The Apprentice: Episode eight, reviewed

So Mona’s a goner – not that anyone’s likely to notice or care. Even Sir Alan seemed reluctant to summon his usual levels of creative venom with a lame: ‘Mona you mentioned the pier in Margate, looks to me you’ve been right at the end of the pier for a while. With regret, you’re fired!’

Perhaps his regret was he’d invited her in the first place? We all get the zany characters selected in the name of ‘entertainment’, but just why was the former beauty queen ever there? While the Apprentice might be suffering from a severe case of Big Brother fatigue, it’s a good job it hasn’t yet emulated its ‘best bits’ feature. They’d have struggled with Mona.

Given she’s barely intelligible let alone employable, if she’s still planning a career in business she should seriously consider a rebrand – just not from the Apprentice team. The teams were tasked with rebranding the image of washed-up Kent seaside town Margate, home of kiss-me-quick hats, bingo and arguably the greatest episode of Only Fools and Horses (which contained far more business than last night’s show).

Empire was led by Deborah, who bullied Howard out of being team leader, while Yasmina took the reins of Ignite for the second time. With little research – now there’s a surprise – the teams settled branding approaches quickly: Ignite opting to for a family, child-led approach and Empire taking James’ suggestion to chase the pink pound and brand Margate as a gay destination.

Both teams split into two: a pair to design a poster and leaflet, a pair to discover and photograph the ‘real’ Margate. What the Apprentice producers then treated us to was a 20 min cringe-fest of toffs slumming it; a very strange homoerotic model casting session; uncomfortable voxpops with locals who turned out to be far from the backward bigots you sensed the producers hoped to find; combined with the now accustomed levels of idiocy, insensitivity and, not forgetting, incompetence from those chasing a £100,000 job in Sir Alan land.

Mona’s cultural enlightenment involved being unable to tell that one heavily-stubbled mini-skirt wearing Granny Smith had an adam’s apple, while an embarrassed James congratulated him, I mean her, with a stern handshake and went off to buy ice creams for his male models before warning them ‘not too much suggestive licking please guys, we’re not filming a porno’. Yep, it was that bad.  Even Nick chipped in with ‘they’re looking a bit stiff’. Oh er missus, was this Carry On Apprentice?

Ben actually triumphed in usual posh wally cameo, coining the phrase ‘Margate, it’s hardly the Seychelles’ – oh how I wish they’d have pitched that one – and hilariously figure framing every landscape in sight like a crazed, pin-striped David Bailey.

Back at the designers, Deborah spent so long bitch-slapping Howard from making valid points about putting too much text on posters that she forgot to actually do anything herself and left huge blank spaces on their leaflet; while Yasmina and Kate got on the with the job diligently until Lorraine bound in for her weekly weirdo wind-up.

Yasmina and Kate also presented well and appear clear contenders to make the final weeks. The same can’t be said with any certainty of anyone in Empire, who tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the branding experts by claiming the gaping holes on their leaflet were left for local advertisers.

As Sir Alan put it, they ‘seen through your bullshit, you got found out’. Unsurprisingly then, Deborah and Empire’s vision for a Gay Margate lost out to Yasmina and Ignite’s unspectacular but safe family approach.

To his credit, Sir Alan was quick to point out it wasn’t the brand concept that cost Empire – more the appalling execution. Such a shame then there wasn’t less emphasis on the tomfoolery and more on practical basics of branding – this did used to be a business show right?

To cut to the chase, Deborah opted to take James and Mona back into the boardroom. Her and James both got customary ticking-offs, but despite Sir Alan’s best efforts to build the tension they were never in any real danger of leaving.

Mona sealed her own fate by attempting to dismiss Nick and Margaret’s accusation she lacks creativity by claiming ‘they’re not always there’. From that point, you knew it was a matter of minutes before she wasn’t either.

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