The Apprentice 2014 – Week 9 – Paper, Scissors, Bone



The Apprentice 2014 – Week 9 – Paper, Scissors, Bone

We saw the return of a favourite task in this week’s Apprentice – sourcing  9 items (one linked to each of the previous 9 series) in a mad dash across London. The team that secured the items for the least amount of money and within the time available would win.

There was a bit of a scramble to be PM in Tenacity, but Daniel Lassman eventually persuaded lawyer Felipe Alviar-Baquero and digital marketing sales manager Mark Wright to support him over fitness entrepreneur Katie Bulmer-Cooke. For Summit, banker  Sanjay Sood-Smith put himself forward, citing his organisational skills as the reason to vote for him. Roisin Hogan, Bianca Miller and Solomon Akhtar bought it, in a move that spookily presaged their judgement in the task ahead. Organisational skills? Really?

Of course, this task was about Negotiation, and one of the keys to good negotiation is leverage. The principle of bartering or haggling is well known, but to do this successfully depends on who has the power. In this way the task worked against the teams, as time was not in their favour. This meant that when they sourced an item, the teams usually had only one supplier, so the power and therefore the leverage sat with the vendor. To negotiate, they really needed to play one vendor off against another. Neither team adopted this strategy, so the “negotiations” we saw were not real life – they were a product of the programme, the cameras and the opportunity for some free promotion on TV. This was illustrated perfectly when Roisin negotiated a ludicrous discount for a diamond. Only on The Apprentice.

Back to the task.

In a real turn up for the books, Daniel made a good job of showing that apparently a leopard can change its spots, and for most of the task was the perfect PM – something that even arch rival Mark admitted by the end of the day. Daniel realised that time was a vital resource for the task, and divided the team into 2 sub-teams and they took roughly half of the list each and went off to source them. The evidence suggested that he genuinely delegated responsibility to each sub-team.

For Summit, the team might have suspected they had been sold a pup as Sanjay wasted time in discussion. Organisational skills? Really?

There was a lot of fun for the viewer as we see Tenacity acquire their items without fuss or histrionics and everything points to a knock-out win as they secured all of their items within the allotted time. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Summit, where Sanjay and co failed to get all of the items and did not finish on time. Both of these failures would result in fines, and Summit should have lost the task, and even in the boardroom the figure backed this up. Organisational skills? Really? Then (Senior Judge) Lord Sugar ruled that 2 of the items sourced by Tenacity were invalid, they were fined and ended up losing the task.

Lets be honest, if Summit had lost the task, Sanjay would have been fired, something that is long overdue. However, they won on a technicality. To carry the metaphor further, their opponent was disqualified (for cheating?) as the fines imposed cost them the task.

But who was to blame? In our house there was a split decision, but the finger of doom was pointed more at Sugar for his interpretation of the list, than to the candidates. It’s a moot point, but it made for great TV. There was a point of contention around one item sourced by each sub-team; the “old rope” secured for free by Katie & Mark was not the exact length specified and the skeleton secured by Daniel and, especially lawyer Felipe, for £14, was paper rather than “true” 3D full sized anatomical model. This meant that all 4 team members were vulnerable. In the end, Daniel brought back Felipe (an obvious choice for his part in the skeleton affair) and a furious Katie, on the grounds that she was more responsible for the rope mistake because she was sub-team leader. Another surprise from Daniel, in not brining back Mark, but it was the lesser of two evils. Reformed character, or tactical thinking?

It was no surprise when Felipe as fired,  for he has been another of those lightweight candidates with little evidence of commercial acumen. A really nice guy, but he made a mistake with his (lawyer’s) interpretation that the paper skeleton was OK and he paid the ultimate price. In Sugar’s eyes, he was too clever by half and he had to go.

Felipe Alviar-Baquero was fired this week. Courtesy of BBC

Felipe Alviar-Baquero was fired this week. Courtesy of BBC

Katie was never likely to be fired, but her inclusion in the final three means that every candidate has now faced the possibility of being fired. We saw a fiery side to her character, and this has probably enhanced her credentials.



About markdecosemo
Consulting Trainer and Coach to healthcare and pharmaceutical professionals

4 Responses to The Apprentice 2014 – Week 9 – Paper, Scissors, Bone

  1. Ross Nolan says:

    Neat review.

    ‘We saw a fiery side to [Katie’s] character, and this has probably enhanced her credentials.’

    I was surprised at this. I certainly don’t think Katie should have been fired and despite not being my favourite I think she’ll win, but this task did reveal a nasty side to her character. As Nick pointed out she (and Mark) knew damn well the paper skeleton was a bit of rules lawyering for all their protestations. Not an edifying performance and I’d trust her substantially less now.

    • markdecosemo says:

      Well, it looks like Katie got her reward. Personally, I think the most unedifying sight has to be the increased input from Karen and Nick. Full of distortion and subjective opinion

  2. markdecosemo says:

    Thanks, Ross!

    I think we are starting to see the full nature of each candidate as we get closer to the final. I still like Katie, and was pleased to see her fight her corner. As I said in the review, I think it will enhance her credentials. Daniel should be given credit for getting everyone to pull in the same direction. Let’s face it, they only lost because Sugar used his power of veto. It wash\t really fair, but it was great TV

  3. Tim says:

    I didn’t particularly like the way Katie rounded so viciously on Daniel, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before and I doubt it’s harmed her chances at all – if anything, as you say, it’s probably made her look tougher in Sugar’s eyes.

    Skeleton-gate has proven to be a hot topic since the episode aired, with most people thinking Sugar should have allowed it. I disagree. It would have encouraged other candidates to seek loopholes to exploit in the future and I don’t buy Felipe’s defence that it met the spec. I mean, it did technically but to lead a pedant’s revolt isn’t a particularly strong case to my eye. It clearly violated the spirit of the task for me, and saying “you didn’t specifically say not to get a paper skeleton” is a bit weak too. In business you don’t always (if ever) get a comprehensive brief, and it’s up to people to use common sense and business judgement to work out what is reasonable and what isn’t. Felipe rolled the dice and lost.

    Still, it’s certainly sparked up a lot of debate!

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