Junior Apprentice 2010 – Amsterdam buying mission (Episode 5)

AMSterdam – is it a coincidence that Lord Alan Michael Sugar is sending the Apprentices to a city whose name starts with his well-known initials? Maybe he owns the city?

Apologies for the late Apprentice recap, Alan Sugar fans, but we were a tiny bit distracted by last night’s Big Brother launch. Still, it looks like the Junior Apprentice semi-final was actually a good ‘un.

Lord Sugar sends the remaining five contestants to Amsterdam on a buying mission. They have to meet six designers pitching products to them and select two products per team to bring back to the UK and sell to retailers here. Oh, and Tim’s amateur hour “schmoke and a pancake” from Austin Powers was terrible. And possibly racist to the Dutch. Or something.

From the offset, the teams are imbalanced. Tim and Kirsty are the only remaining members of Team Instinct. Revolution have project leader Arjun, Zoe and Emma onside.

But something’s different about Tim Ankers this week. He’s raised his game. A lot. Perhaps the roasting he took last week for always taking a back seat has spurred him into action. In comparative terms, Tim is actually quite the dynamic businessman this week. He receives praise from Nick for asking questions and properly trying out the products.

The Products

There’s a wacky array of products demonstrated to the contestants in Amsterdam: from hats made from human hair (hey, grow your own!) to individual cutlery in little boxes, customizable bikes and doggie trailers so you can tow your dog along with you when you go out cycling. It’s funny, but seeing all these off the wall inventions displayed to the contestants, you almost feel like you’ve sat on the remote and accidentally flicked to Dragon’s Den.

Once again, failing to learn the lessons on pricing and margins from the art sales task, Arjun’s team fail to talk about prices with the designers. Arjun’s also facing mutiny from his team for not being decisive enough. Zoe in particular has a bee in her bonnet and flips from being annoyingly domineering to sitting in the back seat awaiting instructions. Emma, when she’s not grumbling about Arjun, doesn’t seem to be doing much.

The two teams clash when both decide they want the garish bicycles. Tim and Kirsty offer them a compromise – 50% of the profit from the bicycles and they’ll relinquish them. However, Tim and Arjun reach a deal where they’ll take the bikes and doggie trailers and leave Arjun’s team with their preferred products.

The Pitches

If I ever had to pitch products to retailer buyers, I’d be quaking in fear at having to meet with the House Of Fraser staff. Those are some prickly buyers, and they ask all the awkward questions. Neither team is properly prepared for them, although Zoe makes a few sales as a result of her pitch.

Tim’s team fare better at Liberty, a high-class outlet in London. It is here that he and Kirsty (who you could totally forget was the team leader) make almost £40,000 worth of sales. However, Nick points out that Tim mispronounced the name of the brand – a minor quibble, but might have hurt them on a different day. Unfortunately, Tim bombs out totally at House Of Fraser when he tries to sell them products that have absolutely no relevance to their business.

But they don’t bomb as badly as Arjun’s team, who walk into Liberty to do their presentation…with the products in ugly plastic carried bags! Unsurprisingly, this costs the team dearly and they walk out of Liberty with an empty sales book.

Afterwards, there’s a sales frenzy as all the contestants strike out to sell as much extra produce as they can. It’s interesting to watch them struggling to set up appointments and then going almost door to door to make some sales. They’re tenacious and yes they strike out quite a lot. But I’ve tried to do this kind of thing in the past…it’s not easy to make those appointments let me tell you. Respect to the kids.

The Boardroom

And suddenly, it’s over. Sales closed, the kids return to the boardroom. Mardy old Nick criticises Kirsty for being over keen to negotiate with Arjun just to get on with the task. He makes sure Sugar knows about Tim getting the brand name wrong. And this is when he has a notepad in front of him saying their team sold £40 grand worth of products. Does wee Nick need a hug? I thought he was going to vault over the boardroom table to throttle Kirsty for daring to defend herself!

With the news that Arjun’s team are the losers, his team promptly implodes, which is hilarious to watch. Both the girls round on Arjun for being indecisive, causing Sugar to liken them to “nagging wives”. However, it’s pointed out that a truculent Zoe was clearly being difficult when she wouldn’t offer opinions. Elsewhere, Emma rightly took a dressing down for being rude to the designers and for being quick to point the finger at her other team mates.

Arjun emerged relatively unscathed from the boardroom meeting, but Zoe got some East End style life lessons and told she had a lot of growing up to do. Interestingly, she went back to the house and told Tim and Kirsty that she’d been complimented. Lending to the theory that she’s a bit mad.

In the end though, Emma Walker (to give her her full name) got the boot. Lord Sugar, and the rest of us, asked what exactly she’d done over the past few weeks. And right enough, she’s been one of the invisibles – the contestants that kind of don’t register on your radar. She knew she was on the back foot in the boardroom, because she was highly emotional when she gave her reasons why she should stay. In the end, she got fired an it was the right decision.

Still don’t understand why Sugar insisted that Zoe was a possibility to go though, because she’s been a strong performer over the last few weeks. A bossy, annoying strong performer, but she’s got great people skills and she’s quite decisive and headstrong. What do you lot think?

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