Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Guest Post: Murphy Rants About ... The Apprentice S11E4

We’re a third of the way through the process now, as the teams do the now-regular Pet Show challenge, which is pretty much just a slightly reworked form of a challenge that’s been in the series since its inception. The basic schtick goes as such: The candidates have to make deals with the makers of various products (of which there are limited choices) to sell said products at some kind of event - lately, always the London Pet Show - and then sell them, and whichever team wins the most money wins the challenge entire.

(Since the teams have been mixed up, I can unfortunately no longer refer to them by gender, so I will do my best to remember that the former dudes’ team is Team Versatile, and the former women’s team is Team Connexus. Versatile has irritating moustache guy and the woman who was nearly fired last week; Connexus has Hair Replenish Guy and Ugly Suit Woman.)

To be honest, the teams in this challenge were both disappointingly competent. There’s really very little I can say this week, because in a shocking twist, most of the candidates managed to act like actual business students - or at the very least, students in their first year of a business degree.

Versatile chose some slightly pricy animal t-shirts (I would not pay ten quid for a t-shirt with a guinea pig’s face on it, let’s put it that way) and some also incredibly pricy animal balloons (five pounds each) for their accessory products, and some luxury dog sofas for their high end products, and I was absolutely certain this would lead them to ruin.

After all, who spends five quid on a balloon? Who thinks ‘I’m going to buy my dog a luxury dog sofa’? Who ever buys a t-shirt with a guinea pig’s face on it? Well, it turns out the answer is a surprising number of people. Bolstered by some actually pretty excellent, enthusiastic selling, Team Versatile actually managed to win, despite having decided not to go for what was, statistically speaking, the best high end product (a modular cat tower).

They actually had a really good strategy too, which was to combine quick, impulse buy items with much bigger purchases. It worked, too: They brought in over four-thousand pounds, which for a single day’s selling, at an event where people are spending most of their time at displays and competitions, is not bad at all.

Connexus made some more mistakes. For starters, they made Hair Replenish Guy their team leader, only to find out that he was actually a terrible, spineless leader who needed to defer all of his decisions to other people. Like Versatile, they wanted to sell the balloons - but failed to get the deal because the balloon-maker (the ballooner?) thought they weren’t enthusiastic enough.

Further mistakes they made in the challenge included Ugly Suit Lady, previously one of the best sellers in the process, totally forgetting how to sell. Instead of selling, she was just talking at potential customers, endlessly, giving them nearly no opportunity to think, discuss, or talk at all. She would keep talking to them even when it was clear that they weren’t going to buy.

I am sympathetic: When called out on this in the boardroom, she asked if she was meant to just immediately stop being friendly when it was clear there’d be no sale, and was told that she should, and I get that that’s difficult. On the other hand, if those customers don’t want to buy, they also probably don’t want to keep talking to you anyway.

They also picked the cat heating pad and some other inconsequential cat accessory, which were always going to be less popular impulse buys. In the end, they brought in a little over three-thousand, but I can’t really say how much of that was because they made mistakes and how much of it was just bad luck.

Like I said, everybody was shockingly competent this week.

In the end, Ugly Suit Woman ended up leaving, which is terrible. She’s one of the only people on the show who’s actually memorable.

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