Warning: spoilers ahead
Welcome to the week three recap of The Apprentice.
This time the call from the ominous house phone leads the candidates to Mercato Metropolitano in Mayfair, a former church turned artisan foodie haven.
Cut to the cab and project-manager-to-be Nick is reassuring his fellow candidates that he wants to hear their opinions, saying ‘I encourage connection’ (remember this for later). Akeem already seems unconvinced.
Standing front and centre, Lord Sugar welcomes the candidates before giving them task number three. ‘Good morning, Lord Sugar,’ the candidates chant as if greeting a teacher. Before he continues, a voice pipes up from the crowd. Sadly, Shama Amin is having to pull out of the series as the show’s physically demanding schedule aggravates her rheumatoid arthritis, giving her chronic pain.
The remaining 13 candidates await the fate that is yet to befall them. They’ll be creating and branding a new non-alcoholic drink, including an augmented reality feature à la Snapchat filter, before hosting a launch event where they’ll be pitching to leading retailers.
Shaking up the status quo, just as non-alcoholic drinks are doing in the booze industry, Lord Sugar mixes the boarding school-esque girls’ and boys’ teams to create two new groups.
Coming up with their own names this time, and in the hope of you keeping up with who is where better than I do, the teams are as follows:
Team Infinity + Tim: Sophie (project manager), Kathryn, Navid, Stephanie, Akshay and Amy
Team Diverse + Karren: Nick (project manager), Harpreet, Alex, Aaron, Brittany, Akeem and Francesca
Zesty, salty, spicy
Team Diverse settle on their group name pretty quickly, but opinions are less than diverse when they’re forced to settle on a vodka lime soda drink. ‘Trust me on it, I’ve got a vision. Subtlety is key. I’ve got the industry knowledge,’ says Nick. Harpreet is the sub team leader, looking after the tasting side. Before they set off, Nick reinforces the message to make the beverage ‘not whacky’.
Vodify go for a simple half-mint green half-white design (should be lime green, no?). Their AR alters the user’s face so that one side is hungover on vodka, complete with sick dribble, while the other side is a fresher ‘vodified’ version.
Team Infinity have mixed feelings over a mixed spice drink. Flavour-wise, they’re doing peach and mixed spice. Or should I say PEACH with pepper and some spices? Kathryn’s delicate lip smack on tasting says it all.
On the branding Amy, Akshay and Kathryn go with a more rustic beer aesthetic. Amy takes the credit for pretty much everything on the branding, even though Kathryn is the sub team leader.
Alex is sticking very strictly to Nick’s brief but it’s tricky when a key ingredient is difficult to emulate. Even Karren says she feels sorry for this team. The formula leaves a burn-y feeling in the team’s throats, which could be the closest they get to mimicking vodka. One last touch to make it perfect. How does that song go? ‘Ten drops of salt makes the medicine go down…’
On Team Infinity, it’s assumed that Navid would pick up the role of alchemist, given that he’s a pharmacist, but he seems all around quite shy. ‘He’s an accessory,’ says Tim.
A bitter aftertaste followed by euphoria
Both teams take their products to the streets of London.
Of Crafted and Spiced, one tester takes a sip of the canned heat and says, ‘Oh. This is not good.’ The consensus of the branding is ‘old-fashioned’ and that it doesn’t look premium.
As for Vodify, ‘I’m not really a fan’ sums up the sentiment, though tasters like the can’s design.
The other halves are pitching to Oddbins and Majestic among others.
Nick commits a major boo-boo by trying to sell Vodify as a premium product with a high price point that will be in all of the upmarket bars… to ASDA. The rep begrudgingly takes 300 cases.
The following scenes are a sales frenzy: Kathryn flogs 700 cases, Akshay gets 1500, Stephanie 72, Alex 275, Navid 200, Sophie 30. Everything seems sharp, except a flailing pitch which is captured perfectly by Aaron’s fleeting The Office-style glare at the camera. Watch it back and you’ll see what I mean.
Drink sales are then totted up like the bar tab at the end of the night, ready to reveal the result.
An alcohol-free challenge with a hangover
It’s more difficult to tell what the mood is like in the boardroom this time. As ever, everybody’s blaming each other for the parts of the projects they weren’t involved in. Cheap shots fired all round.
Now, the all-important (hypothetical) sales figures.
Team Diverse: 10,675
Team Infinity: 2,502
As we celebrated dental hygiene with cake last week, the winners celebrate alcohol alternatives with the real thing at TT Liquor. The mood in La Cabana Café, however, is dispirited. There is a sense of the girls ganging up on the boys in Team Infinity.
Sophie brings Akshay and Navid back to the boardroom. Personally, I would have subbed one of them out for Amy as she was responsible for a lot of the branding and sold zero units, blaming the product. Even Lord Sugar asks Sophie if she’s sure about her decision.
Deliberations determine that Navid, and his impossibly white smile, are next to leave the boardroom.
Next week: Fishing
Tune in to The Apprentice next week to watch a Catch of the Day become Dish of the Day, plus what Lord Sugar calls ‘the worst failure he’s ever seen’ in the boardroom. Join us on 28 January for our take.