The Apprentice: Lord Sugar's disciples fail to get their hands dirty on the cleaning task

I know Lord Sugar cuts a forbidding figure, but the bowing and scraping is getting out of hand. When Lord Sugar turned up at The Apprentice flophouse (I jest - it's a mansion and a half), the wannabes were aghast. "Lord Sugar's here," said the ever-succinct Liz, looking lovely despite the early hour. "You're joking?!" came the breathless responses.

Get it together, guys. He's an entrepreneur. Not the bogeyman. If you're going to become THE APPRENTICE and work for the man, you need to be able to face him without turning to executive jelly.

Lord Sugar announced that this week's task was his favourite: "I want you to create a new brand of household cleaner. I want you to brand it, make a radio and TV campaign, and then pitch it to the ad agencies."

Easy peasy, lemon squeazy?

Not quite.

Both teams umm-ed and ahh-ed interminably over brand names and concept. In the end team Synergy, led by sniper Chris Farrell, settled on Octi-Kleen after a very jolly focus group where new mums stressed the need to have more than one pair of hands. Apollo went for the hilarious, if totally inappropriate 'Germ-o-Nator'.

From this point, both ideas went down the pan. Alex Epstein led the hapless Germ-o-Nators. Their offering was just bonkers: a red and black bottle design that looked more Reservoir Dogs than Mr Muscle and an advert featuring a young boy as 'The Germ-o-Nator' despite a warning on the bottle prohibiting use by children. If only, like Synergy, they had listened to their focus group. Their target market demanded a yellow bottle to suggest cleanliness and happiness. Not death and destruction. The Germ-o-Nator: A cleaning product catering for the wipe clean needs of S&M professionals everywhere.

Not that Farrell's team did much better. Sure, they chose an appropriate orange bottle and pastel shades for the logo, but the TV advert was appalling. After casting himself in the role of 'dad', Farrell was quick to snap up a hot, young actress to play wifey, and scripted a totally sexist advert, loaded with innuendo.

"Sex sells," he stated baldly. Fine, but adopting the tagline "Eight hands are better than two" accompanied with a lusty wink is a step too far. Lord Sugar's trusty advisor, Nick Hewer, had this to say: "So much for the liberated woman. Chris has a typical housewife cleaning up, sending the daughter to bed so that she - as an octopus presumably - can grope her husband."

Thank the stars for Stuart Baggs. He stole the show this week with his puns, one-liners, silly voiceover antics and mood-lightening boisterousness. In fact, can we just watch the Stuart Baggs show, please? His 'Hasta la vista, gravy" line in the TV ad was naff as hell, but memorable too. And we loved his Cockney influenza germ character in the radio ad.

Does anyone know why these weren't aired during the pitches, incidentally? It was a massive anticlimax when, after seeing all the production and execution, neither the ad execs nor Lord Sugar were treated to these aural masterpieces.

To the pitches: Both concepts drew chuckles of disbelief from the crowd of advertising wizards. The comments were brutal. "The execution was a travesty," the judges told Lord Sugar. "Some of it was distasteful." It has to be said, however, that Sandeesh was right on target with her pitch for the Germ-o-Nator concept. If Alex made one good decision during the whole show, it was to pick her for this role.

Shame he didn't utilise fellow marketing exec Laura. Professional rivalry? Or sheer bloody-mindedness? Either way, Laura had a face like a spanked arse for the whole task, moaning and griping without making much of a contribution. "She'll get her comeuppance in the boardroom," we thought.

Not so. Chris' team won the task by the skin of their collective cephalopodan teeth. "Technically, you haven't lost," said Lord Sugar begrudgingly. Who did Alex drag back into the boardroom? Pitching ace Sandeesh and creator of the Germ-o-nator concept Monotonous Chris! When Alex stuck to his guns despite Lord Sugar's qualms about these choices, we knew the Epstein was in for a tough ride.

What we didn't expect, however, was the gibbering beast of incandescent fury that took over Alex's body during cross-examination. He literally became some kind of hell hound, snarling at Chris and displaying a unique high-pitched nasal whine. "Get a grip, Alex," said Chris in horror. "It's bizarre!"

Lord Sugar had enough. Despite a lacklustre performance from Sandeesh in the show thus far, her shining pitch saved her. Chris took a thorough bashing from Lord Sugar for his ego and messy execution but in the end, it was Alex who was flushed down the pan. Chugging away in his black cab, Alex was unrepentant. "Lord Sugar has made a big mistake," he said. I don't need him!"

You know what they say, it all comes out in the wash.

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