The Apprentice – Week One: Burgers

Oct 5, 2017 | #howtobeaPM, #howtowinthe apprentice, projects in plain english, the apprentice

The candidates were put to the test with their first task, rising before dawn to manufacture burgers. The teams had just one day to turn their burgers into a healthy profit by selling them to hungry Londoners.

The business case

Every project needs a business case, and they don’t come more straightforward than this one. The PMs needed to ensure that the cost of buying the ingredients for their burgers was less than their sales revenue; and that they made a bigger profit than the other team. Fortunately for them they didn’t have to add on their time and the hire of the equipment and premises.

Credit: BBC

Business case - Projects in Plain English
 The equipment comes for free…


The losing team really fell down on planning. PMs are often given unrealistically tight deadlines and budgets and this is certainly true on The Apprentice. A great way of checking whether or not you can deliver on time and within the budget you’ve been set is to focus on what you have to deliver. This will help you to allocate your resources sensibly. In this task the obvious product was the burgers. The need to identify people willing to buy the burgers was not so obvious, certainly for the boys’ team.

Identifying customers

But identifying who and where their customers were was just as important as making great-tasting burgers. They had to either identify a group of people who already know about their product, or create a completely new market.

The boys’ team didn’t have much time so they could have fallen back on the tried and tested Apprentice strategy: panic marketing. Getting one of the buffer members of the team to run through the lunchtime crowds at Canary Wharf in a loin cloth shouting, “Get your buffalo burgers here” might well have worked on the well-heeled city workers.

The result

Instead, they spent far too much time making and packing the burgers and arguing about pricing. They missed the lunchtime sales window completely and ended up sending two men in suits to an empty street market in Brixton. No customers equals no sales. And that’s why the boys’ team lost the first task.



Credit: BBC

Business case - Projects in Plain English
No customers, no sales…

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