The Apprentice Week 8 – See Paris and get fired

The Apprentice Week 8 – See Paris and get fired

The most amazing thing about this week’s Apprentice, was trying to work out who would get fired. Most of the candidates were in the firing line. Only Helen looked truly safe.

The task this week was to identify 2 items to sell in Paris. Tom got his first chance as team leader of Logic. Helen joined Venture, where team leader was Susan. Half of each team headed to Paris, to find retailers to sell to. The PMs and one colleague stayed behind to choose 2 items 10 products currently not on sale in France.

Susan managed to demonstrate how young, naive and ignorant she is, and gave us the quote of the week; “Do people in France love their children?”

Melody, part of team Logic demonstrated that she is not a good team player. She influenced PM Tom’s choice of preferred product because she did not fancy it (despite not seeing it) – a car seat that could be carried by the child as a rucksack. Melody didn’t like this and backed it up with some very dubious market research (sample of 4) suggesting no one in Paris drives their children! Melody wanted the teapot / light, not the rucksack. Melody also lied about how the teapot would be received, so rucksack rejected. Leon, who was with Melody did nothing because of language problems(most people spoke English, but he still did not do anything!)

So Venture took the rucksack and a device for attaching a phone / iPod to car vents. Logic took the teapot and some postcards that folded out into 3D models and cress was produced from.

Once the teams were reunited, Melody bullied Tom and gave him and Natasha only 1 out of 8 appointments. She and Leon had also done no research on La Redoute, the lead set up for them by Lord Sugar. Melody went off and did a good job selling to her appointments, with Leon doing virtually nothing. Tom and Natasha played “rock-scissors-stone” for the honour of pitching, and promptly made a mess of it. They did not realise how big an outfit LaRedoute is (the minimum order they asked for was 10. La Redoute expected to order thousands). Helen, on the other hand, did a brilliant job with the rucksack (yes that rucksack) for Venture.

Susan, for all of her naivity, had a good team and especially Helen, the only decent candidate, to save her and she did, gaining the biggest order in Apprentice history from La Redoute, worth £240K!

Tom was very democratic, clear in his instructions and laid back. His biggest problem was not raining in Melody, who both cost the team the task, and was also the only person to sell anything of note!

So to the Boardroom. Venture gave good feedback on Susan, but for Logic, Leon complained about Melody taking over the team. Melody defended her “market research”.

In the end, it was Helen’s success at La Redoute (Tom and Natasha sold nothing there) that won Venture the task. Tom chose to bring Leon and Melody back to the Boardroom.

Tom put the blame on Melody. Lord Sugar said he should have gone with his gut instinct over the rucksack. Lord Sugar then rounded on Melody for her approach to the task, and on Leon for not contributing. Things looked bleak for all 3, but surely Melody was most vulnerable? After all, she had contributed most to the team’s failure. But no, Lord Sugar praised Melody for this and she was saved. Tom was given a reprieve and told to be more assertive. Leon was sacked. Even his defence in the boardroom was weak and his cumulative failure (3rd visit to the boardroom, vs 1 for Tom) proved decisive.

Once again, Lord Sugar went with his gut instinct and contradicted previous things he has said about team work. Melody did not perform well, but maybe her unscrupulous approach (win at all cost and damn the consequences) is what Lord Sugar is looking for in a business partner. Time will tell.

Favourite: Helen’s position seems even more certain now, as she is the only decent candidate.

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