Tag Archives: Sir Alan

Nicholas Gets an F


One of the most satisfying aspects of the Apprentice is always watching someone who after all the pre-show bravado falls flat on their face – and every once in a while you get a candidate like Nicholas Brown – sorry, Nicholas de Lacey-Brown (if you read his profile he added the ‘de Lacey’ as he felt it sounded more sophisticated) – who falls so spectacularly that it is almost unmissable.

This time around, the first task was a simple sales job. No issues with buying – each team was given an identical van full of £600 worth of fresh fish, plus a folder containing two sections, one containing pictures of the fish with their names, the other containing a list of the wholesale prices of each of the fish varieties, and told to go make as much money as possible.

However there were a couple of tasks to do before it got to selling the fish. First off the teams had to decide on their team names, there was then the thorny problem of picking a project manager. Team names seemed to go okay this year, but being the first project manager is always very much of a poisoned chalice, so invariably nobody wants to do it. This time around though on both teams people volunteered, or at least on the boys team Raef who had been pretty vocal up to then was nominated and spent ages trying to back out, at which point Alex put himself forward.

Then it was off to a street market to sell the fish. As seems to be traditional in the programme, the girls team quickly degenerated into chaos. Although they made it quickly to the market, getting the better available pitch (apparently it sells five times as much as the pitch the boys team got later on) the stall was besieged by shoppers and some of the team started selling before any of the fish had been identified or priced. From what we saw of the girls, they quite often had to be pulled back into line, and it wasn’t exactly easy to manage them for Claire.

Having said that, we didn’t see much of them, thanks to the brewing class war in the boys team. At the beginning Alex seemed to have things under control, he allocated out roles, amongst others allocating Raef the job of identifying the fish and Nicholas the job of pricing it.

Both screwed up.

Raef managed to identify a crate of potentially lucrative Monkfish as much less valuable Turbot, and Nicholas priced up fresh lobster at £4.50 each – by way of comparison the girls were selling the same thing at £23. Both, when the mistakes were noted, started trying to shift the blame, and causing the beginnings of the split. Then, just to round things off both were also part of a group that at the end of the day sold £135 worth of fish to a firm of solicitors for £50 – they had been sent off, almost as a chance to redeem themselves – so when they made it to the boardroom, the boys team was really ready for a fight with each other.

With this task, the boardroom was therefore very much the main event. Despite their problems the girls made a reasonable profit – the boys scraped through with a profit of about £30. It was really no surprise therefore when Alex brought back Raef and Nicholas.

What was amazing though was quite how badly both of them crashed and burned. Their problem was that both of them tried to argue to Sir Alan that they were both there because Alex had an issue with their class – bear in mind here that Alex had a regional accent, and both of the others spoke with received-pronunciation accents – also bear in mind that Sir Alan left school at sixteen, and regularly says that he assesses people on who they are rather than the school they went to.

Nicholas came in with the first classic line:

“I feel that the barrier that has been drawn is kind of, you know, like maybe, kind of, educated against, you know, more kind of gritty salesmen.”

Alex nearly exploded at this point exclaiming that he was educated. Nicholas further dug a hole for himself by saying he liked art and had difficulty having conversations about football – provoking an amusing expression from football loving Sir Alan. Then Raef chimes in saying that he can talk to prince or pauper – “Which one are you?” says Sir Alan “The Prince?”

After that Sir Alan picked through Nicholas’ CV – Nicholas said that he was disappointed to have got a B in his French GCSE. Raef had said on his CV that he had faced death many times.

Ultimately though it was Nicholas that got the boot, with Sir Alan saying that if he was disappointed with his B, he’d hate the F he was getting, Nicholas was sent on his way.

Watching the taxi interview and the post-mortem show, Nicholas was blaming everybody but himself – and he came on to the stage, as he had at other points in the episode sporting a pair of oversized, Top Gun style sunglasses. It then turned out that alongside his law degree, he was a budding artist – check out his website for details – and the self-penned bio is worth a read too. However, in probably one of the most unanimous decisions I’ve seen on the programme, almost the entire audience, aside of course from his friends and family, said that it was right he should be fired.

So what’s coming next week? A laundry service… can’t wait.

If you missed it, the programme is available on iPlayer, along with the companion post-mortem.

Alternatively, enjoy probably the best bit of the programme on YouTube:

New Lambs to the Slaughter

Tonight it’s back, a new selection of the cream of British business talent – probably with a few more Big Brother rejects thrown into the mix – are taking on the challenge of the Apprentice. BBC Breakfast gave us a bit of a preview, with Sir Alan saying that he’s not totally happy with the editing, and snippets of some of this years contestants. The two that stood out were someone who got a first class law degree, a distinction in his masters, and says he’s always a winner, and a woman who proclaims herself the best saleswoman in Europe – at least one of them will discover that they’re wrong. Sugar thinks this is the best year ever, so we have an enjoyable series of Wednesday nights to look forward to it seems.

An Answer from Sir Alan


Earlier in the week, when I blogged about Katie’s departure from The Apprentice I posed the question as to whether, if Katie hadn’t have withdrawn, he would have sacked her. At the time I thought we probably wouldn’t have got an answer, but tonight, in a special programme Sir Alan reviewed his reasons for despatching each candidate, and confirmed that had she not gone, he would have fired her anyway despite having said that she was through to the final earlier on.

The impression you got from his comments about Katie was that firstly he didn’t have an issue with her being ruthless as long as she could do the job. However he also said that he had concerns about her reasons for being in the programme, but it seemed was allowing himself to be convinced by her because of his belief that she was suitable. He fully admitted that it could have been one of his biggest mistakes had she got through.

Much of the rest of the programme covered old ground in terms of his reasons for removing certain people, although there was some interesting expansion of his reasons, and indeed he was surprisingly complimentary about some of the fired candidates. Some candidates though he was not. He said that by far the most deserved firing of the entire series was Paul for the infamous French trip. He again said that he expected a lot more from Paul thanks to his Sandhurst training, which I found interesting as he does seem to regard it as a plus. (Bear in mind that Katie also has a Sandhurst training.) From my experience of having worked with ex-military people, having been trained by the army doesn’t make you good in a corporate environment, nor does it make you bad. The two environments are different. Certainly whilst there are obviously skills that are beneficial, you can’t run a team of business staff as you would an army unit, what you are looking for is someone with the adaptability to take those skills that are relevant and use them, but equally you could find that from a multitude of other sources. Sandhurst is there to produce good officers for the army, nothing more.

The other interesting moment in the programme was the discussion about Naomi who many, including myself thought was unfairly dismissed when it was obvious that Simon had messed up completely. From Sir Alan’s comments tonight, it seems pretty clear that whatever had happened on the task, Naomi would have gone, and based on his swift exit the next week I expect Lohit would have gone had the other team lost – it clearly wasn’t about the performance on this task by this point. Sir Alan had by this point decided that Naomi was the most expendable because he was more keen on having Tre and Simon move forward. As a result Simon could, and did make a massive mess of the whole task and was let off…

So any clues as to who might win? Not a chance – he described both Simon and Kristina as eminently employable. We’ll just have to wait until Wednesday to find out who he picks.