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Seb Anthony

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Cardboard cop-out


Another great episode last night – and finally we got to see a bit more of the other candidates. What’s more, it was one of my favourite design tasks (remember the bum exerciser and the doomed ‘gym in a box’?)
This week the youngsters are confronted by several pairs of wellies in the hallway before being called to a farm where they are told by the Lord that they have to design a brand new piece of camping equipment, get a prototype made up, then go and pitch their new product to three camping retailers: Millets, Marshmallow (posh camping/festival shop) and Argos.
Lord Sugar asks the teams to choose a Project Manager. For Instinct it’s a no-brainer, camping equipment seller, Adam was born to do this task, while Revolution plumps for Hannah Cherry, self-proclaimed inventor of the bestest secret invention in the whole world, ever, but shhh, it’s a secret!
But the canny Lord isn’t done with them yet, oh no! He swaps over the PMs to mix it up, Sugar stylee.
The teams troop off to brainstorm ideas, and it becomes pretty clear from the off that Adam is a flusterer of the highest order. He gives a little speech about how he wants the girls to let him know if he’s doing anything wrong, and he wants their ideas, yes, lots of ideas, give them to him. Now. He’s like a big, hungry idea-eating monster. Zoe is uncharacteristically quiet while Hibah bleats on about her genius idea for a gaming table. At this point, I think, ‘hmm, not a bad idea – a funky piece of tech, that would appeal to the festival goers’ but she shoots that to bits when she explains she means cards, draughts that type of game. Has she never heard of travel chess?  
Next up, Scottish lass, Kirsty, backed by eggs and sweets seller, Emma, reckon a collapsible cardboard wardrobe would make millions. The reality of camping: soggy, dewy mornings, damp, squibby feelings, wet socks, moist sleeping bags and rain that accompanies every camping trip ever made without exception, never seems to occur to them.
Some aggravated lip-chewing from Karren backs me up on this. Adam quickly makes do with this handful of paltry suggestions and heads off to the designers while the ‘dream team’ - Zoe and Hibah – go to meet with bonefide campers at their focus group.
Over on Instinct, the ideas are coming thick and fast particularly from farm-boy and vehement wind-hater, Tim. He’s like a young, wig-headed Dr Emmett Brown. He’s unstoppable. Soon the design takes shape: a sledge/trolley for pulling your camping gear through muddy fields. I’m quite impressed. For a bunch of teens who have never been to a festival, let alone camping, they seem to be on to something. Nick is genuinely taken with Timbo’s enthusiasm.
Unlike Revolution, Instinct solidifies their idea before racing off to see the designer – Tim and Hannah lead, while Arjun and Rhys go to see their focus group.
Back at Revolution’s focus meet, Zoe and Hibah are giving the gaming table the hard sell – whilst completely ignoring the other, admittedly poor, designs. On the phone to PM Adam, Emma and Kirsty, they tell him it’s go, go, go for the gaming table, and that everyone hated the soggy wardrobe idea. They also mention that the focus group suggested the gaming table needs to be collapsible, compact and waterproof. Adam gets all flustered trying to describe the non-idea to the designers and ends up telling them to design a big box for storing clothes in, playing games on and leaving muddy shoes in (he loves that bit!) Oh! And it’s just got to be made out of cardboard.
Instinct’s focus group feeds back that their product idea is quite good, but it needs to be small enough to store in the tent, should be waterproof and deep enough that things don’t fall out. Tim and Hannah pretty much ignore all of these pointers, and press on ahead with Tim’s original design: a small, in-flexible, shallow, wheely sledge - much to Arjun and Rhys’ annoyance. Time’s up and there is nothing more the teams can do.
Day two and the prototypes arrive. Suddenly it’s like two strange Christmases going on simultaneously: Instinct got exactly what it asked Santa for: a big, bright-green plastic sledge with detachable wheels – good times! Revolution rips off its packaging to unveil an over-sized, cardboard wardrobe with a few crappy, paper game boards Sellotaped on top, flapping about like a manky pigeon looking to all the world like something a tramp with a glue-gun, stapler and a penchant for furniture design had cobbled together. Bad times. Revolution’s little faces look crestfallen, apart from Adam, that is: “It’s great! I’d sell it in my shop. And the shoe area – it’s brilliant!” Ah, know when you’ve been beaten, dear boy. Flexi-Store? More like Flexi-flop.
The others are not convinced, but it’s too late now. They have to get on and make posters to accompany the pitches planned for later on that avo. It has already been agreed that bossy boots Zoe will do the pitch for Revolution, so Adam and Hibah head off to a field while the others work on the pitch. Watching camping-kit salesman Adam trying to erect a tent is a golden moment, and is made even better when he and Hibah engage in a fibbing face-off:
Adam: “Have you ever been camping?”
Hibah: “Yes ages ago.”
Adam: “I go about once or twice a year.”
Hibah: “Actually I have never been camping.”
Adam flounders embarrassingly with the tent.
Adam: “I don’t go camping.”
Hibah: “I thought you said you go camping once or twice a year.”
Adam: “I said I went once or twice last year.”
Losers! In the end they lay the tent on the ground and take pictures of people enjoying the’Flexi-flop' on the tent. Hmm.
Over on team Instinct, Tim and Arjun are selected to do the pitches, while Hannah and Rhys are writing the script (eh?) but then Hannah sends them off to take photos in situ. Time is slipping away and no sooner have they done the shoot, Hannah tells them they need to be at the client meetings and asks who feels confident enough to do the pitch, completely un-rehearsed in front of real, adult buyers. At this point, Tim wusses out completely and leave little Arjun in the doo-doo.  
As the pitches begin, Zoe is confident, despite having the Flexi-flop to sell. Put it this way, if it could channel an emotion, it would be depressed. Adam can’t help but mention the excellent storage for shoes. The buyers aren’t biting. One even asks why they decided to make a piece of camping equipment out of cardboard. “Reinforced cardboard”, Zoe reminds them. Instinct gets off to a shaky start as Arjun balls up his pitch, but he soon gathers momentum and, by the final pitch, he has earned some whoops, high-fives and back slaps off his team mates.
They have done all they can and it’s back to the Boardroom to face the Lord.
“Good team leaders?” asks the Shug. Instinct all say how great Hannah was. Revolution say that Adam has no backbone and is not tough enough on decision-making. But who made the money? Well incredibly, the festival slider bags over 3000 orders from Argos and 100 odd from the festival kit retailers but none from Millets, while Revolution sales result in a big, fat zero. The Lord sends off Instinct for a firework display in Kew Gardens, while Revolution head over to the Café of Tears for a weak, sugary tea to build up their strength.
So what went wrong, the Lord demands? Cardboard girl, Emma, seems to wheedle out of any culpability and Adam says it's Hibah and Zoe’s faults for not having any good ideas and pushing the gaming table too hard. After all his shoe idea was a real gem. Bless him, he still reckons he's sell them in his own shop.
The Lord is still being uncharacteristically nice to them as he reads the riot act. At this point, Adam, turns into the Duracell bunny on speed telling Lord Sugar that he is just like him, he has passion, determination, yadh,yadi, yada. Zoe says she’s got so much more to give, and Hibah says it wasn’t her fault. The finger is poised, and Hibah gets the old heave ho. She’s too nice for this tough ball-cracking business world, so he is in fact, doing her a big favour.
Oh well, she was a bit of a whiner, and I for one couldn’t see her making it to the final. So then there were eight.
Next week is a foodie task which sees the little rascals making cup cakes. The trailer shows lots of shouty Zoe shouting, so expect more of the same.


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