The Apprentice – Ready Meals
Week 9 of The Apprentice was all about creating a new ready meal, and for one unlucky candidate it certainly left a bad taste in their mouth.
This week sees Lord Sugar get everyone up at the crack of dawn to meet him at the Gherkin. The task this week is to design and create a new ready meal. Alex is put out of his misery early and doesn’t have to suffer another week of being overlooked for the Project Manager’s role as Lord Sugar demands that he takes the helm for Team Endeavour. Team Evolve are left to their own devices and although Francesca fancies herself in the position, Luisa (who else?) decides that Neil should be the Project Manager.
Alex and Myles look after the branding side of business for Team Endeavour, and Alex has to be reined in several times by Myles as he jumps from one crazy idea to the next without first establishing their target market. They eventually decide on children’s ready meals.
From the off, Neil decides the direction they need to go in is fusion and quickly dreams up two cuisines that should never, ever meet – there is a good reason that some countries are so far apart from each, you know, just in case you ever end up accidentally eating some Thai noodles with Caribbean chicken. Both the women declare themselves unable to cook, which is particularly surprising given that Luisa owns a cupcake business, but again Luisa manipulates her way into the branding team with Neil while hapless, really can’t cook, Francesca is sent packing out of sight to the kitchen.
Alex decides that Leah and Jordan should be responsible for coming up with a ready meal children will actually eat, whilst he and Myles argue over whether the theme should be a monster/spooky theme or a geography theme. Myles manages to convince Alex that his idea is better and the concept ‘Horrible Healthy Meals’ is born. For me, as a parent to young children, this immediately fails on two points – the first is that no parent will buy something that says ‘horrible’ on it and secondly, no child will want something that says ‘healthy’, but what do I know?
The branding teams each work with a slightly bemused graphic designer, Team Evolves ‘Oh My Pow’ packaging looks like a washing powder box, whilst the overuse of skulls on the ‘Deadly Dinners’ packaging makes you want to immediately store it away under lock and key with the toilet cleaner.
It’s a mixed bag in the industrial kitchens, Francesca is following Luisa’s detailed list of ingredients and cooking instructions (Luisa who can’t cook savoury), scarily she doesn’t bother to taste as she goes along; probably because she knows it will be awful—Caribbean and Thai? Come on!
At least Leah and Jordan manage to come up with a meal that will actually appeal to the taste buds of children, pasta and tomato sauce with a few disguised prawns will placate even the most fussiest of eaters especially if you tell them it’s bat’s blood.
With the recipes concocted, the teams take their fare to the unsuspecting public. A group of students (probably the only market who would entertain such a bizarre mix of flavours) turn their noses up at the fusion food, saying that it didn’t possess any ‘pow’ and was bland and tasteless. The pasta dish goes down well with a group of infant school children but the packaging and concept left the parents cold.
Undeterred by their market research results, both teams plough ahead with their original ideas and set about their creating their pitches for buyers.
With two supermarkets and an online buyer lined up, the teams had to try and sell their ready meal concepts. Myles is first in the hot seat; although his pitch is derailed rather comically by Alex’s over-zealous pricking of cellophane wrapping and not knowing how a microwave works. Seriously, a 22 year old cannot work a microwave, the future doesn’t look bright.
Neil desperately tries to persuade his first clients to buy the not so ‘oh my pow’ fusion rubbish by promising that they’ll add in some flavour if they place an order.
With the pitches over it is back to the boardroom to find out which team has won any orders, if any, and who will be fired.
Lord Sugar takes great delight in telling the teams that their products are quite frankly rubbish, although I suspect it’s been a while since Lord Sugar has ever eaten a ready meal. The numbers are announced and the only order secured by Team Endeavour was the pitch delivered by Jordan, clearly they were impressed by the use of the term ‘purchasing manager’ when in fact he meant ‘mum’. The other two buyers were put off by the skulls and deadly angles.
Unbelievably, Team Evolve managed to convince two of the three suppliers to buy their fusion confusion and they are declared the winners and sent off to perhaps the most boring treat to date. So boring I can’t actually remember what it was other than it involved an aerodrome in Northampton.
Alex as Project Manager felt the downfall of the task was purely down to Myles’ ‘deadly dinners’ idea and for the first time in the series he’s absolutely right. He wanted to let Leah and Jordan off the hook, but Lord Sugar insisted that he bring in a third person into the boardroom so Leah was the unlucky candidate.
The boardroom showdown was only going to go one way, Leah put up an impassioned fight for her safety and Myles has proved himself to be a worthy candidate throughout the series so he could be forgiven for this week’s slip up. However, Alex’s lack of direction and seemingly poor business idea meant that Lord Sugar really didn’t have any other alternative, but to fire him.
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