The Apprentice: season 12, episode 12 recap: "Cakermaker"
Lord Sugar lures the two remaining candidates to London's seat of democracy City Hall, which is deserted, probably because they filmed it during the session to debate whether my bins should be left outside the house after emptying or relocated ten doors down. "As you are aware, a lot of big decisions are made here," he tells them. "I've got to make a big decision too." Yes, whether to invest made-up money in cakes or novelty beakers is definitely on a par with adult social care funding or the housing crisis.
They must launch and brand their own businesses and pitch them to hundreds of actual real business people in this room. Feel like it's getting hot in here, Courtney? Back to help them are several of our old friends, whom they now have to pick to be on their teams. Wonderfully, Paul is picked last, behind Oliver, which he absolutely hates because this never would've happened in the playground, bringing about the earliest recorded point in an episode at which he started sulking. He grumbles in the car: "It's like they were just choosing their friends."
They both have to convince Lord Sugar their businesses can grow, and somehow avoid either Oliver or Karthik fucking everything up for them at the final hurdle.
First, they have to rename their businesses, because obviously the brand recognition they've been building at least semi-successfully up until this point in their careers will be nowhere near as good as new names and logos they've had to pull out of their arses in a two-hour brainstorming session under extreme pressure. Courtney throws out "Bingo Bongo" or "Ringo Dingo", at which Paul tells the camera he reckons Courtney's rubbish. Despite having, you know, lost to him weeks ago. Later Courtney blue-skys: "I want a character that's regarded as cheeky. Like a monkey. Or a ... llama." He goes with a whale. A cheeky whale.
Alana, in a friendly and productive session, settles on "Ridiculously Rich", which for me calls to mind the #RichKidsOfInstagram, but hey, it works in a friendly, Innocent Smoothies, "Let's say things like 'Here's the legal gubbins' on the packaging"-type way.
Now that none of the others has anything to gain except a career pretending to hate Muslims in the national press, it'll be interesting to see how they behave, I think to myself. Why not just do as you're told for once, given that your usual one-upmanship can't benefit you? Inevitably, Sofiane continues to try and control everything despite clear instructions that he isn't the sub-team leader. "Today is my day," he tells us. It really isn't, mate.
An acting coach at RADA gives Courtney some much-needed tips for his pitch, most of which involve gripping him around the waist while standing close behind him. No, don't worry about it Courtney, that's just what we do in the theatre. Perfectly standard practice. Now he's ready for action, albeit with a bit of a limp.
Over at the design-branding-thing place, the last in this season's long line of extremely patient designers has to put up with Grainne calling his work "Not so much Ridiculously Rich, more like Ridiculously Shite". On the phone to Alana, she and Frances inform her there was a cupcake outfit in the digital advert and they don't like the logo. She gives them both an earful, then in the morning actually apologises and they all move on like grown-ups. These people realise they're allowed to behave like this every week, right?
In the TV ads there's an argument about whether Rebecca's character should be called Maureen, and Karthik is the worst actor on the planet. Oliver finally begins to be vaguely useful, suggesting Alana rebrand to include "the uniqueness of you and your humble beginnings". To Oliver, you suspect, George Osborne came from humble beginnings. But he's onto something, because it leads to Alana including her name in the branding, a pretty obvious open goal because, though none of the candidates ever says it, the fact the winner is a minor celebrity is an immediate USP. Left to his own devices he includes a Welsh dragon on the packaging despite her instructions to the contrary, but it turns out she likes it and it looks great. The sausages finally came home to roost.
To City Hall for pitching, where they have to walk down a massive curved staircase to up the drama first. Alana freezes for what they edit to look like about half an hour, but essentially smashes it, and Courtney puts over his trophy sippy cup for kids (actually a really good idea) without chewing his own face in half. When she proposes that she'll outsource the manufacture of her cakes she might have shot herself in the foot, because it negates the USP of them all being made by hand by one smiley woman in a cottage in Pwllheli. One of the business experts afterwards reckons that doesn't matter much. She doesn't say it, but what she means is "People will swallow any old bollocks if it's written chattily on a label."
Lord Sugar, obliged to appear in the episode for more than the usual 20 minutes before he can get home and start tweeting pictures of himself pointing at his massive telly, wants to know whether the production of the cakes will be in Wales, so great is his concern about the fate of the Welsh economy in a post-Brexit landscape. Talking to the experts in the corridor after the pitches, it is clear that they all know loads more than he does about anything, and he nods sagely as if he understands.
It's all such a jolly good-natured atmosphere they should've done it as Christmas jumper day. Sugar tells Paul to smile more, at which he doesn't smile, probably plotting the atomic wedgie he's going to give Oliver later for getting picked ahead of him for British Bulldog.
Karren compliments Courtney on his improved pitching, and Oliver tries to speak, is immediately talked over as if he's not there, but then is praised for his work on the packaging and is palpably delighted. Someone give him a hug! Not you, Paul.
When the only bit of bad blood comes about, where they have to justify themselves and argue with each other a bit, Courtney tries to claim that Alana is "just a baker", at which she points out her profits are much higher than his. Game, set and match. First a girl Ghostbusters and now this.
Who got hired?
Sugar tries artlessly to misdirect us and crack on he's going to "stick with what he knows" and go with the manufacturing business, but ultimately, and correctly, chooses Alana. For all the extra suspense this generates he might as well have said: "I'm going to choose CouuurrrrrtnnnnAlannnnnaaCourrrrrrtnneeeeALANA!"
She gets the Rolls to take her home and Courtney gets to do the "Courtney's View" section next year in the Daily Star recaps. We're done for another year, and there's a lesson for us all: The Apprentice is now the most influential show in television history, having successfully elevated a presenter to the highest office in the world. We all live on Planet Reality TV, so start teaching your kids to read autocue and bicker pointlessly with their peers, because these are the skills of tomorrow.