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4 November 2015

“I love language!” The Apprentice 2015 blog: series 11, episode 5

The candidates have to cobble together a children’s book – but they’d better not be too clever about it.

By Anoosh Chakelian

WARNING: This blog is for people watching The Apprentice. Contains spoilers!

Read up on episode 4 here.

“This task is going to be, like, creating something?”

Ah, Charleine, ever the Cassandra. She knows. Even before the candidates are hauled from their Bloomsbury beds to a library, she knows this will be The Apprentice task contrived by Alan Sugar to weed out any remaining candidates with academic qualifications and bundle them into a taxi home.

This series, our token intellectual powerhouse is private tutor Sam, or as Sugar derisively refers to him, a “highly educated fellow” (ie he has an English degree).

Poor young Sam – also labelled a “great wordsmith”, by the way, just to remind viewers of his mighty academic record – must prove himself as project manager of team Connexus (the team that has never won) in a task to create a children’s book and an accompanying audiobook.

“I love language!” cries Sam, walking straight into the snapping jaws of Sugar’s University of Life spiel. “I have a degree in English literature!”

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While he discusses the Aristotelian theory of tragedy, rival project manager Charleine is busy explaining Dinosaurs Love Underpants to her nonplussed teammates on team Versatile.

Brainstorming ideas for children’s books turns out to be quite a psychologically revealing exercise for our candidates.

“A child who’s bad at rugby but good at chess should not be ousted from school,” says Sam, looking desperately around him, eyes betraying painful memories of PE.

“Bee, flee, see – those words sound like they naturally rhyme?” adds April, looking desperately around her, eyes betraying somewhat uncertain memories of English.

“I like where does honey come from, because it’s like where do butterflies come from. That’s my only point. Remember that one point,” notes Richard, looking desperately around him, eyes betraying absolutely no memories of Biology.

Anyway, Charleine’s team cobbles together a story called Bizzie’s First Adventure about a vaguely beleaguered bumblebee, after working out carefully between them exactly how a bee does not make honey.

“Swishing and swirling and tumbling and turning,” beams Charleine, awaiting her Pulitzer. These words turn into a bit of a refrain this episode – repetition emphasising the dynamism of the piece. Maybe. I’m not the one with an English degree.

After endless deliberation about a core plot and finding acceptance, Sam’s team eventually comes up with the “dragon/elephant hybrid” Snottydink – which sounds like a lower-league beast from Harry Potter but is actually something both sad and instructive to do with sneezing.

Karren Brady looks on disdainfully as the candidates record their masterpieces as audiobooks.

“What word is he trying to say?” she asks, as Gary – a dinosaur/Mark Ronson hybrid – grunts his way through the script. The word he is attempting to pronounce is “duck”. Brady raises her eyebrows, wishing she had stuck to her day job of slashing tax credits for the working poor.

“Can I hear David swishing and swishing?” pleads Charleine down the phone, as wee business boy David attempts to embody the wind.

“‘Moisture rife’,” splutters Selina, when reading out Sam’s script. “Even some parents wouldn’t use that expression.” Really? They shouldn’t be allowed to raise children then. Karren, get on it.

Other such phrases that make it into Snottydink’s repertoire are “a quell” (yes, a noun), “dire” and “ado”. It’s madness, but I’m sure there is method in ‘t.

Charleine’s team has its own problems. She fails to pitch the book to Waterstones, robotically reciting “swishing and swirling, and tumbling  – and turning” as if she’s reading the shipping forecast.

“I don’t like the word ‘no’ in anything in life,” is Joseph’s needlessly sinister conclusion.

Meanwhile, telecoms manager Natalie tries to flog Snottydink to a seller of rare books in Charing Cross. He looks at the CD in the back of the book, mystified. “We don’t handle new books in here,” he shudders. I think by “handle”, he means literally touch.

“One of you will not be living happily ever after,” warns Lord Sugar when the candidates return to the boardroom. He’s clearly been waiting to say that for ages.

“What did you read when you were a three to five-year-old? War and Peace?” he snorts at Sam, whose team swiftly loses.

“Natalie did fail to sale,” Brett explains, in a futile grasp at iambic pentameter.

And she is fired. But uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, or the CV that bears an English BA, and Sam’s eyes have moisture rife.

Candidates to watch:


She did a lot to get Snottydink off the ground.


Getting away with it, since episode 1.


Like a thick but excitable work experience teen has just wandered on set.

I’ll be blogging The Apprentice each week. Click here for the previous episode blog. The Apprentice airs weekly at 9pm, Wednesday night on BBC One.

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