The Apprentice 2016 Week One

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The Apprentice is back with a new group of people all of whom think that the sun shines out of their backside, and that they are quite simply the best candidate in the process without a shadow of a doubt and that the rest of them might as well pack their bags and leave and allow them to be taken on by Lord Sugar as their business partner; all eighteen of them!

Yes, eighteen, which can only mean that there is going to be multiple firings over the course of the next twelve weeks, which is always a lot of fun, for the audience that is, not really for the candidates.

A couple of the candidates stand out from the opening comments before the start of the episode including Karthik Nagesan who says that he will be the future prime minister of the country and also wants to be emperor of the world and is called by his friends and fans Big K. I think that perhaps Big C might be more apposite a nickname. Then there is Jessica Cunningham who believes that she is a female version of Jim Carrey i.e. annoying unless she is being serious. There is also the candidate with the best name ever, Dillon St. Paul. This is going to be an interesting series I think.

The first task was to go to a lock up where lots and lots of tut was and to work out what was worth selling and what wasn’t and then sell said tut to both the public and the trade. They also had a couple of experts on hand to guide them, if they weren’t already confident that they could sell snow to the Inuit.

As per usual it was boys versus girls on the first task so each team went away and thought of a name. The girls came up with Nebula, which none of them knew what it meant and one of them thought it was a disease, but as there was no other better name they went with Nebula for better or worse. The boy’s team came up with the name Titans, as that is what they all were, apparently. That suited the massive egos of all of the boy’s team so that was naturally what they went with.

It was then time to choose a project manager and, predictably, none of the girls wanted to put their names forward so Michelle stepped forward despite not having a background in trading but having the balls and chutzpah to put herself on the line in the first task. The other girls quickly agreed with this choice as none of them were willing to take the risks of putting their name forward, which is strange when they all thought that they were going win anyway.

It was about the same for the boy’s team with Paul putting himself forward on the basis that he has watched Bargain Hunt and therefore is the best person for the job. Alana and Sofiane were giving the sub team managers’ job which was just as well as both of them did at least have some experience of selling on markets and both of them were giving then task of selling to the public.

Both teams went their separate ways to the lockup which was, as Lord Sugar said, packed with tut both vintage and collectible, not that any of the candidates knew which was which. They decided what they thought looked like the most valuable ones and discarded what they thought was worth nothing and therefore likely to lose them the task and both sub teams took stuff with them.

Titan agreed to sell at the highest margin that they could get away with Nebula not being sure what they should sell the stuff for, even if it was worth quite a bit of money as it is better to get rid of the stuff than have stuff left over, even if in this case there was no penalties for having stuff left.

Even before Nebula had unpacked their stuff at Camden market they were already selling stuff for prices that they just plucked out of thin air. Titan was far more cautious holding out for the best possible price. Both trade teams made monumental cock-up’s with Nebula losing their stock for a while as they went one way and the van went the other and Titan agreed a sale of more than £300 only to find out that the person they were talking to was the organ grinder and not the monkey both losing valuable time.

Back at the market things were being sold left right and centre, well by some people at least. Natalie sold two vases for £17 which she was well pleased with, Sofiane sold a vase for £175, and one of the girls sold a pair of chairs for £17.50 which were valued by one of the experts as being worth more than £300 for the pair.

Back in the boardroom afterwards the totals were added up with Nebula making total sales of £959 and Titan total sales of £1428.10 with the majority of it coming from the market sales which beat the girls joint total, so the boys team won by quite a margin. It was mentioned that the girls’ teams were basically throwing items at the customers rather than trying to sell for the best price, which was certainly what the boys’ team did. It turned out that Natalie’s sale of the vases was a bargain for the purchaser as they were values at more than £100 (Natalie’s face afterwards was a picture) and the chairs which were also massively undersold. It didn’t help that the boys sold a vase valued at £7 for a massive profit, which meant that if the girls were more careful with their pricing strategy that they might well have won the task.

In the end Paul was saved by the performance of Sofiane who pretty much ran that task from start to finish and does make a statement to the other candidates none of whom really shone in this particular task, or at least, not in the way that Sofiane did.

Michelle as project manager had to make the hard decision to take two of her colleagues in the board room and chose to bring back Alana on the basis that she didn’t do that well in the market and Rebecca on the basis that she didn’t really sell that much stuff, which to be fair none of them really excelled in selling stuff, not at the price that they should have sold them at least.

So who would be fired out of these three candidates? Michelle as the project manager of the losing team was the obvious choice for the firing on the basis that her team lost alone; Alana did her best in her job in the team and actually did run a good team, which did make quite a bit of money without a great deal of guidance from Michelle. As for Rebecca’s she didn’t do that bad and made an effort to sell stuff and perhaps didn’t make as much money as some of the other girls but was that really enough to fire her so early in the process without an opportunity to see if she would actually be able to sell stuff, if that is the be all and end all of the process, which I am not sure it is, all told.

In the end it was Michelle who was fired mostly for being the first project manager to lose a task, which I suppose was fair enough in the end. It would have been a bit hard for the other girls to be fired at that point when Michelle, as the project manager, could take the blame for the failure of the task, and, ultimately, she did, which in the end was not that surprising.

The Apprentice 2014 Week Three

In the third week of this years Apprentice the task was to create and then sell home fragrance products. Lord Sugar mixed up the teams for this one moving Steven, Daniel and Felipe to Tenacity and Lindsay, Roisin, Nurun and Bianca to Summit.

Katie put herself up for the role of pm for Tenacity as she actually buys this sort of stuff and knows what she is talking about, which noone else seemed to disagree with and Roisin put herself up for Summit on the basis that this was a profit driven task, and she was an accountant, and would be bang on with the figures.

With the pms chosen both teams went off to design their products. Katie decided that her team’s best tactic was to make the product the cheapest way possible and then sell it for the highest margin that they could get away with, wheras Rosin weanted an expensive looking brand that they would be able to sell at inflated prices.

Lauren as subteam leader for Tenacity conducted market research where they were advice to use plain colours and also to use soy to make the candles rather than parrafin but Katie decided that they were going to make a brightly coloured candle out of parrafin as it was so much cheaper than soy, which didn’t please Lauren and the subteam who rightly felt that they might as well have not bothered with the market research in the first place. Their produce was christened British Breeze,

Summitt come up with name of Beach Dreams for their fragance, as everyone loves the beach. Roisin decides that they can sell the stuff fairly cheaply, wheras Katie wants her team to charge top whack for their product.

The next part of the task was to make the actual products and also design the packaging. The teams each sent one team to each of the these taks. Summit sent Nurun, Lindsay and Sanjay to make the fragances and it ended up with Sanjay doing most of the work with the two women not doing a great deal between them with Lindsay saying that she was happy for Sanjay to do all of the work.

James is chosen as Summit’s sub team leader for the selling portion of the task, but Rosin does not give him clear guidelines as to what they should be selling the stuff for prefering to allow him to use his own initiative.

Whilst Tenancity stuggle to sell their wares James and his team (in particular Solomon and not so much Nurun or Lindsay)are able to offload their stuff dead quickly as they were pretty much selling them for whatever they could get for them perhaps forgetting that this was not really a selling task but a profit task and that it wouldn’t matter if they sold them all for a couple of quid each if the other teams sold less at a higher price.

Tenacity’s other team did quite fell selling nearly a grand’s worth to a Mayfair nightclub where Summit sold the majority of their stock to a gift shop at a ridiculously low price therefore losing a sale to a posh hotel in Belgravia which they would have got a lot more money for.

Summit actually managed to get rid of all their stock, much to their delight, whereas Tenacity had plenty of stock left at the end of the day.

Summit managed to come away with sales of £2,177 with a total profit of £1,569.32 and Tenacity finished with sales of £2,217.35 with a profit of £1,584.09 meaning that Tenacity won but by less than £15.

Rosin was thrown on the coals by Lord Sugar for not keeping to the margins which was the whole point of this task but Rosin was not ready to blame herself and was more keen to lay the blame at the feet of James who did seem to be a bit keen to sell at whatever price he could get away with, which she was also doing herself towards the end of the task.

Lindsay pretty much threw herself on her own sword when questioned by Lord Sugar admitting that she was in over her head and probably shouldn’t be there at all. Lord Sugar agreed, but in a nice way and she was fired.

Rosin then took James and Nurun into the boardroom with her knowing that it was likely that at least one of them would be fired even after Lindsay was sent packing. It was Nurun who got the boot this time mostly for not doing enough in this task, and also for poor selling in this task, despite her being a market trader by profession, and having been the previous weeks winning project manager.

James got a bit lucky and perhaps Lord Sugar does seem something of himself in James bluster and over confidence but his card is definitely marked.

The Apprentice 2014 Episode One

The new series of The Apprentice began with the usual collection of 16 people who think that they are the saviour of business, of selling, of being male, or female, or anything in between but mostly blowing their own trumpets about how great they are.

Deciding to shake it up Lord Sugar throws in four more candidates into the mix making a total of 20 people to be whittled down before the process is done. He also laid down the caveat that he would fire as many people at a time as he saw fit which is going to make for an interesting viewing experience.

The first task for the two 10 strong teams was to sell items from the previous nine years of selling tasks including t-shirts, spuds, cleaning items, coffee, hotdogs, lemons, and boy did they make it difficult for themselves.

Sarah volunteered to be the project manager for the girl’s team and Felipe put himself forward to be the project manager because he can manage people and not because he could sell because as he says Felipe manage people, Felipe not sell. Sarah then decided that the girls were going to win because they are all pretty and more visually appealing than the boy’s team and that people would rather buy from them than from the boys.

She also told the girls that they should all wear lots of make-up, short skirts and high heels which didn’t please some of the girls, some of whom hadn’t even bought any short skirts, unlike the last crop of female candidates who all wore short skirts and didn’t pack anything else.

The girls decided to call their team Decadence as a play on the word decade and I also suppose the word dense! The boys called their team Summit.

The teams got a list of what they had to sell and worked out what the best way to go about it was, or that was what they should have done. The girl’s teams just split up and went their own ways with no sub team manager appointed. Sarah seemed to be very interested in cutting the lemons in two and then selling half a lemon to people which nobody else agreed with. I mean who would actually buy half a lemon? I wouldn’t even by a whole lemon!

The boys teams actually did appoint a sub team manager (the rather strangely named Chiles), which was about the only thing that they did do right in this entire task.

Not only did the girl’s forget to appoint a sub team manager, they also forgot to give the other team any of the start up capital that they had, which didn’t allow them to be able to get some of the stuff that they needed to sell to make the profit that they needed.

The girls started by making and selling coffee to punters and there were arguments between them about who should be making the coffee and who should be selling the coffee with project manager Sarah refusing to actually make coffee, as she was the project manager, and project managers do not get their hands dirty.

Part of the boys teams decide that the hot dogs were the big one and decided that they could make lots of money by putting them in buns and then smothering them in all sorts of exciting sources and extras to add more value to what you could easily make a ton of money by selling them rather cheaply in bulk.

They decided to go upmarket and chose cheese and guacamole which is certainly not a combination that I have ever heard of but doesn’t sound totally out of this world and unpalatable. They couldn’t decide on what cheese to buy either. I mean how many types of cheeses are there? How difficult can it be? This cost them quite a lot of the lunch time trade, traditionally the time when people actually want to buy hotdogs.

Both teams did decide to do something with the t-shirts. One suggestion was to just sell them as plain t-shirts to someone but that was quickly pooh-pooed and it was decided to put some sort of logo on the t-shirt which was agreed by both teams.

The girls chose the simple #London logo with the boys only able to come up with the slogan “buy this t-shirt” despite having five of the finest business brains in the whole country on the case.

In the end the boys didn’t even get to pick up their t-shirts as they didn’t have enough time to pick them up which nearly happened to the girls unless the printers hadn’t agreed to take them off their hands for a reduced rate, which they have no choice but to accept. Stephen who apparently is a counsellor who works in the Arctic wasn’t happen about this and made his point abundantly clear throughout this task, which didn’t go unnoticed by the other team members.

In the end the girls team won but only by £50 which let Sarah off the hook big style, as not one of her team agreed that she was a good project manager and had no strategy to speak off. Felipe who everyone agreed was a very nice man and a great project manager was left with the choice of choosing the two people who would return to the boardroom with him.

He chose Chiles the sub-teams manager who admitted that not returning to get t-shirts was his fault and Robert who was the person behind the posh hot dogs which caused a lot of time to be wasted on not actually selling hotdogs, which is a cardinal sin in Apprenticeland.

He wanted to choose Stephen as he felt that he was a bit of a troublemaker but Lord Sugar agreed that he was irritating but that he wasn’t the reason why they failed to win the task.

So it was Chiles who was the first person to be fired from this year’s series entirely for the t-shirt debacle, which probably would have won the task for them if they had gone back for them, which was hard to argue, but Robert was more annoying than Chiles, and so should have been sacked for just being a complete twit rather than for actually causing the team to lose, which was, sadly, why poor Chiles got the boot.