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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Apprentice - Tre And Simon Show Their Friendship

The Apprentice

 And so

to week 10's task...

This time the teams had to select a bunch of products and sell them on the QVC channel on TV.  

The teams split so they each had two people presenting and one person producing and then the person producing did the selling while the team's couple did the producing.

Kristina Grimes was the team manager for Stealth with The Silent Assassin (Katie Hopkins) and Mr Who? (Lohit Kalburgi). Eclipse was managed by Simon Ambrose (The Blatherer) and contained Naomi Lay (Miss Bland) and Tre Azam (Motormouth).

The whole point of this exercise was to demonstrate street smarts when it came to choosing their products for their advertising slots. And for an extra twist the couple and the singleton in each team had to sell products found by the other part of their team.

The Rubbish Products That Were Chosen

The products for Stealth were:

  • Slimming corsets (Kristina)
  • Chocolate fountain (Kristina) 
  • Plastic footspa (Lohit and Katie)
  • Steam cleaner (Lohit and Katie)

Eclipse's products were:

  • trampoline (sold by Simon)
  • Decoupage stickers (sold by Simon)
  • Folding wheelchair (sold by Naomi and Tre)
  • Leg hair remover (sold by Naomi and Tre)


Does Strategy Matter With The Apprentice?

And of course strategy...

Does anyone in The Apprentice understand the concept of sitting back and thinking for 5 minutes to get a much more effective bang for their buck?

And I don't mean Katie Hopkins laughable attempt to create a person that they want to sell to: Mavis a big-bosomed loser who has nothing to do but watch day time telly.  I hate to use the word snob but I really do think that Katie has a very superior view that anyone who doesn't move in her circles is the lowest of the low. Like I've said before I don't believe she wants a job with Sir Alan - after all he's only a minor multi-millionaire within the view of a global branding consultant.

Why didn't anyone ask QVC what their best selling lines were and also what products were best suited to total beginners? I suppose the problem then becomes that the candidates look as though they don't know everything!

Also choosing products that were difficult to sell:

  • Electrical products - risk of not working - steam cleaner didn't work did it and was fiddly to set up
  • Specialist products - if they don't know the market don't choose them - Decoupage stickers because they're usually part of a card making kit
  • Risky products - as Tre said who's got £200 in their pocket and are simply waiting to buy a wheel chair?

The Winner Of The Worst Producer

The worst producer by a huge margin was Simon.

During training Simon had told Tre to talk about a red rug, so Tre talked about a different colour. The producer reminded Simon that he'd told Tre to talk about the red rug so Simon asked Tre to talk about the brown rug. Simon when you're producing you're not visible to the audience so there's no need for stage fright.

Simon didn't so much as not produce he basically blathered and didn't speak and looked like a rabbit caught in car headlights. I was surprised the QVC producer didn't just pull his team off their slot because he seemed incapable of helping his team. Unless of course that was his game plan. To leave Tre and Naomi without any useful information to impart to the audience and therefore not provide any benefits and so not to sell anything and therefore to be prime candidates to leave.

If the task had been to highlight the candidates ability to pull a team together Simon didn't just fail he failed "big style."

The Winner Of The Worst Presenter

Everyone except Naomi and Tre and to a lesser extent Lohit were cringe inducing.

Katie selling to Mavis was appalling. But at least she did what she was told to highlight the benefits of the products as Kristina told her.

I felt for Lohit as he tried to get included in the selling for ladies foundation garments. Trust me on this, men aren't interested in these types of garments and I suspect women don't want men to be.

Kristina went through her presentation of a chocolate fountain and came completely apart at the seams (including searing) as the steam cleaner proved more difficult to set-up or use than she realised.  She kept saying Ok and Alright - which is something her producer (Naomi and Tre) should have picked up on during training and it meant we all started counting the number of times she said each one (OK > 12, Alright >3, then I lost the will to live).

But Simon wins this award hands-down. If anyone had been tasked with doing a bad a presentation as possible Simon would have won. Firstly he just didn't know what one earth the decoupage was about, what it was for or its benefits. Clueless springs to mind. Then once he'd given up on that he went to the trampoline and proceeded to really muck that sale up too. He just looked too manic and as for screwing in the trampoline legs right in front of his groin area - laugh I nearly bust a button!

So Who Got Fired?

Simon got fired right?

Well actually, no.

In fact Naomi got fired for choosing the stupidest products - decoupage stickers and the trampoline. An interesting one that because Tre had mildly suggested that trampolines had had their day but didn't argue further when Naomi extolled their benefits.

After all the task had been about choosing the right product to sell.

Personally I'd argue that the only product that was the right choice for the candidates was the chocolate fountain. Everything else was aimed at a very limited market:

  • Slimming corsets - people who are fat but want to appear slimmer 
  • Chocolate fountain - still popular with people
  • Plastic footspa - everyone appears to own one and not use it - limited appeal
  • Steam cleaner - the number of people who want to steam their floor coverings must be limited
  • trampoline - how many people really want to exercise at home with this?
  • Decoupage stickers - these are usually sold to help people make birthday and special occasion cards - a small market
  • Folding wheelchair - people who need a wheelchair usually have one
  • Leg hair remover - It looked like an orbital sander and there was no clear benefits compared to wax, cream or shaving

And the nub of it all was that the product features were dutifully trotted out but no major benefit of owning any of them was given.

As an example: The Wheelchair

As Sir Alan said, "what brain-dead chose that?" But the team found a pocket at the back of the chair and said what a useful pocket it was for...something. Oh I know a mobile phone. No, that's not a benefit. Benefits of a portable wheelchair are many, here's 3 off the top of my head:

  • It's lightweight so one person can easily fold it up and put it in a car without needing anyone else around
  • When you arrive home it can be easily stored folded up so it doesn't get in the way
  • If you've visitors who need a wheelchair it's easy to keep handy for taking them into the garden or to nearby shops

As soon as Sir Alan gave Simon an opportunity to blame the rest of the team he was on it like a ton of bricks. Naomi was flabbergasted and Tre kept fairly quiet as Simon laid into their lack of support - ammunition provided by Sir Alan's view of proceedings.

So Why Didn't Sir Alan Fire Simon?

The reason that Sir Alan didn't fire Simon was because he didn't see what a chump he was as a producer and team leader. You could see Tre didn't want to make too much of an issue of Simon's massive shortcomings and Naomi allowed Simon to get away with being a bad producer, choosing one of the worst products - the leg hair remover - and presenting the products really badly.

He'd also been reminded that Naomi had mucked up being a project manager on an earlier task.

As he said he had to look at who he thought he could work with and Naomi just didn't look as though she could. So she had to go. Unfair if you simply look at the task but fair if you look at the aim of the whole show - an Apprentice to work with Sir Alan.


PS: The Apprentice Camel Stays On

Adrian Childs in the "You've Been Fired" program after The Apprentice was searching for a look-alike animal to represent Katie Hopkins. He managed to produce a camel's face and compared it to Katies. I laughed...

It seemed so perfect. What do you think? 

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