The Apprentice review: Nurun Ahmed fired! Sarah Dales acts up & Katie Bulmer-Cooke shines!

by Matt D
Lord Sugar Nick and Karren

Lord Sugar Nick and Karren

Lord Sugar has always maintained that the motivation behind the tasks he sets on The Apprentice is to judge how his potential business partners will cope in a number of different situations. Whilst I understand the importance of seeing how well they can sell, buy and create products; I’m not sure how having them make candles really helps his Lordship in determining their suitability. I had this thought whilst watching Lindsay, Sanjay, Nurun and Solomon painstakingly creating their team’s candles and I wondered why Lord Sugar couldn’t lay on a number of experts to do the manual labour for them. It later appeared as if creating the candles was actually detrimental to the candidates’ survival in the competition as a few of them were accused of hiding out in the laboratory.

The particulars of the task saw Lord Sugar request that the teams create a number of home fragrance products, namely candles and reed diffusers, which they would then sell to both trade and the general public. Right from the start Lord Sugar laid out that this task was all about creating a cheap product that looked good and that could be sold at a high margin. As anybody whose watched The Apprentice for a number of years will know that at least one team will lose sight of the task’s purpose as the episode goes on. With this being the third episode, Lord Sugar also shook up the teams by sending Steven, Felipe and Daniel to Team Tenacity and Bianca, Nurun, Lindsay and Roisin to Team Summit. Accountant Roisin got straight to work by hammering home Lord Sugar’s words about margins and also pointing out to several of her team mates that there would be no passengers on this task. I personally felt sorry for Roisin’s opposite number Katie who had been lumbered with some of the rowdier male contestants and at the same time had to contend with the awful Sarah.

Sarah Lauren Jemma

I personally felt that Sarah had made her presence felt right from the start of the task as she put across another of her bizarre suggestions namely to have their product smelling of food. However Sarah’s idea was rightly shouted down and the team ultimately decided to select a more subtle, refreshing smell. Katie sent a team led by Lauren to conduct some market research with a candle supplier who informed them that they shouldn’t colour their product and additionally that they should use soy rather than paraffin wax. Unfortunately Katie had already made the decision that the cheaper paraffin wax would increase the team’s margins essentially rendering this market research useless. Although I understood her motivations in picking the cheaper wax I’m not sure why she wanted her candle to have a gaudy yellow hue which I found to be quite unattractive. Another blunder that the team made, which was pointed out by Nick Hewer, was calling their product British Breeze despite all of the scents coming from other countries. But, as was pointed out by Lord Sugar, the look and title of the product doesn’t matter all that much as long as it sells.

Of the two teams, I felt that Summit were more decisive due to the fact that they didn’t have many domineering characters in their number. Their idea, spearheaded by project manager Roisin, was to create a scent that reminded them of the beach. They definitely didn’t seem to have the same issues as their rivals and their packaging for their ‘Beach Dreams’ product certainly looked the part. The finished article, delivered to the house the next day, also had a better look than the luminous-yellow colour of British Breeze. Additionally their sales team appeared to be more professional as the owner of a high-end hotel was impressed by Mark’s pitch and agreed to purchase a number of their products. This was a million miles away from Daniel’s selling techniques during a similar pitch especially when the disruptive Steven stepped in with a lower offer.

James The Apprentice

Where Summit really fell down was on their second day and in particular when selling to the public. Roisin initially told the team selling on the market stall, led by James, that the goal price for the candle was £25. However the self-confessed Del Boy was already thinking of deals he could do before they’d even got through the front door. Throughout the day James and Solomon were selling candles for as low as £6 and had completely forgotten about the high margins message that Lord Sugar had instilled into them the day before. Meanwhile Lindsay, who said she was going to step up at the beginning of the task, hid in the background and struggled to sell even one unit. Market seller Nurun had a similar issues and I feel the fact that his teammates weren’t shifting enough items propelled James to drop the prices even more. Tenacity on the other hand stuck to Katie’s price points, aiming to sell the candles at £40 a-piece and not going below £25. Inevitably, only Sarah struggled to sell and felt that they needed to drop the price of the candles down to £10 almost immediately.

The producers definitely tried to keep us guessing over who the losing team were by showing us that Tenacity still had plenty of candles left whilst Summit had got rid of all of their stock. But, if you were paying attention, this wasn’t a task about selling the most stock but rather making the most money. Even though they had a lot of stock left over, Katie’s insistence of sticking to their price points meant that Tenacity won the task. Once again Lord Sugar didn’t waste too much time getting rid of a deflated Lindsay, who’d realised that she’d been floundering in the process for several weeks. The loud-mouthed James was brought back into the boardroom alongside timid Nurun and project manager Roisin. It seemed obvious to me that the failure of the task was down to James treating the task like it was some sort of fire sale and not listening to Roisin’s earlier instructions. But instead of getting rid of James, who is admittedly one of the biggest characters on this year’s show, it was Nurun who was fired for not making enough of an impact up to this point.

Tonight’s double firing appeared to me as if Lord Sugar was getting rid of the contestants who had been passengers on the first three tasks. I don’t think anybody will notice the absence of either fired female and keeping James on seemed to make the most sense in terms of entertainment. Based on tonight’s task, Katie singled herself out as a contender whilst Pamela and Lauren also both impressed me. But there are still a few contestants who are yet to spring out at me, most notably Sanjay and Jemma, who will hopefully come into their own over the next few weeks.

What did you think of tonight’s task? Were the right candidates fired?

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