The Apprentice became a Hollywood blockbuster last night as The Apprentices tried to outdo each other and sell vast quantities of ice cream to businesses in London. In my house we were on our seat edges as Alpha and Renaissance negotiated to sell ice cream by the same independent small cinema chain.
The task? Simplicity itself. Basically come up with 3 flavours of ice cream the teams thought would appeal to the public. Run some taste tests and narrow the choice down to two. Then go and sell as much as they can on behalf of the farmers to London buyers.
First Sir Alan shuffles the team and moves Kevin (I eat Italian I do) Shaw to a different team and then makes Lucinda Ledgerwood and Claire Young the project managers.
So what happened and who got fired? Read on…
Lucinda Makes It Look Easy
After me going on about how Lucinda Ledgerwood should have been sacked before getting onto the Apprentice I was quite surprised at how well she managed her team. Margaret was pretty impressed too. Maybe she likes an underdog too?
A good leader finds the jobs that people are suited to and gives it to them. So she, Helene and Lee were the manufacturers of the ice-cream. She made Lindi Mngaza second in command and put her in charge of the sales team of Lindi, Jennifer and Raef.
So the sales team set to and started making calls to book appointments to see businesses who might want to buy ice cream. By the end of the day they’d booked 6 appointments. Which to my mind was not a huge number considering they were selling to businesses in London and there were three of them. In fact having secured those appointments they have something to eat. What’s the point? They should be selling all the business hours there are. They can eat later.
Lucinda’s manufacturing team (with a lot of good natured help from the farm’s ice cream expert) produced their ice cream on time and then took the 3 flavours to the village hall where a posse of tasters had been rounded up and asked for their opinions. Funnily enough the toffee-apple ice cream was most appreciated and followed by the odd flavour of avocado, with a hint of chilli ice cream! The ice everyone got more than enough of was called “cosmopolitan” and was rated as very bland.
The next day Lucinda allowed the sales team to stay together, even though she’d really wanted one of her manufacturers to go on the sales calls with them. Lindi had kept all the “good” sales calls for the sales team. Lucinda’s team went to the three other calls and discovered that their appointments were with businesses that already made their own ice cream. Call me old fashioned but I always think it’s harder to sell coals to Newcastle. So trying to sell unusual ice creams to someone who already makes their own, and probably better, ice creams is doomed to failure.
The sales team went to their own calls and sold ice cream, including one large sale to an independent cinema chain. As the sales team sold more they got more and more upbeat crowing that they were sizzling superstars and the best and they’re were going to blow Claire’s team out of the water. And Jennifer even said she was overwhelmed how good they were and that they hadn’t even needed a project manager as they’d done it all themselves! Odd viewpoint as it was Lucinda who put the team together to do, let me think…
Yes that’s right sales!
Claire Goes Cider Tasting
Like Lucinda, Claire splits her team into two. Kevin (IEIID), Sara and Alex to do the donkey work and herself, Michael and Agent Orange (Jenny) to swan around to look for around 50 oranges and get some cider, get some human tasters together, oh and maybe get some appointments for tomorrow.
And while I think of it have you noticed how Sara gets very little exposure now, apart from a few weird concerned/impatient/baffled expressions?
Anyway, back to the floor…
You just knew there was going to a clip of Alex looking concerned about the lack of time they had left to do the task because the sales team were out “finding” oranges and spending rather too long at a cider tasting. If you ask me it was just as well the sales team weren’t driving they looked to have had a little too much fun.
Of course because the sales team got back so late the ice cream wasn’t completed until half an hour past the original allowed time. That mean when Agent Orange went to the village hall to get people to try the toothsome ice creams it was all locked up. I’m pretty sure that the locked village hall was down to the producers telling the tasters to leave and get the place locked if no one arrived by the scheduled time. Then we had the unnerving sight of Michael laying it on thick in a pub to get two well-oiled gents to try his ice creams. They gamely tried it despite their own better judgement and the whole thing was an absolute farce.
The result was that the team decided to go with berrymania and “cider and elderflower.”
The following day was sales day and we had the interesting spectacle of the team visiting small shops and restaurants to get them to buy small quantities of ice cream. Eventually they discover the same cinema chain as Lucinda’s team and as we all know were stupid enough to loose the sale by not going direct to the main buyer. During the pitch to the cinema manager Kevin (IEIID) talks rubbish about “the new cider market opening up” and about cider “being almost the new champagne.” Well if Sir Alan hates bullshitters Kevin’s days are numbered, Although I’m sure he’ll simply go back to his day time bank manager job and if he works for the Halifax he’ll be in their next advert.
The sales were so haphazard they seemed fortunate to get one sale for 200 litres which was the one that really helped them win.
The Teams Get A Licking In The Boardroom
When the teams got to the boardroom Sir Alan heard that Claire’s management style had changed for the better – not in my opinion! I known the editing can make a big difference to how you view the candidates but Claire seemed very “hands-off” in her project management. For example spending 4 hours to get 50 oranges and some cider! We also heard that Lucinda was a good manager and a revelation from Margaret and Lee. Although I do agree with Margaret that Lucinda didn’t push enough for more sales. Helene was lukewarm to icy about Lucinda’s project management skills.
Agent Orange is in danger of giving spin doctors a good name as she tells Sir Alan that when they turned up at the village hall there were less people there than they expected. Surely there was no one there?
And the sales the teams made were:
Alpha – £1,273.64
Renaissance – £1,455.45
That meant the last gasp order Claire made (worth around £800) won the task for her team. Which meant Lucinda’s team, in the form of Renaissance, lost.
Much was made of the fact that Jennifer offered an exclusivity deal to the cinema chain. Even though I noticed Lindi nodding in agreement at the the time she was saying that she didn’t expect it and wouldn’t have offered it. Then when a gastro pub asks for an exclusivity deal for 3 months it’s Lindi who nods her head to confirm that it’s OK! And then she justifies it in the boardroom when it’s obviously outrageous to offer such a thing when you’re acting on someone else’s behalf and obviously have never spoken to them about it.
And speaking of exclusivity, we never see any candidates speaking to the farmers about what they’re looking for price-wise, or even what market they’re looking to get into. I think it might have been interesting to phone Virgin and see whether they’d like to try the ice cream on their flights.
During the summing up Nick makes the point that there’s a bit of a chill between Jennifer and the other candidates. Lindi is fired for not managing the sales team correctly. Then afterwards at the house Jennifer says that “apparently” she’s quite cold – there’s the deafening silence of affirmation from the rest of the candidates. Oh dear can she pull them round when she’s project manager?
Did Lindi Deserve To Be Fired?
I think she was guilty of extreme naiveté. Although she was second in command she didn’t really have a handle on what they were meant to do. They were meant to find good solid sales that would lead to future orders for the farmer they represented. Giving an exclusivity deal for a small amount of ice cream with no further guaranteed volumes was ridiculous. She should have sold it as a trial and left everything else open to allow the farmer to deal with their customer and prevent the debacle she faced in the boardroom.
This task also threw up the riskiness of The Apprentice for trying to get a job with Sir Alan. After all Claire was very lucky to get the last deal of the day and snatch victory from the jaws of her unpreparedness.
However, despite that my opinion for some time is that Lindi is not the right person to win the Apprentice. She also lied about the exclusivity deal as she actually confirmed the second one so she was definitely the right one to go.
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