The Apprentice 2012 – Phoenix Copp a first defeat

The Apprentice 2012 – Phoenix Copp a first defeat

Lord Sugar mixed up the 2 teams in last night’s Apprentice, with Katie joining Phoenix and Duane & Nick heading over to “rescue” Sterling. We could almost smell the testosterone on show as the boys became lads having won the last 2 challenges. Duane more or less stated that he was needed to be PM of Sterling to get them into winning ways. He got the job without too much arguement.

For Phoenix, Katie was acutely aware that she was on Sugar’s radar as a poential weak-link, and no doubt conscious of not wanting to be seen to hide again,  managed to overcome some frankly mysogenist attitudes in the lads (formerly boys) and become PM.

To be fair to both PMs they actually did quite well, compared to previous weeks (and years).  Duane managed to lead Sterling to their first win; the team was united, had focus on their roles, a more or less clear strategy (a novel chutney) and overcame a few setbacks, such as having no sample to show perspective buyers. Duane’s real triumph, though, was to channel motormouth Jane’s expertise in food production into leading / directing the manufacturing process. Sterling ended up winning with over twice the margin of Phoenix.

Katie demonstrated herself to be a competent corporate project manager, despite blatant resistance and sexist attitude from some of the “lads”. It was like a hen having to lead a bunch of cocks, sorry roosters. It is a real challenge to lead a group of individuals pretending to be a team. Many of the lads are looking for any opportunity to score points. They seem to have forgotten that this only counts if you lose, and this is the likely outcome if you don’t work as a team!

Katie identified a target market (table sauce), allocated roles to the sub-teams (design/ marketing and manufacture). She didn’t have a Jane to draw on (and after last week probably wouldn’t have anyway) but put Ricky Martin in charge of production (there’s a joke in there somewhere) with Tom doing costings, whilst she led the team designing the label. A special word must be reserved for Adam, who is only 32, but obviously comes from a place where time has stood still. He sounds like a Yorkshireman, and represents the kind of attitude that still exists in the region (I live in Yorkshire) and makes me cringe. Not only was he mysogenist, but arrogant with it (think of Geoff Boycott and you will not be far wrong). He was part of the disastrous production team, and was quick to apportion blame when things went wrong.

Not surprisingly the lack of support and occasional outright resentment from team Phoenix took its toll. Individuals were quick to point the finger when things started to go astray. The production line was a disaster, with a lot of wastage having an impact on both strategy and margins. Katie recognised this and adjusted the product to be marketed as more of a premium (higher cost) product. This would protect the margins, but make selling more difficult.

Ah, the selling. Michael was put in charge of one sub-team and showed either incredible loyalty to Katie or a complete lack of business intuition. This was typified by the retailer who wouldn’t budge from buying at £1.95 per bottle (4p below Katie’s minimum price). He could have decided to go with it, or even got increased volumes from the customer and checked it out with Katie, but no, he stuck to what Katie had said and moved on. Not surprisingly, Michael’s sub team didn’t sell much. I must say that I’ve not noticed Michael before. As part of the previously unbeaten Phoenix team, and with larger egos on display he has remained hidden in the background.

It was no surpise in the Boardroom that Sterling won. For Phoenix, problems with production (lead by Ricky) and selling (sub-team leader Michael was highlighted) were identified by Sugar and his team. Katie chose Michael to come back into the boardroom with her, but was reluctant / unsure who to choose from the production team as she wasn’t clear what had gone wrong. This was clever, as she was able to point the finger of blame at Michael and yet appear neutral / supportive of Ricky. Katie had possibly identified Michael as more of a lame duck than either a Phoenix or a cock! Sure enough, Ricky put up a robust defence, Katie played it superbly and Michael Copp(ed) it for being “out of his depth”.

Katie has been warned not to be in a boardroom-three situation again, but actually came out of this well. I see no entrepreneurial spirit in her, but she is a good corporate project manager. If only this was the “old style” Apprentice.

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One Response to The Apprentice 2012 – Phoenix Copp a first defeat

  1. Tim says:

    Agree that both PMs did well in managing their teams, and that Duane clearly has more of the entrepreneur about him than Katie (although it’s hard to see what more she could have done other than be in two places at once).

    Adam’s attitude towards Katie was horrible, and his constant talking up of himself just amusing. He seems to be all mouth and no trousers and makes Geoff Boycott sound progressive. Ricky was only marginally less bad – he clearly fancies himself as the Stuart Baggs-style soundbite king – and I get a sense that he genuinely believes his own hype. That complacency will be his downfall – and for all Michael’s ineffectiveness it should really have been Ricky who was fired here. Trade sales did not lose this task – they were only allocated 50-odd bottles anyway, as Katie stated that retail sales were the key to her strategy. This task was lost in (a) poor product and branding and especially (b) poor production, which lost them volume and pushed their cost prices up. It wasn’t just the one bad batch – it was clear that the boys were wasteful everywhere.

    The quieter Tom and Jade continue to interest me, as both have been relatively low-profile so far but have been painted in a positive light when we have seen them – much like Tom Pellereau last year. Of course, it all comes down to who has a good business plan, making task performance largely irrelevant. (Did I just say that out loud?)

    My thoughts:
    http://slouchingtowardsthatcham.com/2012/04/05/the-apprentice-season-8-episode-3-condiments/

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