The Apprentice – Episode 6 – Lost in translation | The Chameleon Guide
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The Apprentice – Episode 6 – Lost in translation

Another classic The Apprentice episode – the tour guide task where the candidates have to organise a tour, sell tickets and take the poor unsuspecting tourists on a whistle stop tour around an area.

This week, the candidates got to go to Bruges on board the enormous cruise ship – the Brittania, which can take 3000 guests!  My idea of hell on earth.

My antipathy to cruises aside, the teams had to choose a theme and run with it. Bruges is an easy one to cover given it has beautiful buildings and is the home of chocolate, beer and waffles. How could it possibly go wrong? Well, let me tell you…

Finally Lord Sugar mixed the teams to a more balanced mix of girls and boys (I hesitate to call them men and women).

The only main catch with the task is that if the punters didn’t like their tour, they could ask for a refund, so you’d think it would be important to get it right.

Sarah-Jayne, now on the reformed team Vitality put herself forward for the PM role to try and disprove Karren’s rather disparaging comment from last week that she caused neither fireworks, nor disasters. Mediocre is I think the word we’re looking for here.

They liked the idea of going for a historical angle on the tour combined with beer tasting.

Unfortunately for them, Sarah-Jayne put Andrew-Jack-the-Lad on the sales team who sold the tickets on the basis of getting people leathered. He was going to make sure they got a ‘skinful’ and not to worry if they got too drunk because he’d throw them on to the horse and cart to get them back to the ship. So people signed up on the basis they thought they were going on an elaborate pub crawl! The reality was that the planning team had arranged for a tasting of three beers! Unless you’re a complete lightweight like me, this does not really amount to a decent session in anyone’s book.

Graphene were hardly better – having decided on a more modern tour and to go for chocolate tasting (excellent choice in my opinion), they thought that offering a segway ride was going to get the punters in.  Not a bad choice at all, and certainly quite a novel way of seeing a town.

Unfortunately, the planning team and the sales teams had different ideas about what a segway tour would include.  Rather like the beer tasting above, the planners had only organised a very short trip on the segways, but the selling team majored on this as the key selling point.

Graphene managed to sell all of their 16 tickets but at a much lower price point (£48.50) than Vitality who only sold 10, but sold them at an average of £82 each.

Now, this is where it gets interesting, because the teams had an opportunity to get a deal with the businesses providing the tastings. Vitality completely missed a trick and ended up paying an extra €9.50 per person to have the three tastings plus two bottles of beer to take away.

Graphene, however, were very clever and negotiated a deal with the chocolate company that the tasting was free and they would get a cut of any chocolate sales. Brilliant in theory, though as we shall see later, not that brilliant in reality.

As for the tours, poor Anisa was tasked with being the tour guide for Vitality despite saying repeatedly that she was hopeless at remembering facts and figures. Sarah-Jayne kept brushing her off saying she’d have help. From whom, it was never quite clear. Charles was in charge of logistics (or route planning as I like to call it). He employed the cunning methodology of using a bic biro to work out how long each bit of the tour would take. Ah yes, that failsafe method – half a biro = a 12 minute walk (or something!).

What with Anisa’s short term memory problem and Charles’s flawed planning technique, there was only one way that this tour was going to go, and it wasn’t well.

And lo, it came to pass. Charles couldn’t map read his way out of a paper bag and they ended up going round and round in a square round a canal in an attempt to find the entrance to St John’s Hospital. He kept insisting that he was exactly where he wanted to be at all times. Yes, we are in fact parallel to where we started, but that is all part of the plan. No it’s not. You were lost mate, admit it.

What was supposed to be a 90 minute tour turned into a three hour epic on just four streets around a pool of water!

But wait, I hear you cry, the beer tasting will surely save the day? No it didn’t. Despite Andrew claiming that one of the beers was likely to blow their socks off. It didn’t.

The tour culminated in toe curling embarrassment as they all got bundled on to the horse and cart for the final leg. Anisa and Charles had nothing to say, so they all sat there rather awkwardly until Karren (un)helpfully piped up asking if they could speak louder as they couldn’t hear anything at the back. Fully in the knowledge that there was absolutely nothing coming.  Charles compounded the awfulness by asking the cart driver to take them back to base quickly rather than continue for the 40 minute tour advertised in full hearing of the guests!

Graphene fared slightly better. Sort of. Elizabeth’s strength lay in her being super organised and everything went like clockwork. Unfortunately, there was no time for fun. There was a timetable to be adhered to and the punters got frog marched from place to place with no time to smell the roses. She was formidable and perfect for a military campaign, just not so much for a gentle tour of Bruges. As Lord Sugar later said ‘You don’t normally see that kind of forceful leadership outside of North Korea’!

But let’s digress slightly as we talk about the slick commentary from the tour guide Harrison.

As they reached a beautiful square he informed the rather bewildered punters that ‘The way they have mixed in new buildings with the old is literally ingenious’.  Yes, he actually said that. Oooh, what cunning architects! It’s like saying – the way they thought of putting keys on a keyring is literally ingenious, or doors and windows in a house? Literally ingenious.

It got better though. His next gem – ‘If you look around there are people everywhere, literally’. There weren’t actually, so literally was not the correct adverb to use here. But he is young and I know they like using that work along with the grossly overused ‘like’.

The calibre of tour guiding from both teams was atrocious.

Sadly Elizabeth’s ‘reign of terror’ tripped them up at the chocolate tasting. In her haste to get them to the segways on time, she hurried the punters through the tasting and the shopping giving them barely time to swallow any samples never mind savour them or buy bag loads of the gorgeous chocolatey loveliness.

And the much vaunted segway tour?  A 10 minute beetle up and down a couple of roads. Not quite the tour of Bruges the guests had hoped (and paid for).

Both teams had one final selling opportunity – to buy memorabilia to sell back on the ship.

Vitality went for keyrings (see how I tie all this stuff together) which they’d bought for €2 but were selling for £6. Daylight robbery.

Graphene took a huge risk and bought a variety of souvenir bags at great expense – toilet bags, hold alls etc.

The Boardroom

So, how did it all play out in the boardroom? Did the higher priced ticket sales result in a win? Were keyrings a winner, did the chocolate sales create a huge revenue stream?
Let’s find out.

It’s slightly complicated, so I’m going to put it in a table this week.

Vitality Graphene Comments
Cost of buying souvenirs/beer tasting cost (£167.64) (£180.50)
Ticket sales £825 £780 So far so good for Vitality – higher sales and lower cost of buying souvenirs
Souvenir sales £168 £359.60 Ah, but wait, Graphene’s bags sold better than the not so cheap and cheerful keyrings
Total (sales less costs) £825.36 £959.10  

Already Graphene were ahead, but we need to then add the refunds into the mix.  Are you on the edge of your seat yet? You’re hoping for a massive turnaround aren’t you, where Vitality pulls it out of the bag at the last with no refunds?

Sadly (for them) they had to pay back £165 in refunds for a rubbish tour. And Graphene had to give back only £150. Neither is very impressive – both had to pay back 20% of their ticket sales.

But which left Vitality with a profit of £660.36 vs Graphene’s £803.06.

Meaning that yet again Vitality were in the dog house.

As a P.S. – Elizabeth’s tyranny meant that the rushing of people from the chocolatier’s only netted them a rather sorry €10 of commission – they should have got a lot more than that. Sometimes slowing down is better…

Sarah-Jayne bought Andrew and Charles back in with her, on the basis that Andrew mis-sold the tour/was too flippant and laddish and Charles’s biro map reading resulted in an overlong and rubbish tour.

The key rings were also held to blame as not being very memorable keepsakes.

Whilst Andrew was blasted for behaving like a Uni student, he got away with it because he sold the most tickets and souvenirs (and despite the awful laddishness, he did bring a bit of light relief during the day).

Charles or Mr Hindsight as HRH called him – had one job and he got them lost. How he’s still there is a mystery.

Sarah-Jayne was on the chopping block because although she’d assigned everyone with roles, she didn’t assign the right roles to the right people. The nail in the coffin though was she swapped herself out of the key team – taking the tour and ensuring the punters had the best experience.

Lord Sugar said she’d wanted to prove herself by taking on the role but unfortunately she hadn’t proved herself at all. And it was curtains for S-J.

Both Charles and Andrew were left with scars – Andrew is hanging on by the skin of his teeth and needs to start being more professional. And Charles? Well he just needs to start doing anything really.

Next week – The teams get to launch a new car.  Sorry, but I have to say it – we can look forward to more car crash telly.  I’ll get my coat.



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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.