The Apprentice 2012 Week 4 – Antique No-Show spells the end for Jane

The Apprentice 2012 Week 4 – Antique No-Show spells the end for Jane

Quote of the Week: Duane –  “Don’t look a gift horse in the eye”

This week’s task in The Apprentice involved trying to unearth something that has maybe seen better days and sell it to a gullible punter. Unfortunately for Jane, Lord Sugar wasn’t to be fooled and she became the fourth person this series to be fired.

Sugar mixed up the teams again, with Jade (her of the amazingly annoying voice) going to Phoenix and Ricky going the opposite way. Duane made a bid to be PM of Sterling for the second week running, and got no votes. Laura got the job. For Phoenix, Fine Wine Investor, Tom was voted in.

The task involved sourcing antiques and then re-selling them from a swanky shop in Brick Lane. Each team had £1000 to spend.

Once again it was a case of contrasting strategies, with contrasting results. Laura had Sterling trying to convert “Trash into Cash”, but Tom followed his “fine wine” instincts, looking for “Quality over Quantity”.

Each strategy had its merits, but ultimately Sterling apparently lost when they failed to keep on top of costs. This was not the cost of the “antiques” but rather the materials to convert them to “Urban Chic”. Laura gave Gabrielle the lead in the conversion process, and it was this subteam that allowed enthusiasm to get in the way of profit. Actually, it was not this that cost the team. Sterling sold slightly more than Phoenix, but they bought over 200 items at almost twice the amount(including conversion) Phoenix spent on far fewer items. No, it could be argued that either the stratregy was flawed, or they got their pricing wrong. They were left with a lot of stuff at the end.

Despite some regularly voiced doubts from Adam, Tom’s Phoenix produced a sparsely populated shop, arranged in an attractive manner.  He kept control of costs, only giving the subteam of Stephen, Katie and Adam £200 to buy from an auction house. Across the episode, his instinct seemed correct as the subteam showed no ability to pick a winner. His team did need to buy in some more items on Day 2, but ultimately, Tom’s clear vision, calm leadership and self confidence saw Phoenix through. Even Nick Hewer had to admit he underestimated the approach.

By way of contrast, the Sterling shop, complete with dead leaves to add ambience, had a confused bag of urban-chic and traditional items. Converting suitcases to tables, painting Union flags (NOT Jacks) on chairs created a lack of identity. Laura was pleasant enough, and there was a lot of focus on Jane’s aggressive, pushy sales “technique”. However, once again, this episode was notable for who we didn’t see, with several individuals making so little contribution on camera that they could have been away on holiday.

In the boardroom it was revealed that Phoenix had won, so we were denied the sight of Adam going for Tom. Rather bravely, or confidently, Tom said (before finding they had won) that he had no issues with anyone in his team. For Sterling, Laura focused on the spiraling costs of the “urban-chic” conversion process and brought back Gabrielle, and on poor sales and brought back Jane, possibly picking up on Karen Brady’s comments about Jane’s approach.

Ultimately, Sugar praised Gabrielle for her contribution, and blamed Laura for not being on top of the costs in her role of PM. Jane was on his radar having lost 3/4 tasks and, acting on his “gut-feel” or more likely Karen’s observations,  she was fired. Sugar said that despite her success with her own business, he had not seen enough. Nick Hewer confirmed on “You’re Fired” that Karen’s comments probably swayed Sugar.

This was an interesting episode, less for the task than for the way Sugar decided who to fire. I’ve no doubt this will prove to be a popular decision, but Jane has shown an instinct for business, and excellent knowledge of the manufacturing process. She was also obsessive in some tasks about costs and profit. You would have thought that this would make her stand out. Ultimately, her abrasive nature made her hard to work with and Sugar decided that he would not be able to.

There are several individuals who have managed to keep low profile’s as this series has progressed (Azhar, Jenna and Jade this week). It will ve interesting to see which of these might be the stalking horse.

Tom now stands out as an early favourite.

About markdecosemo
Consulting Trainer and Coach to healthcare and pharmaceutical professionals

One Response to The Apprentice 2012 Week 4 – Antique No-Show spells the end for Jane

  1. Tim says:

    Of all the reasons to fire Jane, the fact she had been on the losing team three weeks out of four was pretty trivial. The same applied to both Laura and Gabrielle, and indeed the other girls still in Sterling! Jane struck me as a bit too abrasive and weak on numbers, but I don’t doubt she’s a perfectly competent MD of her company. I think it underlines that the skills you need to be good on The Apprentice aren’t necessarily what you need to be successful in real life – or, indeed, to have an investable business plan.

    I thought both teams did pretty well, although Tom’s strategy was better thought through. He seemed to grasp the fact that – unlike most Apprentice tasks – the teams did not have to buy all their stock on day one, and that there were benefits in being cautious up front and holding something back for day two, when the teams could judge what was selling well and whether they needed to buy in more. He also understood one of the key needs for a start-up business – keep costs under control while you’re finding your feet. Although Laura’s upcycling strategy was fine, the fact she allowed costs to spiral meant her team had a much higher level of risk. It wasn’t the only reason they lost – to me, it looked like Tom’s team simply chose better products and were left with less stock at the end of the day – but it was a contributing factor. However, credit to Gabrielle for at least sticking her neck out and trying to do something different rather than taking the safe route and hiding.

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