Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Should've Gone to Specsavers

This week's task on The Apprentice was to go out and buy a load of junk for as little cash as possible. Lord Sucre is having a flashback to starting his own business, maybe.

Yes, the marketing team at The Savoy have been hard at work again. First, they publicised their £200 Million makeover on Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen, offering the winner the job as a chef. Except she was refused a work visa.

Now they've publicised their £200 Million makeover by allowing the contestants on The Apprentice to buy them some toilet rolls.

Did we mention their £200 Million makeover?

The teams had to buy 10 items and still have change for the bus home. We don't know what all ten items were, because the editing of this year's Apprentice is shocking, really. I don't know what they devote the screen time too, but it ain't the task in hand.

The items we did see were:

Toilet Paper
Fillet Steak
Organza Silk
Top Hat
Light Bulbs
A brass 'wine cellar' sign

A Cuddly Toy

Unfortunately, by the time Gavin's team was ready to hit the shops, The Savoy had closed for another refurbishment. Gavin reckons he's a 'worthy partner' for Lord Alan because he's got two opticians shops.

Susan's team was as well oiled as the faces of the customers of her organic skincare products business.

Jim was on the case, sourcing the steak. "I'll be in to buy that steak and shake your hand, is that OK". "It would be sir, if this were a butchers."

Bloody hell Jim, is it OK if I come and buy some steak? Let me see.... I'll have to check with the manager.

Vincent didn't fare much better. "Can you tell me anyone in London who sells fillet steak?" Hmm.... In London, you say? Let me think. Hmmm... Tesco?

Gavin tried to keep his team under control by slipping back into his 'Slangatang' character, shouting "Calm down! Calm down!"

Jim says, "I'm an Irish bulldozer of charm. I don't know what rapport is. If I did, I would bottle it". Hmm... He doesn't know what it is, but he knows it would fit in a bottle. Suspicious.

Vincent turned on the sales charm. "What are we talking about in terms of a headline price?" Charming, but gibberish. Translated into English, what Vincent said was, "how much?" But, he is the Belgian Waffler after all.

Gavin's star move was to go into the Top Hat Cleaners and ask if they sold top hats. No mate, it's just the name of the shop. Next, Gavin went into Boots, but they didn't sell Boots. Then he tried Monsoon, but no joy there either. Dry as a bone. He stopped by Subway for lunch, but all they sold were sloppy, tasteless sandwiches. Finally, in desperation, he called into the Orange shop to get his five a day. You'll never guess what! He went next door to the Apple store. Gasping for air, he went to O2. Getting peckish, he popped into Currys. Frustrated beyond belief, he decided to go to the police for help, but couldn't find anyone on duty in PC World.

Ellie was on the hunt for toilet roll. "Have you got 500 rolls of 3 ply toilet roll?"

"Not today", was the reply.

Not today? Why? Did they all have a massive curry last night?

But the bargain of the day had to be a cardboard box, apparently full of 'rare' tea. £990. Nearly a grand for a box of PG Tips! She saw them coming! No, really, if you're in London and you see a bunch of louts in sharp suits talking like right nobs, trying to buy a list of random stuff then you know they're contestants from The Apprentice. The TV crew is a bit of a hint too. And since you know they're desperate, you might as well jack your price up and get yourself on the telly.

The char lady finally sold at £410. Rare my arse.

Susan allowed herself a little daydream in the car, "But what if we could have had it for thirty quid?"

What indeed, Susan.

In the end, the results were:

Venture bought 9 items for £1381.69

Logic bought 6 items for £1389.20

A difference of £7.51. Astonishing. If Logic had stopped arseing around in the office and got on the road a bit sooner, and bought just one more item, they probably would have won it.

Here's our top tips for next year's contestants.

Prioritise highest value items first, because if you miss the lower value items, it's less of a penalty.

Two cars, two teams of two. Get them out on the road as soon as you have a lead for them. The rest of the team stays at base, phoning round. And they don't just get addresses, they get prices, cutting down on negotiating time. They group leads geographically and control the mobile teams to cut down on travel time.

But, next year, it will be the same fiasco. Remember last year, the caviar? And Jamie's four metre kitchen worktop?

Back in the boardroom, it was arse covering time again.

Ellie "had made a lead for the toilet roll". What, was she taking it for a walk?

"I found a load of leads for the Aberdeen Angus". Jesus, how fresh was it?

Mind you, Vincent said, "I was the one who secured the beef". It must have been fresh if it was trying to get away!

Of course, all of this is a load of hyped up twaddle from a bunch of young go-getters, trying to impress the boss. When I come back from the shops with a bag of carrots, do I say, "I made a lead for carrots, and I actioned that lead immediately and followed up and I secured those carrots and now I have those carrots in my portfolio"?

No. I say, "I bought some carrots".

Do I say, "I've identified a lead for carrots, and I called ahead and had a tele-conference with the CEO of the shop and made an enquiry about his supply chain replenishment strategy and got a headline price for a significant quantity for an important client"

No. I say, "I called the shop and they do have some carrots, so I asked how much they were".

We think Lord Demerera's biggest challenge is going to be getting a straight answer out of any of these ponced up half-wits.

Is a winner emerging yet? We think it's one of the girls...

Given this year's limp, anonymous bunch of shop dummies, it's easier to pick who's going to be fired. For example, it won't be long before Edna's pompous, superior attitude and her complete lack of business acumen will come to light.

As for Gavin, he was a little short sighted, we felt. As a leader, he suffered from tunnel vision. He wanted to be PM this task, regardless of what the task was. Big mistake. You need vision to be the PM. You need to see the glasses as half full.

And a shave wouldn't go amiss, Gavin.

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