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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... *** Spoiler Alert*** - the following blog will reveal the results of this week's episode. 

26th June 2013 
“It’s like a microwave meal; it’s getting heated and we are going around in circles!” Lord Sugar, Episode 9 
 
In a world dominated by obesity and in particular ‘childhood obesity’, it was great to observe team Endeavour setting the concept of healthy lifestyles back 20-years; with the ‘strap-line for their ‘Deadly Dinners’ ready meal; ‘Healthy Horrible Food’ – perhaps made worse because the one member of the medical profession was also a member of that team!!! The strap-line was rightly interpreted by some as meaning ‘that healthy food is horrible’ and what greater way to put kids off eating healthy food than to tell them that it is 'horrible'! 
 
Funnily enough though; had they given it a bit more thought and turned it around a little, they could have gone with ‘Horribly Healthy Food’ – an oxymoron, but when written this way could be interpreted very differently i.e. ‘horribly’ is defined as being to ‘an extreme degree or extent’ and when written in this form is interpreted as ‘really’ – in other words ‘really healthy food’!!! 
 
Hark at me, explaining grammatical nuances; my mother would be so proud... Well, once she’d picked herself up off the floor she would be!!! 
 
So, what of the rest of the task... Well one team got the packaging right, but their food was just bland (and frankly, just wrong really!!!) and the other got the food right and the packaging all wrong. So which one was which... 
 
If I was a gambling person (other than the Grand National and Derby of course); my money would have been on Luisa finally getting her comeuppance in the Boardroom. But it was not to be... It was interesting to see how she managed to 'fool' Karren (mores’ the pity!) by appearing to be a ‘team-player’ and an ‘emerging business woman’, whilst in my opinion being the most ‘Machiavellian’ she has thus far been... 
 
Why do I think this?? Well; in the initial meeting, she claimed not to ‘cook’, yet her knowledge of ingredients and quantities that she passed to Francesca in the kitchen was not the knowledge of someone who doesn’t cook. Then in the pitch; to introduce the idea of spicing up the meal using ‘Scotch Bonnet’ chillies was particularly telling – would someone who supposedly doesn’t cook really have known about these particular chillies or would they have been more likely to refer to ‘chillies’ as a generic term... Personally, I think it would have been the latter. 
 
Francesca on the other hand, was clearly not a cook – not even bothering to taste the dish she had created and hence behind the quite 'funky' packaging which was attractive to students was in fact, lurking a very bland meal!!! The combination of Thai noodles and Caribbean chicken also defies the boundaries of good taste... 
 
So what was Luisa’s motivation in this task? To my mind it stems from the saying ‘keep your friends close, your enemies closer...’ As I mentioned last week, it is my belief that Luisa views Neil as her real competition in team Evolve as it stands at the moment. It was therefore essential for her to remain with him in order to be able to either ‘share the glory or pass the buck’ had the team lost the task; he was the Project Manager on this occasion after all. 
 
On the BBC2 programme ‘You’re Fired’, Charlie Bigham an entrepreneur in the ‘ready-meal’ market expressed his surprise that neither Project Manager actually went to the kitchen to prepare the meal, which is where he believed that they should have been given the nature of the task... So, in a ‘Sliding Doors’ moment, it would have been quite interesting to see how Luisa would have reacted if Neil had actually gone to the test kitchen... 
 
Ultimately, the promise of ‘spicing up the food’ to turn it from ‘bland’ to ‘edible’ saw team Evolve score the most orders and win the task; keeping Luisa safe for another week... 
 
Endeavour’s journey through the task was quite different... After nine weeks, Alex finally got to be Project Manager; but only having been directed to take the role by Lord Sugar and despite having his own business, his immaturity and naivety of leading a team was evident. He allowed himself to be manipulated by Myles into changing his concept from one of ‘kid’s meals from around the world’ to ‘deadly dinners’; a mistake which cost the team the task. 
 
The former was a concept which was supported by both the sub-team and by adults questioned in a limited market research exercise. What Alex failed to recognise was that; whilst the more gruesome concept would be favoured by children, it is rarely the child who holds the ‘purchasing power’ in a family. Consequently, Myles and Alex succumbed to their ‘inner-child’ in developing packaging and a brand aimed at children, which was universally hated by adults; thereby ensuring that their product was not going to be popular with the three retailers to whom they pitched it. 
 
Back in the Boardroom, Alex firmly placed the failure of the task on Myles’ shoulders – which was true to an extent, but rewind to the images in the design studio... Whilst the concept was very definitely down to Myles, the design – which ultimately cost them the task, was at the very least a joint venture between the two of them, but in truth was very much down to Alex himself. 
 
The net result of this was that Alex and his eyebrows were dispatched back to the Valleys of Wales by Lord Sugar. 
Alex became the 10th candidate to leave the process; providing an equal balance between the remaining male and female candidates as we approach the finishing line for this series... 
So we are now down to the last six and are entering the final stages of the competition where Lord Sugar will have to decide who will become his Business Partner... So as a bit of fun this week and with the help of my good friend, Kevin Hopgood, here’s my assessment of the remaining candidates and the odds of each of them winning the £250,000 investment... 
 
Neil - 2/1 favourite; whilst quite an annoying candidate, he has both managed to lead and act as a team player throughout the process thus far. He has avoided being in the Boardroom and has shown on more than one occasion that he can step up to the plate... 
Jordan – 3/1; bit of a dark horse in the competition so far. He was the Project Manager for the on-line dating task, when his team managed to win only by ‘being given the benefit of the doubt’, but has so far managed to keep himself off the radar in the Boardroom... 
Myles – 7/2; was probably the favourite in the early stages of the competition. In the latter stages, the cracks have begun to show and he has shown himself to be a manipulative individual with little substance. Kudos should be given though for his acceptance of responsibility when things have gone wrong... 
Leah – 10/1; probably the best female candidate left in the process and this week, when up against Myles in the Boardroom, she did begin to show some fighting spirit. Lacks confidence in herself though and will probably struggle in terms of her resilience in the corporate world... 
Francesca – 10/1; has plodded through the process; hasn’t done anything disastrous as yet, but nor has she done anything outstanding. Frequently mistakes ‘aggression’ with ‘assertiveness’ and will struggle to form productive teams who are willing to work for her as a result... 
Luisa – 10/1; her immaturity and obvious disdain for the ‘corporate world’ in which she is trying to enter means that she is probably too much of a loose cannon to be viewed as a serious contender at this stage... 
My own favourite outcome, for which I would give odds of 1000/1 as it is highly unlikely to happen; is for Lord Sugar in the final week to decide that in fact, all of the candidates are just really annoying and not people he would want to work with or invest his money in... Imagine the reaction to that one... Makes me laugh thinking about it!!! 
 
Surprisingly, we find ourselves with the balance between male and female candidates restored and it looks as though it will be back to a male v. female battle in the next task; when the teams will be required to grow a business from scratch in 48 hours... Thinking back to the ‘Tuckman’ model of team development, I suspect that both teams will be back to square one with the new team arrangements; but my guess will be that the boys will settle down much quicker and begin performing much quicker than the girls... We shall watch and see... 
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