To kick off the 2010 series, the 16 candidates were called into Alan Sugar's boardroom at midnight. A bleary-eyed Alan Sugar informed the candidates that the first task was to begin imminently: to manufacture and sell sausages. There was no time to acclimatise to the show; it was straight in at the deep end. The teams were separated into boys and girls and the haggling over team names began. 'Winning women' was Melissa Cohen's suggestion. "But what happens when the teams are mixed up," came the sage reply. Melissa, goggling through her spectacles, had to admit that the thought hadn't occurred to her. This was to become a theme throughout the show: Melissa speaking without thinking.
The girls' team settled on 'Apollo', after the first mission into space, while the boys went for 'Synergy', narrowly avoiding Stuart Bagg's desperate bid for 'Fusion'. As usual, the role of project manager was snapped up instantly - not. Having soliloquized at length about her experience and talents, Melissa took herself out of the running. Joanna Riley, entrepreneur and Smarta favourite, stepped up to the plate. Dan Harris was project leader for the boys, a role he took on with much pomp and bluster. "It's very macho. Like being back in the boy's dressing room," said Sugar advisor and vice chairman of West Ham United FC Karren Brady.
The next part of the show was not for the faint-hearted. The subsequent mincing and processing of meat, and the pink sausages spurting out of industrial machines was stomach-churning. At least the girls' sausages were mostly meat. The boys used 48 per cent rusk to bulk out their cut-price fare. Their sausages were so stodgy, they practically blocked the machine. Less sausage, more meatabix.
The girls headed to Leadenhall market to flog their wares. Business was slow until they remembered to turn on the griddle - and once the smell of sizzling sausages filled the hall, business picked up. A canny move by project manager Riley also saw multiple sales to the surrounding restaurants. Melissa continued to be a right royal pain in the backside. She wasted a good 10 minutes of sales time whinging on about how she deserved to 'close a deal', rather than seek new opportunities. Joanna gave her short shift and the sale was completed with no more fuss.
Synergy's sausages looked foul and no doubt tasted foul, but perhaps the presence of the cameras fostered trade. They made decent sales from the stall, despite Dan's complete lack of involvement. His idea of 'project managing' involved strutting around and shouting - and doing zero work himself. He managed to make some off-site sales too. A whole £14 worth.
When the two teams congregated back in the boardroom later that day, Alan Sugar was suitably impressed that both Apollo and Synergy were in profit. The girls had the edge, however, with an extra £15 on the balance sheet. The team unanimously praised Joanna's management skills - and boy did she run a tight ship. The hilariously stone-faced Nick did mention Melissa's fractious behaviour and she hung her head when the project manager incident came up: "She was offered the job but declined."
The girls sashayed off to celebrate their win - with, oddly, more sausages. Cue gratuitous shots of sausages entering lipsticked mouths. Meanwhile the boys were given a tongue lashing by Lord Sugar. The ridiculously low off-site sales were a real sticking point: "The world is your oyster if you're mobile," said Sugar.
Contrary to Apollo, the boys' team united in their hatred of project manager Dan. His management style was lampooned; "it was shameful" came one remark. Dan tried to pin the team's loss on Stuart for his aggressive sales technique, but no one was convinced. Dan, Stuart and Alex Epstein were summoned in to fight for their place on the show. There really was no contest. Despite Stuart's nasal whining and Alex's earnest rambling, Dan still managed to talk himself into a hole. "You're fired," said Sir Alan.
Thus ended the first episode of The Apprentice 2010. And what a meaty start to the series it was.