The Apprentice 2014 Week 5 – Coach Trip

Coach - Bus The Apprentice 2014 Week 5 – Coach Trip

After the shock of last week’s triple firing, The Apprentice now feels like the programme we are used to. Yes, the tasks in Weeks 1-4 have been familiar, but the after contrivance of an unwieldy 20 candidates, pre-chosen PMs and a culling of 8 candidates in the first 4 tasks, this week felt more familiar. For instance, with 2 teams of 6, there are fewer places for people to hide.

This week, the teams had to organise competing coach tours aimed at the burgeoning tourist market, and try to sell as many of the 25 places on each coach. The team with the biggest profit would win the task. I say teams, but this week would stretch the concept to the limit, especially in Tenacity.

Sugar moved Mark Wright into Tenacity to balance the teams. He was keen to be PM, but lost out to Daniel Lassman, who persuaded the team that his experience in organising events would guarantee success. For Summit, Sanjay Sood-Smith got the job as PM. Both teams decided to tap into England’s rich heritage and go for history-themed tours.

The success of this task would ultimately be down to clarity of strategy, especially around pricing and the ability to sell the tour as good value for money. In short, maximise profits by selling a quality product for as much as possible, and minimise costs. The real surprise this week was that the winning team (Tenacity) always looked like winning. So often in The Apprentice we are used to the editing suggesting one winner, but the results showing the opposite.

Tenacity had clear WIN positions for their negotiations on ticket price. WIN stands for;

  • What do I WANT or what would be a good result (£80+)
  • What would be an IDEAL result (£99.50)
  • What do I NEED (later in the day they went as low as £65 to try to fill the bus)

Tenacity also used this price guide to inform their negotiations with the venues around Oxford that they wanted to partner with. It all seemed thought out, but was driven more by Mark than Daniel.

Over in Summit, Sanjay plucked the target price of £60 out of the air, and despite his banking background, the rest of the strategy as outlined above, was not obvious. This lower ticket price was to prove fatal for Summit, as they desperately tried to maximise profits by an aggressive negotiation with the venues, this time in Kent. Bianca Miller committed the cardinal sin of informing one group that they were the last chance for a sale, and their price was pushed down to £40 per person. The Summit starting price was lower than the minimum achieved by Tenacity. However, they did sell all of their 25 seats. Tenacity only sold 20 of 25 seats.

The second key factor was being able to negotiate discounts from the venues. In tenacity, Mark again showed his commercial acumen getting a discount of 60% at Blenheim Castle. He did this with a Collaborative Win / Win approach, by linking it to volume. By way of contrast, wide boy James Hill adopted a more aggressive I Win / You Lose Competitive negotiation style, starting off by asking for a ludicrous 80% discount with one venue. This approach might work for a one off like this, but it is not something that is likely to build an ongoing partnership. In the end, he failed to get any reduction above the regular group discount.This is the problem with playing your cards too early and negotiation on a position rather than on both party’s interests.

Tenacity delivered a quality experience but maximised profits by offering a poor quality (cheap) lunch. The highlight was the informative and note free tour of Blenheim narrated by Lauren Riley. Summit were disorganised and offered children’s songs on the bus, and Jemma Bird’s poorly prepared commentary. James again showed his lack of maturity and commercial acumen and resorted again to his “sell at any price” approach.

In the boardroom, it was revealed that though had Tenacity won, the team gave Daniel no credit. For his part, he refused to accept this, despite not selling any tour tickets. His relationship with Mark in particular is strained as the latter continues to calmly stick the knife in at any opportunity.

Jemma was fired for lack of contribution. She didn't seem surprised. Courtesy of BBC

Jemma was fired for lack of contribution. She didn’t seem surprised. Courtesy of BBC

For losing team Summit, Sanjay chose to ignore James’ poor performance, much to Sugar’s surprise. Sugar warned James that he must improve. Sanjay brought back Bianca for her mistake with the group ticket sell, and Jemma for a lack of contribution. Jemma was fired, and it was hard to argue with, as she was anonymous over the first 4 weeks and incompetent this week. However, a case could be made for sacking all 3.

So, Mark continues to shine, Lauren strengthened her position but James and Sanjay look out of their depths.