Monday, 22 December 2014

Guest Post: Murphy Rants About... The Apprentice S10E12

Merry Christmas!
 So, we’re at the final week. Mark and Bianca are the remaining contestants, Bianca with her innovative idea to take advantage of a niche in the market and simultaneously fulfil a social need, Mark with his plan to annoy people and be aggressively generic at them. Who will win?

 It started off, as finales always do, with them picking their teams. Gratifying, Sarah was the last to be picked, and James nearly last, with much awkward silence as both Mark and Bianca became visibly more reluctant and long-suffering about their choices. This pleased me. Well done, everyone. Well done.

 Bianca also picked Daniel for her team. Frankly, I would have done my best to force Mark to pick him, just so that Daniel could sabotage him with his hatred.

 The initial market research showed that people loved Bianca’s idea, by and large, but didn’t like the proposed price range. This was only exacerbated when she produced branding that was frankly amateurish and Primark cheap. To Bianca’s credit, though, she might well be the only contestant in the process who has consistently listened to market research and expert opinions and adjusted her plans accordingly, and I think that that’s not only truly admirable, but shows her to be a canny businesswoman. Certainly Lord Sugar wouldn’t have ended up where he is without listening to experts and markets.

 (Bonus points to her team for Daniel insisting that he’d never worn tights. He insisted on this at length, over and over, more than once. I don’t think anybody had even suggested that he wears tights. We get it, Daniel. You do not wear skinwear traditionally associated with women. Let it go.)

 Meanwhile, the initial market research showed that everyone hated Mark’s idea only slightly more than they hated Mark.

 … Okay, that’s not true. Mark’s a lovely person, and the market research by and large showed that he would be facing a large amount of competition and attempting to appeal to an already weary market. I personally would not pin any hopes on such a business idea.

 (Bonus points for his team for how they looked and sounded alarmed, disdainful, and just exhausted whenever Sarah said anything. You and me both, guys. You and me both.)

 It got to the presentation to experts, and to be honest, apart from a couple of snafus (Bianca’s TV advert was very, very poor, and definitely did not push the luxury angle she was going for; meanwhile Mark put Solomon and James in charge of an entertaining icebreaker, and it was bizarre and horrifying and nightmarish), both were actually pretty good. They answered their questions well and gave good presentations.

 Then it was time for the boardroom, which included such highlights as Sarah attempting to sabotage Bianca by saying that she’d never buy her product at its price. Which annoys me a little, because in a very real sense, Sarah isn’t the product’s intended recipient. While Bianca’s range of tights provide skin colours for paler people, its genesis was from the idea that in an often racist fashion industry, it is very difficult for non-white women to find skin coloured tights. Sarah could choose to partake of Bianca’s tights, but she has a wealth more choice.

 (I do think that marketing them as a mass market product would be a good idea. It took me a while to come around to it, but it makes business sense and it would fulfil that social need more. Luxury products can come later.)

 Then, there was maybe the most bizarre decision from Lord Sugar of the process: He chose Mark as his business partner. This decision is baffling to me, and seems to be based solely on how he doesn’t want to help guide Bianca, preferring to take an entirely silent role. I can understand that, but everything seems to suggest that Mark’s idea is a non-starter, whereas Lord Sugar pointed out that Bianca’s idea could definitely succeed with his backing.

 It was a bizarre decision to end a bizarre process, but it has been - fun. Torturously painful, but fun. I will always remember fondly that time when Sarah suggested that all of the women should wear short skirts, high heels, and lipstick, and then was smacked down for it three weeks later. Good times, good times.

Where’s the vodka.

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