This week I ran out of nominations for Apprentice candidates in need of urgent training. So where do I start? Well it would have to be with the losing team, Apollo. Laura Moore, the indecisive team leader, would have benefited from leadership development, to help her control what appeared to be a rabble of a team.
The basic task was to design and sell an innovative product for use on the beach. Laura’s team came up with an awful product, a book stand. Not an item at the top of everyone’s “must buy for the beach” list. The other team, Synergy, designed a towel. Safe but hardly innovative. The towel did have a facility for keeping drinks cool but essentially it was a towel. Laura’s awful book stand did have one redeeming feature. It was innovative. Innovative is not always a good word for describing awful products but the book stand idea seemed to fan some interest from Boots, a major retailer.
This leads me on to Laura’s next development need, sales training. Had Laura had some basic sales training, she would not have immediately rejected Boots enquiry about product exclusivity. Forgive me if I am wrong but I think I spotted a buying signal there. As I stared at the TV, I was willing Laura to respond positively to this buying signal. Laura could maybe ask what commitment Boots would make, by way of initial order, to secure product exclusivity for a 12-month period. Maybe she would go for the jugular and try the confident but risky initial approach of telling them the minimum volume commitment she would accept. Instead, she firmly slammed the door in their faces by saying it was too early to consider exclusivity. WHAT? Too early to consider exclusivity with a huge retailer like Boots? Maybe too early to agree it yes if they couldn’t thrash out an acceptable deal. However, there is no law preventing negotiation even if the final deal can’t be done. Laura walked away with no sales whatsoever from any customer.
There was no shortage of other candidates for training. The Apollo team members behaved so appallingly as a group it was embarrassing. Lack of space prevents me commenting further on this. All I can hope is that they act more professionally in future episodes. Somehow I doubt it.
The firing this week was a bit of an anti-climax. Despite Laura’s shortcomings, Lord Sugar kicked out Joy Stefanicki, who he accused of being a passenger not a risk taker. The way the programme is edited makes it hard to judge the fairness of this but certainly Joy seemed to be operating “under the radar” for most of it. Doing nothing in the first few episodes, a good strategy in previous years, is clearly not an option this year.
See http://www.bbc.co.uk/apprentice/ for the official site with photos of all the candidates.
By Jon Davies | Righttrack’s Interim International Business Development and Marketing Manager