The Apprentice, Week 6: The first rule of business according to Lord Sugar: Profit before quality

Honestly, what was up with Lord Sugar and his aides in this episode? If I was an alien from a distant universe and had no idea about the concept of business and, for some reason unbeknownst to anyone, decided to watch this particular episode of The Apprentice, I would think that business was about creating tacky, pantomime events. The more tacky, the better. So remember kids, quality = baaaad, if it costs money but pantomime carry-ons = gooood, even if the client hates it.

Sugar’s decision to fire the one person who provided a bit of quality to an otherwise disastrous event was a mind fuck to say the least.

So what happened?

The teams are tasked with organising corporate away days for two major clients – one was Barclays Bank, the other an online holiday firm. Both away days turn out to be utter disasters.

Team Evolve, headed up by Francesca, opt for a back-to-school theme for their holiday client, which naturally consists of a cupcake master class, wine tasting (or rather, wine waffling) a load of ‘we’re doing this because…’ justifications and a load of other irrelevant and random activities. The only redeeming feature was the hired professional motivational speaker at the end that Rebecca Slater suggested at a cost of £600 but which went down so well that several of the delegates declared it was the only high point of the day. Surely that would save the team from certain death?

Project Manager Leah and her Team Endeavour go for an army theme which unsurprisingly, turns out to be cringe-worthy, unstructured and a whole lot of bollocks. Their client, Barclays and the various delegates look a bit traumatised from the entire experience, perhaps with the odd bit in between where they seem to be enjoying themselves, but that’s not very often.

Both away days don’t resemble anything nearly professional enough to impress – and as a journo for a conference and incentive travel magazine myself, I know the sort of things that work in the corporate world and are done well. It’s all about the venue, the theme and the concept. It’s all about the quality. Sadly, these shoddy excuses for corporate away days were a bit of a dog’s dinner.

And what was the sumo wrestling between two team members all about? Note: for sumo wrestling read ‘bouncing into each other once, twice, three times and then running away’.  A definite ‘what the actual fuck’ moment if ever there was one.

Sugar blasts them all back at the boardroom. Nothing unusual in that, perhaps, but his focus is mainly on Rebecca who despite saving the day and pleasing the client (isn’t that the point? Customer satisfaction and all that?) is the failure of the entire task.

Although both clients demanded a significant refund of what they paid and neither seemed impressed with either away day, against all the odds Leah’s tacky army-themed away day won by £500. How they managed to pull that off, I have no idea. Was it the sumo wrestlers?

As the losing team, Francesca decides to bring back Luisa (aka Kate Middleton lookalike) and Rebecca. Luisa reaffirms her hatred of corporates (and you’re on The Apprentice, WHY then?) and Sugar lays into Rebecca for her part in screwing up the task by paying for a really good, professional motivational speaker which all the delegates loved and was the only redeeming feature of the whole event. That, obviously was a huge mistake.  Why go for quality when you can make a profit from a shoddy piece of crap?

Actually, for this episode, I’d fire Lord Sugar. If you’re putting profit before customer satisfaction and firing someone for providing a bit of professionalism, something is seriously wrong.

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