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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. 

5th June 2013 
 
“No bones broken yet, but hey, it’s early in the day.” Nick Hewer, Episode 6 
 
‘Planning and preparation prevent p**s poor performance’ – a phrase synonymous with the organisation of every conceivable business activity you can think of; yet in this week’s task, there was no obvious planning or preparation done by either side! 
 
The outcome of the task was inevitable really; two teams who have thus far not even managed to ‘organise a p**s-up in a brewery’… quite literally! were tasked with organising a day of team-building activities for two groups of managers; one from Barclays and the other from Lastminute.com. Both organisations had expressed, by way of their brief, the need for the ‘away-day’ to be built around business objectives, which in both cases featured ‘communication’; with Lastminute.com also stating that they were looking for ‘collaboration’ and Barclays wanting to focus on ‘listening’ skills. Both Organisations were explicit in their wish that this away-day should not be seen to be a 'jolly'! 
 
These core skills lend themselves to so many different team-building activities, too numerous to mention here and what did the teams come up with – ‘cupcake making’, wine-tasting and ‘sumo-wrestling’!!! Don’t get me wrong, I love a glass of vino or three on an evening or even at the end of a busy and productive ‘away-day, but as an activity to promote ‘communication and collaboration’… mmmh not really… no! 
Sumo wrestling and cupcakes were chosen as suitable team-building activities... Really! 
To be fair to Neil and Myles from Team Endeavour on the day itself, they did at one point grasp the concept of linking the ‘lawn-games’ to the core skill of ‘communication’ by having the participants doing the exercise with their eyes closed. But even that was a bit ‘half-arsed’; could they not have stretched to getting some proper blind-folds to make the event look as though it was a half-way professional event??? 
 
Endeavour was completely flummoxed by what happened next though… A turn of events, so unusual in Britain, it could not have possibly been anticipated and planned for - it started to rain!!! My goodness, what could they possibly do to continue the event indoors – move the lawn games into the somewhat large space that they had available to them and carry on perhaps? No, instead of making this simple decision, Leah decided that she would do a presentation on a subject matter that she clearly knew nothing about – Conflict Management and then decided to use Myles and Neil dressed in ridiculous ‘sumo-wrestling’ costumes to demonstrate what happens when ‘conflict spirals out of control’. It was probably useful that by now the delegates were stunned into complete silence; otherwise Leah may have found herself experiencing a more realistic demonstration of how conflict spirals out of control!!!! 
 
But what of team Evolve at this stage; were they faring any better… Nooooo! They had opted for a theme of ‘school’ days and to illustrate this, had spent £300 of their budget on a large pink flamingo and some ‘mock’ flame machines. I’m not sure where they all went to school, but we sure as heck didn’t have any such adornments at South Holderness School when I went there! Instead of then allowing the delegates to help themselves to tea and coffee; for some reason, known only to the team, they then decided to take orders and serve the drinks to the delegates individually, wasting untold time at the start of the day, but providing a useful indicator to the delegates of what lay ahead… 
 
One of the best (but not the best bit) activities was the ‘team’ plank game, a very interesting team-building skill that does actually require the participants to communicate in order to move forward and which, much as I hate to say it, was put forward by Luisa – who quite frankly needs to be ……………………….. (fill in the blank as you wish!)… 
 
Aside from it not fitting in with the theme of the day (how many schools do you know who serve wine to pupils?) the wine-tasting had a potential to convey a useful message to the delegates if Rebecca had firstly; known what she was talking about and secondly, done a bit of preparation! I have been wine tasting for a few years now and one of the key things that I have learnt by going to these classes, is that the best wine is not always the most expensive wine – ring any bells?? Oh yes, that philosophy is strikingly close to the philosophy of Lastminute.com… ‘Five star experiences for three star prices’! 
 
The easiest way to have conducted that exercise would have been to have three wines – an expensive, medium and cheap wine and left it to the delegates to both try and identify which was which and which one they preferred. With any luck, the majority would have selected the medium or cheap wine – thus proving that you don’t always have to spend a lot of money to have a great experience!!! Simples! 
Motivational speakers don't come cheap and you need to know who and what you are getting for your money... 
The last section of the day for both teams was a motivational speaker for which Evolve paid £600. Having booked and used motivational speakers in the past; I have to say this was an absolute ‘snip’ – particularly if he was a half-decent speaker… Several years ago a certain Sven Goran Erikkson – England football manager (who achieved very little and clearly could not even motivate a ‘Duracell bunny’!) charged £20,000 for a speaking gig lasting approximately 1.5 hours and even then he wouldn’t actually prepare an actual presentation but insisted on the session being an ‘interview style’ Q & A; so like I say, £600, a ‘snip’!!!! 
 
It was therefore surprising that Rebecca came under significant fire for putting forward the one glimmer of hope in an otherwise dismal day. Granted, she had also been behind the wine-tasting fiasco… And this criticism was compounded by Endeavour using Neil as their motivational speaker and he was, by all accounts very well received by the participants and obviously cost nothing… However, could you really imagine Luisa, Jason or Jordan being an effective motivational speaker??? It would be like a cross between Floella Benjamin and Brian Cant on ‘Play Away’ and a Saturday morning Open University lecturer from the seventies… 
 
So, this proved to be Rebecca’s downfall… she was my one bastion of hope for the female candidates; whilst she had been a somewhat quiet contender thus far, that is not always a bad thing – anyone remember a certain Inventor called Tom from Series 7?? Quiet all through the process and who is now enjoying a successful business partnership with Lord Sugar… 
The number of 'scalps' is growing by the week, but will next week see a double-firing...?? 
Both teams spectacularly failed to meet their given briefs this week and quite frankly, were lucky to have only been hit with a request for a partial refund; if I had been one of those Chief Officers, I would have been insisting on a full refund, which would have left the candidates well and truly out of pocket… Incidentally; if it’s not too late, I’d be very happy to talk to Barclays Bank Retail UK about developing an appropriate and well planned team-building away-day that could be rolled out across their 35,000 staff!!! 
 
Next week the teams will be tasked with selecting and selling items of camping equipment at the Motor Home and Caravan Show – I sense this might become the sequel to ‘Carry on Camping’ and with ‘surprises’ promised, will this be ‘double-'firing' week’??  
 
The smart money has to be on Myles to go all the way as it currently stands and my money’s on Luisa and possibly Jordan to go next week!!!! 
We couldn't finish without highlighting the best moment of the show this week, which has to be... 
 
... that look Karren gave Luisa in the Boardroom; right after Luisa had expressed her view that she hated the corporate world… If looks could kill, they could have changed next week’s task from camping to burial equipment!!!! 
And finally; is it just me or has anyone else spotted the obvious similarity in appearance between Francesca and a certain other Apprentice candidate who has swiftly been removed from Lord Sugar’s Christmas card list this year… 
Stella English on the left... or is it the right??? Series 6 winner who unsuccessfully took Lord Sugar to a Employment Tribunal earlier this year... 
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