Tag Archives: Jenny Celerier

Two Birds with One Stone

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One of the things about the Apprentice is that every so often it does throw up a surprise in the boardroom. This week was one of those weeks.

I said last week, that the shopping list task is usually entertaining, and this time was no exception. As has been shown in previous years it is a good test as it not only requires candidates to be able to demonstrate an ability to drive a hard bargain, but also quite often requires a bit of planning to get the specific items that are on the list. The task was made doubly difficult this time around because the teams were sent to Marrakech, where not only would they have to contend with some of the best hagglers in the world, but they’d have the added challenge of working in a somewhat alien culture where the primary languages are Arabic and French.

The programme kicked off with a couple of team swaps, with Jennifer and Michael being transferred to Renaissance and Sara transferred to Alpha. Sometimes the transfers seem to merely be to balance out the numbers, other times there is some method – this time it seemed to be to separate Sara from Jenny after the unfair treatment Sara got last week, but there also seemed to be a definite tactic of putting some of the biggest personalities together.

One of the effects of putting those big personalities together, is that you also got a massive overdose of overconfident arrogance amongst the team – most of them had managed to scrape through a previous task – Jennifer (the self-proclaimed best salesperson in Europe) surviving after giving away exclusive rights, Jenny inexplicably not being called into the boardroom over the greetings card task, and Claire being this years boardroom regular. Alex and Michael have largely managed to keep their heads down, although Michael did get told off in the boardroom last week, and has certainly had his moments over the weeks. Anyway, Jennifer as team leader quickly decided to eschew any real planning, and instead decided to head into the city and wing it, whilst Alpha sat down and planned out what was needed.

Although Alpha pretty nearly blew it after spending literally hours going from shop to shop after an alarm clock, leaving them struggling to find a juicer, at the end of the day the planning, and in particular paying attention to detail is what won through. Alpha returned with a complete list and received no penalties.

Over on Renaissance things were very different. First off Claire continued being difficult to manage, totally messing up negotiations for Alex at one point, and not being quiet when she was asked to be, then the lack of attention to detail started to show. The picked up the wrong colour alarm clock – the list specifically asked for green. They also failed to get the right sort of tagines – the list mentioned a specific, high class brand. But perhaps the biggest error considering that one of the team, Michael, described himself as a ‘good little Jewish boy’ on his CV was that they failed to get a kosher chicken.

When you think about it, the kosher chicken was probably one of the hardest items considering that Morocco is an Islamic country, however with their planning, Alpha discovered that there is a Jewish quarter in Marrakech, so were fairly swiftly able to go there and get exactly the right item. Jenny and Michael however ended up resorting to getting a Muslim butcher to bless one of his chickens.

That wasn’t the worst of it though – one of the other items on the list was a pair of tennis racquets, that had to be strung in the shop, and both teams ended up at the same supplier at about the same time. Not content with just getting the items, Jenny and Michael proceeded to try and bribe the store to not supply the racquets to the other team.

As a result, it was a rather different boardroom – as a result Sir Alan initially had the entire team into the boardroom, and as he said, he could quite happily fire the lot of them. First off though he contented himself with firing Jenny. On previous occasions she has lied or misled in the boardroom, most notably being when she managed to shift blame for the washing task onto Shazia for going back to the house when Jenny herself had told her to do so. There have also been several occasions she has been seem bullying other candidates, Lucinda being a prime example. What had really riled Sir Alan though, if you saw this weeks Jonathan Ross show, is her escape from the boardroom last week, and her confidence that she could get rid of Sara – that perhaps explains why she went before any choices were made. Of course her fate wasn’t helped by the way her lies started to unravel in the cross-questioning in the boardroom. Initially she claimed that she didn’t know what kosher meant – then later on when she started to see things going against Michael she changed her line and seemed to be claiming that she did know but followed along with Michael – this resulted in Michael point blank accusing her of lying. Once she had gone, Alex was sent back to the house, and the remaining three, Jennifer, Claire and Michael faced the final boardroom meeting.

It did look for a while as if Michael was going to go, but ultimately Sir Alan seemed to let him off on the basis that it was youthful exuberance – as a result it was the classic default choice when there are lots of problems on a task, and Jennifer as the team leader got the boot.

One final note though, over on The Apprentice: You’re Fired, Adrian Chiles has not been looking forward to interviewing Jenny after her behaviour on the main programme. I don’t know whether she has had some sort of epiphany having seen herself on TV these past few weeks, or whether an agent has advised her to do so, but it was a very different Jenny Celerier who presented herself to the world on that programme. Her red hair was toned down, and gone too were the power dressing suits. She was also apologetic for her behaviour during the programme, and didn’t talk back when the celebrity panel including Michelle Mone gave her a similar dressing down for her behaviour to the one she gave to Katie Hopkins last year. There was a little bit of an attempt to justify her behaviour, but ultimately she seemed to accept it was wrong. So was she following a game plan during the programme? Or has the Apprentice really changed her – I guess only somebody who knew her before and after could truly say. Suffice to say that she is gone, and both Sara and Lucinda are still there, so perhaps there is a bit of justice in the boardroom after all.

Apprentice Tactics

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One of the difficult things to balance for participants in the Apprentice is the conflict between the fact that the tasks are performed as teams, but the competition is for a single winner. On the one hand you are expected to work as a team, whilst on the other you want to ensure that strong rival candidates are removed if you get the opportunity. However being seen to act against the best interests of the team can sometimes land you in hot water when it gets to the boardroom.

We’ve seen just those sorts of tactics already this season, with Lucinda being put in roles that she says she does not have the skills to do, and then later being blamed. It happened again this week when Kevin realised late on that he was rather out of his depth on the presentations that he had decided he would give, and looked to Claire and Jenny who basically left him to fail, when perhaps them taking over the presentation would have saved the team.

It was one of those episodes though when the groups seemed to be competing on how badly they could do. The task was to produce a greetings card for an event that didn’t currently have a card. One team opted for producing an “It’s Great to be Singleâ€? day, however the choice of February 13th as the day – a day when most card retailers are focused on Valentines Day proved to be a poor choice. The other team were very much steamrollered by Jenny who was keen to put forward an environmental theme. The flaw of course was that she was proposing to save the planet by wasting trees in the production of unnecessary cards. Ironically she even torpedoed one of her own groups presentations by saying in front of the buyer that she herself had reduced the number of greetings cards she was buying for environmental reasons.

When her team ended up in the boardroom she admitted it was her idea, and it was pretty clear that Sir Alan laid the blame at her door – Margaret even said at one point that the idea had been rail-roaded through (Margaret also produced one of the funniest moments of the series so far by her reaction to the victory cheers from the other team – not a very seemly display for the boardroom). However, despite the strong pointers from the other side of the table, Kevin decided not to bring Jenny into the boardroom.

The reason was interesting. More so than in previous series, the candidates this time around are quite blatantly ganging up on the quieter, perhaps weaker team members. There are one or two who take the lead in this, and usually the crowd mentality kicks in and most of the others follow, or remain silent. The tactic has worked before, notably being the week of the laundry task where Shazia was told to go back to the house by Jenny, the team leader, and then sacked because she left the laundry when Jenny blamed her in the boardroom for the failure in the task because she left and the washing got muddled. It’s that name again though – once again it was Jenny leading the attack. This week she proved she is bright enough to realise that she was a prime candidate to go having pushed the environmental idea, so she needed to find someone else. She focused in on Sara for not having contributed. As with previous efforts this was totally wrong – Sara had contributed through several ideas including cards for minority religious festivals which are currently ignored, and also an idea for cards for pet events too – both of which were buried under the march towards an environmental theme. She’d then worked with Kevin on the card designs whilst Jenny and the others took pictures. Sir Alan, Margaret and Nick were wise to this bullying and said so – they’d seen otherwise during the task. However, whilst he could have stuck up for Sara, Kevin instead stuck with the crowd and selected Sara and Claire to come into the boardroom. By failing to stand up to Jenny he effectively guarantees that he would be the one who would go – they weren’t going to fire Sara, and the decision to bring her in compounded with the rest of the task meant that it would have taken a miracle for him to survive.

Quite how long Jenny will last remains to be seen. Certainly if the “You’ve Been Firedâ€? audience is any indication the treatment of Sara – which continued when she returned to the house as Jenny and the other bullies in the group ganged up on her – the audience at home clearly feel she has been treated badly by the others. Only Raef stood up for her, certainly scoring a number of points, especially as some of the other guys showed a different, and decidedly unattractive side to their characters during the exchange. The main downside though of The Apprentice is that unlike other reality shows, the audience has no voice in the firing of candidates, instead we are largely reliant on Sir Alan, Margaret and Nick to spot the bad apples and deal with them. Of course you only need to look to last year to see that they can still be taken in…

Anyway, with Kevin gone, there was one last burst of Matt Lucas jokes, and on to next week, which is the perennial favourite, the shopping list task. The difference this year is that the teams are being sent to Marrakesh to haggle with some of the masters in cutting a deal. The task always provides for a good deal of entertainment, hopefully this year will be no different.

Losing It in the Boardroom

Last night was perhaps the first time watching The Apprentice that I’ve thought Sir Alan has got it really wrong – and I wasn’t alone. The audience of The Apprentice: You’re Fired were almost unanimous with almost everybody disagreeing with Sir Alan’s decision, everybody at work thought it was the wrong decision. Having said that, the new series clearly has found it’s new villain…

So lets roll back to what actually happened. Adrian Chiles said on The Apprentice: You’re Fired that the boys and girls team had swapped in terms of their handling of the task, however I disagree, in actual fact the girls were really not that much worse than they were last week, it was really just that the boys last week messed up a lot more. This week they seemed to find their form, and in what seems to be usual for The Apprentice the boys team appeared to put aside their differences and work together, whilst the girls were fighting. Perhaps it says something about men and women and their attitudes in business, but the number of times early in the series where the girls team has degenerated into arguments is really quite telling.

Anyway, the task this week was to run an overnight laundry service. The boys had an ace in their hand thanks to Simon Smith who in a previous life in the army happened to run a laundry. Under the leadership of Raef the team seemed to work well and to be thinking – for example they priced their service by phoning laundry companies in the phone book. They also grabbed the irons in the contestants house in case they needed them later. The split was still apparent to some extent, but the team worked well in spite of it.

The girls were a different matter. Jenny Celerier put herself forward as project manager and quite quickly rubbed some of the team up the wrong way with her very direct and forceful style of management. That style obviously works in some environments – she wouldn’t have got as far as she has in the real world if it didn’t – but the test of being a project manager in The Apprentice is managing a pretty diverse bunch of people. Looking at my own work life the management style for a sales team is very different from if you’re managing a technical team of software developers. Ultimately it was in the management where it went wrong, however the sales aspect was pretty jaw droppingly bad as well. Whereas the boys team researched their prices, the girls just seemed to pluck a number out of thin air – £4.99 an item. They then took that price into a sales pitch with a hotel, who would usually expect to pay about £200 to have a batch of 1000 items, including sheets, pillowcases and so on – the girls pitched at nearly £5000 for the same job, and just looked blank when the amazed hotel manager queried the price.

As a result, the girls team had to go for door-to-door sales. One of the key important things when dealing with the door-to-door jobs at the laundry though was making sure things didn’t get mixed up. Shazia took responsibility for this coming up with a system that kept track. However when team leader Jenny turned up late on at the laundry with a load of extra jobs, the girls realised that they wouldn’t have time to finish the work before they ran out of time in the industrial unit, so Shazia suggested that they should use the ironing facilities back at the house. Jenny therefore took the decision to send Shazia back to sort out the irons, leaving the rest of the team to finish off the washing – however with Shazia gone, the rest of the girls messed up the system, and got the washing mixed up.

Things then went from bad to worse when back at the house they realised that the boys had all the irons, and then whilst Jenny was continuing her one woman vendetta against fellow team member Lucinda the team proceeded to mix things up even more as they struggled to get the washing all ironed.

Heading back out to return the washing, and realising that they’d stuffed up on pricing, the girls hit on another tactic to boost revenue – asking for tips – however all of that came to naught as their customer discovered that either washing was missing, or they’d been given other peoples items – indeed the team was even fined £50 because one persons shirts had disappeared altogether. Needless to say asking for tips went down like a lead balloon in the boardroom too.

Fundamentally, with so many faults in the management, it seemed obvious that Jenny the project manager would be the one to go. After the girls team again degenerated into arguments in the boardroom after being told they had lost, Jenny brought back in Lucinda and Shazia.

What followed was a classic demonstration as to how the entire show can be won or lost in the boardroom. Shazia had been the person who had managed to organise the system in the laundry, and had also had the idea to use the irons – the system had only gone wrong when team leader Jenny had sent her back and the remaining team members had messed up. However that’s not the picture Jenny painted, and with Shazia in it seemed total shock as to what was happening, and failing to defend herself, Sir Alan took the version that Jenny had told, and fired Shazia for abandoning her role and causing the shirts to be lost. There was no question that Jenny should have gone, of the three people sat in the board room she had the most responsibility, but because she was willing to personally attack her team mates, and they weren’t willing to defend themselves, she survived. Having said that, but surviving in such a dramatic way, Jenny has definitely ensured her position as the villain of this years series.

You can watch the whole sorry debacle again on iPlayer, with more clips and discussion on You’re Fired.