The Apprentice – Coach Tours (Episode 5)

Published November 11, 2014

After last week’s ‘night of the finger cull’ who is going to survive this week’s coach trip challenge? Strap in as the candidates take you on a tour of the dos and predominantly don’ts of good business.

As a seasoned viewer of the Apprentice, Episode 5 is typically the point where the seemingly identikit bravado delivering candidates become more recognisable and clearly identifiable. This has been helped out by the very active pointy finger of LordAlanTM. Last week’s unprecedented triple dismissal has opened up the landscape, removing many of the more comedic-leaning and competence-challenged candidates from the process.

As a consequence, I am now capable of referring to some of the candidates by name rather than just by a prominent quality, such as the one who speaks about themselves in the third person or the one with the designer stubble. I will even go as far as saying that the thinning of the herd has enabled viewers to see glimmers of talent within the morass of self-importance and posturing.

This week’s task involved the two teams of Tenacity (RIP team Decadence) and Summit (Please note:  the team name should be said slowly in order for it not to be mistaken for the abbreviation of something) competing on who can deliver a more profitable coach tour. Summit was project managed by Sanjay, a Senior Manager in the banking sector, who decided to build the tour around both history and Kent, England’s garden. Team Tenacity on the other hand was project managed by Daniel, a pub-quiz entrepreneur, boldly claiming he was going to drive them to victory (pun not intended).

As always the key to the task was ensuring a large profit margin and that the costs were controlled. In principle, this seemed to be taken on board by both teams.  However, in action this again proved to be something team Summit didn’t fully grasp with Sanjay very quickly deciding upon a relatively low price point. This showed a lack of Intellect, and arguably this decision alone set up his team for its eventual failure. However, what I and the viewing public didn’t anticipate was how extensive their failure was going to be.

In short, team Summit didn’t just lose this task, they delivered a performance and coach tour so cringe inducing that I spent most of the time watching the show from behind the protective shield of my hands. The main instigator for my wincing is a gentleman by the name of James whose hard selling approach and complete lack of self-awareness elicited bewilderment from the customers/victims and anyone he interacted with.

James’s approach to negotiation was shown to be in stark contrast to the one taken by Mark Wright. Whilst Mark used his Intellect and Emotional Intelligence to get a 60% reduction on ticket prices, James merely seemed to bludgeon his supplier by repeating himself and acting rudely. What made the experience worse was the fact that he has been explicitly warned about his behaviour by LordAlanTM himself. So rather than taking stock and trying to improve as a consequence of his scolding, he seemed to be even more determined to act like a buffoon (that is the technical psychological term for his behaviour). His complete lack of Learning Agility may prove to be a huge issue for his future success, as if he is unable to learn from his experiences, he will carry on making the same mistakes.

Team Tenacity appeared to fare better than team Summit with both Mark and Lauren, in particular, performing very well. Lauren demonstrated Intellect by delivering a tour that seemed to be very well prepared without the aid of any notes or prompts. She also demonstrated strong Drive and Values, because rather than just cobbling together a random selection of words (ahem…Gemma and James), she tried to give the customers a high-quality experience, even though arguably it wouldn’t have greatly impacted the outcome of the task.

The team also had its fair share of problems with Daniel’s leadership and performance being questioned throughout the task. In fact, despite ‘leading’ the team to victory he was given the greatest stamp of disapproval by the one-two punch of being derided in the Boardroom and then excluded from the post-win hug. Overall Daniel’s performance was at odds with his pre-recorded assertions that he was able to sell anything to anyone and was like a chess player, thinking two or potentially an awe-inspiring three steps ahead. I am pretty sure our CEO Nigel Povah, who is actually a grand master of correspondence chess, would agree with me that two steps are probably not sufficient to either play chess or project manage effectively.

So who was fired?

 Controversially Sanjay let James off the hook and instead brought Jemma and Bianca to the Boardroom with him. I would argue that Sanjay was probably the most at fault on this task due to his aforementioned pricing strategy and being complicit in James’s behaviour. Nevertheless, despite the shambolic nature of Summit’s performance, it seemed that LordAlanTM was feeling in a very forgiving mood with only one candidate being fired this week with Jemma becoming the ninth victim of the infamous finger point.

 With 11 candidates remaining, it is starting to get serious. Next week it’s board games!

 Author: Ali Shalfrooshan

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