The Apprentice, Episode 2: Beach fun? No Joy

Moving on from His Sugarness, Lord Sugarpuff, the Earl of Sugar, Baron of Sugars, the McSugar Burger, this week's task was an interesting one. The teams had to invent and manufacture a new beach accessory. Synergy and Apollo were roused from their beds at the crack of dawn and dragged down to Heathrow Terminal Five to receive their instructions. Lord Sugar was absent, appearing only by video link. He was probably still cuddled up in his ermine and corgis.

This could have been a real opportunity to come up with a great little product. However, neither team really shone in the creative stakes. Stella, no nonsense City banker, was moved onto the boy's team to even out the numbers. Raleigh's brother was wounded in Afghanistan and he chose to leave the series to be with his family. A decision applauded by Lord Sugar: "Family before business," he said. Apollo was led by Laura "I'm a brilliant manager" Moore, the 21-year old from Warwickshire.

Stella, it has to be said, put in a stellar performance. She took no nonsense from the boys, was a fair but firm project manager, and truly set an example for women in the work place. There was only one point when her hold over the team wavered: when she was asked to wear a bikini to model Synergy's beach towel cum water cooler cum pillow, the Cuuli (I can't bring myself to add the damn umlauts). "Go on. Take one for the team," said Chris Bates, with a leer. Chris, incidentally, has trumped Stuart Baggs as my most hated candidate.

Laura, in complete contrast to Stella, was a "complete shambles" (to borrow from Lord Sugar's lexicon). She was unable to control the strong personalities on her team. Although, in fairness, it was a bit like herding cats. As soon as one woman had her say, she would be interrupted and overruled by another. Utter chaos. Joanna, cleaning entrepreneur and self-confessed "gobsh*te", was the main offender. She is no team player, that's for sure. It was all she could do not to wrest power from Laura and take over the team for a second week.

Joanna  came up with the idea for the Book-Eze, an ugly, ungainly contraption for reading a on the beach. Poor Joanna.  The wheel may have been turning, but the hamster was dead. At least she had an idea, however. There was precious little to work on from the rest of the team. Although, overall, the prize for daftest product suggestion goes to Synergy's Dr Shibby, for his giant extendable hand that rubs in sun lotion.

The pitches were hilarious. Melissa kept using strange coinages and jargon that would make a management consultant wince. Chris gave the worst presentation I have ever seen. His delivery was monotonous and deadpan. It was like listening to Radio 4 at 3am. Somehow, Lord (Sugar) knows how, Chris managed to sell 100 units to one retailer. Presumably, the buyers believed Chris' apocalyptic pronouncement: "The beach towel is dead".

Apollo sold nothing. Squat. Zip. Nadda. But here's the rub: a leading chemist (AKA Boots), was interested in the Book-Eze. But, when the buyers demanded exclusivity in return for some design consultancy and a bulk order, Laura rashly declined. Cue funeral march as the team gawped at each other in amazement. "If it was a small retailer, exclusivity's not a good idea," said Sandeesh. "When it's a large multi-national, exclusivity is a good deal." Well put. It was a decision that saw Laura fighting for her life in the boardroom.

Despite describing herself as a great leader, Laura made a real hash of this episode. She couldn't even make up her mind who to bring into the boardroom, picking Sandeesh before dropping her for Joy. Joanna, the school bully, also came back in to face Lord Sugar.

Ah, Joy. I'd forgotten she was in the show. She may have stayed out of the catfights and bitching - Karren Brady sternly reminded Apollo that they were setting an example for aspiring businesswomen; they were more an example for aspiring Big Brother contestants - but she did so with an utter lack of backbone. Her eyes filled with tears as soon as she entered the boardroom and she was totally unable to fight for her place in the show.

Watching the show with two friends, opinions were completely divided. I think that Joy deserved to go. She was never going to win the competition and didn't have the stomach for the game. But then Laura did break a cardinal rule of business by snubbing Boots. And Joanna? That woman gives more lip than Leslie Ash.

Joanna and Laura came back to the house holding hands and skipping like school girls. Oh, how fickle this lot are. Although Joanna has vowed to turn over a new leaf to become a calm, soft-spoken, delight from now on. Ha. Fiver she makes someone cry next week. Bring on next Wednesday and Episode 3!

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