Young Apprentice 2011

This week�s task was the �go and buy 10 random things for the best price� exercise � or procurement, as it is more formally known.

As is the case for too many real-life procurement departments, best price is all, with no prizes for a much better product at a marginally higher price.� However, the basic rule is �know the rules� and Lord Sugar was clear as always with this particular task.� As long as the product meets the specification, then all he is interested in is the price.

At the end of the programme, we found out the format for next week�s penultimate show � the �semi-final�, so the stakes go sky high next week.� But this week, it was a standard seven down to six format.� Who would fail to show the commercial acumen that Lord Sugar is after.

The Teams

This week, Lord Sugar created the teams he wanted � but allowed them to choose project managers, resulting in:

  • Atomic: Lizzie Magee leading Harry Maxwell, Hayley Forrester and Zara Brownless
  • Kinetic: Haya Al Dlame leading Harry Hitchens and Jamie McCullagh

They started with rather different strategies, Lizzie trying to plan her team�s opening visits to suppliers by making copious phone calls and Haya splitting her team and heading out on a wing and a prayer.

The Basics

DashikiBut how were they going to resolve this series� mystery item:
a dashiki?

No doubt, someone at Google is wondering why this is suddenly
one of the most searched terms in the UK.

.

Back-to-basics Core Skill Number 1: Research

Wouldn�t it be good if there were a publicly funded service that allows anyone at all to research anything at all for no cost.� In these days of easy web searches (which Lord Sugar had made unavailable to the candidates), three cheers to Harry M for thinking to phone a library.� And another three for Zara for thinking to ask the librarian to look in a dictionary for her.

My trusty Collins Concise says:

�dashiki: n. a large loose fitting upper garment of W African origin�

Points away from Haya and Jamie for failing to be able to offer a sane pronunciation for something that is pronounced phonetically.

Back-to-basics Core Skill Number 2: Planning

Lizzie also deserves credit for trying to take a planned approach.� But very little, because the shocker was that Haya made no attempt to plan.� You�d think that, by now, a little planning would be their default position.� However, points away from Lizzie for the paucity and poverty of Atomic�s planning.� The teams had maps and directories, but failed to consult the two together, resulting in a two hour trip from Central London to Croydon.� It doesn�t take a Londoner to see the size of London and that, while Croydon may be a London Borough, there is a reason for the term �outer London Boroughs� � a shame the team didn�t bump into Susan Ma.

Back-to-basics Core Skill Number 3: Communications

Lord Sugar may have banned access to the internet, but every team member had a working mobile phone.� So the poor quality of communication between the halves of both teams was rather shocking.

Back-to-basics Core Skill Number 4: Negotiation

In his briefing, Lord Sugar said that the task was about negotiating the best price.� The team that lost was ultimately to fail on this element.� That said, we saw some good negotiating too:

  • Harry M on the carpet
  • Harry H on the stool
  • Lizzie on the balloons
  • James and Haya on the watch and compact

What all of these had in common were three features:

  1. A determinedness to get a better price, making them persistent
  2. A willingness to try different approaches
  3. A sense of humour and cheekiness in the way they did it

Spoiler Alert

So how did they do?

Atomic Kinetic
Items bought 6 items 7 items
Total Spent �963 �721
+ Fines * �517 �282
Total Cost �1,480 �969

* Under the rules, un-sourced items were fined at �50 + guide price

Kinetic won and Lizzie�s team went of to the caff for a cuppa.� Lizzie wisely, I think, did not bring Harry M back to the boardroom.� Despite the continuing apparent enmity between everyone and him � it was clear Lizzie is not a fan � she seemed to realise that the grievous faults were not his and that Lord Sugar seemed to see much of credit in his performance.� Hayley felt he should have gone back, having been on the losing side for the sixth week in a row.� What she missed was that for five weeks he had come out of the boardroom and returned to the house.

Lizzie � team leader who made strategic errors

Hayley � softly spoken and only gently assertive

Zara – Dominant and pushy

I have said a couple of times that Lizzie and Hayley have failed to show their talents.� So I was unsurprised that Lord Sugar kept Zara in the game.

But I rather thought that Hayley has shown some real qualities.� Karren Brady criticised her for not having sharp enough elbows, but I do worry that the message Lord Sugar is sending by firing Hayley is that quiet, persistent courtesy cannot succeed.� I would have liked to see Hayley in the semi final next week and though Lizzie marginally the weaker today.� She may be more assertive than Hayley, but I have seen very little to commend her � no negotiation, nor planning skills today, nor little to distinguish her to date.� Hayley at least haggled on her guitar and got nearly 20% off the asking price.� This time I think Lord Sugar got it wrong.

Young Apprentice Contestants Week 6

 

Next week

Next week promises to be exciting: we know Lord Sugar only wants two finalists in Week 8, so will he have three teams of two and fire all of the losing two teams, or will he have two teams of three and fire all of the losing team and one from the winning team?� Or will he set the rules to allow him to fire whomever he chooses?

With such a number of ways that the dice can fall, I do predict that he will not set rules that constrain him to keep winners against a strict rule.� He will want to ensure that hs finalists include whoever he sees as a strong candidate.

So predictions are hard, but I have not seen anything today to modify my view (is this purely confirmation bias?) that Harry H and Zara are the strongest candidates.� Haya has had some good moments, but a fair share of mediocrity � including last night.� James has been steadily mellowing to the point that nothing in last night�s show particularly singled him out.� Harry M remains the great survivor and he certainly has good skills, although endearing himself to his fellow candidates is not one.� Lizzie has failed to impress me at any stage.� So, if the rules allow him, I�d speculate that Lord Sugar will want Harry H and Zara in the final, although either of the other boys could be a good outside bet.

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