The Apprentice 2011, Episode 2 – The iPhone development task

Har har! Knowing Alan Sugar’s love of Twitter, it’s no surprise that for his second task he’s asked the Apprentices to develop their own iPhone apps. It’s a brilliant idea, contemporary, and possibly lucrative. And of course, there’s plenty of scope for our entrepreneurial numpties to screw it all up massively.

Leon Doyle puts himself up as Project Manager for Team Logic. He initially gets challenged by a couple of the other guys, but a vote sees him elected. Professional pain in the arse Edna is the only member of Team Venture to volunteer to be Project Manager.

The girls seem to get off to a quick start, doing a quick and dirty bit of on-street market research. But in a meeting with their development team, Suzie’s idea gets shut down mid-sentence by cranky Edna. Edna clearly hasn’t mentioned on her CV that there’s a void where her interpersonal skills should be. 

The guys already seem to be working well together on their app. They’ve chosen a laddish “regional accent insult generator” app, and everybody’s mucking in with the creative process. Sadly, when it gets down to the recording for the app, Nick Hewer just doesn’t get the joke. And neither do the rest of us.

Over on Team Venture, the girls are…making an annoying noises app. Worth it just to see Melody trying to make cat sounds. However, there’s a little bit of grumbling that the app seems a little bit…pointless.

Edna manages to anger her entire team when she decides to make a pitch for the app at a game fair herself, ignoring Melody’s proven track record in that area. The girls are not happy.

Er…just discovered that the app is built for Blackberry. That’s all very well and fine, but isn’t iPhone/iPad the dominant platform? Surely it would have been smarter to aim for the wider market? Just saying.

The two teams start pitching their product to the guys at Pocket Lint. Vincent does the pitch for Team Logic, but buggers it up badly, stammering and forgetting what he’s supposed to be saying. Jim leaps to the rescue, but runs into trouble in the next pitch when he’s confronted about the accents being racial stereotypes. However, Slangatang manages to make Pocket Lint and TechCrunch’s recommendations pages while the girls’ Ampi App is only mentioned on Wired (which for some reason The Apprentice or the BBC can’t mention by name).

At a tech conference, Edna makes her pitch. It’s a creepy, terrible presentation, and the App doesn’t come across well. In sharp contrast, the guys deliver a witty presentation, in character as some of the stereotypes featured in the app.

The Boardroom

Team Logic display a crazy aptitude with their business plan – they have a free product that they plan to monetize through add-ons and updates. 5 out of 8 members of Team Venture, however, slate their own app for being pretty rubbish. Which makes the next bit so funny…

In terms of the apps downloaded, Logic got 3,000 downloads in six hours compared to 1,000 for Venture. In 24 hours, 3,951 downloads for Logic, but Venture somehow managed to shift 10,667 downloads, making the girls the outright winners by an embarrassing margin for the boys. The girls are sent off for a slap-up feed at a posh restaurant.

Out in the cafe, the guys – who I’m sure thought their product was amazing – are reeling and trying to work out how they failed. Leon’s finding it tough to choose who to bring in, because they all believe they did the best job possible. 

As a result, we get some of the most stunning boardroom bickering in the history of The Apprentice. Leon chooses Jim and Alex to accompany him – but Jim argues strongly and brilliantly that he shouldn’t be in the boardroom and leaves Alex with egg on his face when he says “some of us participate and some of us spectate”. Jim effectively browbeats Leon into changing his mind and bringing Glenn into the boardroom instead. Honestly, go and watch that again, Jim is my new hero!

Nick and Karren note that Alex is the invisible man until he’s pushed in the boardroom, but there’s no evidence that he’s used his skills at all. Leon brilliantly tells Lord Sugar that within a couple of weeks Alex will be out of the contest and that he’s never going to be a finalist. Well, that doesn’t happen because Sugar gives the Finger of Doom to Alex and fires him. Leon gets a serious warning that he won’t get another chance if he messes up again.

Excellent episode. It may not be the most eloquent way to do this in a review, but I’ll just say that The Apprentice is one of my favourite shows. No voting, no audience participation, just a bunch of business wannabes who frantically compete in tasks and stab each other in the back for our televisual entertainment. And I’m going to say early on that I’m backing our Northern Ireland boy Jim Eastwood for his excellent sales style and formidable negotiation skills. He avoided elimination tonight solely on his ability to browbeat Leon. That’s just awesome…

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1 Comment

  1. TimL

    The right person went from the wrong team. Edna escaped despite an awful piece of leadership. Like Melissa Cohen last year, she is an early season antagonist who will crash and burn spectacularly as soon as her team loses.

    Jim’s boardroom defence which persuaded Leon to change his mind was brilliant. Forceful but without being bullying. It’s almost a shame. If Leon had brought Jim back, he would have been eviscerated by him in the boardroom and maybe it would have been him who went rather than Alex. (Although Sugar clearly likes the fact he has set up his own business already.)

    Alex was just a waste of space. He tried to hide. He got found out. Bye bye.

    Incidentally, I’ve read that Apple were contacted by the producers about fast-tracking approval for the teams’ apps onto the App Store, and were told to get knotted.

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