The Apprentice 2013 Episode Nine

The two teams had to come up with a concept for a ready meal this make, prepare some examples and then pitch them to retailers. Alex was chosen by Lord Sugar as a project manager for Endeavour before any of the rest of his team could pick someone else over him, and Neil was chosen as the project manager for Evolve.

The teams split into two, with one half of the team doing market research and coming with a theme and the other half creating the meals themselves. Alex and Myles were working together to come up with their ready meal with Jordan and Leah actually cooking the food. For Evolve Neil and Luisa were the brains behind the team with Francesca being relegated to the kitchen despite her repeatedly telling them that she didn’t, and couldn’t cook, and the fact that Luisa ran a bakery business and could actually cook.

Both teams decided to aim their product at younger people, with one team going for the child market and the other for young professional people like themselves. Alex had the idea of a range of healthy foods from different countries allowing the kids to eat something different and healthy and also learn something about different cultures as well whereas Myles came up with concept of Deadly Dinners, foods with a gruesome theme such as Dracula’s dinners. Alex likes Myles idea but thought that it might be a bit too season specific and Myles really didn’t think much about Alex’s idea at all. The other team came up with the idea of fusion foods, in particular a Caribbean/Thai combination, but in ready meal format.

When Alex and Myles spoke to some people about their ideas they got the impression that the kids loved the gruesome stuff but their parents preferred the healthier food from other countries. Alex carried on talking about his idea and Myles kept trying to talk Alex into accepting his idea which in the end Alex acquiesced to Myles constant badgering and based upon the reason that Myles is a parent and knows better than Alex would about this sort of thing.

Francesca was not happy at all about being sent to the factory to make the ready meals and felt that she had been stitched up by her teammates when Luisa was eminently more qualified to actually produce the food than she was but insisted on being part of the marketing team instead. She did her best in making the food but as she wasn’t an expert in cooking she did struggle a bit and used the oft used method of checking that pasta was cooked by chucking it at a wall and if it stuck then it was cooked, and if it fell it wasn’t. Luckily for Francesca, in this case the past stuck to the wall so she was happy that it was done. Leah and Jordan worked together well on the production for their time and didn’t spend the majority of it complaining about being put there.

When it came down to serving their produce to a small focus group it became apparent that Francesca preparing their produce was not the best idea that Neil and Luisa had ever had as her food was mostly described as being ‘bland’ and ‘tasteless’ and not remotely like either Caribbean or Thai food, as was it was supposed to be, whereas Jordan and Leah’s food was in general very popular indeed, again with the kids. When Francesca reported back to her teammates she told them what they thought of the food she had made and they had to come up with a plan b for the following day when they had to pitch to retailers.

Both Alex and Myles and Neil and Luisa were very pleased with what they had done in creating their packaging and concepts for their ready meals, which they both put a lot of work into and both teams were quite positive for the following day when it came to pitching their wares to the retailers.

At this stage Neil and Luisa’s packaging seemed to be a much better choice than Alex’s and Myles mainly because at least Neil and Luisa’s looked like something that you might consider picking up of the shelves whereas Myles and Alex went for something very dark and unappetizing looking which, although true to their concept, didn’t look very attractive to a prospective customer and the inclusion of skulls on the packaging didn’t seem like a very good idea, but it could have been worse, it could have featured a picture of Herbert from last week’s episode, which would have truly terrifying.

The following day three major retailers were to listen to the teams pitches from Asda, Ocado (who?) and Morrisons. Francesca, Neil and Luisa took it in turns to pitch their wares to the different stores and all of them promised that that flavours would be pumped up if they made a substantial order when the food was remarked upon as being at best a little bland. The packaging went down well as it was quite distinctive and would stand out on a shelf. For the other team the packaging didn’t go down well at all with any of the retailers, most of who seemed to be parents who didn’t appreciate having a ready meal with skulls all over it when skulls on labels normally means that they are harmful and not something that you should put into your mouth.

With the pitches complete both teams returned to the boardroom to find out their fates after Lord Sugar has conferred with the retailers to see which team performed better than the other.

Back at the boardroom Alex was questioned about why he chose to go along with Myles idea rather than his original gut instinct and Neil was for once criticised for a boring pitch (but was roundly praised by his teammates, Francesca included).

It was revealed that Adsa liked Evolve’s pitch better than Endeavour’s and placed an order for 2500 units, but only after the promise to improve the flavours of the product. They refused to place a single order for Endeavour’s Deadly Dinners. Morrisons didn’t place a single order for either team, and Ocado ordered 1000 Deadly Dinners from Endeavour, and 30 of Evolve’s meal.

This means that Evolve won by 1800 units and I am sure that Francesca breathed a huge sigh of relief as she would have been blamed for the failure of the task if they had lost for sure.

In terms of who was to blame for Endeavour that seemed to lie solely with Alex and Myles who had worked on the branding of the meal, which was the main reason why they didn’t get any orders, and not because of the quality of the food, so much so that Alex only wanted to take Myles back into the boardroom with him, as he was the person who was so keen on the concept, but had to bring a third person with him, so chose Leah over Jordan, though for what reason he chose to bring her back I am not entirely sure.

When they returned to the boardroom and Leah was asked why she should still be in the process she launched into a long tirade about how she had always performed in every task, given 110% etc, etc and was the sort of person that you would give £250,000 too.

Alex once again said that he had delegated to Myles experience with children given that he had children, but that if he had his time again he would go with his gut instinct.

Myles was blamed for the branding of the ready meal which was really the main downfall of the team in this particular task but his smoothness and general inevitability won Lord Sugar over and it was Alex who was fired, ostensibly for not putting his foot down and going with his initial idea, and also for being a bit flighty and coming up with lots of ideas without really thinking them through before he jumps in.

Having said that the lad is very young, and he will only learn from this and will, inevitably, go on to much greater things, although if they ever make a Freddy Mercury meets Dracula film then he would be a shoe in for the lead role!

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