In a bid to get closer to finding his Apprentice, this week Lord Sugar challenged the candidates’ abilities to select, pitch and sell UK design innovations to retail buyers in Paris.
He begins by selecting Tom as Project Manager for Team Logic while leaving the task of assigning a Project Manager for Team Venture open for negotiation/argument.
Bambi-like Susan is quick to put herself forward for the role and gets started on the task of selecting products with Zoe while Jim and Helen are shipped off to Paris to do some Market Research. The ability to speak fluent ’franglais’ is clearly one of Jim’s strengths as cringe-worthy attempts at conversing in French ensue.
Over on Team Logic it is clear from the beginning that Melody has taken it upon herself to act as Project Manager in spite of Tom’s appointment by Lord Sugar. She bulldozes her way over any suggestions that Tom makes rendering his ‘authority’ void and uses her ability to speak French coupled with selective hearing to persuade the team to go in favour of her preferred products. So, with Tom’s input and authority cast aside, the Team go with the tea pot light and pop up postcard that grows cress! Melody clearly struggles to work well within a team despite her refusal to accept this observation/flaw, “I did understand that there was a team effort but I did let Leon in on the sales.”
Meanwhile Susan’s team are in all agreement with their product selection and go with the car seat/rucksack and the universal travel grip. The team split off in pairs, Susan/Helen and Jim/Zoe, and embark on day of pitching and selling. In comparison to Team Logic, Team Venture have negotiated the sales pitches fairly with neither pair carrying all of the weight. Susan and Helen work well together, securing appointments easily and having a clear understanding of the retailers they are pitching to. As a result, Helen delivers a confident, winning pitch to French retail giant La Redoute and secures a record breaking sale of 214,000 Euros.
Unfortunately for Team Logic, Melody chose to ignore Tom’s request to research the retailers that they had appointments with and as result, Tom and Natasha went in blind to deliver their pitch to La Redoute. They proceeded to hang themselves with an excruciating attempt at selling and Tom’s shameful offer of 10 units as a minimal order quantity.
As the old adage goes, ‘Fail to prepare and prepare to fail’, had the team done their research then they would have instantly identified La Redoute as a major retailer and therefore appreciated that their minimal order quantity was laughable and ultimately resulted in them failing to secure any sales.
Melody continued to take control of the pitches for Team Logic, while Leon looked on forlornly and took a back seat in the task. In spite of her bullish ways, she was a successful seller, however Team Logic were unable to compete with Team Venture’s mammoth La Redoute sale and so Tom and Co were hauled back into the boardroom.
Lord Sugar quickly identified Melody’s hunger and ambition to win, “Melody is ruthless. She’ll walk over people, eat them for breakfast and spit them out. That’s what I like about her.” So Melody’s ‘qualities’ saved her bacon and it was down to Tom and Leon to face the cut.
Neither candidate demonstrated particularly strong skills with Leon admitting to ‘drawing a teapot and a light’ in an attempt to converse with the French and Tom playing ‘rock, paper, scissors’ with Natasha in order to decide on who would deliver a pitch. Not the most professional approach it has to be said.
It is fair to say that while Melody was a force to be reckoned with on Team Logic, as Karen Brady quite rightly noted ‘she put the boys to shame, with Tom quivering in her wake and Leon mesmerised by her fluency in French – neither excelled this week.
Unfortunately for Leon, Lord Sugar decided to ‘go with his gut’ and it was Bon Voyage for Mr Doyle.....hang on, how did Tom survive - I didn’t think Lord Sugar liked engineers? Perhaps the groundswell persuaded him to change his mind? More likely, Tom unwittingly served his purpose in providing his Lordship’s quote and fodder for the Twittering classes to promulgate The Apprentice online, because that’s what it is all about, getting your message across!
On the next task the remaining candidates will be faced with creating their own brand of biscuits – let’s see how the cookie crumbles next week and who will drive us crackers, gluttons for punishment that we are!
Review by James Strickland, Group Director, Omega Resource Group plc – the UK-based recruitment organisation comprising a number of divisions catering for engineering and technical candidates and employers in addition to graduate selection and training : http://www.omegaresource.co.uk