Apprentice 3: Get Fit

The third task for the candidates was to develop and sell a piece of fitness equipment. The body rocker vs the home multi-gym.

There are two parts to this task; design and pitch.

Neither product was really convincing – but the body rocker at least looked like something could be sold and indeed got a total of 10,280 orders from all suppliers (the bulk coming from John Lewis).

The best performer goes to Philip for two reasons – his line “it’s the ipod of the exercise world” and for defending Lorraine. Lorraine’s pitch seemed weak, but somehow they scored sales so it’s a bit churlish to complain.

Sir Alan Sugar commented that the product was “bloody awful” and quoted one of the company reps as saying “the best thing about the pitch was that they took the thing away with them”.

James was a pretty awful project manager and took Maj and Ben into the boardroom with him. I thought James would go – he was a clueless leader. Maj doesn’t seem very active, he does only what he’s told, waiting for his project manager to give him more work. Ben was responsible for the ridiculous product, an ugly black box with wires hanging out of it, however he was the only one coming up with ideas (partly because James didn’t lead the brainstorming very well). Ben comes off as pretty sneaky.

The boys weren’t any better behaved in the boardroom than the girls.

Sir Alan got sick of the conversation,  slowed them right down, and fired Maj

In my view it’s a wrong decision, James is pretty hopeless and so emotional. Part of the “bad product” decision is at his door – he couldn’t manage a simple brainstorming session.

Apprentice 2: Cater a Chi Chi Party

The second task for the candidates was a catering challenge. The two team leaders both put themselves forward as the obvious leaders – with some justification. Rocky Andrews runs a chain of sandwich stores, and Jasmina Siadatan is a restaurateur.

However it’s one thing to lead a group of people who know what they’re doing and who acknowledge you as their boss, and quite another to lead a bunch of amateurs who have a vested interest in seeing you fail.

There were two tasks; a lunch service to an office and catering a chi chi party.

Empire, with Rocky as a leader, chose an Olympic theme, after all the London Olympics are only 3 years away. They then figured they could include any type of food, which defeats the purpose of having a theme – which should give you a focus for the evening. Then the guys decided to wear togas (rented) for the party. This is extra cost and as Nick commented “the hairy arms and spotty backs aren’t appealing”.

Their pitch for the party was way out of line £60 pounds per head for canapes – they ended up going with £15. The food they came up with at the party included a nacho chip with a sausage on it – I can’t imagine which cuisine that is supposed to be from.

CM200904_apprenticerockyThe concept was bad – and the execution was terrible. The customer was disappointed and only paid half the fee – the guys ended up with a loss. Not a way to win favour with Sir Alan.

The girls were led by Yasmina who took charge from the beginning, the theme was Mediterranean, which is easy to do, and can be used for both the lunch and the event. She pulled the team together and got them to have fun while working hard. While the execution was a bit off – they  prepared the biggest bruschetta I’ve ever seen  – they were spot on on the night. Hard working, alert, watching the crowd, service minded and attention to detail. It was a win deserved.

In the board room Rocky defended himself well, leaving Howard and James out to hang. I did think James would go – his verbiage was off-putting. However Rocky made too many silly decisions in light of his supposed expertise.

Sir Allen Sugar commented that he was puzzled about how it could have gone so wrong given that both Rocky and Harry had relevant experience. In the end he thought Rocky didn’t have the experience/expertise/potential to go any further.

“Rocky you’re fired”

In my view: James was a pretty close second, and after his outburst in the boardroom he won’t last long. Rocky could have saved himself by taking the negotiator Philip Taylor in to the boardroom with him. Ultimately though, this was Rocky’s expertise, he was project manager, and they lost money. Can’t be surprised that he was fired.

Apprentice 1: Start a Cleaning Company

The first task for the candidates was to start their own cleaning company – just what they were dressed for.

It’s a simple task; strategy = decide what service you want to provide, buy your tools, find your clients, deliver. As always watch your costs.

Empire, the guys team, won and got themselves a cocktail party.

CM200903_apprenticeIgnite lost, despite earning more revenue, because they spent almost all the money they were allowed to spend, coming in just under the 200 pounds allowed. Anita Shah congratulated the team “well done, we’ve come in under budget”. Not an attitude that would work in a start up company – and not an attitude that will work with Sir Alan.

Mona chose the co-leader Debra Barr and Anita Shah to go into the board room with her. Mona damned Debra for not taking responsibility but then pulled Anita into the boardroom based on Debra’s word, something wrong with the story there.

Sir Alan Sugar commented that they’re either very smart or very stupid, to which Margaret Montford commented that they had no commercial sense whatsoever. She’s right.

Sir Alan’s judgement was that Anita, who had put herself forward as “one of the best business brains of Britain” showed no business acumen.

“Anita, you’re fired”.

In my view; none of the women really performed. Usually that gets laid at the feet of the project manager but Anita Shah made the fatal mistake of celebrating being under budget – when they’d actually spent too much.