When the candidates were told to meet Lord Sugar at the Barbican arts centre, it wasn’t immediately clear why. Sam, who definitely has a touch of flamboyant theatricality about him, was very much hoping they’d be putting on a play, but that’s not really Lord Sugar’s style. What is Lord Sugar’s style is choosing a venue specifically as a set up for one of his puns.
So when the candidates found themselves in the Barbican’s cactus room (yes, that’s a thing, don’t you have one?) it was only a matter of time.
“You might call me a prickly customer,” Lord Sugar told them – and it’s fair to say he didn’t look out of place there.
In hindsight, it was also quite a fitting place to launch the latest task, which was to brand and market a cactus-based shampoo (lucky coincidence).
The branding task is always one we look forward to. Over the years it’s brought us the likes of breakfast cereal superhero Pants Man and sexist stain remover Octi-Kleen, so these guys had a lot to live up to.
Enter the boys’ team, who paid a man to stand in a bin in his underpants while they poured a watering can over his head.
Not only did they produce a pretty decent final product (it’s amazing what a close up filmed in classy black and white can do) but it turns out they may also have discovered a cheap legal high.
“The guy was standing in a bucket in his pants… it looked absolutely amazing, we was all buzzing off it!” raved Joseph.
The girls’ team weren’t quite so ecstatic during the filming of their billboard ad. Despite all the infighting, backstabbing and name-calling we see in The Apprentice, we don’t witness many actual physical fights so it was a refreshing change to see haircare expert Charleine – still smarting from having been rejected as PM on a task about shampoo –getting into a proper lather with Ruth, the makeshift face of the grey pound.
While all that was going on there were TV ads to make. And if Joseph and co had been buzzing off bucket man, director David looked like he was getting high on his own supply of Western shampoo, having the time of his life (and probably making Sam very jealous) as he showed his models how this class A product would make them feel…
…before sacking it off and going clubbing…
The girls’ confused attempt at a TV ad – something about a mother giving her daughter a massage but with no happy ending – was less fun, with Selina wondering “I think our ad is really classy and it’s appealing to our target market and all those things but could it be considered boring…?”
Not as boring as Natalie’s pitch – but at least she avoided what Karren Brady later described as Scott’s “brain fade”.
When the Apprentice production team lingers on a scene in which a candidate is bigging themselves up and brimming with confidence, you know exactly what’s coming.
So when Scott told us “I’m really confident in taking the pitch on. I like to be free when I’m presenting, that’s how my mind works, don’t need cards and all that kind of stuff, I should just be able to go in there and smash it,” we knew he was doomed.
But even then we couldn’t have predicted quite how mortifyingly his pitch would stutter to a standstill, leaving a pause so long and awkward it would have left Made in Chelsea blushing.
In the end though, it didn’t matter. The boys’ sleek packaging and coherent campaign (ie all in black and white, not just some of it) combined with Lord Sugar’s cactus obsession, meant that their product – which had a cactus on the bottle, a cactus at the end and shouted “Cactus! Cactus! Cactus!” all the way through – was described by Lord Cactus, sorry Sugar, as “one of the best” cactuses, sorry campaigns, “in all the years that I have been running this task”. Cactus.
I really enjoyed the boardroom showdown this week. PM Aisha, who had committed the mortal sin of not putting a cactus on her bottle, was in fiery form – which was good, because she got fired. But before that we had this wonderful little vignette in which Natalie dared to lay a hand on her glorious leader, who snapped back “Don’t touch me please!”
The best bit though, was Vana’s reaction. She had to basically eat her own mouth in order to stop herself from laughing.
It’s early days but I really, really love Vana, man. Or maybe that’s just the cactus talking.