The Apprentice – Wearable Technology (Episode 2)

Apprentice blog episode 8
Published October 22, 2014

The second task of the series saw the groups compete in a design task to create wearable technology. After Lord Sugar explained what was in store for the teams he told Robert that, as a “Shoreditch loving person” he was the typical consumer for the product and was expected to take the project manager role. Robert chose to ignore Lord Sugar and explained that he should not be project manager for the task as he wanted to specialise in “extreme luxury, high fashion retail”. After a lot of shirking, it was left to Scott to step up to the plate for team Summit after being accused of being absent by Lord Sugar during the previous task. He had also somewhat conveniently attended a conference on wearable technology in the 2 weeks prior to starting the process.

For the newly named team Tenacity, Nurun was somewhat coerced into being project manager as no one else wanted to take the opportunity, or put themselves in the potential wake of Lord Sugar. Nurun was quite quickly exposed as lacking insightful judgement and courage as she could not decide between all the ideas that were being generated so decided to go with all of them. After a very confused design meeting Team Tenacity were left to wait overnight for their prototype to be produced. They woke the next morning to find a note explaining that their prototype was not ready, which was not surprising considering that the garment was more complicated that Inspector Gadget’s anorak and nowhere near as fashionable. Fortunately for Nurun, team Tenacity were able to deliver one reasonable pitch once the product arrived and get orders from one prospective client and therefore beat team Summit for the second week in a row. Bianca was called out by Lord Sugar in the boardroom for not taking the opportunity to be project manager, if she learns anything from the results of this task she will be putting herself forward for anything of any relevance in the future.

When Scott was initially appointed project manager he explained his idea was to create something that you would wear all day to monitor your diet, I assume this was more complicated than a belt. The group did not like this idea and suggested a jumper that could display a picture taken from a mobile phone. When Scott realised his idea would not be taken forward he announced “from now on, I’m putting this back on you guys” and true to his word was absent for much of the task. However, he did supervise Robert and the rest of his sub-team in their creation of a grey jumper (although Robert ensured the material was Italian all by himself). When the other sub-team met with the designer it quickly became apparent that their concept would not work within the time-frame and were again forced to show some creativity, on the spot. They didn’t. They therefore ended up creating a jumper with a camera located around the chest area, obviously lacking the female perspective during that brainstorm. When it came to the pitches Daniel clearly explained that he would not wear the product in public, Robert barked “privacy is dead” and Steven tipped the laptop on its side when asked if it was possible to rotate the image. This sterling team effort was sufficient to ensure that the jumper received no orders at all.

When it came to the boardroom Lord Sugar wanted to make sure that Robert was not made a scapegoat for failing to take the responsibility of project manager. He did this by immediately firing Robert, showing that the Apprentice process truly is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous…..but mainly Uncertain. Whilst Solomon had correctly pointed out previously that Lord Sugar can do whatever he wants, the group may not have realised he can do it whenever he wants. Scott decided to bring Solomon and Daniel back to the boardroom but despite some quite irate and aggressive rants was not able to save himself from the chop.

So why did Robert get the boot?

Robert made the grave mistake of going against Lord Sugars suggestion that he would be perfectly suited to project manage this task. Lord Sugar is looking for someone who is willing and able to adapt to new environments and challenges by drawing on learning and feedback from previous experiences. Robert was not able to demonstrate this as he was not prepared to project manage any task that was not “extreme luxury, high fashion retail”.

Robert also showed a lack of insightful judgement during the first task when he insisted that the hotdogs had to be sold in Shoreditch and they had to source gourmet toppings in order to do so. This meant they spent more in producing the hotdogs, which cut into their profit margin. Furthermore, they spent approximately an hour purchasing these additional ingredients and therefore missed a significant portion of the lunch trade.

However, Roberts’s demise was at least partly attributable to his inability to build relationships. Throughout the two episodes there were countless examples where he looked to clarify just how superior he is. My personal favourite was his metaphor for Lord Sugar’s comment that he was suited to the task, suggesting “it is like saying you can ride a canoe but can you ride a luxury yacht in the south of France, Cannes” because a luxury yacht is not luxury unless it is in the South of France, Cannes.

So why did Scott get the boot?

Scott did actually show some willingness to adapt to new environments and challenges as he took the opportunity to be project manager after Lord Sugar suggested he was absent from the first ask and described him as the “poodle of petticoat lane”. However, even though he had conveniently attended a conference on wearable technology he was not really able to bring any useful knowledge or insight to the task.

Scott also lacked the ability to lead a team from an emotional perspective. He was not able to influence others or build relationships. During the brainstorming sessions he tried to gain attention from the rest of the group by saying “wait” at least 10 times, this didn’t work so he switched to “guys” for another 10, which was not successful either so went back to “wait” for a final 10. In fact he was barely able to manage his own emotions for the most part, demonstrated best during his furious rant on the merits of the two individuals he had taken to the boardroom, which undoubtedly angered Lord Sugar further.

However, once again Lord Sugars trusted aides who got to see first-hand Scott’s approach to leading his team delivered the one-two knockout punch. Karen Brady quickly interjected during another of Scott’s rants and requested that he spent “more time answering questions and less time covering your arse”. Later Nick Hewer offered another perfectly constructed criticism, explaining that “Scott is a slippery character; he passes the buck like it is a grenade”. When you consider this lack of integrity in combination with his aggressive style you can see why Lord Sugar decided it was best to steer clear of working with him in the future.

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Author: Ross McGarrigle

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