Articles From the Team

The Apprentice Week 5 – Chimney Sweeps and Google

Hmmm. Little or no comedic content to note in this week’s episode in my opinion. So instead of writing about the episode I am going to write about a few things I find curious about The Apprentice. One of them does actually concern recruitment!

Firstly, who on earth can get ready for work in twenty minutes? You know the drill, phone rings, half nude/half asleep person answers, cars will be there in twenty minutes and Lord Sugar will meet you outside The Butcher’s Hook. Ok, so there are twelve or so of them. How many showers does this place have? They all seem to coiffing their hair and applying make up (and that’s just the blokes) – how on earth can you do all that and have a decent breakfast in twenty minutes? It just annoys me.

Secondly. Who dresses like that in the modern workplace? Who wears ties anymore? They are schlepping around London buying Tottenham scarfs (the one Grafene bought was actually an antique as it dates from the last time Spurs won the league, hence its price), they are making burgers; they are selling popcorn – who wears a tie, who wears high heels to do that? Let them wear jeans and trainers say I! Again, this tie wearing is silly and it annoys me.

But what really gets me is a weekly task based on a false premise. OK, so they have to go and buy nine items which have a link to Lord Sugar’s life. Why are they making cold calls to whoever knows to find out what a Doeskin is (please, please don’t be an “adult toy”, please)? Why are they using an A-Z to navigate? Google, amazon, Citymapper – job done. Instead of entering a Turkish shop to buy Jewish delicacies (“Oh and while I’m here, have you got a kippah in my size?”), they should be on ebay, tapping away, asking if a seller will do a Buy it Now on an Amstrad for £49.99! Or in more direct terms, the British economy is beleaguered by relatively low productivity and our leading popular business related entertainment show has a dozen of “Britain’s brightest business minds” spending a whole day doing what one person could do in an hour or two online.

I can now reveal the tasks for the next two weeks. Imagine our Lord standing before the teams as they assemble outside some huts made of sticks and mud, smoke billowing from an open fire over which a pot of turnip soup reaches a temperature best described as tepid:

“Your modern business executive only has twenty minutes to get ready for work in the morning. And if they want a decent breakfast, they ain’t got time to do their hair. So this week, your task is to make some powdered wigs and then sell them – in ads written in Latin – in The Exchange & Mart.”

Google Exchange & Mart, kids.

In the following week, Lord Sugar, dressed as a Victorian mill owner, will tell them:

“Chimney sweeping is big business in London. Your task this week is set up your own chimney sweep business. What’s more, you’ll then record your activities on video tape and sell the vids down at Blockbuster.”

He’ll then make some corny jokes about the losers being sent to the Poor House or having a limb shoved in a loom, before twirling his walking cane and driving off in a horse drawn carriage through London’s cobbled streets.

Lord Sugar is our very own Steve Jobs, a tech visionary, a man who regularly schools Piers Morgan on Twitter. He gets technology. So why are the tasks so Luddite in their conception? Ross, this week’s evictee, is a Digital Design Consultant and owns an app he has developed and sells. Hmm, all sounds a bit on trend, a bit zappy and of the future. He might be good at that, he might be rubbish. The point is we don’t know because instead of doing tasks which might be relevant in our digital age such as rudimentary coding, increasing a company’s online presence or opening Hoxton’s first micro brewery/internet café/ – tattoo parlour (“and it’s all organic, Tarquin…”), Ross is immobile in a people carrier which is belching out CO2 on the North Circular, whilst trying to hunt down the material which goes to make an anachronistic ceremonial robe for an archaic, unelected Second Chamber. Oh the irony! It’s silly and it annoys me!

Rant over, tenuous recruitment point ready to be made. If you are responsible for hiring for your company or if you are a recruiter, perhaps take some time to consider if your recruitment processes, the criteria and competencies you recruit against are fit for the 21st century. Ask if your recruitment processes are the equivalent of phoning around asking what rugelach is and spending a day doing what could be done in an hour online.

For more information contact Rob Barklamb at BCL Legal.

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