Well, last night we saw the first episode of the new series of Young Apprentice ï¿½ and, weï¿½re told, the last.ï¿½ Although, Lord Sugar has gone on record saying that he regrets the BBCï¿½s decision to cancel the show and would like to find a way of continuing it.ï¿½ Whether his contract will allow him and the production company to sell a series to a rival channel, I donï¿½t know.
I have to confess to a certain feeling of ennui after a programme which felt overly formulaic and very familiar.ï¿½ Donï¿½t get me wrong ï¿½ I like the formula, but there was nothing at all to surprise in either the contestantï¿½s behaviours or the editorï¿½s attempts to create tension and surprise.ï¿½ Lord Sugarï¿½s performance also felt laboured and I missed Nickï¿½s barbed comments.
I donï¿½t think we learned anything new, as experienced Apprentice watchers.ï¿½ And that, for me, is a cardinal sin.ï¿½ If the programme ceases to delight, then whatï¿½s it for?
I do very much understand Lord Sugarï¿½s desire to pump prime entrepreneurialism and business acumen among young people ï¿½ in their teens and twenties.ï¿½ But I think the format needs a bit of a refresh.ï¿½ Will I keep watching this series?ï¿½ I expect so, because I am an optimist and Iï¿½d like to be surprised and enchanted by new insights and lessons to draw.ï¿½ But last night failed me and followed on from a lacklustre Apprentice 2012, earlier this year.
The Facts about this episode
I am not going to give a blow-by blow account and I have yet to decide how I will approach this seriesï¿½ on an ad hoc basis seems most likely.ï¿½ But for the record:
The Girlsï¿½ Team
ï¿½ named itself Platinum (after dallying with ï¿½ex nihiloï¿½
which my sad classics bent thought was kind of clever)*
ï¿½ was led by Ashleigh Porter-Exley
ï¿½ won by a short head
The Boysï¿½ Team
ï¿½ named itself Odyssey (which is classical)*
ï¿½ was led by Patrick McDowell
ï¿½ threw away its chance of winning on two big mistakes
The Lessons of the Episode
Lesson 1: Understand the task ï¿½ which was selling second-hand clothes in two market contexts.ï¿½ Patrick invested a lot of the teamï¿½s money in modifying the clothes: too quickly and too outrageously for the market.
Lesson 2: Sniff the air ï¿½ when sales started picking up to a high level at Westfield Shopping Centre, Patrick decamped his team to try to flog all his stock as a job lot to a retailer.ï¿½ Two or three retail sales would have netted more than one big wholesale transaction and sales were brisk when he left.
Lesson 3: If itï¿½s a sales task, get out there and sell.ï¿½ We knew the writing was on the wall for Max Grodecki when Lord Sugar started talking about potential.ï¿½ He hid from the sales process and failed to engage with customers.ï¿½ He was fired.
Lesson 4: Please have some respect.ï¿½ I was unimpressed by David Odhiamboï¿½s attitudes to women “men are the better sexï¿½ and his team mates ï¿½like dogsï¿½ ï¿½ and so, I noted, was Lord Sugar.
All in all, the right three in the boardroom today and, with Max gone, David and Patrick will have to work hard to atone for their appalling social and commercial judgement respectively.
* For a full listing of Apprentice team names, click here.