The Apprentice 2014 Week 4 – Summit out of nothing

You TubeThe Apprentice 2014 Week 4 – Summit out of nothing

The artificial set up for the tenth anniversary series of The Apprentice hopefully reached it’s nadir in this week’s episode, with 3 candidates getting fired.

Once the novelty of having 20 candidates had passed, the practicalities of working with such a large number of people came to the fore. It is a well established managerial principle that leading a team of 9 people is approaching the maximum span of control for a manager. It also challenges the programme editors to find opportunities to show each of the 20 candidates doing something. Lastly, and most importantly for the producers, its a real challenge for the audience to put names and faces together. Taken together, the points raised above explain how the first 4 weeks of this series have moved the firings from the target assassination approach of, say, The Day of The Jackal, to the St Valentine’s Massacre .

The task in Week 4 required each team to launch a new You Tube Channel by designing and producing 3 introductory videos. As such, this task represented a first real foray into the world of social media and (self) promotion. In the end, the products produced at very short notice by each team were extremely poor in quality, but each team managed to get over 3000 views or hits in the time available. And they did this without much promotion, as neither concept was good enough to get a recommendation from Buzzfeed. What does this say about the target audience if crap like this gets so many views? It explains why so many organisations are keen to promote themselves through social media.

I will not spend too much time analysing the task, because I’m convinced that it had little bearing on 2 of the 3 firings, but here are a few key points:

  • Jemma Bird was transferred to Summit , to re-balance the numbers
  • Lord Sugar appointed the PMs for both teams based on their backgrounds
  • Summit, led by technology entrepreneur Solomon Akhtar, won the task with their “fun” food  channel “Dare to Dine”
  • This means that Jemma is the only candidate to have won every task so far
  • Tenacity, led by Ella Jade Bitton, who wants to set up a TV production company, focus on an exercise channel “Fat Daddy Fitness Hell”, meant to be informative, but ending up as just plain cruel

It was clear from the start that 2 members of team Tenacity were being cold shouldered by the rest of the team. Former Arctic Socal Worker Steven Ugoloah has probably annoyed most of the watching audience as much as his team mates, and since week 1 every (long winded) suggestion he has made has been ignored. Similarly, the disdain for Hypnotherapist Sarah Dales has been palpable since she tried to put women’s rights back 50 years when, as PM, in Week 1 her strategy was to get the girls’ team wear more lippy and shorter skirts! With this type of team work on display it was no real surprise that Tenacity lost the task.

Steven Ugoloah was first to be fired this week. Courtesy of BBC

Steven Ugoloah was first to be fired this week. Courtesy of BBC

In the boardroom, the relative harmony of Team Summit was a stark contrast to the dysfunction of Team Tenacity. Once it was established that Summit had got its first victory, the knives were out in Tenacity. Given what we had seen, it was no surprise that PM Ella brought back Steven and Sarah, but in reality sub team leader Lauren Riley was at fault for the videos being uploaded without search engine optimisation (or even any text in one case). Nor was it a surprise that motormouth Steven was the first to be fired, as his pitch had no structure or impact and epitomised his major flaw – all talk and no trousers. This was quickly followed by the firing of Sarah, but this was clearly due their respective ongoing performances, rather than anything specific in this task. Both individuals made bad impressions and appeared out of their depth. Its hard not to conclude that they were there as cannon fodder.

Sarah Dales. Second to be fired this week. Courtesy of BBC

Sarah Dales. Second to be fired this week. Courtesy of BBC

It was more of a surprise when Ella became the third person this week to be fired. This seemed to be more to do with the fact that in Sugar’s eyes she had  never had a paid job, as he portrayed her as a perpetual student. A Business Studies student at that, which is guaranteed to push all of the wrong buttons. Sugar is very prejudiced against intelligent and educated candidates who don’t have real life experience. Ella Jade can consider herself unlucky. Many worse PMs have survived in previous tasks. Lauren Riley can consider she was lucky not to be in the final three this week.

One other thing to note about this series is that Sugar is clearly aware of the business proposals for each candidate, at least in outline. This has not been so obvious before, but one can’t help but wonder if some candidates are being fired because he doesn’t rate their plan. Just saying

Ella Jade Bitton. The Tenacity PM was unlock to be fired. Courtesy of BBC

Ella Jade Bitton. The Tenacity PM was unlucky to be fired. Courtesy of BBC

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2 Responses to The Apprentice 2014 Week 4 – Summit out of nothing

  1. Tim says:

    Hi Mark. For sure, Steven and Sarah were fired on the basis of sins of the past rather than any failings on this task, but I think that’s fair enough. It’s been painfully obvious from the outset that Sarah in particular was out of her depth (despite being in a pretty shallow pool of talent), while Steven was too argumentative and seemingly unable to connect his brain with his mouth.

    On the subject of Ella Jade, Sugar does have a bias against overtly academic types and yet I can understand that the kind of business partner he is looking for is someone who is practical and has experience of how to run a business. In fact, Leah last year ticked very few of the boxes – she had limited commercial experience and was one of those brainy types that Sugar normally hates, but her business plan was outstanding – most candidates can barely get turnover and profit right, and she had done all that AND laid out her exit strategy – and played a big role in convincing Sugar to go into business with her. So it can be done …

  2. markdecosemo says:

    Thanks, Tim. I totally agree about the commercial versus academic skills. So far, only Mark has made an impression on me, and possibly, Solomon, but plenty are yet to show their hand. What do you think?

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