The Apprentice (Series 14)

The Apprentice marks another series with candidates competing to be Lord Alan Sugar‘s new business partner.

Last year it was hipster glasses, this year the trend for the candidates seemed to be that their boardroom outfits were colour coded, the boys by their ties, the girls by their dresses. Insert your own Teletubbie/Power Rangers/Andrew Lloyd Webber search for a West End lead reality show reference here.

In episode one ‘Malta’, the teams had to go to the island of Malta to find a list of items. One of the items was an “octopus with 40 inch hose”. It was a piece of diving equipment, but the boys thought it was an actual octopus, so went to a fishmongers to buy an octopus and measure its tentacles with a tape measure!

The boys also thought they could get the items cheaper by going to the local shops rather than the tourist traps, but they went during siesta time, which meant all the local shops were shut and only the tourist areas were open!

That the boys actually won was more to do with the girls doing so badly than any competence from the boys! The girls spent much of their time bickering amongst themselves, and not listening to the project manager at all! They got on a ferry to Gozo to buy some salt. They didn’t just go there for the salt, they were intending to get some honeycomb too, but it turned out the place that sold the honeycomb wasn’t on that island! D’OH! Then they ended up spending money of two of the same item, a hastra. One subteam got it from a shopkeepers own wall for 50 euros, the other got it from another shop for just 1 euro! To top it off, the girls were late coming back to the airport.

Fired first was pucker-lipped Sarah Byrne. I thought I recognised her but couldn’t place where, and then I later found out played Meena Karib in Shameless! I can see why I couldn’t quite recognise her, she looks so different now!

In ‘Comics’, we saw a comic with an animated cartoon of Lord Sugar with red laser beam eyes! The task was to create a comic for the 8-12 year old market, with an augmented reality front cover.

On the girls team, everyone wanted to be subteam leader, but nobody wanted to be project manager! Khadija was the lucky/unlucky one who was made project manager. The team decided to go for an educational comic, where the lead character would travel around learning French. The problem was that none of the girls could speak much French! In fact, the finished comic had not only very little info, but a lot of spelling and grammar mistakes. They were probably saved by their lead character, a unisex alien rapper called M.C. Gogo, who had multicoloured toothpaste stripe-like hair. The girls came up with a rap and did some beatboxing to serve as M.C. Gogo’s introduction, and surprisingly it wasn’t bad!

The boys went for a space adventure theme, with the lead character being a superhero called Benji. It was a bit cliched and by the numbers. The cheesy pseudo-American
accent used by aspiring actor Kurran to voice Benji probably didn’t help much! The boys lost due to not getting as many orders as the girls.

Lord Sugar said of the boy’s comic that “This whole story was set in space, a bit like E.T.“. Er… except that E.T. was set on Earth! That’s kind of the whole plot, E.T. was an extraterrestrial who was stranded on Earth and was trying to get back to his own planet.

The person fired was tax advisor David Alden, partly because he writes fantasy fiction as a hobby and didn’t come up with something a bit more imaginative for the comic, and partly because he started talking about negative customer feedback while they were presenting a pitch! But to be fair to him, the subteam he was on actually managed to sell some orders, as opposed to the other subteam which failed to get any, so he probably wasn’t responsible for the failure of the task really.

Both comics used professional illustrators and graphic designers though, so both comics looked quite good, albeit clearly something which had been conceived and produced in a hurry. But you could easily see Benji’s Space Adventures on a shop’s own brand version of Ricicles, or M.C. Gogo on a leaflet in a dentist waiting room.

Doughnuts are a recent food trend, so there was a task centred on, and therefore an episode titled, ‘Doughnuts’. (Shout out to the rubber ring of a Homer Simpson style
pink icing and multicoloured sprinkles doughnut seen in this episode!)

This was also the first time the boys and girls teams were mixed up, and they came up with the obligatory daft team names, which were Typhoon and Collaborative.

The teams had to create, manufacture and sell their own doughnut range, with the winners being decided on who made the most profit.

On Typhoon, Camilla was made the project manager. This team saw a Battle Of The Blondes between Camilla and Sabrina. From the start, Sabrina wanted to make rainbow
doughnuts, while Camilla was set on British themed ones.

The British doughnuts were “tea and biscuits”, which sounds OK in theory, but that was executed by… literally sticking custard creams and jammie dodgers onto the doughnuts, then opening up a teabag and sprinkling the tea leaves on!

The team complained about Sabrina criticising the shape of the doughnuts, but it looks like she had a point, as many people said they didn’t look very appetising. Sabrina decided to give away free samples, on the grounds that they tasted better than they looked, and it worked, as people then began to buy some!

Collaborative went for sweet and savoury doughnuts. That’s sweet AND savoury in every single doughnut, not some doughnuts being sweet and some doughnuts being savoury.
I get that there may be a market for things like that, but I personally hate having sweet and savoury in one food, and it looks as if a lot of other people do too, as this proved unpopular with customers.

Mind you, it could have been the flavours that Collaborative came up with. Jasmine was keen on chilli and chocolate, but it sounds like they overdid it on the hot chilli sauce! A customer was seen regurgitating it and chucking it in the bin. Another flavour was peanut butter, popcorn and pretzel.

Jackie tried to schmooze a client by saying she was a fan of their chain and loved their “new” store in Shoreditch… which it turned out had been there for ten years! Oops! Do your research next time, Jackie.

They wasted time customising some gold coloured B shaped doughnuts for one store, which took an hour and a half when they only had three hours to make ALL the doughnuts – and the client only accepted some of them because she thought they looked more like 8s! Which was a little harsh. I mean, everyone who’s seen car number plates, texted, come up with an internet name that hasn’t been registered yet or tried to write rude words on a calculator at school knows how similar Bs and 8s look.

Overall, the consensus on the taste of the doughnuts from people we saw eating them was “very salty”.

Typhoon made just over £221 profit, while Collaborative only made £68 profit, so it was a clear win for Typhoon.

Marketing manager Frank Brooks was fired, mainly for not doing much other than frying the doughnuts and turning them over and over. When he was project manager in the previous task the most memorable thing he did was rip his trousers, so probably not a good Apprentice experience for him all in all.

Also, film extra Kurran Pooni was in the boardroom with his arm in a sling as he injured it arm wrestling the night before. Lord Sugar said “You finally got into a cast anyway!” and “From what I’ve heard, you’ve also been in Casualty”. Two of his better jokes this series!

In ‘Bodybuilding Expo’, the candidates went to, you’ve guessed it, a bodybuilding expo, trying to flog gym equipment, spray tans and massages.

Rick had a pretty crap time of it in this episode. At the start of the task, nobody voted him to be project manager, and at the end, it turned out he sold nothing all day! But his team, Collaborative, won, so he stayed.

Typhoon lost, and Alex Finn was fired for not selling anything. But not before squeezing three cringey Apprentice candidate bragging statements in the boardroom, saying he would “win this process”, that he had “a millionaire mindset” and that he was “a natural salesman” – this after a task where he hadn’t sold anything! Lord Sugar came up with the best description of Alex – “The Squirrel from the Wirral”.

‘Shoe Design’ saw the candidates try to design a new shoe range for women. They also had to make canapes for when they were doing a pitch for the shoes. Which was pointless filler material! I mean, it’s a task about shoes, how they make food is pretty irrelevant! Was someone really going to be fired just because they made crap canapes in this task? Then again, this is The Apprentice we’re talking about.

Still, when it came to the shoes, Typhoon made pink trainers with a detachable red bow. Sabrina, Tom and Khadija made the point that it looked more like a shoe for little girls than the adult market they were aiming for. The design didn’t really fit the whole carnival theme they had at the beach bar where they were doing the pitch either. But Typhoon still won! Another case of the other team doing worse.

Collaborative made an “urban heel”. Kayode came up with the name “fleekies” (as in “on fleek”). The shoe design, which included graffiti, lips and animal print, did somewhat go with the urban theme they were using at the nightclub they were at the main launch. The urban theme was really on the nose though. We’re talking gold chains and the like.

What was notable about Collaborative’s fail is that 4 people out of the 6 person team failed to sell anything! Project manager Jackie made the overwhelming majority of the sales. Lord Sugar overruled Jackie on who she bought back to the boardroom and got the whole team back in, except Jasmine on the grounds that she made “a sale”. Lord Sugar fired Rick Monk, not one of Jackie’s original choices. He was fired because he “didn’t do much” throughout the series.

I actually quite liked one of Lord Sugar’s comment that “I was looking for shoe makers, what I got was a load of cobblers!”.

In ‘Airline Advertising’, the candidates had to come up with a new marketing campaign for an airline, including name, logo and uniforms.

Typhoon was a budget business airline which they called Manage Air. (Geddit? Sounds a bit like “manager” doesn’t it?). Though that wasn’t as bad a pun as Kayode’s Part A/Party one in the advert. They decided on ‘Highway To Hell’ by AC/DC to soundtrack the advert.

Collaborative tried a party themed airline, calling it JetPop. The ‘o’ in the name logo was shaped like an explosion. Thus putting into potential customer’s heads the thought of a jet popping and an explosion, very much NOT the sort of thing you want people to associate with you if you are providing an airline service! The summer hols uniform was consistently criticised for how impractical it was.

Lord Sugar had the sole decision of which team would pass this week, and he chose Typhoon, though they weren’t much better. I think this week was “get rid of Kurran” week to be honest, as he was announced as the project manager before the task had started.

‘Urban Gardening’ saw the teams try to spruce up gardens.

Tom was project manager of Typhoon because he has a tree surgery firm. Daniel was project manager of Collaborative because… he was the only one left who hadn’t been
project manager yet!

On Collaborative, Khadija was made subteam leader. Jackie also wanted to be subteam leader. This led to the sight of Jackie and Khadija arguing and sniping at one another, while Camilla was next to them smiling sweetly while dressed as a sunflower. Jackie refused to be moved to the other subteam. She seemed determined she was going to be a de facto project manager of the task via being a backseat driver.

Khadija and Jackie had to work together again on a shop’s courtyard. The owner wanted a jetwash, but Khadija and Jackie couldn’t connect it to the tap, so ended up using a hose and sweeping the mud around! They spent hours doing it and it ended up looking worse than it did before! The owner simply said “Sorry, I just want you out of my shop now!”.

Collaborative spent a small fortune on Astroturf and put it all over a bar, including the tables! They also sprinkled tree bark chippings everywhere. The owner felt that logistically it would be a nightmare, but she also thought that it looked pretty, so even though she didn’t pay full price it was enough to get Collaborative over the line to win!

Typhoon managed to get to do a boat bar, in direct competition with Collaborative. But it all went wrong from then. The driver of the van with all their tools in didn’t have the address, so Typhoon had to kill time waiting for the van to arrive. To make matters worse, they had a tight deadline for it all to be ready for the bar’s opening time. They missed the deadline, which meant the bar owner would end up losing money, so understandably she wasn’t going to pay full price!

Their other job saw them not sanding a bench down before painting bits of it yellow using a teeny tiny paint brush, and just putting a few plants around, so the owner was less than impressed!

Kayode Damali was fired. He had one of the bigger personalities of this year’s candidates, so it was a shame to see him go. He said when he left he was looking forward to seeing his family again – in particular, his cat!

‘Glasgow Art’ had the teams having to sell artwork.

Daniel, by his own admission, didn’t have a clue about art, so he just said whatever random arty farty waffle came into his mind! That said, for all the art world gets stick for being pretentious, in this episode the corporate world was far more guilty of that, with one client going on about “three pillars of business”. It didn’t matter that Collaborative lost that particular client either, as they won due to flogging lots of merchandise of the art printed on t-shirts, tea towels and tote bags!

On Typhoon, project manager Jasmine made the odd decision to send Sabrina and Sian out when their corporate clients came, despite the fact that those two were the ones who had met them, built a rapport with them and had actually visited their shop so would have more of an idea of what they were looking for! At the client’s request, Sabrina and Sian were brought back, and Sian closed the sale.

In the boardroom, Sian had a go at Sabrina, but Sabrina had quite a good comeback. Sabrina was the one who suggested they stay, Sian thought they should do as Jasmine
said and leave the premises, so if not for Sabrina then Sian wouldn’t have ever been able to make that sale!

Jasmine Kundra was fired, rightly perhaps as she made some bad choices for the task. I was kind of glad to see the back of her to be honest, she always came across as extremely humourless.

‘TV Selling’ saw the candidates flogging tat on TV shopping channels, and try to make an advert too.

Daniel and Sarah Ann on Typhoon went to a house to film the advert, but forgot the product, a Spin Scrubber. The director told them time constraints meant they had to
film it at the house without the product, or go back to where they left the product and film something with it in the car park! They opted for the latter. Sarah Ann gave a panicky super-speedy-speaking on the product, and she got the name wrong, calling it a Spin Stopper rather than a Spin Scrubber, while trying to brush a van with it. It was deemed of insufficient quality to be shown on the TV shopping channel, which is quite a burn.

Collaborative at least managed to get an advert on the air. It was very much an “it’ll do” sort of thing, but still it was better than Typhoon’s. Their live TV selling was off the cringe scale though. Khadija said “Oh shit!” live on air, said a lounger was self-inflating when it wasn’t, and said another product was “the best of the best of the best”, and had to retract that as, well, it wasn’t.

One of the products they were selling was charcoal teeth whitening. Sorry, but isn’t that such a rip-off? Teeth probably only look “whiter” with that in comparison to the black of the charcoal anyway.

Both teams found in the boardroom that “sales” that get made on live TV shopping channels aren’t always exactly a done deal. A lot of people change their mind after
making their bid. Which, yeah, I can understand someone suddenly deciding that maybe they don’t want to part with TWO GRAND for some hoop earrings after all!

Collaborative ended up losing, though there wasn’t really much in it. There was a double firing, but it wasn’t much to do with the task. Tom Bunday was fired immediately for losing all three times he was project manager!

The second to go was Jackie Fast, because Lord Sugar liked “acorns into oaks” and apparently Jackie is already a “semi-oak”. I quite liked her though, I thought she was great TV! In her taxi ride away she said she needed to get a job now, but first she’d go on holiday!

‘Christmas Chocolate’ wasn’t quite a Christmas special, but it was pretty close!

The candidates woke up to the house they were staying in being having Christmas decorations put up overnight. Lord Sugar himself was there too, telling them about this
task, to come up with brands of festive themed chocolate.

Like many of us on Christmas morning, the candidates had chocolate for breakfast!

Collaborative aimed for a luxury “high end” product. That wasn’t really what they ended up with! Khadija went for traditional and safe flavourings – one milk chocolate that was mince pie flavoured, one white chocolate that was raspberry and chestnut flavoured, and one dark chocolate that was cocoa nib and cranberry flavoured. They called their product “Remoir Chocolat”, perhaps believing that cod-French looks classy. The packaging looked more like a high street shop giftvoucher and the customer feedback said it was too generic. But they won! Let’s be real, generic and safe is often a winning formula!

Of course, Typhoon messed up quite badly! Their idea was “cheeky chocolate” and “naughty but nice” (as in Santa’s naughty list). But it was going for the adult market,
which for flavouring meant alcohol, and for packaging meant sex.

Sarah Ann put lots of booze in the chocolates, swigging a fair bit of it herself straight from the bottle! She even said she ended up “tipsy”. She also forgot to weigh the ingredients until after she had already made the chocolates, so when she sent the recipe to manufacturers, most of the chocolate ended up tasting just of chocolate.

Sarah Ann Magson ended up being fired. I found her quite fun, and it wasn’t really her fault they lost this task. What lost it was the branding, which the rest of Typhoon, Camilla and Daniel, were responsible for. The name they came up with was “Santa’s Choco Seduction”, with a cartoon stunner named Holly on the cover in a saucy Santa outfit and fishnet stockings carrying some mistletoe. Overall, the packaging looked more like something that would be from a sex shop!

Lord Sugars said “To quote Forest Gump, if life was like this box of chocolates we’d all be in jail!”. Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve seen that film, but I’m pretty sure Forest Gump never said that!

The ‘Interviews’ episode is where the final 5 hand in their business plans and it gets cut down to the final 2.

I quite liked that everyone was dressed in primary colours again. Khadija was in yellow, Sian was in blue, Camilla was in red. Though both Daniel and Sabrina opted for black.

The interviewers in the boardroom were colour coded as well! Claudine in red dress, Linda in a blue dress and Mike with a green tie! With all this colour coding going on you have to wonder just how much Lord Sugar is phoning it in these days, and needs colours to tell everyone apart!

The three that went at this stage were Sabrina, Khadija and Daniel.

Daniel Elahi‘s business plan was a remedy designed to rehydrate people who have hangovers. It wasn’t allowed to be marketed as its intended title Hangover Killer in
the UK due to advertising standards laws. Daniel also massively exaggerated its commercial success on his website. It said “1 million sold globally”. Not sure about
the numbers, but “globally” it was only sold in three countries – including England!

Khadija Khalifa is a cleaning company owner, but I don’t think we heard a lot about her company or her plans for it in this episode. What we did hear was her arguing back to the interviewers!

Sabrina Stocker‘s business plan was to do with arranging tennis events, but ultimately Lord Sugar and the interviewers felt it wasn’t really something that would scale up. But Sabrina was my favourite candidate this series! She was just so ridiculously sweet and adorable! She was a very positive person too.

The final 2, Camilla Ainsworth and Sian Gabbidon, showed a sign of unity when it was confirmed the winner would be one of them. “The two Northern girls!”. In ‘The Final’ Lord Sugar tried to make it a little more divisive – Yorkshire (Sian) vs. Lancashire (Camilla). He went on to compare it to the Wars of the Roses. Those wars weren’t anything to do with Yorkshire or Lancashire really. They were more to do with which son of Edward III you were descended from and/or which group of those you were siding with.

Anyway, as usual the final two had to put together a pitch for their business plans, with the help of some returning candidates. Camilla’s business plan was nut milk, a dairy-free alternative to milk. She discovered she had a dairy intolerance while working on a dairy farm in Australia and that inspired her to create an alternative.

You remember the Santa’s Choco Seduction branding which Camilla was partly responsible for? Well, her own business plan had very similar branding! Full of innuendo.
To be fair, it is nut milk – you don’t have to think too much for how you can make innuendo out of that, but Camilla really went for it. Even when she was just getting her business plan ready she put up a sign in the kitchen saying “nut squeezing in progress”. Some of the products were called “naughty love juice”, and one of the pictures used was of sticky milk dripping over a woman’s mouth as she licks her lips! The interviewers suggested that Camilla should tone it down a bit!

The returning candidates didn’t help much on that score though. Daniel suggested the name “love nuts”, Kayode talked about “grabbing nuts” and Jackie on how they should “reach in, grab nuts and pull out milk!”. They also used a hashtag #WipeYourNuts, which Camilla wisely removed as soon as she could!

The name they eventually settled on was Milk It, stylised as MLK It. Isn’t MLK used as an abbreviation for Martin Luther King? That could… end up leading to some confusions and misunderstandings further down the line.

They also used a punny hashtag, #nutoriously good. They had to make GIF adverts, one modelled by Tom, one by Kayode. Kayode appeared more enthusiastic, so his advert was chosen. He did genuinely like the product, he is a vegan so he was eager to see the product become available. The product is, according to Kayode and the customer feedback, very tasty.

However, that was largely because Camilla put a lot of nuts in it, and it turns out nuts are very expensive, so there were concerns as to how profitable the business would be. Both the customer feedback and an industry expert said the packaging looked like the patches on a cow’s skin. That would make people think it was cow’s milk, which would put off their whole target market, people who were looking for an alternative to dairy. But the upshot of it was that the product itself was good.

Sian’s business plan was swimwear which she designed herself, and it had reversible prints so the customer would have two different outfits in one! It also had options for customising, which was why they came up with the name SYO, standing for Style Your Own.

The GIF advert was Sabrina modelling the swimwear wearing sunglasses and her hair wasn’t wet, in spite of Sian’s specific request that the model’s hair should be wet. It also had a pool water effect in the background. A lot of people thought it looked a bit cheesy and 1980s. Sian wasn’t keen on the whole thing, saying “That looked absolutely shite, let’s be honest, let’s be real”.

They also did a TV advert directed by Kurran, featuring Sabrina, Jasmine and a model on a yacht drinking champagne. The advert was generic as hell, but it “worked” I suppose.

Lord Sugar decided to invest in Sian’s business. I wonder if it was partly due to Sian being a designer as well as having a business. She hand drew a very nice print in a short time which ended up being made into an outfit, and it looked impressive, so she clearly has a talent.

Sian is from Leeds, which is the nearest city to my hometown, so yay, West Yorkshire represent and all that!

This series of The Apprentice was… fine. The franchise does feel a bit tired and like it’s just chugging on a bit, but it was good enough I suppose.

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