Trust was the issue at the heart of last night�s show; but along the way, we saw real evidence of learning.

The task was a familiar one to fans of the show: look at a range of goods pitched by the vendors, select which ones you believe you can sell best and hope to be the team chosen to sell them.� Then sell your socks off.� In last night�s show, the target market was the over 50s, at an over 50s fair at London�s Olympia exhibition centre.� If the previous adult candidates thought pensioners were another species, the over 50s must seem very alien to these teenagers.� Never mind: Haya has a grandmother who is over 50 and Harry Maxwell even has parents that old.

However, knowing your parents is clearly not enough of a business edge and Haya Al Dlame took the Atomic helm, leading Harry M, Lewis Roman and Hayley Forrester.

Harry Hitchens and James McCullagh squared up to lead Kinetic , with James getting the votes needed to lead Gbemi Okunlola, Zara Brownless and Lizzie Magee.

The Product Choices

It is easy to be wise after the event and:

  • comment favourably on the winning choices (�it was obvious they would sell well�),
  • deprecate the losing choices (�any fool could see they wouldn�t sell�) and
  • lament what went un-chosen (�If only they�d gone for��).

At the end of the day, there is a market for anything, so the questions are:

  • Is that show the right market for this product?
  • Is this something demonstrate and sell well?

I think both low-price good � Atomic�s Pie maker and Kinetic�s Mini vac � were good choices.
Think about seeing them at a street market:

  • a quick demo of how the vac sucks up spilt coffee,
  • a taste of a steaming hot pie,
  • a stated �in the shops you�d have to pay this� and
  • a special offer �because I’ don�t want to lug any home�

… and robertus est fratris matris tuae.

Who could speculate about the comfort cushions.� If I have my numbers right, the sales volumes would have had to be huge to match sales of pie-makers or mini-vacs.

The bigger items were always going to be a harder sell.� Shopping trolleys are a minority item by virtue of most over 50s being very physically able and not needing them, and the bird nesting boxes with camera mounts were bound to be a minority interest.

Spoiler Alert

Sales Figures

The results could not have been clearer:

Atomic Pie Makers �347.42
Bird Boxes �500.00
Total �847.42
Kinetic Mini Vac �808.79
Shopping Trolley �329.98
Total �1,138.77

Despite failing to negotiate a discounted price, Harry H and Lizzie demonstrated the vacuum cleaner really well and made the sales.� I was pretty impressed with their team mates� trolley sales too � selling three was an achievement.� I tended to agree with James that, on the evidence the editors showed us, Zara did not seem enthusiastic in the selling task.� James, however, was in his element.� Gbemi seemed to fade into the background a little.

I was also amazed that Harry M managed to sell 5 bird boxes.� His initiative in selling the ugly flower last week was repeated in doing the rounds of stall-holder trying to make trade sales this week.� Full marks for tenacity, initiative and determination.� These are character traits that made the young Alan Sugar successful and that will stand Harry much credit, I think.� Hayley seemed once again to be a passenger this week � a fact Lord Sugar picked up on � but let�s acknowledge that she was credited with a sale too.

So we come to Mr and Mrs Pie Maker, Lewis and Haya.� If there is one thing we Brits love more than Pies, it is gadgets.� I think I saw these two occupying a row end � prime real estate at any exhibition.� And any form of cooking is easy theatre in a way that nothing else can be.� With some good patter and a steaming hot Pie to hand around, they should have been able to get a crowd around them, eating out of their hand:

�Not �25 ladies and gentlemen; not even �20.
Go on rob me: I�ll� let you take one home for just 5 notes.
Put them here and I�ll throw in this pie my colleague�s just cooked up.
What sir, you want two: I�ll do you a deal. Let�s call it �30 and I�ll even give you a bag�

Oh well�

That takes a certain sort of confidence (James�s?) but neither Lewis�s constant flow of nonsense, nor Haya�s professionalism (remember her great pitch in week 2) were up to the task of selling like this.

So it is Haya, Lewis and Hayley in the Boardroom

Haya learned from tales of last week: don�t take the strongest performer in with you even if you had a row with him and disagreed vehemently.� So she took Hayley and Lewis.

Once again, I anticipated and completely agreed with Lord Sugar�s decision and reasons.

Hayley Forrester has been quiet and a subtle contributor, but this show also needs stamina and she has remained composed .� As the louder, pushier, weaker candidates diminish, there are opportunities for tortoises to overtake hares and to emerge from their shells.� I would like to see what she can do.� Like Susan Ma in the summer�s series, Lord Sugar and Karren Brady questioned �has she enough power?� We�ll learn more soon, I think.

If Haya Al Dlame avoided Hannah�s mistake from last week, she made another decision error.� In choosing her products, she did not listen respectfully to her team members.� Harry M and Hayley had seen half of the potential products, but Haya favoured only the ones she had seen.� A fundamental cognitive error in failing to recognise that what is unseen can be as good as what was seen.� We can never know whether the error cost her team a win, but Lord Sugar took her lack of trust and confidence in Harry and Hayley so seriously, that he gave her perhaps the roughest ride any candidate has had in the boardroom to date.

But he didn�t fire her.� I believe for two reasons.� Firstly, I think she has more to show and has demonstrated some real maturity, professionalism and an ability to learn. She priced the pie makers high, with the intent of dropping prices if the tactic failed (which it did).� This is a strategy that Lord Sugar advocated in week 1 and he berated the loosing team for not using it.� And then there is the other reason:

Lewis Roman has been a weak candidate from the start.� His confidence problem is that he has too much and it is misplaced.� His trust problem, is that he does not trust himself to say one thing, say it well, and then stop.� He over-speaks in virtually every encounter we have seen him in.� And he speaks before he thinks, meaning that we hear unformed ideas of little value.� He should have gone last week, but Hannah did not bring him into the boardroom.

What Next?

Gbemi was equally lucky last week, and was on the winning team last night with little contribution that we were shown.� Both Harrys had a good week this week as did James, whose extreme commercialism, whilst annoying me, may carry him further.� Zara and Haya disappointed me this week and Lizzie and Hayley remain somewhat unknown quantities.

YoungApprentice2011_Candidates_Week4

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