Ah yes, the universal The Apprentice audience experience.
You’ve heard of the rock band Babyshambles? Get ready for straight up Baby Shambles.
Making his Phone Answering debut was Akeem, and I have to say, a bleary eyed man being told to go and meet with Lord Sugar at a giant indoor playground is one of the more surreal starts to an episode
of course it wasn’t just any playground, it was KidZania, a sprawling miniature city where kids can roleplay as real careers such as paramedics, firefighters and Megalomaniac Tyrant
and yes, Tim was absent for this episode and was replaced by Mike Soutar
who will be interviewing the remaining candidates in the next episode, so I hope he has a lot of fun shouting “DIES!” at Steph when she walks into his office.
The reason for bringing them to Kidzania, other than to test the women’s ability to walk in heels on a cobbled street, was to tell them that this week they would be creating a healthy baby food brand which they’d have to pitch to both Ocado and Iceland. And because the teams were a little unbalanced, they did have to have some minor changes, although nothing too grand because obviously we have to keep Harpreet rolling that sysphysian boulder that is Akeem, so the final team were:
Harpreet, Akeem and Stephanie.
Aaron, Kathryn and Brittany.
Live and Let DIES
Harpreet was very quick to take the reins of this challenge given that she already had a vision for where she wanted to go, and it was a very strong vision because she asked Steph and Akeem for any of their input and before Akeem could suggest boiling 50kgs of rice again, Harpreet just laid out her plan of attack, leaving Akeem and Stephanie to listen on in stunned silence
her plan was that because she was pesctarian she wanted to go with a fish dish and that leant itself well to a Pan-Asian curry – and you bet your bottom dollar that Harpreet was going to be making the baby food because obviously they had to have two people on branding and she was NOT going to be working with Akeem again and she sure as hell wasn’t going to let him loose in a kitchen ever again, so Steph was tethered to Akeem on a branding mission.
Much like Akshay and Aaron last week having to do products on their own, Harpreet had to narrate everything she was doing like she was putting on a one woman production of Ready Steady Cook
I love that the “cheeky carrot” was actually just a singular cube that she clearly put in just so they could write more ingredients on their packaging, Aaron could have learned a thing or two from Harpreet and her slightly ominously coloured salmon mush
but when is baby food not a slightly off-putting colour?
Over on the branding team and Steph was casually throwing out ideas for the brand name including what I think might be “Babecue” which is giving me major Sims vibes
the things I would give to see them design the logo for that potential branding nightmare.
Stephanie however led with “Bubba’s Little Bowls” which confused Akeem greatly because he thought Stephanie was just inventing a mascot called Babba
and of course once Stephanie explains to him that Bubba is just an affectionate term for a baby, Akeem immediately agreed to greenlight the name, and by this point their graphic designer had already died inside and he hadn’t even been asked to “draw some Asian-looking bowls” yet
Shout out to the artfully positioned vase of flowers to disguise the fact he was working on a Mac – I wonder how many of those 1500 Amstrad brand computer games he could run on it?
Given that Akeem didn’t understand the term “Bubba” and Stephanie, having lived through BoujiGate, knew better than to use a word that someone in your team doesn’t understand and instead between the two of them they come up with “First Time Foodies” – which I think is a good name, as long as they mean “foodies” as in someone who likes food and not “foodies” as in what you say to your cat whenever you slip them a piece of ham.
The problem came when they had to design their logo and brand packaging, where there was a bit of a misunderstanding as Harpreet told them “not to lead with the fish”, by which she meant she did not want a grinning halibut as their logo, but Stephanie and Akeem thought she meant she wanted the very mention of fish, which was the main component of the food, to not take prominence on the packaging. There was however a bigger issue in that the logo did look like Stephanie and Akeem were threatening a Book of Exodus style spree of infanticide
they might as well have just made their strapline “We put the Youth in Asia!” – I would also like a full breakdown from Stephanie as to what makes those “Asian-looking bowls”…
Another component of the branding mission was to create a poster, which did mean that they had to try and wrangle a baby in a photoshoot, a task that saw Akeem and Stephanie having to sing If You’re Happy And You Know It to absolutely no result and very promptly being banished from the photoshoot
Akeem kind of appointed himself as creative director of this shoot and he was going full First Year Film Student with the symbolism
and if they had had Colour Psychologist™ Sophie around she could have told them that, rather fittingly, yellow in some Mexican cultures is the colour OF DEATH. Should’ve used the stealthy trans flag colours instead
Lord Sugar had a big hang up about the fact “the food isn’t visible” on the poster, which both Akeem and Stephanie took to mean that the physical food wasn’t visible – and he acted as though they were both being complete idiots for knot knowing he meant the flavours when he had worded the whole thing INCREDIBLY badly, and they were at least more visible on the poster than they were on the actual packaging! I didn’t like that particular exchange, it felt like he was deliberately setting them up to look like fools – which to be fair does seem like the entire ethos of The Apprentice… maybe this show is bad, actually?
Prior to pitching their products they did have to unveil their branding to Harpreet and I ADORED the fact she took one look at the product and clearly had a big concern
and everyone expected her to point out the fact it looked like they were asking parents to play a game of Russian Roulette with their baby and then… She was just disappointed that the packaging didn’t make it particularly clear what was in it… completely missing the fact it looks like a tiny jar of death.
The Ocado executives however did not miss the glaringly obvious DIES written on the packaging
and I think my favourite reactions from this series of The Apprentice might be the moment Stephanie realises what’s happened because it gave me major Jackie and Camilla realising they had designed a cabin crew uniform that looked like a sexual misconduct lawsuit waiting to happen
and Harpreet just dying inside and desperately looking to Stephanie to dig them out of this literal death trap
and Steph whips out the good old “We’ll fix it in post!” line, which thankfully doesn’t seem to fly by this point in the competition – those doors Francesca opened are very quickly shutting.
My other favourite reaction was while Harpreet was talking about the DIES oversight in the boardroom and she says “I literally wanted to die” and Brittany had to stifle a guffaw and very much looked like she had swallowed her own tongue
it was hard to beat the Snot Wave as the worst logo to appear on The Apprentice but FIRST TIME DIES *might* have done the impossible.
With the Ocado pitch being an unmitigated disaster, they did need to find some quick solutions because they did have a major problem
and Steph’s solution, much like the men and their turd of a toothbrush, was to just not bring any attention to the threat of death and hope that nobody at Iceland would notice
readers, the men at Iceland noticed and somehow it got worse
luckily by this time Harpreet had some consumer feedback because Akeem had spent an afternoon feeding babies, who did seem to like the baby food, or at least they kept most of it in their mouths. And so whenever someone mentioned the logo or the word DIES, Harpreet would simply start talking louder about how much the babies liked the taste of the food – which was their one saving grace considering even the adults tasting it like it, and the man from Iceland gave off some major Christian Bale in American Psycho energy while doing it
My favourite thing about this episode might have actually been the amount of adults who had to eat baby food and then talk about the flavour profile like they were in the Critics’ Chamber on MasterChef.
This group had a slightly tougher time choosing a Project Manager, mostly because Kathryn and Brittany had both done it twice veyr recently, whereas Aaron had only been PM once, waaaaay back in Week 2 – once bitten by a turd-shaped toothbrush, twice as shy I suppose. And so he was just left to sit there, sweating with his lip all a quiver as he desperately hoped either Kathryn and Brittany would step forward and I’m almost certain he mutters “fuck.”
they did not step forward and pushed him into the role on the grounds that he has two kids, it doesn’t matter that they’re 11 and 15 years old.
Initially Aaron wanted to Brittany to go and create the baby food because she at least understands nutrition, however Brittany quickly sidestepped that given how well she’s performed on branding teams over the course of the series, and at this point Kathryn is just a branding team fixture and seemingly determined to meet every graphic designer in London, so she and Brittany got to go design the branding with the strict instructions to “Do whatever you want” while Aaron went to create baby food.
With Akeem not getting to do kitchen duties, the Rice King Baton was passed on to Aaron who set about making a baby food consisting only of sweet potato, butternut squash, brown rice, couscous and lentils – it’s like he thought these babies were planning on running a marathon. Of course the whole thing very quickly turned into a stodgy mass that could’ve been used as loft insulation
and Aaron’s solution to this issue was to just add more rice in what was a truly fundamental misunderstanding of the very concept of rice
and with Brittany and Kathryn not being given much of a direction, they went with a squeezable packet which was… not best suited to Aaron’s kitchen nightmare
the only real direction Aaron had given them was that it was going to be vegetarian and have a “global theme” and because he had put a single pinch of cumin into it he, like many a white chef on MasterChef in 2009, instantly just labelled it as Moroccan. As for the distinct lack of vegetables in a specifically vegetarian baby food, he weirdly seemed to try to suggest that Morocco doesn’t have vegetables
Are the Moroccans very fond of their vegetables?
Meanwhile on the branding team, Kathryn and Brittany came up with the name “Little Taste Adventure” which was cute – they just couldn’t decide on whether they wanted a magnifying or a frying pan for their logo and so just decided on… both but also neither?
these two got very hung up on their branding design, which was quite funny because they were unaware that Akeem and Stephanie were next door accidentally threatening to kill babies. Brittany’s main issue was the font, while Kathryn wanted to get some extra design elements and ultimately nobody really got what they wanted and they were both quite disappointed with their packaging
although, at least it doesn’t say DIES on it?
Their poster was similarly lacking in that it just wasn’t particularly obvious what they were advertising because the half-logo they stuck in front of the baby did look like some sort of Play-Do toy
and it was also a little too wordy – really it looks more like the poster for a nursery that someone opened up in their house and you don’t really feel like you could trust to send your child to.
The pitches didn’t go much better for this lot, their packaging wasn’t particularly innovative or eye catching and the flavour of the food made every single person briefly look like they were about to pass out, including the babies
the Ocado pitch was pretty much a wash out and very obviously not going to result in any orders given that Aaron didn’t promise to completely change the recipe in post, rookie error. But going in to the Iceland pitch, they had the consumer feedback which wasn’t great but Kathryn had a solution to that
When in doubt, lie, I guess?
The Iceland pitch got off to a bad start though as Brittany got someone’s name wrong but Aaron did better this time and promised to change the hideous recipe if they placed any orders – it still wasn’t a great pitch and Kathryn was very eager to get out of there, almost knocking over their sign in her haste
someone clearly forgot their Amelia Stone training
Amelia Stone really does live in my head rent free.
With both teams being pretty damn disastrous, it’s not entirely surprising that they both came away with absolutely no orders between them and so Lord Sugar had quite the range of potential firees to choose from. The only person that was pretty safe was Harpreet because she held her side of the deal and created a product that the retailers actually liked and she handled the DIES palaver as well as you could have hoped. I think Harpreet’s success made Aaron’s failure look that much more glaring, and he did run the task quite badly in that he didn’t really give Kathryn and Brittany any guidance, so Aaron was fired pretty quickly and spared the indignity of swearing vengeance against Lord Sugar while being strangled by a scarf in the back of a taxi
but there was another firing in the air and as much as Sugar kept threatening Brittany and Kathryn, clearly the bigger branding sins lay with Stephanie and Akeem – the strange frying pan atlas looks rather forgivable against FIRST TIME FUCK DIES.
With Stephanie being the branding team leader, it was easy to point the finger at her (and honestly, it was mostly her fault – she was the one that kept suggesting the “Asian-looking bowls”) and her defence mostly relied on Akeem being a bit of a pushover and just agreeing with the first thing anybody says – although I think Stephanie probably wished he had agreed harder to “Bubba’s Little Bowls”. Akeem couldn’t really defend himself in this instance because he had to take somewhat of a hit for the logo prominently featuring the word DIES on it, so instead he called upon his track record – which is actually surprisingly good, he’s a bit like The Reverse World Akshay in that he somehow landed on the winning team quite a few times, including winning both tasks he was Project Manager. Not that he mentioned that, instead he was VERY quick to mention that he was the second person to ever PM twice, which is a brave move to make when everyone had PM’d twice or more, and Kathryn very swiftly shut him down
the walls were pretty quickly closing in on Akeem because he’s not been the most present person in the previous tasks and I don’t think there’s been a single episode where the Project Manager of the winning team hasn’t complained about Akeem in the boardroom prior to finding out the results, so ultimately Akeem gets the second firing
to be fair, it was probably kinder to not make him do the interviews.
and so, we have our final 4 candidates
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