Thursday, 29 May 2008

Finally Sir Alan Saw Sense

After a week of blunders, when firing Raef seemed like a good idea and letting Michael beg (again) for his right to continue his Apprentice Journey, Sir Alan has come to his senses.

Michael Sophocles has had more second chances than any Apprentice candidate ever. Why? Because Sir Alan seemed to have a soft spot for him and because he excused Michael's blatant incompetence with the fact that he was young.

Whilst inexperience can be the downfall of many a young business person, so can arrogance and a lack of common sense. Although Michael might be 25, I would say it's more of the latter and less of the former that made him a poor candidate.

I was 25 when I filmed the show and had 3 years of business experience behind me - when I made a mistake my 'youth' wasn't blamed, I was held accountable and rightly so. Whilst excuses can be made for a young mind making a mistake, the consequences are the same regardless.

The producers claim that The Apprentice is a show about real business; whether Sir Alan would have continued to employ Michael after 3 serious mistakes which would have cost him money in the real world is an indication of the wide gap between The Apprentice and reality.

The signs of exhaustion are clear to see now and credit to those candidates who have lasted this long; noone but a candidate will ever understand the emotional and physical strain that The Apprentice brings; don't get me wrong, it's an incredible privilege to be part of such a thing, but it's knackering none the less!

I have to say I continue to be enthralled by this show, I'm not sure if it's a pleasure on an addiction, but The Apprentice remains firmly in my SkyPlus box and I think that's unlikely to change.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Michael Sophocles slimier than seagull poo?

How has he not yet been fired? Why did Sir Alan allow himself to look so daft by allowing the slimy one to beg for one more chance?

So, Mr Sophocles is fed up of being a scapegoat, and the nation is fed up of Mr Sophocles - or perhaps it's just me.

The week before last we had the kosher chicken fiasco and last week it was the cakes; I'm not sure "buy this cake or your wedding will be dull" was ever going to be a killer sales line and dismissing your customers as 'dumb-dumbs' isn't really going to impress. Yet the puppy dog eyes seem to be getting to Sir Alan and the slimy one remains in the race for another week.

I think we all know he has more lives than a cat and I hope they don't carry him through to the final.

He's asked to be project manager this week; will it be an Apprentice first with the winning project manager getting fired - I hope so!

Monday, 12 May 2008

Two souks and you're out!

What a brilliant episode and a notoriously great task. We saw cameraderie and foolishness, good leadership and absolutely hilarious chicken antics - will there ever be a series where meat doesn't cause a furore?! Series 2: Said orders 100 chickens for 100 pizzas, Series 3: Katie and Paul try to sell pork sausages to a halal butcher on Ramadam and Series 4: Michael and Jenny get a muslim butcher to bless and slaughter a kosher chicken!

Before I get to the ins and outs of last week's show, I must comment on something a dear Cornish friend said to me whilst I was back home last week - she (who will remain nameless) said that my blogs were 'harsh', that I don't give anyone an inch and quite frankly I didn't win so who am I to talk. There's something about the fresh air and straight-talking in Cornwall that can bring a city girl back down with a bump.

Whilst I appreciate I didn't win; this blog really isn't intended to be horrible or to attack the candidates. I have the utmost respect for all the candidates; I know only too well that the Apprentice is more than a TV show, it's a mental, physical and emotional challenge. It is 100% self inflicted and primarily linked to a vanity which drives these people (and me) to want to achieve more and more. But, do people really want to read a critique which sits on the fence and doesn't really say anything about anyone? If you do, let me know and I'll tone it down a bit!

Anyway, a genius episode and a double firing; as if by magic I predicted it only hours before the show last week and I wouldn't be surprised if we see another in the coming weeks.

The two Jennies were out the door pretty quickly. Alex was saved and sent back to the house, I was so pleased he saw some of Sir Alan's wrath, of all the people, I feel that he is the one with the biggest gameplan - he does very little and distances himself from everything yet places the blame with the skill of a seasoned judge.

SAS is on form, he spotted ginger Jenny as the 'bad egg' and clearly wanted her out the week before last; I think he secretly liked the bribery produced by Michael and her (which is why Michael survived), he just wanted a reason to get rid of her.

Snow White Jenny (dark hair, irish accent) did a pretty bad job as a project manager but so did I. It would seem that Sir Alan had listened to the bad press she received from other candidates and fired her aswell, unwilling to give her another chance. Of all the candidates she is the first to take the whole experience with a pinch of salt and came out smiling - the way it should be done!

Clare seemed to leave the boardroom smelling of roses (still my favourite for the final) whilst Michael the 'good jewish boy' seemed to come unstuck - brilliant!

Lee was excellent, although I question how much of the winning was down to him, I have a sneaky feeling that Lucinder helped with the logistics. Having been rather horrid to Sara when she returned from the boardroom the previous week, he admirably put himself with the 2 shirkers and realised that you shouldn't just listen to other candidates. Both Sara and Lucinder seemed to work hard and well - I definitely like the underdogs!

The real star of the show this week was Margaret, her scathing comment about Edinburgh was brilliant - she's such fun 'on-task' but you do have to look out for her in the board room, if you've done something wrong on task, it doesn't matter how much she likes you, she'd going to tell the boss!

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Listen to the SAS

First rule of the boardroom is to listen to Sir Alan,if, as a Project Manager, he is leading you to bring a candidate back in with you, bring them back in - it's your best hope for survival. Unfortunately Kevin failed to do this, and the death knell rang as he brought the invincible Clare and blameless Sara back to face the music.

Greeting cards - brilliant theme, genius task. The 'eco' market and cards, not really birds and a feather yet Jenny persuaded 'nice but dim' Kevin to go with it. More peculiarly, she then directed photos of naked men's bottoms to represent their theme.

A true example of letting your own preferences interfere with your business decisions, she deserved to end up in that boardroom and I have a feeling there might have been a double firing if she had. Given that we're at week 7 and there are still 10 candidates left - something needs to give.

Kevin was a weak project manager, his cards didn't sell like 'hot cakes' and he jumped on the bullying band wagon by pulling Sara back into the boardroom.

Michael Sophocles hardly excelled as a Project Manager but thankfully a combination Kevin's fumblings allowed and a reasonable theme carried him through. I still think he's a slippery one and he lacks substance; some believe he's in it for the celebrity, (including me) page 5 of the tabloids this week revealed his relationship with the lovely (if slightly deluded) Lindy as they enjoyed a discreet night out at one of London's hotspots!

This year's Apprentice is more like Lord of the Flies than a serious business programme, I was appalled to see the candidates' reaction to Sara's return to the house. I know that the boardroom is tough and to come back to that kind of reaction is hideous; we're really seeing their true colours shine through and thankfully Raef, ever the gentleman, intervened to save Sara her tears. Funnily, nobody mentioned that Sir Alan had wanted Jenny to be in the boardroom....

I'm foregoing pre-Flora Day spingos tonight in order to watch the show, I hope it's a good one!

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Back patting and buck passing!

OK, maybe I spoke too soon. Last week's episode was genius, we saw more self-congratulatory back patting and buck passing than the annual labour party conference. Brilliant! I loved it and I hope the series continues to be as good as this!

Lucinder was great but let herself down by getting personal in the boardroom, Sir Alan had no reason to fire her, she played it well by letting the other girls (Jenny and Lindy) bicker between them but then she made comments about people thinking Jenny was a snake - bad move, if Jenny is as evil as she looks there are going to be more tears before bedtime for little Lucinder.

Claire (my favourite) took a SAS beating the previous week but again, and led her team to victory this week. She learnt her lesson, worked well with her team, motivated them, delegated and most importantly, recognised her faults. This will win her browny points with her co-candidates, although it's a competition, it's tough in there and if you can turn it around after a hard boardroom you'll gain respect. She has the skills and the humility to become Sir Alan's Apprentice.

As for the others - Alex I continue to dislike, his whining is more than I can take and if he is doing it publicly, the other candidates are likely to be getting bored of it as well. Jenny (Irish Jenny, not "Lucinder you're an unpleasant young lady" Jenni) made a royal cock up - she is experienced enough to know that the exclusivity thing was a massive error but quite rightly, Sir Alan kept her in because she has more potential than Lindy.

Lee again showed integrity when sat in the greasy cafe he turned to the others and questioned why they had said Lindy was a bad project manager when none of them spoke up during the task - he's one to watch!

I can imagine Sir Alan rubbing his hands in glee when Lindy arrived in the boardroom - like the rest of the nation I imagine he was astounded that she hadn't arrived there earlier! Like Gazhal last year, the other candidates seem to like her and to mother her a little. She seems like a nice girl, but what she lacked in substance she made up for in misguided self-belief. Confidence is a blessing but over-confidence may well be her downfall.

Rumour has it, that although she claims to be a "Business woman first and foremost", she's already done a nude photoshoot (the production company told her to remove the pictures from her site) and been offered a job presenting a gambling channel on sky... Good luck to her, I hope she chooses wisely, it will be difficult to later manage a team who have already seen her best assets!

PS, bring on Flora Day, I can't wait for my pint of spingo!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Wednesday night - The Apprentice or Pub Quiz?

Perhaps my writing this a full 7 days after the last episode of The Apprentice is an indication of just how entertained I am by this new series. Whilst watching these new candidates squabble and backstab in a highly uninspired manner, I remember with fondness Tre's potty mouth and Katie's weekly slating of a poor, unsuspecting potential Apprentice. I

This season, we've been teased with the potential of Raef being this year's Tre, only to see him disappear in a puff of hairspray and long words in the last episode. Some papers claimed Jenni was going to be the new Katie , but it turns out she's just a bit nasty with no charm or wit to speak of. And, true to format, Simon, the nice, well mannered, true grafter who could really do with the break, was unceremoniously fired last week.

So, should he have gone? He had a good theme, he was a good photographer and he tried to delegate. So,why did it go so horribly wrong? Because he got too involved in the lovey darling element. He pigeon-holed himself into a role which meant he was totally isolated from the actual task itself. The project manager can't have a specific role, they need to oversee the whole thing. If he hadn't been poncing about with the camera, he would have noticed the labelling error early on and made more money!

Did others commit bigger crimes? Alex is officially a wimp and we saw our first public display of "ass-covering" when he backed out of being Simon's second in demand. He then turned on Claire in the Boardroom when he thought he might be in the firing line. He should be fired on the basis that he is more like a chicken than a man.

Claire (although everyone now hates her for giving the nice guy a hard time) was actually right, although she delivered her message badly. It was obvious she wasn't going to go as Sir Alan gave her a real telling off before he had revealed which team had won. If he was going to fire her, her would have saved his fury for when she returned to the Board Room in the losing team.

I think the biggest sin this week was Helene's treatment of Lucinder. Whilst I am not a burn-my-bra feminist, I don't like others to give female business women a bad name. Helene's behaviour towards Lucinder was nothing short of bullying and if The Apprentice was the real world she'd end up in court for that. On Helene's part it was shortsighted, potential employers will be watching and if it's a media career she's looking for I'm pretty sure she'll be out of luck.

Let's hope tonight's episode is more interesting... The pub quiz is looking ever more appealing!

Friday, 18 April 2008

Spreading muck in the big smoke!

There's nothing quite like the smell of freshly spread dung on a crisp spring morning. Something that reminds me of 7am walks to Wendron postoffice in time to catch the school bus. Not something I expect when I leave my flat in London, but this morning as I left the house I was hit by the unmistakeable smell of muck spreading.

Having been assured by my boyfriend that there aren't any cows within a 100 mile radius I quickly abandoned the idea that it was muck.

As I boarded my train home this evening, the mystery was solved; on the front of the free evening paper was the headline "The Big Stink" - apparently farmers in France and Belgium have been fertilizing and the winds have carried us their delights.

Having taken many 'city' friends home to visit, only to see them clamber out of the stationary car to take pictures of "real, live cows" when we've pulled over to let them pass on their way to milking, it doesn't surprise me that in London this is front page news!

What's even more amusing (or more realistically a sad signs of the times) is that the smell triggered hundreds of calls to the police and radio stations about the city being under attack.