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BBC: The Apprentice (6) – ‘Call-Me-Lord’ fires Miss Right


Miss Wright



The Apprentice (6) – ‘Call-Me-Lord’ fires Miss Right

There are three groups each week on the show: the two Apprentice teams and the Board ‘team’. As perhaps the most likeable bunch of Apprentices in this franchise so far are beginning to struggle towards something approximating teamwork in an intentionally divisive structure, the fiction of a Board ‘team’ becomes more apparent week by week.

That the Board ‘team’ is in fact Lord Barley and a couple of acolytes practiced in not disagreeing with him, leaves the business, let alone management skills of ‘Call-Me-Lord’ exposed. The weakest contribution of this week’s task was Barley’s post-hoc, as ever largely subjective, arbitrary analysis.

A recommendation, a suggestion is an opinion, a point of view: as such it can be unwise, inappropriate, irrelevant, poorly argued, ill-judged etc: it can’t strictly be ‘wrong’ in the sense that say the net profit from a task can, as last week, be wrong.

Katie’s recommendation of selling to the football crowd was ill-judged based upon the supposed definition of the task: to create quality, mobile, gourmet food and sell it at a profit. However as Project Manager Adam, clearly in line for the most patronising male-chauvinist-of-the-year award, had already unilaterally decided to completely ignore the brief by making the cheapest food he could to sell at 1200% gross margin; Katie’s selling site recommendation could have saved his bacon – well his cheap, disgustingly fatty pork at least.

As the lively, entertaining and authoritative Gino D’Acampo said on You’re Fired, the only realistic way to make a profit from cheap food is to sell it at a bargain, even cheap price: don’t be greedy or treat your customers like fools, accept a fair margin and maximise sales through offering good value. The failure to sell to the football crowd wasn’t the problem of the location or the crowd, it was the ludicrously greedy, exploitative approach Adam took to pricing that screwed them. He totally misunderstood the brief: he wanted to make crap and con people into believing it was gourmet food. Using Hearts/Rangers football fans as the target group to rip off in this way was a bit like trying to sell bacon rolls in a Mosque.

I didn’t read Katie well in the first week; taking her relaxed refusal to let the context wind her up as simply a form of superior ‘couldn’t–be-arsedness.’ Over the weeks however she struck me as displaying an assured sense of personal identity and values indicative of a firm independent streak and strength of character. Once identified I felt she was clearly on a collision course with ‘Call-Me-Lord’: 8 series of The Apprentice are littered with strong, intelligent, independent women and can be argued to demonstrate this combination almost always gets fired. In the Boardroom Ashar and Adam were shouting at each other most of the time, or blaming Katie. When she tried to say something in reply, Barley cut her off before she could utter a sentence. The only way she could have survived would have been for Adam not to take her in – and one feels he knew that. The one thing you learn on The Apprentice is that the old prejudice that females are the manipulative sex is way off the mark: proven here beyond a doubt by the out-of-his-depth Adam and egregiously slippery Stephen.

The truth is that neither team did anything really stupid this week: although Adam ignored the brief, his strategy got within half a dozen portions of ‘Italian’ meatballs of winning. Both teams adapted their actions when their initial strategy wasn’t working: though Stephen’s ‘task-winning’ tourist bus idea didn’t make sense one you thought it through and certainly compromised Phoenix’s result far more than the football crowd target market.

Gabrielle again came up with a useful bit of creativity with ‘Gourmet Scot Pot’ beating the ludicrous ‘Utterly Delicious Italian Meatballs’ hands down. Again Adam ignored the priceless offer to use his Italian chef’s name – though I bet the chef was relieved when he saw the cynically crap product that was to carry his reputation. Silly little things irritated; like £4.99 each or 3 for £10; makes more sense than £5.99 or 3 for a tenner. And how Katie dressed as a pizza could expect customers to divine she was actually selling meatballs, passeth understanding.

Nick looks likeable and effective; Tom still talks sense; Ricky was subdued and definitely should swear on all that is holy to him never to wear another kilt. Jenna has a quirky kind of connection with people in inverse proportion to the number of words she utters and Laura and Jade sort of went missing in the editing.

Some of the Apprentice class of 2012 are still dutifully following instructions with a bit of characteristic hubristic braggadocio but frankly their hearts don’t seem to be in it. And dear old Barley seems to be bored and running out of things to say – though I did quite like the Hearts wouldn’t even spend £5.99 on a striker line. On the other hand he is destroying the programme by firing the best, most intelligent, most interesting candidates first – and most of them are women.

Outside the more absurd parameters of the show: it does seem to me that 11 people spending 3 days, let’s say 330 man hours, utilising the services of two professional chefs and 1st class custom-designed mobile food vans permitted on prime Edinburgh sites, should have been able first to invest more than £360 between them and certainly yield more than £618 profit. Although less blatant than last week – properly costed no one made a profit – again.

But as I was rightly reminded last week – game show, game show, game show.


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