Sunday, 19 May 2013

Thinking inside the box

Week 3: 15 May 2013

Previously: BEER, and the discovery that the Kent Beer Festival is not actually in Kent. Honestly, it's like Leeds Castle all over again. Led by Tim, Evolve had some production difficulties that led to the creation of a beer with a proof so intense it could only legally be sold in Mexico, while the Island of Misfit Apprentices over on Endeavour somehow thought trade buyers could be convinced to purchase their product by sniffing an empty bottle. That's really the sort of thinking that only comes when you've sniffed a few too many bottles yourself. In the end, Endeavour sold cheaply on the South Bank and brought home a handy win, while Evolve went to the boardroom and Rebecca accused the others of all being in cahoots like treacherous owls, because they had the temerity to point out that she'd been lying about something. Ultimately, however, Tim was fired because he was cast for his hilarious flailing and not his business nous, and also because the programme's insurers pointed out that sooner or later he was probably going to accidentally hit someone in the face due to his lack of control over his limbs, and they'd prefer not to receive any calls from InjuryLawyers4U.

It's 6pm back at Entrepreneur Estates, apparently after a day off, and Luisa is painting Jordan's toenails. Everyone acts like this is the most transgressive thing that has ever happened, because in business it is still 1982. The Sugarphone rings, and there is an actual race between Alex and Natalie to be the one who gets to answer it. Alex nominally wins because Natalie is a moron who can't navigate a staircase, but he lets Natalie answer it anyway, either through chivalry or because she stuck a stiletto in his solar plexus at the last moment. NotFrances tells Natalie that Lordalan would like to meet them them at Angel, Islington, and the cars will be arriving in 30 minutes. Natalie squeals "oh my god!" and hangs up without saying thank you. I'm sure I'd be willing to make a £250,000 investment in the business of a person who has yet to master basic telephone etiquette.

Everyone rushes to get back into their business finery. Myles parades around in a thong, because of course he does. There isn't even any time to clean off Jordan's toenails, so he's going to be wearing black nail polish to a business meeting like some sort of MADMAN! The men think a team shuffle may be on the cards, since the women have been failing so relentlessly thus far, and the women discuss how the men are obviously talking smack about them behind their backs. Well, at least that's one thing they've got right so far this year.

Islington. Nick and Karren waiting on a balcony as Lordalan arrives and sings 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina'. After that, he announces to the remaining candidates that they're in the home of the Design Council, because flatpack furniture is a growth industry and that is to be their next challenge. They must design, prototype and pitch an innovative flatpack item. The team that gets the most orders will win, and the losing team will lose a member. He adds that the women have been a bladdy shambles so far, and it's time for them to show him what they can do. I think they've already shown him what they can do, and it's "underperform on every challenge while bickering incessantly".

The voiceover man fills us in on the minutiae of the challenge: it's a two-day task, and the item must retail at £75. Also, he totally says "before pitching it to benders". I know the furniture retail industry does employ a lot of gay men, but that still seems to be a rather sweeping generalisation. As always, the first job is to pick a leader. Natalie volunteers to lead Evolve because she likes designing and having ideas, and since she's apparently running unopposed, she gets selected. Her business idea involves designing and manufacturing garments, she tells us, so we all know Evolve are losing again. SPOILER ALERT! Francesca suggests they come up with a space-saving item that would appeal to people like her: modern having-it-all types who pay a small fortune to live in a shoebox in the city and have nowhere to put all their crap. [I want it all and I want to put it all in a shit box! I AM WOMAN - Helen]

We don't get to see the leader selection process over on Endeavour, only that the eventual winner was Jordan. Kurt has already come up with one of the worst ideas in the history of this show: a chair that doubles as a recycling container, so underneath the chair cover there are different chutes, for want of a better word, where you can put all your different papers and containers and things. My thoughts on this:

2) Who the hell wants to sit on their recycling all week?
3) Who the hell does their recycling in the living room anyway? Surely most people sort the majority of their recycling in the kitchen.

Nick refers to this in a later interview as "a particularly horrible idea", and it seems like everyone else agrees [Shame.  It was so awful that I would have loved to see the car-crash of them trying to pitch it - Rad]. Alex's idea is a chair that turns into a table with storage facilities underneath. And it's a pen, AND ALSO A CLOCK. To be fair, it seems like a decent idea: it's not earth-shattering, but it's simple enough that they can prototype it in the time that they have, and it's an idea that you can get across fairly quickly, so they won't have to waste lots of time explaining their concept to retailers. I mean, it's a chair and it's a table. Badabingbadaboom. [Am I the only person that genuinely doesn't understand the point or appeal of the table-chair? - Rad]

Over at Evolve, Francesca suggests a cube-shaped storage unit. "You could turn it around one side, pop up, that's your laptop, you turn the cube over, okay, that's got a dip in that side, you can put your drinks in that one, you flip the cube over..." ...and you spill your drink? This seems...flawed, at the very least. Also, I'm really not seeing how "somewhere to rest your laptop and drinks" relates to the initial idea of storage. Nonetheless, everyone else seems to really like it, and Natalie declares that they will do "a multifunctional cubed-shaped (sic) table". Dr Leah suggests they incorporate a wine rack (????) and everyone starts jumping in with their own additional suggestions. Karren interviews that the initial idea for the multifunctional cube was not without merit, "but it's becoming very embellished". Luisa wants the cube to always remain upright. Rebecca can't make herself heard (that's how you know this meeting is out of control). In the Apprentaxis on the way home, Sophie and Rebecca grouse about the lack of teamwork on their team.

9:30am, the next day. Endeavour are fine-tuning their idea, and Alex suggests naming it "Foldo", which seems a bit cutesy (or a bit Lord of the Rings) for my tastes, but they go ahead with it anyway. It's odd how they never seem to take my personal feelings into account when they're designing products. Over on Evolve, Sophie is put in charge of market research, which she is happy about because she admits that she doesn't "do selling". Uzma says that she knows a lot about design, and their product has "got to look nice in a room". Thank you for your input, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Rebecca says that a cube is going to be cumbersome and they should be thinking more along the lines of a table. "Yeah, but we're thinking of storage, and on the wheels," Natalie counters. Well, you can't argue with that. Admittedly, mostly because it barely makes sense.

It's 10am now, and Evolve are in East London to meet with designers about their cube. Their sketches are horrifying, by the way. It looks like K-9 without the head. The designers seem slightly baffled by the logistics of the whole thing, and Luisa explains how you need to be able to take the top off and sit on it when you've got friends over. On their way to conduct market research, Sophie, Francesca and Rebecca are still grumbling. "Everyone's obsessed with the cube," moans Rebecca. Well, that Phillip Schofield is darned charismatic, it's hard to deny that. Rebecca's plan seems to be to steer the market research group as far away from anything cube-shaped as humanly possible.

They start their market research in a furniture boutique in Shoreditch. The owner (I assume) isn't fond of the cube shape because he thinks it's both boring and impractical, since it's not really the right height for a table, "and if you're bending over on a sofa, it's not that comfortable situation." But it's still a hell of a Saturday night, right boys? Right? Oh, never mind. He thinks they should have something that's desk height, and something you can get your feet underneath. So...a desk, then. They call the other sub-team to report their findings, but Natalie and friends are unimpressed. "If they want a table, why wouldn't they just buy a table?" Luisa duhs. Why indeed? Rebecca points out that they did like the idea of combining storage with office functionality in your own home, and Natalie blurts "okay, thank you for your advice" in the same way that one might say to a PPI cold-caller. Luisa thinks their initial idea is more practical and has more functions, so they plough on.

Endeavour have forsaken trendy east London for a workshop in south London instead, where Alex pitches the idea of Foldo to their designer. Jordan interviews that the product is very much Alex's idea, and he thinks it's a very simple, easy-to-understand idea. Meanwhile, Myles, Kurt and Zee are off doing market research, where one man says he'd be "puzzled and troubled by it". Puzzled and troubled by a chair that converts into a table? Heaven help him if he ever watches Transformers; he'll be weeping in a corner after about ten minutes. (Actually, so will most people, but that's Michael Bay for you.) Myles pitches their slogan to two random guys at a bus stop - "Foldo chair: sit, fold and hold" - and gets laughed at. This ends your scheduled weekly misdirection. Seriously, the guys are so winning this.

Natalie rings the market research team back to essentially say "thanks but no thanks" regarding their input. Both sides of the team seem to be struggling to communicate what this cube actually is and what it does, and this really should've been a big red flag to them that their product is NOT GOOD. If the people who are designing it don't understand it, what chance do the rest of us have?

It's lunchtime, and Myles' team are still looking for feedback on Foldo at the bus stop. One man wants an upholstered cushion for comfort. They report this back to the design team, where Jason reveals himself to be fundamentally anti-upholstery because it's complicated, it adds cost, and also some upholstery stole his girlfriend in 2008. Neil and Alex, however, are pro-upholstery, and vote to go with the market research and, more importantly, to ignore Jason. So Zee, Myles and Kurt head to a fabric shop, and Zee selects a mint-green fabric for the upholstery.

Back in east London, Evolve brief their designer: a cube to retail at £75, easy to assemble, and per Uzma, "preferably toolless". Fnar. Luisa suggests that the only screws are in the bottom to support the casters, and the rest of it could just slot together. The designers show them how this would look, and it's not pretty: they'd essentially have all the edges jutting out past each other to enable the interlocking, and Natalie says that's not what she's looking for at all. I think this is largely because she doesn't really understand how "interlocking" works. She wants rounded corners, like dice! One of the designers tries to tell her, as politely as possible, that this cannot be done if they want it to slot together. Karren interviews that it's all going abysmally, because they've designed a product that none of them actually like, and nobody's shown any real flair for design or manufacturing. Uzma reminds everyone that the design element is crucial: "it has to be, like, wow." Again, we truly appreciate your expertise, Philippe Starck.

4pm. Endeavour are finalising their design. Alex refers to himself as "the lead designer". There's a lot of business involving the height of the chair which involves the men squatting and measuring the length of each other's thighs. We don't actually see them whip their dicks out and measure those too, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. I mean, at one point Jordan says "we're talking single centimetres" and Jason agrees "it makes such a difference sometimes." Nick interviews that Alex "pushes so hard that they're making mistakes". Well, that's buttsex for you, it's a complicated operation. Also, line of the night goes to Jason when Jordan tries to sit in the chair to demonstrate...something and Jason pushes him off saying "not you, Jordan, someone average-sized." SHADE. [This moment made up for the entire episode -  Helen]

Over at Evolve, their design is still a shitty box with lots of bits jutting out. Uzma attempts to fix it by sticking on a cushion. She interviews, once again, that she knows all about design and she's very good at visualising things. Like cushions. They decide to colour their cube in grey. Because when you're worried that your product is a hideous monstrosity that will make small children cry, painting it grey is the obvious solution. Meanwhile, Rebecca, Francesca and Sophie are in Homebase trying to find interesting casters. It's going about as well as you'd expect. Natalie calls and tells them they need to get a cushion upholstered, and Rebecca asks why they're ignoring the market research (/one guy in one shop) that called for a very simple IT desk thingy with legroom underneath, and Luisa tells them that she's concerned that they're making it all too complicated. Oh, now she's worrying about that? Sophie asks a pretty good question: "are you listening to the market research, or are you listening to Luisa?" Listening to Luisa, apparently. Francesca tells Natalie that they will not have time to get a cushion upholstered: can she just velcro an existing cushion instead? Yes, that's fine apparently. Except it appears that Homebase does not have a single cushion that's the right size. Francesca interviews that they've done the best they can with the information they had, considering the specs of the product changed every five minutes.

Designing ends! Overnight, the prototypes will be made, but for now, all they can do is wait.

8am. Prototype delivery. They arrive pre-assembled, which seems to defeat the point of it being flatpack a little bit. Evolve's cube, branded the "Tidy Sidey" (ye gods) arrives first. It is an affront to God. Foldo, on the other hand, is a bit cheap-looking for £75 but does at least look like an actual piece of furniture rather than a piece of the set from an Alien movie. Evolve can barely get the bubble wrap off Tidy Sidey without it falling apart (it's going so well!) and there's a note inside from the manufacturers saying that the cushion was too big to fit so they'll have to do that themselves. There really needs to be a slide trombone sound effect here just to truly communicate the abject failure of this entire project. This is a product not even a mother could love. Sophie interviews that she hates the product and would not pay £75 for it. Natalie starts pulling fluff out of the cushion to make it smaller until the room looks like the site of a Muppet massacre. Uzma wonders if they even know what they're doing. "I've done a fashion!" she insists. I'm not lolcat-ing her speech there either, she really did say "I've done a fashion". Egad.

Meanwhile, the men experiment with putting Foldo together and Jason says "that goes clickety-boo", which causes Jordan to erupt into hysterics and ask if they can put that in the instructions.

Francesca finally gets the cushion down to size and attaches it to the underside of the Tidy Sidey's lid. "That looks better than it did," says Luisa, which is probably the kindest way of describing it. Uzma addresses the elephant in the room by pointing out that they have built an ugly piece of shit that they're supposed to convince people to spend £75 on, and she gets accused of "passing the buck", not what that is. They try to establish what it actually is. "It's still a stool, it's still a lap it still a lap table?" wonders Dr Leah, before declaring "it's a nice, multifunctional, sturdy item". Well, that's a sales pitch. Karren interviews that they have built the New Coke of furniture and they haven't got a hope in hell of selling any. At least, I think that's the subtext.

Jordan sets out the day ahead, giving everyone a chance at pitching somewhere. Zee objects to this, on the grounds that this is communism or something, and it should go to the best salespeople. Jordan asks Zee how he'd feel if that meant he didn't get to pitch at all and Zee throws an actual tantrum, all "NUH UH BUT I AM GOOD AT SALES I DONE LOADS OF SALES AND EVERYTHING!" Jordan says that everyone's comfortable selling, so everyone's going to get a chance.

The first appointment laid on by Lordalan is in The North, so half of each team goes thattaway, while the rest of the candidates try selling to individual retailers. Zee takes the first one for Endeavour, where the buyers in question think the chair is too high. Zee tries to convince them otherwise by showing them how he can get his legs under their table while pantomiming eating his dinner. Oh dear. Is there a version of He's Just Not That Into You for businesspeople? If so, I think Zee needs to read it. It's a polite no from this retailer. He calls Myles, Neil and Alex in the northbound Apprentaxi, and they laugh at him for being such a shyster.

Evolve are in Dwell on Tottenham Court Road, pitching the Tidy Sidey. Leah leads the pitch, and the man in the shop says that he likes the concept, but in design terms it's not right at all, adding that the cross-hatch designs on the side "make it look like a garden planter" and it would be best suited to "a part of the house that you couldn't see". Ouch. Francesca rings Natalie to inform her that their product is not good or glossy enough.

Milton Keynes. Both Endeavour and Evolve are pitching to Argos. Luisa leads the pitch for Evolve, while Natalie, Rebecca and Sophie put it together behind her. Because nothing says "easy assembly" like the sight of three people visibly struggling with it. Also, their assembly manual is hilarious - SO MANY SHOTS OF SOPHIE'S HEAD IN IT. Luisa invites them to feel the wood that the box is made of (it's wood? Fucking hell, it looks like cheap plastic) and the Argos panel ask her questions such as: why this colour? ("Because white is common!") Isn't it just a box on wheels? ("I know you are, but what am I?") It's actually not that bad a pitch, considering the monstrosity she's trying to sell: she's being flirty and funny but not unprofessional, and she mostly has good comebacks for all of their questions. Karren interviews that the product is ugly as hell, but the pitch was convincing so they might just have hoodwinked themselves a sale.

Endeavour pitch next, led by Neil. "The Foldo gives the solution to that common problem of people running out of chairs." Yes, by giving them another chair to purchase. I think the market already has that covered, actually. Alex assembles the chair in front of them, except he does so by standing between the panel and the product and making them stare at his formidable booty the whole time. I mean, it's not quite Simon Ambrose wanking off a trampoline, but it's definitely one of those "do you have any idea what this looks like?" moments. Again, Argos are concerned about the height of the chair. Nick interviews that the panel did not want to see Alex's arse, and it was "a very clumsy effort on his part".

Jordan goes to Dwell now with Foldo. They're happy to do a trial for 200 units, and Jordan interviews that he thinks he made the right decision today to stay with the London team rather than going to Milton Keynes. Absolutely: who would ever want to go to Milton Keynes if they could avoid it?

Francesca pitches the Tidy Sidey to an independent retailer and convinces them to take four. Incidentally, their prototype looks really grubby at this point. It's got a big black smudge on the side. Has nobody got a baby wipe? Francesca leads another pitch at decidedly non-trendy furniture store where she markets it as "a box on wheels" and secures another deal for 20. Another independent shopkeeper is impressed and takes 50 of them.

It's mid-afternoon now, and time to pitch to John Lewis. Rebecca leads this pitch for Evolve, extolling the virtues of the rivets in the design (you can keep your pens in them!). Myles, meanwhile, heads up for Endeavour, selling the solidity and ease of assembly of the product. Once again, the height of the seat is criticised by the buyers. Asked who he's aiming the product at, Myles says 16-to-40-year-olds. The John Lewis buyers question whether many 16-year-olds have £75 to spend on a chair.

6pm. Jason manages to shift "two or three" units at another independent store. Zee asks for another attempt at pitching, and Jordan good-naturedly ribs him about being careful not to get "two ducks in a row". Unfortunately for Zee, his second attempt is with a seemingly high-end retailer who are demonstrably not interested, and reject his attempts at opening negotiations by saying "I think it's more your British Home Stores". Ouch. Jordan interviews that he's disappointed with Zee for not delivering on the sales front. In the car, Jordan assigns the next pitch to Kurt; Zee pleads for a third shot at selling, only to get shot down by Jordan. Kurt takes the pitch, and manages to sell 12 Foldos.

Dr Leah leads the last pitch of the day for Evolve, and manages to sell 100 Tidy Sideys to an independent shop. She calls the other half of the team to inform them that the sales tally has gone up from 4 to 174, and everyone screams in delight even though that's...still not an awful lot. Both teams have to wait for the results of their pitches to the department stores, obviously, because otherwise there'd be no suspense.

The next day. The boardroom. Everyone files in, and eventually Lordalan deigns to appear. Both Foldo and the Tidy Sidey are also in attendance. It's the first time the teams have seen their rivals' products. Lordalan opens with Evolve, and Natalie explains that Francesca had the idea for a cube. Asked what the multifunction aspect of it is, she explains that it's got storage, a laptop tray, and a cushion and whatnot. Luisa says that their main selling product was the lack of screws needed to assemble it, and Lordalan approves of that. He asks for the description in a nutshell, and Natalie replies: "The Tidy Sidey - a multifunctional...side table", because they still don't know what the hell that mess is.

Lordalan says that when the prototype turns up, that's when you know if you've got a goer or a lemon, and asks if everyone was happy with the finished item. Rebecca admits that she wasn't, because she didn't want a box, and Dr Leah admits that they all knew it "wasn't aesthetically wonderful". Natalie says that she took her best sellers to the retailers, so she took Rebecca and Luisa with her. And also Sophie, but she doesn't get mentioned. Good team leader? Yep, everyone loved Natalie and her management. Apparently.

Over to Endeavour. Jordan says he wanted to have a structured session to allow everyone to get their ideas across, but Alex's idea was so well-realised so early on that they went right with it. Lordalan raises the issue that it's too tall, and Nick says that it "looks like an electric chair". Lordalan asks who went on the pitching trip, and Jordan agrees that it's important to send the best sellers, which is why he assigned Neil and Myles to that particular task - and while, like Natalie, he wanted to be part of the team pitching to big retailers, he felt he was more useful, as a strong salesman himself, going off to the independent retailers. Jordan says that he put his trust in the others, and he's confident they did well. Myles brings up the issue with the target demographic as discussed at John Lewis, and Nick states that this knocked the credibility of their pitch. Good team leader? Yes, very organised and structured.

Numbers, anyone?

Evolve's subteam sold 174 units on the day to individual retailers, while Endeavour's sold 216. John Lewis weren't keen on the styling of Endeavour's product but liked the concept and have placed an order for 500, pending a few revisions, while Evolve got no orders. Finally Argos liked Endeavour's product and ordered 2500. Over to Karren to find out how Evolve got on: "They really loved your pitch...and they really liked you guys...but they hated the product, and they didn't place any orders." The way Natalie's face falls in that final clause is truly spectacular. That was some magnificent expectation-building from Karren right before she crushed their hopes and dreams. This is why she earns the big bucks, kids.

So to summarise Endeavour sold 3,216 to Evolve's 174. That is a TROUNCING, y'all. Endeavour's reward is to climb the O2 Arena, and as an extra special present, Lordalan tells Alex that the product is one of the best one's he's ever seen in the boardroom. What, even better than Secret Signals? Surely not! Meanwhile, at least one of Evolve is getting fired.

Endeavour ride a riverboat to the O2, laughing at Evolve for building a box. It's mean-spirited, but they're not exactly wrong. They climb the O2, and celebrate at the top. That's pretty much it. [Worst reward in quite some time - Rad] Jordan interviews that the women must be feeling pretty crushed after three losses on the trot.

Loser Café. The women are feeling pretty crushed after three losses on the trot. Luisa interviews that she delegated and trusted everyone, but ultimately their product sucked so they lost. Sophie interviews that she thinks they tried to incorporate too much into one product. Luisa thinks Sophie should be fired because she's done fuck-all since she arrived. Sophie's case for the defence? "This task wasn't really anything I do: I don't design, I don't manufacture, I don't sell, and I don't pitch." What exactly is she doing here, then? [Being fodder? - Rad]

Back at the boardroom, and NotFrances sends them in. Lordalan rips into the Tidy Sidey. "Wishy Washy, Poxy Boxy, that's what I'd call it, because it is." Francesca tries to explain that this isn't what she originally envisaged when she came up with the idea, and Lordalan asks what the colour is, and Uzma admits it's just "grey". Lordalan asks to be taken through the design process, and Natalie explains that she tried to listen to everyone's expertise: she listened to Uzma, because she done a fashion, and she listened to Luisa. Lordalan asks Uzma if the Tidy Sidey is the result of her design work, and Uzma says "not really". So whose is it then, Lordalan wants to know. Uzma hedges her bets saying that she "pushed her ideas forwards", and was keen on both the criss-cross design and the interlocking system. Karren adds that Uzma wanted the product to be glueless. "More like bladdy clueless," barks Lordalan. That really couldn't have been more set-up if it tried, could it? Although it really shows a lack of attention to detail, because I believe Uzma kept requesting it be "screwless", which also rhymes with "clueless". Whether to blame Karren as the straight man or Lordalan as the banana remains up for debate.

Natalie says that they were really keen on it being toolless, and then Uzma tries to claim that as her idea, and Luisa says that she like totally can't claim it as her ideeeeh because it wasn't her ideeeeeh, and Natalie screams that Uzma tries to "pass the buck and then you jump on a good idea!" Clearly "passing the buck" is this week's "in cahoots". Lordalan asks how she's passing the buck, and Natalie whinges that "she just always passes the buck!" That compelling and reasoned argument was brought to you by the Christina Cha School of Debate:

Uzma asks for further explanation, and Natalie says that she's always blaming everyone else when things go wrong, and Luisa leaps in to add that Uzma claimed to be a designer. Uzma says that she told them they had to have a "wow factor" and aim it at "a target market". Luisa points out that these are the most obvious things anyone could possibly say, and she's not wrong. Lordalan interjects that a strong team member should've told the leader that the product was crap, REBECCA. Natalie snits that at no point did Rebecca ever tell her she didn't like the product, which is complete horseshit, because that was basically Rebecca's entire narrative for this episode. Lordalan points out that Karren's feedback is that Rebecca was the only person who objected to the cube right from the outset. He asks why it wasn't shut down instantly, and Dr Leah posits that the problem was they didn't have any better ideas. Karren adds that their bigger problem was trying to incorporate everyone's ideas into one product.

What of the market research? That's what Lordalan wants to know next. Francesca and Sophie report that they had feedback about needing more height and legspace, and Natalie screams that YOU CAN'T HAVE LEGSPACE AND STORAGE!, can, they're called "drawers" and they go in the bits that your legs are not using. Admittedly there might not be room for them in a cube, but I think we've all established at this point that the cube itself is not an idea worth protecting. Lordalan decides that the market research is wrong because it wanted the product corrected. I don't really get his thinking here, but then I often don't.

We're told that Sophie did her dissertation in market research, so why wasn't she better at it? What were her clear, defined recommendations? Sophie says that they were told ease of assembly, good-looking design and functionality. Also, DON'T BE A CUBE.

Time for Natalie to decide who she's bringing back, and it's a no-brainer: she's bringing Uzma and Sophie. Lordalan lectures the other women on how they must all be embarrassed to be so hopeless, and he tells them he doesn't want to see them in the boardroom again. The others are sent back to the house, while Uzma, Sophie and Natalie wait in the anteroom.

Lordalan chews the cud with Nick and Karren. He says that Natalie wants to design and manufacture with him in her business, but has displayed no aptitude for it. Nick is disappointed in Sophie, whom he had high hopes for initially (...really?) but seems to be neither use nor ornament. Lordalan thinks Uzma thinks she's never wrong. Karren says there have been problems with Uzma on several occasions within the team, and Lordalan is all "well, that's women for you." #everydaysexism

NotFrances sends the unfortunate trio back in. Lordalan cracks the "you're supposed to think outside the box, and all you thought of was a bladdy box" joke that he's been itching to make all day, and asks why Uzma and Sophie are here. Natalie says they hide away from responsibility - she brought back Uzma because she trusted her input on design. Uzma asks why, if that's true, she didn't take any of her suggestions on board. Natalie insists that CrapBox is what Uzma came up with. "That's really unfair," responds Uzma. "I DON'T CARE IF IT'S UNFAIR, IT'S THE TRUTH!" screams Natalie. She is really not good under pressure, at all. Lordalan says that Uzma's REZ-HOO-MAY lists her skills as marketing, branding, web design, and keeping up to date with current design trends. "That's exactly what I did," she insists. "I did not design that! I helped design it!" Nobody seems to want to take responsiblity for CrapBox at this point: Natalie insists it's all Uzma's fault because she was the designer (now who's passing the buck?) even though, as Uzma points out, as PM Natalie had the ultimate sign-off. Uzma asks why Luisa isn't here, since she also did a lot of the design work. Natalie insists that "Luisa, with me, came up with the only thing that was good about that." How very convenient.

Natalie tells Uzma that she's too scared of coming up with an idea that's fully her own in case she gets held responsible when it goes wrong. Uzma counters that the look is all-important ("I'm in the look good industry," she says, straight-faced, as her ratty extensions sit on her shoulders) and that she tried her best to make it look good. She thinks that Natalie as PM should've listened to her. She and Natalie scream over each other a bit more, and then Lordalan asks what Sophie is doing here. Haven't we all been asking that since episode one? Natalie thinks Sophie stays safe, and they could've done the entire task without her. Sophie says that she doesn't design or pitch, but she does market research, and she doesn't think Natalie would've listened to her either way because she was JUST LUISA'S PUPPET! Lordalan asks her if she's "Sophie Staysafe", and she says that she's not a creative person because she's just a restaurateur. First of all, I'd say running a restaurant is a fairly creative job, and second of all, saying that market research is the only skill you have to offer in this process is not likely to endear you to Lordalan.

Natalie would like it to be known that she's not a designer, even though she wants to be in a design and manufacturing business with Lordalan. Lordalan thinks that truly creative people can adapt their skills to more than one field. Natalie clarifies that the inspiration behind her business plan is not that she's a designer, it's that she has an eye for business. Uzma snots that Natalie just let Luisa do all the deciding for her. Natalie says that she "did the best I could do with the tools I was given". I like the implication there that she's referring to all her teammates as "tools".

Firing time! Natalie may or may not be a designer, and may or may not be a manager of designers, but either way, she came up with a crap product. Nobody likes Uzma and she's a bit of a shirker. Sophie relies on market research to get out of being responsible for anything important. It's nearly Natalie because the whole thing was an "unforgivable disaster", but ultimately Lordalan decides that Sophie should be fired. So it was actually a forgivable disaster, then? He tells Uzma that only her credentials are keeping her around, and that he's got his eye on both her and Natalie.

Post-firing hugs. Coatwatch: black, double-breasted, brass buttons, accessorised with a pink scarf. Sophie says she feels hard done by because she did what she was told, but it was hard to be heard over all the other stubborn characters.

Back at Entrepreneur Estates, Jordan is wearing a really nice jumper. Just getting all the important facts on record. Rebecca expects Uzma to be fired. Luisa thinks Sophie will be fired, but that it should've been Uzma. Natalie and Uzma return for awkward hugs. Luisa says she thought Natalie would have brought her back, and Natalie admits she was thinking about it. "But you knew I'd annihilate you," crows Luisa. Hee.

Next week: setting up a farm shop! Also: team swaps! Finally.

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