The Apprentice: Pants Man gets the boot

Want to know why Real Business loved this episode? Hell! It was just so refreshing to see some real British talent getting airtime!

The show kicked off with twelve British designers pitching their wares to the Apprentice teams. These inventors and entrepreneurs had a host of weird and wonderful products, from funky coat hooks to novelty dog leads. Ignite and Empire, headed up by Lorraine and Mona respectively, has to choose two items each to champion in stores around Manchester and Liverpool. The team that sold more products wins.

Ignite chose the Cat Playhouse, a strange cardboard contraption meant to entertain yer moggie, and the Pod, a bicycle bag to carry heavy shopping. Empire chose the cute and silly Lovers Lead, a two armed lead for smooching couples walking their dogs, and the Silk Bag, a sleeping bag shaped like a body suit. Real Business loves this, by the way. Just in case anyone was thinking of sending us one…


But there was a catch. Oh, there’s always a catch. Every team member was presented with their own order book to show exactly how many deals were clinched by each individual. They had to outperform each other AND the other team. Genius, Sir Alan. Genius.

The intrigue all started when the teams were assembled. Lovebirds Philip and Kate were on Lorraine’s team. Hatchet-faced Deborah was on Mona’s team, along with “village idiot” James. It seemed a steal for Ignite! Kate and Philip are both seasoned salesmen. Yasmina was on the team too and she’s a formidable customer. And, let’s face it: James could only really be a handicap for Empire.

But things aren’t always what they seem. Kate and Philip immediately divided the group with their loathing for Lorraine. It was, as Nick later described it, “a pincer movement”. The pair worked tirelessly to turn their team leader to rubble. Unsuccessfully, I might add: that woman’s got a hide like a rhino.

While their schoolyard jibes were hideously unprofessional and irksome, you can’t help but see their point: Lorraine is a melon. Talking to everyone like they’re two years old, demanding that she “lead” all the pitches, and her "slow burner in the thought process." Gah! And the amount of “gut feelings” that woman gets suggests to Real Business that she may be suffering from severe trapped wind.

Yasmina became an unlikely ally for this self-styled “Cassandra” as the two mini-groups set off on their sales mission. But what’s this?! Sales pros Kate, Philip and Ben sell nothing! Nadda. Zip. Lorraine and Yasmina: Lormina, or Yasaine if you prefer, sold over a grand’s worth of cat toys and Pods all on their lonesome. A turn up for the books, yes?

Lormina’s efforts were wasted. Empire was on fire this task. Mona turned out to be a fantastic team leader. Despite the fact that her team chose products that were completely unsuitable for the meetings that Sir Alan had already set up for the team, they were a sales typhoon the following day. Mona’s rule was quiet but firm: every single member of her team made a sale and they notched up over £4,000-worth of business.

But the fun really started back in the boardroom at the end of the day. No one was surprised when Empire won by a country mile. Their victory paled next to the prospect of a good fight from Ignite. Lorraine brought Philip and Kate back into the boardroom to account for their pathetic performance. They didn’t have a leg to stand on: the pair had spent the day piddling around Liverpool, giggling like schoolchildren, saying, “Ooh! We shouldn’t be having this much fun when we’re doing so badly!” No, you shouldn’t.

Poor Suralan. It must have been like watching a scene from St Trinian’s. Kate and Philip were the naughty trouble-makers, ganging up on form mistress Lorraine. “She’s trouble!” moaned Philip. “She’s always the victim!” True, and you’re always the tit, Philip. People in glass houses and all that…

But Lorraine made a real humdinger towards the end of the show. She cited Kate and Phil’s burgeoning romance as a factor behind their failings on the task. While this was completely true, it smacked of desperation. Kate rose like a phoenix from the accusation. And bless him, Philip didn’t stand a chance. You could visibly see the man crumble when Kate, a radiant avenging angel, dashed all his hopes for a wife, kids and a house in the country by stating, “I’ve got no loyalties here. Philip or otherwise.” And, to compound his misery: “I don’t think it was Philip’s strongest task. I think he took a step back."

Ouch. That’s gotta hurt.

Just goes to show: all’s fair in love and The Apprentice.

Philip, you’re FIRED!

Next week, frolics in the sand as the two teams battle it out to rebrand Margate, taking us that little bit closer to finding Sir Alan Sugar’s next *Apprentice*.

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