The Apprentice: Series 5: Week 9

Last night we reached week 9 of The Apprentice in the UK.  With only three weeks remaining and 7 candidates left the pressure is mounting.

This week the teams were given a stand at the Baby Show in London.  They had to interview suppliers, choose two products and sell them at the Baby Show the following day.  The team that sold most won the task.

Sir Alan chose the Project Managers for the two teams.  James was PM for Empire and Lorraine the PM for Ignite.

Empire gambled on a high end highly expensive rocking horse as one of their products and a home birthing pool as their lower end product.

Ignite went for a buggy which folded down so small that it could be taken on an aeroplane as hand luggage as their main product.  They also chose a safety helmet as a low cost impulse buy item.

Back in the boardroom when the sales were revealed, Ignite emerged as winners with sales of £1,669 compared to £722 for Empire.

As ever there were many lessons arising from the show:

1. Product research is important and from what we saw both teams did that quite well.

2. In terms of decision making, the teams weighed up the pros and cons and made their choices with little evidence of procrastination.

3. The smaller teams meant that there was much more willingness to work together and little or no bickering.

4. Sometimes you do need to be willing to take a risk.  The rocking horse was a risk but had Empire sold just one, they would have easily won the task.

5. If Empire and in particular Debra and Ben made one mistake with the rocking horse it was not negotiating a baby show special discount.

6. Lorraine the PM of Ignite only realised that she did not have exclusive rights to sell the buggy at the show when she saw it in the booth of another supplier.  On the other hand, when challenged about this by Sir Alan, she took responsibility and admitted that she had made a mistake.  Probably the most powerful demonstration of personal responsibility taking this series.

7. As PM, Lorraine showed that she had faith in the team’s selling ability and demonstrated that despite differences with Kate in the past, she was mature and professional enough to move on.

When it came to the final choice, Ben, James and Debra were the three who were at risk of being fired.  Sir Alan made his choice and it was Ben who was fired.

You can watch The Apprentice every Wednesday at 9pm on BBC1 or on the BBCiplayer.

About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 6,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

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5 comments
Janice Robertson says 21 May 2009

I thought that Debra was the least willing to take responsibility for her decisions. She showed this last week as well with the poster – leaving herself 20 minutes to do the poster then not being willing to admit she’d not given herself enough time.

It’s tricky though, as they want to win and don’t want to come across as incompetent. Maybe it’s the pressure of the process that’s making some of the contestants come across as rusthless – they may act differently on the job or maybe they need to be willing to demonstate a grace under fire?

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