A herd of 16 gobsheens - clearly picked for their entertaining ineptitude rather than their prowess - trotted into Bill Cullen's boardroom last night. They managed to make last year's gaggle look like Mensa members.
By way of a (what turned out to be lengthy) recap; the eight girls went with the name Fusion after Tara Lee's insistence (her other option was Inspiroid...), they then chose mother of many, Ciara, to lead them. The eight boys went with Elev-8 ('cause there's eight of them; "If you get a call off Elev-8 it's nice and simple, it'll stick with you, ya know?" It'll also make you think of lifting devices), but they weren't so quick to decide on who would lead them. Mega mouth, Barry Caesar Hunt (seriously) pretty much whipped his wang out on the table saying he was man enough to take the role, but one Dave Cashman refused to shake the man's hand. He insisted that someone with a sales background take the role, clearly eyeballing the wane spectre of Cahal Heapes (his parents, while living in America, decided to omit the T from his name as the yanks had the expected pronunciation issues. And I'll assume they opted for an extra E in their surname just for sh*ts and giggles). Cahal, the one man no one noticed until a good 15 minutes into the programme, had the hum of a hung man from the offset.
After hauling the contestants out of their pits at 6am, Bill brought them around to some Carlton Hotel. After the head of the chain to treat everyone to a glorified infomercial about his establishment, Bill jazzed things up a bit by asking Ciara to lead the men, while Cahal found himself blessed among women. Their quest - sell as many Carlton Hotel Gift Cards to "executives" and randomers in shopping centres.
While Ciara got given the run around from Barry Caesar Hunt asking inane questions, Cahal was given a run down of each of the girls' "strengts" (sic). Apparently "account manager" Niamh Humphrey's "strengts is cold calling." So he made her head of the sub team dedicated to targeting the corporate market. Also part of that team was a solicitor with no sales experience, the breathless Tara (who didn't want to be seen in Blanchardstown Shopping Centre cause she's from there); and a mute. Tara, being an authority on all things Blanch, informed Cahal her people wouldn't be in to a cook book by way of coercion ("they'd want a glass of prosecco or a spa treatment"). So he went with the cook book. "On my head be it" he said.
Ciara's team headed off to Dundrum Shopping Centre and set about pouncing on passersby. "Business Development Manager" Will McCreevy started landing gift card sales from the offset, leading "sales manager" Ciara to corner him on his sales technique. He said he wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary, but I reckon the fact he resembles an action man carved from chocolate played its part. While Ciara's appointed "executive team" started targeting, eh, car showrooms en masse (bearded "marketing professional" David O'Byrne thought it was a great idea to try sell some to Cullen's Renault garage. Bill Cullen, who already owns another hotel...), Cahal's executive sales team sat in a car on the outskirts of an industrial estate for three hours refusing to make calls. In fact, the first person to grow a set and make a call was the only person in the vehicle not from a sales background - solicitor Caroline McHugh. The queen of cold calling, Niamh Humphreys, said she wasn't comfortable making any as she wasn't sure what Tara was proposing - despite the former being the sub team leader. When she did finally garner the confidence to make a call, she had to get Tara to dial it for her as she was unable to use the phone. Of all the deluded masses of tissue ever to grace this programme, Niamh Humphreys is the epoch, a bladder of hot air and buzz words. Yet she didn't get fired, Cahal did. Why? Because Cahal made the fatal mistake of allowing himself be forced into taking the TL role when he had all the projected personality of a gate. He appeared to be non confrontational, and that never makes for good TV (in short, he was forced to leave, much like last year's first fired - Craig Butler). Although, who knows what might have happened had he been afforded the luxury of staying on; anyone who replies to the term "you're fired" with a jovial "Good stuff, thanks Bill", has to be a bit of a laugh.
Line of the night: When Bill asked Niamh why they sat in a car for three hours, she responded: "Well, we had gotton into our stride I suppose at that stage."
Here's a breakdown of who's popped their heads over the parapets thus far.
Niamh Humphries (35, Limerick): Aforementioned hot bladder. She appears to lie for a living - in addition to "cold calling is my strength" she also claimed to have "warm leads" and swore there was nothing wrong with "our sales technique". She was also quick to blurt "I certainly was!" when Bill asked if the team was happy with Cahal as a team leader. This, however, didn't stop her from being brought back into the board room.
Tara Lee (from the Blanch): Painfully opinionated but at least she's self aware ("I talk too much and I speak before I think"). The highlight for me last night was when she completed a phone call (from the back of the car) by fiercely fingering the cancel button while mouthing "FFFFFF****CCCKKK".
Ciara McManus (34, from Raheny, Dublin): Mother to five children, (two are hers three are her hubby's). She's probably one of the few present with cop on, and she deserves respect for not chinning Barry Caesar Hunt on a number of occasions. She also managed not to launch herself across the table when Bill said "How did yous guys feel bein' led by a gerral."
Caroline McHugh (26, Roscommon): The solicitor who knew four birds in the back of a car in an industrial estate weren't going anywhere.
Nagiate Farag (25, Tipperary): One of the few who brought their brains.
Sarah O'Neill (30). The mute "communications manager" who managed to get away with saying nothing of substance for the entire programme. Ohhhp, apologies, she came across with the team name "Blitz" ("aggressive but not that aggressive"), which the Glenda Gilson lookalike thought it sounded "like a sandwich shop."
David O'Byrne (27, hails from Dublin but lives in Galway): His bio says his "most recent role saw him reside in New York City and compete for multi-million dollar marketing accounts on Madison Avenue. I know him as the beardy bloke who thought selling Carlton gift cards to Bill Cullen was a capital idea. He then refused to own up to said idea when questioned in the boardroom.
Dave Cashman (28). His bio doesn't say where he's from, which further compounds my notion that he's in fact a TV3 producer planted in there to bully innocuous types into being team leaders for the first few weeks.
Barry Caesar Hunt (32, clearly Dublinese). Apparently he's an entrepreneur - if an entrepreneur goes from "earning 1 million euro plus per year" to "losing it all". He probably forked over most of it for his earrings. He'll stay to the end 'cause he's the definition of good telly - i.e. a riotous twat who you ridicule yet inexplicably admire.
Kieran Walsh (28, Cork). A "professional poker player/director of family business" who doesn't see himself as a "risk taker or gambler." He was the one person who didn't want to approach Bill Cullen's garage, yet he then went on to lead the ill-fated pitch.
Panagiotis Zametakis (33, somewhere in Greece): "Senior Online Advertising Manager" who finds tickles his own funny bone on a regular basis.
Will McCreevy (22, Dublin). Chocolate man who knows how to celebrate in moderation.
You can see "Ireland's brightest business minds" in action every Monday at 9.00pm. The Apprentice You're Fired at 10.20pm. The Apprentice at Home follows that on 3e.