The Apprentice Blog: Expert opinions from those in the know (Week 7)
Fri, 4 May 2012
Our two former Apprentice contenders – Ellie Reed and Natasha Scribbins – blog on the seventh episode in this year’s series.
Blogs start below the ad:
It’s Week 7 on The Apprentice and it’s one of my faves … what I call the Del Boy task. £150 is given to each team to buy whatever they want from a wholesaler then off to Essex to try and flog it in shopping centres and market stalls. They will be judged on total assets in cash plus trade price stock.
The teams are shuffled a little and Lord Sugar makes it clear he wants Jade (the only person who’s not been project manager [PM] yet) to put herself forward as PM for Phoenix, which she does. On Sterling it’s Rocky vs Harry from One Direction… sorry, Ricky vs Nick. Nick’s elected PM, much to Rec Con Ricky’s dismay.
Nick’s team are decisive in picking both the venues and stock. They’ve seen enough episodes of Towie to realise that fake tan is a must, along with beard trimmers and nails, plus with Jenna on the team they have a great advantage… it’s her day job!
Jade’s team, however, spend so long ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ over the venues they have little time to pick the stock – cut to Adam suggesting a squeaky chicken! They pick an array of unrelated items, including the same fake tan and some children’s gimmicky bugs, and set off to sell.
Off to the markets go Jade and Adam for Phoenix and Ricky and Stephen for Sterling. Before they part, Azhar makes the point to Jade that as the market stall is 15 miles away the stock would be better split 70/30 in the markets favour. However, she is quick to dismiss his idea so 50/50 it is. The rest of the teams head to their shopping centre venues.
Ricky and Stephen are soon taking up their roles as Del Boy and Rodney with “the old bad back trick” to flog their mops. And Adam is taking to his role like a market tradesman to a market stall… and with Jade’s help (basically slashing all the prices) he flogs all their stock pretty quickly.
Meanwhile, down at the shopping centre Nick, Gabby and Jenna are flogging their fake tan to the Essex women in a far too stereotypically way, resulting in them running out of stock fast. Nick calls the Chuckle brothers in Romford and Barry and Paul… sorry, Ricky and Stephen are quick to agree that as the rain has quietened things off they should shut up shop at the market and go back to the wholesalers for more fake tan.
On Jade’s team Laura, Azhar and Tom are trying to flog the jumble sale of items on offer. They call Adam and Jade who are back at the wholesalers stocking up to tell them it’s all about the zippy bugs with the fantastic mark-ups. Jade isn’t interested though and just wants to buy more of everything (don’t let her loose with your Macro card!) regardless of what’s selling best and at what margin. Azhar keeps banging on about what her strategy is, without offering advice, maybe covering his back in preparation for the boardroom.
Nick, meanwhile, is pulling his hair out with frustration at the lack of fake tan… I’m sure Vince [Disneur] from my series is empathising from his sofa. Soon the Chuckle brothers return laden with as much tan as they could find, plus all the stock they had left from the market (why they didn’t take this first beats me as it was only five minutes away).
At 6pm both teams go to Lakeside to try and flog what’s left. Stephen sounds like he’s flogging God rather than mops as he addresses the crowd of Essex shoppers with what sounds like a motivational speech… about mops! Meanwhile, Adam’s again in his element shouting “come on get your gift ideas now” whilst brandishing a hot water bottle in mid-air.
At close of play it’s hard to see who‘s won. Nick’s team had a better strategy and higher margins but with two hours with no fake tan, no nails and a load of pastey chipped-nailed Essex women, who knows?
In the boardroom, Essex boy Lord Sugar himself has a go at Nick’s team for failing to drop the market stock off before refuelling with fake tan at the wholesalers, and at Jade’s team for having too little stock at the market and failing to sniff a sure seller with the bugs. The figures are revealed and Nick’s team take the victory by £100 with Lord Sugar saying he’s impressed at them being able to make £1,000 in a day (conveniently ignoring the realistic costs of five wages over two days, the rent of the stall and fuel).
Down the café, Jade admits to the camera that the failure was down to her, and it was. She picked the wrong venues, didn’t split the stock right, fixed the selling prices too low and didn’t sniff a sure sale in the bugs, so she was responsible for the failure of the task. Back in the boardroom Jade takes Azhar back in for basically annoying the hell out of her by mentioning the word ‘strategy’ every five minutes. Favourite to win Tom is let off pretty quickly as he really shouldn’t be there. Lord Sugar then has to decide whether to base his firing on overall performance or on this specific task. As Jade points out her business idea will turn into a multimillion pound business, Lord Sugar’s eyes flash to pound signs and he fires Azhar for being negative and unproductive. I think it’s the right decision as overall Jade’s done well and has never been in the boardroom before. At least Azhar leaves his mark having played the starring role in one of the funniest videos on the apprentice.
Next week, it’s art. Seems right up Tom and Nick’s street… not sure about Adam’s!
‘Smelling what sells’
I think that it was a great shame this week that Ricky did not secure the role of project manager – I think this task would have been in his space, margin strategy, selling, identifying products that sell!
He did put himself forward but was shot down in flames in favour of Nick. Personally I was a little confused as to why Ricky was so enthusiastically rejected; is it because he was not the best person for the job or because he is strong competition?
Nick, who was chosen as PM on Ricky’s team described him as somebody that may be difficult to manage in this task but a good sales person, yet Ricky’s skills and strengths in this area were definitely not used to their full potential. In fact, we saw Ricky becoming increasingly frustrated as the task evolved. Although I did find myself smirking and laughing and him and Stephen sell cleaning equipment at Romford Market!
Overall, I do not think that Ricky came across very well this week, which leads me to consider that the road moving forward may turn into a slightly rocky one. Let’s see – my predictions so far have been reasonably accurate. Ricky found himself on the winning team – if not, he may have struggled to get back to the house this week.
And I think that Azhar was the right candidate to go this week. Nobody likes a moaner!
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.