The Apprentice: "You are marginally worse than Glenn"

By: Simon Wicks

Date: 16 June 2011

Missed the seventh episode? Catch up here

The task

This week, the teams have two days to create a “freemium” (that’s “free premium” to the likes of you and me) magazine and sell advertising space to three of the UK’s biggest media buyers. They each have 35 pages to sell with a potential value of £100,000. The biggest seller wins. Simple, right?. Not with these clowns.

Team Venture is led this week by Jim, who is getting more creepy by the task. “I can take their hearts, I can take their minds,” he calmly assures us on his appointment. “I’m good at getting people to do what I want them to do.” Ewww.

Natasha takes the reins at Team Logic, where she displays an impressive capacity to ignore sound advice in her singleminded pursuit of a bad idea, and tread all over people in the process. It’s a lads’ mag, she immediately decides. The team winces and expresses a preference for a business magazine for young professional men. So they come up with Covered, a spectacularly shameless business mag for unreconstructed lads (and Natasha). “Work hard, play hard” is the strapline. Sample finance feature: “Blow your load”. Ewww. “I’m thinking dirty secretary,” boasts Natasha smugly. EWWWWW.

Over at Team Venture, they actually have a good idea: a bright, modern magazine for the over-60s who really don’t feel like they’re over 60. It’s a growing market. Unfortunately, they scupper themselves with the title (Hip Replacement – you’re kidding, right?), a cover design that looks like something that should be pinned to the wall of a doctor’s surgery and a feature explaining how to use a mobile phone. So everything, really. The team loves it, of course.

The pitches are a mixed bag. Everyone recoils from ‘Blow your load’. But Natasha presses on with misplaced enthusiasm. “I feel like I’m back in the 90s,” sneers one buyer. “Men are growing up. You’ve probably alienated 85 per cent of our client base.”

Most buyers, however, light up at the winning idea of a free modern mag for the over-60s. But they are crestfallen when they see the cover. “It looks like Viz have done a magazine for the over 60s. You’ve got someone in a cardigan!”

Incredibly, Team Logic win, despite losing two of the pitches. One of the buyers wants £60,000 of advertising space in their bewildering publication. Natasha is off the hook – for now. So it’s off to the boardroom with Jim and co. for the ritual recriminations, followed by humiliation at the hands of the Bearded One. He’s sounding more careworn by the week. I wonder if he ever regrets getting himself into this?

The best bits

Team Venture’s focus group at a bowling club. Susan is baffled by the whole idea of anyone being over 25, let alone over 60. Surrounded by savvy, funny 60-year-olds whose mental acuity puts the young ‘uns to shame, she asks, without irony: “What about something to do with aiding your memory? Crosswords, little puzzles to get your brain going.” Oh dear.

The worst bits

Team Venture’s pitch to Carat. Offered a deal by one of the most powerful media buyers in the land, Jim refuses to budge from his starting price – it’s the rate card or nothing. The buyer is unimpressed and Jim’s team silently will him to shift. They could have made a big sale; they walk away with nothing. Jim later blames the magazine title for the lack of a sale. Eh?

The winners and losers

Bossy Natasha comes out on top, despite her tired idea, her sordid obsession with dirty secretaries (eww) and her boorish refusal to listen to her target market. She got lucky, possibly because big-spending Carat  just wanted to screw Jim for being arrogant.

The big loser? Well, it was Glenn who got fired. “I was wondering if you were one of those people that thought Only Fools and Horses was a business documentary,” snapped Sugar, later adding the cutting put-down: “I’ve never yet come across an engineer that could turn his hand to business.” Glenn figured Lord Sugar “just doesn’t want to work with an engineer”. No, mate, he just doesn’t want to work with you.

The one to watch

Sound, sensible Helen. She’s the only one who has yet to humiliate herself and has the happy knack of both avoiding trouble and being on the winning team more often than not. Could be a sleeper, but she doesn’t really grab you, does she?

Quote of the week

Jim, to Susie: “You are marginally worse than Glenn.” Even Lord Sugar snorted at that.

Business lessons

  1. When you’re pitching a launch product to one of the most powerful buyers in your market and they open the way for a deal, negotiate. Don’t be a Jim.
  2. Don’t be a Jim.
  3. If your target market tells you your idea is rubbish, you should probably listen; after all, you are trying to persuade them to part with their cash.

Lord Sugar’s Profitometer

There’s a whopping £105,350 for the value-for-money-electronics supremo this week. He’ll be able to buy an island soon. Or a decent stereo.

Missed this episode? Watch it on BBC iPlayer.

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