Food and the Apprentice clowns (sorry candidates) should never be mixed. That is unless you want broad entertainment.
And that’s what we got with tonight’s episode.
First of all Ian Stringer was chosen by Sir Alan as lead entertainer for the boys and quickly chose his scapegoat (oh sorry, I meant head chef). The top clown for the girls was Sara Dhada.
Italian Restaurants Your Jobs Are Safe!
Alex with pinpoint accuracy suggests the pub should do “sausage, mash, steak, chips.” Well done Alex, those are things any lad can cook and are enjoyed by most Britons and are reasonably cheap. And of course because it’s a bit of sense and as he’s already been project manager he’s universally ignored.
During the choosing Ian gets right into the obligatory management speak, “it’s a light bulb moment, shoot it down or keep it up there.” What? I’ve heard of mixed metaphors but mixed management drivel speak?
Eventually the boys decided that because they could wear false moustaches and it would be a laugh to speak with an offensive mock Italian accent they’d go for an Italian night.
Kevin agrees to be head chef, may he rest in peace, because he eats in a lot of Italian restaurants. OK, I’ve managed to avoid this word until now…
There was no thought to the maximum number of people they could cater for at lunch and dinner. Or the expected number of people or in fact the meals they would offer or the ingredients they’d need to buy. Keep it simple, after all I can’t believe any of them are chefs.
However, the boys view on the task was, it’s simple: buy food, cook it, serve it, oh and speak with a fake accent.
Ian laughingly (and in a scapegoating kind of way) says to Kevin, you’re head chef so you’re responsible for everything that comes out of the kitchen. The editing wonderfully switches to Kevin’s face where you see it drop as he realises what he’s landed himself with – the pivotal role.
Kevin, Simon and The Invisible Man (oops, I mean Ian the project manager) go into the kitchen. Here Kevin shows how to be inarticulate whilst talking about the recipes he suggests they do, plus I and Margaret are baffled by some of the things he suggests – coffee as a dessert?
At the printers the marketing team have done a lovely (read expensive to produce) job on their flyers/menus. They also offer a 10% off coupon on the flyer that no one mentions during the boardroom later.
Prices Plucked From Nowhere Again
When the marketing team ring the chef team for prices Kevin tells them what to charge. Lee then gets on the phone to say, in the third person, “I’m concerned, Lee McQueen is concerned.” Don’t be Lee, how would you know what the prices should be? Plus remember you’re in Hampstead where prices are less of an issue. Isn’t Hampstead where Gordon Ramsay lives? Now that would have been a crowd puller, ask Gordon in for a demonstration of something and give part of the resulting huge profits to charity! Mind you he’d have been truly baffled by their kitchen nightmare.
Then another idiot (Michael) says the price Kevin has quoted is too expensive, he likes £2.95. For goodness sake let the “chefs” work out the prices Michael. Now the price of the soup is effectively halved, so the profit they get will be even less.
So how do they work out how much food they need? Hmm, let me think! Ah yes, the project manager, already in defensive mode, asks the head chef. The head chef burbles about they need so many tomatoes for 15 people. In the meantime Sergeant Simon is suggesting they buy in bulk, maybe order from a wholesaler – as suggested by Sir Alan with his list of cut-price wholesalers (now is that a hint or what?). Simon’s ignored as Kevin tries to work out how many tomatoes he’d need for 4 portions and then 15. They’re completely clueless, having forgotten to work out how many people they can get into the pub (The Duke of Hamilton). Look Simon, you said you need 10 toms for 4 people. That’s 2.5 per person. So if you need soup for 15 people (although why that number was plucked out of the air is completely beyond me) you need 2.5 times 15, which rounded up is 38 tomatoes. Simon goes on to feebly suggest that maybe, perhaps they might need more than 15 – Simon looks frustrated, Ian passes the buck to Kevin who is obviously feeling a bit exposed with a camera focusing on his face at all times.
Boys Own Freebie Opportunity
The boys end up buying almost all their supplies from Tesco. Why on earth didn’t they negotiate for free food with the store manager – I mean he’s got huge amounts of free advertising. The Tesco uniform, Tesco branded pizza bases, Tesco carrier bags – worth thousands. Still as Sir Alan points out later he hasn’t seen any business acumen displayed by the boys in this task.
Let’s Have A Go At The Project Manager
The boys who are doing the sales are phoned by Ian to get some stuff he forgot – hasn’t he heard of making shopping lists? Alex and crew almost explode with rage at being told to do something else by their project manager.
By the way, have you noticed how Raef says nothing, or very little. Very canny. Say nothing, you’re not interesting and you wont get filmed – good strategy for early on I suspect.
Italian Food Without Flavouring?
When the boys get the lunchtime diners in there’s complaints about the blandness of the food, also the spaghetti appears undercooked. Ian simply eats spaghetti as Kevin gets “feedback” from Lee, comfortable in the knowledge that the head chef is cooking himself into the firing.
Head Chef Attempts A “Gordon Ramsay”
Kevin is obviously capable of believing his own press and decides to hold a Gordon Ramsay style head chef pep talk. Which without the passion that Ramsay has and possibly without his knowledge is basically drivel. He bleats on about how front of house are doing a great job and more drivel about pizzas and I switch off. Well intentioned drivel but it should have come from the poor excuse for a project manager, Ian. Instead Ian hangs around at the back practicing being invisible for the boardroom and bursting in now and then with phrases like “let’s go to the kitchen”. And bizarrely jumping up and down on the spot?
As the night wears on it’s patently obvious the boys (cue scapegoat Kevin) have massively under estimated the amount of food they should have bought. Or they’re just putting too much on the pizzas. I mean I heard Simon asking for more cheese, tomatoes, ham, Parma ham, tuna, in fact everything. Maybe they were a bit too generous with the stuff the pizzas had on. Certainly they seemed to sell out as Ian was reduced to cutting them in half in a crazed attempt to make people think they were getting value for money by buying half a pizza. It didn’t work, his customers realised half a pizza is not a full pizza!
Bollywood And Flirting For Freebies
Claire: “Slow down a bit”, Sara quickly breaking in, “sometimes I speak too fast.” Yes and interrupt too.
We have the discussion about the theme, like Alex, Claire and Jennifer Maguire excitedly suggest English pub food, but of a high quality. No! Let’s do something different, let’s do a Bollywood night says the project manager. To find out about curry recipes for the menu some of the team trot down to the curry house just down the road. Claire is very anti-Bollywood and I do agree with her. Still stay on side Clare and pull together as part of the team.
Just The Ticket – If It’s Free
The girls winningly suggest to the printers that they should print their tickets with a small advert for themselves and do it for free. The printers agree. The girls also get free saris provided from somewhere for an advert on the ticket. Then they go out and SELL the tickets as a fiver off the food and as Lindi says as VIPs they’ll get to jump the queue. Erm, if they’re all VIPs wont that just be a queue of VIPs all trying to jump the queue?
However, I do approve of everything the girls do on the marketing front – well done! Particularly getting people to pay upfront as a commitment to turn-up.
And the girls actually manage to buy the ingredients they need, except of course Sara doesn’t buy the right spices – oh, oh.
Bollywood And Lunchless
The girls curries turn out to be tasteless and according to Claire, look like vomit. As a consequence they have to scurry around, probably going to get the spices Sara forgot and continue to experiment until the curries are reasonable. Unfortunately that takes them past lunch, with the opportunity to earn money.
What made me laugh was when Jennifer went into the kitchen to announce their first customer. Sara didn’t appear to hear what she said and looked suitably project managerially anxious.
Customer Services Degree Comes In Handy
- Give everyone intimate personalised service – what?
- Know their first name
- Use their first name all the time – no, I don’t want a waiter hanging round using my name when they should be getting me the food, pronto!
- Oh, only use their first name with their permission – ok, no I don’t want you to use my name. Get me the starter, now!
- Get personal with them –
- “Intro” yourself
- Then tips, tips, tips – sorry doesn’t Lindi learn? Sir Alan doesn’t want you to depend on hand-outs, concentrate on the food!
When Jenny tried it out on unsuspecting pair Ben and Julie they both look bemused as they shake her hand.
The evening appeared to go well with some energetic dancing by one of the small waiters from the curry house they went to. The front of house staff were suitably dolled up in saris and Jenny really whooped and jumped up and down as their Bollywood waiter danced. It was excruciating and I must say I wasn’t overly impressed with the whole experience the diners were having. But at least they didn’t make their guests listen to an impossibly rank amateur try and sing well-known songs from Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin as Renaissance did in the form of Michael.
The Boardroom Decision
The silence by the boys was an immediate obvious signal that Ian was a bad project manager. Ian immediately pointed the finger at head scapegoat Kevin. Then Simon was encouraged to say why he thought Ian was a bad project manager. He made his point but he should really have brought his own good points in at the same time, so that Ian would have had a tougher time bringing him back to the boardroom.
Pretty quickly it became evident that Claire was building bridges with Sara as she said she’d had a rocky start but had come good in the end. After all why keep an enemy when you’re in the boardroom and the result is just about to be announced.
As the boys had pretty much spent a lot of their money on buying from supermarkets and getting pretty expensive flyers/menus done they were always going to have an uphill struggle on the costs front.
Revenue and Profit
When the figures were announced there was very little between them in terms of revenue, but a vast chasm in regards to the profit.
Renaissance made £844.97, their costs were £543 and they made an unbelievable profit of £301.97
Alpha made £795, their costs were £197.73 giving them a fab profit of £604.27
Kevin (is he really naive or like I said before does he believe his own press) says he’s got nothing to worry about. Wrong Kevin. You were chief scapegoat and you made a pig ears of it. Luckily your project manager was a complete plonker and truly invisible.
As Sir Alan said prices can be worked out simply. Michael, give him his due, volunteered for boardroom firing duty by saying it was his fault that the prices had been so low.
Ian manages to dig himself a hole by choosing to have Simon and Kevin in the boardroom. They unite to show Sir Alan that Ian wasn’t engaged as the project manager and didn’t take responsibility. In passing Kevin completely missed the point of the task by saying how good his cooking was – no, we want profits!
Ian also drags in Simon with a “difficult communication style.” Simon told how Ian had never actually worked out the numbers so they cold work out the quantities to buy or the prices to charge.
In the end Sir Alan fires Ian.
Was The Firing Deserved?
You bet your bottom dollar. Yes, without any doubt at all. Ian could talk a good game but seemed completely incapable of organising anything, he didn’t lead his team, he didn’t prioritise the tasks or work out creative ways of reducing costs like the girls did. Actually on reflection, no he couldn’t talk a good game either.
Not just that Ian proceeded to deny events that Kevin and Simon both said had occurred. One was the setting of the prices and another the fact that Kevin called the team out to have a pep talk.
And if Kevin ever says again “because I eat in Italian restaurants” I’ll scream!
Simon is one that looks as though he might go a bit further. If I was Sir Alan I’d put him into project manage Alpha next week and put Lindi in to manage the boys. That would be very, very interesting. In fact Sir Alan did actually say that he thought it was a little unfair Simon being in the boardroom, it should have been Michael, and not just for the singing.
The Islington Tribune produced an article about the women’s task. As I suspected there were already a number of good curry houses on the road. In addition, people who worked at The Kings Head were less than impressed by the Bollywood choice. Read The Apprentice article for customer and staff comments.
Technorati tags: The Apprentice, BBC, Sir Alan Sugar, Ian Stringer, Shazia Waheb, Lee McQueen, Lindi Mngaza, Alex Wotherspoon, Nicholas De Lacy Brown, Jennifer Celerier, Jennifer Maguire, Raef Bjayal, Claire Young, Lucinda Ledgerwood, Kevin Shaw, Simon Smith, Helene Speight, Sara Dhada, Michael Sophocles
del.icio.us tags: The Apprentice, BBC, Sir Alan Sugar, Ian Stringer, Shazia Waheb, Lee McQueen, Lindi Mngaza, Alex Wotherspoon, Nicholas De Lacy Brown, Jennifer Celerier, Jennifer Maguire, Raef Bjayal, Claire Young, Lucinda Ledgerwood, Kevin Shaw, Simon Smith, Helene Speight, Sara Dhada, Michael Sophocles
IceRocket tags: The Apprentice, BBC, Sir Alan Sugar, Ian Stringer, Shazia Waheb, Lee McQueen, Lindi Mngaza, Alex Wotherspoon, Nicholas De Lacy Brown, Jennifer Celerier, Jennifer Maguire, Raef Bjayal, Claire Young, Lucinda Ledgerwood, Kevin Shaw, Simon Smith, Helene Speight, Sara Dhada, Michael Sophocles