It looks like the BBC have decided that a celebrity special of The Apprentice for charity is a good prelude to the series, as well as being a good money-spinner for the charities. In much the same way as the Comic Relief special last year, this years Sports Relief included a celebrity version of The Apprentice, following much the same format.
This time around the two teams of five celebrities, again split men and women, were given adjacent retail space in which they had to set up shops, invite guests, and make as much money as possible for the charity in a one-night-only sale at the shops. On paper, the women had by far the stronger team with two people with business experience – Jacqueline Gold, CEO of Ann Summers and Kirstie Allsopp, who alongside her TV work has been part of several property companies. On the other side, perhaps the only person with any business experience was Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of The Sun. Of course, as regular viewers will know, it’s not always the team with the strongest individuals or the relevant experience that does well.
One strong similarity between this and the previous Comic Relief special was how clearly it showed that the kind of person who becomes famous is more often than not really bad at working in a team. The men especially fell out fairly spectacularly, and effectively wasted the whole of the first day arguing after Kelvin MacKenzie refused to lead (he later stated that he thought his abrasive management style would be detrimental to the group) and Hardeep Singh Kohli put himself forward and then resigned after Kelvin MacKenzie made a pretty poor taste joke comparing his management style to Adolf Hitler. Following on from that, MP Lembit Ã–pik stepped in. It wasn’t all sweetness and light on the other team either. Jacqueline Gold was quickly appointed as leader due to her relevant experience, however her management style caused problems, especially for Kirstie Allsopp who objected to being micro-managed by Jacqueline. At one point she referred to Jacqueline as a control freak, and at another point just stormed out of the meeting.
The other big similarity this time around was the importance of contacts. The task effectively had two money making opportunities, the first being the sale of tickets, and the second being the selling of goods. The men lost out significantly to the women with regards to ticket sales by firstly failing to sell all their tickets, when the women sold them all, and also by not selling their tickets for as much money. The big star in ticket sales this time around was footballers wife and former singer Louise Redknapp who managed to sell several tickets at vastly inflated prices – including three to one contact for Â£100,000. The women also did well on their choice of merchandise, managing to get a good selection of quality items, including some notable support from Harrods. The men weren’t without support either. Although their merchandise wasn’t as upmarket as the other team, they did have a valuable contact in Bernie Ecclestone, the billionaire in charge of Formula One who generously offered to match all of their sales.
When it came to the boardroom, it was these contacts that became the key, whilst in terms of ticket sales the women were the clear winners, the effect of Bernie Ecclestone meant that the sales figures were a much closer affair – however in the final totalling up, it was the ticket sales that won it, and the women won the day.
In the board room, it was clear that Alan Sugar had some people he blamed for the loss. First up he gave Kelvin MacKenzie a real hard time for not stepping up to the mark as leader, but ultimately it was Hardeep Singh Kohli who got the boot – both for his destabilising effect on the group, and also because he took responsibility for the shop – including arguing with the rest of the team over the logo, and also for not charging for food – something the women did and made money on.
Of course being fired from the celebrity show doesn’t really mean anything, as there isn’t a next episode, and no big job at the end, so certainly there isn’t the tension. Certainly various of the celebrities treat it as a bit of a laugh. Having said that, it still is an entertaining curtain raiser to the new series, and in terms of the charity, it raised over Â£700,000 for Sports Relief.