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Zettel Film Reviews » The Apprentice – The Final: Pterodactyl heard squawking over London

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The Apprentice – The Final: Pterodactyl heard squawking over London

Little and Large - insight and ego - take your pick

Little and Large - insight and ego - take your pick

The Apprentice – The Final

Many hard men are sentimental. Even Hitler doted on dogs and Stalin sobbed in movie musicals. So it is hard not to see Sralan’s decision to pick Lee over Claire as his apprentice as an emotional decision based upon the fact that everyone, Sralan, Adrian Chiles and the other apprentice candidates, kept saying they knew “Claire would be alright.” So twelve weeks of bruising intimidatory, macho, so-called hard-nosed business aggression and ruthlessness whimpered to a close in a way that belied all the hype and sound and fury. Talk loud and carry a weeny little stick. ‘Big’ yourself up – like a peacock drawing blood pecking furiously at his own reflection in a car hubcap – bloody and stupid. Bloody stupid.

If rough diamond and undeniably likeable, suddenly stubbleless after winning – Sralan’s made a start – Lee hadn’t had Claire’s quiet, (!) generous encouragement and preservation of her own confidence when he was about to implode before the presentation – he would have lost. The boy done good but clearly somehow, probably Claire’s insistence, his contribution was kept to a minimum – short and sweet. This was a good decision, horses for courses after all, but I doubt very much it was Lee’s. Though his “I want to look like a man, walk like a man, smell like a man” had a certain Chavspeare cadence to it I thought.

Two other factors I suspect went into the decision: first I don’t think the old Sugar Lump likes intelligent dissent, especially from a woman. His reference to Claire’s ‘mouthiness’ and inability to shut the f**k up that he claimed affected his decision hasn’t been fair or true for at least four weeks now. He’s almost taunted her into responding but she’s kept her cool, just as she did while Lee was going into meltdown. It wasn’t her mouth that put him off it was her competence, confidence in herself and what she knew, plus the character to take him on. Don’t think that’s Sralan’s kind of woman.

Last week Karren Brady said that if Sralan didn’t want Claire, then she’d have her. It is hard not be irritated by Claire’s manner some of the time and by her voice most of the time, but she was far and away the best candidate and clearly should have won. That said Lee is a good motivator and a successfully brash salesman in a jack-the-lad Portobello Road kind of way. Sralan indicated that Lee’s first task will be to help him put advertising TV screens into Stanstead airport. Still my racing heart. I am sure we shall all wait with culturally and aesthetically bated breath for that blessing upon our poor humdrum lives. Maybe a braying Pterodactyl would make a good logo.

The nation breathed a sigh of relief at least that Horrid Helene finally got the boot. In the company of experts she certainly won what my Director of Industrial Marketing (DIM for short – not inappropriately) used to call the ”moaning” git award. She has invented a new grammatical form, the internally oxymoronic sentence: first half says self-deprecatingly that she accepts responsibility then the second half segues with an elegant gracelessness into blaming everyone else. The occupational hazard of always selling is that one’s perception of the truth evaporates in a cloud self deception. A bitchy little battle with Lucinda in the audience in the follow-up showed there was not much forgiving and forgetting in the air. Isn’t it wonderful how teamwork bonds people together so heart-warmingly?

Lovely Alex “I’m-only-24” Witherspoon with the electrocuted pussy hair (now then you lot at the back– I’m talking cats), drew the short straw to get ho-hum Helene as partner for the last task. Both managed to fail to come up with either an agreed name, or a distinctive pong for their men’s fraaagrance. Well they only had a day and they honeymooned in the morning only to divorce by lunchtime. The only innovative idea came from the packaging designer who suggested a small detachable bottle attached to the mothership bottle for putting in the guy’s handbag, kitbag, washbag, bumbag while out on the pull. It was excruciating but delirious fun watching Alex wriggle like a little maggot on a big fish hook trying to imply he’d had anything to do with the one good idea in the team without lying in the teeth of that fetching ‘I’m-only-24’ smile. Maybe he thought the designer was Lucinda so claiming the idea as his own was automatic. The fact that having been virtually given the game, neither of these ‘young tycoons’ as the opening credits tell us every week, asked how much it would cost to make this cross between a lopsided space shuttle and what Victoria Wood later said looked like a sanitary towel bucket from the ladies’ lav. Now there’s fragrance for you. Prince Charles would buy up all the stock and give it the Royal warrant. They could have called the fragrance ‘eau-de-Camilla’ and the product ‘bicycle saddle’. That’s what I call imagination.

In the Alpha team the Pterodactyl with the male Peacock voice beat his own personal best of suggesting they call their tissues ‘SNOT’. His all-male fraaagrance was to be called Psssst. I think he chickened out here – why not ‘P*ssed’ in a penis-shaped bottle or even a little narrative poetry like ’ere luv you up for it?’ But Roulette won the day and was better than the response it got. The dynamic duo got a bit mauled by a bunch of ‘experts’ who felt it incumbent on them to display their analytical rigour with loads-a-tosh remarks about “condoning gambling”. You’d think their own last product had been called ‘Indigent’ with all profits going to the homeless. Not having smelly-vision (though in a sense, come to think of it) I can’t comment about the fraaagrance but any industry having historically contrived the oral magnificence of Brut(e) and Old Spice is in no position to get pissy. Both videos were predictable but ok as you’d expect with pros to help. I’ve seen 8 – 11 year-olds give better presentations so it’s par for the course that Sralan thought they were OK. To be fair Claire was quick on her feet with sensible answers to stupid questions.

It seems both fraaagrances were targeted on something called post ‘metro-wise man’. The concept in Lee’s head appeared to be something like a relieved male migration from eau-de-nil Calvin Klein jockeys smelling of sandalwood towards a Bond-black thong offering the seductive whiff of jock-strap pheromones. Claire and Lee got on ok and worked well together thanks largely to Claire’s increasingly perceptive and low-key way of managing men – the poor wee dears. If Karen Brady does give her a job as she threatened, those two would be a force to reckon with. They’d eat old Sugar Lump for breakfast – so to speak.

I suppose we should be grateful for the small mercy that at least none of the congenital back-stabbing sh*ts got to the final two. It was amazing how much fuss was made about Lee’s ‘enhanced’ academic profile on his CV, when mean-spirited, self-serving, tattle-telling sneak’s lies were a regular element of boardroom survival strategy. I cherish Sugar Lump’s ethical disapproval of such behaviour: it upset him because he “didn’t like someone doing his job in the boardroom.” We must regard it as moot whether he was referring here to the lying or the detecting.

Zettel Lessons derived from The Apprentice

· Make it make sense for people to lie in their teeth – and they won’t let you down
· Bully and intimidate people in a climate of fear and they will think badly and act stupidly.
· Let people lie, sneak, brag, and cheat – and they’ll keep on doing it.
· Never follow the wise advice of Karan Bilimoria creator of the Cobra beer brand. Of leadership: if it succeeds, give the credit to the team; if it fails, take the responsibility yourself.
· Schadenfreude can be fun – especially if the victims deserve it.
· Genuinely kosher chicken is hard to find, especially if you are only half Jewish and think an Arab stallholder can do the blessing. It seems circumcision could help. No NOT the bloody chicken.
· If Sralan Sugar doesn’t like you or fires you – you must be doing something right.
· Don’t be ‘zany’ intelligent, different, strong and independent if you want a job with SAS.
· Look for a bundle of no longer required, remaindered pink, red, blue berets on e.bay
· Stay away from Stanstead Airport in the next 12 months.
· If you are a masochist, misogynist big ‘ead with an IQ in single figures – apply for the next series of The Apprentice.

Now what the hell am I going to do on Wednesdays? Thanks all – it’s been fun. I regret I must decline the invitation to have a go at Big Brother. It would be shooting-fish-in-a-barrel stuff – a bit like taking the p*ss out of G W Bush Esq. (Saw great T-shirt. Legend: “There’s a village in Texas is missing its idiot.” Just so.

(June 2008)

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