'The Apprentice': Last night's episode in France
Published Jun 23 2011, 10:49 BST | By David Moynihan
The foreign episode is always a highlight for fans of BBC One's entrepreneurial reality show. As if the contestants haven't found the previous challenges tough enough, the trip abroad cranks their business befuddlement up to a Spinal Tap-esque 11 as they drown in the local language, maps and customs.
Still, a trip to the cosmopolitan French capital of Paris was surely always going to be easier than the bustle of Moroccan souks, as seen in 2008's series. Those BBC budget cuts do have their advantages.
Except from the start it was clear that the two Apprentice
teams - Logic headed up by curly-topped inventor Tom, and Venture led by the infuriatingly "immature" (Karren Brady's damning verdict) Susan - may as well have been jettisoned to Mars in a rocket, such was their face-melting confusion.
"Do French people like their children? Do the French go camping? Do a lot of people drive in France?" squeaked Susan, like a newborn.
"I can't do anything if I don't speak the language," proclaimed Leon with a village idiot's proud grin.
Cue Melody on the phone, booking her sixth meeting with a buyer. In English.
"I should move to Paris and do business here!" she later exclaimed, after romping through successful meetings to sell team Logic's chosen products: a bone china lamp shaped like a teapot and a pop-up postcard that grows cress.
Venture had selected a rucksack that turned into a child car seat and an odd piece of bendy plastic that looked a bit like a spider. Apparently it was for displaying iPhones and gripping things. The French weren't impressed either.
Both teams were quick to brandish their limited French. "Bonjour, parlez-vous Anglais?" they would eagerly ask, only to be met by the thud of a conversation-killing "Non".
A second shared tactic involved adopting an 'Allo 'Allo!
French accent when talking to locals. Nick Hewer and Karren Brady didn't need language: their respective nose-crinkling and eyeball-rolling said it all.
Leon's ineffectuality stood out like the occasionally-glimpsed Eiffel Tower, but Melody's single-handed aggression ("She's like a tiger," swooned Alan Sugar) looked to be winning the day. In the boardroom, however, it transpired that a smash success pitch from Helen had secured a record-breaking order of 214,000 euros for the backpack booster seat.
"Wow. That's a big one," blinked Sugar.
The winning team of Susan, Zoe, a conspicuously quiet 'Jedi' Jim and Helen were treated to a day of flying lessons. Leon, Michael Sheen lookalike Tom, Melody and Natasha were dispatched to the cafe to lick their wounds. Having been branded "an annihilation" by Lord Sugar, it was clear that a boardroom skirmish was inevitable and Melody rose to the occasion once more to crush Tom and Leon.
Leon was rightfully fired for displaying all of the leader in industry skills of a schoolboy exchange student during his Gallic jaunt, as Melody won accolades for her psychopathic tendencies.
"She's fighting to win, she is ruthless. She'll walk over anybody. She'll eat them up and spit them out," Lord Sugar gushed, with praise worthy of a Libyan dictator.
"And that's what I like about her."Was Leon Doyle the right man to go? Is Melody Hossaini now the series favourite? Share your views on last night's Apprentice below.