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The Empire *doesn’t* strike back

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Finally, Real Business is getting into the swing of this series of The Apprentice. We weren’t too fussed to begin with. Must have been all the sweat, groaning muscles and pumping iron that got our interest piqued.

This week, Sir Alan Sugar mixed up the teams and told contestants to conceive and design a new fitness product and pitch it to three big retailers: Powerhouse; Totally Fitness; and John Lewis.

James and Debra volunteered as project managers for Empire and Ignite respectively. Debra, who’s a bit of a meanie, took to the role like a duck to water, with lips pursed in disapproval like a dog’s bum and much “finger-pointing”. While James stomped around with his big wet eyes and heavy sighs. “People look at me like a banana skin, waiting to trip someone up,” he said, woefully. “I’m going to prove myself.”

Actually, James, you’re not.

Product was king and, predictably, both teams took off like sea cucumbers in treacle. Maybe it was the presence of women on his team that made Empire’s Ben Clarke fixate on an idea for products for “sexual fitness”. “Something you strap on to…” Stop right there, Ben.

Finally, Empire settled on a “Bingo Buster” to trim the nation’s bingo wings, while Ignite landed on the “bum ball”. Like a Swedish ball, but more bummy.

Of course, through the miracle of The Apprentice’s product designers, the finished articles were nothing like a bum ball or a bingo buster (what’s with all the ‘b’s?). Instead, Ignite ended up with the Body Rocka, a portable balancing gizmo that actually looked pretty cool. And Empire lugged around their Home Multi-Tone, which looked, as James pointed out, like “an upside down TV set with all the wires hanging out.”

For the viewers, the product was last on our minds – there was so much going on! First there was Debra, who nearly spontaneously combusted when Yasmina suggested it might be a good idea to mix up the ethnicity of their models for the Body Rocka poster. “We should have one Asian and one white,” she said. “I’m allowed to say that: I’m Iranian and Mona agrees.”

“I will not tolerate racism on my team!” screamed back Debra, her small eyes shining with triumph. She could see the red top headlines: “Racism in BBC show. Debra Barr crusades for equality!”

Except that no one was really bothered.

Then there was Ben’s faux pas. The Irish bodybuilder, who’s probably had more ‘roids than hot dinners, began spanking himself in pitches. “I think they know where the buttocks are,” hissed the long-suffering Howard Ebison. “You don’t have to keep smacking them.”

Nevertheless, something quite wonderful happened in last night’s show. Despite Debra’s best efforts to be a mega-bitch, her team, Ignite, actually acted like, well… a team. There was even a moment in the boardroom, while Debra was lining up scapegoats for a possible loss, that saw Philip Taylor (we’re even remembering their names now) stand up for fellow Ignitee Lorraine. Real Business nearly shed a tear.

Anyway, not to kill the suspense or anything but Ignite won by a massive margin. John Lewis placed an order for 10,000 of their Body Rockas, while Empire got a measly 500. James blubbed all over Sir Alan and Majid got sent home.

Real Business realises that it’s being abrupt about these events. Je regrette. But, honestly, James’ performance in the boardroom was nothing short of repulsive. It wasn’t the crying, or the begging, it was the whinging that really got our goat. There was definitely one less pair of mighty whities under that table by the time Sir Alan was done.

As for Majid, for once we agree with Sir Alan’s reasoning. He was “a passenger”. He did bring nothing to the show or his team. See ya, Majid. Oh wait. You have some clichés from the cab home? Let’s hear them. Oh, “the wrong man went home”, did he? Finished? Good.

So that’s that. Another episode of The Apprentice over, another one bites Sir Alan’s dust. Although, it is a shame Majid had to go so early. Now a mystery will never be solved. We’ve all been wondering whether his head would really look exactly the same upside down…

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