The Apprentice, Series 16, Episode 11: Nose-blind Spaniel

That’s a lot of words for “a café”.

It’s the penultimate episode, which can only mean one thing: Interviews and the triumphant return of Claude!

As it’s the interview episode, in lieu of a bleary eyed, mildly exhausted candidate fumbling with the hippo phone at 6 in the morning, each of the Top Four get to partake in an activity to foreshadow what their businesses are. As Brittany is hoping to produce a high protein alcopop (God knows why she wasn’t the PM for the drinks task), she gets to spend most of the time on an exercise bike practicing for an appearance on ITV’s The Cube

or doing one of her favourite pastimes, running a little bit too slowly

on the other end of the spectrum, Harpreet is hoping to expand her, what everyone keeps calling “a dessert concept” because apparently the word “café” isn’t business-y enough, so she got to make an almighty mound of pancakes that she ate while perusing her business plan, which is only half the size of a Cheesecake Factory menu

and just to ram home that Harpreet is VERY passionate about desserts and café food, she also ate the croissants that are usually just a standard reality TV competition prop

She really loves sweet things guys. HAVE YOU NOTICED?

Then we run into a bit of an issue because Steph’s business plan is a retailer of second-hand designer clothes for children, and surrounding her with discarded Baby Gucci rompers might have looked a bit weird, as would making her go and sit in a playground, so she got to… pick which dress from Elle’s Business Edition she would be wearing for that day

which is at least a little bit better than the card Kathryn got dealt for her pyjama business, as she had to lie on the couch wearing said pyjamas and looking very much like she was about to partake in a 4 way call in Mean Girls

and then just to show she *cares* about her pyjamas, she got to glamorously steam them on the apartment landing, and as it turns out Kathryn was apparently one of Steph’s 36 customers during the TV selling challenge

considering her whole schtick was that these were sets of pyjamas targeted at families who want to take those weird novelty Instagram photos, they could have at least put everyone in a pair instead of having Kathryn sitting there while everyone is mostly dressed. Although I can imagine why you might want to avoid making it look like all four of your female finalists are having a slumber party given a significant chunk of the audience have ZERO chill.

A Room With an Interview

The interview process is the same as ever, with the usual suspects, including the aforementioned Claude making his triumphant return

as promised in the last episode, Mike Souter is also here with the desk drawer equivalent of Mary Poppins’s Magic Carpet Bag

Linda Plant and her threateningly opulent pearl earrings are at the ready to mostly just not listen to a single thing anyone says and very much coming across as having a chip on her shoulder about SOMETHING

and my personal favourite, Claudine Collins who somehow manages to always look like one of the contestants’ future self travelled back in time to warn them from taking part in this entire process


I have to admit, I’m not really as big a fan of the interviewing round as I think a lot of people are – I’m just not sure you can really call inviting someone into a room with you, pointing out a very obvious but rectifiable fault in their business plan, giving them 5 seconds to respond before you roll your eyes at them and tell them to leave the room, “an interview”. Of course the Interviewees are having to really play up the whole “Business Hard Arse” schtick to 11, but I do think that’s kind of a trope that died a death a few years ago, although it has eased significantly – a few years ago if a candidate had cried during an interview they probably would have been called snivelling and weak before being crushed beneath Mike Souter’s well polished Oxford brogues.

It was Brittany who found herself crying in front of Mike, mostly because it was suddenly dawning on her that she hadn’t actually supplied them with a business plan so much as a brand idea, which granted is more than Solomon and his book of logo designs and unicorn stickers offered up

there was however A LOT missing, including a lack of manufacturing costs which Claude had gone to town in highlighting

there are no less than 4 colours of pen on that single bit of paper, it’s CHAOS. I’m also surprised Petty King, Mike Souter, didn’t spend 3 minutes ranting about her use of the American spelling of “aluminium” like he was your average Twitter user when “Favor” was the Wordle of the Day.

But the tears could have also have been stimulated as Mike had whipped up a batch of Brittany’s Cursed Protein-laden Cocktail, (which I’m going to assume were called “Gym and Tonics”) and the scene very much played out like Jaime Lannister forcing Olenna Tyrell to drink poison

Mike’s verdict of the drink was that it was “chalky and far too bitter”, which does seem to be accurate considering Brittany was very clearly having to stifle a cough after she drank it. She did try her best to rebut him by pointing out that people are willing to eat and drink protein-based options regardless of the fact they taste horrible – and she’s not wrong, there is a certain joy in eating a Grenade Bar that claims to taste of Birthday Cake and tastes absolutely nothing like Birthday Cake, or any food substance known to man. Honestly, do blind tastings of Grenade Bars, you’ll *never* guess the flavour correctly, it’s quite incredible.

The writing was very much on the wall for Brittany, but it was Linda who put the final nail in the protein-based coffin as she pointed out there is actually a protein-based vodka drink on the American market which Brittany hadn’t heard of…. because it’s a terrible business idea. And yeah… Brittany was pretty much fired before she even got a chance to defend herself in the boardroom, which is a shame because after Harpreet she has the best track record this series and I think that speaks to the biggest fault the series has at the moment, because no matter how well you perform in the series, it really only comes down to the business plan and based on this, I would say Brittany was cast as filler but out performed their prediction. So while Brittany’s business plan might not be great, I do think she has a future in branding or certainly some form of event hosting. Or at least as an eyeliner technician, because those wings did not smudge even slightly!

Brittany was far from the only one to come undone by Mike Souter’s Portable Prop Department, as he challenged Stephanie to tell him whether a Ralph Lauren polo shirt he had stashed beneath his desk was real or fake. The first clue should have been that The BBC is absolutely not going to allow themselves to be seen as buying fake designer clothes, but Steph very valiantly faked her way through it like a nose-blind Spaniel doing a drug search

but she was very much just guessing, which she at least owned up to to the other candidates

the shirt was real, but in Steph’s defense she was outsourcing the authentication process of her Not-Ebay business… it was just unfortunate that the company she had listed as her potential partner only did shoes and handbags. So if anyone wants to get their child a Birkin, hit Stephanie up!

Kathryn also got a grilling over clothing, as she had claimed in her business plan that she had “designed” the pyjamas herself, by which she meant she had selected a widely available print and pyjama pattern, sent that to a Chinese factory and had it made for her, which is a pretty standard practice in mass produced high-street retailing and Linda had managed to find an identical set of PJs

but the lack of originality in Kathryn’s non-designed designs wasn’t the big sticking point for her business, instead it was the fact she was manufacturing her PJs in China and trying to call her business “sustainable”. She had wanted to do the manufacturing in England, but the cost was too much and apparently she hadn’t thought of downscaling the fact she wanted 8 designs per season for 16 designs a year, in a multitude of sizes including dog-sizes. Despite the saying, the cats do not get pyjamas. It was much the same issue as Bianca’s nude tights business in Series 10, in which she wanted to offer something like 28 different shades in 8 different sizes, which is an admirable business plan and a very necessary market shake-up but a mere £250,000 investment wouldn’t even begin to fill your online store. Not that Kathryn was going to get an online store because as it turns out, she hadn’t bought her planned brand website as Mike Souter reached new heights of petty as he slid across the receipt for the web address *someone* had just bought

but it didn’t stop there, no he had bought EVERY variation of Kathryn’s brand name and it was by about the third one that he slid across the table that Kathryn realised she was trapped on the 26th floor of The Shard with a crazy man

it was like the opening scene of London banking horror film and Kathryn was going to be the first victim. Bankrupt (Working Title) in cinemas October 2023!

Mike however did have a ransome, not that he was going to force Kathryn to give him her first born child or anything, instead she just had to promise that she would learn from her mistakes of not being proactive enough.

Unfortunately Mike didn’t have anything in his Portable Prop Department for Harpreet – I imagine all the web address receipts took up a significant amount of room so he couldn’t exactly bring out a stack of pancakes and demand that Harpreet tell him their exact contents and nutritional information as well as who had made them based on smell and touch alone. Instead he just told her off for not being bold enough with her business projections because she only planned to open 1 store every year for the next three years – and to me even that sounded generous considering you can throw a stone in a city centre and break the window of something that calls itself a “Parlour”, “Creamery” or “Dessert Concept” with a terrible pun name.

The big issue for Harpreet, other than the fact she had written her application form in a way that made her sound like the worst person in the world (in arthouse cinemas now!) was the fact she didn’t exactly *own* her business considering she had a 50/50 share with her sister AND OH MY GOD, did everybody suddenly hate Harpreet’s sister. While Claude worked on a way to make Harpreet feed her sister to the tiger I imagine he keeps in his London apartment, Linda wanted to know what exactly the USP of Harpreet’s “Dessert Concept” was

THE BOLDNESS. Actually the USP is that each Dessert Concept location will feature a gladiatorial fight between two sisters at exactly 3pm every afternoon, the loser of said fight will be forced to walk a plank.
My biggest issue was that Harpreet hadn’t come dressed as Austin Powers for the interviews

she and Claude would’ve made a wonderful Couples’ Halloween Costume.

And while everyone was getting grilled, Steph got a lovely therapy session with Claudine Collins in which she got to talk all about how much she loved her dad, which was very sweet and did allow for a brief moment of relief between Brittany being murdered by Mike, Kathryn having to pay a ransom for a domain name and Harpreet thinking of multiple ways in which to do away with her sister ONCE AND FOR ALL! Someone please put Harpreet’s sister in a witness protection programme, it’s of an urgent nature.

Nobody came out of the interview process looking particularly glowing, I think if anything Kathryn at least managed to hold her own the best, even against Claude’s onslaught in which he did call her a lunatic

and I would not have blamed her if she had keyed his car afterwards, and it really looked like she might have wanted to

Do it Kathryn, I support you.

They clearly weren’t going to allow the final come down to being between Minted Vinted and The Family Pyjama Cult – so clearly only one of them could survive, much like Harpreet and her sister. I did love that Stephanie tried her best to make her business sound much grander than it was by saying that designer children’s clothing is a global market, which Kathryn very quickly shut down

if Kathryn has had one strength this series it’s her ability to very calmly shoot down anybody in the boardroom with nuclear precision – and she has had to do it *quite* a lot because she’s been in there 4 times this series, which is the second most boardroom sessions this series, only beaten by Boardroom Goddess, Akshay’s 6. Steph did admirably try to say that the second-hand designer children’s wear industry is going to become huge in the same way that veganism did, which… I’m not really sure that’s true considering there’s no ethical propeller to buying your child a pair of slightly cheaper Baby Gucci slippers.

Ultimately, Steph’s idea was just a bit too complicated, too niche, too prone to disaster and utterly dwarfed by the colossus that is Ebay and shortly after Brittany was sent to go make her bathtub protein-vodka at home, Steph too was fired

which does mean that the final comes down to either Kathryn, The Pyjama Selling Tyrant

or whoever comes out alive when Harpreet and her sister are taken to Claude’s secret island which he uses expressly to hunt people on

I eagerly await to learn that they’re actually twins and they’ve been Princess Switching this whole process and both of them are actually Vanessa Hudgens.

And those are our Finalists!

And if you’ve enjoyed this recap of The Apprentice’s Interview Round and would like to support the blog, you can leave a small donation via my Ko-fi HERE.

One thought on “The Apprentice, Series 16, Episode 11: Nose-blind Spaniel

  1. Pam

    I love the Vanessa Hudgens idea!

    I’m sure I remember someone buying domain names in another interview round, maybe it was Mike and buying domain names is *his* USP!

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