Tag Archives: Margaret Mountford

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.

Finding Out a Bit More about the Apprentice Candidates

The upcoming episode of The Apprentice is the traditional penultimate episode where the remaining candidates are put through a series of interviews by a group of trusted friends and colleagues chosen by Sir Alan. However this time around, the viewers have also been given a chance to find out some background to the final five thanks to a special programme that aired over the weekend that talked to their friends and family, had more extensive interviews with the candidates, and also got a good deal of comment from Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford.

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It certainly gave a good amount of background information about the candidates, and in many cases you understand a lot more about how they have got to where they have. Some come from a strong family business background. For example Simon’s father and grandfather have both achieved much in their business lives – Simon is very much following in the family footsteps and Tre started working in his fathers businesses pretty much from childhood. Tre has also fought back from a horrific car crash where the doctor’s told him he had only a 5% chance to walk again, and a 5% chance to have children. He has done both, and is typically direct about his opinion of the diagnosis!

Kristina is another candidate who has had to fight hard to get where she is today. As a teenager living in rural Ireland she fell pregnant and was despatched to a convent in disgrace to give birth, but from there has worked her way through a variety of jobs, bringing up her son to the point where she is now a regional sales manager.

Katie again came over as very determined and driven. Her parents comments stuck out above the others who appeared as both her parents seemed bemused as to where she gets her drive and determination from. She apparently runs to work on occasion, and even ran the New York Marathon whilst pregnant. Of all the candidates, she is the highest paid, apparently earning £90,000 a year as a partner in her own consultancy.

The quiet efficiency of Lohit that has been apparent throughout the series again came through in his interviews, and those with his boss and partner.

Perhaps the most eye opening part though were the comments from Nick and Margaret. They did make clear that Sir Alan will very much make his own choice, and whilst he will ask for their opinion will have no hesitation in disagreeing.

Both seem to regard Katie with concern, saying that she is very good at playing the game, especially in the boardroom. She was also described as dangerous, the way she utterly destroyed Adam in the boardroom being a particular example. Nick said that he felt he knew the real Katie no better now than he did when they started.

They also both seem to think that Sir Alan has a false impression of Lohit, and feel that he doesn’t do himself justice in the boardroom encounters with Sir Alan. Both certainly seemed to regard him as a good candidate, much better than Sir Alan has given him credit for.

Probably the favourite from their point of view seems to be Kristina with them both seeming to think that she has the right mix of attitude and skills to work well with Sir Alan.

However, as they said, it is very much the decision of Sir Alan alone – and we’ve only got to wait a little over a week to find out who he has picked.