The Apprentice: season 12, episode 10 recap: "A Kick in the Botanicals"
At Greenwich Old Royal Naval College, Lord Sugar tells the guys that gin is a now a huge market. What he means is that people in London have been successfully convinced that there is any point in more than four kinds of gin existing and are happy to queue and pay £14 for a shot of one they've spent 20 minutes choosing from a menu longer than the first draft of Das Boot. The Apprenti have to add two more to this list and convince some buyers to throw in for them.
Courtney, who I'd always thought the most capable male candidate and quite a likeable sort, is now living on his own floor in the house and free to raid the stash of violent pornography Mukai left behind. In the car beforehand he's a bit of an Alpha Ralph about how often he's been on the winning team, probably because the producers are worried it'll all get a bit Sex and the City.
Alana moves over from the all-girl Titans to Nebula, in order that there's at least one last chance for her to get mansplained to. Keen to be PM Dawn because of her experience with alcohol brands, she is predictably talked down by Courtney, who points out he has "won seven out of nine" and has brought a lot of products to market, the fact that his line of work is novelty gifts notwithstanding. He puts her onto making the gin itself, which is quite a good bit of management, then voices his concern that there'll be "no one there to sanity-check what you're doing", which is not.
Grainne has "tried a lot of gin" so colour her PM, whatever. Frances is on branding. They go down the spicy route for their flavour, while the other mob go fruity, like your dad on his business trips to Holland. Inexplicably Titans want an orange gin, because boozy Fanta is so on trend, and the others go for a raspberry one, but at least have the sense to keep it clear. In putting together the raspberry flavour Alana is "very methodical" according to Claude, which he means is one of those character traits that displeases him somehow, like talking during his weekly viewing of What Women Want.
On branding for Nebula, Courtney goes with "Giin", the double "i" representing two people. I wonder why I'd thought him halfway competent previously, and I realise that The Apprentice just as often masks incompetence with bluster as it highlights it through unreasonable pressure. Despite being "the only creative person" at his novelty gifts company (which his in-house design team will have been pleased to hear) he has a total creative block and Jessica has to badger him to make a decision. Alana, by now giving precisely no fucks what he thinks, reckons it's "stupid".
Across town, Frances's Colony Gin idea is a genuinely good concept, although with problematic undertones. (Rule number one in branding: avoid allusions to slavery.) Having come up with a label and font that is consistent with the product story, she calls Grainne and Trishna to get the ingredients in time for her print deadline but can't get through because they are knocking back gin like your mum did secretly at your sixth birthday party. This is a real shame because it's the first properly good branding idea that anyone's ever come up with under the pressure designed to produce bad ones. I mean, it's a bit racist but come on, you can say anything you like post-Brexit.
Courtney's branding idea is to write the name of the gin on the bottle in blue and make it look like Co Op's own-range gin post-their recent retrobrand. In the pitches he is a stumbling mess. Majestic Wine point out that raspberry is their product's whole USP and it doesn't taste of raspberries. They then argue in reception before their Tesco pitch, in which he freezes up again.
The others tell Majestic that the orange colour is natural, which isn't true, undermining an otherwise quite good pitch. Tesco don't like the colour but Trishna refuses to budge on it, forgetting momentarily that THIS IS NOT A REAL THING and there is no disadvantage in agreeing to literally any compromise at all because NONE OF THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE.
Karren immediately shops Trishna and Grainne for boozing, like she's the Head Girl the teachers have trusted to oversee the disco night on their French exchange and the power's gone to her head, then points out that they lied about the orange colouring thing too. On Sugarjoke patrol there's only something weak about the easel Courtney struggled to put up in a pitch being legless too, which is tossed out halfheartedly like enforced small talk to a chauffeur.
It comes out £71,000 to Nebula and £5000 to Titans. The figures don't lie and yet Giin was a shit brand pitched shittily. But the failure to answer Frances's calls for the label ingredients was basically unforgivable, and so off the others go to a helicopter ride while Titans bicker in Cafe Defeat.
Grainne hints that Trishna was angry on the second day and maybe hungover, seeking to pin the whole thing on her. Sugar doesn't want to do any more than the 20 minutes of screen time he's contractually obliged to, so despatches Trishna in short order. Wrongly, because Trishna was the best candidate this year: unflappable, good at solving problems and full of ideas. Shit, I've started caring about it. Watch out for me arguing this point on the Digital Spy forums soon.
Does she thank him?
No, she just quietly says "No problem" and does one. Next week it's interviews, and Claude's just had his new technique of breaking a candidate's toe for each evasive answer signed off by HR.