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21st May 2012 22:38:00
Posted by Dean Love

Keep Fit

The Apprentice candidates try to keep fighting fit as Sir Alan Sugar finds another one out for the count
For the first time this season, I'm genuinely annoyed by the show. It didn't make sense, because we didn't have all the rules. But we'll get to that.

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The task is to design a fitness class for gyms to license and sell to their customers. It needs to be original, interesting and stand-out from the crowd. So we get boxercise and 80s dance. Without wanting to sound like a broken record, Katie was once again seemingly the only person in her team with any ideas. Her first, a speed-dating exercise class, was actually quite innovative and interesting. Her second, a vague 'retro' theme was what the team eventually went with. Space hoppers, hula-hoops and skipping ropes with an 80s feel. Remember those three items, they'll be important later.

Over on the other team, favourite victim of my piss-taking, the professional wrestler Ricky Martin, tells us that they call him "The Fitness". The sad thing is that while that sounds like one of those awful Apprentice boasts, in this case it's actually true which somehow makes it far, far worse. Because of that, he clearly has to be project manager. Obviously he's open to other peoples ideas, but keeps poking martial arts into all of them because it's his thing. He's not even forthright and straight about it, and it's horribly creepy because of that.

So with their concepts, the teams go off to produce videos to sell their product. Duane is directing the commercial for one team and has Azhar dressed in 80s garb, including tiny shorts, doing 80s dance moves. It's truly cringe-worthy, and Azhar looks like he wishes he was dead. It's an oddity, because The Apprentice isn't a show that shies away from embarrassing its contestants (indeed, the fact that Laura hosts the other team's video and that Azhar is doing this at all would suggest that the brief insisted that one team member be in the advert). What's interesting is that Azhar is a strong candidate and... well impressions can mean a lot, especially as Sugar will often get rid of a candidate because he decides he doesn't like them. Azhar is strong but quite serious and controlled, and it almost seems like they did this to him on purpose to try and undermine him somehow. Which would be a damn smart move.

While Azhar's shorts are very tight and revealing, and a big deal is made about it, on the other team Laura's top is very tight and revealing and no-one bats an eyelid. Duane gets a bit upset in the car back from the shoot as he felt undermined by his other two team-mates, effectively sealing his own fate. Not only can those team-mates now claim in the boardroom that they disagreed on parts of the advert (and the bust-up in the car proves this) they now have carte-blanche to not participate in the editing side of thing at all and blame anything that goes wrong on Duane.

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The pitches are cringe-worthy but it's the boardroom results that are truly embarrassing. One team gets a few orders and a Ł5,000 'development deal' as the one gym wanted to work with them on further developing the idea. Work with who, exactly? They're not a real company and even if they were, by the time the show is done they might all have been fired. It's nonsensical. The other team make more money and so win. There's a small niggle though. They said they'd include the equipment (space hoppers, hula-hoops and skipping ropes remember) in with the licenses they were selling. The team made up some costings by picking (very low) figures out of thin air, but even these weren't deducted from their final figure.
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An embarrassing over-sight by all involved? Well no, because the issue was bought up numerous times throughout the show and again by Sugar in the boardroom to point out how stupid they were. But nothing was done about it, no penalty was assessed, it was simply ignored. Were The Apprentice a police procedural, it's as if the main character shot his partner dead at the start of episode, everyone is commenting on how bad he was for doing that throughout the episode, and then it's entirely forgotten about by the end. To add insult to injury, Sugar even tells the losing team that the winners made more money "whichever way you look at it" and I'm starting to think the editors are trying to make Sir Alan look stupid on purpose.

Given the result, promising that free equipment wasn't stupid at all, it was an utterly genius way of working around the rules of the task. Personally I'd have gone with the "iPad workout" you do a workout at the gym and fill in with custom exercises delivered by an iPad app at home. There are free iPads for all members of the class.

So Ricky ends up bringing back Duane and Laura, because it's mostly agreed that the video was to blame for the 'loss'. Duane actually comes to Laura's defense, despite their earlier bust-up, perhaps because he realises that if she turns on him she can sink him entirely. It's not enough though, and Lord Sugar is so fed up of candidates making last minute pleas for leniency that he outright tells them he's about to go into his closing monologue so they need to shut up. Inevitably, Duane is gone.

Next week: Edinburgh! And plenty of confusion over accents.