The Apprentice 3: Empty Vessels, and Baked-in costs

The positive thing about the third episode is that a lot of learning has taken place. Stuart Baggs "The Brand" has made a strategic decision not be known as Stuart Baggs the bufoon with bog brush barnet booted out in episode 3. He controlled his considerable ego albeit like a seven stone weakling restraining a helium balloon during a hurricane. He did however manage to finesse his approach and showed his selling prowess, a key example of playing to your strengths. Joanna learned so much from last week and  looked so serene and demure in some scenes I thought she was taking part in a remake of The Nuns’ story. Super Stella also showed her savvy by demonstrating she could be a challenging and supportive team player as much as a great team leader.

That left two contestants to fly Icarus like towards the hot sun of disdain. Melissa the mouth and Shibby the surgeon. Both were tasked with leading teams to make and flog lots of bread and cakes. Melissa is more annoying than a fleet of un-silenced scooters. As a "Food service manager" she proceeded to produce the most half baked leadership ever seen on the programme . However bad managers can rely on good colleagues to carry them at least for a few weeks.

Shibby however took the biscuit for bad leadership. He turned under delivery into a new ironic art form . Having won a bread roll order of 1,000 for a major hotel his fulfilment level of 1.6% meant the Chef could quite easily have recycled him into bone meal. Shibby laughed inappropriately then compensated the guy by £130 without being asked. This made the decision in the previous week not to go with Boots as sole supplier of the Bookeze look like a candidate for the Harvard Business School Best Practice Award for strategy.

Melissa was put on the spot by the same hotel to price her rolls. It must have been a strange experience to be asked for a price. Melissa must just normally shout people into submission. However she came up with a price after a bum-squeakingly long fumble on the calculator (£1.64 per bread roll). This is about 5 times the normal cost and feasible only for a motorway service station soup and roll option.

Toe-curling embarrassment for all concerned as the Hotel MD sent them out to get their figures sorted. Luckily Alex, who was later accused by her of "having a maths problem", was able to work out the real cost. She and a few others were too fond of being at the forefront negotiating and selling, and failed to take account of the basic issues of preparation and production. It was the production side which propelled their team through under Chris’s excellent management. On the other team where the production was as pitiful as the pitch they ended up with an oversupply of bread. Christmas came very early for Covent Garden’s never under-supplied pigeons.

That put Shibby in the boardroom with Paloma and Sandeesh. Sandeesh has sulked in the sidelines, a point which Paloma made last week. Shibby put that out in the open along with Paloma's own pushy attempt to over-promise on muffins and bagels, which he stamped on. But Lord Sugar probably made the socially useful decision that he could lose shambolic-at-business Shibby for the social good of healthcare. He could easily have order a taxi for superfluous Sandeesh or pushy Paloma. It’s warming up nicely!

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