Articles From the Team

The Apprentice Week 4 – Frank Sinatra, Northerners and Sushi

This year’s candidates were beginning to look half way competent: Sarah – good; Jade – good; James – good. But who wants that? We want selling a block of Costco cheddar at a market in France bad. I am pleased to say that this week saw me watching through my fingers at times at the sheer cringe inducing horror of it all. Best show of the series so far!

Now, I was fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of some corporate hospitality at Manchester City this week (thanks again, Sam, if you are reading). I know – it is a dirty job but someone does have to do it. I’m a Chelsea fan, but on my visits to City I have always been struck that they do things well at the Etihad. And so it was with the corporate hospitality – smart reception, great staff, good bar, pleasant casual dining experience, all rounded off with meeting Joe Corrigan and Peter Barnes (google it, kids). They also had the nicest loos I have ever seen at a football ground, but that’s not saying a lot if you have ever had to use the facilities at the away end at Stoke City.

But despite the fancy starter, the rather nice curry and delicious cheesecake, something was missing. Something just wasn’t right. But what? What? Then I watched The Apprentice and all became clear – we hadn’t had any Wotsits served from a paper plate! The boys showed the Premier League the way forward – less crispy shredded lamb and noodles, more, well, crisps!

But that wasn’t everything, even if I had been greeted with a paper plate of artificial additive enhanced corn based snacks, my experience would still have been lacking. Yes! Thanks Hamilton – I wanted to be sung at, tunelessly, acapella style, by someone who is holding a lyric sheet. Because there is nothing – and I mean nothing – that says “corporate” as clearly as having an amateur singing Sinatra tunes in a proximity so close that you can actually smell his terror; and there is nothing which shouts “hospitality” as loudly as having to clench one’s buttocks so tightly through sheer embarrassment, as you have to maintain eye contact with said singer as he strains for a high note. Take that, City, nice food, good setting, but until you can wheel out some bloke from the Bradford Inn to sing a Tony Bennett medley, you will remain distinctly mid table.

Let’s move on. You may recently have read David Lammy’s findings from his Freedom of Information request about Oxbridge admissions. As well as uncovering some alarming statistics about the lack of admissions from ethnic minorities, Lammy also looked at the numbers of students admitted from poorer, mainly northern, areas. So, for example, Oxford and Cambridge made 1500 offers to applicants from Herts and Surrey over a five year period, whereas applicants Halton, north east Lincolnshire, Barnsley, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough all combined together managed just 70 offers during that same period.

Well, one of the reasons why northerners are so under represented at Oxbridge is because we are so well represented on The Apprentice. The M62’s best and brightest aren’t reading PPE at Oxford, rather they are figuring out ways to sell a bag of popcorn for £4. And let me tell you, I’ve interviewed someone with a First in PPE from Oxford, but I have yet to meet anyone who could build an argument justifying charging four quid for a bag of heated corn. Andrew, Charles, Elizabeth, Jade, Joanna, Michaela, Sarah Jayne are all from the north, whereas all four of those who have left the process so far have hailed from places south of Watford. So, we may be under represented at Oxbridge, but we are (to quote Andrew) “smashing it” on The Apprentice.

Of course, Andrew also used his powers of insight and expression to sum up what it is to be northern as tellingly as anyone has ever put. Like an Alan Bennett for the Instagram generation, Andrew stated “I’m northern…I know sushi’s a thing, but…”. Exactly! Like a career in investment banking or a branch of Waitrose, we northerners know sushi is “a thing”, but it is not the kind of thing we get or go into. We might have seen a branch of Wagamama’s, but only as we walked our whippet on the way to the chippy.

So you can keep your Oxbridge education, your fancy Japanese raw fish, we’ll crack on with cutting canapés in half in order to make some more brass, thank you very much.

I’m avoiding Spoilers this week, but let me say that the hug between Siobhan and Elizabeth had all the warmth of the hug which would take place between Owen Jones and Nigel Farage if the pair was told that Owen was actually Nigel’s long lost love child.

OK, tenuous recruitment link time. Both teams made the mistake of promising their clients the earth in terms of the hospitality they could expect and then quoted a price way beyond the client’s budget. And so it is with recruitment fees. You can’t offer the deluxe service, my fellow recruiters, at a vastly reduced fee. Get something in return (e.g. exclusivity) or take some things away (e.g. shorten the payment terms) if fees are to be reduced. Or, as Andrew’s team did, give them Wotsits and make them have to sit through Harrison’s rendition of “My Way” as a punishment for cutting them down on price.

Fore more information contact Rob Barklamb at BCL Legal.

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