Was it a recipe for disaster or success? Alan Carr, Jack Dee, Jonathan Ross, Gok Wan and Gerald "I’ll take my foot out of my mouth, shall I?" Ratner went head-to-head with Ruby Wax, Patsy Palmer, Carol Vorderman, Fiona Phillips and Ultimo founder Michelle Mone. Their task? To design a kid’s toy and develop a full marketing plan in three days.
This was compulsive watching. On the boy’s team, Jonathan Ross was at his most unlikeable. He bounced around the show like an overactive child starved of his ritalin, determined to take centre stage but contributing little. Gok Wan was the calm in the eye of the storm, dishing up ideas and motivational nuggets to keep morale steady. Jack Dee, as is his wont, looked suicidal throughout, while Alan Carr was his affable best, flashing those trademark teeth whenever the pressure rose.
But Ratner. Oh, Ratner. Max Clifford must be fuming! After six months working with you to try and get your public image out of the u-bend, you managed to destroy it all during an hour of prime-time.
But more of that later.
Thank God for Michelle Mone. If not for her, the word "entrepreneur" may have been irrevocably tainted. Despite describing herself as a "psycho" and showing the strain here and there, Mone was consistently brilliant, inspiring and a joy to watch.
Ruby Wax was pragmatic and hilarious. It was she who came up with the team’s "Stick Stuck" product – velcro suits for children. Carol Vorderman was a grafter, getting on with her tasks without complaining. Fiona Philips? Well, she was a bit ‘meh’ really. Would anyone have noticed if she’s stayed in the hotel? Doubtful. And Patsy Palmer? Dear old Patsy proved just one thing. She really is Bianca from Eastenders.
If you haven’t seen the programme, and plan to watch it on iPlayer, here’s a spoiler warning: skip the rest of this paragraph. At the end of the three days, the boys pitched their "Swap Belt with collectible toys" idea to a roomful of industry bigwigs. Despite a sterling effort from most of the team, it’s not really surprising that the girls won. Why? One word: Ratner.
Jonathan Ross to the so-called business brain of the group: " Gerald’s going to talk about profit."Ratner: "It’s a very big profit on this."
"How many of these toys do you plan to sell?" asked one audience member."It’s a shit or bust product" replied Ratner.
How encouraging for Comic Relief…
And then there were his continued attempts to hark back to that fateful speech at the IOD in 1998 where he called his stock "total crap". One reference to this faux pas may have been funny. But several? Do you have nothing else, Ratner?
All in all, the programme did what it set out to do: it was good bit of telly. Although, someone really should have wheeled out "Rickeeeeeeeeeeeey" for that extra sparkle.
As for the business credentials of "star" entrepreneurs Ratner and Mone?
Real Business has three words: "Ratner, you’re fired!"
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