The Apprentice 2011, Week Four: The Truth About Cats And Dogs

If any further proof about the paucity of this year's contenders was required, then their collective inability surrounding grammar, marketing and life served its purpose
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So, we’re back in the boardroom to watch a collection of self-satisfied entrepreneurs crawl over each other in a bid to be BFFs with Lord Alan Sugar, or whatever the prize is. As always we’re greeted by about a day and a half of flashbacks and vox-pops from previous episodes. “This is about courage, whether you’ve got the balls to smell what goes on in business”, says Sugar, who smells with his balls apparently, presumably meaning he must teabag with his nose.

Sticking with tradition we start with an early morning wake-up call, answered by Glen in his towel, to gather the hopefuls in a remote location so they can be given this week’s task. So, in another scene set up to look like a mafia execution, Lord Sir Alan Sugar Daddy greets his serfs. “Good mawning you slaaags,” he infers, before ranting on about pets and stuff.  “I want you to make and brand some pet food, along with a TV ad. Now faaack orf, I’ve got an appointment to slap some poor people.”

Lord Sugar’s aides, Alfred from Batman and Karen from The Apprentice, pick the team leaders. Team logic are given Vincent; a vain and arrogant chap who resembles Gary Neville masquerading as a musketeer. Team logic get Glen, who looks like a Hollyoaks cast member and has surprisingly managed to change out of his towel for a few moments of pretend business.

Vincent immediately takes a hold of his team by shooting down any idea that isn’t his or Jim’s, who I’m fairly sure he’s either in love with or terrified of because he has the eyes and temperament of a serial killer. “My confidence and charisma can overpower certain people,” says Vincent, which roughly translates to ‘I’m the kind of guy who masturbates to my own reflection and can’t yet grow a proper moustache.”

At one point Glen suggested a love story...between animals. Anyone else not want to see his internet history?

We’re soon treated to what can only really be described as a blitzkrieg of puns as both teams try and come up with ideas for pet food names that aren’t so shit dogs will judge them for their inability to command the English language. Some of the best were ‘fur play’, ‘furarri’ and ‘furget about a career in business you’re all one bad idea away from making Halifax ads.’ Needless to say, the latter was mine.  At one point Glen suggested a love story...between animals. Anyone else not want to see his internet history?

The teams go on to attend focus groups with lonely pet owners who have nothing better to do. A dog called Ted spends a good thirty seconds growling at Vincent and sitting on his suit jacket. I’m not fluent in dog but I think he was telling him to shave. Despite said growling, Vincent pitches Venture’s idea of ‘Every Dog’, a food for every type of dog. A vet, fully equipped with a functional brain, tells him that it’s a bad idea on about six different levels. Not being one to acknowledge let alone listen to other people, Vince decides that his flicky, mid-nineties, Wall Street hairstyle is probably the equivalent of a doctorate in Animal Sciences and quite simply ignores him. As he’s stepping out of the door Tom, who seems like a sensitive kind of chap, tells him that he too thinks Every Dog is a bad idea. Vincent ignores him as well, probably because he wears glasses or something. I begin to hope he gets fired. And then punched. And then fired again.

Next up is Glen’s moment to shine. Considering himself a creative, he sits staring thoughtfully out of a car window until he sees some cat’s eyes on the road. It’s his eureka moment, like when Newton was struck by the apple that led the discovery of gravity, or when Stelios took a massive shit and decided to buy a cruise ship. “Cat Size”, he screams, before branding a weirdly image-conscious dietary cat food. And the tagline? “See their light.” Which is obviously a pun on ‘see, they’re light’. Well, maybe not obviously. It’s only just a pun, to be fair. The slogan is so shit that at the time of me writing this it’s still a trending topic on Twitter. Well done, Glen. It won’t be very often in your life you’ll come up with an idea so bad a good proportion of the internet spends an entire evening laughing at you. Probably.

Jim looks like he might try and kill Sugar’s aide Karen with a tin of badly branded dog food

Following this is a casting session and some ad making. Vincent asks one woman what acting experience her dog has, to which she should have replied, ‘he was second choice for Matt Damon’s role in The Departed but his Boston accent and overall knowledge of the area’s culture wasn’t to Scorsese’s liking.’ She didn’t, though. Apparently it’s been in adverts and stuff. And so on goes the X-Factor style dog audition where many are rejected for being too tall, too fury or not athletic enough. What we don’t see however is the aftermath - the traumatised pooches being beaten for their failure, turning to dieting pills and then anorexia so their overbearing, vicarious-fame-seeking owners can finally be proud of them. It’s an ugly business, make no mistake about it.

Leon, meanwhile, representing team Let’s-Be-Rude-To-The-General-Public, is busy telling a woman her cat looks like an ugly chicken, prompting her to glare at him for about thirty heavily edited seconds. At this point it’s hard to tell the teams apart. It’d be like trying to choose your favourite natural disaster.

Finally the products are revealed. Cat Size, besides being the worst sounding idea ever, actually looks like a pet food. That’s not to say that Every Dog doesn’t. It just looks like a Lidl’s own-brand pet food that no one’s really bothered to put any thought into.

With products in place it’s time for the pitches. Team Logic chose Melody to deliver theirs, despite the fact she sounds like she’s had her intonation botoxed.  It’s essentially twenty minutes of ‘this would be incredibly boring if I wasn’t quite pretty and ‘OH MY GOD WHY AM I TALKING SO QUICKLY’ all scaled down into sixty seconds of television. The inevitable comes when someone points out that they shouldn’t have pitched their dog food at all dogs, for the third time, Vincent.

And finally we’re in the boardroom. Alan comes out with his weekly pun; something tragically unfunny to do with Winalot,

Leon leads team Venture’s pitch, starting with a meek, “te-he, ‘morning,” and then rattling on about fat cats or something. Considering he had five hours to prepare, the pitch is the presentation equivalent of 9/11. It’s a bit like he’s trying to ask a girl out on a date, knowing full well she’ll reject him because he can’t help stumbling over his words and giggling like a schoolboy who’s just drawn a penis on his friend’s textbook. “No one’s actually said how well I did,” he says afterwards, missing the point and prompting everyone to be sycophantic for the 1,469th time this series.

And finally we’re in the boardroom. Alan comes out with his weekly pun; something tragically unfunny to do with Winalot, and everyone makes grandiose claims they can’t back up: “Half the cats in this country are overweight and obese,” fires Glen, prompting Daily Mail headline writers to flood to their laptops. “I have great hair,” thinks Vincent, prompting everyone to think he’s a tool bag. After some arguing and a moment where Jim looks like he might try and kill Sugar’s aide Karen with a tin of badly branded dog food, Vincent’s team are declared losers, because Every Dog is still as bad an idea as it was an hour ago. He’s lost every task so far. At this point he might as well sleep under Lord Sugar’s desk, or just fuck of back to the almost-nearly-a-model-but-actually-not-that-nearly school.

Vincent picks Ellie and Natasha to go back into the boardroom with him, but as Alfred from Batman points out, it’s only because he’s scared of Jim and his serial-killer eyes, or because he fancies him. Either/or. Natasha is there for ‘not asking any questions’ apparently and Ellie is there for not being Jim. One of the girls claims Vincent was so far up Jim’s behind he couldn’t see the wood for the trees. There’s an awkward silence as Vince visualises this, whilst licking his lips and thrusting his hands deep into his pockets. You may have missed it, it was very subtle. So subtle in fact it might not have happened.

Ultimately, Ellie gets fired for something insignificant, and, as what was presumably a coup de grace for pedigree chump Vincent, Lord Sir Alan Sugar Daddy gives him the boot, too. “I’m very surprised that Lord Sugar fired me,” he says, whilst getting lost in his own eyes reflected in the camera lens.

Next week: The same thing, but ever so slightly different.

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