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THE APPRENTICE - Task One 
“I don’t like people who suck up to me; if I wanted to be loved, I’d go to ‘Tinder’” Lord Sugar, Episode 1 

Image supplied by www.tv.bt.com 
And so we are off; Lord Sugar’s latest attempt to find a new entrepreneur in whom he can invest his £250,000 to get their business idea off the ground. The scene was set with an empty chair on Lord Sugar’s right hand side, enabling the dramatic build-up and arrival of Nick’s replacement… Claude Littner… His arrival preceded by the typical camera shots, jumping from person-to-person, showing their raised eyebrows and nervous smiles and then, as he entered the room, the image of his steely-face checking out the candidates… 
 
The introduction phase of the programme began with some well-placed humour… Firstly Lord Sugar introduced Claude and explained how he ‘liked a laugh from time to time; there was that time in 1979…” and then a somewhat ‘dry’ response to Lord Sugar introducing Karren Brady as Baroness Brady; “but I’m happy for you to call me Karren!”. It will be quite interesting to see if, as the weeks go on, that changes for some of the candidates… 
 
Onto the candidates themselves; there was a little sting in the tail of the first task, when three of the male candidates were asked to swap with three females; marking the first time that the first task hasn’t had a straightforward men v. women slant and prompting some sexist slurs from a couple of the candidates… Mergim suggesting that he had wanted it to be men v. women, so that he could prove that men are better at selling than women… That, from a bloke who later tried to sell fish to a vegan store!!!! 
 
The selection of team names was interesting as ever… Charleine was very excited as she put forward the name ‘Illustrious’ and then visibly devastated when it was ruled out in favour of… wait for it… Team Versatile!!! Of course, she might have had more chance of selling her idea had she been able to relay the dictionary definition of ‘Illustrious’ as being “famous and distinguished” as opposed to the explanation she did give; that “it was the name of a ship and they were going to a fishmongers tomorrow”!! 
 
For the other team; having dismissed Dan’s suggestion of ‘The Sugarbabes’ (thankfully!), Brett put forward the option of ‘Connexus’ – a Latin word for ‘connection’ and if you say it quickly enough, apparently it sounds like ‘connects us’!!! 
 
Once in the teams, there was a mixed economy in terms of those willing to step up as Project Manager. Whilst for ‘Connexus’, April immediately put herself forward as having an interest in food through her blog and was undisputed in doing so; for ‘Versatile’ the process was much more laboured and painful, with Selina eventually having the PM role imposed upon her on the basis that she ‘cooks’ and has an ‘intolerance to some foods’. 
 
With PM’s identified; they then adopted the two extremes of the Tannenbaum-Schmidt Leadership Continuum; with April adopting a dictatorial style and telling her team very much how things would play out and being very reluctant to take on board anyone else’s comments or views. And, at the other end of the scale came Selina, whose approach probably fell somewhere towards the far end of ‘abdication’ and more towards the Apprentice equivalent of ‘chaos theory’… 
The Tannenbaum-Schmidt Leadership Continuum 
Being conscious of the fact that there are two episodes to blog about this week and therefore skipping ahead to the first boardroom; whilst Selina had reigned as PM in apparent chaos, common sense had been displayed through the course of the task and they had ultimately taken a decision to get the first batch of meals that were ready to their pitch site to ensure they were there for the lunchtime rush. Whilst the same could not be said for Connexus, who did not get to their pitch site until after the main lunchtime rush had ended… Further, there was then a failure on April’s part to recognise the difficulty of selling ‘lunches’ in the afternoon, after most people had eaten their lunch and insisted on the items being sold as ‘high-end’ products at a ridiculously high mark-up… £9 for a tuna salad in a plastic container… Seriously; you only pay about £12 to get a Niçoise at Pizza Express and that comes with dough sticks and a seat!!! 
 
The upshot of this blinkered approach to the task meant that whilst Versatile made £200.29 in profit (even after throwing a load of their calamari away because they had left it out in the sun!), Team Connexus made a grand total of £1.87 profit – yes, that really is £1.87 – no missing zeros and the decimal point is in the right place!!! This must be the lowest profit ever known on the Apprentice… 
 
Back in the Boardroom and April decided that Dan and Brett were responsible for the failure of the task and with the three of them in front of Lord Sugar, the outcome kind of became inevitable when Dan, trying to defend his position, came out with the fateful ‘I can’t cook and I can’t sell – so shoot me’! Which is exactly what Lord Sugar did! 
 
Was he the right choice – in my opinion no! His manner and style were reminiscent of Tom Pellereau; Apprentice winner in 2011 and had Dan not been raised above the parapet quite so quickly, he might have shown himself to develop his potential in a similar way as Tom did 4-years ago… 
 
Image obtained from the telegraph.co.uk 
Who should have gone then? 
 
In my view and at the end of this fishy tale – April. It is one thing to be a strong, decisive character when you are leading a team, but you also need to be able to listen and to take on board other people’s opinions from time to time. Had April done this during the task, the outcome may have been different… Plus, in an environment the size of the Billingsgate Fish Market; to go to the first stall and accept the price they give you for something as common as ‘cod’ and which would probably have been available on a hundred other stalls, is pretty unforgivable!!! 
What we learnt about the Candidates… 
 
There were quite a few of the candidates in this first task who kept themselves below the radar; but one person who did step up was Brett… With his navy background, he emerged as being very much a ‘jobsworth’. If it’s not in the specification, it won’t get done and to pinch a theme from the BBC 2 ‘You’re Fired’ programme in relation to Brett; he is the person who you see being rescued from a river because the SatNav told him to turn into it!!! 
Image obtained from reluctanthousedad.com 
... And then there were 17... 
 
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