The Apprentice: series seven, week 11

When the teams create their own fast food brands, someone will get chewed up and spat out, yeah?


Guess who’s coming to dinner? It’s Lord Sugar, and he’s invited some guests…


The teams have just 48 hours to come up with a new fast food brand, create the dishes and turn some empty high-street premises into vibrant eateries before the industry experts arrive to give their verdicts. Cooking doesn’t get tougher than this! No, wait, wrong show…

With only five candidates remaining, Logic consists of just Helen and Tom. The stakes are high – this is for a place in the final – surely there’s going to be a battle over who gets to lead the task? “I like being project manager,” says Helen. “I like being project managed by you,” says Tom. Brutal.

PM Helen is soon brainstorming pie-and-mash concepts. But why is “sci-fi/futuristic” written on her flip chart? The best I can come up with is “Unidentified Pie-ing Objects”, a pun I suspect even Lord Sugar would draw the line at.

Jim is Venture PM and while he’s off tasting fajitas, Susie and Natasha are designing a Mexican-themed restaurant. Susie’s thinking “cactuses and people wearing sombreros.” She’s thinking “a happy Mexican man with a big moustache, saying ‘Arriba! Arriba!'” I’m thinking: “Susie’s been watching too much Top Gear.”

What about a name for the restaurant? Jim gets his maracas in a twist, suggesting “Caracas – the Mexican shaking things”. The team eventually realises the mistake but stick with “Caraca’s” anyway because it “sounds Mexican”. Of course, if you want to get technical, Caracas is the capital of Venezuela. But, hey, it’s all foreign, right?

At the fajita factory, Karren questions Jim: “Who came up with the name?” “I did.” “Who came up with the menu?” “I did.” He sees her point: “There’s a theme developing…” There is. Pity it’s not Mexican.

Tom’s working on the brand for Logic’s 100% British mini pies. “Flying pie?” “Pie in the sky?” I’m starting to think Unidentified Pie-ing Object might have been in with a chance here… Eventually, Logic settles on MyPy, along with a slogan that actually mentions the word “pies” so you know what they’re on about.

The teams design their premises. MyPy looks like a British Airways check-in desk, with Helen as the stewardess. A giant poster proudly advertises the three pies, named after those historic Britons Florence Nightingale, Sir Francis “William to his friends” Drake and Christopher Columbus, who, OK, if you want to be picky, was Spanish.

The restaurants open for a test run. Susie shows Caraca’s first customers to their table but, obviously, has to remove the big pile of sombreros from it first. Luckily there are no catcuses on the chairs.

Caraca’s authentically laid-back Mexican service doesn’t seem to impress the customers. And it turns out some of them had been expecting the food to be served hot.

The next day, Susie streamlines the process. She then tastes and approves the new improved dishes. She has surreptitiously taken over from Jim as project manager.

Launch day: Lord Sugar arrives at Caraca’s along with the fast food bigwigs (although, disappointingly, no Ronald McDonald).

The industry experts quiz Venture on margins. Jim multiplies £7 by 60 and gets £4,800. Wow. His calculator is even more magical than Stuart Baggs’s invisible one.

Between them, the candidates have now savaged geography, history and maths. It’s a good job this is on after the watershed, otherwise schoolchildren could be watching.

MyPy is next. Let’s hope the guests are still hungry. As it turns out they have a real appetite for Logic’s efficient service, quality ingredients and strong British branding. No one even mentions Columbus.

Meanwhile, Helen has all the figures ready – having actually remembered that this is a business task – and Tom reacts to even the toughest question after only a few minutes’ hesitation. “What would you serve in the summer when it’s hot?” “…Cold pies?” Brilliant.

Obviously, Tom and Helen win and – yep – they’re straight through to the final! For me, it’s a toss-up who should be fired from Venture. Based on the task: Jim. Based on the series: Natasha. But next week is the interview round and it’s essential we get to see Jim’s blarney being ripped to shreds by Lord Sugar’s deadly assassins.


So Natasha goes. I’m not going to feel too sorry for her, anyway. It’s amazing she’s lasted this long. And with her recruitment experience, a degree in hospitality and what she’s demonstrated this week – well, it’s not like she’s going to end up flipping burgers, is it?