The Apprentice – Week one: Count Dracula, illiterate teachers and way too many lucky cat products
14 weeks. 16 candidates. All wanting that one exclusive deal with Lord Sugar. The golden fleece: A £250k investment in a Lord Sugar business.
Personally, I can’t quite see any of them making the grade, but maybe the next few weeks or so will change my mind. Maybe not.
A change from the usual format this series, though (so I’m told, up until now I was a The Apprentice virgin). Each humble hopeful presents their business plans at the very beginning, rather than at the end. Regional Manager at Soccer Centres Neil Clough wants to start an online estate agency business whereas Jaz Ampaw-Farr, a Literacy and Education Company Director, wants to start an online learning platform to eradicate illiteracy. Later, she addresses Sugar as ‘bro’. Worrying, coming from a teacher. Sugar doesn’t seem impressed with either of them.
The candidates, a mix of wanna-be entrepreneurs, sales reps, regional managers and a vampire, separate out into two same-sex groups with Jaz as the self-proclaimed project manager for the women and Property Entrepreneur Jason Leech as project manager for the men. The women name themselves ‘Evolve’, the men go for ‘Endeavour’.
“My intelligence is like a machete in a jungle,” Jason boasts (huh?), whilst Jaz attempts to endear herself to her team by an embarrassing attempt at a motivational pep talk but in actual fact sounds more like an overly patronising teacher, the sort who’d say “let’s work together, kids and we’ll have a great time!”
This week, the teams have one night and one day to shift a container load of stock from the Essex port of Tilbury. Toilet rolls, union Jack mugs, high visibility jackets, bottles of water, cat litter, leather jackets, ukuleles and tacky plastic lucky cats are the order of the day.
Unsurprisingly, Jaz’s well-intentioned ‘motivational talk’ becomes somewhat lost as Team Evolve quickly dissolve into chaos as they roam the streets of London desperately finding buyers to shift their stock. Team Endeavour on the other hand don’t appear to be doing much better. Despite the initial banter (Welsh Company Director Alex Mills is told he resembles a vampire), the mass of testosterone and male ego seems at one point as if it will sink the very taxi they are travelling in.
But at least they seemed to be more on the ball. They shifted all their cat litter in one go at Battersea Dog and Cats Home (a buyer Team Evolve didn’t want to visit because of ‘distance’), and sold £230 worth of water to a coach business as well as all the oh-so-tacky lucky cats to a novelty shop, even if they did make the error of sourcing batteries as part of the deal, too.
Team Evolve however, shifted stock in fits and starts, coupled with frantic searches through yellow pages and making long pitches to the wrong staff member at a local shop instead of speaking direct to the decision maker.
One working night and one headless chicken day later, the teams are back in the boardroom, arguing, back-stabbing and being generally obnoxious. Unsurprisingly or not, it was Team Endeavour who won by a mere £58 difference – the men made £1,167.90 whereas the women made £1,109.40.
It was at this point that Count Dracula Alex Mills piped up with ‘Fifty-eight pounds difference…ah-ah-ah.’ No, not really.
In the end, it was a pretty easy decision for Lord Sugar. Jaz’s approach had been disorganised, pig-headed and lacking in communication. Her team had no faith in her, and Sugar questioned the intelligence of trying to sell a Chinese lucky cat product in China Town where every other shop and restaurant had more than their fair share of them. And wasting time pitching to the wrong person was a big mistake. He pointed the dreaded finger: You’re fired.
“I’m gutted I was fired before I had the chance to show how amazing I am!” whined a dejected Jaz. Bye, bye Jaz!