Sound the alarm bells: it’s happening again. Remember when EastEnders went to Ireland, and tripped over a donkey riding a drunk leprechaun through a field of paramilitary heather? Expect similar cultural sensitivities this week. For God’s sake, don’t mention the Hoff – The Apprentice goes to Germany!
“Good morning!” chirruped a flip-flopped Jamie irritatingly into the Sugphone, as daylight flooded Apprentice HQ.
Another lie-in this week; Lord Sugar must have been in a terribly good mood due to the upcoming royal nuptuals, being, as they are, the perfect opportunity to repurpose crateloads of unsold Charles ‘n’ Di commemorative Amstrads using only a bit of Tippex.
Lady Sexyvoice informed the troops that finally, they were being flown off to exotic foreign climes for a couple of days. And once the more excitable female viewership has been given a chance for a Diet Coke break to ogle the topless men, taking particular note of Christopher’s rather impressive tattoos, and Stuart-Baggs-The-Brand’s whimpered fears about being inexplicably sent to a war zone, the candidates were swept off to Belgravia.
Giddy as a bus full of third-years on a foreign exchange, hepped up on the idea of continental beers and relaxed drinking laws, they spotted a familiar tricolour marking their German Embassy destination and a dark cloud fell over Christopher’s face. “I don’t like the Germans,” he muttered ominously. And nor, it seems, do the Apprentice’s producers; they ratcheted up the sinister “Sirs: we are at WAR!” music as the Good Lord informed the teams that inside the embassy, they are technically on German soil. They smiled politely in reply and Christopher’s panicked eyes darted about looking for hidden snipers.
Their task this week: take a little bit of England’s bounteous world of snack to our Teutonic brothers, designing and selling new flavours of crisps to the great and good on Hamburg. On Team Apollo, Stuart cried off being PM for a second week in a row, stating he’s “knackered” from patiently sending photos signed “Ever yours, The Brand” to all the hate mailers he’s gained after his Captain Bellend performance last week. He instead laughed up his sleeve and recommended Stella as PM. He reasoned later that she’s a Cautious Carol and dammit, he’d been listening to the intros and he was sure that she’d be a goner if they lost. On Synergy, Chris begged for the chance to redeem himself from his desperate losing streak in his usual expressionless monotone and the others just about stayed awake long enough to agree.
Onto picking the flavours to blow the socks off the people of Hamburg. Synergy plumped for taking the mountain to Mohammed, reasoning that people want to buy flavours of crisps that they are familiar with eating, hence the Brit’s favourite breakfast of salty vinegar (with extra salt). Unfortunately, Synergy didn’t seem to have the greatest of German culinary knowledge. Goulash was their first bright idea; Luscious Liz followed this up by growling “sausage!” for the benefit of all the husbands shifting uncomfortably next to their wives on their sofas and grabbing for the nearest cushion.
Apollo, on the other hand, took the contrary line of ‘thinking’. Distil the essence of British cuisine and force it down German throats in thin potato form…why, that’ll wipe out YEARS of simmering inter-nation resentment! A few flavour ideas are thrown out – sausage and egg, Sunday roast – all of which will taste exactly like a bilious hangover sprinkled with Worcestershire sauce, if those rank Walkers special edition crisps were anything to go by. But the brainstorm petered out when Jo foghorned CURRY CURRY CURRY CURRY CURRY all over it, which rendered any human within 50 feet incapable of rational thought.
Stuart and Jo for Apollo and Christopher and Jamie for Synergy were sent ahead to Hamburg to research and sweet-talk the natives with their terrible phrasebook German. Christopher, the British Letchery Attache, attempted to master a chat-up line in German and ended up sounding like a broken Finnish robot; Stuart claimed that no language barrier cannot be clambered over with his extreme masculinity. He proved this by proudly counting to 20 in German, which will come in very handy for the game of hide ‘n’ seek which ends every big international trade deal.
Christopher and Jamie wrapped their gobs around some currywurst and fell in love instantly, as any sane person would. That’s all they needed to convince Chris and Liz, back in Gloucestershire in their Willy Wonka crisp laboratory, that their “traditional German flavours” idea is a definite winner. Karren Brady daintily tastes a crisp and ends up choking on smoked sausage. hecklerspray is saying nothing.
Stuart and Jo decided to take more time over their market research, scouring the crisp shelves of a local supermarket and finding little else but walls and walls of curry and paprika. Then followed three minutes of arse-clenching Apprentice gold: Stuart surveying the German crisp market and declaring he’d spotted and wished to fill “the sausage gap.” hecklerspray starts shaking uncontrollably. Stuart and Jo took to a tavern to chug a few steins of ale and sample the best sausages Hamburg has to offer. Stuart was offered a white sausage. Stuart blankly stated “I’ve got one of those.” hecklerspray collapses into a crumpled, defeated heap.
As we come to, Jo was slumped in the back of a cab like a bitter divorcee at the end of a hen night and called Stella and Laura to tell them that she loves them, they’re her best mates and to drone on and on about curry again. Slight problem there, said Stella, as they’d already made three hundredweight of good old British Aberdeen Angus and Chilli (meh) and Stilton and Paprika (barf!) flavours.
“I want a sausage and I want curry!” cried Jo. Alright, love. We’ve all had a drink here. Best you just get back to the hotel before you have a little accident.
But of course, just having the crisps wasn’t enough – you need people to sell to. To the cold-calling-mobiles! Christopher and Jamie experienced the giddy thrill of a telegraphed plot point as they set up an appointment with a big customer. Offered 9am or 1pm, they accept the earlier slot until Jamie remembered that they’re on holiday and he wanted to take full advantage of the free hotel breakfast. He changes it to 1pm.
They somehow failed to hear the dramatic DUN-DUN-DUHHHH! that greeted this decision and carried on their merry way.
Stuart grumbled that Jo is not making enough effort with talking all that foreign stuff. Eager to impress, he broke out his best “Entschuldigung HALLO!” and insisted on telling everyone in his eyeline that “das ist wunderbar”, having clearly learnt all his language skills from watching The League Of Gentlemen. In fact, he even dropped in a nice little reference for the fanboys, calling himself Herr Baggs, leading to the distinct and troubling possibility he will be all over our screens on Radiohead-soundtracked road safety adverts by next summer, solemnly turning to camera and asking if Herr Baggs could save YOUR life.
Early next morning, the teams were reunited under a beautiful misty Germanic sky and set about assaulting the colons of the innocent Hamburgians with their fatty flakes. First stop for Stella and Jo was the 9am appointment at the Marriott so catastrophically passed over by Christopher and Jamie, where, of course, the Brit-crisps go down a storm and Jo negotiates six months’ worth of crispy goodness for the Marriott customer and a hefty wodge of cash for their team.
The other half of Apollo, Baggs and Boo-hoo, headed to a Sugar-sponsored meeting with a severe man surrounded by sandwiches who rather gloriously appeared to be called Mike Sandwich. Stuart does his bit to link hands across the seas by warning Laura not to gabble like a startled turkey and instead speak slowly and clearly, as if addressing a moronic infant. Laura responded by inventing the word “gourmethandcookednaturalcrispmarket” and shrieking it into Mike Sandwich’s aura of complete incomprehension. Flailing in a torrent of Laura’s word soup, Mike Sandwich diplomatically stated that he would get back to them and went about booting them out of the front door. Apollo sloped out with nary a centime.
Synergy, meanwhile, got chased out of one cafe for not having “funny chips”, got chased out of another cafe for bothering a petrified waitress who can’t speak English and has no buying power, and run back and forth across Hamburg like they were being pursued by a janitor in a large sheet with crudely-cut eyeholes. Chris and Liz eventually sold a few samples to a large department store, but by the time they got to their 1pm with the Marriott manager and were told he had already fulfilled all his crisp needs with a mysterious British company that very morning, the desperation billowed off them in huge, stinking clouds. They begged, pleaded and grovelled but nothing convinced a faintly disgusted Mr Marriott to add to his crisp mountain. And Battleship Synergy seems pretty much sunk.
But all wa not sunshine and rainbows in Apollo. As Stuart and Laura headed to an appointment with another hotel chain, they discovered Stella and Jo have nipped in there to claim the lucrative deal before them. Laura threw an almighty textbook tantrum, scoring full marks with the judges for her excellent use of the Nose-Cutting-Face-Spiting Gambit and fabulous technical work around the tricky “sulky strop in heels on cobbles” manoeuvre. However, Laura’s boundless negativity and much-prized “Heftiest Huff 2010” trophy came too late to sabotage Apollo’s boardroom chances. They were declared Kings of Crisps and whisked off to Bond Street with the Good Lord’s credit card to buy some truly ugly dresses and rebrand The Brand with a designer jumper – but tucked into his jeans, of course. For The Brand knows how to look fierce and The Brand changes for no label.
The Good Lord wearily stated his massive arseache with seeing the same people back across his boardroom table once again. Chris, lovable stony-faced four-time boardroom loser, discovered that Jamie and Christopher handed victory in a Pringles tin to Apollo by dilly-dallying over the 9am appointment slot and was so furious he almost, but not quite, managed an expression. Christopher smoothly rifled Jamie right between the eyes with his blame-sniper, sending Jamie into a linguistic tailspin as he admitted that “the early berm gets the word.” A nation sighed and remembered language-mangler Melissa. We miss you, Melissa. Hurry back and entertainulate us again soonington.
Corporate glamourpuss android and inevitable boring winner Liz was allowed to escape as Chris took Christopher and Jamie back for the final reckoning. The Good Lord joined the artillery barrage on Jamie, asking for just one simple example of his supposed brilliance. But he tired of waiting for Jamie to arrange his plummy consonants into a coherent sentence and instead moved onto Christopher and his hard-working well-liked qualities. Because hey, everyone loves Christopher, especially when he’s drooling over octo-limbed actresses and spouting random German race-hate!
The Good Lord bowed his head and sadly murmured that no-one really likes him because of his abrasive mannah. But that mannah blaady got him where he blaady is today and he’s got no time for Nigel Nice-Guys. And so, ignoring Chris completely, possibly because Chris had stayed perfectly still and morphed into an unnoticed Easter Island statue, the Good Lord washed his hands of Christopher in the first really surprising firing of the series.
And so The Brand rises again! The Brand is unstoppable! Long live The Brand!
Harry Hill TV Burp moment: We give up. Instead, please enjoy this appropriate ditty from Adam and Joe.
Next week: 10 items, 10 hours – it’s the random object selling challenge! Who will offload their four tonnes of chicken feet and abstract concept of despair for most? Our guess: it’s gotta be Baggs, baby.