The Directors View: The Apprentice – episode 6

Stuart Haining Business News, General 0 Comments

As we approach the halfway stage of “the process” (don’t you just hate that phrase – why can’t they call it a game show?) some interesting business lessons came to the fore, in particular, what you see isn’t always what you get.

This weeks’ challenge was to invent a family friendly board game – sounds like fun?…..well the fun would stop for sure if you got bought the losing teams game, but more on that in a moment.

Team Summit was headed up by former bad boy and everyone’s favourite loud mouth – James. His game card had been well and truly marked in previous episodes so he had a lot to prove, and he didn’t do a bad job at all this week showing his usual sales flair and perhaps for the first time a touch of sense.

James was ably supported by the very pleasant Soloman (who we like him more each week), Sanjay, who didn’t seem to contribute that much, Roisin and Bianca. Their team came up with a clever geography based drawing game idea that sounded a bit boring but actually scored well with players and retailers alike. Plus, as Soloman rather nicely volunteered, James had some innovative sales tactics up his sleeve.

On the other side of the board (pun intended), Team Tenacity was headed up by Pamela Uddin from Dublin, a brand marketer. Pamela was nicely positioned into place as team leader by a sneakily canny Mark, and notwithstanding the fact that Daniel has experience creating pub games… right from the off this was a gamble for Pamela. Her game style to date seems to have been to be outspoken and gutsy, perhaps mindful of the fact she’s only had a “real job” (to quote Lord Sugar) for a year, so its no surprise really she jumped at the opportunity.

Pamela was aided in her task by the ever confrontational Daniel, also with a lot to prove, the charming Felipe, sensible Katie and Lauren the lawyer. Their game was a rather weird Relationship board game….aside from a good pack design, this game featured ridiculously sexist and controversial questions about relationships which were set only by Daniel…..and judging by the questions and answers he can’t have been that much more successful at relationships or quizzes than he has been in the boardroom……and who says women can’t smile and be happy whilst doing the ironing?… get the idea.

The market research panel didn’t like the product any more than Lauren did, nor did the retailers so this was the losing product and the team ended up at the now famous Bridge Café for coffee the night after.

The general consensus was that contrary to past beliefs, Mark was being cleverly manipulative, Lauren was just clever but didn’t do a lot more than gripe, and of course Mark and Daniel need separating by more than a card board table as fire-works are never far away with that pair at any time of the year.

In the boardroom the ever helpful Nick was first to throw stones at Lauren – didn’t we say lawyers always make an easy target on The Apprentice – now there’s an idea for the game….”Apprentice Lawyer Safari Shoot Out” – a game where you target lawyers not rhinos! Watch this space. But Sugar gave Lauren the benefit of the doubt which we think was fair.

Katie was cleverly vocal of her support for Pamela by doing down Daniel and Lauren as poor contributors, this helped her avoid the boardroom fiasco where Pam was joined by the aforementioned.

With both candidates blaming the team leader (Pamela) for letting a poor product go to market and Pamela’s style seeming to be aggression, it was probably no surprise that she was outmanoeuvred out the door.

So for once we think Lord Sugar got the right result, right team, right candidate, but I would have said for the wrong reason – there’s nothing wrong with ignoring market research, plenty of new ideas buck the trend, we’d have fired Pamela for trying to big herself up with a bit of aggression, so we wouldn’t blame the firing on product choice.

But I think we’d be wrong, in the after-show party Pamela came across as a really lovely girl, she’s had some learning problems at school (but ended up getting a Masters), wants to launch a business helping others, AND managed to get through “the process” hiding a slight speech impediment……well done girl. So the lesson for us is you don’t always get the right result if you don’t look a little more closely at wants underneath the covers of people, ideas, products. Sadly in business, many people make snap decisions as time is short so the moral here is do a bit of digging.

Next week is the half-way point and we are down to the final ten!
PS: Bianca had a lucky escape – giving exclusivity over Westminster for less than £100, so thank goodness her team won. And we think Soloman is coming through as a late outsider – always good to see someone admit to strengths in other candidates.

PP.S: We have altered the favourites list – do you agree? 

1:2 Favourite James
2:1 Solomon
3:1 Roisin
4:1 Katie
5:1 Mark
6:1 Lauren
7:1 Felipe
8:1 Daniel
9:1 Sanjay
10:1 Bianca

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