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HR Insights - Extra 
Over the next few weeks and whilst The Apprentice is being shown on the BBC, we will be running a second blog, concentrating on the programme and the candidates... 

16th May 2013 
 
‘...They absolutely loved you; they absolutely loved your pitch... but; they absolutely hated the product and have not placed any orders...’ Karren Brady, Episode Three. 
 
Most people who know me, will know that I am intrigued, if not a little obsessed (if I am being truthful) by The Apprentice. I don’t watch much television generally and I am extremely selective about which ‘reality’ TV programmes I watch, but there is something about The Apprentice that draws me in each series. 
 
I guess it is as much about ‘professional curiosity’ as anything else; as an experienced HR professional with almost twenty-years in the profession, I have seen many assessment centres, but nothing quite like the ‘train-wreck’ that 'The Apprentice' often becomes. I do of course use the term ‘train-wreck’ in the sense of... you know something bad is going to happen, but you just feel totally compelled to watch it... This series is already no exception... 
 
Three weeks into the series and already we have had the ‘sales task’; where the candidates had to sell as much as possible, from a totally random selection of items and two tasks involving ‘creativity’, ‘pitching’ and ‘selling’ – one involving a new ‘brand of beer’ and the other involving ‘flat-pack furniture’. The principal lesson that we have learnt so far about the candidates is that the ‘girls’ team (and I use the term 'team' in the loosest sense) are essentially rubbish!  
 
Whilst it pains me to say that as a woman; so far all we have seen from the ladies is a lot of make-up, posturing, back-stabbing and bitchiness and very little in the way of ‘business’ and indeed ‘common’ sense. I have to say; if I was staying in that house with them, I think I would have disposed of all the sharp knives by now and would be sleeping with one eye open, lest I end up with a 'knife in my back'!!! 
 
The only possible [remaining] exception to that rule is Rebecca; I get a sense from her that provided she contributes to the team, works hard and keeps herself out of the ‘Boardroom’ she may well be the one woman to watch as a potential contender as opposed to a potential psychopath!!!! 
 
As a consequence, the girls team have so far lost – pretty spectacularly in some cases, all three of the tasks and if it wasn't for Lord Sugar having placed Tim as Project Manager on the girls team in episode two, they would already be three down and for possibly the first time in the show’s history, we might have been heading for an ‘all-boys’ final (not that we can rule this out yet, of course!). 
 
The Candidates who have been 'fired' so far... who will be next?? 
So where has it all gone wrong for the girls? 
 
Episode one – it was all about them wasting time trying to sell products to someone in the business who was not an authorised purchaser... 
Episode two – was all about location; firstly they did not conduct basic research which should have told them that the ‘beer festival’ they had chosen, was in fact a ‘back-street’ Public House. Secondly, and to make matters worse, they arrived incredibly late at their second location and then set about trying to sell their beer to the customers in a wine bar! 
Episode three – was all about not listening, not understanding the market place and essentially, trying to sell an item that was a) highly unattractive, b) dated and most importantly, c) something that was totally unoriginal; they were in fact trying to sell a ‘box’, albeit it was on ‘wheels’ but a box nevertheless. 
 
If we look at the stages of team development as defined in ‘Tuckmans’ model...  
Tuckmans Model defines the four stages of team development as being:  
Forming 
Storming 
Norming 
Performing 
A further level of 'Adjourning' has been added to the model, but the image shown is the one most people associate with. 
 
Whilst the boys team (with the exception of a couple of possible 'misfits') have quickly established themselves as a team and have reached the heady heights of 'Norming' within the model and given their results in this week's episode, possibly even 'Performing'; the girls team is still very much at the 'Storming' stage which is defined as: 
Decisions are not being made easily within the group 
Team members are vying for position 
They are attempting to establish themselves in relation to other team members and the leader 
There are challenges for the leadership of the team 
There are cliques and factions forming which is resulting in power struggles 
 
At this particular stage; the team ought to be focussing on goals in order to avoid being distracted by the adverse relationships that are building within the team; but as has been demonstrated in each of the tasks so far, the goals that the girls have been trying to achieve have been totally lost and they have failed to achieve anything significant. It seems apparent that possibly the biggest issues they have at the moment is their inability to: - 
 
listen to what each of them has to say 
acknowledge the key strengths that each of them brings to the process 
 
Until they start to address these issues; I predict that the differential between male and female candidates will continue to grow exponentially throughout the series. 
Episode four next week will be quite significant; not only will the teams be opening a farm shop (can’t wait to see how the girls – and one or two of the boys cope with being on a farm!!!), but it will also be the first episode where the teams are properly mixed up, with boys and girls working together...  
 
It will be interesting to see who will have the most influence in these new teams – will the ‘boys’ bring the ‘girls’ up to the ‘Norming’ stage or will they be dragged back to the ‘Storming’ stage... 
Which direction will the teams develop; or will they return to the 'Forming' stage at the beginning of the process??? 
... And, if the latter; I wonder what fabulously naff ‘insults’ Alex ‘the eyebrows’ Mills will come up with and will Jason ‘the snitch’ Leech run ‘crying’ to Lord Sugar again... Only 132 or so hours until we find out...! 
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