Am I Charlie? The Problem of maintaining a moderate view

Source: Nury Vittachi


‘Je suis Charlie’I am Charlie – is the rallying call in Europe and even around the world but … am I Charlie? Can I really identify with the men who died and what they stood for? And if not, then who do I identify with?

We were all, quite understandably, shocked and appalled by the massacre at Charlie Hebdo and the subsequent murders which took place in Paris. Every form of media outlet was awash with stories, claims, opinions and debates and the social media busied itself with endless shares of cartoons from around the world. Overnight #JeSuisCharlie became a household term and the largest march of solidarity in French history took to the streets of Paris joined by many of the world’s most important people.

No one, to my knowledge, is condoning the attacks (bar the rants of radical extremists)but the sound of reason is certainly being drowned out by those who would have us believe it is right to point the finger at Muslims and condemn them in every conceivable way. We seem to believe that ‘incitement to hatred’ is a one-way affair – that only Muslims are – and can be – guilty of this. If you’re white, Western and (preferably) atheist then it is quite reasonable and acceptable to mock, jeer and call for an end to whole ways of life for billions of people. My aim in this post is to highlight some of the important articles on the internet which tell a different story in the hope (possibly vain) that this might redress the balance a little.

Although I have, of course, been following the news regarding the murders last week and their effect on whole communities of people, it was after reading a post on Facebook by writer Nury Vittachi that I felt the urge to add my contribution. Nury asserts that though it is right to condemn the barbarity of the attacks this doesn’t mean it is right to condone the actions and beliefs of Charlie Hebdo itself. He points out that it is a lie to believe we have the right to uncensored free speech:

EVERY country implants limits on free speech. Most commonly, defamation is banned… Hate speech is banned in almost every country. Material that can be seen as incitement to violence is banned… The publication of matter which violates “the offense principle” is prohibited to stop people causing a significant degree of offense to society or segments of society.

Does the material published by Charlie Hebdo violate any of these principles, in France, or in YOUR country, or in other countries? The answer is almost definitely yes.”

I shared his post on my Facebook and was immediately engaged in discussion with someone whose views worried me immensely. This man made it clear he considered all religious beliefs – particularly the concept of blasphemy –  ‘ridiculous’ and was offended that people are ‘required to respect these fairy tales’. He spewed out commonly cited extremes of religious thought to back his claims and would not accept my argument that, for many people who have a faith, insulting their God or prophet(s) is the same as abusing a family member. ‘How would you like it,’ I argued, ‘if someone called your wife or daughter a whore and jeered at you publicly day after day, encouraging others to do the same?’ Call my wife a bitch and sooner or later I’m going to snap I said – and his response was chilling: “If you do commit murder because of it, you’ll rightly go to prison. That said, at least your wife is real…if you can’t see the difference, there’s no helping you is there?”

His intolerance towards religion is chilling because I see comments like his repeatedly – incensed and violent in language – all over the internet on every media platform and daily wherever religion is discussed. Atheists have taken such a stronghold in every social and political stream that people seem to be blind to their own intolerance. It’s a given fact that religious people hold silly, made-up beliefs and no argument to refute this is accepted.

A friend, over Christmas, shared a link to a small news item where an English church minister blurted out to children during a service that ‘Santa Claus doesn’t exist’. My friend was angry at her cruelty but then labelled her a hypocrite because of her own beliefs. I was a little shocked that he equated a belief in the words of Jesus (a man rooted in history) with the fairy-tale of the fat man who climbs down several billion chimneys every Christmas Eve. I was stunned that a woman telling the truth (for no adult believes in Santa to my knowledge) was condemned for it on the basis of her own faith alone. It was a silly thing to say – no argument there – and the article made it clear she regretted her words the moment she said them, giving an apology straight away. It was an offhand remark and one that drunken uncles are guilty of every year at family gatherings. It is, after all, nothing but a story to entertain small children with and adults forget this sometimes.

It wasn’t so much the news item as the unquestionable assertion that religion has no basis in reality which concerned me considering nearly 6 billion people on the planet believe in some kind of deity or spiritual realm. I maintain that it is this arrogance which is the root behind the religious motivated acts of terrorism more than any other factor. When your religiously-centred culture is under constant attack – in word and deed – from others who believe you ridiculous and even, at times, inhuman is it any wonder that some of the disenfranchised rise up and take matters into their own, bitter and angry hands?

Corey Oakley writes about these attacks specifically on Muslims:

“For the last decade and a half the United States, backed to varying degrees by the governments of other Western countries, has rained violence and destruction on the Arab and Muslim world with a ferocity that has few parallels in the history of modern warfare.

It was not pencils and pens – let alone ideas – that left Iraq, Gaza and Afghanistan shattered and hundreds of thousands of human beings dead. Not twelve. Hundreds of thousands. All with stories, with lives, with families. Tens of millions who have lost friends, family, homes and watched their country be torn apart.

To the victims of military occupation; to the people in the houses that bore the brunt of “shock and awe” bombing in Iraq; to those whose bodies were disfigured by white phosphorous and depleted uranium; to the parents of children who disappeared into the torture cells of Abu Ghraib; to all of them – what but cruel mockery is the contention that Western “civilisation” fights its wars with the pen and not the sword?”

Oakley goes on to assert that we ignore facts like the persecution of Algerian Muslims by the secular French (the two gunmen last week were Algerian) and other secular attacks. In fact, if we were to score secularist against religious terrorism in Europe the secularists would win hands down. What the press doesn’t like to admit is that just 2% of terrorist attacks in Europe were religiously motivated!

terrorism EU 2

This is a staggering statistic.

Beenish Ahmed asserts that Islamic-based terrorism in America is also all but non-existent:

“Charles Kurzman, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina, has called Muslim Americans “a minuscule threat to public safety.”

In his most recent report tracking Islamist militancy in America, he included this startling figure. “The United States suffered approximately 14,000 murders in 2013. Since 9/11, Muslim-American terrorism has claimed 37 lives in the United States, out of more than 190,000 murders during this period.””

One could begin to suspect that there is a conspiracy here to ghettoize Muslims in a manner reminiscent of Nazi Germany. That far right groups are gaining political ground in Europe makes this more than mere rhetoric. It wasn’t for no reason at all that Le Pen wasn’t invited to the march in Paris last week.

Elizabeth Plank takes up exactly this theme when she revealed that the Charlie Hebdo attack was not the only terrorist action which took place over the same 24 hour period. Yet why was only the Paris attack given considerable air time? she asks:

“On Tuesday morning, the NAACP offices in Colorado Springs, Colorado, came under attack when someone who is believed be a balding white man in his 40s dropped an explosive device that went off a few feet from the building. And on Wednesday morning, news broke of a horrifying mass shooting at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in France that left 12 dead and several wounded.

Both acts were motivated by radical ideology, but only one of them is being covered by the 24-hour news cycle. What gives?”

She goes on to demonstrate how language is used completely differently to report the two attacks. The bomb planted by a white man was ‘isolated act of violence’ but the Paris murders was ‘an act of terrorism’.

It’s not the first time this has happened either, Plank points out:

“…after a white man in Texas purposely crashed his plane into a building known to house IRS staff and left a note describing his plans for mass murder in 2010, a police chief described his acts as “a criminal act by a lone individual” rather than terrorism. When Elliot Rodger espoused his radical anti-woman ideology and killed six people near the University of California, Santa Barbara last year, newspapers like the Santa Barbara Independent , described him as a “lone gunman.” And Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Rodger’s acts were “the work of a madman.” “

It really does seem the media want us to believe separate things about similar acts. But it’s not just the hypocrisy of reporting terrorism (or not) but the blindness towards our own acts which concerns me greatly. As Jared Keller notes concerning the political leaders found ‘linking arms’ on the march of solidarity with 3.7 million others on the streets of Paris, many of them had no right to be there.

“But as Reporters Without Borders points out, their policies at home are far from compatible with the solidarity for free speech on display throughout France.

The organization said Sunday that it was “appalled by the presence of leaders from countries where journalists and bloggers are systematically persecuted such as Egypt (which is ranked 159th out of 180 countries in RWB’s press freedom index), Russia (148th), Turkey (154th) and United Arab Emirates (118th).””

He quotes the tweets of student Daniel Wickham which list the Human Rights record of 21 of the 40 world leaders who gathered in Paris for the march. The mind boggles at how easily we lay aside what we know about our leaders when we hear the rallying call to solidarity.

Human Rights records brings me back nicely to the issue of religion with which we started. The person who commented on my Facebook post seemed adamant that religion is responsible for so much inhumanity in the world and he’s right – it is. But what media and scholars rarely tell us is that secular states have Human Rights records just as appalling. Over half of the countries listed by the IHRRI at the bottom of the ranking are secular states. China, North Korea, Vietnam and many more have terrible records and we should not forget the awful death toll in communist Russia especially during Stalin’s time where some experts estimate more than 20 million people were killed in the name of secular government.

The final big lie we all seem happy to swallow is the one which implicitly suggests all Muslims are secretly condoning the terrorist actions of Islamic extremists. ‘Why don’t they speak out against it?’ we ask ourselves. ‘If they were really one of us then they would publicly condemn these actions. But they don’t’.

This, I believe, is our worst crime in many ways (speaking as a white westerner). As filmmaker Kamran Pasha reveals, every single major Muslim group in the USA has spoken out condemning terrorist acts. You can find a list of these here but Pasha’s article links to many other sources as evidence to his claims.

His addendum to the article fills me with despair. No sooner had he demonstrated that Muslims are active in their condemnation of terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists than he was then accused of it being nothing but empty words:

“In response to this article, the new meme is being promulgated: “Muslims condemn terrorism, but it’s all talk! Sure, Muslims say they condemn terrorism, but there’s no action!”

Where do I begin to respond to this kind of nonsense? There are 1. 5 billion Muslims living their lives in peace, trying to put food on the table for their families. Over six million of them live here in America as patriotic citizens. They work hard, pay their taxes, and have ZERO contact with the criminal underworld where these terrorists breed.

I have never, ever met a terrorist in real life (it is ridiculous that I even have to say this). If I met one, I would turn him in to the authorities, as would every other Muslim I know. Since I don’t have access to this shadowy underworld, I live my life on the surface in broad daylight, working in my community to promote interfaith cooperation, peace and prosperity. It is that grassroots effort that Muslims do to promote good in this world that receives ZERO coverage in the media. I could list every single good thing I and other Muslims have ever done to make the world a better, safer place, but people who hold this attitude don’t care. It will never be enough. If I listed 1 million positive things Muslims are doing in their daily lives today on this planet, they would respond: “Why can’t you name a billion things you’ve done? See, you’re not doing enough!”

So I ask those who are outraged at this supposed Muslim inaction: “What have YOU done to defeat racism in this world?” List every single thing you have ever done to fight the Ku Klux Klan. List it here, right now. Times, dates and hyperlinks please. The response would be that I am crazy — average Americans have nothing to do with the KKK, and don’t need to justify their daily actions in support of righteousness to me or anyone else. But that same common sense response is rejected when a Muslim uses it.”

Which brings me to my final point (which in turn brings us back to my initial questions). Can I say Je suis Charlie? For all I’ve stated above, I do believe in the right to free speech and the right to live our lives in peace without fear of violent action against us. But I also believe that it is human nature that when you throw stones at people sooner or later they will hurl rocks back. The cartoonists and journalists at Charlie Hebdo are being hailed as heroes because they knew their lives were at risk and persisted with their work. The latest edition out today has sold in millions rather than its normal circulation of tens of thousands in part as people pay homage to the men. But I can find only one hero among the dead.

While #JeSuisCharlie went viral around the world, so did #JeSuisAhmed and rightly so. That a Muslim police officer died protecting the rights of others to offend him has not been lost on the world. This is the only man to come out of this unblemished in my opinion. He caused no offence, killed no one, committed no act of insult or terrorism – and was executed for his pains.

I don’t know to what extent I can say I am Charlie or I am Ahmed for I am too distantly removed to truly say I stand in their place. I don’t know to what extent I want to, if I’m honest. But I do know that the claim of secularists that ‘at least we don’t kill people for our beliefs‘ is a stupid and dangerous one. For while we choose to ignore one side and build up the other, while we dismiss one opinion and overstate another, while we consider it our right to abuse, ridicule and offend but cry foul when some choose to retaliate – while all this continues whatever flag we choose to wave will have blood on it and we’re all responsible for that.

[source and reference]


The Apprentice 2013 on BBC One – Series 9: Part 4 of 14

Lord Alan Sugar hand picked world UK best apprentices put on a magnificent display last week.  The Apprentice 2013 Series 9 and part 3 gave us a glimpse of what was truly in store for us and that these apprentices are truly exceptional people.  Two bright individuals quickly jump to my mind, or rather a couple of scenes flash in my memory.  The first scene – Lusia passionately painting Jordan’s toenails matt-black and probably the only task to date where both Lusia and Jordon have worked so passionately, second Alex the Welsh Dracula with his killer eye-brows taking on the know-it-all Natalie in a race to achieve the unbelievable milestone – to answer the telephone to receive next task instructions.  Why can’t my staff show such ‘extraordinary’ enthusiasm when the phone rings?

The task was simple (as always) innovative storage space solution flat-pack furniture.  You know, the stuff you supposed to find exhilarating in your home/apartment and forced to say  ‘wow can’t believe this wasn’t thought of before’, but since this is The Apprentice, we need to be a little less excited and more realistic, and aim to get some good solutions from our hopefuls.

In a nutshell – The Girls team lost led by Natalie, between the best brains in the world country they could only come up with (in theory) a multifunctional cube, which could do this and that, that and this all the while being just a cube.  When it came to putting the theory into practice they failed miserably and all they made was a nail-free-not-a-cube-looking-rectangle-box-on wheels and finished their masterpiece in the colour grey.  Lord Alan Sugar asked the teams to produce something which involved thinking outside of the box, the girls gave Lord Alan Sugar the box instead – on wheels.

On the other hand, the boys team powered by Alex but led by Jordan produced something a little more exciting.  A table which could be folded into a much needed table.  Not surprisingly the boys team won the task by selling more to their customers.

Natalie brings back the chief product designer Uzma and the not-so-enthusiastic Sophie back to the boardroom, where Sophie ends up falling victim to Lord Alan Sugar’s finger.

It’s clear, the girls are having a disaster of a time and I can’t imagine the impact it will have should they fail the task today – or Lord Alan Sugar may simply mix up the teams so save further embarrassments.

Today’s challenge involves some farmyard shop fun.

The Apprentice 2013 on BBC One – Series 9: Part 3 of 14

Last week we were truly spoilt by Lord Alan Sugar.  Not only did we get to see the first episode of this year’s The Apprentice a day early (on a Tuesday) we were overdosed by the second episode the following day (Wednesday) – thus sending the blood pressure of us The Apprentice addicts into dangerous territory.

The first episode on Tuesday introduced us to the candidates, a deliberate selection of annoying muppets and arrogant to**ers who would struggle to put a key into a keyhole.  The task was simple, unload a load of junk made in China, count it, prices it, work out the profit margins and figure out best locations to flog it.  The team which makes the most profit wins – simple right but boy oh boy did the girls team get into a devastating mess or what.  I was almost stunned to see a group of girls taking a cat product made in China to, what is known as China town in London, and sell it there when already those shops were stocked up with this product.  Not surprisingly the women’s team lost the task resulting in, the mouth motivator Jaz Ampaw-Farr being fired – and rightly so – God damn she was annoying.

The second episode on Wednesday was a little different.  The boys (Team Endeavour) and the girls (Team Evolve) had to come up with a flavoured beer for punters.  Tim, the constantly moving man who really is a puppet where someone using strings, against his will, moves his arms and head rather annoyingly, was sent over to run the girls team as a project manager – but quickly realised he couldn’t even manage his own moving actions let alone control the tasks.  On the other side it was Kurt who was appointed to lead the boys team.  In all honestly I simply can’t remember him, but somehow he managed to pull off the task and win – especially after his catastrophic decision to send three non-drinkers (including a Muslim) to go actually make, taste the beer – I mean come on.

The boys team pulled it off, somehow, leaving Tim to fight it out with the girls in the boardroom.  It all proved to be too much for animated Tim and was the second casualty of this series.

For me, there is one outstanding character in this series – The Welsh Dracula Alex Mills. He had the best one liner I have heard, well since my preschool days, “Will you be quiet you silly little shit” blasted to the PhD student.  The PhD student from some University had no research knowledge in addressing this comment, and all methodologies failed at this point for him – which resulted in utter silence.

If I had the opportunity to hire anyone of these contestants it would have to be the Welsh Dracula, I mean his eyebrows are amazing, something out of this world – literally.  I’d hire him on the basis that he could scare my competition into submission just by his physical appearance when I take him into meetings, if that would fail he could scare the living daylights out of them by his one liners “just give up your business you silly little shit”.  In fact I am going to find this Welsh Dracula Alex Mills and offer him a job as a personal bodyguard.

What is evident in this year’s bunch of top brass is the attitudes of the girls, if anything, they should be re-branded as Team Delusional.  The boys, including The Welsh Dracula, do have their problems but they proved twice in a row they can meet the task objective and win, but for the girls they are horrible to watch and some are nasty pieces of work.  I am sure that those girls who get fired from The Apprentice will be labelled for life of not-employable.

Today’s episode it’s a challenge for flat pack furniture – bring it on

Ex-Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher dies 13 October 1925 – 8 April 2013

I’ve just learnt Former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher has died.  Mainly known as Margaret Thatcher she was a British politician, the longest-serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the 20th century, most interestingly – she was the only women ever to have held the post.

It saddens me to learn of her death, despite my reservations around her political views and policies it is a great loss, she was a great leader.

More can be read here and here.

Me, her and Keeping up with the Kardashians

I choose my acquaintances based on their attractiveness, their sexiness, their style, class, ability, age and profession – the latter at times can be compromised or negotiated but is rare.  As a guy It’s hard work, and at times it requires long exhausting hours of research into their lifestyles, background and their intended future aspirations, before I make my move or orchestrate an engagement.  I guess, my interpretation of acquaintances is different from the norm.

One thing I wasn’t prepared for is how serious ‘some’ take a reality TV show – that too unscripted, as my recent acquaintance would have me believe.  Despite an exceptionally high appointed role working for a watch brand known to the world as Rolex, and despite ticking all the boxes for being on par for an ideal acquaintance, she has brought with her an unimaginable rift between us.

Allow me, going forth, to refer to this acquaintance as Priya – who is the most adorable personality you would find in a woman of 31 years of age – that I can’t take away from her. Her assignments for Rolex give her the power to travel around the world (for which many envy her profession and career) connecting and networking with high profile individuals, including members associated with Hollywood, Bollywood and government officials in the west just to highlight a few.

Her recent business assignment brings her to West Yorkshire and in particular to Leeds.  I first met Priya in London during the build-up to 2010 International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) which was to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka.  It was there, in London, where we first interacted and engaged but departed until her presence in Leeds few weeks ago.  She instantly and immediately struck a tone in me and ever since we have kept our communication ongoing.

To keep focus on the unimaginable rift she has introduced between us, I cannot put what I am about to write in any easy or simple words, and I must express this as it formulates in my head.  Priya’s life can be divided into three whole sections – and by no stretch of the imagination can what I write impede her personality and her status – two parts out of three of her life I can handle and in all cases with pleasure, but the final part I am not prepared to compromise or negotiate on, and I must reject it wholeheartedly.

The first part of her life is work – which is impressive and attractive, the second part to her life currently is our close interactions and engagements – again impressive and something I have no problem with, but the third part of her life is spending every second when she is either not working or when she is not with me, watching the US reality show known as Keeping up with the Kardashians.

The Kardashians or the actual word, admittedly, is not oblivious to me.  It has, in the past, popped up in discussion with other people I know – all being females, but since my physical engagement with Priya during the build up of 2010 IIFA event in Colombo, I have understood exactly who the Kardashians are.

Priya, literally is obsessed in keeping up with the Kardashians, she has gone as far as setting up my Sky HD box at my apartment to record every possible program that is aired on Sky relating to the Kardashians, whereas in the past my Sky HD was programmed to record programs such as ‘The Apprentice, Dragons Den, programs relating to cooking and property development and Sport games’.  If Priya is not at work and not with me she will be at the home cinema in my apartment keeping up with the Kardashians, and if she isn’t at my apartment watching it, for sure, she will be at her hotel keeping up with the Kardashians.

I once asked her “if there is or was a person who you would aspire to be, who would that one person be?” thinking the response will be on par with Ghandi and Jesus or someone to this level, her response was unimaginable and signalled the seriousness of her Keeping up with the Kardashians condition, and she uttered with passion “it would be…hhhhmmmm….Kim Kardashian out of the three sisters” at which point my jaw, my jogging pants and the mug of fresh brewed coffee dropped (and this scene, is on replay in slow-motion in my mind ever since).  It was clear that Kardashian is not a one man army but a clan, and there were more of them – Jesus Christ indeed.

To give her a fair trial, since she puts up with me and my habit of watching dragons den religiously with a notepad and my thinking cap on, I decided I would cave into her request of watching at least one episode of keeping up with the Kardashians with her – so I did.

The one episode that I watched with her, good grief I couldn’t help but clench my fists and grit my teeth all the while Priya found it romantic, while the I watched this disaster she rested her head on my somewhat tense lap with tense thigh muscles, the episode was so crazy, embarrassing and emotionally charged that I wish I hadn’t agreed to watching it.

In this episode, Kris Jenner happens to bump into her ex at a tennis practice, she, somewhat decides to pursue her ex which in the end results in agreeing to have an evening dinner – in the disguise of wanting closure from their relationship (considering they haven’t met each other for over a decade).  All the while, her current poor husband Bruce Jenner is left in the dark about what was brewing behind his back.  One of the Kardashian daughters along with Rob Kardashian realise the mother is up to something and decide to follow her, spy on her moves suspecting their mother having an affair – but their pursuit of obtaining evidence runs cold when they lose track of where their mother has vanished.  After spending the evening dinner, in close proximity with her ex, flirting and somewhat reliving old memories, Kris decides to go home and come clean with what just happened, so she wakes Bruce up from his bed, brings him out to the kitchen area and explains what happens.  For the sake of sanity and idealism I wish not to go any further in describing this episode.

As the episode drew to a close, I couldn’t help but regret having sat there watching this crazy reality TV show, if I can call it that.  I should receive an award for handling this episode so well and living to tell the tale – I guess the award should include words such as ‘brave’ or ‘extremely brave’ in the title.  What was more regrettable was Priya actually enjoyed it, which goes to show that I and Priya are on two different planets entirely.

Priya is checked into a hotel a stone throw away from my apartment, but she pretty much spends her time when she isn’t working at my apartment.

So almost two weeks ago, I decided to ‘politely’ eject her out of my apartment for a few days so that I can a) reclaim back my Sky HD box, b) delete all of the programs recorded that relate to the Kardashians and c) to teach her a lesson in making me watch this crap, where the time I spent watching that one episode is something I will never get back, not to mention the distress caused at the time. Harsh – I know.

Last weekend, almost 11 days later, I finally opened the door to Priya.  In those 7 days days I have had no contact with her other than mobile communication, but I’m now glad that she has realised that its either keeping up with the Kardashians or keeping up with me, happy that she opted for the later.  In saying that, as she fluttered her eyelashes I did back track on one thing though, which was that she could watch her unscripted, reality TV show at her own hotel room – as and when she pleased, but not in my premises.

As for the Kardashians, well, they can go take a long walk and occupy someone else’s home cinema as far as I am concerned.

Want, want, want, want…

Tony Robbins – never heard of him, but my acquaintance has talked about him and his work non-stop, she has subscribed to this dude with eyes wide shut.  I, on the other hand have no interest in this guy or anyone else who talks about attaining success.

I have my own rules and principles in pursuit of success – but one quote which caught my attention – (in the last few days) when on the receiving end of verbal vomit from my acquaintance about Tony Robbins was:











He nailed it in the head with this quote and welcome into my world.

The Apprentice 2012 – Sixth Episode Today – Week Six

Today, the sixth episode of The Apprentice 2012 will be aired on BBC One at 9pm.  You can catch up on my previous episode updates by links provided at the bottom of this post. So far, we have seen five people get the chop by Lord Alan Sugar.

A Recap:

Week One said good bye to Bilyana Apostolova

Week Two said good bye to Maris O’Conner

Week Three said good bye to Michael Copp

Week Four said good bye to Jane McEvoy

And, week Five said good bye to Duane Bryan with a big smile.

As I have done previously, I predicted that team Phoenix will win – and proud to announce I was correct.

It’s more sensible to refer to each team by their team names from now onwards, especially since the teams are mixed with both boys and girls.

The task this time was one which involved more thought process, relied on simply and possible idea over hard and complicated one.  This time, the teams had to design and plan a ‘new’ exercise regime which would tempt three major UK fitness clubs to franchise or lease.

Team Phoenix had a group of people who seemed to be reluctant in putting their names forward as project manager for this task.  The only person to put their hand up was ‘teeth chewing’ Stephen; it was the likely choice since work related to fitness was his daily job.

Team Sterling was more engaging and two people put their views forward as to why they should be project managers:  Jenna and Ricky made their cases and in the end Ricky got more votes.

Both teams worked on their ideas and in my view, team Sterling were quick off the mark, as Ricky almost instantly came up with their concept and their training regime.  Team Sterling lead by Ricky tried to blend martial arts with fitness – not a new idea and has been around in various fitness clubs for years.  On the other hand team Phoenix endorsed a retro 80s style fitness classes.

Both teams had to produce a promotional video, which later would be used to demo their ideas to the large fitness clubs when they pitch their ideas.

From both video’s I have to admit I preferred Team Phoenix – as their style suited their 80’s idea.  Team Sterling seemed to have lost the martial arts touch in their video – and it became evident that their video promotion appeared standard dance/fitness class.

As usual both teams struggled to cover important areas of their fitness regime including material and equipment which team Phoenix didn’t account for.

Nonetheless in the end, Team Phoenix won the task – despite having the first two clubs reject their ideas in the boardroom and only the last and final club agreed to trail their fitness regime.

So, not surprisingly team Sterling lost and it seems they are in a pretty bad state now.  The boardroom was yet again full of people pointing fingers and in the end Ricky decided to bring Duane with his big smile along with Laura who has become a common face in the boardroom face-offs.

With Laura fighting her corner on the grounds that she was doing what she was instructed to do, and Ricky claiming the video promotion lost him the task meant that Duane was left out and in the end Lord Sugar agreed and fired smiling Duane.

Today’s task is all about Street Food.  Lord Sugar sends the candidates to Scotland, where they must make gourmet grub and sell it on the streets of Edinburgh. The teams decide on Italian meatballs and Scottish stew, but before heading north there is a spot of market research at one of London’s fancy street food fairs. It is clear from what is served up that there is more to this business than dishing up a burger and chips.

On today’s task I think I am going to back Team Sterling to win, they need this badly.

Your thoughts?

Anyway, I’d like to leave you with a video below of some funny bits on the last episode.  See you all tonight at 9pm on BBC One


Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four, Week Five