 11:58 am

    Lovely review… It just doesn’t work in these bitty chunks, does it?

    Is Sir Sugar going to hire everyone but the fired contestant?

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