The Apprentice – Episode 2 – Three cheers for the Red, erm, Yellow and Blue | The Chameleon Guide
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The Apprentice – Episode 2 – Three cheers for the Red, erm, Yellow and Blue

To the strains of Bond music, his lordship arrived in grand style by helicopter at the Stoke Park Hotel, Bucks for the launch of this week’s Apprentice task. (Goldfinger was filmed here for those of you who missed the show).

What possessed a five star hotel to allow 17 candidates of the Apprentice, so early on in the process, anywhere near their luxury rooms? I can only assume the Beeb agreed to cover the extensive redecoration costs at the end of it all.

The task – two days to design, decorate and furnish a hotel room with a £13k budget. The team that made the most profit would win.

Ross-I’m-more-Travelodge-than-5 star hotel-Fretten agreed reluctantly to be the project manager for Vitality. As he said ‘I’m still eating pop tarts and I’m 29’. One presumes he didn’t put that on his CV when applying for the programme! But I guess Pop Tarts/Pop Art – quite close, and as good a qualification as any for being in charge of possibly the worst design programme ever. Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen’s gopping designs in Changing Rooms suddenly began to feel tasteful.

He sensibly asked Jeff, the business analyst, to be in charge of finances. Jeff wasn’t having any of this bleating on about his creativity. More of that later!

After a rather creepy ‘should we touch each other’ moment (cue awkward silence and a total avoidance of any eye contact), the team split into the creatives (Jeff obviously included) and the furnishings sub team.

Over at Graphene, Bushra offered to be PM and, rather oddly given their antipathy to each other, put Siobhan and Elizabeth together in the sub team. Prompting Sarah-Jane, the sub team leader to moan that she’d been given the ‘lame brains’. However, Siobhan appartently knew all about luxury hotels and Elizabeth knew measuring. Or did she?

Both sub teams headed over to the hotel to talk to the manager and get a feel for the hotel to give feedback to the creative teams around potential themes.

The boys decided yellow was an overriding theme based on the hotel decor and it needed to be included in the design whilst the girls felt that a golf focus would work since the hotel had a golf course.

Off they went to measure the rooms with Elizabeth insisting on doing it for the girl’s team. It was like a Buster Keaton farce with Elizabeth flailing around in the background like Miranda Hart on speed, her measuring tape flapping around. When asked if she’d measured everything, she rather haughtily replied she had until someone asked if she’d measured the doors. And off she flailed again. Claude Littner had to hide his mirth behind his clipboard – he does have a sense of humour after all.

Back with the creative teams – Ross provided withering putdowns to Jeff’s ‘creative’ suggestions of the Elton John themed room and they eventually plumped on ‘The Best of Britain’. But with the exhortation from the sub team about the need for yellow, they decided on red, blue and yellow to represent our great nation! Isn’t that treason? Sajan was in charge of the mood board. A colour-blind toddler could have put together a better selection of pictures to represent the scheme. Random bits of paper and images were inexpertly tacked to the board. He ain’t getting a job on Blue Peter any time soon. But he claimed he’d given them the ‘fruit’ and it was up to the rest of the team to make the ‘juice’. Looney juice maybe.

Graphene were faring little better, unable to come up with a theme. There was some discussion around the grounds of the hotel and fir trees and perhaps there could be something around this. Joanna innocently asked ‘Do trees have fur?’ I choked on my tea! Taxi for Joanna!
After a call from the sub team, Bushra leapt on the golf theme without discussing it with the rest of them. Dark mutterings ensued.

They then had to design a wallpaper for one wall in the room. Running out of time, Charles had scrawled an outline of London something like this (apologies if it’s not an entirely accurate replication)

Ross turned to the designer and asked her to take this and simplify it. Classic! Which bit exactly would you like her to remove Ross that would make this make more sense? And how does a skyline of London represent the best of Britain please?

As for Graphene’s golf wallpaper – let’s not even go near that watered down bubble wrap image.

When it came to buying furniture, at least Vitality had grasped the luxury theme and spent a decent amount of money. Unlike Graphene, who, for reasons beyond my capacity to understand, allowed Elizabeth to be in charge of finances. All thoughts of luxury went out of the window as she refused to allow them to spend more than £5k on anything other than cheap and cheerful stuff. Astonishingly no one thought to challenge her.

Day 2 saw them decorating and furnishing the rooms.
Over in the boys’ room their Janet and John primary colour scheme was an assault to the eyes – Karren cowered in the corner looking justifiably horrified.

Meanwhile, chaos reigned in Graphene’s room. Despite Elizabeth having got the measurements wrong so the wallpaper didn’t fit the wall it was meant to go on, her commanding (and completely misplaced) confidence stunned the rest of the team into silence. Is she some kind of sorcereress that despite her quite obvious ineptitude, they still scurried to obey her? She is bloody brilliant and mustn’t be fired until the very end – she is comedy gold.

Rooms finally finished, the manager and expert were allowed in to survey the carnage masquerading as hotel rooms. ‘Interesting’ and ‘eclectic’ were two words rather generously used. Not the two I would have chosen. Amateurish and awful would be have been mine.

Not only were the rooms hideous, but they hadn’t thought through the usage. So, we had no chest of drawers in Graphene’s room, and the suggestion that guests could put their pants into the desk drawers was met with understandable scorn. Chairs didn’t fit tables, tables were unsuitable for sitting and eating at and the expert had to stand on a chair to see himself full length in the mirror in the girls’ room.

Both teams were slaughtered at their pitches. Jeff, expressly told not to say how much they’d spent, promptly told them how they’d spent over £11k and also claimed they could charge the room out at £750 a night. The price of a suite, not a standard room (£350 a night).
Sajan claimed it would be a mistake for people to sit in their rooms when challenged about the poor layout and unusable furniture. If I was paying £750 a night for a room, I don’t think I’d leave it!

Neither team grasped what luxury meant, didn’t realise that timeless classic design would be a better choice for a top quality hotel nor understood the profit element of the task.

Graphene won the task purely because they made the most profit. I think it was a mistake. As Lord Sugar said, ‘West Ham’s trophy room has got more in it’. But he did at least tell them not to get too puffed up about the win as he merely hated their room less than Vitality’s.

Ross brought Jeff and James (leader of the sub team) back in with him.
When challenged as to why he hadn’t played to his financial strengths, Jeff banged on again about his ‘background in breakdancing’ and believed that you have to be very creative to be a break-dancer. The answer to the question ‘How many bankers do you know who can breakdance?’ remains at zero judging by the demonstrations he gave us on camera. Jabba the Hutt has more rhythm and style.

Thankfully, Lord Sugar fired him saying he wouldn’t trust him with a hotel in Monopoly.

His performance on The Apprentice – You’re fired only confirmed his idiocy to me; though I was very surprised that none of the commentators thought he should have gone.

Unbowed by defeat, when Jeff departed in his taxi he claimed he would be hosting The Apprentice in 20 years’ time. I’d say he stands more chance of that than hosting Strictly Come (Break) Dancing.

Next week – selling Robots. A rather risky prospect for the candidates. I suspect them thar robots have got more processing ability in one microchip than that lot combined. The tables could be turned with the robotics taking over the asylum.

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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.