Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Apprentice: It's Helen, Tom, Susan and Jim in the final as Natasha Scribbins is fired

By Emily Sheridan

So near, but yet so far: Natasha Scribbins, 31, missed out on a place in the final after being fired by Lord Sugar

Five became four in the penultimate week of The Apprentice as Natasha Scribbins was fired by Lord Sugar.

The recruitment manager, 31, was shown the door by Lord Sugar after her 'lacklustre' spirit in recent weeks.

Natasha was called into the boardroom with Jim Eastwood, 32, and Susan Ma, 21, after Team Venture lost the fast food task.

Battling for survival: Natasha was fired after being called into the boardroom with her teammates Jim Eastwood and Susan Ma

Although Natasha appealed to Lord Sugar to fire Jim for not project managing the task adequately enough, the millionaire businessman was unimpressed that she failed to use her hospitality degree.

Both teams were asked to create a fast food chain restaurant, which would be judged by a panel of experts.

Team Logic, comprising of project manager Helen Louise Milligan and Tom Pellereau, impressed with their British pie chain MyPy and were given automatic passes to this year's final.

Decision time: Jim put himself forward to project manager, which Susan and Natasha supported

Power balance: Helen put herself forward for project manager, but wanted a bigger say on branding - which was Tom's responsibility

However, Team Venture's Mexican restaurant Caraca's failed due to its food quality and lack of a proper business plan.

As Jim attempted to divide up the tasks amongst Natasha and Susan, he ended up being in charge of the menu, naming the restaurant and the eventual kitchen.

While Susan insisted she regularly ate in Mexican restaurants and knew what she was talking about, both she and Natasha admitted they didn't know how to speak 'Mexican'... unaware Mexicans actually speak Spanish.

Market research: Jim spoke to a successful Mexican fast food chain for ideas

After disagreeing over branding and the name, Jim ended up suggesting Caracas - mixing the word up with the Spanish instrument maracas.

All three appeared to be unaware Caracas is actually the capital of Venezuela, which was embarrassingly pointed out to them in the boardroom by Lord Sugar.

Observer Karren Brady told them: 'You actually thought Caracas was a made-up word didn't you?'

Creating the pies: Helen put herself in charge of the menu and tried out various pies

Meanwhile, it appeared Team Logic were also ignorant when it came to naming one of the pies.

After labelling two of their pies after famous Brits, they named a third one Christopher Columbus after the famous Italian explorer, mistakenly thinking he was British too.

It was only when Nick Hewer came to observe them after all their branding and menus had been printed, he questioned whether Columbus was British or not.

Wasn't Christopher Columbus Italian? MyPy wasn't so '100 per cent' British as Helen and Tom liked to think

Quality control: The pies were initially served in a cardboard box, before being changed into a plastic container

After deciding on a menu, the two teams were given a trial run with customers passing by off the street.

While MyPy appeared to go down well with a majority of the customers, Caraca's first day wasn't so successful.

Many customers were left standing around for ages waiting for their food and when it did arrive, it was cold.

You're in for a long wait: Susan tried to play the perfect hostess to the customers, who ended up being served cold food

Yummy: Tom pours gravy over the pie and mash

Working in the kitchen with a cook, Jim was lambasted for not having a plan as she told him: 'Please Jim, you should organise the kitchen... we are not ready... I need to talk to you about everything. You must think about things... it takes time to do.'

Observing them in action, Karren criticised them for focusing too much on the décor instead of a food serving system.

After a tricky first day, Lord Sugar arrived at both restaurants with his 13 advisers to judge each business.

In MyPy, the experts praised Helen and Tom for a 'very strong and contemporary message' and found their 'pies were well filled and tasted well'.

There's no Mexican fiesta here: Lord Sugar said his meal at Caraca's 'looked like something my son's dog threw up'

However, Caraca's didn't fare so well with one expert saying the sombrero logo was 'a cliché, but the branding is overall OK'.

When questioned about his business plan, Jim got his maths confused and wasn't able to give a clear direction of takings and profit.

When the two team were called to the board room, MyPy received an overall score of 7/10 for their customer service, standard of meal and marks for demonstration how their concept will work long-term, while Caraca's scored 4/10.

Good reception: The experts liked Helen and Tom's branding, concept and menu

MyPy's higher score meant the three contestants behind Caraca's would have to fight for survival in the boardroom.

Lord Sugar pointed out Team Venture had failed to come up with a business plan and costings, a major mistake.

Although they argued throughout the task, Susan and Natasha both appealed to Lord Sugar to fire Jim.

Overkill: Some of the experts thought the sombreros were 'cliché'

Susan criticised Jim for the menu, saying: 'I don't think you conducted your market research thoroughly enough.'

Lord Sugar admitted he didn't like the look of his food: 'It looked like something my son's dog threw up.'

But Jim insisted he ended up doing too much of the task himself and trying to keep the peace between warring Susan and Natasha.

Decision time: Lord Sugar had plenty to say when it came to the Caraca's restaurant

He said: 'I was babysitter from afar. The two ladies couldn't work together. I felt I had excitability from Susan and despair from the other side.'

Natasha turned personal and told Lord Sugar: 'Jim isn't able to make decisions. You've got a dark side and you're slightly underhand.'

While Jim fired back: 'You wouldn't interested in this task. You didn't give everything you could have given.'

Nerves: The final five sit nervously in the reception waiting to see Lord Sugar

When Lord Sugar asked her why she didn't use her hospitality degree, she said it was a 'long time ago' and she wasn't interested in running a restaurant.

He said: 'I can't reconcile some of the things that have happened today... I have found you a little lacklustre in the past few weeks.'

He kept Susan hanging when he told her: 'You don't seem to get on with too many people...' before telling her she was in the final.

Then he turned to Jim and praised him for his 'spirit' before firing Natasha.

We're through: Helen and Tom celebrate after they're told by Lord Sugar they're through to the final

Speaking to Karren and Nick afterwards, he said: 'This is a tough process and if you can't hack it, then maybe you shouldn't be in it.'

Meanwhile, as Susan and Jim headed back to the house, she said: 'No hard feelings, what happens in the boardroom stays in the boardroom.'

But Jim wasn't impressed: 'You smelt blood and you decided to scalp Jim.'
The Apprentice final will be on BBC1 on Sunday 17 July.

Heading home: Natasha claimed clashing personalities and her refusal to get into arguments led to her downfall

No hard feelings... are you joking? Jim criticised Susan for trying to 'scalp' him in the boardroom


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