Young Apprentice: baby talk

By: Rachel Miller

Date: 2 November 2011

It’s the second episode of Young Apprentice and we’re starting to see the wood for the trees. This week’s task is product design and the teenagers have to come up with an idea for the parent and baby market and pitch it to three retailers.

Things looks quite promising from the off when the girls come up with a concept that could succeed in the real world. It’s a portable padded cushion that wraps around your arm to help support a baby’s head. It’s actually a really good idea.

Meanwhile, on the boys’ team, everyone is talking but no-one is listening. They are all vying for personal glory. After a lot of argy-bargy, they agree on the concept of a Hippo drinks holder that keeps milk at a constant temperature and also gives babies a fun toy to hold while they guzzle. At this point, team leader Lewis tries to get everyone to agree it was a joint idea — so that no-one can steal his thunder in the boardroom later.

But the task will be won or lost at the three pitches — to John Lewis, JoJo Maman Bebe and Mothercare.

On the boys’ team, Lewis delivers the first pitch himself. He mumbles and stumbles, letting unfinished sentences hang in the air and making almost no sense. He declares the pitch a success, even if he does say so himself, and backed by himself (and no-one else) he stands up a second time and manages to make even more of a hash of it. Finally, Harry H steps in to deliver a coherent speech to Mothercare at the third presentation.

It’s a similar story on the girls’ team. Leader Gbemi also gives the first two presentations. Gbemi has charmingly set out her stall earlier — “I’m quite out there, aggressive, intimidating, loud.” And rubbish at pitching it transpires. There are a lot of words but they don’t add up to anything meaningful — so much so that at John Lewis, the buyers have to ask at the end of the pitch, “What do you use it for?”. It’s time for a change and Haya gives a polished pitch to Mothercare. Indeed, she does such a good job that Gbemy is full of praise — for herself. “I’m glad I took the decision to let Haya do it.”

Back at Sugar HQ, the results are in. Unsurprisingly, John Lewis isn’t buying anything from anyone. It all comes down to Mothercare. In the end, the girls get the bigger order and get Lord Sugar’s special winners’ treat — a street dancing course, where, he says, they’ll be popping and locking. Way to get down with the kids Lord S.

And so the boys are back in the Losers’ Café with tea in real mugs this week, an improvement on last week’s polystyrene cups. Recriminations fly. Like many a team leader before him, Lewis elects to bring someone loud and someone quiet back into the boardroom with him, hedging his bets. The hectoring and supercilious Harry M has barely stopped talking. Ben has been almost invisible.

Lord Sugar gives them all a tongue-lashing but fires the quiet one. Bye bye Ben.

Next week — flower arranging! Honestly.

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