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TV Review: The Apprentice UK – How Good A Party Can The Apprentices Throw?

The Apprentice final was nail-biting stuff.

Sir Alan Sugar challenged Apprentice Badger and Apprentice Michelle to put on a spectaular event. Some of the fired apprentices were invited back to help or, in some cases, hinder the two finalists. Michelle won the toss and immediately chose the event manager, Sharon. Ruth made the best of a bad job by selecting the best sales person, Ansell.

Ruth’s team members were Ansell, Jo, and Tuan. Michelle’s team consisted of Sharon, Syed, and Paul.

Sir Alan chose Tower Bridge as the event site. He said he wanted something interesting, things like a casino night, a 007 night, or a Moulin Rouge night with can-can dancers.

Apprentice Michelle’s Event — “Double Oh Heaven”

Michelle wisely decided to have a 007 night mixed in with a casino. Wisely because there’s no doubt 007 is a great brand to associate yourself with. After all, it says glamour, success, action, thrills, and fun.

Michelle’s team decided to get a Bond look-alike, have target shooting, a diamond auction, and a high rolling casino. All for £65.

Michelle unwisely put Syed and Paul together as the sales team. Part of me wondered if that was taking herself away from the sales action again — like she did with the Top Shop task.

Certainly the result was that Paul and Syed talked to loads of people but didn’t sell very much. Time was lost with Paul griping about Syed and both of them wandering around trying to find the best position to place an upmarket car they didn’t have to sell from!

Paul was annoyed with Syed and when interviewed he said, “Syed is absolutely sound when…” Then he had to think for a bit and finally said, “…he’s asleep.” Almost at the last minute, Michelle re-organised to split Paul and Sayed up.

Unfortunately, the team hadn’t thought to phone people they’d worked with, contacted or sold to during the previous tasks to invite them to their event. They let Ruth’s team steal a march on them there and get to them all first. Paul rang Michelle the day before the event to say they’d sold four tickets.

Michelle’s marketing was rubbish. They could have hired dinner suits for Paul and Slippery Syed at the start of the selling. The two of them could have had fun going round acting like 007. Maybe have a little stand in the Square Mile serving fruity cocktails as an attraction for the event and getting people to buy tickets.

What about a little PR on the first day with the Bond theme?

Syed said they were creating awareness by talking to people. Who cares? Making people aware is for brands, not for selling tickets for tomorrow!

The sales pitches obviously hadn’t been thought out at all. It was all “action” and “let’s wing it and see what we get.” Syed started trying to sell tickets at £200, but Michelle finally decided on £65 for their tickets.

In all the sales pitches I heard they never mentioned the great things they were doing at the event. In the end, I thought their event looked good and it certainly made me itch to be there, too.

Apprentice Badger’s Event — “Murder Mystery”

Well it was a mystery to me. Why did Ruth decide a murder mystery event was a good thing? It’s great for intimate dinner parties or in a large room where everyone can see and hear what’s going on, neither of which really applied to Tower Bridge.

But to my mind it wasn’t an attractive sounding event. Sir Alan obviously thought the same and rang Ruth to tell her. So Ruth changed the event to create a Victorian feel and employed some can-can dancers to give it more interest.

With the best sales people in her team, Ruth sold all her tickets for her event, plus her event tickets were price higher than Michelle’s. I noted that Ruth got her Champagne free from Red Snapper. Now there’s a company that understands the power of marketing.

Tuan and Ansell found an up-market car dealer having what looked like a launch and got permission to work the floor to sell tickets. And sell they did. When Ruth’s team sold out, she celebrated by raising her arms in victory and even though Tuan was in a car seat right next to her she completely ignored him. Is she really a people person?

So Who Won?

Ruth’s team made more money than Michelle’s and so The Badger looked the winner. But as Sir Alan said there’s more to it than money.

The things that let Ruth down were her lack of creative thought and unwillingness to listen to others regarding her event. The things she did well were ticket sales, her decision to contact everyone they’d already worked with on the series, and looking as though she was having fun.

Michelle let herself down by selecting Syed at all, and then pairing him with Paul, a match made in sales hell. She also hung back from the sales — she should have led from the front and Sharon could have organised the event. She also did nothing until the last moment on the sales front. She did well to select Sharon as the event organiser. She also did well to reshuffle her sales team when it became obvious nothing was getting done.

In the boardroom Sir Alan was complimentary about both the Badger and Michelle. Then finally, he turned to Michelle and said, “You’re hired.”

Was The Right Apprentice Hired?

That’s a difficult question. The problem is we don’t know exactly what projects Sir Alan had in mind for the winner.

If the projects weren’t sales related and were more to do with strategy and organisation, Michelle was the right person. If the job was to take the Amstrad sales organisation and shake it up so it really delivers, Ruth should have gotten the job.

If I was Sir Alan I would have given Ruth the job. Because if she’s really that good at getting a place’s sales figures up, wouldn’t he want her to do the same at Amstrad?

Whatever happens, The Apprentice has been great entertainment. Now for the next series the BBC needs to pick better candidates. I think part of the way to do that is to provide a prize fund as well as the £100,000 job.

About Jim Symcox