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HR Insights - Extra 
Over the next few weeks and whilst The Apprentice is being shown on the BBC, we will be running a second blog, concentrating on the programme and the candidates... *** Spoiler Alert*** - the following blog will reveal the results of this week's episode. 

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...
 
Would you buy a property from a man who confuses a musical instrument with a perfume?? 
However, whilst all of these issues undoubtedly contributed to the failure of the task, the overwhelming failure of this task rest solely on the shoulders of Zee, the PM himself. Last week, as the teams were mixed-up, Zee proclaimed himself to be the 'saviour of the girls' and promptly found himself on the losing side. This week, as it was announced that the task involved the trip to Dubai, he proclaimed himself as 'Mr Dubai', proudly telling everyone that having lived there for two years, 'they could put away the maps because he knew Dubai like the back of his hand'. Remind me, what is that famous proverb? Oh yes; 'pride comes before a fall'!! And what a spectacular fall it was... 
 
Zee's unchecked arrogance first led him to mislead the team into looking for incorrect items - the description of 'Oud' being 'mahogany and standard size' would have told even the dullest bulb in the box that this was not going to be a fragrance, but would Zee listen to anyone who tried to tell him... No, absolutely not!!! His arrogance could not comprehend for one moment that someone else may have been right and he was wrong. His dictatorial 'management' - and I use the term 'management' in the loosest sense of the word, did not do anything to help him either. 
 
However, what was worse by far; was his 'misogynistic' attitude. It is quite unbelievable that someone who has only been living in an era where 'gender equality' supposedly exists [at 27 years of age; both the Equal Pay Act and the Sex Discrimination Acts were well established by the time he was even a ‘twinkle in his parents eyes’!!], could display such a derisory attitude to the two females on his team. Whilst neither of the two girls has demonstrated much in the way of astute business sense in the process thus far; neither of them deserved to be treated in the manner in which this ‘chauvinistic pig’ deemed it appropriate to treat them on this task. When he later, on the BBC 2 programme 'You're Fired', tried to claim that he wasn't in fact a male chauvinist he was quite rightly shot down by Lara Morgan who asked 'so why are there so many examples of when you were being sexist then?' 
 
The two key examples of this poor behaviour being; his 'blocking' body language in the car; which continually excluded Natalie from what he and Kurt were doing and preventing her from participating and his attempt to cut Leah from the phone call in order to speak to Neil, who Zee clearly believed would talk more sense than Leah possibly could!!!! 
 
His decision to take both females back into the Boardroom with him thankfully proved to be his downfall. Leah probably did deserve to be there as the self-appointed leader of the sub-team who managed to achieve almost as little as the main team. However, his decision to take in Natalie was on this occasion wholly unjustified. Yes, she probably wasn't that effective on the task, but his behaviour towards her during the task contributed to that ineffectiveness and the overall results show that she wasn't the only ineffective member of the team. 
Who will be next??? And is week six going to be the week when Lord Sugar fires two candidates??? 
So five down and eleven to go and so far, there isn't really any sign that any of them are worth a punt at a sizeable investment for their business. Will next weeks' task change this? Doubtful really, considering two highly ineffective teams are allegedly going to be delivering 'team building’ skills to businesses. It’s to be hoped there isn’t going to be a ‘before and after’ for the participating businesses; if there is, I’m sure it will show a dramatic decline in performance after the activities than there was before! 
We couldn't finish without highlighting the best moments of the show...  
 
First was Luisa's reaction to finding out they were going to Dubai - did she really believe that Lord Sugar would have arranged a jolly for them at which she would require 'beachwear'???? Sadly, given her demonstrable immaturity, I think she probably did!!! 
 
OR 
 
Who could resist raising a smile at Jason attempting to do the impression of a Falcon – in that way that only a Brit abroad can achieve!!! 
Jason 'flapping his arms' at a random shopper to ask if they knew where they could get 'Falcon Hoods' from was a priceless moment!!! 
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