• Pages

  • Site Sections

  • Tags

  • Archives

The Apprentice Episode 11 – Jedi ‘Yoda’ Jim – clever he is


Tash crashes out


The Apprentice Episode Eleven – Jedi ‘Yoda’ Jim – Clever he is

Apprentice dilemma: win the task or win the Boardroom?  On the first of these, the two person team-Logic this week comprised the nicest and most imaginative ever candidate with perhaps the best.  On the second, we have the best manipulator in 7 series in Jedi Yoda Jim.

But Yoda Jim’s was not the only manipulation going on this episode.  No explanation for the team selection this week when the Producers neatly put the best and most popular candidates in the same team of 2 knowing that even their cooperative skills and instinctive personalities would gel perfectly.  In contrast, in people terms, 3 is the Devil’s number so team-Venture had ‘losers’ written all over it: Natasha doesn’t want to cooperate and Susan can’t. Cunning, Delphic and devious, Yoda Jim – writing on the wall did see.  He didn’t have a business plan for the Fast Food restaurant but he certainly wasn’t Caracas: his plan to make the final was cunningly thought through:

1.  Grab Project Manager because then I can organise the team.

2.  Put Tash and Susan together and separate myself from them.

3.  Let the girls who don’t or can’t get on, fight it out between them.

4.  Be Project Managerial by appearing to mediate between 2 team members not delivering on the tasks set. (Mother Theresa was a bit OTT Jimbo – nearly blew it there).

5.  Drive the Boardroom dynamics by focussing on: Tash’s unwillingness to use relevant skills and experience, a pet hate of the Good lord! Sugar; both girls’ inability to work together demonstrated on this task; being left to almost try to run the task myself.

Cleverly devised and impeccably implemented.  Mission accomplished.

If Karen Brady meant what she naively said on You’re Fired a few weeks back that there is no strategy for the Boardroom, for winning the programme – only for winning the task, then it is not surprising that she, Nick and Sugar Lump let themselves be conned by Jimbo this week.

Some Project Manager: no discussion, let alone production of, costings, estimation of sales throughput, logistics of preparation and delivery; no reference back to the balance between price, quality and margin – ie. profit. Leaving aside the flustered mathematics of £7 x 60 covers = £4,800, sorry £4,200 – the actual number was £420.  As the fast food specialist on You’re Fired remarked you couldn’t run a caravan in a lay-by on that kind business.

Unlike some of the other candidates Jimbo isn’t that stupid. Watching carefully it is hard not to draw the conclusion that he was trying to lose in a way that he could distance himself from the loss. He didn’t fail at the task: because his energies and not inconsiderable ability weren’t being used to try to win the task. And they let him get away with it.

But he is good.  An extraordinary instinctive facility with words but allied to an effective debating, disputing technique.  He uses the politician’s ploy of just saying one thing, often saying it again and again until he overcomes any opponent, most of whom signal defeat as soon as they say, as they all do, “let me finish”, “I can’t speak if you keep interrupting me” etc etc.  Jim virtually never complains about not being heard, you lose control of the dispute when you do that, he just keeps hammering away with what he’s saying until he gets heard.  If blocked on one thing he quickly switches to another, expressed with punch and brevity – “do you have a degree?” “who thought of the name?” etc etc.  Having browbeaten the others into silence he then expands with sly, insinuating comments not directly attacking the others but casting doubt on their abilities or qualities.  These insinuating ideas are even hidden amongst some genuine frank, open, direct criticisms. It is an impressively subtle technique.  If you were casting for The Jungle Book Jim would make a perfect Kaa – the snake.

It is a sublime paradox that this generation has available the most comprehensive, easily accessed source of discovering and checking facts – and yet if the Apprentices are anything to go by, they seldom bother to take the trouble and the few seconds it takes to check anything. Even Wikipedia will correctly identify Columbus as Italian or Genoese if you want to be picky: (well Christopher was, William may have been Cornish for all I know), and that Shakespeare died 200 years before Byron picked up a quill etc etc.  I’m not sure even Wikipedia will vouchsafe whether Lord Byron was a vegetarian – but you can’t have everything.  I mean, imagine a dictionary/encyclopaedia designed to answer all the questions Susan asks: there aren’t that many bytes in cyberspace.

Helen’s business instincts this week were unerring: she is so good; and with a firm but natural instinct for inclusive management and leadership.  OK she’s a bit of a control freak but that’s true of anyone focused on doing measurable things and trying to get them right every time.  Last week’s error of strategic thinking was totally wiped out this week. She doesn’t tend to make mistakes when she’s in charge.

Tom to our, and certainly Helen’s surprise, again excelled at something that is not his main strength MYPY was brilliantly apt and superbly effective, achieving logo and name in 4 letters. Helen’s idea of mini-pies of top quality supported by the simplest of delicious sides of mashed potato and mushy peas was simply superb. I’d seek out an MYPY in London if there was one.  She and Tom between them covered all the bases: price/quality balance, name, décor, production and throughput, margins and profit, service.  Delicious food, served hot and fast and price pitched just right.  And profitable.  Job done.  What’s next?  Bring it on.

Next week should sort things out: all the criticisms I have expressed in the past about the manner and style of the personnel interviewers doesn’t apply to the process of assessing Business Plans – that should be rigorous and challenging.  My guess is: Jim will wriggle, Susan will chatter, Tom will think; and Helen will impress.

I don’t think Sugar Lump would ever have picked Helen to work for him: but he might just take her on as a partner. Less threatening.

Leave a Reply