James Max's The Apprentice blog, episode 2


Last night saw round two for the candidates, LBC Radio presenter James Max was once a semi-finalist on The Apprentice. Here’s his take on what happened

It would be disappointing if at least one team didn’t make an utter mess of things, ignore the signs, argue aggressively, make a Horlicks of the numbers and finish up in the boardroom with a massive bitch-fest.

Last night, on that basis, you won’t have been disappointed.

Week two. It’s still boys vs. girls and this time it’s the “invent a product and pitch it” task. Of course it is. It’s week two and that’s what you have to do in week two.

Twitter was rather excited as usual, after Four Rooms finished on Channel 4, the usual bitch-banter began.

What I wasn’t expecting was the early trend. A screen grab of Tom Gearing in his pants, apparently rearranging his vegetables. Enough to make you artichoke.

Tom Gearing and his, ahem, gear

Source: BBC

Tom Gearing and his, ahem, gear

Jane beat Katie to the role of Project Manager and led Sterling. Azhar was unopposed for the role and led Phoenix.

Whilst the boys organised themselves quickly, the girls were devoid of ideas. This task really is simple. All you have to do is come up with an idea that is new, have a good concept, make up some numbers that seem sensible and then pitch it. How hard can it be?

Very, it would seem.

Even after editing, it was fairly obvious that the boys were likely to win. They had a bit of a squabble about which idea they should run with, but that’s inevitable. The companies they pitched to were none the wiser of any disagreements behind the scenes. Of course you can come up with some jokes. ‘Oh look! They’ve invented a bin and it’s rubbish’. B-boom tsing.

The thing they “invented” did look like the oversized lovechild of cafetiere and a thermos flask. Imagine having to clean it. Where would you put it? What happens to the gunge when it’s all squished together? Who would even consider buying it? Just, why?

“He should have fired all three”

But anyway, they did listen to the focus group and despite what Adam had to say; Azhar held his ground and quashed the rebellion. Lucky that he did because the gloves with scouring pads would have been a difficult to manufacture, pitch or sell. As for bins? Lakeland loves a bin. Just look at how many different ones they sell!

Although it’s worth noting that host of You’re Fired has come up with his own idea.

As for the pitching, at least they learnt their lesson and let Duane talk about the product he invented. That probably allowed them to win since his contribution in the second pitch to Lakeland was convincing.

The girls made fatal errors. Setting aside their lack of ideas, they did the market research. They were given a clear message. Splish Splash is crap.

The final humiliation came in their second pitch when asked what’s to stop a child drawing all over the bath and creating even more mess? Errr! And it was a mess. The idea wasn’t good. The pitch wasn’t good and the numbers were all over the shop. Jane and her “million units”? Put her little finger in the corner of her mouth and Dr Evil springs to mind…

Into the boardroom for the inevitable result. Although, not to Adam. He clearly thought his team had lost and went for an early arse-covering manoeuvre stating his belief that Azhar was a poor Project Manager. Bad move. He’s clearly got ideas above his station and I look forward to his downfall. I think that’s almost guaranteed.

Little geek fact here. The company where the teams go to design products is Design Works. For every series of The Apprentice these poor people have, overnight, created masterpieces. Here’s their site. When we were doing the show and tell task, they were fabulous. Great people and very creative.

Anyway. The boys won. The girls lost. It’s a familiar pattern so expect the teams to be mixed up for next week’s episode.

The boys went to dinner at The Ivy to celebrate their victory. A few snide remarks and I certainly enjoyed Ricky Martin’s comment about Azhar. “He’s got all the gear but no idea”. Although I’d like to know what Ricky’s mum and dad were thinking when they gave him his name. They probably went to the same school as Richard Head’s parents.

Project Manager Jane had to bring the two people back who she felt led to the task’s failure. She wanted to take in Katie but the good Lord had spoken. Wisely she took his advice. That saved her.

She took Jenna and her thoroughly annoying voice, for her lack of financial ability. And the “noisy” Maria for a lack of contribution (and snoozing). They do say that if you snooze, you lose.

It did look as if Lord Sugar might have fired more than one person. He should have fired all three but then we’d be down on candidates and the series would have a shorter run than usual. He selected Maria and good riddance.

I did rather enjoy Maria’s performance in the boardroom. Her final plea, suggesting that if she was picked, she’d perform next time around is an Apprentice favourite. It didn’t work. Lord Sugar’s heard that one before and it never turns out well.

She went because of her napping, inability to recount what actually happened, general tutting, false sense of superiority, dreadful eye make up and feeble defence line of “you are ridiculous”. As ever, Nick was spot on when he described her as “a very noisy young woman”. And you could not disguise Karen’s despondency and disdain. Marvellous!

Lord Sugar fired the right person. He should have made it a double. Surely it’s not long until Jenna gets the boot.

Next week it’s a food task, as the candidates have to make condiments. Sounds like a spicy episode to me.

James Max presents Weekend Breakfast on LBC 97.3 every Saturday and Sunday from 7 – 10am and was a semi-finalist in the first series of The Apprentice.