It was a relatively straightforward task: flog some sarnies to some City slickers and make a profit. But that wouldn’t have been good telly. Luckily for the Beeb’s producers, most of the hotshots who appear on the hit TV show display one similar characteristic: they’ve had their common sense gene removed.
I’m talking, principally, about the boys’ team. At some point during their task, reason left the building. A bunch of grown men, not in the best shape, wearing togas, serving cold curry vol-au-vants to 500 lawyers in a room decorated with gold lame Words escape me.
Philip Taylor, an estate agent and the sharpest tool in this particular box, smelled disaster from the outset. And it wasn’t just the grim food. “This place looks like a brothel,” he said, as nude statues and gold tablecloths were scattered willy-nilly (sorry) around the plush offices of a leading law firm.
Empire’s day didn’t begun too well either. Having failed to secure any contracts for their 2012 Olympics themed sandwich company, the boys had been selling their “sarnies from five continents” on street corners. One pitch, slap bang in a tourist trap on the South Bank, did a roaring trade. But once they’d sold out of all-American peanut butter on rye, did they dash back to make more Did they hell.
The girls, on the flipside, were a hive of activity. Team leader, Yasmina Siadatan, who volunteered herself for the role, knew the territory. She owns her own restaurant (although, after the food last night, it’ll probably get closed down…) and focused on the profit from the outset: “I want to see 70 per cent gross profit”. Like a Gordon Ramsay with breasts, she ruled those women with a rod of iron, churning out platters of half-filled Mediterranean wraps to keep overheads down.
In the boardroom at the end of the task, it was hard to imagine whose balls were bigger: Siadatan’s or Sir Alan’s.
She made sandwich entrepreneur Rocky Andrews, team leader on the opposition, look decidedly limp. Considering the chap runs 15 sandwich bars, employing 150 people, his performance left Real Business feeling cheated and empty. The boys’ takings at the end of the day were similarly feeble. Having spent a whopping £820 on ingredients and props, the boys made a gut-wrenching loss of £160 by the end of the day. The girls, who emptied the budget frozen section of ASDA for their supplies, not only brought in £1,006 for a day’s work but turned out £650 profit.
The whole episode ran like Fawlty Towers on crack. The girls’ giant bruschetta saw accountants skidding around in tomato goo. “The food looks like it’s come from a funeral at a working man’s club,” said licensing manager Kate Walsh. While the boys’ “modern version of a ploughmans” – i.e. cheese on a stick, couldn’t have looked more out of place amidst all the pomp and swagger of the City suits.
Nevertheless, the purpose of the task was not to make good food. It wasn’t to make friends or secure long term business. It was to make money. Siadatan, restaurateur or not, had no qualms feeding her clients reconstituted chicken to bring home the bacon.
In the end, Andrews ended up in the boardroom to atone for his sins. He took big-mouth James McQuillan and blue-eyed boy Howard Ebison with him. “I feel like my cat’s died,” moaned McQuillan as he was led in. Real Business could’ve sworn he was in for the chop: anyone who puts, “I wake up in the morning with the taste of success in my spit” on his CV deserves to fry. But instead it was 21-year old sandwich bar entrepreneur Andrews whose goose was cooked. “Give him a few years and he’ll be the star of the north east,” commented Sugar’s aide Nick as the black cab pulled away.
Damn it. Real Business hates to see an entrepreneur go down. Our hopes are all pinned on Siadatan now. Let’s just hope she doesn’t give Suralan food poisoning before the series is out.