Articles From the Team

The Apprentice Week 2: “Fur Trees”, Breakdancing and Keeping Score

And so we come to week two. I went to see Blade Runner 2049 at the weekend. Amongst other things, the film throws up some big existential questions: what is a soul? What is it to be human? Isn’t Ryan Gosling’s hair nice? But none of the questions quite compare to that posed by Jeff this week: “How many bankers do you know who can breakdance?”. Well, I once hung with some bad asses from the Lehman Boyz and a mate of a mate’s cousin is actually in the G Sachs So Solid Crew, but my answer, in all honesty, is none. Not nowadays. But Jeff is a banker “with a Batchelor’s degree in Mathematics” who can breakdance. And believe Jeff, breakdancing is a pretty good indication of creativity. Yeah, that Shakespeare bloke could write a play, but could he do a hand hop? I think not. Rollover Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news? No, he couldn’t even rollover and do a body spin.

Ah Jeff, I can see you now: 14 years old, slaving over algebra, spurred onwards by parental and peer pressure, conditioned to strive upwards in a world of data and digits, but all you wanted to do was dance, dance, dance. Like Hong Kong’s Billy Elliot, you wanted to break free of your social conditioning and express your inner spirit by swivelling around on your head on a big piece of heavy duty cardboard, but instead you got a “Batchelor’s degree in Mathematics” and a job at an investment bank. We feel your pain.

The girls threw up some equally big questions. Why does Siobhan spend so much time in the bedrooms of 5 Star hotels, when will Michaela punch Elizabeth and “Can you actually have a tree made of fur?” The answer is no Joanna, but I hope you make it to week six when you will all be tasked with making a micro brewery from two tin cans and some fuzzy felt – if you can conceive of a tree made from fur, producing 20 gallons of over priced, barely drinkable IPA from said resources should be a cinch for you.

This week’s task involved decorating and furnishing rooms in a luxury hotel. This saw the lads spend £600 on some old suitcases which they could have got for a fiver down at Oxfam. They then set about painting the walls in the hotel room. Instead of going for colours more readily associated with top end hotels (Spectre Moon, Yawn Dust, that sort of thing), they went down to a budget DIY chain and bought from its own brand “Exploitative Landlord” range. And my, what colours they chose: Electrocuted Canary, Bloodshot Hangover and Paraffin Seepage. Not really the luxury hotel look.

So, on to the recruitment bit. The Apprentice is a selection process. A criticism which could be levelled at it is that some series just measure the same competencies week after week, chiefly the ability to sell. This week’s task was a creative task and the sad truth is that even after we account for the artistic flair of Grandmaster Melly Jeff, there was a paucity of creative talent on display. Just drones giving it 110% so they could “smash it”.

So well played Lord Sugar for setting a task which measured creativity, but in doing so, the show set its own problem of form. Valuing a creative process is a subjective thing (or as Sajan might put it, in his own unique form of punch-drunk word association ”Art is defined in different ways”) and so I am sure I was not alone in wondering what on earth was happening with the scoring at the end. Money spent divided by subjective view of Lord Sugar, plus opinion of the hotel bloke over quality of furnishings equals score? Heads its girls, tails its boys? It was a deeply unsatisfying conclusion – there was no score, no result, no defined outcome. He just kind of made it up.

Now, here’s the thing, recruitment isn’t like that. You fill jobs to meet clients’ needs - result; you place candidates in the job of their dreams - result; you bill money - result. There is a score. So if you like that sort of environment, that sort of certainty, please get in touch with me at robbarklamb@bcllegal.com to discuss career opportunities with us. If that’s not for you, then there is always breakdancing.

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