Week Five: The Apprentice analysed…

Five weeks into his search for an apprentice and Sir Alan challenged the teams to devise a brand, packaging, and TV advert for his new breakfast cereal, and present it to a team of advertising experts.

Kimberly took control of team Ignite and was persuaded by Geordie Philip to adopt Pantsman as its brand identity. The team bickered its way through the task but eventually managed to produce an advert that was summarily dismissed as ‘not very funny’ by the five-year-old who starred in the ad. She was right.

Kate took charge of team Empire, which branded its cereal Treasure Flakes and used the parrot pirate Captain Squawk – complete with an eye-patch, wooden leg, and a pirate hat – to try to sell it.

In the boardroom Empire was praised for its great branding, name, packaging design and character. But told off for its amateur advert.

By contrast, Ignite messed everything up. Kimberly brought Philip and Lorraine back into the boardroom and they rounded on her. She was team leader and she was responsible for keeping her team under control. She didn’t, so Kimberly – you’re fired.

They’re grrrrrreat. Or pants.

By Alan Nicholson, senior associate in the employment team at McGrigors

Good grrrrrrrief.  After a frosty reception in the boardroom Kimberly returns to her job as a marketing consultant – yes, a marketing consultant – with a lot of explaining to do. If Pantsman only gets her fired once she’ll be lucky.

Kim failed to discipline Philip for his childish insubordination.  So with Philip in a huff, the rough tough sugar puff wasn’t rough enough. 

HR is often undervalued, being seen as touchy feely and too remote from the business of delivering profits.  But this week’s episode showed the benefits of promoting good employee relations and encouraging dignity and respect at work.

Constant bickering and arguing among the members of Ignite (except of course the verbally constipated Noorul) seriously affected their productivity.  In contrast, Kate led Captain Squawk and his hearties to an easy victory by maintaining good staff morale (and having an idea that didn’t involve pants).

It will be interesting to see if Lorraine can bounce back from this bruising, and to see if she ever gets let back into Asda.  Meanwhile, though, it’s Kim who’s left saying her cheerios. 

Snap, crackle and pop

By Juliette Frankin, employment solicitor at Russell Jones & Walker

While team Empire had snap, crackle and pop Kimberly turned out to be less “rough tough cream puff” and more soggy Weetabix. Perhaps the nicest candidate ever to grace the Apprentice, Kimberly nevertheless found herself out on her ear after her boardroom performance was more Oprah Winfrey than Michael Douglas’ Wall Street.

If dad dancing and bad singing were potentially fair reasons for dismissal, both James and Philip would almost certainly have been summarily dismissed (who could not be disturbed by Philip’s obsession with pants – less Pantsman and more just plain pants).

But at least the team members kept the potential for legal claims coming. The most noteworthy:

– Despite reporting his nut allergy the child pirate actor was told to bathe in nut-laden cereal. Looks like a personal injury claim.

– How about the probability of post traumatic stress disorder being suffered by the kids in the Wake Up Call advert? They had to endure Howard and Lorraine in disturbing pants, Philip’s singing and the sudden appearance of the offspring of an unholy union between Mr Whippy and the Smurfs. A big claim for future treatment costs there.

–  I’m most hopeful that our defamation team will be receiving a call from Bono this morning – it must surely be defamatory to have Philip’s singing and yours mentioned in the same sentence!

Spot the theme here – as Simon Cowell would say, “don’t give up the day job”.

What a performance

By Lisa Gillis, solicitor in the employment team at Withers

Week 5 and the knives (or spoons?) were well and truly out in team Ignite.  Hampered by Philip’s literally pants idea, there was more drama in the team than in the cereal advert it produced. 

In real life, Sir Alan would probably be best advised to performance manage the entire team for its appalling lack of creativity and provide some much needed training. Implementing a disciplinary procedure against Philip in light of his attitude might also be wise – perhaps Wake Up Call will be a wake up call to him to tone down his over-confidence.

However, in the Apprentice boardroom, Sir Alan opted to save both bulldozer Philip and the realistic, if negative, Lorraine and summarily dismissed team leader Kim.  Kim may not have lived up to her CV, but I’m not convinced that such a harsh outcome would fall within the band of reasonable responses in the real world.

By contrast, in team Empire team leader Kate proved that she was a treasure and effective leadership mixed with teamwork, cooperation and, unlike their competitors, some creative talent proved to be a winning combination.  

I just wonder whether they needed to make some reasonable adjustments to accommodate that nut allergy though.

Breakfast Epiphanies

By Adam Landy, solicitor at Stevens & Bolton

Sir Alan got it spot on this week by saying Cheerio to self-styled Bronx “rough tough cream puff” Kimberley.

Holding herself out as the marketing expert, Kimberley set off crowing like Captain Squawk about how she’d been waiting for this task, “like, her whole life”. Six hours of brainless-storming and a trip to Asda later and she was denying all marketing expertise in the boardroom and distancing herself from Ignite’s not-so-super hero – Pantsman.

Given her corn-flaky denial of any marketing expertise, Sir Alan had good reason to bullet her on grounds of CV-enhancement. He temporarily held back, despite the “12-bore shot gun” he said he was holding. 

Another highlight was watching enthusiasm-sapping Lorraine gnashing at sulky estate agent Philip over his pants idea. Kimberley’s methods of managing their clash was too Oprah for Sir Alan and he rightly pulled her up over her “therapist” style and sacked not so Special K-imberly for being as vacuous as the blank-sided cereal box she had produced.