The Apprentice – Episode 4 – Corporate Hostility | The Chameleon Guide
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The Apprentice – Episode 4 – Corporate Hostility

Who says you learn nothing from watching the Apprentice? For example, did you know that the football industry is worth £4bn? That was quite an eye opener. And women’s football is a fast growing part of that pot.

This week’s task – a return to the usual format – organising an event. In this case a corporate hospitality box at Wembley Stadium for the women’s FA cup final. The candidates also had to run a match day stall outside the grounds to raise some extra money.

They were given clients with whom they had to negotiate a price to pay for the box and then deliver a VIP experience at the event with a mixture of food, drink and entertainment.  The only catch being that if the clients didn’t like the experience, they could ask for a refund.

The team with the most profit won (definitely a pattern developing here!).

It was a nice straightforward task and a gift for the event organisers (I would have done well at this task – still never applying though – I have too much dignity!).

Another team change was required as the boys had lost yet again last week.  I was again expecting a full mix up of the teams, but no, HRH decided to only send one from the girls’ team over. But the boys got to choose who they wanted.  What you are unlikely to have seen, unless you watched the ‘You’ve been Fired’ follow-up, was Sarah-Jayne turning her head down and away so she wouldn’t be picked. Priceless!

They sensibly chose the other Sarah – the good one. And she looked happy enough to escape the inevitable bitching and whining from Graphene.

This task was ready made for Siobhan who, in the real world, organises luxury weddings in overseas locations like Dubai. Naturally she put herself forward for it and I looked forward to a fiery and shouty session with her bossing everyone about and making up new words.

Sadly, she disappointed on every level. She was diffident, quiet and uncertain. Not at all like the confrontational Siobhan I’ve come to love to loathe.  Very, very disappointing.

Over on Vitality – Andrew, the project engineer, took on the PM role.  The mild mannered, Christopher Reeves alike, not really been seen so far, disappeared into the equivalent of a telephone box (or is that Wonder Woman?) and transformed in front of our eyes into – Super Blokey Bloke. What is this beast that has been released?

The boys team has a special way of riling me and this week it was the turn of Andrew, who when discussing the budget decided it should be a cheap and cheerful event because we’ve ‘got to remember that’s it’s not the men’s FA cup final’.

When Michaela pointed out that last year, more people went to watch the women’s final than went to watch the men’s England team play, he stubbornly insisted that ‘There’s still more money in men’s football’.  Thereby hacking off, not the 18% of the population who are over 60 (from last week), but nearly 50% who are female. Nice work. It worries me that he thinks like that at the tender age of 26. I’d expected a bit more enlightenment from his generation.

More blokeishness occurred when they went off to do the tasting for the menu. They were like a pack of hyenas and fell upon the food grunting and shoving each other until every last scrap was devoured.

Andrew dismissed the sushi option as basically being poncy food only liked by southerners. Is there no bias this man doesn’t have?

Decent wine was also dismissed in the chase for profit and the standard plonk (still at an eye watering £32 a bottle) was chosen.

Graphene kept more closely to the brief by deciding to go luxury but then Siobhan delegated (abrogated) responsibility for the budget to Bushra. This key element should have been managed by Siobhan full stop. When Bushra suggested unlimited wine the caterer couldn’t keep the grin off his face and barely managed to stop winking with glee at the chef.

For the first time Elizabeth was separated from Siobhan and put in charge of the sub team sent to negotiate the client package and pricing.

There was a farcical call to the main team to get the costs where the girls, true to form, shouted over each other, bellowing out random figures. Elizabeth did try to make sense of it all and kept asking for the actual costs amongst the various numbers flying around. When she tried to pin them down they simply shouted at her not to keep the client waiting and hung up on her! So they went in blind.

Both teams made a critical error when they met the clients. Neither asked what the client budget was so when they both went in with prices of £6,100 (Vitality) and £4,900 (Graphene) they were met with stunned silence and dropped jaws.

An altered quote to £4,800 was still declared ‘outlandish’ by Vitality’s client. Ross then got on his calculator and came up with the ridiculous price of £1,750 much to Michaela’s horror and the sudden biting off of his arm from the client.  Fortunately, they relented and accepted £2,500. Which was the same price agreed by Graphene. When Elizabeth suggested that the price necessitated a cold buffet they were met with ‘then we’re unlikely to take a box’. She finessed it quite well agreeing the price, but not committing to anything other than ‘leave it to us to deliver something special’.

To be fair, I thought their clients were being very unrealistic expecting endless wine/champagne and food for that price.

With the budget so slashed, entertainment was also seriously downgraded. i.e. basically eliminated altogether. This meant that Harrison who is a shower singer, was to entertain their box with his rendition of ‘My way’ once they’d  quite rightly turned down the magician who wanted £750 for 30 minutes (city lawyers charge less per hour!). And Bushra was to enliven their box with witty and interesting facts about football.

The two teams went to different extremes when it came to ordering. Based on the budget model of Vitality, they ordered a miserly six bottles of red, one of white and three bottles of prosecco and halved the canapes to enough for seven people, not the 14 guests who were coming. And no soft drinks, completely forgetting the pregnant woman who was one of their guests. They boosted their food by spending nearly five whole pounds on crisps, wotsits and peanuts, beautifully served in paper dishes!

Siobhan’s strategy on the other hand was to get the guests as ‘relaxed’ as possible and ordered three bottles of prosecco, seven of Chardonnay, seven of Sauvignon Blanc, three of Merlot and four of Malbec. A grand total of 24 bottles for 14 guests.  That’s quite a hangover in waiting!

Andrew at least apologised to the pregnant lady and offered to get her a drink but not before one of the other guests pulled out a bottle of juice from her handbag to save the day. And they did at least run off to top up the wine as needed.

Harrison’s singing, whilst cringeworthy, at least got the guests singing along. Unlike Bushra’s ‘interesting’ facts about football asking if people knew who Bobby Charlton was. Tumbleweed rolled through the room and everyone shuffled awkwardly in her failed attempt to engage the guests.

Meanwhile the sub teams were selling popcorn and candyfloss outside the grounds. Michaela surprised me again by hiding behind popcorn making when I thought she’d be out there selling. She really does have a confidence issue.

It was far less harmonious over on the girl’s team as Jade and Elizabeth were doing roaring trade on the candy floss after Joanne and Sarah-Jayne complained they couldn’t sell at £4 a bag of £7 for two. It didn’t stop Jade who was a one woman sales machine. Sarah-Jayne and Joanne skulked sulkily at the back calling Elizabeth ‘such a twat’ and whining that they hadn’t been given an opportunity to sell. They forgot, as everyone seems to, that it’s a team effort. They should have rejoiced in the amazing sales of Jade, but that would have been way too generous of them.

Thankfully the game started and both teams could stand down. Vitality, under the leadership of their new unreconstructed alpha male were fist pumping and chest bumping at how amazing they’d been.

And so to the boardroom.

Vitality made £222.50 popcorn sales and £993.20 on the box giving them a grand total of £1215.70 profit. Graphene did better on the stall getting £353.80 thanks to Jade, but unfortunately only made a profit of £631.56 on the box making £984.86. Finally Vitality have won a task with Sajan declaring that Sarah was ‘lady luck’. Sorry Michaela – you’re so last week.

The boys budget approach worked and if Graphene had ordered just seven bottles less wine they would have matched the boys and with a small cut to the canapes, they could have won.

In Siobhan’s defence, she stood by her decisions on the basis that it was more important for her that the clients had a fantastic experience. Based on the whining and moaning of Sarah-Jayne and Joanne she unfairly brought Elizabeth back in to the boardroom along with the far more appropriately chosen Joanne. Fortunately both Claude and Karren supported Elizabeth so she escaped eviction, sorry, firing (getting my reality shows mixed up here!) and Siobhan was sent packing. For one exciting and hopeful moment, it looked like Joanne was going to be dispatched as well. Instead Lord Sugar gave her the poisoned chalice of saying she had to be PM next week. That will be fun. Hopefully more fun than this week which was all a bit mundane and boring.

Next week – the, always entertaining, item buying task. They will be based on Lord Sugar’s birthday aimed at marking his life and career.  Footballs, satellite dishes and computers then? Expect rubbish map reading, spectacularly bad negotiating and a complete misinterpretation of what one item is.

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About the Author:

About Karen Espley, blogging for The Chameleon GuideKaren Espley of The Chameleon Guide works with ambitious small business owners on her Profit Accelerator Programme. She brings pragmatic and real world advice in a group setting to help her clients make a significant difference to their business through increasing profits and running a highly effective business.

Offering workshops and group profit programmes for companies wanting to reach their full potential.

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