The Apprentice: episode three

Fortunately the chair idea stood on its own legs, whilst the box was wheeled off stage, centre left. The boys enjoyed a jaunt up the O2 Arena as a reward for winning the task by a whopping 3042 units sold under Jordan’s leadership, whilst the girls degenerated once more into a slanging match and emotional fall out within the board room.

For a third week it was the actual product that was the girls main failing. Like last weeks beer debacle they produced something that just didn’t ‘work’. Even the market research they did told them that, but they ploughed on regardless.

Rebecca tried to tell them her concerns but project manager Natalie just didn’t want to listen. She appeared to want to please everyone and absorb all the ideas into one. Was it a box, a lap tray, a chair, a storage unit, a trolley, a teas maid or a kitchen sink? (I made those last two up by the way)

All of the above it seemed. This lack of clarity was confusing and switched off the potential buyers. Argos, John Lewis and several up market retailers turned down the opportunity to supply their army blue ‘tidy sidey’ on wheels, or flower planter as it was also rather cruelly referred to as!

I have to say though that Leah, Francesca and Rebecca gave convincing and professional sales pitches. They engaged their audience, made eye contact, told the benefits and also provided the unique selling points with conviction, even though they themselves weren’t that convinced. Luisa in contrast walked in with a girlie ‘hiya’ and remained informal and immature in her attempt, and failed.

The boys in their turn continued to grow and develop building on previous weeks experiences. Their sales style created a professional first impression and the orders followed. Sadly Zeeshaan, despite trying his hardest, failed to close a sale of his own again.

Jordan made a good and organised project manager who clearly listened and this kept his team on board. He was encouraging, positive and funny – “we want a sales orgasm – three yeses’ came his call to action! The only thing that blotted the presentation, and potentially the skyline (according to Nick’s comment of it being ‘wide’) was Alex’s bottom blocking the buyers view as he constructed the chair in front of them. Very clumsy.

Yes the design itself for the boys wasn’t perfect, the chair seat was too high and the structure needed to be sturdier but the sales rolled in. I fear Alex over compensated on the seat height after telling the diminutive Jordan he needed ‘someone of average size’ to help with the dimensions, and mathematics again came into play, and again let the candidates down as they tried to work out the measurements. As I said last week – maths is important and here we have a clear example of why.

I did laugh out loud though when Karen Brady built the girls up in her feedback only to crush them again – cruel but great viewing. “They loved your pitch, they loved you guys… but they hated your product” came her words taking the girls from the brink of elation thinking that had won the task, to the depths of despair when they released she was teasing and that led to Natalie to taking Uzma and Sophie into the board room with her.

Sophie’s defense? “I don’t do design, I don’t do manufacture and I don’t pitch” so what do you do Sophie? Uzma’s was to continue to blame everyone else and pass the buck, with Natalie in the middle screaming and pointing to detract from her failings. Her main one? Not listening for me – so what is listening? Listening is about seeing something from the other person’s perspective. She didn’t do that, she didn’t try, she instead focused on keeping everyone happy and failed at that too.

However Lord Sugar must have decided that Sophie’s lack of, well anything actually, was unworthy of his £250,000 and fired her. Game over for Sophie. Yes she may have kept her dignity and her class, as she stated, but she also kept any skills she had under her bushel.

Here’s hoping mixing up the teams next week for the farm shop challenge changes the dynamics and allows more of the skills we have started to see grow out from under the muck of the bickering and bitching. I’m actually quite excited by that thought, what do you think?

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