In the first episode we had the usual roll call of hardnosed comic mantras. A woman who had worked with Nobel winner, Al Gore and the Dalai Lama said “why reach for the sky when there are footprints on the moon. “ A man did a panto nasty face while saying “I am hard-nosed and ruthless I will always come out on top.” A weedy Clark Kent declared “there is steel behind these glasses”.
The new style Apprentice was about Lord Sugar as grumpy investor or “uncivil partner” as he wryly put it. The various entrepreneurs and would be business dynamos are now bidding for quarter of a million from Lord Sugar. As he pointed out though this was no indulgent business angel’s flutter but a calculated investment with an expectation of return. To start off he decided to give each team a fraction of the total £250.000. This £250 was to be spent on effectively turning fruit and veg into profit. This is the “Whelk stall test”. Can you buy stuff, add value, price it and make a profit, whilst making sure it doesn’t go off.
It’s a truism of talent management that people should play to their strengths. We all remember the hilarious appraisal episode of the office when Brent asked the big accountant what he felt was best at “Accounting” he deadpanned. In a radical rethink of that whole idea Edward the accountant decided to dispense with accountancy. In a chaotic exercise where he was alternately hands off or telling people to “shut up and get on with it.” Or going with the flow and surfing the moment whilst everything round him collapsed. His approach was to “roll with the punches” i.e. take anything which the experience threw at him. He took more punishment than the late great Henry Cooper dished out to Ali in that famous fight.
There were some poor decisions. For example buying about 1600 oranges and seeking to turn them into juice without any kind of automation. The wrist spraining labour led to about a quarter of the possible volume being produced. A brilliant piece of haggling by one team member made “Head of Soup” meant they could secure soup ingredients for a peppercorn price and doubled the margin. The girl’s team “Venture” specialised in fruit salad sold with aplomb in Canary Wharf and won. The male team “logic” lost because its leader failed to deploy any. In the boardroom Edward the accountant basically said he didn’t want to act like an accountant, so he ignored margin, break even, discounting and even profit indeed accountancy. Ultimately Lord Sugar was appalled and somewhat mystified. Why would a big six beancounter refuse to count beans? In a curious twist the HR person or “business psychologist” in Venture held onto the purse strings a bit too tightly and they under spent and ran out of product. That’s the mortal sin of wasting margin in Sugarland. Contrasted with the accountant who wanted to mange people and not money it was a curious role reversal which the CIPD team will ponder as we launch our Business Savvy for HR project.
Worse was the "mushroom management". Keep them in the dark, so they can't argue back. Prehistoric !
Not someone to enjoy working with, and doomed to failure in the communication world we now live in.
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