The Apprentice 2009 – Episode 4 the scandal of sandalwood

The Apprentice this week turns soap opera as one slippery customer escapes certain death in the boardroom.

15th April 2009 at 11:22 pm

So farewell Noorul. Teacher, chemist, ditherer.

Never has The Apprentice seen such an indecisive project manager do so little and grasp the basic tenets of business less firmly.

Hardly surprising then that nice Noorul would come to an end as sticky as the lump of honeycomb at the centre of his team’s very soft soap.

Except … his team won and he survived, much to the clear disappointment of Sir Alan who had selected him specifically for a culling by asking him to lead team Ignite following another reshuffle.

So much for the best laid plans of mice, men and knighted belligerent bosses …

The teams began at Kew Gardens for a glamorous botanical clue to this week’s challenge. They then headed down to an industrial estate in Poole to design, produce and sell two natural beauty products.

In his candidate profile, Noorul claims he’s ‘not all talk’. And he certainly lived up to it by saying nothing more than a few umms and errrs as he left his team to it in the tricky selection of natural ingredients for their soap and bubble bath.

Meanwhile Paula was leading team Empire which looked destined to savour the sweet smell of success.

Their seaweed and sandalwood soap and shower gel looked and clearly smelled divine. Their Rock Poole branding was really rather clever and subtle packaging impressive.

But then came one small error made by Yasmina and Paula. Sandalwood was a luxurious £1000 a litre while Cedarwood was cheap as wood chips.

The two got confused with names, weights and measures and thought £5 had bought them a luxury half litre of the more expensive scent.

Sir Alan’s cardinal rule, ‘buy for pennies, sell for pounds’ was in tatters. On having their mistake pointed out by a rueful Nick, the horror on Yasmina and Paula’s face was clear.

Blame game Ben on the other hand – also delegated with Yasmina to keep control of costs – began his ‘I wasn’t there’ defence almost immediately.

Meanwhile, when the teams hit the streets to sell, Noorul again demonstrated breathtaking incompetence, dither and literal lack of direction by getting his team lost in London.

After the scandal of sandalwood, Empire did pull together to do a great job selling, but all in vain as costs eliminated profit and gave them a £68 loss.

So Noorul and Ignite escaped boardroom ignominy.

The boardroom battle was brilliantly played by Yasmina. Staying stum while Ben blathered. Offering compliments while Ben blazed abuse. Politely admitting responsibility while Ben blamed others. Sticking the knife in Paula clinically, while Ben bludgeoned.

Her potential fall from grace only demonstrated her potential for success. Ben’s defence of himself clearly got up Sir Alan’s nose, but he was saved for entertainment value, I reckon. Paula Jones got the boot. Unlucky.

If anyone was in any doubt of Yasmina’s powers you only had to watch the final scene as she and Ben returned to the house.

Her honesty about having to turn on Paula in the boardroom, how she’d have done the same to anyone and her ‘get on with it’ attitude left sensitive Mona in tears of pure fear.

Classic quotes were a little thin on the ground this week, but my favourite goes once again to estate agent Philip for “Kimberley’s as dumb as a doorknob” and his cheeky sushi restaurant quip “I wonder who he’s going to sake”.

Business lessons of the week: buy for pennies, sell for pounds and never forget, business is unpredictable.


Alex is the founder and editor of SmallBizPod, the UK's first podcast dedicated to small business, start-ups and entrepreneurship. Alex writes about topical small business issues, entrepreneurs and anything else that catches his eye here on the small business blog.

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