The Apprentice 2011, Week Seven: From Mags To Riches

After turning muck into brass, the teams were asked to create a free magazine. Natasha said 'yeah' a lot, Jim patronised everyone over the age of 60 and talked cobblers...
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Mouth-watering stuff this week, as the assorted rabble of deluded goons and business misfits were charged with the task of making one of those free magazines that most of us try to avoid being handed in the middle of the street. These ‘do something creative’ episodes are always a joy, as creativity requires empathy and the Apprentice candidates normally possess the collective empathy of a mass grave.

Natasha’s team, Logic, quickly decided that a lads’ mag was where it was at, obviously not realising that it isn’t 1996 any more and not having noticed the plummeting circulations of these things in recent years. The white board came out and buzzwords like ‘boobs’, ‘women’ and ‘nacked’ were scrawled on it. They might as well have drawn a picture of a train filled with shit careering over the edge of the Grand Canyon on there as well.

Meanwhile, Evil Jim’s team, Venture, decided that the over-60s market is where it’s at. Odd choice – how do you hand out a free street magazine to pensioners when it’s a known fact that they’re terrified of leaving the house, unless it’s to get on the free bus to Morrison’s every Wednesday morning to stock up on cheap sherry and tins of corned beef?

Logic’s collective arse quickly dropped as they began to feel uncomfortable with the laddish nature of, erm, lads’ mags and opted to add some more businesslike, entrepreneurial content to it. That’s a bit like the bosses of Babestation ordering their writhing oiled-up girls to stop stroking themselves in a suggestive manner with the phone and to do a Sudoku instead.

Their angle was to try and patronise them to death, suggesting content like puzzles to help keep their rotting brains alive

Next, it was time for both teams to address their target readership and Venture’s Glenn and Susan went to visit a bowling club to speak to some of the crumblies that hung out there. Their angle was to try and patronise them to death, suggesting content like puzzles to help keep their rotting brains alive and diabolical mag titles like Vital Life, Joy, Radiance and Eternal. Basically, they’d gone in armed with a list of rejected team names from episode one. Arseholes.

As for Logic, they got into a brainstorming scrum with a rugby team who were interested in the entrepreneurial tone of the prospective mag (now named Covered) and urged Logic to raise the tone. Jesus, when you’ve got a rugby team pleading for lads’ mags to raise the tone, you have to wonder what kind of nation we’ve become. God help us if there’s ever a war.

An air of mild panic enveloped Venture as they realised that they were halfway to completely fucking this up, with Evil Jim bringing out his thousand yard stare as alternative mag names like The Old Boot and Pension Mention were thrown around. That’s Pension Mention. One more time, eh? Pension Mention. Evil Jim started looking desperate and I imagined him ordering the inclusion of a scratch ‘n’ sniff page that stank of piss. Finally they settled on Hip Replacement, purely because it was a name that no one massively hated.

It was photoshoot time next, and Logic brought in a scantily-clad girl and a few props, wisely opting to use ALL of the props together. ‘I want you to think business and I want you to think surfing’ urged Tom as the girl held on to a surfboard while pretending to clinch a deal on her mobile with her knockers hanging out for good measure. To add idiocy to injury they then stuck a construction worker’s hat on for reasons that we can never truly know. Honestly, sluts walked last weekend for THIS?

It was at this point that I had a eureka moment and realised that the mags should in fact be merged and called Pension Pants Party

The Hip Replacement shoot was slightly more successful, with an ageing couple having a cuddle and looking at ease with themselves – the kind of pose that said ‘I’m glad I’m not in Switzerland in a documentary with Terry Pratchett.’ It was at this point that I had a eureka moment and realised that the mags should in fact be merged and called Pension Pants Party. With Helen Mirren on the cover. Well I’d buy it...

The Covered team then hit the streets for more reader interaction, stopping assorted young men and bewildering them with the bizarre question ‘How do you blow your load?’ I desperately wanted one of them to say, ‘I’m glad you’ve asked me that. I like to lock myself in the bathroom, watch Madonna’s Open Your Heart video on my iPhone and then spaff my junk out into a tube sock’ but to no avail. Just me then...

With the presses rolling, it was time for the idiots to pitch their ludicrous mags to ad buyers. In truth, they’d both fucked up – no one under 25 can read and no one over 60 can see so where’s the potential readership? It was their first interaction with actual professional grown-ups who do this all the time and both teams got the withering contempt that they deserved, with Jim trying to play hardball, refusing to negotiate at first and getting sent on his way as a result. Phew – to the boardroom.

They’re not complete morons and the teams got their initial excuses in before the results were even announced, both of them expecting to have lost the task. But thanks to one major ad sell, Logic and their lads’ mag were the winners, an announcement that saw Evil Jim’s face twitch as he readied himself to go to war in order to save his own skin. Logic headed off to their treat, some fencing lessons. Shittiest. Treat. Ever. Although Stuart Baggs would have loved it.

For the losers, there came the traditional trip to the Bridge Cafe as Venture supped from the chipped mug of tea of defeat, tea that was spiked with a couple of shots of impending verbal carnage. Evil Jim brooded, knowing that end game was approaching.

Evil Jim’s tactic soon became apparent – portray yourself as some kind of tragic hero while blaming everyone else for everything

Once they were back in the boardroom for the autopsy of Hip Replacement, Evil Jim’s tactic soon became apparent – portray yourself as some kind of tragic hero while blaming everyone else for everything. He claimed his team members all loved him (yeah, but in the same way that Josef Fritzl’s daughter loved HIM), while accusing Susan of being a mouse. If he’d force-fed her a handful of poison and then gently held her head against his shoulder, stroking it as she quietly expired, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid.

Taking Glenn and Susan back into the boardroom with him, Evil Jim’s descent into swivel-eyed madness continued, like a dictator who knows that his time is up. At one point I half-expected him to say, 'Lord Sugar, here's my lighter. Let's see which one of us can hold our hand in the flame the longest'. The fucker was probably carrying a knife in his sock as well.  Sugar should have asked him about his relationship with his father – he’d probably have crumbled and sobbed like a baby.

But somehow, it was Glenn who got the chop, seemingly because he’s an engineer and Lord Sugar has some kind of inexplicable mistrust of engineers. Oh and because his actual day job is to collect football stickers for a living or something. It transpired that he’d almost certainly gone on The Apprentice by mistake. Go on Glenn, fuck off back to your book club and your knitting or whatever it is you do.

Evil Jim survived, but everyone in that house needs to be sleeping with one eye open from now on. Next week: Lord Sugar says, 'We're off to Paris. Here's two accordions and two monkeys what smoke. Now GO!'

Can’t wait.

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