The Apprentice: series seven, week eight

A visit to Paris leaves Leon lost in translation...


It’s a trip to the Continent, the task that last year saw cunning linguist Stuart Baggs: The Brand come into his own, laying his bratwurst on the line as he tried to sell sausages to the Germans. Can anyone reach Stuart’s level this time around? Is that even possible?


This time the teams are selling British products in Paris. Among the unique items cleverly combining quintessential Britishness with Dali-esque surrealism are a teapot lamp and a postcard allotment. What next, a bowler hat egg whisk? A roast beef dress? Actually, forget the French, let’s sell straight to Lady Gaga.

Sadly, the other items are a bit more sensible. Along with the postcard that transforms into a cress garden (for those who haven’t seen the show, no, I didn’t have a cheese-fuelled dream last night, this is real), Logic PM Tom wants the children’s car seat that turns into a rucksack, which the maker claims has won “over 36 awards”. Over 36? 37? 38? 401? Either way, it’s not as many as Melody has won.

Melody’s not keen on the car seat so she and Leon head off to do some market research that will prove no one else likes it either. Do Parisians even drive cars? Melody discovers that most of them prefer to use the Métro. Although it’s just possible her data is skewed by the fact that she only asks people in a Métro station. Melody reports her findings. Logic goes for the teapot-shaped light.

Venture gets the car seat. But not before PM Susie has asked a few questions of her own: “Do the French go camping?” “Do a lot of people drive in France?” “Are the French fond of their children?”

Remember, Susie has never been to France, so it would be foolish of her to make any assumptions about the country. I mean, it might as well be Mars, right? Actually, do we even know for sure that there’s life in France?

Jim makes some phone calls in search of pitching opportunities for Venture. He’s relieved to find someone who speaks English but goes the Steve McClaren route and continues the conversation in a foreign accent, just to make them feel comfortable. All in all, though, Jim’s Irish charm is not translating into French.

Of course, head girl Melody speaks several languages, including French, to “UN level”. While Tom and Natasha choose the products, she’s booking appointments. This looks like fair and efficient teamwork. Oh, but wait, Melody wants to keep all the appointments, and therefore all the sales, for herself.

Tom and Natasha try to arrange their own appointments. But Tom is a scientist, not a linguist. He asks in French for the company’s “postcard manager” – possibly not a role that exists in every retail business – and says “ciao” a lot.

At least Tom and Natasha have Lord Sugar’s “laid on” appointment with La Redoute, the biggest mail order company in France. Oh, except Melody failed to do the research Tom asked for and now Tom and Natasha don’t know who they’re dealing with. When they try to sell La Redoute ten teapot lights – instead of, say, 10,000 – they look “un petit pois” foolish (and don’t get any orders).

Helen knows exactly who La Redoute are. She gives a smoking pitch. Susie provides backup, saying “yeah” after each point Helen makes and modelling the seat using her incredible powers of tininess. Helen wins a stonking €214,000 order. Venture win the task.

It’s Tom, Leon and Melody in the boardroom. Melody pitched well and her French is brilliant but she told lies and damn lies about her statistics and threw teamwork out the window. Clearly, she has learnt little from her time with the Dalai Lama.

Lord Sugar thinks she’s great, though: “She is ruthless. She’ll walk over anybody. She’ll eat them up and spit them out for her breakfast. That’s what I like about her.” There you go, kids, that’s this week’s business lesson – every man for himself. Presumably, in the company Melody sets up with Lord Sugar, she will not have to work with any other actual people.

For a scientist, Tom kicks ass in the boardroom, even calling out James Dyson for an invent-off, and Leon is fired. It’s not his fault he doesn’t speak French but in the boardroom he hardly speaks at all.


Things are getting interesting now. It’s good versus evil. Helen versus Melody. This is a smackdown that has to happen. Melody might eat ordinary candidates for breakfast but when she comes up against Helen, she’s toast.