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The Apprentice Week 7 – who was a pretty boy then?

Ready to beam you up now Sir Alan

Ready to beam you up now Sir Alan

The Apprentice Week 7 – who was a pretty boy then?

Pretty men don’t like plain women. The reason is psychological not aesthetic. Guys like Philip have to make virtually no effort with lots, even most women. And those who hold out he can usually charm. But really plain women not only distrust such charm because they know it is not genuine in their case, or they have come to terms with men’s reaction to them and are immune to such manipulation. Pretty boys like Philip are afraid of plain women like Lorraine because they can’t control them. So used to getting his own way, without even breaking into a sweat, Philip felt threatened by Lorraine from day one. When ignoring, then dismissing her didn’t work he moved to aggression and attack. The profound weakness managerially with a guy like Philip is that he has never had to develop effective inter-personal skills to get people to like or listen to him. A necessary condition for learning those skills is the ability to listen, to hear, other people’s thoughts, feelings and ideas. Philip can’t do it – because he’s never had to.

The only uncertainty in my mind about the Philip, Kate, Ben splinter group of Ignite was whether Ben was an active or passive member of the plot; and how much was Kate, less Kute than Killer this week, in on the set up? Most people, including many on the show, were convinced as am I that the splinter group were happy for Lorraine to manage the project because they felt confident that if it went tits up, working together they could easily lay the blame at her door in the boardroom. They rightly sensed Sralan’s dislike of her. Unfortunately for the plotters, in a week where selling was even more than usual the name of the game and recorded in individual sales books, Lorraine sold more than anyone while the 3 amigos sold nothing and couldn’t, well at least didn’t, even manage to set up any appointments with buyers except Ben-I-didn’t–go-to-Sandhurst Clarke who managed one good appointment and then gave up knowing he could live off that for at least this week.

I think the three chums were perfectly happy to go along with a really dumb choice of available products to sell. They hardly even argued about it – given the people that’s a clincher. Target: lose the challenge. Objective: blame Lorraine for it. And it very nearly worked. You could see Sralan wrestling with himself, desperately wanting to fire Lorraine. It is poetic justice that he really couldn’t get away with it and then, having malingered his way through the task, Philip ‘last-strawed’ by getting stroppy and whingey with his nibsness. Not in my boardroom you don’t sunshine. On yer bike.

Philip’s excuse on TAYF after was classic: when the deliciously incisive Ruby Wax simply and easily filleted him of his unshakeable self-admiration and limitless self-esteem, his coded excuse was simple – it was all Kate’s fault. How? Well he’d let himself be distracted by her, become too involved with her. Thus he didn’t really fail, because he didn’t really try; and he didn’t really try because he let Kate put him off. Mark this one ladies – it’s as close as we guys get to cleverness about relationships. It’s a simple code: ‘I let her distract me’ = she distracted me’. Note the active/passive shift here – losing focus, failing to perform was something that happened to him, not something he did. He was helpless before her charms. The sin of commission here in philspeak, no sadly, guyspeak is Kate’s; at worst he was guilty merely of a sin of omission. He had a moment of weakness; his head was turned; he fell under her spell. He was ‘unmanned’. Ahhh luv him. He plays the ‘little boy lost’ ‘I’m just too romantic for my own good’ cards to perfection. And as women around the nation were just begging for an excuse to forgive him, and give him a cuddle, it worked pretty well. Bad guys even trot out this toxic little piece of male sophistry in court to try to excuse rape. It’s complete bullsh*t of course but I guarantee you that Philip’s pitch to the media which he will now exploit to the hilt, will be that he would definitely have won if only…..Kate. Why not? A guy who left a meteoric* career as an engineer to become an Estate Agent…is clearly blessed with incisive self-knowledge.(* meteor – useless, dense lump of matter that, having caused too much friction, burns itself out).

If he could have, Sralan would have happily fired Lorraine, he just knew he couldn’t. You can bet your bippy, whatever that is, he’ll get her soon. It’s lucky for her she did sell something because she was pretty dumb in other ways. If she was worried about the Kate/Philip link, why put them together? And only a lunatic manager would put Ben and Philip together to plot against you. Then with simple emotional obtuseness and inarticulacy, for absolutely no reason, she alienated and almost lost Yas who up to that point was working well with her. Two dumb products, poorly presented; the usual lack of thought and common sense; and over half the team sabotaging the task – the girl done good. But old Sugar Lump wants her out – so she’ll soon be gone.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Sugar Galaxy, on Planet Apprentice the Empire struck back. Although most of the products on offer were Dragon’s Den dropouts, Mona, Debra, Howard and James picked the two best for potential saleability but ignored their inappropriateness to the two big-store buyers Sralan had lined up for them. Heals aren’t big on cheap two-handed dog leads looking like the business end of a tandem bungee rope: or as Ruby Wax called it “a G-string for an elephant.” And all-in-one sleeping bag suits though innovative, my son made himself one to reduce heating costs, needed a targetted sell.

Mona demonstrated excellent personal and negotiating skills on the second straight-sell day. Eye-to-eye, smiling, simple and direct, she demonstrated that at least one apprentice understands that the art of selling is to bring someone to want to buy. The lumpy, ordinary-looking guy in the shop confronted with this beautiful, smiling, confident young woman was a gonner from the start – but Mona’s negotiation was nicely judged, gracefully executed and her inviting hand out ‘shake, you know you want to’ assumptive close was exemplary. Watch this one guys – she knows a thing or two. Mona also became one of the few to survive the apprentice suicide note – “I am the best person to manage this task.”

Jolly James begins to look like a Labrador puppy cuckooed into a wolf pack. He had easily the best line of the week: bemoaning his failure to make appointments on the phone his “if I had been an undertaker, people would have stopped dying” was a classic. Howard was overawed by Dark Debra. Like one of those parasite fish who keep whale-sharks clean, he flitted about while she just gobbled up sales. “When do I get a go?” he whimpered, like a male preying mantis not knowing what having ‘his go’ would mean.

Sralan is building up to a self-made dilemma. This has been a poor year for guys. Only I-didn’t-go-to-Sandhust Ben is remotely his kind of guy though I suppose he might like an uncomplaining work-slave like James. But he’ll have 4 strong women left after he finds a reason to get rid of Lorraine. Like Claire last year, Dark Debra looks a shoe-in. But unlike Claire, DD hasn’t yet learned how to manage Sralan. She’s got to find a way to stop him being afraid of her. Not an easy task: she scares the sh*t out of me. Debra head to head with Mona now looks an intriguing contest.

The real truth of the Kate/Philip saga is not that she undermined him, he’d begun to believe his own publicity and blew it with a dumb plot against Lorraine. No the damage done by the ‘relationship’ was to Kate. She wasted manipulative energy on Philip that she had previously focussed on winning. Whether they remain in contact will depend on whether she’s the kind of woman who likes a guy just a little bit dumber than her. That one could go either way.

So it is the ‘cat-fights’ to come that look promising. Not just for the battles themselves but also because Sralan hates dealing with feisty, scrappy women. Excuse me folks I feel my schadenfreude coming on. Go get him girls.

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