The Apprentice, Series 16, Episode 5: Cleavage Charades

The BBC has unveiled its surprise casting choices for the new series of Doctor Who.

What do you call a Penguin in the Arctic?


On phone duty this week was Harpreet who had to inform the other candidates that they were to meet Lord Sugar at the Samsung Building, except they weren’t meeting Lord Sugar at all, they were actually meeting Pacific Rim Louis Walsh

This intro was BAFFLING, because it in no way looked at all like a real video game – it’s like one of those mobile game adverts you see that looks weirdly interesting and then you find out it’s actually just a Candy Crush clone interspersed with cutscenes that look like they were made by that Brazilian animation company that made Ratatoing

and with Alan Sugar clearly thinking he was certainly serving us an impressive moment, I loved that Stephanie just openly laughed at the whole thing

meanwhile Sophie continued to hate every second of it for wasting her time

My favourite throughline of the show has slowly become Sophie clearly hating the whole process and doing everything in her power to get eliminated and constantly being thwarted by someone else’s incompetence. The definition of failing upwards.
The highlight of the whole thing though was Tim and Karren’s cameo as they played their star turn as Vicky McClure and Kelly Macdonald

but you know, at least Nick was loving the whole experience

but, as we’ll soon discover, I think Nick would be entranced by those sensory stimulation videos for babies on YouTube, bless the man.

All of this being so that gummy Louis Walsh could tell the contestants that this week’s task was for them to design a brand new video game. And that he was splitting the teams up again, but doing so only to cause maximum chaos because he makes sure to put Sophie, Francesca, Stephanie and Akshay on the same team. The final lineups being:

Sophie’s Worst Nightmare: Brittany, Nick, Sophie, Francesca, Stephanie and Akshay

Lord Sugar’s Next Top Best Friend Race: Akeem, Aaron, Harpreet, Kathryn and Amy.

The Time Of Our Lives

With Akeem apparently being a professional gamer it did mean that he was made team leader within a millisecond of sitting down. It also means there’s a 90% chance of a YouTube video of him using a slur surfacing by Sunday afternoon.

Akeem also came into the challenge running, with an idea for a futuristic, dystopian society trapped in a war against the robots but before he can properly develop this, Aaron merely has to say the word “prison” before Akeem pivots immediately to wanting to make a video game centering around someone being wrongfully put in prison and trying to escape

You know, Wrongful Incarceration, it’s fun for all the family!

And of course, naturally the teams have to be split into two with barely a discussion about what direction they’re going – with Kathryn and Aaron taking on the branding of the game while Akeem takes Harpreet and Amy to do game development, where Amy promptly writes a whole screenplay during their 20 minute taxi ride and it is the most American thing to have ever been put to paper – John Steinbeck eat your heart out

Interesting to note that Amy can write this in 20 minutes and not take 5 minutes to write a half decent notes app apology that doesn’t excuse using a gay slur on Twitter as “being a conversation between friends.” And as she dramatically reads this tale of bank heists, murder and vague intrigue – you can visibly see the life leaving their game developer’s eyes

When this man tries to block out the sun, just know that Amy’s one woman performance of Money Heist 2: Convoluted Boogaloo was his villain origin story, and have a little sympathy for him.

Akeem sadly does not greenlight Amy’s 3 act stage play and instead goes for the somehow less complicated story of a woman incarcerated for leaking government secrets that led to the biggest cyber attack the world has ever seen – and we know it was bad because there was a skull made out of binary

The Wachowski sisters are quaking.

And while Akeem argued with Amy about the importance of father-daughter relationships and Harpreet casually dissociated, Kathryn and Aaron were brainstorming prison-y names for their game title, and seemingly hellbent on choosing a one word title that would make it as hard as possible to search for online – suggestions including “The Sentence”, “The Stretch”, “The Cell” and “The Incredibly-Bored-Graphic-Designer”

eventually they simply go for “TIME” and that very prison-y aesthetic of the Instagram logo

the title does send the fear of God into the other half of the team, who have to hurriedly implement some sort of countdown timer to better fit the title. It’s a pity they couldn’t change the title later, because their character name “Amelia Stone” was good and would probably have made for a better title, also sorry to all the actual Amelia Stones out there, I’m sure your evening was… ruined.

Kathryn and Aaron were also in charge of bringing Amelia Stone into existence and they really wanted her to have the unique selling point of being a strong, Black Woman – because the representation that Black Women have been asking for is wrongfully incarcerated prison inmates… I mean, it’s *not* not what’s happening, and they could maybe have made that more of a factor in the game, but considering Brittany got lampooned for creating Flappy Bird Greta Thunberg, it was maybe for the best they didn’t bring up the racial wrongful incarceration statistics of the prison system.

In order to ensure that Amelia Stone was as realistic as possible, they had modelled her after Kathryn, who was mostly just using this opportunity to see what she would look like with different hairstyle

a sexy up-do, perfect for prison!
And also, as a plastic surgery nightmare

I mean, if you’re going to make her look like a Drag Race mini challenge winner, you might as well go The Full Katya

which might have helped with the weird criticism that having their prison inmate wearing an orange jumpsuit made them look “too generic”.

They do however correct the cleavage situation, which they do via Aaron playing a game of cleavage charades with the game developer because neither of them can bring themselves to look directly at Kathryn’s boobs

I’m just proud of them for avoiding an HR disaster.

And apparently Kathryn is quite the method actress because she was not letting her newly found inner Piper Chapman slip for a second

You put on one incredibly bad prosthetic scar and suddenly you’re the King Pin of the prison yard

but truly nothing has brought me more joy this series than Kathryn dramatically storming onto the stage before their pitch, and loudly declaring “I’M INNOCENT!” before walking off with all the naive confidence of a first year Theatre student doing their modern interpretation of Hamlet

She’s at least half as deserving of a BAFTA nomination as Lady Gaga’s Italian accent. Apparently I’m in a fighting mood today, it’s the Amelia Stone in me.

Their pitch was mostly very good, Akeem was very sweet and earnest about his love of video games. The only real hitch was that Harpreet fumbled a little bit and Akeem tried to walk off stage without letting anybody ask them any questions – which is certainly one tactic that Brittany and gang should’ve tried out. Not that they got particularly grilled, all they really had to do was field a few questions about how the game is very generic and repetitive, with Amelia’s only move to be a paddlin’

but in what is becoming a bit of a trend this series, they promise to fix it in post, where I imagine she’ll be able to high kick something fierce.

When Hell Freezes over

This team sadly wasn’t lucky enough to have a professional gamer in their midst, however Nick does play video games – unfortunately his bid for Project Manager was met with nothing but the soft chirping of business-smart crickets. So it was up to Brittany to finally decide to exist within the competition, and bravely put herself forward because “I played games when I was younger.” – note, she does not specify video games, so she could have been talking about hopscotch for all it was worth. And Francesca was too busy deep sea fishing and trading at car boot sales to bother with games as a child.

But like Akeem, Brittany came in with an idea, hers too a dystopia as she was very keen to make a platform jumper in which a scientist kidnaps an assortment of polar and polar-adjacent animals, all the while murdering the oil tycoons of lapland – and he was murdering them, because they had indeed given their main character, and saviour of animals, A GUN

Has Greta Thunberg considered this approach?

In order to bring her delightful game of rapidly encroaching climate catastrophe into being, Brittany had decided to pair the teams up in such a way that inflicted as much psychic damage upon Sophie as she possibly could with Sophie, Francesca and Akshay going on to be the branding team, while Brittany and Nick designed the game and Stephanie sort of just existed, her manifested corporeal form but a shadow the further she gets from Sophie.

And oh boy was this branding mission a complete and utter failure from the outset as they started brainstorming their title with Akshay and Francesca both heavily gunning for “Artic[sic] Saviour” while Sophie thought that was boring and very much wanted “Artic[sic] Mission”. Francesca, being group leader and Sophie’s new mortal enemy, goes with Artic Saviour: Freezus Christ. And for the entire conversation, I could hear them dropping that first C, but I thought there was no possible way that in the year of our Lord 2022, 3 people would manage to misspell the word Arctic and yet, The Apprentice consistently manages to mine new depths of the ridiculous

but the absolute best part of it was Francesca asking “Is that spelled correctly?” AND THEN SPELLING OUT SAVIOUR

truly, we have touched the divine, and in the process completely broken Karren

but while Karren died, the graphic designer’s eyebrows rose to new heights as Francesca slipped her hostage note looking logo design across the table to him

I will say though, their final game logo was actually reasonably good – it certainly at least looked like the title of a game you’d see on Miniclip in 2010 and not play, and the graphics weren’t far off either with their playable character “Sam the Scientist” looking like a cave goblin from old school Runescape

and given that Akshay gave such a good performances as Wiffy The Limp Wizard and The Voice of Faux Beer, it was he who was going to bring Sam the Scientist to life, and boy was Sam ALIVE because that man ran like he was trying to outrun global warming itself

that whole running scene with the arctic and arctic-adjacent animals in the background brought me almost as much joy as Kathryn’s one woman show, purely because it reminded me of the infamous X Factor Polar Bear that ruined Danyl Johnson’s performance of Man in the Mirror

I think about that performance far too often.

But it wasn’t only Sam the team had to create, they also needed “bad guys”, and my favourite moment of the entire episode was Nick asking the game developer “Do you do bad guys?” like he was at a deli asking if they had wholemeal bread

I also love the idea that game development companies have to decide whether they specialise in Good Guys or Bad Guys when they start up.

Obviously once the team met back in full, the other half of the group of course immediately noticed that Arctic was spelled wrong. Brittany thought it would be best if they just outright explained the typo in their pitch. But while Brittany died inside

Francesca had other plans and thought she could gaslight a trio of industry professionals into believing that Arctic can actually be spelled as “Artic”

her plan of gathering evidence of this phenomenon immediately went up in smoke as the gamers they managed to convince to try their game just laughed the moment they saw the screen

and sure enough, the spelling did come up in the pitch. But this wasn’t the only issue they had, because the people they were pitching to also noted that penguins are not found in the Arctic. And Brittany couldn’t even lambast Akshay and Francesca for getting all of this so wrong, because she proceeded to call The Ice Caps “The Ice Capsules”

and in true Sophie style, 80% of her contribution to this challenge was to just stand on the outskirts of the group while glaring daggers at everyone, which was particularly funny this time given that she was dressed in a Polar Bear onesie and standing next to Nick who was wearing a labcoat, steampunk goggles, a fashionable scarf and fun fur leg warmers – FOR SCIENCE!

but the biggest criticism the game seemed to get was that it was just too simple and basic, which it is, but Nick loved it and was fully immersed in the mission to save The Misplaced Penguins of The Artic Ice Capsules

I… I think I love him? How could I not? Look how excited he got when he saw the game development company happened to have a 3D model of a seal cub ready to go

nobody on the show has shown even half that enthusiasm for ANYTHING so far.

The Boardroom Blitz

I think it would have been pretty easy to be on Team Artic Saviour and know that you were obviously going to lose this challenge. Brittany however wasn’t going to go down without a fight as she just tore “the prison game” as she kept rudely calling The Icon That Is Amelia Stone’s debut, to shreds. And it was an entirely pointless effort given that the investors had already made their decisions to invest or not, but I did get a real kick out of Brittany finally deciding to have a personality. I’m sure she was also a little riled up because of everyone’s reactions when they saw the spelling of Arctic

Given that their team couldn’t even spell their own product’s name correctly, it wasn’t entirely surprising that not a single one of the investors invested in Brittany’s team, the guilt that the gaming industry has a bigger carbon footprint than all of Slovenia couldn’t even get them to give poor Sam and his penguin friends £1000. Meanwhile, they were all too prepared to invest in the plight of Amelia Stone with each of them dropping a cool imaginary £20,000 into Akeem’s lap. And as a reward, the all get to go have a massive fall out at Life-sized Monopoly

I imagine a boardroom grilling is probably a lighter affair than Monopoly with Aaron.

With the branding pretty much killing any chance of an investment from the word go, Brittany just had to decide which member of the branding team she wasn’t going to bring back, with her one act of mercy being to grant Akshay a reprieve for his 5th consecutive loss, meaning it was a race between Brittany, Francesca and Sophie to be the first woman to fall

immediately the whole dropped-C thing was pinned to Francesca on the grounds that it was her notebook that it was scrawled in, which Francesca could only really defend on the grounds that Sophie hadn’t picked up on the error either, and that at least she was contributing to the project, while she “didn’t hear anything from Sophie”, which isn’t entirely true because she did actively tell Akshay to ignore anything Sophie said

but Sophie did have a tendency to just shoot something down and not offer any alternative idea beyond the word “mission”.

Brittany steadfastly defended her concept, which she kind of had no choice to because if she didn’t, she was a goner. I don’t disagree with her though, I think had they had a title that was spelled correctly, they might have managed to scrape a slight investment and it was that that lead to Francesca’s firing, during which she scalps William Wordsworth

Sophie’s efforts to commit boardroom seppuku once again failing dismally as she had to slink back into the house, much to everyone’s surprise

but the surprises weren’t over there because for some reason Lord Sugar decided to rock up to the house, where the winning team had wasted absolutely no time in getting into their comfies

it’s Harpreet’s fluffy slippers for me.

The whole point being to tell them that their task is a bespoke tour to Wales and I’m assuming they did it this episode so that we could have a week to prepare for the inevitable fallout between The BBC and All of Wales.

And so, 9 hopeful candidates and Sophie’s slowly slipping grip on her own will to live remain

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