The Apprentice (Series 11)

This series was so boring, wasn’t it? I fell asleep a few times watching. That’s not exaggeration either, I did. I don’t think the cast are to blame, they were generally regarded as pretty good. Was it the tasks not being up to much? Was it that, like many of the reality TV franchises that are now over a decade old, the show is a bit creaky and tired now? Maybe a bit of both, but either way this wasn’t a very interesting series. As lazy as it might be, I can’t be bothered to do a usual write-up of the series, so instead this is going to be mainly some random moments from series 11.

  • They had mixed teams for the first task, which was a novelty… but then they changed them back to boys and girls in the second task.
  • The first task was ‘Fish Food’. As in, meals including fish rather than food for fish. Team Versatile chose to sell fishfingers and calamari. Mergim stood out in the worst way for trying to sell fishfingers to a vegan restaurant and slating his teammates for not putting themselves up for project manager… when he himself didn’t either!
  • There was also an incident where they couldn’t sell the calamari because it had got too warm. It didn’t look appetising anyway. Lord Sugar made a “looks like it’s already been through someone’s digestive system” joke on a later task, but this calamari looked like something’s digestive system! Despite all of this, Versatile still thrashed the other team that week.
  • Team Connexus largely lost for making overpriced and oversized fishcakes. The person who was fired was Dan Callaghan, an adorkably goofy maths geek who’s attempt at sales consisted mostly of “Are you interested in buying a salad?” and running back to get his coat. The main thing he contributed was suggesting “the Sugar Babes” as a team name, which unsurprisingly they didn’t take up.
  • Versatile also won the second task, ‘Cactus Shampoo’. Obviously that meant shampoo with cactus in it, but I quite like the idea of shampoo for cacti. I suppose shaving foam for cacti might make more sense. Sorry, derailing yet again.
  • Verstatile came up with the name Western for their product, which worked well as it’s the sort of rather pretentious yet “macho” sounding name cosmetic products marketed at men tend to have. Their advert had a model having to strip to his underpants and stand in a mop bucket lathering himself with the product while water from a watering can was poured on him.
  • Connexus lost, and the team leader Aisha Kasim was fired for not listening to any of her team, despite the fact she had a hairdresser, Charleine, at her disposal. She also cast models who were far too young for their target market, so Ruth had to step in and model the billboard advert herself, which she was pretty good at.
  • ‘Cross-Channel Discount Buying’ saw both teams splitting themselves between Calais and Dover to get some items. There were disastrous attempts at speaking French from most of the subteams who went to Calais. When trying to buy cheese in France, Richard tried to turn on his charm, and it says a lot for how effective it was by the fact the cheese seller tried to sell it to him for a more expensive price than it was labelled as.
  • In England, both subteams found free manure from farms, but had to shovel it themselves, which was pretty funny, particularly the girls in their high heels.
  • Connexus lost yet again, and the person fired was Jenny Garbis largely for not doing much, including being the only person in the whole task not to buy anything, but despite that she left insisting Lordalan would be banging on the door to come and work with her in two or three years time. Well, good luck with that Jenny.
  • One task saw the candidates having to buy products for a pet show. Some of the events in the pet show included rabbit show-jumping. Excuse my ignorance and each to their own and all that, but it made me think of that episode of Father Ted where they try to get a bunch of bunnies to race after a toy greyhound.
  • The other products included a hi-vis vest for chickens (because “chickens crossing the road is no yolk!”). They had some cute, inflatable animal-shaped balloons,
    which came in various types, penguins, pandas, giraffes, which you could ‘walk’. They proved very popular. Versatile project manager David Stevenson spent most of the episode being very enthusiastic about animal face t-shirts, and indeed everything at all.
  • Ruth Whitely was fired for not selling anything, and her technique of chatting to customers rather than selling to them probably didn’t help. There’s always an obligatory “too nice” one, and that seemed to be the general consensus of Ruth. She’s really nice, everyone likes her, not really “dog eat dog” enough for this show. She’ll likely be remembered for her gaudy eyesore of a suit, cheque pattern with pastel pink yellow blue colour vomit, and her starring role in the team’s shampoo advert.
  • I quite liked that this task essentially came down to a battle between dog sofas vs cat towers.
  • In ‘Children’s Book’, the task was to write, make and record an audio CD for a children’s book. Sam Curry was chosen for Connexus as he is an English Lit. graduate, but it meant that he was overthinking it all a bit.  He started talking about character arcs, intricate plot and what morals it is teaching, and including words like “moisture rife” and “quell”. Bearing in mind this was a childrens book for 3-5 year olds they had to write in a day! In fairness, their product a sort of dragon-elephant searching for acceptance looked more interesting than Verstile’s “a bee makes honey” story.
  • Sam lasted a few more weeks though. The candidate who got fired that week was Natalie Dean. She  had some unimpressive attempts at pitching over the series. One of the biggest things that happened to her over the course of the series was having a bad cough, so… she wasn’t the most attention-grabbing contestant really.
  • ‘Handy Man’ was basically the candidates going around doing DIY jobs, but is mostly notable for having a triple firing.
  • Project manager Elle Stevenson didn’t even make it into the boardroom. She delegated all responsibility in the task, but admitted it was all her fault in the boardroom. She kind of knew that the game was up, and got an instant firing.
    Elle has the unenviable statistic of losing all six tasks she was there for. She seems like a lovely person though, and there is something kind of adorable about her. She liked to wear princess tiaras and panda onesies.
  • Though more unenviable than Elle’s performance record is the fact that after her firing, poor Mergim Butaja had to take over as project manager just to go into the boardroom! His DIY skills weren’t the best it has to be said. He tried to screw in a nail, which made a big hole in the wall. He accidentally splattered paint on a store sign and painted over the wrong part.
  • The third person fired that week was April Jackson. Strong-willed perhaps to a fault and her pricing tended to be either too high or too low, but she was likely fired mainly because they had too many candidates left in at that stage. My favourite fact about her is that she has a Yorkie called Diva and used to have a dachshund named Anastasia Edwina Jackson.
  • I didn’t notice Gary Poulton until week 7 ‘Discount Store’. For a spilt second I thought they’d started putting newcomers in half-way through like in Big Brother.  Even though Gary won, he still got barely any screentime other than to say cringey corporate Apprentice contestant buzzphrases“They call me the postman because I always deliver” and “Retail is detail”.
  • Though he got a more, er, memorable quote in the following week ‘Party Planning’, when David got fired after printing t-shirts using a picture and an iron, and it came out with Happy Birthday banner on backwards and the print running.  Gary said David “left a sour taste in the client’s eye”.
  • ‘Property Agents’ was mostly notable for the fact that Scott Saunders quit on the spot in the boardroom, despite the fact his team had won.  I don’t blame him really. He said and did a couple of daft things in that episode (“windows so the sun can come through in the day or night”), and thinking a cupboard was a fridge, but the laying into him by Alan Sugar and Karren Brady (who, to be honest, was awful throughout this series) all seemed a bit pointless. Scott had been one of the better candidates up to that point too, and seemed to want to give everyone a fair hearing.
  • Still, at least Scott appeared on the spin-off show You’re Fired, unlike the actual fired contestant that week, Selina Waterman-Smith. Selina was fired essentially because pretty much everyone had a problem with her. But Selina was a great reality TV contestant. Some of the stuff she said included saying “Pedestrians, out of the way!” while they were in a car, and when they had to plan a kids party saying she doesn’t have any children, doesn’t like them and doesn’t want any. She claimed to be a fire-breather, to which Vana laughed ” “So can she just put a match in her mouth and start breathing?”
  • As well as refusing to appear on You’re Fired, Selina made a point of cutting herself off from the show afterwards and publicly slating it via social media and YouTube. If anything, it would be more of a surprise if she didn’t temporarily resurface as a Celebrity Big Brother housemate one day.
  • Both teams lost in ‘Health Snack’ as neither got any orders. Versatile team leader  Charliene throwing the ingredients in the pot like George’s Marvellous Medicine didn’t get it off to the best start. They had to cross out some of the health claims on the packaging out with black marker pen. As for Connexus, the product they came up with was a bag of olive oil slick with dehydrated red onion floating in it.
  • Fired that week was big burly bald builder Brett Butler-Smyth. I wonder if there’s a posh butler out there called Brett Builder-Smith?  I’m sure everyone else has done that joke already. Anyway, Brett’s most memorable quote was “I shit you not”.
  • Charleine Wain managed to have TWO mortal enemies over the course of the series. One was Selina – yes, Charleine had to the distinction of being the archnemesis of someone who had practically half the cast on her enemies list.  Charleine and Selina was battle of the glamorous blondes, at one time coming close to a catfight (though this happened offscreen).
  • Her other enemy was marketing agency director Richard Woods, who had the obligatory David Brent role. Well, someone always has to get that role on this show. He did stuff like pretending to ice skate on the floor to attract customers in the ‘Discount Store’ episode, and in that same episode Charleine was determined to be the top seller, primarily to spite Richard by outselling him! One of the funniest things in the final episode was Richard and Charleine having to pretend to be the perfect romantic couple for a dating app advert.
  • New York multilingual social media entrepreneur Vana Koutsomitis was my favourite contestant this series. She was very charming, though she often talked a bit she was a computer in a sci-fi TV show calmly counting down to a self-destruct bomb about to go off. She had some funny quotes too. Her business plan was an app which mixed gaming and dating. She said of it, “I don’t really want too much fun”, and when being told her team had asked people already in relationships about dating apps for market research, “It’s like asking a bald man if he would use Charleine’s hair salon”.
  • The winner of the series was Joseph Valente, who had read Lord Sugar’s book.  He had a plumbing business called Prime Time Plumbers. He could be a bit monotone at times, but he was easier to like than last series’ winner.

So yeah, series 11 of The Apprentice was quite boring, despite a promising start. After two sub-par series in a row, I’d like to think the next series can only be an improvement, but if it is bad I hope its at least interestingly bad.

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