Tommy the Talking Turtle, unicorns, slime, and Polaris missiles… The task of designing toys aimed at 6-8 year-olds went predictably wrong on The Apprentice, by Jim Shelley

The Apprentice usually makes it impossible not to conclude that the candidates’ only actual talent is getting dressed quickly.

Specifically, the ability to be showered, suited & booted, with hair and make-up looking immaculate – all in less than twenty minutes - at 4 o’clock in the morning.

And that’s just the boys…

Lacking: The Apprentice usually makes it impossible not to conclude that the candidates’ only actual talent is getting dressed quickly

Lacking: The Apprentice usually makes it impossible not to conclude that the candidates’ only actual talent is getting dressed quickly

For the women it’s even more impressive.

Incredibly though, this week’s episode featured some decent ideas and even, yes, signs of talent, from the winners and even in the losing team.

Admittedly, this didn’t stop both sides from still messing up the task, and managing to ruin any good things they had come up with.

But you can’t have everything…

Talented: Incredibly though, this week’s episode featured some decent ideas and even, yes, signs of talent, from the winners and even in the losing team

Talented: Incredibly though, this week’s episode featured some decent ideas and even, yes, signs of talent, from the winners and even in the losing team

Lord Sugar required them to ‘design a toy for 6-8 year-olds and produce an online video to promote it.’

One side had the sense to combine two crazes – for unicorns and slime – with a good name for their brand, ‘Slime Kingdom.’

The other created ‘Tommy the Talking Turtle’, a cute-looking creature with a contemporary concept (positive messages) that, like their rivals’, did impress the buyers at John Lewis and Hamleys.

Unfortunately, the first team then produced a video (and a product) that hardly featured any slime. The second meanwhile ensured their toy didn’t appeal to 6-8 year-olds (the target market Lord Sugar wanted) but kids much younger - and easier to please.

Unique: As its name suggested Tommy The Talking Turtle was largely the creation of Thomas Skinner, the ‘larger than life’ Cockney geezer possibly dreamt up by The Fast Show

Unique: As its name suggested Tommy The Talking Turtle was largely the creation of Thomas Skinner, the ‘larger than life’ Cockney geezer possibly dreamt up by The Fast Show

As its name suggested Tommy The Talking Turtle was largely the creation of Thomas Skinner, the ‘larger than life’ Cockney geezer possibly dreamt up by The Fast Show.

In hindsight, the way Skinner started the episode didn’t bode well.

The candidates were woken at 4am and instructed to rendezvous with Lord Sugar at the Cambridge Theatre.

‘What do you reckon it’s about?’ wondered Souleyman.

‘Something to do with theatre!’ Tommy answered, confidently (typically).

This showed how poor his judgment was.

Random: It’s one of The Apprentice’s strongest traditions that the location of their meeting with Lord Sugar has nothing to do with the theme of the task

Random: It’s one of The Apprentice’s strongest traditions that the location of their meeting with Lord Sugar has nothing to do with the theme of the task

It’s one of The Apprentice’s strongest traditions that the location of their meeting with Lord Sugar has nothing to do with the theme of the task.

And so it proved…

The Cambridge Theatre is currently home to ‘Matilda – the musical.’

‘It tells the story of an extraordinary little girl, who had a sharp mind and a vivid imagination,’ Lord Sugar told them. ‘And imagination is exactly what your need for your next task: designing a toy for 6-8 year olds.’

Going to a toyshop would have been far too obvious…

Changes: After two defeats for the Boys, Sugar also mixed the candidates up. ‘You’re going to win! You’re on the Girls’ team now!’ Scarlett told her new colleagues

Changes: After two defeats for the Boys, Sugar also mixed the candidates up. ‘You’re going to win! You’re on the Girls’ team now!’ Scarlett told her new colleagues

After two defeats for the Boys, Sugar also mixed the candidates up.

‘You’re going to win! You’re on the Girls’ team now!’ Scarlett told her new colleagues, not quite grasping the concept that there was no such thing anymore, or the fact that the other lads were too.

Choosing the names was, as is also traditional on The Apprentice, excruciating.

The need to see Ryan-Mark and Lottie Lion working together – ideally going into business with Lord Sugar – grew more urgent when Ryan-Mark suggested ‘Team Fabulous’ (provoking a fabulous eye-roll from Karren Brady).

Power: Lottie meanwhile came up with Team Polaris – ‘inspired by the British missile.’ She explained the logic of her idea thus: ‘It had direction, it had a large impact, it had power’

Power: Lottie meanwhile came up with Team Polaris – ‘inspired by the British missile.’ She explained the logic of her idea thus: ‘It had direction, it had a large impact, it had power’

Lottie meanwhile came up with Team Polaris – ‘inspired by the British missile.’

She explained the logic of her idea thus:

‘It had direction, it had a large impact, it had power.’

It had the capacity to kill, maim, and devastate your opposition…

Are we sure Lottie’s really a librarian?

I’m not convinced.

Her colleagues looked similarly alarmed and suggested ‘something more peaceful, like Team Unison – to reflect that we’re all working in unison.’

Polarising: Given how the candidates usually behave on The Apprentice, the name Unison was way more inappropriate than Polaris

Polarising: Given how the candidates usually behave on The Apprentice, the name Unison was way more inappropriate than Polaris

Given how the candidates usually behave on The Apprentice, the name Unison was way more inappropriate than Polaris.

Tommy put himself forward on the grounds: ‘I design and make products for a living.’

‘Toys specifically?’ asked Pamela.

No pillows, but that was beside the point.

The Project Manager had staged a similarly rational coup.

‘I’ve done commercials. I have an entertainment background. This is such a Riyonn task!’ declared, um, Riyonn.

The fact he was talking about himself in the third person also didn’t bode well for their chances.

Oops: Riyonn probably should have been fired when his team secured a grand total of ZERO orders (compared to their opponents’ two thousands units)

Oops: Riyonn probably should have been fired when his team secured a grand total of ZERO orders (compared to their opponents’ two thousands units)

Riyonn probably should have been fired when his team secured a grand total of ZERO orders (compared to their opponents’ two thousands units).

Lord Sugar fired Souleyman Bah instead.

This was less of a shock than the episode featuring a few decent ideas and a flicker of talent.

It’s also traditional on The Apprentice that, in his eyes, a candidate who was absolutely useless and wrong about every key decision is better than one who was right all along and didn’t contribute very much to the task.

Never mind that this was mostly because their teammates didn't listen and wouldn’t let them.

Or that not contributing to a defeat seemed like a good thing rather than a bad, let alone a reason to fire someone. 

Missed out: It’s traditional that a  candidate who was absolutely useless and wrong about every key decision is better than one who was right all along and didn’t contribute very much

Missed out: It’s traditional that a  candidate who was absolutely useless and wrong about every key decision is better than one who was right all along and didn’t contribute very much

GOOD WEEK

Pamela – led the team to victory despite neglecting to put much slime in Slime Kingdom. But in the words of Napoleon: ‘better to be a lucky Project Manager than a good one’

Iasha – secured the crucial order of 2000 units by explaining the connection between Sparklestar the unicorn and the Slime Kingdom. ‘One of my skills is winging it,’ she told Lord Sugar. It’s always the quiet ones you’ve got to watch out for...

Scarlett – said all along that her seven year-old daughter wouldn’t be seen dead doing anything as unfashionable as playing with Tommy the Talking Turtle

Ryan-Mark – ‘Team Fabulous’ was a fabulous name

Good week: Pamela led the team to victory despite neglecting to put much slime in Slime Kingdom

Good week: Pamela led the team to victory despite neglecting to put much slime in Slime Kingdom

BAD WEEK

Riyonn – led the team to a disastrous defeat, based their promotional video on dancing (rather than the actual product) and, more importantly, referred to himself in the third person

Lewis – expertly sidelined/humiliated by Pamela

Thomas – managed to amuse Claude Littner, which is no mean feat. But was so blinkered and belligerent about Tommy the Talking Turtle that he received a firm warning from Lord Sugar, who moaned ‘you still don’t get it do you? You’ve got to b****y listen!’

Souleyman – paid the price for not being more positive. And being tipped to win by yours truly. 

Bad week: Thomas was so blinkered and belligerent about Tommy the Talking Turtle that he received a firm warning from Lord Sugar, who moaned ‘you still don’t get it do you?’

Bad week: Thomas was so blinkered and belligerent about Tommy the Talking Turtle that he received a firm warning from Lord Sugar, who moaned ‘you still don’t get it do you?’

My awards for the best/worst moments in Task Three

Most Original Concept

‘The world of unicorns and slime combined. I’ve never heard of that before!’ - Pamela

Least Original Concept

‘I think we should make an animal but it talks like a person as well!’ – Tommy

Best Trump Card

‘I pitch to clients every day. It’s my skillset!’

‘But you’ve lost twice’ – Pamela to Lewis

Best Shutdown

‘I think she likes me Lord Sugar!’

‘Of course you do’ (eye-roll) – Pamela to Lewis

Most Original Concept: ‘The world of unicorns and slime combined. I’ve never heard of that before!’ - Pamela

Most Original Concept: ‘The world of unicorns and slime combined. I’ve never heard of that before!’ - Pamela

Most Transparent Excuse

‘I would just be concerned, bringing one of you in. That we haven’t had enough time to agree on all of the levels of the storyline’ – Pam to Lewis’ sub-team, as if ‘Slime Kingdom’ was Harry Potter

Best Minor Detail

‘She’s a unicorn but she travels. She pops on her backpack, she pops on her wings, she has her passport…’

‘What I would say is the unicorn looks a bit like My Little Pony’ – John Lewis buyer to Pamela

Harshest Turtle Critic

‘It looks more like the audience they’re going for is 4-6 year olds than 6-8 year olds. It’s so childish, so babyish, I can’t actually imagine any child appreciating it!’ – Claude Littner

Harshest Unicorn Critic

‘We want something punchy and innovative. What have they come up with? A glittery unicorn! Frankly it’s been done to death’ – Karren Brady

Biggest Turtle Fan

‘What’s not fun about a turtle that lives on your hand?!’ – Tommy

Biggest Unicorn Fan

‘I think it’s really good! I’d buy it’ - Carina

Harshest Unicorn Critic: ‘We want something punchy and innovative. What have they come up with? A glittery unicorn! Frankly it’s been done to death’ – Karren Brady

Harshest Unicorn Critic: ‘We want something punchy and innovative. What have they come up with? A glittery unicorn! Frankly it’s been done to death’ – Karren Brady

Biggest Optimist

‘He’s a walking, talking, friend. He lives on your hand. He’s your mate!’ - Tommy

Biggest Pessimist

‘This isn’t a toy. This is a turtle that makes three sound effects’ – Souleyman

Biggest Pedant

‘Do you think it’s OK that it sounds like a man and it’s meant to be a schoolboy turtle?’ - Scarlett on Thomas’ voice-over for a talking turtle

Most Diplomatic Response To A Project Manager’s Video

‘Do you know what? I don’t think it’s completely terrible’ - Scarlett

Least Constructive (But Correct) Teammate: ‘This doesn’t scream excitement or fun!’ - Souleyman

Least Constructive (But Correct) Teammate: ‘This doesn’t scream excitement or fun!’ - Souleyman

Least Constructive (But Correct) Teammate

‘This doesn’t scream excitement or fun!’ - Souleyman

Most Annoying (But Correct) Smart Aleck

‘I sort of think they’re stereotyping girls’ – 6-8 year-old kid on the pink, glittery, unicorn

Best Pun

‘This was turtle c**p!’ – Lord Sugar

Worst Pun

‘Riyonn, you say you design games. What was the name? Haven’t Got A Cluedo?!’ – Lord Sugar

Worst Pun: ‘Riyonn, you say you design games. What was the name? Haven’t Got A Cluedo?!’ – Lord Sugar

Worst Pun: ‘Riyonn, you say you design games. What was the name? Haven’t Got A Cluedo?!’ – Lord Sugar

 

 

The Apprentice, review by Jim Shelley 

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