The Apprentice 2023, Week 2: Generic Meat-flavoured Meat

It’s called fashion sweaty, look it up.

This episode was the worst thing to happen to Dinosaurs since Chris Pratt.

Now that everyone has moved into their luxury apartment with the most unluxury sleeping arrangements you could imagine outside of a year 6 overnight trip to a Wensleydale outdoor centre

and apparently Emma has already been replaced by a tower of toilet paper

her bed wasn’t even cold!

We’re into the real meat of the competition: Phone Wars and with Gregory being used to getting up at the crack of dawn to fire an antique cannon, he was the first to make ground on that front

and was informed that they’d be meeting at the Chinese restaurant Hutong in The Shard where jewel-toned power suits were the call for the day

and the task for the week was to make Bao Buns – a savoury one to sell at a food market and a sweet dessert bun to sell to a corporate client.

And after having returned for a brief trip to Antigua on the BBC’s time and money, Claude had decided he wasn’t actually well enough to return and had decided to step back, meaning Tim Campbell was back in town

He can go to Antigua, as a treat?

Baoing Out

One of my favourite tropes on The Apprentice is when someone that was a project manager in the previous task puts themself forward for the very next challenge and it’s even better when they just lost – enter Victoria and her Pick’n’Mix Company, and don’t forget about her expertise in the art of presenting airline food (a point that I’m not even sure she believed in)

she’s extremely good at handing you a very small can of Coke.

Not that anyone was having it with her and Megan promptly played her Sweets and Dessert Company Trump Card

it’s the “obviously” for me – it’s Dolly Mix at dawn!

But Victoria was at least going to be able to be a part of the Subteam, led by Rochelle, who were going to be put in charge of deciding on the ingredients and presentation of their buns – and maybe help with the costing, you know if she felt like it, or she could just stand there and watch Shannon flounder as she tries to mentally times 45 by 400 – because for some reason Megan decided to make Shannon “The Numbers Girl”

there are several moments in which you can actually spot the Shannon beginning to mentally write her resignation letter

I do get the impression she was maybe genuinely too nice for this show and could see she was going to be taken for a ride by the more ruthless members of the group. I guess a Pick’n’Mix connoisseur eats the bridal boutique owner every time.

Rochelle was the leader of Team Kitchen, with her tactic being to go for low cost ingredients like Basa and then mostly just throwing anything and everything on top of it

the thought of Katsu and Sriracha Sauce together is a complete mental block for me – and I can only imagine it was the only sauce that came in a bottle because the boys were also just liberally smearing their bao buns in sriracha like we were trapped in 2017.

The problem that Rochelle and Team promptly ran into was pretty simple long multiplication with 45×400 being to them as Katsu Sriracha Basa Baos are to me

Karren did have to very quickly step in because Dani was about to have them order 1.8kgs of dough for 400 buns

sorry babe, I accidentally inhaled your 4.5g bao bun.

They did eventually end up in the right ballpark for their overly ambitious 400 bao buns in terms of their dough – the fish however was a different story with them only ordering 1kg of fish instead of the necessary 5kgs, I don’t understand how this could possibly have happened with a shopping list as legible as this

that’s a cry for help you find in a trolley at Tesco.

While the Subteam had an abundance of fun twisting the concept of maths into knots; Megan, Shazia, Denisha and Marnie were meeting with the corporate client who might just be the owner of the novelty mini-golf course that they keep sending young girls to on Strictly for their obligatory THEY HAVE FRIENDS AND ARE RELATABLE, PLEASE VOTE FOR THEM VT and if you’re wondering why they never say or show the name, it’s because it’s called Swingers

you simply cannot say “CBBC Star Molly Rainford went to Swingers”.

Their pitch to Mr. Swingers was a little bit chaotic and felt like you were receiving an unintelligible prophecy from the Moirai with everyone finish each other’s sentences and generally stepping over one another but they eventually decided on “something instagrammable and worth £9 per bun” – a price point that felt like Megan had fired one of Gregory’s cannons into the kitchen

and also she maybe wanted it to have something golf-themed about it but maybe not, it’s totally up to you guys, it’s not essential, but it might be nice – but don’t stress about that. (This would turn out to actually be very important.)
The idea of topping the buns with little golf balls was promptly laid to rest (and it would not have cost them a lot to order 70 white chocolate balls or make tiny little balls out of extra dough, they had £50’s worth going spare anyway) – and instead they heard “Instagrammable” and could imaginably only picture those flower walls that every restaurant in central London installed in order to lure anyone with more than 5000 Instagram followers in to paying more than £20 or a cup of tea and a scone

it’s a lot less Floral Fantasy, and a lot more Novelty Bathroom Air Freshener – I could see that sitting on the shelves of Lush quite easily.
And then like most things on Instagram, they had concentrated so much on the aesthetic that they completely overlooked the filling and just piped a load of chocolate ganache into the middle of it, which you can’t really call bespoke

Ladies, that’s a glorified Nutella sandwich and Mr. Swingers knew it, and nobody, not even the London Mini Golfing Elite, are going to pay £9 for one, and the price was promptly kneecapped to £5.

With their pot pourri Bao Buns flopping, they really needed to pull all the stops out with their Smidge of Basa Baos – the planned 400 very quickly becoming 128… BUT! I thought they looked really good, if a little bit like a pair of seals peached on a seaweed covered rock

there’s a word I want to use but I just can’t think of it…. it’s on the tip of my tongue…

VINDICATION FOR KATHERINE!

Amelia Stone did nothing wrong.

The plan with the A Little Basa, As A Treat Baos was to sell them for £4.50 each AND NOT DROP IT – they needed to rekindle nearly £280 of lost dessert bao money from somewhere – but Dani and Victoria had a nefarious plan and after playing a game of corporate espionage and going undercover as a pair of market flower girls

they were going to undercut the business of this poor innocent Bao Bun Stall who were selling baos for £5 by selling two for £9.50 – they’re main selling point being that “They don’t have any fish baos!” – which you think might be an indicator of what sells but leaning heavily into the fish does at least explain why Victoria was inside a goldfish

is that a fish in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

To credit the women, they sold VERY well and didn’t let any mild bean sprout related drama leak out into the marketplace, which is a feat for this show. Dani was particularly good, somehow wooing this man who I’m 90% sure had no idea what a bao bun or sriracha sauce was into paying £10.50 for them

the sriracha and spring onions being an extra £1.

But truly the best part of the task was the moment the corporate team phoned them to tell them that the dessert bao buns had been a complete flop and Rochelle, clearly not wanting the phonecall to continue, told them they couldn’t talk because they had a queue before it cut to the wide shot and the entire area was utterly barren save for Karren

Karren, would you like to play Basa Bao Roulette? If you manage to find a piece of fish, you get a free bun!

Overall, there were obvious issues due to the apparent ban on calculators and a severe case of overestimating your ability to make bao buns because you ate them once and how hard can it be to make a tiny little parcel of dough (spoiler alert, it’s bloody difficult) but I think they still managed to keep things as professional as you could hope for on this show and it paid off for them, and I think a lot of that was down to Dani and her sales tactics so imaginably she’ll get eliminated soon because we have to maximise the potential for beef between Victoria and Rochelle, masters of the catty glare

you can tell that Victoria has been hardened by the years of dealing with plane passengers and just wants to seek a life of tranquillity amidst a wealth of chewable sweets.

Bad Baos, Bad Baos Whatcha Gonna Do?

While the women had an abundance of team members putting themselves forward for the challenge, the men were once again all sitting on their hands with Bradley offering up a generic “Well, I guess I like food but I don’t have any experience in catering” and thus everyone promptly deciding it’d be a great idea to have him be the Project Manager – where are all the men in the Online Pick’n’Mix business? There’s gotta be a hole in the market for selling EXTREME Gummy Bears: FOR MEN! – they smell like Lynx Africa and taste like craft beer and cigars.

As for the team divisions, Kevin was made leader of the kitchen unit, which he wasn’t best pleased with because he’s an accountant and felt like he would be better on the corporate team, but to be fair, the kitchen team did need someone to be a numbers person and he did very well in that regard, he certainly ever verged on the point of making doll-sized bao buns. He’s also not Simba, Joseph or Sohail – I get the distinct impression that the men have already fallen into a bit of a clique – this quartet is basically the Four Lads In Jeans meme

so while they got be the The Corporate Chads, the others were banished to being the Kitchen Virgins

oh no, she’s doing incel meme jokes now.

Not that they were good at their corporate duties with Bradley barging into the Trunki offices and immediately being a complete dick to the owner

this man just wanted some fancy bao buns for his children’s luggage company’s 16th birthday celebration, why are you hardballing him like this? Mr. Trunki very much decided he hated Bradley and threatened to go to M&S and just buy the bao buns himself

thus panicking Bradley into dropping the price from £8 per bun to £3.80 per bun and I have NEVER seen a side-eye this strong

Kevin, being an accountant, immediately knew that these numbers were bad and imaginably psychically linked up with Shannon as they both looked for the ejection seat

and because they now had to build bridges after Bradley burnt them down, he wanted a high concept bao bun because Trunki was going to be launching a dinosaur-shaped Trunki bag (none of these words are in the Bible), he was adamant that he wanted these dessert bao buns to look like dinosaurs

Avi, sensing that these Baosaurus Rexes would end up looking like concept art for a 4bit horror game

immediately tried to persuade everyone that they should just paint nice little smiley faces onto them instead – his punishment for this insubordination was to immediately be made Chief Dough Roller, which did not go very well as the bao buns ended up looking like the mass extinction of the dinosaurs

we’re never actually told what the flavour is, the only times we ever see the dessert filling is when it’s leaking out the carcasses of the dinobaos, the closest description of it came from Simba, almost ruining Joseph’s entire pitch with but three words

“oozing of enjoyment” made me viscerally shudder.

Given the general state of the bao buns and the fact they’d have to stuff the boxes with marshmallows like they were filling a briefcase full of money up with bricks to trick the mafia

that this would be a hard sell to a man that clearly already hated the head of your operation, however Bradley was not going to be allowed to talk to Mr. Trunki and instead Joseph was in charge of Jedi mind tricking this man into paying £266 for 70 bootleg squishmallows by dragging Picasso through the mud

it’s a gold medal in bullshittery because the man didn’t even blink before agreeing to buy them, except you know not that the price was anything particularly spectacular so they had quite a bit of work to do with their savoury buns.

As for what they were doing, Bradley was drawing upon his wealth of culinary experience and love for food…

just meat, generic meat-flavour meat – and everyone was very happy to support Bradley and his fondness for unspecified meats

as for what meats they chose, the toyed with the idea of ostrich, but decided against it because it’s £21 per kilo – I mean, they could have just pulled a Rochelle and tried to Jesus out 1 kilo of ostrich meat between 200 people

you’ll enjoy your 5g of dinosaur bird meat, so help me God!

The lower concept Harissa Bao Buns (with mandatory sriracha sauce) didn’t look nearly as cursed as their dinozomies (dinozombaos? – is there such a thing as too much portmanteauing?)

their sales tactics however, were insane and I think Reece somewhat overestimated the theatricality of taking off the lid off a steamer

but God bless him for trying and for Avi clapping like a circus seal.
Kevin looked like he was having a great time just shouting at people to come and try “Mr. Baos Bao Buns” – which for some reason I can only hear in in the voice of Moira Rose doing her Herb Ertlinger Fruit Wine Commercial

said Mr. Bao being Gregory running around in an inflatable chef suit that everyone was kind of fearfully side-eyeing because they were dreading the moment he would inevitably come over to them to talk to them

it was either him or Reece’s rogue tongue – pick your poison

I loved that they used this shot after Mark had just severely over marketed kale and sriracha sauce to someone – as though Reece thought it was the most delicious thing he’d ever heard of.

The men didn’t do quite as well in their selling as the women, with them having quite a lot of leftover buns by the time the lunchtime rush had ended which meant they were forced to storm into every Chinese restaurant in the Spitalfields area to flog bao buns to them

did it matter that the filling was Harissa Chicken and Chorizo? Apparently not.

The Boardroom Blitz

Before they could get to revealing the winners and losers, Shannon had a bombshell to drop and decided that this process wasn’t for her – she owns and runs a bridal boutique, her job is to make people happy and this process is miserable so she, like Claude after his all expenses paid trip to Antigua, was going to dip out and catch you all on the flipside

Honestly, good for her – may she and Shama skip merrily through the fields of Yorkshire, carefree and unbothered.

Shannon could have hung on for a few minutes longer though, because then she would have been able to enjoy the women’s prize for winning the task, having made a profit of £754.60 to the men’s £599.35

it was a meal at a very nice looking Chinese restaurant, so we’re back to the rewards making sense with the challenge – imaginably by episode 5 we’ll be back to sending them to Laser Quest for Adults after making novelty alarm clocks.

So while the girls got to go and be… what’s the word?

thanks King, the boys saw the return of the Bridge Café which is as exciting to me as a high end Chinese meal, obviously

very interestingly, in the café Bradley is all about the errors of the teammates in his pitching group and their resolute silence. HOWEVER, come the boardroom, he actually decided that the faults lay more on the sub-team, with Kevin and Avi being brought back – imaginably because he realised after scoping out the potential firing of Joseph, Simba or Sohail – he was on dangerous ground because he had after all mandated silence from them

so Avi was brought back for being a bad dough roller – which was a pretty poor reason given that he wasn’t the only one rolling dough. And the obvious main candidate for firing was then Kevin for pricing the savoury buns at £8.50 – which was too low but for some reason nobody ever mentioned the £6 bao buns that Bradley and gang were desperately selling at the backdoor of Chinese restaurants

they already had a surplus selling them at £8.50 – adding an extra £2 on was, as Kevin observed, probably not going to win them the challenge – and their profit was still quite high considering each bun only cost 56p to make

whereas I thought Bradley deciding on £3.80 for a bespoke novelty bun that would be much harder to make was a significantly more egregious error – and we don’t even know how much they cost to make because suspiciously we’re never told the ingredients so we can’t even guess.

Personally, I thought Bradley deserved the firing – his management style was horrible and I really hated the way he talked to just about everyone in this challenge – but ultimately that’s a style of business that this show sadly rewards and appreciates, whereas Kevin seemed a lot more personable and generally nicer in his approach (his team looked like they were having fun) and we’ve seen it A LOT where any man that doesn’t embody that brash, chauvinistic style ultimately gets eliminated pretty quickly and I do think that’s what we saw happening in the case of Kevin being fired

so I don’t know, maybe take it as a compliment? And I am impressed by the amount of scarf he’s smuggling into that coat.

And so, we’re down to 15 candidates

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