Sunday, 18 October 2015

Guest Post: Murphy Rants About... The Apprentice S11E1+2

Gadzooks, it feels like it was only yesterday that we were seeing off the last contestants of The Apprentice. I can see them so clearly in my mind: One of them had hair. Another one was wearing a suit, probably. They had skin. Good times, good times.

Okay, I tell a lie, I remember nothing about the previous series of The Apprentice. A year is a long time, after all. What I do remember is the sense of utter, wearying exasperation I had with every single one of those blasted, smug little toads, and apparently this series is determined to make me even more exhausted.

Our first two challenges, airing on consecutive days, were a challenge to create and sell seafood street food, and a challenge to market (with a television advertisement, a bottle, and a billboard) a cactus-based shampoo.

I’m probably going to talk more about the first challenge than the second, because in the second challenge, colour me extremely surprised, neither of the teams were that terrible. The dude’s team won by a clear margin despite some glaring mistakes (like having a pitch from a man whose pitch consisted entirely of stammering the words ‘man … replenish …’ before going silent for five agonising minutes), with a stylish and on-point marketing campaign that would, in all likelihood, stand up in the real world, but the women’s team was not terrible by any stretch of the imagination. It was refreshing island of competency in what is sure to be a sea of horror and blood and screaming and death.

(That last only if we’re very lucky, one supposes.)

The first task gave us more of what we’ve come to expect from Apprentice candidates by now.

One team decided, in a move I can only ascribe to their never having eaten food before, to make fish finger and calamari sandwiches in a tomato sauce. If that sounds revolting to you, congratulations! You are normal and your tastebuds do work. Pat yourself on the back, you deserve it, champ.

I don’t even know who that dish is being pitched at. Who on earth has ever thought to themselves ‘Oh, I’m just going to buy, from a fucking London high street where I could take my pick of dishes from a dozen different cultures, some fucking fish fingers with some calamari in what is essentially fucking ketchup, because I hate myself and my self-flagellation hour happened to coincide with my lunch hour today.’ Nobody. Nobody has ever fucking thought that. Nobody will ever think that.

This bright idea did, in fact, almost lead to food poisoning. As time wore on and the team grew increasingly desperate and clingy, practically grabbing at their customers’ coats and wailing at them for spare change, they decided to sell their uncooked food - including their raw calamari. Here’s a calamari factoid for you: When raw, it has to be kept at a temperature of five degrees celsius or lower, or else it very quickly becomes quite, quite dangerous. Our intrepid entrepeneurs kept it at fifteen degrees celsius, and if one of them hadn’t caught on, they would have sold what is essentially battered poison to unsuspecting Londoners.

“Well, naturally these people lost, this is a farce,” you say. These people won.

The losers instead made fish cakes. They meant to make three hundred of them using their enormously costly ingredients: They instead made eighty-nine gigantic fish cakes. You couldn’t fit these fish cakes in your mouth. You couldn’t fit them into a lion’s mouth. They were impossibly huge mountains of fish with a few breadcrumbs sprinkled atop.

Not only that, they made them late. They missed the lunchtime rush.

What was the cause of this catastrophe? Well, one team member decided he had to make them according to ‘specifications’ - whose, I don’t know, but apparently said specifications involved the fish cakes being two and a half inches thick. Two and a half inches. In the boardroom, you could have made a drinking game out of taking a swig each time the poor man said ‘specifications’, except if you did that you would die.

They took so long to make and involved so much fish that by the time they got out to selling them, they were having to price them absurdly high just to have a hope of making their money back.

In the end, their profits were less than two quid. You would not be able to buy a packet of frozen fish cakes with the profits they made from selling fish cakes.

So, obviously, that guy left, right? No. That guy did not leave. Specifications Guy is still in the process.

Instead, Dan, a lovely man who looks like he usually hangs around a Tory MP’s home in a leather collar, left, because he was an idiot who stood around on the street, with an untied apron under a suit jacket of all things, weakly asking people if they wanted some fish cakes. When confronted on this, he said he didn’t know how to sell.

He didn’t know how to sell. On a business program.

So, yeah, that sort of irked me. 
Oh, and someone tried to sell seafood to a vegan cafe. I don’t remember who. But they did that.

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