The Apprentice - Episode 5 - Lost in London | The Chameleon Guide
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The Apprentice – Episode 5 – Lost in London

This week on The Apprentice, the ever entertaining item buying task where I predicted, at the end of my blog last week, rubbish map reading and poor negotiation. We weren’t disappointed.

Still Lord Sugar didn’t mix the teams up in his usual form, but merely sent James across to Graphene instead.

Sajan was unanimously voted in as PM for Vitality on the basis he knew London. Poor Charles made a feeble attempt to claim the role, but sunk without a trace. Over on Graphene, there was no choice as Lord Sugar had already decided moaning Joanna was going to be the PM.

Not that you would have known it with Jade attempting to run rough shod over the organisation of the team and activities. Joanna shut her down sharpish. There’s no love lost between those two after last week’s candyfloss-gate. So it was no surprise that she relegated Jade to the sub team with Bushra and Elizabeth.

The task

To commemorate HRH’s 70th birthday, all the items were linked to milestones in his life. They were the usual mixture of easy to the inexplicable. I’m glad to see my prediction of an Amstrad computer and football memorabilia made the list which consisted of:

  • Tottenham Hotspur scarf (he owned the club for a while)
  • Car aerial (what Lord Sugar first started selling). As an aside – his autobiography ‘What you see is what you get’ is an excellent read of how he grew his business and his rigorous methodology for whether a product got to market. He was extraordinarily innovative and responsible for the creation of the satellite dish and TV remote control amongst many other things.
  • Scarlet doeskin – the material of his gown for the Lords
  • 70th birthday cake – needs no explanation
  • 100 Rugelachs – Do what?
  • Amstrad computer – also needs no explanation
  • Monogrammed hankie – presumably he has a lot of colds?
  • Bricks and mortar – to reflect his property empire
  • An item from 1947 – which one of the geniuses worked out was the year he was born!

They had to be back at the Houses of Parliament by 7pm and there were fines for missing items and missing the deadline.

The keys to success in this task were – logistics and negotiation. And therefore good forward planning – working out where items were and planning a route would have been a sensible thing to do. You’d think.

Sajan didn’t bother with that nonsense and decided on a geographical strategy and split the teams into east and west London.

Finding and buying

And then the mayhem began.  Bushra claimed she knew London and got the sub team leader on that basis. But as things started to unravel started denying she knew London to the point of almost declaring she pretty much knew the street where she lived and that was it. Talk about back pedaling.

Pedalling may have been a faster route round London as both teams forgot to take into account the horrendous traffic problems that they encounter every year on this task.

Having established that the mysterious Rugelachs were Jewish pastries, Vitality made an unscheduled stop to visit a Turkish (i.e. definitely not a Jewish) supermarket to try and track them down. Shades of kosher vs halal chicken from years ago spring to mind. It wouldn’t have been so bad had Charles not been with them. Charles who identified what they were on account of him being Jewish.

Various shenanigans occurred:

  • Elizabeth spent way too long trying to get the price of a £20 monogrammed hankie down to £15. All sense of priority goes out of the window on this task – every year.
  • Joanna had a snit because despite saying she was going to be in charge of negotiating the Rugelach and birthday cake and no-one was to interrupt, James promptly interrupted. And got the price down to 26p per rugelach and £20 for the cake. There’s no ‘I’ in team Joanna.
  • Graphene tracked down an Amstrad computer and got the lady to agree to hold on to it for them. Who then treacherously told Vitality who also found her, that if they got there first, then they could have it. And the race was on. Snail’s race as it turned out thanks to that London traffic. Graphene just pipped them and got the computer.
  • Vitality missed the opportunity to go to a builder’s merchant en route so determined they were to get the computer. To highlight the importance of planning (or lack of it), Vitality hadn’t realised that builders merchants close at 5pm. On the dot. And having faffled around for too long, missed being able to buy them. Their attempts at trying to persuade some builders off a construction site – in mockney, awright, awright as a way of trying to bond with the builders, failed spectacularly
  • Having tracked down another Amstrad computer, Sajan persuaded the seller to drive for 45 minutes to Canary Wharf where they could pick it up from him. And then in an outrageously disrespectful manoeuvre told the chap who had left his family and dinner to deliver, that they weren’t going to be coming!
  • Graphene managed to get a 1947 magazine for free because the owner didn’t have change for a fiver.
  • Graphene paid £30 for a scarf in an ridiculous negotiation with the rugelach baker
  • Vitality had a last minute dash into a souvenir shop en route back to the Houses of Parliament and paid a far more reasonable £11.

Vitality all made it back to the Houses of Parliament on time but had no bricks, no computer and the hankie they bought hadn’t been embroidered.

Graphene were late, but got everything.

The boardroom

So, how did that play out in the boardroom?

Graphene spent £210.70 on buying the items and got fined £100 for being late – total £310.70

Vitality on the other hand only spent £82.50, but because they’d missed a couple of the key items (the computer and bricks), they got fined a whopping £347.53 taking their total to £430.03.

And thus ended the one win streak of Vitality.

Joanna cried.

Sajan brought Harrison and Ross back in with him. Harrison because the sub team actually got nothing and Ross because no-one was quite sure what he did all day other than moan. And as he was supposed to leading logistics should have done better than nothing.

Sajan was blamed for the strategy of geography and Ross attempted to defend himself thus, ‘I can’t even tie myself to the failure in any way in my head’

To which Lord Sugar succinctly responded with ‘If you do absolutely nothing you can’t be held responsible for the failure of it. But I don’t want people who do nothing’.

Making things worse for himself and as if this would be any justification for keeping him, Ross went on, ‘Statistically speaking I am the smartest person in the room. I have the IQ of a genius’.

And so sealed his fate as HRH fired him with ‘You may well be a genius, but I wonder whether you’re really made for business’ and, ‘You’re a fish out of water in this business, you’re fired’.  Quite. Which just goes to prove, being the smartest bear in the room is no guarantee of entrepreneurial success. In fact not being super successful in terms of your education is a factor in favour of likelihood of success. I have a lighthearted quiz here if anyone would like to have a go (click on the link to Take the Entrepreneur test at the top of the page).

Sajan played the ‘I’ve had a hard life but I’m a grafter and a lot to learn’ card. It didn’t wash with Lord Sugar who dismissed it as a rubbish explanation. But fortunately for Sajan he’d caught Lord Sugar ‘on a good day’ and escaped firing by the skin of his teeth.

Quote of the episode – Bushra on Elizabeth ‘She’s an unprofessional, uncontrollable cartoon character’. Go Elizabeth!

Next week – The tour guide task in Bruges.  Expect toe curling commentary whilst they herd bewildered and unsuspecting tourists around the chocolate centre of Belgium. I should cocoa!


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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.