So, the axe has finally fallen. It took until the mid-point of the series, but the long expected double firing turned out to be more of a cull – with 3 candidates fired this week in The Apprentice!!
Lord Sugar more or less chose the Project Managers (PMs) this week. He moved Construction Operations Executive Elle Stevenson to Versatile (away from Brett (the Builder) Butler-Smythe), with Varna moving to Connexus. With a couple of strong hints in place, Elle and Brett took up their chosen roles, based on the fact that both had experience within construction. This experience of organising people, as stated on their CVs, was what made them the chosen offspring.
The task was to organise and run a “Handy-Man” business, selling cleaning, DIY and gardening services to businesses and the public. The team with the biggest profit would win.
Immediately, we saw a contrast in leadership styles, which I have commented on previously. Elle was the epitome of the Laissez-Faire style, delegating to the point of abdication. Brett, on the other hand, adopted his familiar Autocratic leadership style. Perhaps it is something to do with their shared Navy background, but both Brett and Charleine Wain have very directive leadership styles.
Brett at least had organisational skills, which Elle did not. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Elle misrepresented herself on her application. She described herself as a project manager, but under cross examination she turned out to be an administrator. Her actual job was to ensure the builders she was organising completed the tasks that someone else (the actual project manager) had identified.
So, it was no real surprise that Versatile lost the task, despite the valiant efforts of plumber Joseph Valente, who stepped up to the mark. Elle eventually formally gave him the job when it came to organising the refurbishment of a theatre. Joseph demonstrated real leadership, but it was too little too late.
So poor was Elle, that she didn’t even make it to her own final three! Once it was confirmed that Versatile had been well beaten, she was dispensed with immediately – a surprise, but only in terms of timing! Elle’s body language suggested that she knew her time was up. She later admitted (on You’re Fired) that she knew once she was appointed PM. In truth, I don’t see how she got on the programme. She is very young (21) so has a limited CV, and she mis-represented (lied about) her experience. Here is a brief litany of her sins as a PM;
- No organisation
- No time management (she ran out of time to produce a flyer to advertise the team’s services)
- No plan
- No strategy
- No wins (lost every task)
With Elle dispensed with, it fell to sub-team leader Mergim Butaja to act as PM and select the final three. He chose David Stevenson (because he nearly caused a disaster on the theatre re-furbishment by getting the lengths of the poles for clothes racks wrong – luckily Joseph checked after the first pole was produced and saved the day), and April Jackson (who negotiated a rate £3.33 per hour per worker for a task) to join him in the final three.
Again, it was no surprise that Mergim got fired. He demonstrated great enthusiasm but zero common sense in the task. He was responsible for two refunds – one for a messy painting job and the other for being unable to put up a shelf. Mergim impressed Lord Sugar with his drive and ambition (refugee wanting to be a millionaire) and he was fired “with sincere regrets”.
The cull was complete with the firing of April. She can probably feel a bit hard done by. In any other week, she could have survived, but the fact that she had been warned in Week 1 about her lack of skills as a PM, coupled to her poor negotiation skills on this task, was apparently enough to make her the third person to be fired.
So, 3 fired in one task! It made for great television.
In reality, Connexus didn’t really win the task; Versatile lost it. There were problems within the Connexus team, and had Joseph been PM from the start, the result may well have been different.
Interestingly, it is easy to see the three people who could have been fired from Connexus too, had they lost the task; PM Brett for poor organisation of the Football Ground tidy up – he focused on the wrong things and the team ran out of time and had to accept a reduced fee. Sam Curry for being generally useless and horrified at the prospect of actually, you know, doing physical work, and Scott Saunders for over promising what could be delivered in a gardening job.
I won’t be surprised if these three don’t last the course.
A quick re-count reveals that there are still 10 candidates to compete in the second half of the series.
The Excel Communications Apprentice 2015 blog is written by Training Associate – Mark De Cosemo