YoungApprentice2011_Logo2Last night we were introduced to the twelve young people whose Apprentice hopes we will be following for the next eight weeks.

The six girls and six boys immediately got down to picking team names, settling on:

Boys: �Atomic�
Girls: �Kinetic�

With Kinetic, the girls managed to find a name already selected by a 2007 US Apprentice Team, as my table of Apprentice project team names shows.

So, with that introduction over, what did we learn on this first task: making and selling ice cream?

Lesson 1: You can�t be in business without learning maths

The car wreck that was Kinetic�s attempts to calculate quantities at the ice cream factory displayed a woeful lack of numerical aptitude,� It isn�t that the three young women concerned couldn�t do the mental arithmetic (although one of them could not: �three fours are 28�).� They could not even figure out what sums to feed into their calculator.� In the end, they gave up and just decided to make as much ice cream as they could.� Actually that is not a bad strategy if you want to maximise sale, but as a fall back for knowing your costs and earning potential, it was lame.� And, in case you think it was just those three, their three team mates failed on their maths equally.� In ordering fruit, they were oblivious to the weights shown in the grocer�s scales and settles on �all those bananas in the basket� and less than half the weight of mangoes that they were told to buy.� I don�t think anyone wrote down the quantities.

Lesson 2: Pay attention

The girls may have had to throw away ice cream mix that they were unable to flavour, but the boys just poured mix onto the floor through carelessness.

Young Apprentice 2011 - Cast

This year�s candidates, with Lord Sugar, Karren Brady and Nick Hewer.
More about the candidates and team, at the BBC website.

Lesson 3: It all comes down to selling

Both teams used close enough the same value of ingredients for me to note the costs down: this competition was won and lost on sales.� With a hot day to sell on, and a perfect pitch (theme park for Kinetic and Southend beach for Atomic), both teams were able to sell out.� The girls seemed to me, from the footage we were allowed to see, to be the better at selling � and they certainly had the bolder strategy � �everything is extra� � including, shockingly, the cone!

The boys missed a simple fact: hot weather, crowded beach, incumbent sellers at a basic price: they could have gone for a higher price and still sold out.� Only resort to discounting if you need to.� James �I completely disagree� McCullagh got a great GSCE economics score, yet failed to understand basic economics in the real world.� He advocated deep discounting, and the relics of his strategy � only partly rejected by captain Harry Hitchens � led to the cheapest ice cream on the strand.

Spoiler Alert

Kinetic and Atomic both sold out, but the pricing meant that Kinetic won comfortably, and captain Hayley Forrester led her all girl team off for a spot of zorbing.�� I hope they had fully digested their ice cream first!

In the boardroom, the boys fought it out in an unseemly verbal brawl over who had responsibility for the good ideas.� Lord Sugar fired Mahamed Awale because he was most vocal in claiming credit where he would have been better advised to share it.� I think James was lucky� his combative style may soon start to grate on team members and Lord Sugar and I expect him to be back in the boardroom next time he is on the losing team.� However, that did no harm to Tom Pellereau, earlier this year!� I was impressed by the way Harry Hitchens handled himself, but it really is too early to make predictions.

imageI know that The Apprentice is widely criticised as being an unrealistic portrayal of business.� I also know the Lord Sugar�s need to be a little gentler on the Young Apprentice candidates can dull the edge of this series.� But I do think that the series is good entertainment and will continue to offer real lessons for business.� If you agree, please do subscribe to my blog by email or RSS, in the green panel to the right.

One Response to Young Apprentice 2011 – 1: Meet the Candidates
  1. I tend to agree with all your points. And although the girls ultimately won (if for all the wrong reasons), the boys’ performance was still noteworthy for making a healthy profit. I wonder if any of the “grown-up” teams would have beaten them?

    James’ mistake was a poor one. Limited supply should always push a seller towards higher prices, and it’s then much easier to discount (if you need to at all) once you’ve gauged demand. At �2 a scoop (the same as the girls), they would have won comfortably, despite lacking the girls’ upselling tactics.

    While I wholeheartedly agree with the importance of numeracy, you may remember from a previous grown-up series that Yasmina Siadatan got into a horrible mess over her calculations and costings for sandalwood in a similar task. She was lucky to escape that week – and went on to win!

    My thoughts on last night’s episode:


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