The Apprentice 2012 – Sterling prove to be un-fit for purpose

The Apprentice 2012 – Sterling prove to be un-fit for purpose

Another week of great TV in The Apprentice, but yet again it tended to show up the weaknesses in this year’s candidates, rather than their strengths. Several candidates were barely visible. Take Jenna, for instance (please, anyone,  take Jenna), her biggest contribution was standing next to Gabrielle like a hopeful puppy as the latter answered the phone. Katie, Gabrielle and Nick also made fleeting contributions . Tom was quiet this week, but did make the single most telling observation.

This week’s task was all about creating a new fitness regime and selling it under license to 3 of the UK’s leading chains of fitness centres.

Following Lord Sugar’s advice of drawing on your area of expertise, Health Club Sales Manager, Stephen, put himself up for PM of Phoenix, and was universally accepted. In Sterling, fitness-freak Ricky Martin got the job. That Phoenix won the task would seem to bear out Sugar’s point, but that does not tell the real story. Stephen was a disaster as PM, and the team only won through a bit of (unlikely?) luck. More on that later.

Sterling settled on a regime combining martial arts moves and dance, and in this Ricky was very clear on his vision. Duane, Laura and Nick set to work with professionals to design a routine, and then produce the promo video. This proved to be a major focus of the programme, with Director Duane and Video-Instructor Laura clashing. As Duane became more autocratic, Laura became more monotonal. Not a great example of team working or leadership. The product was called Beat Battle, probably in tribute to how the sub-team worked together.

In Phoenix, the vision was less clear, but the team eventually decided on a 1980’s retro theme called Groove Train, incorporating dance moves from songs of that era into a fitness programme. The sight of the Adam, Azhar and Jade practicing steps from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video was a highlight of the programme. Azhar, complete with 1980s short-shorts was the Video-Instructor.

The flaw in Phoenix’ product was the need for equipment (hula hoops, space hopper, skipping ropes) as part of the regime. To be fair, this was something that Tom pointed out early on, but no-one on the team paid any attention.  It should have cost them the task, as the team did not take into account either the amount of storage space the equipment would take up or do any costings when deciding on the cost of their licence. In the end Stephen just plucked some figures out of the air. This stopped two of the target customers from placing any orders. And yet, the equipment was also their saving, as one of the chains (Virgin Active) could see the potential for the product to be used with children. They promptly offered to pay a one-off license, which was worth more than the sales made by Sterling, who had sold to the other 2 customers. As this was not a part of the business plan, Stephen can count himself very lucky indeed.

So, Phoenix rise from the ashes of a disasterous task once again. PM Stephen, who has expertise in this sector, did not come out of the task well. If they had lost, I believe he would have had to go, but he got away with it and lives to fight another day.

For Sterling, the feedback in the boardroom focused on the video, so PM Ricky chose to bring back Beat-Battlers Duane and Laura. This proved to be the catalyst necessary to unite them and they turned on PM Ricky. Sugar couldn’t see what Laura had done to deserved being called back, and let her off the hook. Ricky’s main complaint about the video was that some key martial arts movements were missing, but Sugar disagreed and said the video was just dull, especially in comparison to Phoenix’ cheesy effort. For this, Duane took the blame and was fired. On balance, this was probably more due to a series of poor performances, in comparison to Ricky, than just this task. It was the right decision as Duane has appeared out of his depth since Week 1. Ricky did ok on the task, and lead the pitches, which received good feedback.

From a leadership point of view, Ricky had the clearer vision, but the video did not do it justice. Stephen should have been aware of the issues around incorporating equipment into the regime in terms of cost and space. He was ineffective as either a leader or a business man.

Of the remaining candidates, Tom still shines for me. Stephen is a dead-man walking, based on this task. Gabrielle is creative, but does she have the business sense and Nick makes good contributions but has been missing for several weeks. Jenna and Jade are competing for the most annoying voice, and have contributed little. Azhar has not shown much and Katie has good management skills, but is this enough?

One other thing, if you check out the “Meet the Candidates” page of the BBC Website, it looks like a shooting gallery, with candidates being fired from the bottom row up. We are now on the second bottom row. If I was Tom, Ricky and, especially Stephen, I’d be worried.

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3 Responses to The Apprentice 2012 – Sterling prove to be un-fit for purpose

  1. Tim says:

    Agree about Stephen being a dead man walking. I thought Ricky showed some previously hidden strengths here – he had a good idea, delegated well and pitched well. But, having lost unexpectedly, he almost committed a fatal error by bringing Laura back in.

    I’m not sure what Jenna has contributed so far other than talk very loudly a lot. Jade has been quiet but has received a sympathetic edit, and has twice shown flashes of creativity in producing the sketches for the printing task and then directing this week’s video with a touch of humour (despite Adam’s ‘help’). I’d have Jade as my second favourite behind Tom, who again spotted the flaw in his team’s plan but was ignored. We’ve seen this story before, haven’t we?

    Duane was fortunate, but his undoubted competence was sunk by his over-confidence. He had points in the bank already, but he took one risk too many in his enthusiasm to win (sprinkled, I think, with a touch of God-complex) and allowed less capable rivals to quietly hide in the background. The moment Ricky brought Laura back instead of one of them, Duane was sunk.

    http://slouchingtowardsthatcham.com/2012/04/19/the-apprentice-season-8-episode-5-keep-fit/

  2. Pingback: The Apprentice 2012 – Sterling lose again as wine video fails to sparkle « markdecosemo.com

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