The Apprentice 2012 Week 10 – Magnificent Seven becomes Final Five

This week was a tale of two Spa-Hotels

The Apprentice 2012 Week – Magnificent Seven becomes Final Five

The numbers just didn’t add up in this week’s BBC Apprentice. And I’m not just talking about Jade’s negotiation with a top restaurant at St Pancras station. No, with 3 episodes to go, seven candidates is just too many and a double firing seemed inevitable. And so it proved.

Lord Sugar described the task as replicating a start-up business. What it actually involved was identifying high quality products or services and negotiating the best possible discount (up to 50%)  for an upmarket Groupon-like daily deal. They were clearly briefed to go for “high quality” products. The team with the biggest profit would win.

We already knew that Stephen -entering the last chance saloon- was assigned as PM for Sterling. This was his escape clause in avoiding getting fired last week. Lose this one and he would be out. Stephen was leading Ricky, and Gabrielle (or Gabriella as Stephen insisted on callling her; they’ve shared a house for 10 weeks and he still can’t get her name right?).

Over in Phoenix, Adam, Tom and Nick were happy to allow Jade to be PM when she informed them that she worked “with company’s like this” in her previous role as a Business Development Manager.

There was a clear difference in approach between the teams. Jade got Phoenix involved in some detailed and time consuming planning with the strategy of identifying a few top notch targets “quality not quantity”. Stephen went for quantity, looking for 5 or 6 “premium”deals. The only problem was they were out chasing opportunities without any apparent planning. Stephen’s background is as a National Sales Manager, a role that should include more than just impementation of a tactical sales plan. The programme editing made sure that we were aware of the differences in approach.

We didn’t really get to see much of the planning ( it does not makesas good television as people runnning around ) so it was hard to judge how good the Phoenix strategy was, though they did have a precise list of targets they went for. Yet, even amongst the scatter-gun approach of Sterling, there was some evidence of planning. At one point, Ricky, working on his own, was scheduled to go to a leading Spa Hotel in Tring. Ricky was worried about the journey time to and from Tring and that this would stop him calling on more leads. After initially telling Ricky to  stick to the plan, in the end Stephen had a major wobble and agreed with Ricky. No trip to Tring, then. This was the pivotal part of the task for Sterling, and would cost them the task and Stephen his future in the programme.

Although much more focused, the 2 sub teams in Phoenix did not have everything their own way. Jade and Nick  did secure a good deal with a Spa (over 50% discount) but were woefully under prepared (despite all of that planning) for a meeting with restauranteur Marcus Wareing at St Pancras station. In real life this would have cost them the opportunity, but the power of TV cameras meant they eventually got a 30% discount. We also saw Tom and Adam (The Jeeves and Wooster of this week’s task) apparently complementing each other very well. Tom has an eye for fine things, and Adam will beat any customer into reducing their prices in a negotiation.

For Sterling, Ricky specialised in restaurants also, managing to consume scallops in 3 of them across the day! He did manage to secure a useful double deal with one quality restaurant, but made the fatal negotiation error of limiting the number of meals for lunch and dinner to 190. In negotiation, always try to get the other side to put the first offer on the table. Again, this was a crucial mistake that cost Sterling the task.

In the end, There was much running around the streets of London trying to sign up anything. For all of their different approaches, Phoenix signed 6 deals and Sterling 9. Both teams had one or two to make up the numbers (scented candles for Phoenix and fish pedicure for Sterling).

In the boardroom, it was revealed that Phoenix had 2/6 deals accepted by the daily-deal company and sold £14563. Adam and Tom had no deals accepted. Sterling had 3/9 accepted but sold only £6440, £6090 of which was down to Ricky’s restaurant double deal. Sterling lose again.

So, we know that Stephen must be fired. Ricky is praised for the double deal but criticised for limiting the number of meals available at the restaurant, though it is unlikely that it would have turned the task. No, Stephen has to take the blame for poor leadership and, along with Gabrielle(a), poor sales (£350), despite having had more deals accepted. Sugar pointed the finger at the missed opportunity at the Tring Spa as crucial to Sterling losing, hammering another nail in Stephen’s coffin. But, at this point the producers and Lord Sugar throw a curve ball. Gabrielle’s lack of contribution in the task (I have barely mentioned her this week) has highlighed what a number of us have suspected for weeks – she is very creative but has poor business acumen. Gabrielle is fired first. Ricky just survives and replaces Stephen in the last chance saloon as Stephen finally gets fired.

So, its all change this week. One of the earlier favourites has gone. Of those left, Jade showed promise this week, but Tom’s star is falling. Adam continues to hang on in there, but surely would have gone if Phoenix had lost the task. Nick is probably the most rounded candidate of those left, but I’m left with the image of ice-cold Ricky slowly stabbing Stephen in the back in the boardroom. Et tu, Ricky?

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2 Responses to The Apprentice 2012 Week 10 – Magnificent Seven becomes Final Five

  1. Tim says:

    Pretty much agree with your evaluation, Mark. Despite the surprise of Gabrielle being eliminated, Stephen simply had to go, and his leadership in this episode underlined exactly why he had long outstayed his welcome.

    The way the last few episodes have come together suggests more of an evening-up of the candidates to make them all appear credible finalists, as often happens. (There was a point two years ago where people suddenly started talking about Stuart Baggs as a possible winner …) But I still think Tom and Nick remain the strongest prospects, pending the unveiling of business plans. But Ricky has definitely continued to progress, Adam has been presented more sympathetically, and Jade at least partly offset her disastrous previous stint as PM with a solid performance here. Her persistence at The Sanctuary proved to be crucial to the task success.

    http://slouchingtowardsthatcham.com/2012/05/24/the-apprentice-season-8-episode-10-discount-dealing/

  2. chocbutton says:

    I think that Tom and Adam were very lucky that Nick and Jade managed to negotiate such great deals that led them to the win, or else they would have both gone. They proved useless in this task, and haven’t really shone in the past few weeks, but their luck can’t last for that much longer can it, unless they improve dramatically this Wednesday.

    http://chocbutton.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/the-apprentice-series-8-episode-10/

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