8:47 Evening all and welcome to tonight’s Apprentice live blog.
8:48 This week the candidates try their hands at product design. Notable inventions to come out of similar tasks in the past have included the Bodyrocker sit-up machine and that handy beach towel/pillow/bag combo thing. Hopefully we’re in for some similar treats tonight.
8:50 So, a win for the boys last week. Can they make it two in a row? Or will they just keep it at one in a row? One thing’s for sure, the answer to both these questions is yes or no, and by 10pm tonight, we’ll know which…
8:51 And you can expect insights like that from me throughout the evening.
8:59 OK, here we go people…
9:02 After the recap, that is, which took longer than I had anticipated…
9:02 The staircase in the candidates’ house looks like something by MC Escher…
9:03 You have to think the boys’ room probably pongs a bit…
9:04 The teams assemble at the Victoria and Albert Museum, “a grand showcase for the best in British design”. I think it’s safe to assume neither of tonight’s products will be making it into the V&A.
9:04 We know Lord Sugar likes to stand atop skyscrapers surveying the ant-like people below him – and that his chair in the boardroom is on blocks – so it’s no surprise that he’s chosen to introduce this week’s task from a balcony high above the assembled candidates.
9:05 He’s like the Pope or the royal family, although they would probably hope for a bigger turn out.
9:06 We’re shown a montage of household gadgets to give us a flavour. I quite fancy the onion safety goggles and pizza chainsaw. I imagine they’re the sort of kit The Terminator would use in the kitchen.
9:07 First off, of course, the teams have to choose project leaders. Jane has “experience of taking products to market” and “pitching to multiple retailers”. Katie also “gets products to market”. Any advance? Jane can lead “from a strategic level”. BOOM! Everyone knows the strategic level is the highest level. It’s like leading from a balcony. Lord Sugar would get it. Jane is PM.
9:07 The boys are quick to agree that “refrigeration entrepreneur” Azhar should head up their team.
9:07 What is a refrigeration entrepreneur, anyway? Someone who thinks outside the (ice) box when it comes to cooling things? Try his chilled toilet paper for a refreshing change!
9:09 “People describe me as the killer whale of the sea world,” Azhar tells us. This is bulls**t elevated to the level of an art form.
9:10 Firstly, I think we all know no-one has ever described Azhar as the killer whale of the sea world (any more than they call him “the master puppeteer”, as he claimed last week). Secondly, killer whales are the killer whales of the sea world.
9:10 Anyway, killer whales are good at team work – anyone who watched Frozen planet knows that – and Azhar is not.
9:10 The boys go for a kitchen product (they probably saw the onion goggles and pizza chainsaw earlier).
9:11 The girls decide to discuss the problems they face in the bathroom. Nobody wants to hear about that. Luckily, they must all be problem-free because none of them have any ideas.
9:15 Finally the girls come up with a couple of product concepts – a bath tap pillow and a splash screen for children’s bathtime – while the boys are weighing up Duane’s kitchen waste compactor against Adam’s washing up gloves…
9:17 Washing up gloves with scourers and sponges stuck to them, that is. On one hand they sound like something you might make at playgroup, on the other hand Adam could be on to a winner if he tries to capture the male market. Men like multifunction items like this. “This is how Batman would do the washing up,” we’d probably think to ourselves. Stick a TV remote control on there too and you really might have something.
Definitely make them black, though, not Marigold yellow…
9:20 The two team leaders are apparently united in their disdain for market research as they both completely ignore the results of the focus groups. That means the girls go for Splish Splash – despite fears that it constitutes a drowning hazard and takes all the fun out of bathtime (plus the fact that it leaves the bathroom floor ankle-deep in water) – while the boys will be flogging Duane’s Eco Press (although it probably didn’t help Adam’s case that he named his washing up gloves for men Happy Hands).
9:23 Here come the product prototypes. Has anyone ever not liked their products when they first get them out of the box? The boys are gonna “smash it”, the girls think there’s “no way we’re not gonna win this.” Someone is going to be disappointed.
9:26 The girls pitch Splish Splash to some buyers from Amazon. Jane is confident and assured. Would they like to buy – a million units?
9:28 Stephen pitches the waste compactor. The buyers are ready to be impressed. But only when Duane, the inventor, is finally allowed to get a word in edgeways do they finally take the bait.
(Sorry, I think Maria just burst one of my eardrums)
9:30 The Lakeland buyers have a problem with the waterproof crayons that come with Splish Splash – they will make a mess, not prevent it. Personally, I wouldn’t let them play with it if that’s their attitude.
9:31 The decision to leave the second pitch to Duane – who has stood out over these first two tasks as the candidate with a bit of personality and nous – appears to have paid off. The Lakeland reps seem impressed with Eco Press.
9:32 And so to the boardroom. Here comes Lord Sugar, just finished in his private toilet…
9:34 Lord Sugar thinks Splish Splash looks like a toy of some kind – God forbid! – not a gadget. I expect he’d like it to be able to send emails.
9:35 Jane still thinks she should have been able to sell a million Splish Splashes. Apparently she knows best “because she’s a mother.”
9:36 Adam offers us the first “110 per cent” of the evening. (the candidates have been generally remiss on the percentage competition front so far).
9:37 Nick asks the boys’ sub-team, “Would it be true to say that you felt like the country cousins, who couldn’t get a look-in?” Yes, it would Nick. Why can’t everyone be as eloquent as Nick?
9:39 The boys get an order of 3,000 from Amazon – the girls get 7,000. But Lakeland take ZERO Splish Splashes and – BOOM! – 10,000 Eco Presses…
9:40 While the boys enjoy a slap-up meal at The Ivy, the girls sip pallid cups of tea at The Bridge Cafe.
9:41 The boys give credit to Duane for his invention. Azhar gives credit to himself for organising the team. Everyone laughs, except Azhar.
9:44 In the boardroom, Maria is wearing a violently violet frilly blouse and violet eye shadow. She looks like she’s about to perform an ice dance to Ravel’s Balero with Christopher Dean.
9:46 Maria’s dramatic gasps, dramatic dress sense and inability to stay awake are the most entertaining thing so far. I hope she doesn’t get fired…
9:46 …but Jane’s bringing her and Jenna back into the boardroom.
9:48 “Maria’s got lots of energy, she just doesn’t know how to channel it,” says Karren.
“She’s very shouty,” says Nick “She’s just a noisy young woman.” Why can’t everyone be as eloquent as Nick?
9:49 Maria is accused of falling asleep on the job. She was just tired from all that shouting…
9:50 Comment From Barry Gordon
I’d fire the lot of ’em – it’s no wonder we’re in recession with these fish prices – outraged!
9:51 Barry Gordon cuts right to the heart of the matter there, as always. He could teach Lord Sugar a thing or two.
9:52 Maria’s dramatic reactions look like they’ve been cut in from a completely different conversation.
9:53 I wish Maria would fall asleep in the boardroom. That would be class. That woud really show them.
9:54 Noooooooooooo! Maria fired!
9:55 Someone else better step up and be randomly bolshy for the rest of the process or I’m gonna lose all respect for Lord Sugar’s judgement.
9:56 Just two episodes in and Lord Sugar’s considering a double firing, with Jane now in his sights. But, no, she just gets away with it. You can’t do a double firing this early, there’d be nothing left. Keep your powder dry, Lord Sugar, bide your time…
9:57 Back at the house, Jane reckons the boardroom has taken two years off her life. She may not have long left to live by the end of the series.
9:59 Maria’s off to You’re Fired! on BBC2 now. I reckon she’ll be good value. I’m gonna leave it there for tonight, but I’d love it if you’d join me at the same time next week when this will almost certainly be a far more well-oiled Apprentice blogging machine. Good night!