The Apprentice: the beauty parade

By: Rachel Miller

Date: 26 May 2011

Missed the fourth episode? Catch up here.

The task

It’s dawn at the British Museum. Watched over by a statue of Aphrodite, the bleary-eyed would-be apprentices are here to get the lowdown on their next task. They have to select two beauty treatments — having watched eight demonstrations — and then sell them to shoppers in Birmingham.

Sounds simple right? It always does.

Lord Sugar moves Zoe to team Venture and makes her project manager. Felicity is project manager of team Logic.

Team Logic makes its first mistake at the demonstration stage. The team fails to realise that they are in competition with Venture to secure the best two treatments. Some treatments are definitely more appealing than others — they have higher margins and they are easier to sell.

The winning treatment by a mile is the spray tan — highly profitable and perfect for those young Brummies getting ready for a night on the town. Zoe and her team impress the spray tan people with their enthusiasm and get the gig. They also choose the pedicure. A lacklustre team Logic misses out on the spray tan and instead has to select the hot shell massage and the winges.

Yes, that’s right, winges. Come on. You must have heard of them. Winge – as in fringe crossed with wig. No? They are so awful I honestly thought that they were planted as a joke by a mischievous Lord Sugar.

The best bits

There are some cracking lines this week.

Vincent continues to make my flesh crawl with lines like this: “You’ve got nice hair, do you want a free massage?”

Leon’s no better. He offers to get women naked and spray them. Later, he hooks them in by pulling them around by their little fingers. Eugh.

When Susan fails to sell, she says what she’s thinking out loud — “No-one has any money around here, everyone’s so poor.”

One woman that is being massaged says that she normally gets a massage from a man and that it usually leads to something else. “It won’t do this time, I can assure you,” says Ellie.

The worst bits

Felicity makes lots and lots of mistakes. She doesn’t listen to Tom when he is talking sense. Tom’s willingness to do his research and crunch the numbers is definitely not appreciated by Felicity. Stop reading Tom, put the book down!

She also misses the main point — the treatments are the money-earners — and allows her team to spend all their time selling the dreaded winges. Which are, of course, terrible and can’t be sold.

The winners and losers

Zoe’s team makes a small profit — £203.01. Felicity’s team manages to lose £246.28 of Lord Sugar’s money. Oops.

To be fair, there are winners and loser on both teams. Tom did try and inject some business sense into team Logic. And Susan was lucky to be on the winning team. She bragged about her beauty knowledge and over-ordered products on the strength of it and then failed to sell them. Had they lost the task, Susan would have been up for the chop.

But Felicity was the biggest loser of all. She had one excuse — that everything had been decided “as a team”. She might as well have said, “I’m a weak leader, I can’t make decisions and I never take responsibility for anything.” Felicity, you’re fired. Taxi!

The ones to watch

It might be time to focus on the quiet ones. Melody and Jim established themselves as contenders early and are now stepping back to let their rivals hang themselves.

Business lessons

  1. Location location location. The wrong location will lose you money.
  2. Never lose sight of your margins. Focus your sales efforts on the most profitable products and services (this is so basic it beggars belief).
  3. Relationships with suppliers work both ways — you have to impress them, too.

Quote of the week

Leon: “I can’t promote this product. You know, I’ve got a girlfriend and if she started realising that I had started wearing make-up... I can’t be a part of this.”

Missed this episode? Watch it on BBC iPlayer.

Profitometer

This week Lord Sugar lost £43.27

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