The fourth task for the candidates was to develop and sell a new beauty product.

There are three parts to this task; design, brand and sell.

The design part was relatively simple, pick a base organic ingredient, pick a recipe, add some smells to it. Manufacture.

It was here that Empire (with Paula as leader) made their fatal costing mistake. It’s relatively simple maths but 3% is not the same as 3gramms. They bought 450g of sandalwood to add to their seaweed. Their product was better quality – but the one ingredient pricing put their budget from 5 pounds to over 700 pounds.

Ignite (with Noorul as leader) chose honey as their organic ingredient and with much screaming collected a supply of honey. Their product was pretty awful and seemed to dissolve on first use.

Both teams did OK on the branding; Empire went with “RockPoole” as a brand name reflecting the Poole origins of their seaweed, very simple packaging. Ignite named there’s “Honey I’m Home” with a simple bee theme. They dressed in beekeeper suits to sell at the market, which made them look remarkably like bio-hazard cleanup people.

In sales; both teams ended up selling at markets, choice of wrong locations. The Empire team made up for costings errors by bulk selling the last of their product for 400 pounds – but not enough.

CM200904_apprenticepaulaIn the board room there was the usual brawl. Paula took Yasmina and Ben into the boardroom, Yasmina has shown some potential so it was pretty clear she was coming out again. Ben put up a fight in his usual belligerent style. Paula made most of the decisions regarding product and branding to generate a good product. But that one cost mistake killed any chance of winning.

The quote of the week has to be “knee deep in crabshit for 300g of seaweed” from James, with Sir Alan’s “in a bleedin’ soap opera” a close second.

Sir Alan has pushed for cost control in every episode this series, and in every series. This is a fatal mistake. The only question was where he would see the responsibility lying.

Paula half-delegated the costings to Ben and Yasmina. And that was the problem. If she’d fully delegated the costings, she would have been able to also delegate the blame away in the boardroom.

So Sir Alan made a decision “Paula, you’re fired”.

It’s a good decision. Her team made a loss based on one simple maths error, and the excuse “I’m HR, I don’t do costings” is not good enough – you’re trying to win the apprentice, you better be able to do costings.


Postscript: the guests and audience on “Apprentice: You’re Fired” all thought Ben should go rather than Paula. Well that wouldn’t have been such a bad decision.

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