Articles From the Team

Apprentice Week 8 – It’s a Dog’s Life

Imagine the scene, Lord Sugar, Karen and Claude are sitting in a cigar smoke – filled room with a gaggle of TV executives. Remains of a banquet lie on a long table; they are now into the hard stuff, a fine claret for Claude, Kristal for Karen and a light and bitter for Lord Sugar. They are having a “thought shower” for tasks for the Apprentices, when one Exec wonders aloud.

“How far can we make them go for £250,000? What would be the basest thing we could make them do for a quarter of a million?”

“Sell a block of cheddar cheese from a Basingstoke cash and carry at a French food market?” suggests one junior.

“Good, but it’s been done before.” Comes the reply.

“I know, we could get them pick up goose pooh and wash dogs’ backsides!”

“Yes, brilliant!”

And so it came to pass that “Britain’s best and brightest business minds” are hosing the wrong end of a dog for Lord Sugar’s quarter of a million. But don’t laugh – the point came in this week’s show where it dawned on me that I was WATCHING someone wash a dog’s bum for entertainment, to while away my precious leisure time. I’m not sure which is worse – I fear watching it might be the greater of the two evils.

So, week 8. Getting into the nitty gritty. I must begin with an apology. James sought to divide and rule by teaming up Elizabeth and Joanna, in the not unrealistic expectation that they would tear each other apart. But no, they worked well together, Elizabeth was, on the whole, reasonable and it is hugely to their credit that they gave refunds to those customers who had overpaid, thereby making them happy, thereby putting them in the right frame of mind to fork out a small fortune for Pawsecco. Fair play, they both did well.

I kind of lost the plot with this week’s episode. One minute they were selling B2B services, the next they are pitching to run an activity centre, then they are knocking on people’s doors asking if they can clear up doggy do, then they are taking photos. We did, however, get a useful lesson in BS. Our teams had to pitch a photography service to a charity. When Anisa pitched that she and Andrew had experience of photography, Andrew said “I wouldn’t say I have experience of photography.” Andrew, Andrew I am surprised that you of all people could not talk up your experience of taking selfies in the bath.

In the other team, when they were questioned on their experience, Bushra answered with:

“I’m pretty good with the eye…so I can really see what I want.”

Pure BS. It means nothing. What is the difference between being “good” with “the eye” and not so good? The eye? Does that mean just one of them? “So I can really see what I want.” What does this mean? Has she got x ray vision? Is she delusional? Can she just edit out what she doesn’t want to see? As it turned out, this BS was enough to get them the gig where, it turned out, Bushra’s all seeing eye could see everything but the actual point – get the charity’s sweatshirts in frame and in focus.

And so Charles (a man overwhelmed by finding the entrance to a tourist attraction), Anisa (a woman overawed by poop scooping) and Andrew (a “man-child” overawed by cameras), were ushered into the boardroom. Let’s be honest, we probably all sat there thinking “meh”. I couldn’t care less which one would go. I wouldn’t mind if two of them went. Oh, go on, Lord Sugar, go on, do it! Do it! Triple whammy, all three went. It was a first, it was decisive, and it was overdue.

So, the field narrows. I can see four realistic contenders. I think James has a good head on his shoulders, but I’m concerned at how he was swept aside in the Car challenge. But he’s a bright bloke, he can see the angles. Sarah was my early leader, but she’s kind of withdrawn to the shadows in recent weeks. I think she’s like a long distance runner, sitting on the shoulder of the pack leaders, ready to pounce. She also strikes me as bright, calm, and mature. Then we have Jade, who again has hung back in recent weeks, but seems capable.

My favourite, however, is Michaela. She’s from Bolton. She has a self depreciating charm and humour, she is quick as a whip, she gets stuck in and she can knock heads. There was an instance this week when two contestants were bickering over something trivial and she just stopped the debate in its tracks, set it in context and let the group move on. She’s the one to beat, for my money.

Right, time for our tenuous recruitment link. I owe a debt of gratitude to my colleague Gish Abeyratne for pointing me towards this week’s link. I have always been a great believer, when it comes to recruitment and life, which labour is cheap and brainpower is valuable. That’s not to slight labour, but graft is only worth so much. And so we have contestants shovelling up muck for £20 an hour, to then be told to get the geese stuff too and then be criticised for missing a bit: labour is cheap. So, if you are a recruiter who is doing the equivalent of poop scooping - just pressing keys and clicking buttons - your labour has a lower value than the recruiter who consults, who talks, who advises and counsels. So, add some value by actually engaging with the consultant half of our job title rather than just labouring away.

For more information contact Rob Barklamb at BCL Legal.

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