29th May 2013
“It was like a pimple on an elephant.” Nick Hewer, Episode 5
‘Dubai or not ‘to buy’; that is the question’... and in the case of the Apprentice this week, it was clearly a case of ‘not to buy’!! Both teams were flown across to Dubai to negotiate and buy items for the new Waldorf Astoria hotel being built there at the moment and all I can say about this task is; it is to be hoped that the Management of the hotel were not wholly reliant on the bumbling efforts of the candidates!!
The execution of the task this week by both teams was ridiculously poor; however, what won through once again was the dynamics of the team and the ability to work together to get the job done. Myles, or 'Kilometres' as he was renamed by Lord Sugar, stepped forward to be the Project Manager for Evolve and although he made a couple of fundamental errors in the course of the task...
• Failing to speak to the manager in order to negotiate the price down and ultimately paying a stupidly high price for a pot plant and;
• Wasting considerable time hanging around for the Flag to be made instead of using the time productively to procure other items
... he did at least appear to demonstrate a more pragmatic approach to team leadership, which meant that his team were working with him, rather than fighting against him. That said and as referred to last week, Myles' overall approach appeared to be more down to good luck, than good management.
Zee on the other hand, launched into a dictatorial leadership approach which disengaged the majority - if not all of his team before they had even left the initial discussion room. This meant that the team then spent the remainder of the task squabbling and backbiting instead of usefully getting on with the task in hand.
One of the principal issues with the candidates on the Apprentice and this is not unique to this series, it has been the case in previous series too; is that they all see the weaknesses in the candidate appointed as the Project Manager and perpetuate these. Thereby giving them the clear option of blaming the Project Manager in the Boardroom when things go wrong. No-one appears to appreciate that where there is a weak Project Manager, someone from within the ranks has the option to take the lead and show the initiative to transform the task from a 'disaster' to a potentially winning situation.
This point was beautifully illustrated this week by Leah; who was clearly smarting throughout the task at being ousted from being Project Manager. Having 'elected' herself as sub-team leader; she then acted assertively once in the car, to determine that they would be more likely to acquire some of the items from the Dubai Mall rather than one of the Souks as had been directed by Zee. However, having arrived at the Mall where she was then challenged by Zee at taking this decision, she then back-tracked and went back to the Souk and in doing so, wasted a considerable amount of time.
Like a scene from the movie 'Sliding Doors'; imagine what might have happened if she had stuck to her guns and had procured a number of the items on the list - she might have demonstrated that the team were wrong not to select her as PM in the first place and this would undoubtedly have been picked up by Nick and fed back to Lord Sugar. However, she opted to spend the remainder of the task being highly negative and ambling around the Souk without really making any effort to procure any items; just so she could say 'told you so'!
The effort made by Neil to procure the Kandura was also pitiful; whilst he managed to negotiate the price down, he used the immortal phrase, 'I'm not bothered about quality'... Really?? For a hotel that's likely to be rated 5 star as a minimum!!! Ultimately, it was irrelevant as the Kandura did not meet the specification and was rejected by the Hotel anyway.
And then there was Kurt; who also managed a somewhat spectacular cock-up; confusing 'inches' with 'centimetres' - though in fairness to him, this very basic error was not picked up by either Zee or Natalie, who were in the car with him at the time. This led to a flag being produced that was in fact the size of a napkin as opposed to one which could grace the skies above the hotel and ultimately, meant that the team had to pay for both the correct size flag and the 'demonstration' one - costing the team considerably when it came to the final reckoning....