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Margaret Mountford Apprentice Watch Week 4

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  Quote Bren Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Margaret Mountford Apprentice Watch Week 4
    Posted: 15 Apr 2009 at 09:30

The Apprentice 2009: Margaret Mountford's Apprentice Watch – Week Four


By Margaret Mountford
Last Updated: 6:05PM BST 14 Apr 2009

Philip%20and%20the%20Ignite%20team%20use%20honeycombs%20to%20make%20soap
Philip and the Ignite team use honeycombs to make soap Photo: BBC

This week, it’s my favourite type of task: the candidates have to come up with ideas for two different body care products, make them in a specialist laboratory on the south coast and sell them to consumers in London the following day. They’re also responsible for designing the packaging. So they’re under extreme time pressure, and they need to use a variety of skills. And, as always, they need to remember the lessons of the previous weeks...

Sir Alan takes the unusual step of choosing the project managers himself: science teacher Noorul for Ignite and HR consultant Paula for Empire. We haven’t seen much of these two individuals on previous tasks — they had a tendency to “hide in the bushes”, as Sir Alan would say — and he wanted to see what they could do when they had to take a leading role.

With her experience in HR, Paula could at least be expected to know how to manage people. But Noorul turns out to have no leadership skills at all. There isn’t actually time to fit all of his indecisiveness into one hour of TV: poor Howard has to keep taking charge just to get anything done. Each team has to use at least one item of fresh local produce, but Ignite spend so long thinking about using apples that Empire have already bagged them.

Ignite end up putting honey in their bubble bath and soap, while Empire have seaweed in their soap and shower gel. You can come to your own conclusions as to which is the more hazardous pursuit: heading for the hives with Philip, or the rockpools with James. Those ingredients are free. Others, particularly essential oils, can be very costly and will need to be selected and used carefully. If only Paula and Yasmina would heed that warning.

Noorul should be at home in the lab – his skills as a chemistry teacher should surely have given him an advantage with the precise formulae involved in the production of beauty products. Unfortunately there is no evidence that this is the case; so what does he contribute? (It’s certainly not sales expertise either.) Ignite end up with bars of soap that each have a big sticky lump of honeycomb in the middle: they look more like something you’d put on your toast than on your washbasin. Their bubble bath is an off-putting beige colour, and looks to me like the kind of slime you’d handle only with rubber gloves and tongs.

Some boys obviously just like dressing up. As if keen to repeat the “toga” triumph of week two, Philip decides that a beekeeper’s suit will be just the ticket for selling soap. Noorul, Lorraine and Mona brave Oxford Street in similar garb; I’m surprised no one thinks they’re a decontamination squad.

Both teams struggle with their sales pitches. I’m not sure that Ignite’s strategy of accosting hurried commuters as they rush to catch the tube at Bond Street is a recipe for sales success. Meanwhile Empire have to compete with the smell of onions wafting from the neighbouring hot dog stall.

Even if I wasn’t in a hurry, it wouldn’t occur to me to buy bubble bath from a street vendor. You don’t know where it’s been. Or what it might do to your skin. But the general public seem a little more... trusting. Perhaps they feel sorry for Noorul’s team, who by this point are showing more than a little desperation.

Each week we learn more about the candidates. Philip is emerging as a bit of a character: always vociferous and prominent. Unlike Noorul, he won’t hide in the background – he even wears make-up for his time in the limelight. Ben, who by contrast thinks soap is an exclusively female product, is equally keen to criticise others and praise himself. Kate is cultivating the ice maiden role. James makes great TV as his face is always a picture, whether he’s sad, worried, annoyed or even on the verge of tears. But during the tasks, he can talk a lot of sense.

After this week, one thing is certain: none of them will ever forget the difference between sandalwood and cedarwood.


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  Quote Laura Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Apr 2009 at 10:16
sounds like plenty of cringing to be done!

Glad suralan picked those 2 as Noorul certainly hasn't done anything and i'm not even sure who paula is - is she the redhead?
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