Lord Sugar points out that unlike a load of moaners out there anyone can do business, although it needs to be something you can deliver to your customers.
Task 1: £250 start-up business
The first task is to take £250, buy some produce, “add value” and sell to the unsuspecting public. And guess what Lord Sugar is looking for a return on his investment!
And of course the first 5 minutes is taken up with the candidates boasting about their abilities and job titles. And you start to see those people you feel you’d rather avoid in business.
The candidates are put under pressure because they need to create their team names and elect a leader. Come on, how difficult can that be you may ask?
Melody Hossaini is made the leader of the girls team: Venture. She’s been taught by the great and good, including the Dali Lama? Over at Logic Edward Hunter is voted in as the team leader. Don’t these two realise that the first week the team leader always goes?
The Girls Team
One of the girls suggests that they should use as little money as possible! They obviously haven’t considered that when you invest you expect a bigger return than your original stake. Whatever happens Edna is given the task of managing the cash and is very strict about it.
In the girls kitchen Melody exhorts her team to “cut like you’ve never cut in your life before.” Are the boys and girls using the same script?
The girls chop and slice and create little plastic bowls of fruit. Which they intend to sell at £2 per pack. They had wanted to create 500 of them, which would be a nice return. However, they only got enough stock for around 300. Could that be an issue for them as the most they can make from the fruit is £600, rather than the planned £1,000?
The girls have a permanent pitch at Euston station where there are a lot of people travelling into London. And their fruit salads seem to go down very well with the commuters. Unfortunately the vegetable pasta that the girls made just doesn’t hit the spot. Mainly because they don’t start selling it until well after lunchtime! Rather than do the salad first they should have made the pasta and set it to stew whilst they made the fruit salad – organisation lacking a little I fear.
The Boys Team
Back with the boys, Edward suggests soup, “keep it simple and although they may not come back they won’t be sick! Like an idiot Edward says he doesn’t need to talk about margins all he needs is to spend the £250, mash up the stuff and sell it! The boys decide on orange juice and tomato soup. They buy 1,400 oranges (16 boxes at £9.50 per box). Which leaves £40 to buy the soup ingredients and means Jim Eastwood (who looks a definite finalist) has to go off and charm the vegetable suppliers. Finally Jim manages to do a very good deal on tomatoes, peppers and onions and then tells the lads he’s with that they’re “going to make soup like they’ve never made soup before!”
In the taxi going to the kitchens where they will make their products Glenn Ward suggests to Edward that they need to set up a production line: “cut, squeeze, sieve and into the bottle”. My hopes for the boys begin to rise, but are dashed by their idiotic project leader who ignores poor Glenn.
Jim draws the short straw to manage the soup makers but organises them pretty well. Leon Doyle is put in charge of pressing the orange juice with two industrial strength juicers. Then one breaks down. It’s pretty clear that the bottleneck in the “production line” is the juice extraction. So everyone gets squeezing oranges, by hand! And because of the bottleneck the boys manage to miss the breakfast trade, when fresh orange juice would have gone down a storm. Finally after Glenn points out that they should be out selling Edward says that they need a team selling in 5 minutes!
Finally, the boys get out selling and their permanent pitch is Liverpool Street station, led by Jim and they manage to sell very well. The other boys, in theory led by Edward, go out and sell to offices. Although you don’t actually see much of Edward selling. Presumably he’s doing what he does best: “rolling with the punches.” It’s also very, very clear that for some reason Edward doesn’t believe in having any plan.
Into the boardroom
When Edward says he appointed Jim to the soup supremo role Lord Sugar immediately christens Jim the “Soupman.”
Edward has a strange strategy, that just doesn’t make any sense. When Lord Sugar said that Edward was trained at a leading accountancy firm Edward bafflingly said “Don’t fit the mould.” What on earth does he mean? Are all accountants the same? Certainly not from experience.
Melody for the girls and she told us that she had a style of leadership which definitely takes into account other peoples opinions. Lord Sugar pulls the girls up for only spending £170 when he’d invested £250. The girls praised Melody’s team leading, however she didn’t look that brilliant to me. She certainly managed to annoy Edna several times. Plus she didn’t use all the money when she could have sold many more fruit pots.
The Results of the £250 Task
And so to the results…
Boys made £339.20 on the juices and £92.93 on the soup giving a grand total of £432.13.
The girls made £37.28 on vegetable pasta and £555.05 on their fruit pots. So the girls were clear winners of the task.
As Lord Sugar points out the boys could have made 470 bottles of orange juice with the oranges they bought, instead they made 156. Edward chooses Gavin and Leon to return to the boardroom with him. I really couldn’t see the logic of his choice of Gavin.
In fact when he explains the reason he chose Gavin it was because he had weakly put himself forward as the project manager. How on earth did that impact on the task? The answer obviously, was that it didn’t.
As Lord Sugar pointed out Edward hadn’t used his important accounting skills. So it’s bye, bye Edward.
Was the right Apprentice Candidate fired?
Even after being fired Edward continued to roll with the punches. What did he do wrong? Firstly, he didn’t plan anything. He claimed it was in his head but I’m not convinced. Secondly, other people led the team at different points during the task, so he didn’t maintain a grip on the team. Plus he wasn’t evident during the selling part of the task.
As Edward rightly identified the task went wrong during manufacture.
They should have made much more orange juice.
If they’d made and sold 470 bottles of juice they would have been much more likely to have beaten the girls. After all if they’d sold 60% of 470 bottles at their original £2 they would have made £552. That leaves them to sell the rest of the orange juice at, say, £1 per bottle giving £188 which would comfortably beaten the girls without even including the soup takings.
However, the reason the task went wrong at the manufacturing stage was that Edward had failed to plan the production line. And had probably been instrumental in the juicers breaking down by asking Leon to get the maximum amount of juice out. Also, he demonstrated zero leadership ability throughout the course of the task. Simply telling people to get on with it is not leadership.
So, to my mind Edward was the right candidate to go.