The Apprentice 2012: week three as it happened

Here's how it went down in our live blog, as the candidates created their own condiments...

This week we tackle that age old dilemma – ketchup or chutney? – as the teams go totally condimental. Cue jokes about the candidates having a lot of bottle and getting in a bit of a pickle (but not from me, of course).


While we wait to get started, here are some preview clips to make your mouths water…

Oh, and here’s Stuart Baggs The Brand showing the candidates how it should be done…

9:01 And we’re off!

(With a recap of last week)

9:01 Here’s last week’s fired candidate Maria. I wish she could have been around for longer. People who fall asleep on the job and suddenly start talking REALLY LOUDLY for no reason, while being on-trend with colour-blocking, are sadly lacking in this series.

9:03 And so to a new week on The Apprentice…

9:04 Gabrielle answers the phone at 6:30am already fully dressed. She tells the girls to get ready for a trip to St Catherine’s Dock in 15 minutes. Some time later – we don’t know how long, but I suspect at least half an hour – she tells the boys. If it’s girls v boys again, and the boys are still in their boxers when the cars arrive, the girls will have a head start.

9:04 The boys make it to the cars, fully dressed. The increasingly irritating Adam thinks the girls need a couple of the lads to “sort them out”. He will be punished for this in some way, no doubt.

9:04 I don’t really watch soaps but does Adam look like one or more people from some soaps?

9:05 It’s a bit blustery on St Catherine’s Docks. Lord Sugar tells the candidates “I used to come and play here as a kid, believe it or not.” NOT. 

Does anyone really believe Lord Sugar ever “played”? Surely he was born selling car aerials out the back of a van? (I even suspect he was born with a beard, but I can’t prove it.)

9:05 Lord Sugar introduces the task – the teams will be creating, naming and branding condiments – then goes into an introductory spiels clearly written by one of the production team and so not like anything he would ever come out with in real life…

9:06 He’s “laid on” a factory for them, of course.

9:06 Duane and Nick join Sterling while Katie moves over to Phoenix – to form the first unisex teams of the series so far.

9:06 Adam welcomes Katie to Phoenix: “We do things a bit different here – like winning”. Ho, ho.

9:07 Sterling have done well here, I reckon: Katie seems to do very little – Jade and Jane are certainly happy to see the back of her – whereas Duane has been the absolute star of the show so far (kiss of death warning: Katie will now be amazing and Duane will fall into one of the sauce mixing vats never to be seen again).

9:07 Duane wants to project manage Sterling. He’s keen as mustard in fact, and mustard is a condiment, so maybe the girls should pick him. They do – Gabrielle’s “I wouldn’t mind being project manager” somehow doesn’t convince them.

9:08 Duane is “hoping to bring some creativity, some positive energy, some salesmanship and some leadership” to the task. I think he’ll do just that (“Duane! The vat! Look out!”)

9:08 Katie puts herself up for Phoenix. Adam tells her it’s “very, very complicated” in a way that clearly suggests he thinks a woman won’t be able to get her pretty little head around it – but then backtracks by voting for her, presumably because the other option, Stephen, was about as convincing as Gabrielle.

9:08 You have to love watching the candidates trying to judge exactly the degree of enthusiasm with which to nominate themselves for PM, so as to ensure they don’t get picked but can nevertheless legitimately bring up that old chestnut “I put myself forward” in the boardroom later.

9:09 Katie feels good about leading “a pack of men”. Last time I can remember a woman leading an all-male group they persuaded her to get into a bikini and “take one for the team”. Good luck Katie.

9:09 Phoenix plump for a table sauce because “it’s got mass appeal” (after all, who doesn’t own a table?)

9:09 Away from “the pack”, Ricky Martin (heh) explains that he expects to be able to influence all of Katie’s decisions. He takes charge of the production sub-team. Good luck influencing her from a ketchup factory.

9:10 On team Sterling, Duane has everyone “feeling the chutney”. Except food manufacturer Jane, who says it’s a saturated market. “If they get it wrong, they really could end up in a bit of a pickle,” volunteers Nick, apologetically. He has obviously been briefed by Lord Sugar to provide the puns in his absence.

9:10 I don’t know if you’ve heard of the late Paul Newman’s range of salad dressings but it turns he’s not the only celebrity to have branched out into this area – I’m told pop group JLS have their own range of condiments too (I wonder what flavours they are?)

9:11 It’s time to name the products, based on not very much at all. Gabrielle, who apparently thinks she’s brainstorming names for a pet hamster, comes up with “Charlie” and “Chunky”. They settle on the least bad, Jade’s “Infusion”.

9:11 On Phoenix, Stephen likes “Bellissimo” because of the meaning. He makes a note to check what the meaning is – and what the spelling is. He knows how to say it though, almost definitely. 

9:12 The production side of each team heads off to a condiment company in Essex. I’ve thought about it and I don’t think there are any jokes about a condiment company being in Essex.

9:13 Biochemist turned recruitment specialist Ricky Martin (heh) heads up Phoenix’s sauce-making arm. The boys taste different sauces using tiny spoons, which of course reminds me of Lord Sugar’s Tiny Fork Diet. You don’t know it? Well this is the gist – it is, as you would expect from Lord Sugar, brilliant in its down-to-earth, no-nonsense simplicity.

9:14 Jane is doing the costings for Sterling’s pineapple chutney. Numbers are to Jane as car headlights are to rabbits…

9:15 Katie and Phoenix’s branding team are in London, asking themselves what Bellissimo means to them. Judging by their initial ideas it means a day out in Brighton – their first attempt at a label has a picture of a seaside pier on it. “It looks like suntan lotion,” says Michael. They swap it for a stock picture of a pepper and are instantly amazed. “We’ve stumbled across magic,” says Katie.

9:15 At Sterling’s branding session, we discover that InFusion has a capital F in it. Perhaps they meant ConFusion.

9:16 Back at the factory, Duane tries some InFusion and runs off to find a paramedic. There is “too much chilli by a factor of about three” explains Nick. While Sterling adjust their recipe, their sales team is going to have to pitch without a product. I don’t know much about sales, but I would have thought that would be quite a test.

9:17 The ketchup boys get a delivery of Belissimo labels and wonder why they’re missing a picture of a chilli. If Belissimo is anything like InFusion, customers will need some kind of warning…

9:18 The boys are making their sauce (with a spoon for added flavour). “Something’s not right, the consistency’s not right, it’s boiling like an omelette,” whines Adam. Then he says it all again, word for word, for weird emphasis. That’s 100 bottles-worth down the drain (those sewer rats don’t stand a chance).

9:21 The sales teams pitch to a “top-class grocer”. The buyers spot that Katie’s team have spelt Belissimo wrong. They also spot that Sterling have turned up without a product. “This is probably the first time in history someone has tried to sell us a product without actually bringing the product.” Even Jade’s knowledge that chutney goes with cheese and crackers doesn’t convince them to buy a thing that isn’t there.

9:22 We’re back at the factory, and InFusion has a new formula that presumably doesn’t burn your mouth off. Duane is able to speak again too, which is good.

9:23 Sterling have coagulating ketchup problems and are losing half their product down the side of the bottles. Ricky decides to save the batch they were going to chuck away earlier – as long as it’s not in the bottles they take to the pitch they should get away with it (because, let’s face it, no-one else will ever actually be eating this stuff.)

Imagine a phoenix rising from some ketchup…

9:24 Ricky is pleased with his sub-team leader performance. Katie works out they’ve lost 1/5 of their product…

9:26 Katie gives the boys a breakfast briefing – it’s interesting how much better she’s been at taking charge of them, when she was so quiet with the girls. 

They plan to sell their ketchup at 3.99 a bottle (!)

9:27 InFusion finally receive their product – they love it. The teams ALWAYS love their products when they first see them.

9:29 Ricky Martin (heh) and Stephen are selling bottles of Belissimo by flirting outrageously with housewives and challenging them to guess the flavours. It’s working frighteningly well…

9:32 Sterling finally have some chutney for the high-end grocers to taste – “it’s last chance saloon” they’re told. Will it be worth waiting for? It is – they get a deal, 300 jars!

9:35 Duane and co are off to meet more posh grocers in Marylebone where they tout their pineapple chutney on the basis that it’s “seasonal”. When is pineapple season in Britain? I can never remember…

9:36 Jane doesn’t seem to understand anything – she looks puzzled every time anyone speaks…

9:37 It’s boardroom time. And we get a glimpse of the new receptionist.

Who remembers the original, unseen, receptionist “Frances”? Raef Bjayou once told me she was quite a looker…

9:40 Duane admits the first batch of Sterling’s product was shocking. “It was a dangerous and poisonous concoction,” chips in Nick, helpfully. “If you were in the same room you’d be in danger from it”.

9:42 It doesn’t matter though, Sterling have turned it around – the amazing Duane strikes again – making twice as much Monopoly money as Phoenix. They’re off to go racing round Silverstone. Maybe Duane can “accidentally” run Jane over…

9:43 At the Bridge Cafe, Katie is puzzled as to how Phoenix managed to produce double what her boys did. The boys – who threw an entire batch away – pretend to look puzzled too. But it looks like Michael is being lined up to take the fall…

9:44 Ricky, who was in charge of production, opens his defence by pointing out that their failure was in not producing enough ketchup. Cunning…

9:48 Lord Sugar is not convinced that Bellissimo is a mass market product. Would a truck driver use it? That should always be your test. What proportion of the the country’s population are truck drivers, I wonder? I reckon it has to be 55, 60 per cent, right?

9:50 Katie’s bringing production line manager Ricky and sales flop Michael back in. Probably a sensible strategy. 

Lord Sugar and Karren Brady are unimpressed with Michael. “He does the occasional good thing,” says Nick, but doesn’t care to elaborate.

9:53 Ricky’s argument is that Katie never told him to make as much ketchup as he could. It doesn’t hold any water (let alone ketchup) but Michael is still looking doomed.

9:55 Oh-oh, and now he has dragged out the “I wasn’t born with  a silver spoon in my mouth” argument, no doubt expecting it will impress Lord Sugar (I’m surprised he doesn’t say something about always being willing to get his hands dirty too) but he clearly hasn’t being paying attention in previous series – despite his East End background and dirty-hands-no-nonsense outlook, Lord Sugar’s often a sucker for the posher, better-educated candidates.

9:59 Michael’s gone, and it’s no surprise – “out of his depth” is Lord Sugar’s verdict and it seems fair. 

Katie’s warned not to be back in the boardroom soon but she might like to follow the strategy of last year’s winner Tom Pellereau and turn up there every week. Maybe Lord Sugar just gets used to their faces and can’t bear not to see them again…

10:00 Next week the candidates are sourcing second-hand stock to sell, Nick Hewer is wearing shades and there’s lots of shouting in the street, so it looks like being a good one.

Maybe I’ll see you then. For now, thanks for joining me, and enjoy You’re Fired! over on BBC2. Good night!