The Directors View: The Apprentice – episode 8

Stuart Haining Business News, General 0 Comments

If you ever thought The Apprentice was a business game, think again. Yet again we are reminded by Lord Sugar he is mostly interested in sales, so that’s the secret to his success as if we didn’t know…….but this week, for me it’s sales technique that shines through, and not just in the field. It works in the boardroom too!

This week the field of operations is literally a field, a glorious part of the UK at a Somerset County Show, the goal being to source some unique products and also win over product sellers to secure the rights to proven best sellers. The winning, pretty typically, are those with the best sales volume. So you’d expect the poorest seller to be fired? Wrong. More of that later.

So how did the teams get on?
Team Tenacity had a bit of a bun fight to pick a leader, Felipe volunteered as he’s poor at sales but good at logistics, and Daniel graciously makes way for him! Right from the off though, Katie correctly identifies it’s all about personal sales and makes an appropriately sensible and strong contribution throughout, being particularly good at highlighting Daniel’s brashness and irritating manner before they blow all the good product opportunities. This proves to be a pivotal point in the program as armed with a bit of self-awareness they secure the rights to sell the best product, hot-tubs at £3k a pop.

Mark is of course the major player on this team and again he plays a strategically canny game, ensuring he is on the sub team selling the hot tubs with the best potential, quite a feat given that Daniel was on the sub-team that sourced this product. Despite an embarrassing and epic amount of bickering, Felipe correctly identified Mark as the seller with best potential, so stuck to his guns, a winning decision…… as it turned out. He also saved Daniels place as if Tenacity had lost we feel sure Daniel would have been ousted for his lack of professionalism in a sales environment……bickering in public, definitely a NO NO.

And what about Team Summit?
James took the bold step of volunteering to lead again as to quote his own words “he has things to prove” and had decided to go 110% for goal.

So quite aside from all the usual irritating traits we’d seen in James, he now started to boss around everyone, particularly Accountant Roisin, who was unlucky to be in his sub-team. Things started badly and got worse.
After ignoring the efforts of Bianca, Sanjay (quiet as usual) and Soloman when it came to picking products, James picked things he hadn’t even seen…..notably expensive hanging chairs and thin foldable wellies, neither of which proved to be big sellers. When it came to pitch for rights to a proven big seller, James upset Mr Hot Tub (Anthony) by calling him Mr Mowers name… not surprisingly they lost that gig and were forced to sell ride-on mowers at £2k a ride.
He then took the surprising, but I think sensible decision to keep this bad news from his team, against Roisin’s advice, as “I don’t want to demotivate them”. This probably wasn’t his core motivation (he actually kept it secret right up to the boardroom) but as anyone who has run a business will know, you can’t tell all the people all the news all the time, sometimes edited highlights DO work best, and Sugar surprisingly agreed.

Bianca was calmer this week, Roisin actually did jolly well stepping up into a sales roll and matched James £4k but with a less pushy approach and better product knowledge. Soloman, Sanjay (worst seller) and Bianca managed about £700 worth of welly and chair sales between them, taking the team total to £4700ish.

Back over to team Tenacity, they proved to be worth their moniker and with Mark shifting seven hot-tubs to one buyer, they hit total sales of over £30k, not aided much by lack-lustre sales of bike trailers or hats made out of old caps! So team Tenacity won with a bit of good fortune but would have probably doubled Team Summit scores even without the eager hot-tub buyer

Boardroom showdown
In the boardroom it’s pretty apparent that James will bring back Roisin, for constantly trying to steer him right, and Sanjay, once it’s announced that he’s had the lowest sales and “has made little impression” according to Nick and Lord Sugar. And so it proved to be.

In the boardroom Roisin becomes a women possessed, and tells it how it is, revealing all James’ failings. Sanjay wakes up and finds his voice, making his biggest effort of the day, but is still pretty ineffectual, and James, to his credit, makes one of the best sales pitches in any series of the Apprentice.

James made his “dying man’s last request” like a winner – he exuded confidence, passion and a desire to win in a Grade A pitch, but his technique went just a bit too far…..he made Lord Sugar realise how much work he would have to do to polish this rough diamond, whatever its potential.

And that was it – one of our favourites was unceremoniously dumped in a surprise finish. It was probably the ultimate lesson in salesmanship, let people see how desperately you want a sale and you never win it, always better to play hard-to-get.

So we are down to a final eight and strong contenders now seem likely to be Katie and Mark. Our scores on the doors are now:

Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Next Week
James 1:2 FAV 1:2 FAV FIRED xxxxxxxxx
Solomon 2:1 2:1 3:1 ?
Roisin 3:1 3:1 3:1 ?
Katie 4:1 4:1 2:1 ?
Mark 5:1 6:1 2:1 ?
Lauren 6:1 FIRED xxxxxxxxx
Felipe 7:1 6:1 6:1 ?
Daniel 8:1 9:1 8:1 ?
Sanjay 9:1 9:1 8:1 ?
Bianca 10:1 6:1 7:1 ?

PS….whilst James is undoubtedly a pain, we think he has potential and on this occasion think Lord Sugar got it wrong, Sanjay should have been fired as so far, from the edited highlights we get to see on TV, he’s been very underwhelming.

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