The Apprentice – Week Eight: Doggy Business
Lord Sugar tasks the candidates with taking over two dog-based businesses. They must also offer a garden cleaning service and sell accessories to dog-owners.
Business as usual
There wasn’t much project management on display in this week’s task. That was because the activities were firmly in the realm of business as usual. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of lessons to learn about leadership and management. And the true nature of projects.
Business as usual is what happens when a project hands over its products to the people who are going to operate and maintain them. At this point the project team usually disbands and a team with a different skill set takes over the day to day operations. The candidates were asked to run two ready made businesses; a dog spa and a training school.
Learning to administer a
Business change management
The link between a project and business as usual is the project’s business case. This should identify the project’s potential benefits, in other words the measurable impact that a project makes when it moves into operational use. This is especially important in the public sector where projects are funded by taxpayers. Public sector projects must demonstrate that they deliver services that make a positive impact on society . In commercial projects the benefits are usually based around making a profit.
The responsibility for ensuring that a project achieves its benefits falls to an often underrated role, the business change manager. It was a role that suited James who bravely put himself in the firing line for a second week after a poor performance taking a back seat as project manager in Advertising Cars. Charles finally managed to convince Team Fidelity that he was the man for the job but failed to deliver.
At the core of the task the teams had to convince the owners of two equally viable businesses that they were capable of maximising their profits, at least for a day. Both teams saw the spa as a better bet but as it turned out the team running the training school made more money. James’s talents clearly lie in the area of sales, rather than project management, and the winning margin would have been even greater if his pricing strategy has been allowed to stand.
Lord Sugar and his advisors weren’t impressed that the team sold places on the canine training course at a lower price initially and then increased them when there were fewer places to fill. But it’s a model that’s used everyday in thousands of businesses. It’s difficult to imagine EasyJet handing back money to a passenger who discovers that the person sitting next to them has paid a lower price for their ticket. And I can’t see riots breaking out at Reading Festival in protest at the sale of early-bird tickets.
“If you stop screaming at them they’ll sit still…”
Picking up the poo
The Apprentice production team must have noticed how many times candidates had said that they weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. So the teams were also asked to offer a doggie garden clean-up service which gave Lord Sugar’s scriptwriters plenty of scope for poo-themed puns. Karen Brady put it more bluntly, “Poo. Bag. Put the two together. It’s not rocket science!”
The teams were also asked to sell dog accessories, including non-alcoholic beer and prosecco, something that proved that there really is nothing that pet owners won’t buy.
“It’s not rocket science…”
Team Fidelity won the task on all three activities despite losing out in the bid for their preferred client, testament to their business acumen and ability to maximise a profit. Charles took Anisa and Andrew back into the boardroom. Lord Sugar must have rubbed his hands with glee as he found himself faced with three candidates he’d clearly already decided that he didn’t want as his business partner.
There wasn’t much consultation with his advisers this week and he quickly dispatched Andrew and Anisa. That left Charles looking uncomfortably like one of the creatures we see on Blue Planet 2 that knows it’s just about to be eaten by something higher up the food chain.
The first triple firing and we should have seen it coming. Last week week Lord Sugar warned one of the candidates that if he was good at numbers he should have worked out that there were a lot of candidates, but not many tasks left.
Did you think all three candidates deserved to be fired?
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