The Apprentice Week 9 – Ready, Steady, Gone

The Apprentice Week 9, Ready, Steady, Gone

Alex, courtesy of BBC

Alex, courtesy of BBC

This week, our 7 remaining candidates had to design a ready meal and pitch it to 3 leading retailers. The results were interesting. One team got the packaging right, but the product was poor, and the other team got the opposite results.

It seemed like Karma that the big egos, and even bigger mouths, of Luisa, Neil and Francesca were working together in the Group of Death. Neil took on role of PM, and his first decision was to allow Luisa to convince him that Francesca should do the meal preparation (despite protesting that she never cooks). Luisa, who runs a cake business, claimed she doesn’t do savoury. This was later shown to be untrue. This left Lu and Neil (who don’t get on) to do the brand work.  The team decided on a fusion theme, blending Caribbean and Thai.

Alex finally got a chance to be PM, as he was appointed by Lord Sugar to lead Myles, Leah and Jordan. Myles and Alex worked on the theme and brand, with Jordan and Leah doing the preparation and testing.

Alex pushed hard for an educational geography theme, based on meals from around the world. Myles wanted a horror Theme that would appeal to children. Myles chipped away at Alex, who eventually caved in. Alex reasoned that as Myles has children, he couldn’t ignore his instinct. This proved to be a mistake, as it would cost the team the task.

Over in The Group of Death, Francesca proved she is no cook when she managed to produce the most bland meal, and got feedback in testing that it was neither Caribbean or Thai. Francesca had followed Lu’s recipe (yes, she can cook) but her lack of confidence / experience meant she was unable or unwilling to adjust the flavour. The impossible happened, and I found myself feeling sorry for Francesca! Surprisingly, peace was declared between Lu and Neil and their branding was half decent.

At least there was cohesion in their group. Marketing guru Myles, now leading the brand team, pushed for packaging that the kids loved. The kids also loved the product, so it must be a winner right? No. My sixteen year old son pointed out that it is parents, not children, who buy the food. Going for packaging that appealed to the children, including a skull more usually associated with poison, was a fatal error. So good product, but the wrong packaging.

In the pitches, Neil made the best of a bad job by telling retailers the product would be improved if they placed order! Eh? In the real world, the retailers would say come back when you have a finished product, but this is not the real world.

Jordan saved the pitching for the other team, where PM Alex took a back seat, and first Myles and then Leah were poor.

In the boardroom, Neil’s strategy won as they secured the most orders. Poor product, Good packaging, Clever Pitching. Not real world, but the Group of Death lives on. Luisa was even praised by Karen for her improved / toned down performance.

In the losing Team, Jordan comes out with most praise and is excused from the FInal Three. PM Alex sees Myles as to blame, and wants it to be a Final Two. If only he’d been that decisive in the task. Sugar’s having none of it, and Leah has to come back too.

Anyone watching the programme would agree that Myles was to blame. Alex went against his instinct based on sound logic (Myles experience in marketing and the fact he is a parent). Of course, Sugar has his own agenda and ignores the facts. Alex is fired, less for his performance this week and more because Sugar feels he is too young, and changes his mind / direction too easily. This may be a fair assessment of Alex, but based on the task, it is Myles who should have gone.

Jordan continues to shine, but Neil and Myles took backward steps this week; Neil for putting Francesca in the kitchen (surely Luisa working on her own in her area of expertise was a gift opportunity?). Luisa actually looks a better candidate, but her refusal to work in the kitchen shows that actually the leopard hasn’t changed it’s spots.

About markdecosemo
Consulting Trainer and Coach to healthcare and pharmaceutical professionals

One Response to The Apprentice Week 9 – Ready, Steady, Gone

  1. Tim says:

    I was distinctly unimpressed with Luisa’s can’t cook/won’t cook charade – a blatant move to avoid being stuck in the back-room and put herself at the heart of the action. Yet again she showed that she’s only in it for herself. It was a poor move by Neil, who otherwise did pretty well as PM (despite a dull pitch).

    The usual weekly thoughts below:

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