The Apprentice Episode 9 Live Blog: Biscuits

THE APPRENTICE: Wednesday 29th June, BBC1, 9pm

PREAMBLE – Tom Waits once advised us that a good man (is hard to find) and Lord Sugar is certainly discovering that to be the case once again on this year’s Apprentice. A bloke hasn’t won the Beeb’s modern version of the Idiot Olympics for three years now and with only two lads remaining this time, the chances of someone with a Y chromosome getting their mitts on the angry Ferrero Rocher’s £250,000 investment seem increasingly unlikely. Everyone seems to think that Jim ‘Clint’ Eastwood is a good man, but let’s face it he hasn’t had much in the way of competition over the last few weeks. This evening, he and his girlfriends (Tom would lose an arm-wrestling match against any of the remaining contestants..) are making biscuits. *Insert half-baked gag here* ..See you at 9pm.

9.00pm As per usual we’re kicking off with yet another tiresome reminder of the prize these ‘elite’ entrepreneurs are striving for. Bless the BBC for thinking of us idiots at home, but after nine weeks of watching this glorious twaddle even the dimmest amongst us should have remembered that this year the winner will get £250,000 of Lord Sugar’s money to invest in their business. It’s not the show’s formula that perplexes us, but more the reason why such a successful business mogul would want to work with any of these numpties in the first place. What’s that? The publicity? Oh right…

“Tonight on #apprentice it’s all about biscuits: Hobnobs made by Knobheads…” says the writertype on Twitter.

9.03pm The Sugar himself has made a surprise visit to the contestant’s house on their day off! Is this a lesson that opportunity waits for no contestant? Or has Sugar got a Twitter battle with Piers to prepare for this week?

“My two favourite things tonight, biscuits and dickheads..” EatMyHalo – Twitter

9.04 The business savvies are wandering around in various states of undress, except for Tom who appears to be wearing some form of geeky hiking attire. On hearing that Lord Sugar is in the kitchen, Melody makes a frantic dash for the bedroom, presumably to apply several tons of slap on to her pretty little face. I wonder how many languages she can say ‘too much make-up’ in…

9.06pm This week’s challenge is to make and package a new high-end biscuit and pitch it to three large supermarkets chains. Melody suggests they “need to do something new and excitingâ€? ..we admire her ambition, but of course we all realise they’ll end up doing something “unbelievably rubbishâ€?.

Team Venture is Natasha, Jim and Helen whilst Team Logic (Or Illogic as we prefer to call them) is Tom, Zoe, Melody and Susie. We know which team we’d rather be on..

9.07pm Skinny-mini Helen is chosen to lead Jim and Natasha, and as a PA to the director of Greggs she is apparently the most qualified. Wait, really? I once bought a Steak Bake from Greggs – does that make me a food industry wizard? Susan “That’s really unfair” Ma once again tentatively puts herself forward for Project Manager, but is trampled like gullible rabbit by the horrific Zoe. We used to think Melody’s nasal tones were irritating, but Zoe’s whiny chat has really come on of late. Why nobody has put this Cookie Monster in her place is beyond me. Perhaps if Edna had still been a contender she might have slapped Zoe into shape with those leather gloves of hers.

9.08 pm The teams split up as some are sent to the biscuit design lab, which sounds more like a stoner paradise than a place of commerce. Jim has to go on his own, whilst after much debate Project Manager Zoe sends Melody and Tom to design the biscuits because she would ‘rather work with Susie.’ Miaow.

9.09 Jim gets cracking with the biscuit boffin and is straight into designing a series of children’s biscuits, in particular some flapjacks in the shapes of stars. We at OTB can’t help but think that the Irish charmer is looking rather dashing in his bakers outfit.

“Zoe v. Suzy. It’s like listening to two kazoos being blown by rival asthmatics.” says Chris Addison on Twitter

9.10 In another area of the lab, Melody and Tom are also busy inventing their cookie prototypes. Lord Sugar’s brief just about four hours earlier could not have been more clear about their product needing to be original, yet Melody is insisting upon making butter crisp heart-shaped goodies. Yawn.

9.11 A couple of minutes later and Melody has changed tack and made what seems to be cookie dough covered in cornflakes and marshmallows. She has moved on from hearts (for the time being) and is now apparently she decided that biscuits are the new popcorn.. (Where to begin?!) She scolds Tom for making his biscuits too complicated, before going back to squidging marshmallows into her cookie dough. Pot. Kettle? She says there is a gap in the market for her biscuits, which causes Nick to pull one of his awesomely disgruntled faces. We like.

“If my boyfriend got me biscuits for valentines day, I’d cut him” says Lucy Cairns on Twitter. We like.

9.12 Jim is now taking his biscuit prototypes to a focus group of young children and their mothers to get some feedback on his star-shaped wonders. Cue plenty of excited looking children digging into the crumbly goodness. One pretentious blonde boy points out that the flapjacks are his favourite but that he, ‘didn’t think the raisins worked well with the cookie.’ I bet that kid also has his name written on the end of his pencils.
A helpful mother points out that children associate stars with merits that they get at school. Jim asks the children if they still get stars at school – the children say they do, but they don’t look very happy about it. If recent newspaper columns are to be believe most of these kids probably can’t spell star let alone get one. Nevertheless, Jim seems pretty satisfied that his designs have gone down well with the biscuit-guzzling nippers.

“Never say never in the biscuit world.” That’s the catchphrase of 2011, right there.” HBMiddleClass via Twitter

9.15 Melody and Tom now take what seems to be every type of biscuit possible to their focus group, which is mostly made up of elderly women. They seem to like Tom’s biscuit inside a biscuit idea, but aren’t so keen on his emergency biscuit (also known as the Emer-crunchie). Melody introduces her popcorn replacement idea, and when pressed on what this invention might be called Tom suggests ‘popsquit.’ This sounds like some sort of emergency alright, but certainly not something we at OTB would purchase from the supermarket. Given the choice between Popsquit (which sounds like a rather problematic tummy complaint) or the heart-shaped treat, the elderly ladies say they prefer the hearts.

“Total bunch of (hob) nobs” says our old friend Baggs on Twitter

9.17 Melody is straight on the phone to Project Manager Zoe to let her know the favourite amongst the group was the heart. What a liar. Not that it matters, because Zoe is now completely overruling anything discussed in the focus group and suggests a circular biscuit that you can snap and share. Melody looks flabbergasted that they aren’t going to use her heart idea.

“They’re now inside EACH OTHER? My God. This is a M.C.Escher biscuit! It bends the laws of time, space, and biscuits!” says an exasperated but rather cultural John Finnemore on Twitter

9.23 It’s now the next morning and the biscuits are in. Zoe decides that they don’t need a target market for their biscuit – they are going to target everyone. Melody insists that they choose one but Zoe continues to be a bad cookie and refuses to listen to her. OTB be happy to see them all made into a f*cking cookie and be done with it. Their constant sniping at each other is about as interesting as Elbow’s set at Glastonbury this weekend.

9.24 As for the Super Stars, or whatever they are called, they look pretty horrible but seem to taste good. Still nobody seems to be bothered, apart from Natasha, about the fact that they are an ‘any time treat’ for ‘after school.’

Zoe and Susan start work on the pitch for their Bix Mix pitch, but Zoe advises the ever-enthusiastic Susie that she doesn’t give a ‘shiny sh*t’ what Melody says about concentrating on one target market. Conversation killer or what.

9.25 Natasha has been rejected from making the pitches by Helen and Jim, and now finds herself in Asda trying to drum up publicity for the product. Tom and Melody do the same in Sainsbury’s. An elderly gentleman they get to try the product informs them their product is ‘a bit dry.’ As far as success stories go, this is a pretty short-lived one.

“Is Melody MENTALLY ILL?! A ROLEPLAY?!” says MattyD

9.26 Excellent, our favourite part of the show – pitch time. Or rather cringe time. Zoe’s team Logic begin with a role play to hi-lite the benefits of their snap ‘n’ share biscuit. The buyers from Sainbury’s look wholly unimpressed. It strikes us that the kids from the focus group could probably have strung together something a little more imaginative. It’s no surprise that the buyers then question why there is no key target market to aim Bix Mix at. Zoe leaves the pitch claiming that they were a very ‘tough’ crowd. What is it with Apprentice contestants refusing to identify their faults?

Team Venture, pitched by Helen, seem to be a little more successful but wait… has Helen just told Natasha to shut up if she has no real improvement to make? Ouch.

“‘Special Stars’? You might as well call them Spacker Biscuits.” says Scalded Bollock on Twitter. We’re just thinking about that for a second (the comment and the name..)

“@Lord_Sugar An ‘Any time treat’ that ISN’T to be eaten at ‘any time’? Where on earth do you find these imbeciles?” says Lord Sugar’s old mate Piers Morgan

9.32 Helen is brought to task about their biscuit being unhealthy by the buyers at Waitrose. No, Helen. What are you saying? A few raised eyebrows as the entrepreneur informs the buyers that we no longer need educating on healthy options… Jamie Oliver, The NHS and Rick Waller might disagree with you there Helen.
Bix Mix don’t do much better at Waitrose – one of the buyers has just told the enthusiastic bunch that he liked everything except the biscuit itself. Uh oh.

“AGAIN? Oh, this is like that whole “World War 1” “World War 2” thing all over again” Caitlin Morgan laments the return of the role play on Twitter

9.33 – Jim is doing the final pitch, and it is to be the pitch of all pitches. He’s talking about endorsements. The Harry Potter franchise would apparently lend itself to their brand of Special Stars. Oh. My. God. He’s surely blown it with that. Jim has just told the buyers at Asda to buy big or go home. That is bold. It seems Jim has forgotten that they have jobs, whereas he could easily be the one talking big and going home.

9.35 Straight to the boardroom and the contestants look nervous. Most of them should look nervous. Team Logic seem the obvious choice to lose – Bix Mix was a tragedy from start to finish. Then again, Jim’s massively daring and slightly arrogant final pitch might have been just a smidge too controversial for Lord Sugar. Helen is wearing a top made out of tin foil. Perhaps Lord Sugar might fire her just for looking an idiot.

“Jim: ‘frankly, it doesn’t even need to be a biscuit at all. We could turn it into a hat or a car insurance policy.'” Sam Delaney on Twitter

9.36 When questioned, Zoe explains that she felt compelled to be team leader. Lord Sugar asks whether she was a good team leader, and nobody responds. The phrase actions speak louder than words springs to mind.

9.38 Lord Sugar wants to know if Team Venture thought they did good pitches. Jim thinks his pitch was ‘fresh and crisp.’ Of course he does. This clearly amuses Lord Sugar and Karen Brady, who comments that Jim seemed to think he had millions of pounds to spend on marketing their Special Stars. Jim doesn’t seem aware that he has done anything wrong, which is sort of the crux of the problem.

“No one fancied calling their biscuit Lord Sugar?” says a disappointed euzie

9.39 The scores are passed to Lord Sugar who simply laughs. Either they have both secured nothing, or they have done surprisingly well. Wait, how wrong we are. Team Logic failed to get any orders at all, whereas Jim’s final pitch for Team Venture secured an order for 800,000 with Asda if they got total exclusivity. Big win. Even bigger head for Jim.

9.41 Team Venture is sent to a posh hotel to enjoy their success, whilst Logic are sent to the ridiculous greasy caff around the corner. Perhaps one of their tasks should be to breathe new life into the crummy diner next series.

“I think her weaknesses let her down”. Yup, that’s what weaknesses would do..” Stuart Harrison points out the obvious on Twitter.

9.45 In the boardroom Zoe and Melody get their claws out. Zoe accuses Melody of jumping ship when it begins to sink. Melody accuses Zoe of being unprofessional. Lord Sugar looks as though his head might explode. We at OTB think our head might explode. It’s a shame there aren’t more male contestants left because these women are starting to take the biscuit. Zoe brings Melody and Tom back to the boardroom, where another fight breaks out over who is really to blame for their dismal loss.

“Why no orders of snap & share? Because it looks like a manky dog biscuit & the pitch was vomit worthy” says the BBC’s own Dan Walker

“Melody works at a UN level. Stays entirely within her own base whilst crimes against humanity occur elsewhere” says Dave Whylie

9.50 Karren Brady advises Lord Sugar that Melody doesn’t get on well with members of team, and that Tom needs to stop acting as though he is on a learning curve. Lord Sugar looks like he’d like to fire the whole lot of them, informing them to wait in the foyer before ‘at least one’ of them get fired. Have three people ever been fired?

“Thoroughly dissapointed that no-one’s used a buscuit game gag in the apprentice..” says Chris Atkins on Twitter

9.54 Come on Lord Sugar, we can barely contain our excitement. Let it be all of them! Zoe because she is the ultimate b*tch, Melody for her horrible nasal voice and Tom because he is a complete moron. Yes that’s right – we said it.

9.56 Zoe’s gone folks. She had a face for radio and a voice for muted television.

“Tom just shat himself. He needs an emergency biscuit.” says Steven Allen