Archives for July 2011

The Apprentice: You're Trending!

Ben Rawson-Jones, Blog Editor | 16:14 UK time, Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Did you think inventor Tom Pellereau stood much chance of becoming Lord Sugar's business partner in the early stages of The Apprentice? After all, his quiet demeanour and frequent task losses hardly screamed 'winner'. Yet that's what the candidate once dubbed Mr Notepad-Calculator became, despite a strong challenge from Helen Milligan.

Tom's ascent epitomised the twists and turns throughout the series, which veered between heightened drama and hilarity. Many of these moments can be encapsulated by a look at some of the Trending Topics that stemmed from the hordes of Apprentice fans tweeting during the show...

Historical figures Christopher Columbus and William Drake made their mark during the Fast Food task and Tom's (erroneous) quest for 100% British MyPy names, while the candidate's physical features caused the lookalike actor Michael Sheen to infiltrate the Top 10. Fictional characters were also prominent, with David Brent from The Office featuring on multiple occasions due to a perceived verbal similarity with Natasha, yeah, and Princess Leia from Star Wars straddling the Twittersphere due to Zoe's eye-catching hairdo on You're Fired.

The Star Wars saga also inspired the regular trending of Jedi Jim, as the Irish bulldozer of charm's purported mind control techniques were much discussed.

The acronym BBIW made an appearance after Lord Sugar dished out the impromptu award to Jim, while his Mexican cookery skills left a lot to be desired (especially in the heat department) but enabled Macho Nacho to materialise. So did a range of other culinary concoctions and not all of them were fit were for human consumption, particularly The Popscuit! Catsize and Every Dog in particular purred and barked their way up the list, but Leon's mooted Lucky Fish product swam above them and truly captured the public's imagination. Although perhaps people were wondering why exactly the fish were lucky?

Food is more appetizing when it's served beneath a cloche of course. That's a metallic bell-shaped cover and not a greenhouse, which some candidates suspected it might be during the Discount Buying Task. That elusive item was trending alongside the similarly protective top hat, which poor Gavin learnt is a garment not readily available for purchase at a dry cleaning establishment.

  On the subject of clangers, Hip Replacement and Coffin Dodgers surfaced during the Freemium Magazine Task as many tweeted their shock. Jim's Franglais was a petit bit of a faux pas too, with the word Allo also trending due to his cunning deployment of the word wrapped up in French tones.

Finally, much credit goes to the winner Tom for reintroducing the playful concept of Paper Scissors Stone to the masses as a result of his decision-making methodology during the Paris Task. Along with landing a £250k investment from Lord Sugar, that is something to be proud of.

The Apprentice Insider meets Jim

Ben Rawson-Jones, Blog Editor | 16:39 UK time, Friday, 22 July 2011

Jim Eastwood's stint on The Apprentice was certainly eventful. Viewers were enthralled by 'Jedi Jim's supposed mind control techniques and seduced by his silky selling skills, although Lord Sugar ultimately failed to feel the force in The Final. The self-proclaimed "champion thoroughbred" put down his lightsaber and charmed the Apprentice Insider with his insights…

Jim Eastwood and The Apprentice Insider

 

"I was very committed to it," Jim said about his ill-fated AMSmart business plan. "It's sort of one of those things 'for the greater good', and that's not to say that Lord Sugar's not philanthropic – he does amazing things. Maybe I thought that would appeal to his sensibilities. I didn't have any other business plans up my sleeve… none that were worthy of Lord Sugar."

A testing encounter with interviewer Margaret Mountford in The Final saw Jim's language being scrutinised – and the return of an equine analogy first trotted out by Stuart Baggs in the last series. "A lot of people were mentioning about the expressions and the clichés that I put into my sentences," explained Jim. "It's just the way I speak. So the comment about the 'one trick pony' – I don't think there's any relation to 'Herr Baggs'. I was just trying to set myself apart from people."

It could have been worse if the "champion thoroughbred" tried to dazzle Margaret with his 'trés sophisticated' concoction of Franglais instead. "The Paris Task was fantastique!" beamed Jim. "I didn't know that I spoke Del Boy French until that task. Watching it back was hilarious. I do speak a little bit of French but when I say my little bit of French to somebody and they speak back in French that's where it all starts to get messy. I lined up as many appointments as Melody with my Franglish so something must have been working!"

The Apprentice was a doubled-edged lightsaber for Jim at times. In the Biscuit Task he landed the biggest order in the show's history along with the inaugural BBIW (Biggest Bullxxxxxx in the World) Award form Lord Sugar. How did that feel? "I'm always the optimistic, so when he gave me the BBIW it was when I had just sold £1.6 million worth of biscuits by overegging a pitch. But when there are no parameters you have to give it all you have got. I took that as a compliment strangely. Maybe some people would take it as an insult. But I felt as if he was moving towards what he eventually said, in that 'you're the greatest salesman in the world'. The BBIW was the unfortunate precursor."

Also caught in two minds about the candidate's competence was Nick Hewer, before he was won over by Jim's blarney-swallowing feats in the Reinvestment Task. "It was interesting to see that Nick at the start had a perception, probably rightfully so, of who he thought I was or wasn't," Jim mused. "I'm glad I changed his mind. He's very incisive and he doesn't get many things wrong. I was glad that he'd seen something in me. It meant a lot to me actually."

Nick's iconic eyebrows were raised to optimum levels during the earlier Magazine Task when PM Jim settled on that name. "We were clutching at straws," Jim stated. "We had so many good names we thought, and then at the very end with ten seconds to go – we picked a clanger. Zoe came up with 'Hip Replacement'. I sanctioned it as Project Manager. What I could have done is said to the rest of the team 'we're going to lose because of this'. But what I tried to do was get behind it and actually in two of the three pitches we got more advertising sales than the other team."

Finally, Jim summed up what he is taking away from The Apprentice (apart from a grudge against the defiant House Number 73 from the Rubbish Task): "A process like this gives you an insatiable appetite for entrepreneurship. I've worked for people and I do bits and pieces on my own and you just want to do more and more. You really realise your potential through this process."

Watch Jim chat about the Jedi phenomenon, his firing and his thoughts on Apprentice winner Tom:

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What are your highlights from Jim's time on the show? Would he have made a worthy winner?

 

 

The Apprentice Insider meets Susan

Ben Rawson-Jones, Blog Editor | 11:43 UK time, Friday, 22 July 2011

"I tend to have problems articulating myself sometimes so I come across as a bit of a fool," Apprentice runner-up Susan Ma told the Insider during their chat. That frank admission belies an impressive stint on the series, which showcased a business wisdom that defied her tender age. After firing her in The Final, Lord Sugar suggested that huge success lies ahead, although perhaps not in diplomatic relations with France…

The Apprentice Insider and candidate Susan Ma.

 

"That was a classic case of me talking to myself!" laughed Susan when the whole 'Are the French fond of their children?' topic was raised. "I really was not being serious with that question. It was just a matter of talking to myself and not articulating my ideas correctly and you gotta take things with a pinch of salt sometimes and not at face value - I do know that the French like their kids!"

Susan also clarified the circumstances surrounding another classic comedy moment: "Yeah, I was 'Snoozan' and 'Snoozy Susie' because I fell asleep on the Reinvestment Task. At that point I was by myself on the sub team, and I'd never been by myself before – there was always noise from another candidate. Sitting back in the car by myself, there was a lot of traffic, it was peaceful, no one talking to me, it was a warm day – and I just drifted off. I was absolutely exhausted going door-to-door carrying big duvets. It was a little power nap that kept me going for the rest of the day!"

"My performance over the series has been a lot of ups, a lot of downs," surmised the skincare expert, "but I do think that I have some good ideas and that was portrayed through various tasks where my ideas have been correct". Nick Hewer often highlighted her canny business nous, much to her delight: "It's fantastic to feel that someone is on your side and recognising that what you are doing that is positive. I have a lot of respect for Nick. He's very fair – he also brings out the negatives in what I do and I absolutely accept all his criticisms and, of course, his compliments."

As for The Final, Claude Littner and his interviewing techniques certainly left his mark on Susan. "He's a great guy, he's very charismatic and he has a way of looking at you and asking you the questions in a very demanding way," she recounted. "It just makes you shrivel up and sort of freeze on the spot. Even if you have a great answer you just can't think of it there and then."

Susan took the opportunity to state the The Apprentice winner Tom is a "lovely guy… and I'm sure his next venture with Lord Sugar will be a success". But what lies ahead for her? "The future is very bright for me at the moment. I have taken a lot from this process – a lot of criticisms, compliments and opinions on board. I've learnt that yeah, I am young and yeah, I can definitely run a business. I can definitely be entrepreneurial and I'm more creative than I ever thought. I think I can do a lot in the future – watch this space!"

Watch Susan discuss 'Bambigate', portraying a cow in the App Task and her ambitious business plan in our exclusive video chat:

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What do you think of Susan's achievements and mishaps during The Apprentice? Would she have made a worthy winner?

 

The Apprentice Insider meets Helen

Ben Rawson-Jones, Blog Editor | 14:34 UK time, Wednesday, 20 July 2011

"It's sort of the analogy of the swan – that you look graceful and calm on top but underneath the water you're fighting furiously to make sure that everybody things you're in control". Apprentice runner-up Helen Milligan was telling the Apprentice Insider about her record-breaking efforts on this year's series, in which she calmly swam her way to nine consecutive task victories. Yet the tide turned in The Final with a much criticised business plan…
 


"There's a possibility that if I'd have gone with the bakery idea from the start I might have had a better chance of winning," Helen admitted, referring to her last minute proposal. "My initial idea to do an executive assistant service for busy people in the mass market – I knew Lord Sugar wasn't keen on it when he said that he was disappointed with my business idea as soon as I came into the boardroom following the interviews. All I could do was state my second business plan but I think by then it was too late."
 
Gracious in defeat, Helen suggested why Lord Sugar ultimately plumped for her MyPy collaborator: "I think when it comes down to it Tom has a whole raft of ideas that he can draw on and that was his real key strength". She also spoke of her admiration for one well-known figure that she encountered in The Final – Margaret Mountford. "I think [she was] the toughest interviewer, because you've obviously watched previous series, you've seen what she's like, you want to impress her and you're a bit in awe when you walk in… and you want to do a really good job."
 
Helen's impressive string of wins came to a halt in the Reinvestment Task, which contained one of the series' most notable talking points. "It was obviously controversial when I tried to take over as Project Manager on the task from Melody," Helen clarified. "As a businessperson, you're naturally inclined to want to save something if it's going wrong. My strategy, however, was flawed. But I do like leading… and like I said, I wished I'd put myself forward to be Project Manager on that task from the start because it was all about organisation. [But] I don't know if it would have changed the result."
 
The bakery expert may have missed out on Lord Sugar's dough, but Helen emerged from the process with much acclaim and a newfound awareness of herself. "I've really learnt my own strengths and weaknesses," she said. "You really get to see how you perform under pressure and it's great to see how far you can push yourself and how hard you can actually work and how far you can really take the challenge and rise to it."
 
Watch more from our interview with Helen, including her feelings on the winning streak, whether she has seen Catsize's light yet – and a rubbish joke!

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Let us know your views on Helen's achievements on The Apprentice by clicking on the Comments button above.

The Apprentice Insider meets Tom

Ben Rawson-Jones, Blog Editor | 13:25 UK time, Tuesday, 19 July 2011

"I'm a big believer that the devil is in the detail," explained Tom Pellereau during his encounter with the Apprentice Insider. The energetic inventor's ability to scrutinise the small print, while still looking at the bigger picture, saw him emerge from behind his notorious notepad to claim victory in The Final.


In the latter stages of the series, Tom was very much the (nodding) underdog given his string of task losses. So how did he keep his morale up? "I found myself on the losing team quite regularly, but also I knew deep down that what I had to say would have saved us," he answered. "I was pretty confident that it wasn't because of me that we'd lost and that I didn't deserve to be in the final three."

"It was very, very tough losing but what was good about being on the losing team is I got a huge amount of time to talk with Lord Sugar," explained the Emercrunchy creator. "So very early on I was able to show him what I was made of. That interaction was very powerful for me and helped in comparison to Helen, who Lord Sugar had actually never spoken to really, until right at the very end. By that stage I was used to being in the boardroom and I knew how to fight my corner and the kind of language that Lord Sugar liked to hear."

One thing that his new business partner might not like to hear in future meetings is the suggestion of what Tom described as the 'Paper Scissors Stone decision methodology'. "I'm not sure I'd use that in business again," he admitted, referring to the infamous incident to determine whether Natasha or he delivered a key pitch in the Paris task. "I'm a big believer in fairness and in this process there were certain times where, even as the leader, I felt it had to be fair – because whoever gave that pitch got those sales. So with Natasha, I felt I couldn't just say "I'll do it'. So we played a fair game."

Speaking of fair game, that's exactly what the remaining four candidates were for the interviewers in the Apprentice Final. "For me personally, Claude (Littner) was by far the toughest interviewer," Tom revealed. "It was my first interview. When I went in there, rather than standing up and shaking hands, he just sat there and then his first question was absolutely brutal. I was sort of like 'wow, okay, this is how it's going to be is it?"

As humble as ever, Tom wished to express his gratitude for the gratefulness for the backing he received on social networking sites: "I'd really like to thank all the supporters I've had during this process. The 'Poor Tom' supporters, #TeamTom – and all the massively kind words I've had… thank you so much to everyone! It has been grueling watching certain things but hilarious seeing people to talk about MyPy or 'I need an Emergency Biscuit'!"

Watch Tom speak about runner-up Helen, his string of nicknames and his reaction to hearing the good news in our exclusive interview video:

 

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What did you make of Tom's victory and what are your highlights from his time on The Apprentice? Click on the Comments button to share your thoughts.

 

Tom toasts his success by trying to de-pixelate the Insider!

 

The Final: Stuart delivers his verdict...

Stuart Baggs | 13:00 UK time, Tuesday, 19 July 2011

They always say you don't know what you've got until its gone and that couldn't be truer than with The Apprentice. After 12 episodes, 14 firings, countless cock-ups and more one liners than a traffic light party, this series has finally come to an end.

The changes to this  year's Apprentice are perhaps most evident in Lord Sugar's choice of winner. Tom, an underdog throughout, pipped the perfect Helen to the prize of a £250,000 investment. Helen was seemingly a victim of her own success. After all, how many other doors in life are closed purely for someone being  too  perfect?

This is the perfect moment to look back at my personal highlights of  the seventh series of  The Apprenice, as well my favourite characters for the right and (more often) wrong reasons. Who could forget Edna's  exotic glove display? Expect to see a "Where are they now" article appear later this year saying she is now a professional hand model for her own range of gloves.

Then we have Susan who nearly created a national incident with the French, questioning their love for children and ability to drive. Let's hope she isn't planing on expanding her cosmetics empire into France anytime soon.

Jim should have known better than to bring pony analogies into the boardroom. It didn't work for me, and it certainly didn't work for him.

Then  there's Melody's "Selective Interpretation Skills" that will one day  threaten to spark World War  Three at the UN.

On a serious note, well done to all 16 candidates. I know all too well that it's certainly not easy putting yourself on display for the public to judge. My advice; use any criticism received to further motivate you to succeed.

Thank's for reading my posts, without you there'd be no blog!  Talking of which, the end of this series also marks my retirement from public life. I'm off to focus on my charity work, working with native insects on the Asian subcontinent.

Thank's for all your support over the past year, you've been amazing.

Lovingly Yours

Stuart Baggs
Debranded

The Final: Emergency Chairs and One Trick Ponies...

Ben Rawson-Jones, Blog Editor | 21:59 UK time, Sunday, 17 July 2011

It's time to erase the Nodding Hindsight Man and Mr Notepad-Calculator from your memories, as Tom has a more suitable moniker to adopt – Apprentice Winner 2011! In the throes of a gruelling interview process and tense boardroom, the inventor soared like one of his mooted flying pies to claim victory ahead of Helen. 

Tom celebrates his victory on The Apprentice.

 

Lord Sugar stated that Tom's product to reduce back pain needed many tweaks. Only time will tell if this will culminate in the advent of an Emergency Chairscuit – a self-assembly reclining device that is also edible. Key business decisions are unlikely to be decided by Paper Scissors Stone though. As Tom demonstrated in The Final, his sheer affability, passion and creative spark will bring a great deal to the table.

Damn! Runner-up Helen's punchline to the fishy joke she told interviewer Matthew Riley was a portent for what she must have felt when the result was announced. Despite her record-breaking string of nine task victories and a brave move to deploy a second business pitch, her initial Reminder Service idea went down as well as Gavin's quest to find a Top Hat in a dry cleaners.

Skincare Susan's mistake with the word "turnover" gave Claude Littner enough scent to movie in for the kill. Surely everyone knows that a turnover is one of the pastries that Helen could have been selling in her proposed bakery? Susan later boardroom admission of "I understand that I didn't understand" failed to prevent her being fired, but her remarkable achievements in setting up her own business at such a young age were heralded.

The welcome return of Margaret Mountford caused one "champion thoroughbred" to fall at the last fence. She did exactly what it said on the tin… if that tin happened to say: "I will scythe through Jedi Jim's clichés like a hot lightsaber through butter". An unfortunate equine analogy harked back to Herr Baggs' proclamations last series, but Jim proved he was not a one trick pony. His AMSmart idea may have been rebranded AMStupid given the business context, but the altruistic idea showcased a compassionate side that was previously hidden beneath his ruthless boardroom demeanour.

So, with a cry of "YES!" that was loud enough to wake up 'Snoozan' in her nearby cab, Tom left the building as Lord Sugar's new business partner. A bright future lies ahead for the pair and one wonders what wacky inventions lie ahead…

Let us know your thoughts on Tom's victory, Helen's bold boardroom move and The Final in general by clicking on the Comments button above…

 

The Apprentice Insider meets Natasha, yeah...

Ben Rawson-Jones, Blog Editor | 03:03 UK time, Friday, 15 July 2011

An energetic presence on The Apprentice until an encounter with Mexican food saw her binned, Natasha caught up with the sombrero wearing Apprentice Insider for a chat about her time on the show. Load-blowing, the word 'yeah' and Paper Scissors Stone were all on the menu, next to extra cold nachos, but we grilled the fired candidate on the task failure first…

Natasha, The Apprentice Insider and a sombrero...

 

"We were trying to produce food that would be good for a restaurant, not a fast food outlet," explained Natasha. "So the fajitas and the soup was all rushed and it wasn't very hot". Wasn't she worried when Lord Sugar turned up to dine at Caracas? "It was a weird situation as I'd only been face to face with him in the boardroom. I took his order and took the opportunity to upsell nachos to him. Which I think he quite liked actually". But were they cold? "Hopefully they weren't!" she laughed.

"If I was the Project Manager on the food task I would definitely have grabbed it," continued the lady with the fateful degree in Hospitality. "I would definitely have applied my knowledge. We needed to have a strategy on profit margins and also the customer service flow – we had none of that". It also didn't help that Lord sugar later compared their produce to what his son's dog had once regurgitated! 

Moving swiftly on from spewing to blowing… and that immortal question frequently posed during Natasha's stint as editor of 'Covered' on the Magazine task. "The phrase "How do you blow your load?" was put forward by Leon, which I rubber-stamped," the fitness fanatic revealed. "With regards to the lads' magazine, I actually thought it was quite fitting. It meant 'how do you spend your cash?' So it had a bit of a shock factor, but I think that made the magazine stand out from the crowd."

It's fair to say that Natasha and Susan weren't always singing from the same hymn sheet – or even in the same choir judging by the growing friction on the tasks. Natasha put the record straight on the skincare expert: "I actually have a really positive view on Susan. At the age of 21 she has achieved an enormous lot and as an individual I actually like her. In terms of what she brings to The Apprentice, I do think that she's at the forefront of good ideas, she's a driver and has fantastic sales ability."

Now folks – prepare yourself for a bombshell. "In the Paris task when Tom deployed the Paper Scissors Stone method… it was actually my idea!" giggled Natasha. "So I have to take responsibility for that. It was just a lighthearted way of making a decision, but in retrospect it was quite a significant decision to be made. It was a way of making things a bit more enjoyable for us… [but] it probably wasn't the right way to do things."

Finally, what was the biggest lesson Natasha learnt during her time on The Apprentice? "There were a number of lessons," she replied. "The one that stands out most in my mind is not to say 'yeah' all the time! In terms of me as a businessperson, I think that I've learnt that it's okay to be softer. So I don’t have to be so direct, don't have to be so forceful. I also have the ability to have a creative mind and implement things in that context as well." 

Watch Natasha discuss being fined by Lord Sugar, late nights in the Apprentice house and more on her use of the word 'yeah' in our interview video:

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What did you think about Natasha's efforts on The Apprentice? Could she persuade you to buy extra nachos like she did with Lord Sugar?


Episode 11: Don't Tell Me The Py's The Limit!

Ben Rawson-Jones, Blog Editor | 12:48 UK time, Thursday, 14 July 2011

The educational powers of The Apprentice came to the fore during the Fast Food task. "Columbus is British... and Caracas is Mexican? - lack of common geography and history knowledge," blasted Rosie Bortoluzzi on the Facebook fan page. It could have been worse. At least Tom didn't think a British detective called Columbo discovered America…

Natasha, Susan and Jim in the restaurant


Mr Notepad Calculator and Helen's culinary concept was described as "either utter madness or complete genius" by the former, but it captured many an appetite. "Pure madness, but it worked", felt Ruth Saele. "I would definitely buy a MyPy... and probably a Columbus one just for the pure irony," tweeted MerriamUK, with former candidate Liz_Locke adding: "Love MYPY, great brand and flawless process throughout". What would the reaction have been if Tom had added an Emergency Pie to the menu? Or even a Piesquit – Half Biscuit, Half Pie, All Gravy Encrusted?

The Twittersphere was full of suggestions for the proposed franchise. "I don't know about Byron ...what about Pyron??" pondered MrPeterStott. "MyPy slogan should've been "I spy with my little pie something 100% British" suggested susannaclark7. A rival franchise was even mooted by Nathan_Jones_: "My Pi… where everything costs £3.14."

Decimal places were the bane of Macho Nacho PM Jim over on the beleaguered rival team and their Mexican food outlet. "I hope Jim becomes my bank manager. I'd be loaded!" laughed Tezarozaboza. "No business plan - no costings - what a fiasco," slammed Anne-Marie Marshall. After the previous task in which Nick Hewer confessed his fondness for the "Irish bulldozer of charm", do you think his stock has taken an irreversible tumble? Richard David Evan Thomas thought so, saying he'd "had enough of his chilli con blarney!"

It was a case of "chilli con carnage" in the boardroom according to sarahsadsocks, as Jim, Natasha and Susan downed their sombreros to desperately fight for survival. "It never bodes well when the candidates have an 'expert' in the team!" surmised emsy_louise, referring to Natasha's four years studying Hospitality at university. That proved to be the candidate's downfall, with sambha25 offering a "great big mexican wave bye bye, natasha!" and Pat Joyce adding "she seemed to have no interest in the task & even withheld a valuable skillset."

On the positive side, at least Natasha persuaded Lord Sugar to order those extra nachos. That accolade surely deserves a place in her CV… just above that fateful BA Hons in Hospitality. I'll leave you with a razor sharp comment from LauzTheGeek to round off the penultimate Debrief of the series…

"Anyone order a final 4?". No Jim, we're still waiting for our fajitas…"


How tasty did you find the Fast Food task? Which restaurant would you have visited and who would you have fired? Click on the Comments button above to have your say.

 

Episode 11: Fast Food teasers

Ben Rawson-Jones, Blog Editor | 17:20 UK time, Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Final Five have to tackle fast food in Lord Sugar's appetising task. With a place in the final at stake, the candidates had better not leave the customers waiting too long for their order. If you can barely wait to see the episode, here are some tasty teasers to feast your eyes upon...

 

"House Number 73! Would you like some nachos?"

Tom has a go at doing 'the sprinkler' for inspiration...

Do you think Natasha and Susan can order from the same menu?

Good job this isn't the fashion task...

What could Karren be watching?

Tom and Helen deliver a presentation

Tom's hands look lost without a Notepad and Calculator in them...

 

Your Apprentice highlights so far...

Ben Rawson-Jones, Blog Editor | 22:00 UK time, Monday, 11 July 2011

After plenty of perilous tasks, just five candidates are still in the running to be Lord Sugar's new business partner. As The Apprentice is now in its final week, we asked followers of @bbcapprentice and the Facebook fan page to share their highlights from the series so far…

 

It was a fruity beginning for the candidates in which size didn't matter...

ginger_ninja24: "Not only am I the youngest, but I'm also the shortest". Wisdom didn't save you Edward!

Neilboo: "Are these oranges?

... but an app-alling pun from Vincent, Melody's miaow and Edna's handwear definitely left their mark...

Alex Brown: I think I might have an APPle

Hollybottface: Edna's gloves were the highlight of the series so far

Lesley Fellows: Melody (fingers to temples) : 'I'm focusing for the purposes of this task.......Miaow'.

Just what is a cloche? Some candidates were baffled, while others were totally in control... 

Andrea Mcparlin: Melody and Gavin debating that a cloche was a greenhouse!

Josh Tuddenham: Jim when he managed to convince the PM not to bring him back in the boardroom and then when the others started he said that the PM had made his choice and they should deal with it

Beauty treatments proved a tough obstacle for Leon to overcome... but his pinkie perked him up!

TallForAGirl: Leon's abject horror at the prospect of having to spray tan another man!

damiees: Leon's little finger pulling trick

The Freemium Magazine task threw up some questionable title suggestions for the publication...

OmegaResourceGp: Our jaws dropped when Team Venture went with the name 'Hip Replacement' during the magazine task 

Daniel Stone: Coffin Dodgers!

... while Jim's efforts to clean up in the Rubbish task were ignored by a certain household...

Naz L'Algerie: Jim: Hello house number 73? House number 73? Hello? Helloooooooooo?

Nobody was being ignored when a firing drew close...

Edward Plowman: Zoe giving Susan THAT look in the boardroom

'Ello? 'Ello? Je parle a little Franglais monsieur. The delights of the Paris task had many in stitches...

Chris Shipley: For me, Helen nailing the pitch in Paris was a pleasure to behold

Rahul Miah: Tom made me laugh with the rock scissors paper game

Rachelb105: 'Do the French love their children?' 'Do the French drive?'

Ann Sherwin: When Nick said pinning something on Jim is like nailing jelly to the wall!

The candidates' forays into the worlds of biscuits and reinvestment resulted in plenty of amusing memories...

Shane Keogh: Emergency biscuit

Ryan Mills: When they were doing the role play on the biscuit task. Cheeeesy!

Nayha Aeon Jelani: When Lord Sugar told Jim that he should get the BBIW award

Maybe if 'Snoozan' had a few Popsquits to nibble on she wouldn't have fallen asleep mid task...

myrr3n: Susan having a wee kip 

David Wilkinson: Jim selling umbrellas, speaking french - 'tres... sophisticated'

Tom's willingness to please didn't impress Lord Sugar...

Nims Bhatt: ‎"If you nod your head anymore I'm going to put you on the backseat of my bloody car" - Lord Sugar (This was funny!)

... and nor did Helen and Melody's attempts to sell to a certain retailer!

17Sep1944: So will you take this off our hands for £25 a unit Mr Pound store owner?!


What other moments not mentioned above are your highlights from this series of The Apprentice? Click on the Comments button to let us know!

 

The Apprentice Insider meets Melody

Ben Rawson-Jones, Blog Editor | 16:24 UK time, Friday, 8 July 2011

"Don't tell me the sky's the limit if there are footprints on the moon". Those words heralded the arrival of Melody on The Apprentice - and for a long while her star was in the ascendancy. Alas, a fateful trip to a pound shop and several nodding dogs proved to be her downfall as Lord Sugar fired the candidate "with regret" at the end of the Flip It task. The Apprentice Insider caught up with Melody to retrace those footprints…

Melody and The Apprentice Insider

 

"I love that quote," she declared. "It speaks to me. I think that's what quotes are there to do – inspire you. And it inspires me. We all thought that you couldn't walk on the moon – but that person did. It's that message that anything is impossible and don't allow yourself to be bound by the everyday limits that we place on ourselves". Melody was also impressed by the Apprentice Insider's quest to upgrade the quote, particularly Catherine Lawler's: "Don't tell me Infinity's the limit when Buzz Lightyear went beyond."

A limit was placed on the number of a certain canine toy in Melody's doomed second stint as Project Manager. "I think what went wrong with the task was that we perhaps didn't reinvest in what was selling  - for example, the nodding dogs. I just don't ever want to see another nodding dog in my life again! If I could just go back, and I wish I could, I would have from the very beginning not gone after retailers - that was a waste of time - and instead gone and sold to the public where the margins are."

By contrast, Melody's first outing as PM was a resounding success. But wasn't it a huge gamble to stand as team leader in the opening task? "You know when you have a conversation in your mind? I was thinking 'Melody, what are you doing? This is like the greatest risk in the competition'. I don't know what came over me. I suppose I always jump into things and I don't like to become complacent and go into the background. So I did it and won, but honestly that's the scariest thing I've ever done."

The tense boardroom environment was another test of the nerves, and not helped by Lord Sugar's uncertainty over Melody's vocation. "I'm a social entrepreneur," she explained. "You take a good cause for the community and you couple it with a robust business model."

One skill that might not be top of Melody's CV is her stunning feline impersonation. Just where did that "Meeeoooouuuu" come from in the App Task? "Meeeoooouuu! Haha, when I did it I was like 'oh my goodness, I'm about to miaow on national television'. It's just incredible, but you do what you gotta do to win the task and it's good fun. Sometimes you've just gotta laugh at yourself". The team's PM certainly caused much mirth with her Earl's Court pitch in those gloves. "Edna is a strong speaker," purred Melody. "You can't deny her that. The only thing is that the style of delivery was mismatched to the audience."

 

The Biscuit Task unleashed a new word into the global domain. Popsquit. "That name was Tom's," revealed Melody about her creation. "I would never call anything Popsquit! Popsquit? What is that?" Well, a lot of the show's fans felt it sounded like some kind of stomach ailment. Melody, who clarified that the Swansea focus group only observed an uncooked prototype, feels that the product could go far – with a new name of course! "I'm still waiting for an email from someone in the biscuit industry to tell me that they want to pick it up!"

Time will tell if Melody's inbox is flooded by offers, but one thing she can take away from her experience on The Apprentice is what can be achieved in just one day: "In the space of a few hours you can come up with concepts, you can create branding, you can create pitches, you can close sales. It's just incredible. That's definitely a message that I'll be taking to the young people I work with and train."

All together now - meeeeeeoooooouuuuuu!

Watch more from our interview with Melody:

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What were your highlights of Melody's time on The Apprentice? Would you buy a rebranded Popsquit? Let us know by clicking on the Comments button above...

Episode 10 Debrief: Nodding Dogs and Nodding Off...

Ben Rawson-Jones, Blog Editor | 01:50 UK time, Thursday, 7 July 2011

In the words of Nick Hewer - woof woof! The Flip It task had followers of @bbcapprentice and the show's Facebook fan page barking mad at some of the decisions that were made and howling with laughter on many occasions. At the end though, the identity of The Final Five was known after losing Project Manager Melody was fired.

 

 

 

"Goodbye Melody" trended worldwide on Twitter, although you’d be wrong for thinking it was all a sweet farewell to the candidate fired "with regret" by Lord Sugar. "Melody had to go, she had become little more than a walking Self Help Manual," stated Peter_Boland. "25 watches in a pound shop… taxi for Melody" reasoned Jeff Franklin. "Nodding faster than the #noddingdogs with @Lord_Sugar's decision," said WinSanPang.

Melody also had her passionate supporters. BrownSpeaks cried: "Noooo! I was rooting for Melody! She's one of those fighters who will go far and get what they want", while Eleanor Segall wrote that she was "sad that melody left, i think she's a very bright woman who has a lot of potential!" LauraWest2 slammed that it was "a shocking decision to fire melody, what has tom done for the past 3 weeks? Nothing!"

Well, Tom has managed to sell three toy bulldogs and pick up a new nickname from Lord Sugar – The Nodding Hindsight Man. "Tom getting out-haggled by a 5 year old? His technique seems a little 'ruff' #apprenticedogpun" observed quizlacey. "Where can I buy a Nodding Tom?" wondered paulwoolfson.

"Helen has lost her 1st task on this year's @bbcapprentice. She is human afterall!" tweeted a stunned davidsimpson88. A huge talking point was the candidate's attempt to take over as PM from Melody earlier in the task. "You have to admire her ambition," wrote Kirstin Bailey. "She should have ripped the reins out of Melody's hands, as she has not got a clue…" stated Benson Richard Hunter. In response, davetaylorsharp felt "Melody handled that very well. Her training from the Dali Lama came in handy there!"

One candidate's untimely kip in the back of a cab led joehedges87 to suggest: "So should Susan be called Snoozan now?" The roars of acclaim that greeted Lord Sugar's decision to cancel the winning team's treat would have been enough to wake her up. "Fantastic move! They didn't deserve it! Highlight of the series so far" exclaimed mc_siobhan. "Classic! You tell em Lord Sugar! :D" squealed Jacey Jay in delight. Lord_Sugar himself clarified: "I am still angry they could have really cleaned up if they re invested. So no treat."

As far as Jim's online fortunes go, he did indeed swallow that blarney stone,as it wasn't just Nick Hewer who reassessed his charms. "Didn't like him at first but love his cheekiness now!!" purred jessgrabba. "Jim should have gone on treat; on his own!" exclaimed Emma Velma Gould. Former candidate KateWalsh5 also tweeted her admiration: "Loving Jim's work this week on @bbcapprentice v impressive salesman."

We'll leave you with the words of 93rdminute, who mused: "There is some bloke out there with 1000 nodding dogs in his shed screaming at the tv."

 

Episode 10: Stuart gives his verdict

Stuart Baggs | 21:57 UK time, Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The 10th week of The Apprentice is a fence at which no candidate wants to fall. Having been through the process, I can tell you weeks 9 and 10 are perhaps the toughest of them all. You've come so far down the line that leaving without even the basic accolade of reaching the "final 5" would be a real kick in the teeth. More to the point, the atmosphere in the house changes. Those you considered friends become real competition, and everyone suddenly focuses on the prize.

This friction was self evident in tonight's episode, with tensions, tantrums and tears from the off. It was also an episode that delivered a hitherto unheard sound effect from Nick, quite literally barking the words "woof woof".

In the boardroom, #duvetgate ultimately cost Melody her place in the process. Perhaps Lord Sugar should consider his choice of firings before removing a key piece of eye candy in the future.

Hot off the heals of last week's Emergency Biscuit was this week's Emergency Mobile Phone Charger. The only emergency as it transpires was a lack of stock, and a cancelled treat for the winners. Maybe Lord Sugar decided to treat Nick and Karren instead?

Now the final 5 have secured their place, next week's task will sort the men from the boys. Whilst the candidates are probably expecting a round of interviews, they'll actually be running a fast food business. I can see next week's trending Twitter topics already. #hotdoghelen # susiessausage and #tomstomatoes.

Thank's for your comments especially gtdp & KevinRedfern. Like I say, I read everyone and whilst I respect your opinion, when I come to power, you'll be the first forcefully imprisoned.

Until Next Week

Brand Love

 

Episode 10: Flip It task teasers

Ben Rawson-Jones, Blog Editor | 12:59 UK time, Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Reinvestment is the name of the game in Lord Sugar's intriguing latest task, which features many nodding dogs and the return of Jim's infamous Franglais! Have a look at some teaser pics from tonight's episode to whet your appetite...

Lord Sugar's shadow

An ominous shadow looms large. Who could it possibly be?

Lord Sugar instructs the candidates

Lord Sugar does some early finger pointing. Even more ominous!

Jim, Susan and Natasha have a discussion.

Is Jim trying to deploy Tom's Scissors Paper Stone business strategy?

Natasha clutches her dog toy during a phone conversation.

"I have a bulldog growing out of my forearm, yeah..."

Helen has a dance.

Has Helen mistaken this for a Riverdance task?

Tom, Helen and Melody discuss the task strategy.

Tom has his eyes on Melody's notepad...

The Apprentice Insider meets Zoe

Ben Rawson-Jones, Blog Editor | 15:20 UK time, Friday, 1 July 2011

A biscuit based boardroom battle concluded with the firing of Project Manager Zoe, with Lord Sugar feeling that she should have strategised better given her past experience in the food and drink industry. The Apprentice Insider caught up with the latest fired candidate for a natter about the good, the bad and the emercrunchy…

 

Apprentice candidate Zoe and the Apprentice Insider

 

"Of course I can bear to eat a biscuit again - I love biscuits!" exclaimed Zoe when asked if her Apprentice demise has turned her against a certain crumbly food product. She doesn't even have a bad word to say about Tom's dubious emergency biscuit idea: "He thinks outside the box. I don't think his Emercrunchy idea was too bad – you've got to throw everything at it really. So I was kind of appreciative for all the help."

Zoe, who admitted she was "gutted" by her firing, wasn't so complimentary about the roleplay strategy that formed the basis for Team Logic's Bix Mix pitches: "At the time I knew the role-play was completely wrong. I've never done anything like it before and I'll never do anything like it after. But Melody persuaded us to go with it and I couldn't believe what I was watching. It was my downfall I guess."

"Since I've been fired I've been going over every element of the process in my mind, being my own biggest critic," continued the Cheshire based businesswoman. "There were a number of areas I could have improved on… I should have stuck to my guns more in the Biscuit Task and I wouldn't have been here if I had have done."

A broad smile erupted on Zoe's face when she learnt that her rather morbid suggestions for magazine titles in the Freemium Task had taken Twitter by storm: "I think it's fabulous to think that both my names Coffin Dodger and Hip Replacement were trending – but I must emphasise that both names I came up with as literally a last ditch attempt. There wasn't a lot of seriousness within those names. It was a joke."

How stunned was Zoe when her joke was taken seriously and turned into an actual magazine? "I was incredibly shocked when Jim picked up on Hip Replacement. However, within these tasks there is such an enormous amount of pressure. Time was getting short, ideas were getting scarce and we were clutching at straws."

The mention of straw clutching provides a seamless transition to another amusing talking point – the Elephant Dog from the App Task! "My take on the elephant with the dog bark was that it was a miscommunication," explained Zoe. "We thought we were going to get an elephant noise when they went to the studio. We'd done all the graphics for that and then we later found out that they had to do a dog bark but all the graphics were done. We had to run with it but that's the nature of the tasks."

Finally, Zoe gave us an insight into the wacky antics that can happen behind the scenes in the Apprentice house once the suits are put away: "The funniest moment I experienced in the whole process was on one Saturday night when me and Helen turned the lounge into a nightclub to celebrate her 30th birthday. We got everyone in and it was a fantastic time… and then Helen realised she got her birthday wrong! It was actually a different day!"

For more from our chat with Zoe watch the video interview:

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Do you think Zoe should have been fired by Lord Sugar? What are your highlights of her time on the show?

 

Episode 9: Stuart gives his verdict

Stuart Baggs | 12:57 UK time, Friday, 1 July 2011

I've never been very good at sports, which is perhaps why I didn't win last years show. You see The Apprentice is a marathon event, and those that sprint towards the finish line like Vincent and Gavin et al burn themselves out long before the end. The key to winning The Apprentice it seems is consistency, stamina and ultimately common sense. The path to the final, littered with the shattered dreams of your oposition.

By week 9 the candidates will be feeling extremely tired, fatigued and missing their loved ones from home. It's a toxic combination that really does sort the BixMix from the HobNobs. More to the point, the longer you stay in the process, the harder being fired becomes.

Talking of biscuits,  "Jammie Dodger" Jim's had more lives than a recycled carrier bag. Perhaps he will manage to perform his mind tricks on Lord Sugar, or more likely make a swift exit courtesy of our friendly black cab driver. 

On the subject of consistency, Helen seems to have the perfect recipe. Take 1 cup of common sense, 1 cup of maturity and mix liberally with 1 cup of Lord Sugar. I'm giving her this weeks Stuart Baggs The Brand's Award For Excellence.

Melody wins no awards for people skills (abrading people like a sand blaster), but she is probably the most attractive candidate of all time (alongside yours truly). If Lord Sugar is running a beauty contest, he should have stopped week 1.

It's easy to critise candidates from infront of the TV screen, however it takes guts, determination and maybe just a hint of delusion to ever make it on The Apprentice in the first place.

Thanks for all your comments, please do keep them coming. I read every single one, even those insulting me.

Until next week,

Lovingly Your's

The Brand

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