The Apprentice: season 12, episode 11 recap: "Claude of the Stings"

The Apprentice: season 12, episode 11 recap: "Claude of the Stings"
What's for dinner tonight? Is it ... ROAST LAMB? Because ... because they're like lambs, you see, and they're getting roasted, and, and ... oh, forget it. It's Interview Week, that's all you've come for. Are you not entertained?
The task

It's the most wonderful time of the year, AKA Torture Time! Lord Sugar's let Claude off his leash, and given him a bloody rag to sniff in preparation. Let the games begin!

First up against The Beast of Leadenhall is poor, poor Frances. Sensing her vulnerability and exposed neck, he immediately calls her a worthless piece of shit and she crumbles. "I'm finding it quite hard to find anything good about your performance. You've lost eight out of 10 tasks. I don't know what you're doing here," he spits. Claude Almighty.

She's more spirited for her interview with Mike Soutar, but forgets that whilst he's kind on the surface, he always wears a massive pair of winklepickers under his desk, ready to stab his pointed shoes into the soft, wriggling underbelly of their CVs. In Frances's case, he extracts the fact she failed to disclose two shops on her application because they'd failed. She flees, and Mike sits at his desk grinning, winkle juice running down his chin.

In Claudine Collins's office, Frances starts to regret putting on her application form that her "filing system is in her bag". She calls it a flippant remark, but I think it's quite impressive; all I've got in my handbag are some rotting tissues and crumbled-up Strong Mints.

Linda (La) Plant pulls Courtney up on a stupid answer on his application form where he said he'd like to fart in a lift full of supermodels. I like to think Courtney's got a pact with a mate who will immediately clear his search history if he ever dies or goes missing.

Over at the interrogation room of Claudine (who, disappointingly, is not just Claude in a wig and a dress, going "Ooooh, I'm a lady"), Courtney is challenged for not being charismatic enough and must try and sell himself. Courtney? Sell himself? Courtney couldn't sell ... a cat.

It's squeaky bum time as our Youngish Man faces Claude, who wastes no time in telling him he's spent the past 11 weeks wanting to smash Courtney in the face. He doesn't actually say that; he's just wanted to smack him over the head to wake him up, but we all know what he really meant. Claude tries to goad him into having some balls; Courtney trots out the "I've won eight tasks out of 10" line but his eyes have glazed over like he's had too much Giin. "Come on, Courtney! It's like pulling out teeth!" cries Claude, who looks a little too much like he would actually quite like to prise out Courtney's teeth with rusty pliers.

But am I mistaken: is there a bit of a twinkle in Claude's eye? Is the Beast Master softening in his old age? Where's the headcase who tore Solomon a new one? And more to the point, where's Solomon these days?

Mike discovers that Courtney has been economical with the truth on his CV, claiming to have been head designer at his previous company, when in fact he was the only designer. Wait, Courtney's a designer? Why the hell did he not step up in any of the design tasks and instead let Dillon disco-shimmy all over them? Mike demands Courtney design a product in front of him; he draws the "Alan Sugar sugar dispenser". That's a Pez Dispenser, Courtney. Fuck off. And your novelty baby "champagne glass" that looks like a glass dildo can do one as well.

Mike Soutar (no relation to my good self) tests Grainne on her maths, asking her what's 90% of 6. Of course it's, ermm, it's ... it doesn't matter. Shut up, I know maths. She stares at her fingers for a bit: the answer's not down there, Grainne, even if it does give us a better look at that fetching purple eye shadow you've layered on.

Claude has a problem with Grainne's plan to start a make-up training academy in Norn Iron. He thinks she's aiming too high and her business plan is nonsensical. She literally leaves with her head in her hands.

We don't see much of Grainne this episode. Claudine throws her makeup bag at her to demonstrate how she'd sell the USP of each product, but all Grainne can come up with is, "It's like a stick, for your lips." Her eye shadow looks amazing though.

Before she hits the interviews, Jessica notes a glaring typo in her business plan, which states she "hem raged money". She deserves to be fired for that alone. Her plan is to start a clothing venture that uses her celebrity contacts for marketing; I'm desperate to know who they are. I'm thinking Edmonds.

She's in with Mike first, who not-so-gently breaks it to her that one of her business partners has resigned, and she has to admit she lost a lot of money with her first business in a big hem rage. Mike roundly calls her an amateur, and not even Jessica's impression of The Mask can help her.

"You've had a lot of businesses, haven't you?", Linda coolly states, before tearing her apart like a pair of cheap knickers over her business plan. Jessica's never been one to cope well under pressure (no use crying over lost jeans) and is reduced to just repeating "losses" over and over again during Linda's rampage. She looks glum as she descends in the lift (maybe Courtney was in there before her?) and admits to Alana, "I lost my dignity on the 42nd floor." I think you lost that as soon as you put the stamp on that business plan you forgot to spell-check, Jess.

She manages to pull it back together when sat in front of Claudine, who once again appears to be doing a psych evaluation on the candidates and trying to pick at their neuroses like a female Dr Lecter. Knowing Jessica can be highly strung to the point of being volatile, Claudine points out that Jess can be "very emotional". Claudine pulls on Jessica's thread, but she refuses to unravel, revealing she's run her own business whilst raising three kids on her own. Maybe Jessica's game plan all along has been to act like a massive dick, to pull it out of the bag at the end?

Probably not – her clothing range is called "Lust And Lies", like a trashy Barbara Cartland novel. "Less H&M, more S&M", notes Lord Sugar.

Alana's strategy is to win them over with cake. Claude doesn't eat cake, Alana; he feasts on the blood of his prey. Apparently now the producers can check the candidate's bank accounts and Claude points out that Alana's sitting on a pile of money which she could invest in her business, rather than coming to Lord Sugar for a handout (or as Shugs says later, "The hundreds and thousands"). If she's saving all her money for a house, what's keeping her in all these different shades of lipstick?

After Jessica's dressing-down at the hands of Linda, Alana wonders if taking cake in to her is a good idea. Luckily, Linda partakes in Alana's brownies, but ends up spraying the crumbs over her face as she climbs into another rant, calling Alana's figures "ambitious" and her brownies "dry and mealy". (She doesn't, I'm just saying that for comic effect. I'm sure they're very nice.)

We discover that Alana's boyfriend is her only employee. "What if you fall out? Could he be replaced, then?" asks Linda. Alana waivers, before looking Linda dead in the eye and telling her that yes, he could be replaced. Thinking that her determination has won Linda over, Alana is horrified when Linda reveals they've been on speakerphone to Alana's fella this whole time. These interviews are becoming increasingly cruel.
The boardroom

By the time they've got to Amstrad HQ (actually a refurbished AutoFix), Lord Sugar's advisors are extremely glowing and positive about most of the interviewees. Has this whole thing just been a pantomime for our entertainment?
Who got fired?

Ultimately, Grainne's plan to run a make-up brand/studio/recruitment agency/training academy/dog school is too far-reaching, and she gets a laudable "with regret" firing. I've never seen anyone so relieved.
Does she thank him?

Yes. She practically skips out of the room.
Who else got fired?

Jessica, thank The Maker. It's probably because Sugar knew he wouldn't be able to put with "Shummbody shtop meh!" fifty times a day.
Does she thank him?

She babbles a bit, but I'm pretty sure there's a thanks in there.
Who else got fired?

Frances's handbag is ultimately her undoing, as unfortunately it is for all women. Lord Sugar doesn't want to be dusting spare Tampax off expenses reports, so she's out.
Does she thank him?

I can't be sure, I think so. She's definitely not happy either way.

So it's Courtney and Alana in the final. Who would have thought it? Raise your baby dildo champagne glasses in celebration!

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