The Apprentice: Alan's dilemma resolved

By: Simon Wicks

Date: 2 June 2011

Missed the fifth episode? Catch up here.

The task

Is it really week five already? How has Vince lasted this long? Thank heavens he has, though, because this week – finally – we get the full diluted Monsieur Disneur in all his unremarkable blandness. Yup. He's a team leader. I've waited five weeks for this.

His opposite number is Glenn – sorry, GLENN, AWRIGHT? – who seems determined to prove himself more assertive, more creative and more obnoxious than anyone else on the show. He wins on all three counts.

Their task? Create, brand and pitch a pet food. Vince is magnificently awful throughout. Quite possibly he's more Vince than he's ever been in his life. This is his big moment to show the world he's got what it takes.

“We're creating a product that appeals to everybody!” he proclaims with revelatory zeal.I want every cat, every dog, every animal you want. IT'S BRILLIANT!” Ok, he wasn't quite as fervent as that, but he was somewhere between limp and mildly assertive and for a second there – just for a second – naaah, just kidding. Then the vet speaks. “You can't feed the same food to every kind of dog,” he explains wearily. “It just doesn't work.”

The view of industry experts isn't enough to put Vince off, though. For the first time in his life he's on a mission. Kind of. Glenn, on the other hand, really is on a mission. “NO GUTS, NO GLORY!” Yes, he actually said that. Glenn is the polar opposite of Vince. It's almost like it's deliberate. Hmmm, I wonder...

Glenn overrides every suggestion of his team, regardless of common sense, sound reasoning or evidence. So 'Catsize' it is – geddit? It's a pun, a play on words. It's a double-entendre. You know, like 'cat's eyes'. He spends most of the programme explaining this to people while they roll their eyes. He's assertive and decisive, though, so that's all right.

So there's branding, there's a TV advert, there's a pitch before ad execs and industry bigwigs. Then there's the boardroom. Lord Sugar presents his dilemma – Venture have created a focused product that could go on the shelves tomorrow, but their advert is dull. Logic have absolute no focus at all, but their advert is quite funny. Come on Sugar, it's no dilemma at all, is it? Glenn wins.

Tom and Vince are on the losing team for the fifth successive week. There's a riveting exchange between Sugar and Jim, who seems to think it's a good idea to argue the toss with the bearded one in his own boardroom. “I've got your card marked, son,” growls Sugar, sharply. Fantastic. Sugar has noticed that Jim has amazing powers of mind control over others. “I don't know why,” he sniffs.

Vince is somewhat easier for Jim to influence, though, and predictably he takes two women into the boardroom, one of whom was the sole team member to perform well. Did I mention that Vince has poor judgement? Incredibly, it's Ellie who is fired, for being generally nondescript. Vince survives! Or does he...?

“I've got the feeling that you're too in awe of other people and that you're playing a risky game,” Sugar tells Vince, almost wearily. “So I think a message needs to go back. You're fired, too.”

NO! NOT VINCE! NO! YOU CAN'T DO THIS! I am bereft. About time, though. He really is rubbish.

Best bit

The dog casting. First, Vince tries to charm the dogs. Vince, these are not 18-year-old girls waiting at bus stops. “What a beautiful dog. Labrador right?” he purrs, urbanely. Pause, while corrected. “Oh, a golden retriever.”

Then he tries to charm the owners. “So what's he been in?” he urbanely enquires of a particularly bored sounding Jack Russell owner. “A few adverts, Midsomer Murders, the usual sort of thing.” Sniff.

Next, he tries to be professional and dynamic.

Vince: “Can we have the dog on all fours?”

Owner: “Standing up, you mean?”

Vince (desperately trying to recover): “Yeah, yeah, standing up.”

Comedy gold.

Worst bit

Almost everything involving Glenn. When he wasn't boasting about how CREATIVE he was, he was browbeating colleagues for not showing him enough RESPECT. He was also PATRONISING, ARROGANT and EGOTISTICAL. He probably thinks those are good things.

Winners and losers

Are you kidding me? You think anybody came out of this well? Ok, Tom displayed his customary common-sense, accompanied by his customary lack of charisma. Natasha, surprisingly, did well. I guess Glenn was the biggest winner, though.

No doubt about the biggest loser. Sugar has Jim in his sights: “I don't know what you're made of, mate. Is it brains or is it b*llocks?” Jim - he's marked your card, son.

Business lessons

  1. You can't feed the same food to every kind of dog. As Karren Brady said: “You might as well have called it 'Any old dog'."
  2. Know your facts when giving a presentation. Leon was dreadful: “Omega 3 is good for err.. it's good for the brain. It's good for cat's brains. Ahem. I don't really know why. Cough. Sorry about that. Hem.”
  3. When in doubt think, “What would Vince do?” Then do something else entirely.

Quote of the week

“I felt we were just in our infancy in terms of what I had to show Lord Sugar.” Vince, we'll miss you.

Missed this episode? Watch it on BBC iPlayer.

Lord Sugar's profitometer

You think you can profit from firing Vince? Oh, you've blown it now, Sugar, you've really blown it now.

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