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Apprentice Week 2 – Basil drizzling and James-dribbling

The Archies - Sugar Sugar

The Archies - Sugar Sugar

The Apprentice week 2 – Basil-drizzling and James-dribbling

It’s Barbara Windsor’s fault. On Wossy’s show she said she’d been freaked out when she went round to dinner at Sralan’s place – which really has to be called ‘Sugarland’ – because he was a dead ringer, well ringer, for her late Carry On carrier-on, Sid James. That now haunts me like the “don’t think of a pink elephant” psychological game. Sralan/Sid, Sid/Sralan: no one’s ever seen them at the same time. At least poor old Sid only died once: his doppleganger’s now doing it weakly.

I can see it now – the Sugarship Entrepreneur’s air-lock doors slide open; dry ice fills the studio; a tiny, shadowy, alien figure in 6” heeled spaceboots emerges through the fog; the announcer says:

“And tonight ladies and gentlemen…..Sir Alan, Sralan, Knight of the Realm, I’m-worth-millions-more-than-you-losers, Sugar IS…..wait for it……Sid James” Whipping off his space-helmet Sidalan takes off his battered hat, plonks himself into the SAS super-boosted chair and cackles that unmistakable Sid James fruity laugh. I will sadly not see all of this as I have had to return to my earlier self-protective strategy of watching The Apprentice from behind the sofa which enables me to duck out of sight instantly and pretend that the latest excruciatingly embarrassing action, idea, crass remark, bull-sh*t bragging boast, sub-zero IQ isn’t actually happening on the implacably indifferent TV screen before me. The Apprentice ‘HD’ – hopelessly dumb. It’s like trying to give up booze: every week I resolve never to feel this awful again and after 6 days of blessed abstinence, feeling almost like a normal human being again, here I am Wednesday night slinging the same brain-rotting stuff down my neck. And Adrian You’ve Been Fired Chiles doesn’t help: post-watershed or not there should be a pre-warning before we are forced to share the baleful fact of foot-in-mouth James’s boardroom peed-his-pants panic. “Stone me” as Anthony Aloyisious would have said.

Truly methinks he doth share too much. It is a miracle that this guy James moves about the world without mishap: given that he has his head up his a*se, talking to himself, wondering why it’s gone dark.

If Sralan has now morphed in my mind into Sidalan, The Apprentice looks more like the Generation Game each week. You will recall that on the GG Brucie would get experts to demonstrate a superb skill acquired over a life-time of practice; and then ask contestants to do the same task in half the time. The point of this was for us to laugh at the inevitable bull’s foot they made of it. This weak the ‘challenge’ to Ignite (girls) and Empire (boys) was to flog sandwiches in the afternoon thus preventing them from properly organising themselves to cater for a bunch of overpaid city wonkers in the evening.

‘Rocky’ went for a second round KO admitting that he actually earns a living flogging sandwiches up t’North somewhere. Nice lad, silly name. The charmless remainder of the Empirates smelt blood – “go for it Rocky – we’re behind you……way, way behind you.” Some of those b*ggers have cheated by watching the programme before: so they knew what poor young Rocks didn’t – that it is an implacable natural law on Planet Apprentice that if you have any expertise, hide it; if you know anything useful, keep it to yourself so some prat on your team, i.e. any member of your team, with a conviction cosmically misplaced, can literally commit ‘sugarcide’. We congnoscenti knew, the minute Rocky threw his hat in the ring as ‘team leader’, an oxymoron in this context anyway, that he was up for the early taxi.

Meanwhile, down to 7..6..5..4..3..2..1, “Neasden we have Ignition”: the girls of Ignite were firing on all cylinders being led by professional restaurateur* Yasmina. This we might say is one of the more imaginative applications of a degree in Economic History with Population Studies.

Both teams managed to produce the most unappetising, bland to God-awful over-priced, over-prosed (Italian flatbreads etc) sarnies, pitched to shoulder-shaking captive ‘customers’ with stupefying incompetence. All fired up for Ignite was Kate ‘I’m not a just a dumb blonde’ Walsh. So far Kate’s proven that claim absolutely true: her dumbness certainly isn’t confined to just being blonde. This week she forgot the cardinal rule of being ignorant – don’t say too much. The decision not to show the satirical decision to get DBK to pitch their food offer to the buyer on camera was a mistake – the result being almost more embarrassing than James’s Y-front waterfront. DBK didn’t know what was in half the canapés; whether they were hot or cold; and if hot how they got that way. On camera the watching, horror-struck ‘Mountie – always gets her man – Mountford’ was covering her eyes, she unlike me, having no sofa to hide behind. Off-camera I suspect she was just beating her forehead rhythmically on the table. The captive customer, a real one would have turfed them all out within minutes, played along but negotiated what can best be described as a ‘if-crap-no-pay’ deal with more qualifications than an MP’s expense claim.

Yasmina – “call-me-chef” who coyly vouchsafed on camera the confidence that she was better than everyone else and that Sidalan would soon realise it, was the first of this year’s batch to pick up the ‘Claire Conjecture’. Last year’s clear winner if only she’d been a bloke, soon caught on to playing to Sidalan’s prejudices. So Yas went anal on cost control – no price too cheap, no meat too manky, no veg too shoddy, for their evening culinary creations. She even instructed the increasingly freaky Lorraine with the staring eyes, in a masterclass of tomato-cutting: thinner = more pieces = looks more. Doh.

Don’t worry Yas opined – I’ll turn your puny efforts into stunning canapés with my genius, a rocket leaf and the arcane art of Basil-drizzling – not since the loaves and fishes……… This strategy was so effective that the customer halved their fee, on the basis for instance that something called a ‘chicken wrap’ should contain at least a DNA trace of something called…well…………chicken. However as Yas’s costs were based upon using raw materials aspiring, but failing to reach, the taste and quality of Happy-Shopper own-brand cat food, they made a profit. Unlike Empire – this week showing Rocky – The Loser.

I will draw a veil over the Empirates’ fatuous decision first to theme their evening to an event still 3 years away – the Olympics – and second to dress-up either as a sweaty boxer in the afternoon or in Greek togas at night. More grotesquely white skin than on a Sunday beach on the Cost del Sol, we should at least be grateful that it was only later that we learned of James’s penchant for spontaneous micturation. “Cheese on a stick anyone?”

The usual Boardroom “it wasn’t me guv – it was ‘im” was as unseemly and puke-making as usual. Sidalan’s decision to fire the likable, sensible, full of potential Rocky was so perversely dumb and poorly judged that one wonders whether Sidalan is so bored he’s begun to take the p*ss out of his own show.

Watch it mate – that’s my job.

Watch next week to see if the Empire strikes back.

*Amazing fact of the week – this is the correct spelling, not ‘restauranteur’. I don’t get it.

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