The Apprentice Blog: Expert opinions from those in the know (Week 6)
Fri, 27 Apr 2012
Our two former Apprentice contenders – Ellie Reed and Natasha Scribbins – blog on the sixth episode in this year’s series.
Blogs start below the ad:
Week 6 on The Apprentice and the wannabe apprentices are just enjoying kicking back and relaxing on a day off when… there’s a knock at the door. Thankfully Adam and Ricky have just finished their running on the spot competition (I would have loved to see his Lordship ‘’aving a go’) when the big bad wolf enters the lounge to stop all their fun. He’s come with news of a new task involving selling quality gourmet food out of a van (one of the show’s favourities). He appoints Adam to lead Phoenix and Jenna to head up Sterling.
Once in their teams, Adam quickly forgets the words ‘gourmet’ and ‘quality’ and gets all excited over deep frying everything from Mars bars to haggis. He wants to make it cheap and make “loads of money”. Wine connoisseur Tom’s suggestion of Japanese food is looked at with shear repulsion by Adam asking “Who eats sushi?” They eventually compromise on Katie’s idea of Italian food opting for meatballs and pasta. Over on Jenna’s team they are concentrating on the idea of quality produce and agree on an expensive yet tasty Scottish casserole.
Jenna sends Gabby and Nick off to research and brand, while Adam puts Stephen in change of Katie and Jade to do the same. Katie, an avid football fan, pushes for the football venue as a key selling point and despite Stephen’s concerns, he agrees.
The PM’s head for the kitchens where Adam reiterates the need to make it “cheap, cheap, cheap” by trying to get Michelin star chef Mattia to put dried rather than fresh rosemary in, and by making the meatballs smaller and smaller as the day goes on. I can sort of see where Adam is coming from though after all the results are based on profit rather than feedback and as they are only selling the food for one day only they are not bothered about repeat business. Meanwhile, on Jenna’s team Ricky helps Jenna add £68.82 to £200 to make £268.82.
Adam's subteam comes up with the name “utterly delicious” which Adam eventually agrees to go with rather than using chef Mattia’s name, but only if he’s allowed to add the word ‘meatballs’ to it. On the other team they opt for an expensive yet tasty Scottish casserole ‘Gourmet Scotpot’, using only the finest (and most expensive) ingredients.
So after tarting up their vans, they take to the streets of Edinburgh. On both teams it’s a very slow start. It appears no one wants a meaty meal at 10am in the morning! After a while Adam decides that £5.99 is too expensive, despite a call from Katie (and Stephen) suggesting they up it to £7.99 – not sure which football team she follows but you wouldn’t pay that down Elland Road, that’s for sure! On Sterling, recruiter Ricky once again uses his initiative by getting a bagpiper to play near to their stall (I think that would put me off personally). Jenna turns on the old charm by asking punters to “come along and let’s have a smell of it”.
Adam is having problems with his subteam. They’ve come up with the crazy idea to get on buses and try and attempt to persuade punters enjoying the sights of Edinburgh to get off and have some meatballs from a van!
So it’s back to the boardroom and Lord Sugar is quick to slate Adam for going cheap. Adam tries to convince him that his meatballs were “beautiful, real gourmet ones… weren’t they Tom?” Lord Sugar moves on to Jenna saying that although her food was good it was a risky tactic using very expensive ingredients. The figures are revealed and it’s another tight one but quality outdoes quantity, and Jenna’s Pheonix team just pip Sterling to the post by £20.
Down at the café Katie looks particularly downbeat. Like me, she’s been there three times and it’s becoming depressing (mainly because the coffee is cold and awful). With her choice of venue, pricing and produce name being slated she knows it’s not looking good. Adam is also worried as it was his idea of cheap as chips, which also made Sugar’s brow furrow.
Back in the boardroom in true Jedi Jim style Stephen takes on the role of Sugar himself, telling Adam who he should bring back. He pushes the blame onto Azhar for not doing anything (unfortunately there were no ’80s dance routines for him to get into this week) and Katie for making the wrong suggestions (suggestions he himself backed). Adam is clearly influenced by him and takes back Katie and Azhar, probably knowing that Stephen (the only other possibility) would have gone for him big time, so the other two were fairer game.
Unfortunately as most of the wrong decisions made were down to Katie’s suggestions and apparent lack of selling, she was the only choice. Although Adam was a bit too obsessed with making cheap produce, overall I think he did well, and we didn’t see enough of Azhar to comment. So Sugar fires the blond assassin. At least she leaves with her head held high. Business is a learning curve and mistakes made often make for a better business. I think she will do well.
Ricky is looking good for the final, as is Tom. I also like Adam, Gabby, Azhar and Laura, as they seem like down to earth people.
We are at the half-way point and Ricky is still going strong. It looks as though the recruitment consultant survives well in Lord Sugar's gruelling interview process. Maybe we should start thinking about what Ricky's business plan might be? I don't think recruitment has ever been about a job, it's always been about making money, so head start already as survival of the fittest –something Ricky will be only too familiar with. My business plan for the £250,000 investment was for a recruitment company. Could you imagine Lord Sugar going for that? James Caan has made several investments in the recruitment industry and The Apprentice is taking a similar form to Dragons’ Den. I could see Tom Pellereau, who won last year, pitching his nail file on that programme quite easily...
I have been talking for the past six weeks about Ricky's contribution and performance, but I for one would be interested in hearing the opinions of others in the recruitment industry, so do post your comments.
With Ricky's judgement coming under fire last week, he found himself safely on the wining team. Overall I think Ricky did well. He was not a main player this week but got stuck in and showed great team spirit. I found him very entertaining, especially in his kilt and dancing to the tune of the bagpipes in an effort to attract customers to buy – brilliant! It is important to have a good sense of humour in business, and he certainly has that.
As for Katie who was fired this week, I think Lord Sugar fired the wrong candidate. Adam would have been my choice. He made bad decisions and relied heavily on Stephen to take control and manage. He is always putting his team members down on task, and struggles to communicate effectively. He was close to leaving this week, but Lord Sugar clearly sees enough in him to keep him in the process.
We are getting closer to the finishing line, so The Apprentice for me is becoming edge of the seat viewing for a Wednesday evening. Let us know what you think – you can comment below!
Ellie Reed, who previously to appearing in last year’s series was a senior consultant with Beresford Blake Thomas, founded and now runs her own rec-to-rec business – Ellie Reed Consulting – in West Yorkshire and is also involved in motivational speaking in schools.
Natasha Scribbins made it to the final five contestants on last year’s Apprentice and is now group operations director EMEA at engineering recruiter Find the Engineer and rec-to-rec firm We are Recruitment. Both enterprises encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of recruitment by hiring consultants to work as associates.